The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.
But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.
Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.
A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.
I’m a mom of four, a practicing geek, a holder of many opinions (which I’m more than happy to share with you—really, just ask). I earned my MFA from Columbia University. My debut YA thriller, Tabula Rasa (EgmontUSA), Fall 2014, is about a girl whose memory is forcibly stripped from her and so naturally she must kick everyone’s butt in retaliation. I live with my husband and merry band of misfits in Arlington, VA.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
In retrospect, I’d say it was a combination of my own anger (wait, I’ll explain) and the desire to do something completely different as a writer.
OK, the anger thing might sound a little weird but I guess I was looking to create a character who finds a way to channel her anger. Rather than turning it on herself, she uses the power of it to fight for herself instead of against herself. I felt like every awful thing that happens to Sarah, I was stoking the flames of her anger, building it up and hoping that she’d find a way to transform it into power. So often we let our own anger defeat us – and in the beginning Sarah is defeated – but the challenge for her was to find a way to turn that around and stop treating herself as the enemy.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
I gotta say Sarah, right? I mean, how can I write an entire book about her if I don’t love her? There was just something about her plight that I completely identified with. Not that I’ve personally been bald or locked up in a secret hospital and treated like a lab rat, mind you. But I think a lot of young women get caught up in a cycle of self-blame and fear, and it takes a long time to train yourself to break free of that kind of thinking. For Sarah, she turns her empowering thoughts into action. She’s kind of the anti-Hamlet and doesn’t get bogged down in excessive introspection.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
They were nearly simultaneous. I was both glad and surprised it didn’t get changed during the editorial process. I mean, it’s a Latin phrase that not everyone’s familiar with, and it might have been off-putting to readers, but it’s actually the thing I hear the most: “Oh, wow! Cool title.” I hope Latin teachers everywhere (if there are any left) appreciate it.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Without being too spoilery, I’d say the scene where Sarah and Thomas meet. That moment had to be explosive and yet believable and given the tight pacing, I had to get them working together fast. It was hard to make it work. It’s also kind of a humorous scene so that was a bonus.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
This is what I learned from writing this book: how to use humor without undercutting the seriousness of what’s happening. Up until TABULA RASA, every ms I wrote featured a very quippy MC, but for this, it just didn’t work at all. Still, I wanted to have a humorous vein to the story but the question was how? Where and when is it appropriate? There’s some seriously awful stuff happening to Sarah, and I didn’t want to dilute that. I realized the thing to do is give the humor to the love interest. Most of the one-liners are spoken by Thomas because that’s the way it worked best. Sarah is the first MC I’ve ever written who isn’t terribly funny.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
That color green! It’s both pretty and arresting. I want to paint my house that color.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?
I cannot wait for everyone to read a book called PLACEBO JUNKIES by J.C. Carleson. Julie is a crit partner of mine and this book is a ton of WOW. It’s one of the most amazing YA books I’ve ever read.
What was your favorite book in 2014?
Every time I get asked this question, I give a different answer because I want to spread the love around! This time I’m going with the easy answer: DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS. Because Laini T. is the most righteous YA writer out there.
What’s up next for you?
I’m working on a YA fantasy novel right now and also developing a bunch of other project ideas. Because, OF COURSE, all those sexy, come-hither ideas settle on you when you have the least amount of time to work on them. GAH. This summer I got no writing done because my kids were home. I’m looking forward to getting down to work once my little guy, who’s three, finally heads off to preschool this week.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I just want to say thank you for having me, Beth. I would totally not let your call go to voice mail if you were calling me from jail. I mean that.