Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hungry by H.A. Swain Blog Tour: Interview & Excerpt + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop in the HUNGRY by H.A. Swain Blog Tour hosted by Macmillan Publishing. Today we have a fun Interview with H.A. Swain and a Excerpt of Chapter 1 of HUNGRY + enter to win your very own copy of HUNGRY (US ONLY)!!


H.A. Swain
Published: June 3rd, 2014
Genres: YA, Dystopian, Sci-f
In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.


“… comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love.”
—Song of Solomon

“What’s the matter, Thalia?”

I wake up with a jerk. Squinting into the light, I see Mom zip past where I’m sprawled across the couch clutching a pillow to my belly, moaning. I try to clear my head and get my bearings. I’m not under a tree. There is no dirt. I poke myself in the stomach to make sure there’s no hole. When I sit up, my head feels too heavy, so I flop back on the living room couch. My arms feel like spindly strings attached to my shoulders. My legs are wobbly. My belly is concave.

“Why were you in the dark?” Mom asks over the yapping of her personal cyber assistant Gretchen, who runs through today’s junk mail on the main screen.

“Today only…” Gretchen announces.

“No,” says Mom. Bonk, Gretchen deletes the message.

“Save big…” Gretchen says.

“No,” says Mom. Bonk, goes Gretchen.

“Cyber sale!” Gretchen announces.

“Send to Thalia,” Mom commands. Ping!

I roll away from the noise but can’t get comfortable on the stiff couch because the backs of my legs stick to the wipeable surface. I pull the heavy pillow that smells strongly of synthetic citrus cleanser over my head to block out the fracas. I wish I could dive back into my dream and find that thing I was searching for. I inhale deeply, but the biting lemony-lime scent is not the smell I want. The smell I’m after is less pungent. More subtle. Not yellow or green but warm and earthy brown.

Mom’s heels clack against the tile, then she slips a cool dry hand under the pillow and presses against my forehead.

“What are you doing?” I swat her away with the pillow.

“Checking for a fever.”

“You’re a doctor for god’s sake,” I grouse at her. “Why are you touching me?”

Mom crosses her arms and sticks a hip out to the side. She’s all points and angles. “If you had your Gizmo with you, I could read your vitals from over there.” She points across the room. “But since you don’t, I have to do it the old-fashioned way.” She holds up her hand and waves her fingers at me.

“Gross,” I mutter.

Mom snorts. “That’s how doctors used to do it. They even used their hands for surgery.” She makes a sick face at the thought of digging inside someone’s body. “Why are you on the couch in the middle of the day anyway?”

“I just feel…” I try to describe it. “Weird,” I say because there is no one word I can think of.

“Weird is a relative term,” says Mom. “Be specific.”

“Hollow,” I say. I could tell her more. Details like how it starts in my belly. Between my ribs and hips. Above my navel but beneath that springy muscle, the diaphragm, that makes your lungs expand and contract. How it’s a strange yawning feeling, like my insides grew a mouth and that mouth is opening. I push a finger into the spot, but all I can say is, “Empty.”

“Are you achy?” She cocks her head, and her hair shifts like a black cultured Silkese curtain across her narrow shoulders.

I shake my head no, which makes me dizzy for a moment as if my noggin is a balloon tethered above my shoulders.

Mom switches into full-on MD mode, picking up my arm with two fingers at my wrist, checking my pulse.

“Next you’ll cut off my leg with a rusty saw and no anesthesia,” I mutter, uncomfortable in her grip.

“Your historical medical references are hilarious,” she deadpans. “You should work as a reenactor at the Relics. Did you have your Synthamil today?”

“Of course,” I grumble.

“And water? Sixteen ounces of each this morning?”

“God, Mom, yes.”

“Have you urinated?”

“Would you like a specimen?”

