Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Egmont Usa Blog Tour, Interview & Signed Giveaway: Quarantine (Lex Thomas)

The Burnouts (Quarantine, #3)Hardcover, 272 pages
Expected publication: July 22nd 2014 by EgmontUSA

Lord of the Flies in a 21st-century high school setting.Welcome to Quarantine 3: The Burnouts , where readers of The Maze Runner, Gone, and Divergent go when they're hungry for more dark, compelling survival stories.
When an explosion rocks David and Will's suburban high school one morning, a deadly virus is unleashed on the school. After a year of quarantine, with no adults around, the students have created their own society. All of the social cliques have developed into gangs-The Nerds, The Geeks, The Freaks, The Sluts, The Skaters, The Burnouts, The Pretty Ones, and The Varsity-and each gang provides a service with which they can barter for provisions. Without a gang, it's almost impossible to secure food, water, territory, or supplies. In the final installment in the Quarantine trilogy, the brothers are reunited on the Outside and it appears as if, for once everything is going right. But inside the school, Lucy is alone with no gang and no hope, until the Burnouts welcome her into their filthy arms.

Lex Thomas is the pen name used by the screenwriting team of Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies.
Lex Hrabe was a Drama Geek in high school as well as student body president. Lex received a BA in Drama and English from the University of Virginia and has worn hats as an actor, director, and writer. In addition to working as a screenwriter, he heads development at Cinespire Entertainment, a boutique production company.
If Thomas Voorhies were a character in the Quarantine trilogy, he would be a member of the Art Geek gang. Thomas graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and continues to practice and exhibit his realist oil paintings. To see a selection of his artwork, visit www.thomasvoorhies.com.
Lex Hrabe lives in Virginia; Tom Voorhies lives in California.

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I’m a high-volume Netflix watcher, and I remember I was watching movies one Sunday morning, and one of them was a high school movie. I don’t really remember what it was, but it had all the stereotypical cliques and groups that seem to inhabit every high school movie. Later on that day when I was walking to a cafe, I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if all the cliques and groups you know of from high school were actual gangs, that battled physically instead of socially? As soon as I thought that, I started getting all sorts of great ideas. I told the idea to Lex and he loved it and said it reminded him of that old movie The Warriors and this would be like The Warriors in high school which sounded great. Everything really sprung from there, the virus, the quarantine; it all came from us needing to create a world where this high school gang society would be possible. We needed the teachers dead and the adults gone. We needed the resources scarce so that they would have something to fight over. 

Once we started writing it, I kept thinking that I want it to be a fun nightmare. For some reason that phrase stuck in my mind, fun nightmare. Sometimes a simple phrase like that can help guide you in writing a book. When we wrote the final book, The Burnouts, I kept thinking that I want this book to be a runaway chainsaw. Now I don’t think a runaway chainsaw is even a thing. If you drop a running chainsaw do its spinning blades propel the chainsaw across the floor? Probably not, I didn’t look into it. I’m not sure I even knew exactly what it meant, but the two words together sounded dangerous and out of control and that’s how we wanted The Burnouts to feel, because by the third book the quarantine has gone on too long and things have gone too far.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite of the main characters is Will because I like messed up, disenfranchised people who can’t seem to win. My favorite overall is Violent, leader of the Sluts, because she’s tough, surly, and frightening. 

What came first the title or the novel?

The idea definitely came first. The series name came about as a joke. When we were on the phone with our management team I mentioned that we had been jokingly calling the series Quaran-teens. We thought it was hilarious how bad a title that was, but our management loved it. I wanted the title to be The Loners, and for the series to be called that too, but Quaranteen was deemed more salable. At the time we were too scared of this opportunity going away so we didn’t argue too strongly when we were told it would help it’s chances of selling. I was praying that the title would be changed if it sold, because I didn’t think it matched the tone of the story at all. To me Quaranteen sounded like a goofy comedy, and our story was violent and disturbing. The name of our series was called Quaranteen when we did sell the proposal, and all the way up to the advanced reading copies. Luckily my prayers were answered when Barnes and Noble objected to the spelling of the title, and at the last minute it was changed to the proper spelling of the word quarantine, which I am glad to have. I learned my lesson, though, I’ll keep all joke titles to myself from now on. 

What scene are you most proud of in the book, and why?

This is hard to answer because we put a lot of work into making the story surprising, so I never want to spoil anything for the reader, but theres a number of scenes involving the burnouts, which is what the rest of the school calls the kids who hang out in the the ruins of the school and huff chemicals. In this book, we delve into their life, or what’s become of their life, and those chapters are some of the darkest and most unpleasant of the trilogy. It is the certainly the lowest point for one of our main characters. 

Thinking back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

To not listen to anyone. I don’t really mean that. You can get a lot out of other people’s advice, ideas, and criticism, but I think that nothing is as important for a writer as trusting their own gut. When comes down to deciding what should happen in this imaginary world you’ve created, and making choices about a story that doesn’t exist yet, you only have your own gut feeling to go by as to whether a choice is right or wrong. It’s very tempting to listen to other people’s writing advice, to try and force your story to adhere to some formula or template, or to feel like it has to mimic an existing story that you know works. You can look at that stuff and it can be good food for thought, but your own experience of how life works, of what people are like, and your own gut feeling what feels right for your story are your only guide when it comes down to it. You have to trust yourself over everyone, the fans, your management, your editor, your friends- despite the continuous doubt and dread and fear that comes along when you try to create something that doesn’t exist. That’s the real trick in writing is to trust your own judgement and to focus on your enthusiasm and love for the idea despite the fears piling on. 

What do you like most about the cover of the book?

We didn’t get a lot of say on what our covers would be, but the one thing we did insist on is that we didn’t want any faces on the cover. We wanted the reader to be able to envision the characters’ faces in their own minds as they imagined them. We didn’t want a photoshopped picture of a teen model or an illustration of our characters to define how the character looks before the reader got a chance to. We also noticed that so many young adult covers were just a picture of one or more main characters, so we figured that we’d stand out from the pack more, and without faces there would have to be a more creative solution to communicating the feel of our book. I think we got that with our three covers where the focus is on the trashed environment of the school and the people are pushed about as far into the background as they can go. In a series about being trapped inside a nightmare version of your high school, I like that the covers are pictures of the awful, grimy, rotten place you’ll be trapped in if you read this book. I think that gets the feel of our series across better than depictions of our characters would have. 

What new release are you looking forward to most in 2014?

Trollhunters by Daniel Kraus and Guillermo del Toro comes out in March 2015. Not exactly 2014, but close enough. I can’t wait to see what happens when those two guys get together. 

What was your favorite book in 2013?

It didn’t come out in 2013, but I read it in 2013, City of Thieves by David Benihoff. A friend recommended it and I really enjoyed it.

What’s up next for you?

We are each writing solo books at the moment, and we’re both of nearing the ends of our first drafts. When we’re done with those we’re doing another Lex Thomas book together, which as of the last time we talked will be a wild story about two friends in outer space. 

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Follow us! 

Our website- Lex-thomas.com

Thomas’ instagram- @thomasvoorhies

-Thomas Voorhies


  1. hopefully work quieting down and finally tackling my TBR pile which includes book 1 and 2 of this series :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm looking forward to THE WINDS OF WINTER. Fingers crossed it is out this year.

  3. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness