Interview with Joshua Bellin, author of SURVIVAL COLONY 9

Hey Tuesday, you’re here with another book I’ve been waiting for! This one is a post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel with a serious side. The author, Joshua David Bellin, is a friend of mine, and when he agreed to an interview, I dreamed up the most random questions I could just for fun. Enjoy! And be sure to check out his novel today!

About Survival Colony 9:SC9 Cover medium

Forget the past. Fight to stay alive.

Querry Genn is in trouble.

He can’t remember anything before the last six months. And Querry needs to remember. Otherwise he’s dead weight to the other members of Survival Colony 9, one of the groups formed after a brutal war ravaged the earth. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge what is left of humanity. No one knows what the Skaldi are, or why they’re here, just that they can impersonate humans, taking their form before shedding the corpse like a skin.

Desperate to prove himself after the accident that stole his memory, Querry is both protected and tormented by the colony’s authoritarian commander, his father. The only person he can talk to is the beautiful Korah, but even with her, he can’t shake the feeling that something is desperately wrong. And that his missing memories are at the very center of it.

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Released September 23, 2014 from Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) ISBN: 9781481403542

The Interview:

Rachel: What are some of your favorite places to write?

Joshua: For the most part I write in my home office (i.e., half of my bedroom). But depending on what I’m writing, I sometimes like to plant myself in the actual place. So, for example, I wrote the parts of one book that were set in a forest in, you guessed it, a forest. And I’m hoping to be able to reserve a room in Thoreau’s actual birth house for a project I’m planning that has to do with the New England Transcendentalists!

Rachel: Oooo, I hope to hear more about this project regarding New England Transcendentalists. Being from New England myself and fascinated by Thoreau, I’m hoping it’s fictional and thriller-ish. *bounce bounce* Okay, tell us a) something quirky about your family, b) a sad pet story, or c) your best childhood memory.

Joshua: Oh my gosh, a sad pet story! We all have them, so maybe readers will identify with mine. When I was about nine, my parents decided I was responsible enough to have my own pet, and I really wanted a lizard. At the time, anoles were super popular, so that’s what I got. Little did I know that they’re extremely difficult to keep alive in captivity. Mine refused to eat or drink, and within several days, s/he died. At which point, realizing I’d been too busy trying to save my pet to name it, I choked out to my parents, “His name is George!”
On a less pathetic note, I do think this experience taught me something about the responsibility we humans hold toward the natural world—and how we don’t and shouldn’t possess it.

Rachel: Aww, poor George! Neat that you were able to learn from it, though. :) Who are your favorite authors to read, and how do they influence your writing?

Joshua: I have so many favorites, it’s hard to name only a few. There are the classics of speculative fiction like Tolkien, Wells, and Zelazny, the college standards like Thoreau, Vonnegut, and Morrison, and the modern YA writers like Collins, Dashner, and Bacigalupi. That’s only nine names, and it doesn’t even scratch the surface—plus I discover new favorites every day! So in my case, I’ve spent a lifetime assimilating all these writers, borrowing from them, learning from them—and then, when it pours out in my own writing, it’s practically impossible for me to tell where any particular thing came from. That’s why writers need to be readers: not so you can mimic specific techniques, but so you’re immersed in language and craft all your life.

Rachel: Definitely! I see this happen with my writing a lot, too — especially because I tend to read a different genre than I’m currently writing. Speaking of genres/categories, you’re known on Twitter and Blogger as YA Guy. Can you tell me a bit about how you fell in love with Young Adult?

Joshua: I fell in love with YA years ago, when I was a pre-teen and teen. Though the genre hadn’t been named yet, many of my favorite books—Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume, A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle, The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened by Don Robertson—would now be recognized as YA. So writing a YA book felt like a return, a coming home. The YA Guy moniker reflects that—I’m not just a guy who writes YA, I truly am a YA Guy.

Rachel: If you were a character in your favorite TV show, who would you be, and why?

Joshua: Well, my all-time favorite shows are Northern Exposure, Scrubs, Cheers, The X-Files, and Seinfeld. Choose a geeky character from any of those shows, and it’s me. (Joel from Northern Exposure, J. D. from Scrubs, all of the scientists from The X-Files, etc.) I’ve accepted my geekitude, and I’m not ashamed of it in the least. I love cartoons and monster movies, I can’t dance, and I’m completely inept in any social situation. Accept it, and move on.

Rachel: Ha, those are all of the favorites of my most beloved Language Arts teacher! *hugs you* And as far as social ineptitude, acceptance reached, geeks rule. ;) One last question: What kinds of things inspire you? Life experiences, social issues, human interaction, beautiful prose? All of the above?

Joshua: Like most people, I’m inspired by many things, whether that be a particularly meaningful encounter or a fleeting snatch of song. But deep down, what inspires me the most is the natural world. And I’m not just talking about things like the Grand Canyon; to me, the metamorphosis of a tadpole to a frog is every bit as awe-inspiring. In almost everything I’ve written—and Survival Colony 9 is no exception—the physical world is much more than backdrop: it’s what shapes my characters, tests them, haunts them. It’s a character unto itself, every bit as important as the humans who inhabit it.

Rachel: So true (about frogs–my kids and I enjoy them in the little pond just down the road from our house), and that’s truly gorgeous and beautiful (the physical world as a character), and something I wish I was better at in my writing. Thanks so much for joining me today, Josh, and happy book release!


About Joshua David Bellin:Bellin author photo

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, but the sequel’s already in the works! Josh is represented by the fabulous Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency. Josh loves to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). He is the self-proclaimed world’s worst singer, but plays a pretty mean air guitar. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

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