“Don’t get smart.” She drops my arm, which flops to the couch. I feel like I’m made of Just-Like-Skin. “Your Synthamil has been precisely calibrated, and if you don’t…”

“Jeez, Mom.” I sit up and hold my head in my hands. “I know. I drank it all and I had water on schedule and I peed. Okay?”

“Well, you’re certainly grouchy,” she mutters.

I glare at her through my fingers as she clacks away and returns gently shaking a bottle of blue Synthamil with my name embossed in gold across the label. “Maybe we need to recalibrate. Your metabolism might have shifted.” She twists off the cap and hands me the liquid. “Maybe you’re having one last growth spurt.”

I roll my eyes at her before I take a swig. “I’m seventeen, not twelve.”

She shrugs. “It’s been known to happen. Sometimes people in their twenties grow a few more inches. Especially when they enter the Procreation Pool and their hormones surge.” She’s off again, clicking through the hall to her home office.

I chug the Synthamil then wipe the back of my hand across my mouth so I don’t have a blue moustache.

Mom returns a few minutes later with a patch and an antiseptic swab. “I’ll monitor you for twenty-four hours and see how everything is looking. Lift up your shirt.”

“I don’t want that on me.”

She tugs at the back of my shirt anyway. “It’s only for a day. It’ll give me more info than just your Gizmo, which you never have with you anyway.” She manages to expose my lower back. The swab is so cold it makes me jump. “Hold still. You won’t even know it’s there.” She peels the ultrathin two-inch patch off its backing and presses it firmly against my skin, rubbing around all of the edges to make sure it’s good and stuck. Then she takes her Gizmo out of her pocket and establishes a link with the patch.

“Doesn’t have a locator, does it?” I scratch at it.

She swats my hand away. “Don’t pick. You could break a circuit.” She checks the connection then slips her Gizmo into her pocket. “And it’s not an affront to your personal liberty. It only collects internal data.”

“As if that’s not personal?”

Mom’s eyes narrow and she frowns, which makes her look just like her mother.

“That’s your Nguyen face,” I tell her. She gives me the eyebrow. “For real, you look just like Grandma Grace when you’re mad at me.”

For my biology class, we’ve been mapping the genomes of our four grandparents, our parents, and ourselves in order to figure out where our traits come from. I’m convinced there must be a humorless gene that comes straight from my mother’s Vietnamese side because Grandma Grace is the most serious woman I’ve ever met, which is probably why she’s such a good hematologist. There’s nothing funny about blood.

Mom pushes off the couch. “I’d be happy to find a specialist to go over your data and make a recommendation.”

It’s an idle threat and we both know it. Specialists are the last resort, only called in when all the existing science has failed and the only thing left to try is some experimental treatment a doctor is hoping to patent as the latest breakthrough therapy. “As long as it’s Papa Peter,” I say.

This actually makes Mom laugh. She looks like her father when she’s happy, with his broad smile and bright eyes. My whole life, I’ve heard stories about what a gentle and sweet pediatrician he was and how he sacrificed part of his family’s rations for food and medicine to save starving children during the wars. That was a huge point of contention between my hard-nosed grandmother and my bleeding-heart grandfather that almost destroyed their family. My mother says it’s an example of an old-fashioned cultural divide—Asian versus African American. Since Papa’s black, she claims he had a family history of looking out for the most vulnerable. But that never made much sense to me. I think Grandma and Papa are just different sorts of people no matter what their cultural backgrounds may have been.

“Papa Peter’s hugs and stickers won’t recalibrate your Synthamil formula if something’s off,” Mom says as she finishes tidying up the mail, because she can’t stand anything unnecessary junking up our waves. “By the way, Gretchen sent you some VirtuShops,” she tells me. “You need new pants.”

“I have plenty of jeans and skirts.” I get off the couch and tug my miniskirt down around my thighs.

She gives me the eyebrow again. “Thalia, we discussed this. You can’t keep wearing old stuff like that.” She points to my corduroy mini. “What’s it made of, anyway?”

“A vintage natural fiber called cotton, thank you very much.”

She looks to the ceiling as if the solar lights will recharge her patience with me. “I know what cotton is, Thalia. You have an Interpersonal Classroom Meeting this week. You can’t wear Grandma Apple’s old clothes to an ICM. What will your instructors think?”

“Who cares what they think? Anyway, it’s not a real class. More like four hours of product placement combined with a thinly veiled focus group, if you ask me. Not that anyone ever does.”

Mom shakes her head and sighs. “A, that’s not true. And B, your father and I care what your teachers think.”

“Teachers?” I snort.

“Thalia—” she starts, but I cut her off.

“Dad doesn’t mind,” I tell her, and she doesn’t say anything because she knows it’s true. “I’d rather go real-time shopping anyway.”

“Should be called waste-of-time shopping,” Mom says and chuckles at her own dumb joke. “If you don’t like what I put in your box, then design your own.”

“But I don’t know what I want until I see it and touch it.”

She stops what she’s doing to look at me. “Seriously, what century are you from?” This is her favorite question. One she’s asked me since I was little and preferred to look at real books than have tablet time. “But if that’s how you want to do it, fine. Just do it. Get something decent and make a good personal impression.”

“I like the feel of cotton,” I tell her as I sit down to browse my message center on the main screen.

“Chemically, Cottynelle is virtually the same,” she says.

“Virtually,” I reiterate. “But not really.”

“Don’t start.”

“Your clothes are grown from bacteria and yeast in a lab.”

“Enough.” She gives me a warning glance. “Why don’t you let Astrid cull the news for you?” she asks, motioning to how I’m manually going through headlines.

“That would necessitate finding my Gizmo.”

“You don’t know where it is?” She looks at me as if I’m missing an appendage.

“Around here somewhere.”

“You’re as bad as Grandma Apple.”

“How bad am I?” Grandma Apple bops up from the basement, her gray curls bouncing. She carries a ball of string and two pointy sticks.

“Never mind,” says Mom and goes back to her conversation with Gretchen.

“Gizmo,” I mouth to Grandma, who twirls her finger in the air as if to say whoop-de-do.

I snicker, which makes my mom’s back straighten, although she pretends to ignore us as she pockets her Gizmo then announces, “I’m off to the lab again.”

“But it’s Friday,” says Grandma.

Mom glances up. “So?”

“Family time,” Grandma says hopefully, but I see her shoulders slumping in anticipation of defeat.

“Did you schedule it?” Mom asks.

“But Lily, it’s every Friday,” says Grandma.

“Well if you don’t schedule it…” Mom trails off. “It’s not hard, Rebecca.” Mom has a habit of speaking to Grandma as if she’s talking to a small child who doesn’t understand the great big scary Interweb. “Thalia or Max could teach you in two minutes. You just tell your PCA, what’s her name?”

“Annie,” Grandma says dryly.

“Just tell Annie one time to coordinate all our calendars with a repeating event. Then we’ll be synched up, and when Gretchen checks my daily calendar to generate my to-do list…”

“I know how to do it,” Grandma clarifies. “Just seems unnecessary.”

I blink off the main screen. “We can do family night without Mom,” I tell Grandma, hoping to avoid another awkward conversation about family life between the two of them.

Grandma smiles at me, but I see the tiredness around her eyes. “Of course, lovey.” She holds up the ball of string. “I’m going to teach you how to knit.”

I catch the tail end of my mom’s eye roll as she swings her black Silkese jacket around her shoulders. Before she leaves, she says, “Schedule family night. We’ll do it next week.”

“Sure thing,” I call after her, knowing full well that will never happen. “You, me, and Dad?” I ask Grandma after the door wheeshes closed.

“I doubt it,” she says, pointing to the flashing video-message indicator on the main screen with my dad’s network photo.

I accept and Dad pops up on the screen. He’s in his office, slouching at his desk, surrounded by gently buzzing blue walls. “Hey, you guys, sorry I can’t make family night. I’ve got to work late.” Then he sits up tall and smiles. “But wait until you see what we’re working on! It’s almost done and you’ll be the first to have it. Promise.” I close Dad’s message and ask Grandma what she thinks the surprise will be.

“A robotic head for when you’re tired of thinking for yourself.”

“The latest craze,” I tell her. “You should have been a designer.”

“Missed my calling, huh?”

“Oh well, not everyone can change the world one nanoprocessor at a time.”

We both giggle at our stupid jokes, mostly because no one else would appreciate them.

“Let’s go knit,” I say. “With these.” I hold up my hands and wave my fingers like my mom did earlier.

“Subversive,” Grandma says with a chuckle.

* * *

Since it’s just the two of us, Grandma Apple and I cozy up in her living room, which is in the basement of our house. I love her place with all the fluffy throw pillows, warm quilts, and soft worn rugs, the old-fashioned wooden furniture, and best of all—the books. Mom can’t stand to come down here. She says all the microbes in the natural fibers make her sneeze. Not that that should surprise anyone. Sometimes I think my mom would rather live in her lab where every surface is smooth, cold, hard, and antibacterial.

I curl up next to my grandma on the sofa with my feet tucked beneath a hand-crocheted blanket her mother made a hundred years ago on their family farm.

“Used to be you could get yarn made out of natural fibers like cotton or wool,” she tells me as she loops the slate-gray string, the same color and texture as her hair, around a knitting needle.

“What’s wool again?” I ask, trying to mimic her motions with my own ball of red yarn and silver needles.

“The hair from sheep. But there were lots of other animals that people used for yarn, too. Goats, alpacas, rabbits. Each one had its own texture, and some of it was so soft and warm, you wouldn’t believe it now. Real yarn was nothing like these synth fibers.” She frowns down at the rows she’s knitting.

“Which did you raise?” I ask.

“Goats,” she tells me for the millionth time, but I can never remember the difference between a goat and a sheep. “Not the woolly one that said baa. The ornery one that would eat anything.” She laughs at some memory I’ll never understand. “But ours ate mostly sweet hay and clover, so their milk was delicious. And the cheese! There was nothing better than fresh goat cheese. Except for warm bread to put it on.” She sighs. “Ahh, the smell of fresh-baked bread. I keep telling your father he should make an app for that! Then I’d have a reason to use my Gizmo.”

I chuckle, then we’re quiet for a few moments while she corrects my yarn. Once I get the hang of the knit stitch, I say, “Tell me about dinner again.”

Grandma draws in a deep breath. “Well,” she says, thinking back. “That was the real family time, you know. Not for everyone, I guess, but in our family, since we were farmers, we wanted to sit down together and enjoy the food we’d raised.”

“That was before the wars.”

“Yes, but even during the wars, we did the best we could from what little we were able to grow, even if it was just bitter greens and a few chicken eggs.”

“And you had lots of people who came to eat with you, right?”

“At first,” she says. “But when things got scarce, like everyone, we hid what we had.”

I shake my head. “I don’t want to hear that part. Tell me about when dinner was good.”

Grandma grins. “Alright.” She lays her knitting in her lap and thinks for a moment with her eyes closed. “I’ll tell you how to make a roasted chicken.”

Grandma takes her time, as if she’s back in a kitchen, preparing each ingredient. She tells me about melting butter in the microwave and pouring it over the chicken. Then sprinkling on salt and pepper and fresh herbs that grew right outside her back door in a little pot filled with rich dark dirt. She explains how her mother put the chicken in a pan with onions and carrots and potatoes dug from her garden, and then stuck it all in the oven for hours, only opening the door to brush the juices over the chicken’s skin every once in a while. I close my eyes when she talks about food, and I try to imagine how it was. My mind drifts and blurs through vague images, but it all fades into words because I have no idea what she’s really talking about. And, to be honest, some of it sounds gross. Like the part about eating something dead.

“The fragrance of that roasting chicken would permeate the whole house, and you knew when it was done the skin would be brown and crispy and the meat would be tender and juicy.”

As she says this, a sound, like a yowling animal trapped beneath my rib cage, roils up from deep inside of me. “Oh my god!” I say, sitting up straight.

Grandma blinks at me.

“That keeps happening,” I tell her. “It’s so embarrassing! It happened the last time I was at a PlugIn with Yaz. Luckily most people had on their Earz so not too many heard. And the ones who did thought it was a weird ringtone.”

Grandma laughs.

“It’s not funny!” I clutch myself around the middle as if that will stop the noise from coming out again. “This doesn’t happen to anyone else I know. Something’s wrong with me. I’m a freak.”

“I don’t know about that,” she says calmly. “It sounds like your stomach is growling.”

I must look horrified as I picture some rampant parasites in my guts, shrieking for blood.

Grandma lays her hand on my leg. “It’s just what used to happen when people were hungry. Our stomachs would growl like that.”

“For god’s sake, don’t tell Mom!” I almost shout. “She would never forgive me.”

Grandma snorts. “Even the best inoculations can’t fight the power of a good roasted chicken!”

“That makes no sense,” I tell her. “I don’t even know what a roasted chicken is.”

“But someplace deep inside, your brain does,” says Grandma. “And my description was so powerful that it woke up the eater in you for a moment. I mean, come on, human beings ate food for hundreds of thousands of years before the inoculations. It’s a normal, natural response, Thalia. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Easy for you to say. It’s not happening to you.”

“Oh, you’d be appalled by what noises we used to make when we ate. Burps and gurgles and farts!” she laughs. “Your grandfather Hector could belch his full name after a few beers.”

“Disgusting,” I say.

“Actually, a well-timed, rip-roaring fart could be quite funny, if you ask me.”

I shake my head. “Oh, Grandma.”

“Anyway, Thal, I wouldn’t worry too much about that noise from your tummy,” she says with a wink. “I’m sure it will go away.” She looks down at the square of material I’ve knit. “In the olden days, this would have been called a pot holder.”

“What’d you do with it?” I ask, trying to figure out any use for something so small.

“You used it to pick up hot pots so you didn’t burn your hand.”

“I always forget that food was warm.” I size up the thing in my palm then laugh at how absurd the world must seem to Grandma. “Now it’d have to be a Gizmo holder.”

“What a good idea!” My grandma, ever the resourceful one, takes it from me and folds it in half. “Add a strap and it would be perfect.”

From upstairs, I hear pinging on the main screen. “Ugh,” I groan. “Probably Mom sending more VirtuShops. She thinks I need new pants.”

Grandma frowns. “I love your little skirts and jeans.”

“Of course you do—they were yours.”

“When I wore them, they were just farm-girl clothes, but you have such a wonderful independent sense of style.” The screen pings again. “Could be a message from your dad or a friend,” Grandma says. “You know it’s okay if you bring your Gizmo down here.”

“I like having one place with nothing yapping at me.”

Grandma nods, because more than anyone else, she gets me. Mom says that’s because I’m an old lady at heart, which I take as a compliment.

“I should probably go check it,” I tell her with a sigh.

“That’s fine, sweetie,” says Grandma. “Thanks for doing family time with me.”

“I’ll be back,” I say, but she just smiles down at the long chain of stitches gathering on her lap.

Hey Heather, thank you so much for stopping by Addicted Readers today! I'm looking forward to our interview! :) 


HEATHER: Thank you for having me! Your site is awesome. I’ve learned about so many good books from you and I’m truly flattered that you’re including HUNGRY. 

ALICIA: 1. Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming release HUNGRY? 

HEATHER: HUNGRY imagines a future in which there is no more food, but seemingly no one feels hunger or is starving. When the main character, Thalia Apple, begins to have hunger pangs, it’s problematic because her mother was the lead scientist who developed the society’s synthetic food source, Synthamil, and the inoculations that suppress the urge the eat. Then Thalia meets Basil, a boy from a very different part of society who also experiences hunger. When she finds out that he’s part of an underground movement to bring back real food, she begins to understand that her world is not what it seems. Thalia must make a difficult decision whether to join the revolution and put her family in jeopardy or stick with the status quo. 

ALICIA: 2. HUNGRY sounds like one of the most original books I've heard of in a long time. How did you come up with the idea for HUNGRY? 

HEATHER: I’d like to claim that the inspiration for Hungry was solely my deep personal commitment to preserving family farms and protecting the environment for my future great-grandchildren…but that wouldn’t be true. Although I do believe family farms are vital to our collective well-being and that if we, as a society, don’t get our act together soon, we’re going to push the environment into deep, irrevocable trouble, that’s not what originally led me to write about a world with no food. The truth is I had this thought: If I didn’t have to feed my family, I’d have a lot more time to write! I started messing around with the idea of a world where no one had to eat but also no one was starving. That brought up some very interesting questions such as how would humans stay alive, what if government had been supplanted by one mega-corporation that controlled the nutrition supply, and ultimately what would be the down-fall of this society. 

ALICIA: 3. What obstacles did you have to overcome while writing HUNGRY? And which one was the most challenging? 

HEATHER: I knew HUNGRY would be a bigger, meatier book than I’ve written in the past because I wanted to tackle some fairly political issues—such as food rights, environmental problems, and the notion of shrinking government while corporate rights expand. 

Hey, wake up! Open your eyes! Did you just fall asleep? Yep, that was the problem: How was I going to weave those issues into a good, rollicking story that anyone (let alone teens who have a million other ways to be entertained) would want to read? 

So rather than trying to write about those issues directly (because…snore) I put Thalia and Basil into a series of sticky situations where they had to escape, run away, and outsmart people, which keeps the story moving forward quickly. But, underlying each of those situations was one of the issues I wanted to write about. For example, when Thalia’s mother learns that Thalia is experiencing hunger, she sends her away to a rehab center where we start learning some of the not-so-nice reality about this seemingly perfect world. 


ALICIA: 4. What other books have you written, and what can we look forward too from you in the future?

HEATHER: I’ve written three other YA novels which skew a bit younger and are lighter. The first two, Me, My Elf, and I and Selfish Elf Wish are about an elf who goes to a performing arts high school in Brooklyn. The third, Josie Griffin is Not a Vampire is a spoof on supernatural romance novels. I’m currently working on a new YA novel to follow Hungry but since I’m superstitious I can’t talk about it, yet. Don’t want to jinx it! 

ALICIA: 5. Have you always wanted to be a writer or was it something that you realized later in life? And what do you think you would be doing as far as a career if you weren't a writer? 

HEATHER: I never studied writing formally. My undergraduate work was in anthropology and folklore and I have a Masters degree in philosophy of education. I thought about getting an MFA to add to my collection of useless degrees, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. 

I didn’t start writing fiction until I was twenty-six and living in Japan. My husband and I had been married for six weeks when we moved to a small rural city two hours outside of Tokyo where I taught English in several public junior high schools. My job was very cushy and I barely had any work, so I took my laptop to school every day and wrote long letters home. Eventually, when I ran out of English-language novels to read, I turned some of my letters into short stories to entertain myself. Pretty soon, I was spending four or five hours a day at school writing. When the head English teacher would come get me for a class, I would feel very resentful and look at her like, “Can’t you see I’m working here? Sheesh!” I stayed at that job for two years so that I could continue writing while making money. I like to refer to that experience as my Japanese English Teaching Program Writing Fellowship. Thanks Japanese government! 

When we left Japan, we moved to New York City where I became a third grade teacher but I continued to write from 5:00 am to 7:00 am everyday before school and on the weekends. I sold my first short story (called “Sushi”) within a year and I remember thinking, Pfft, that was easy. Yeah, right. It took my another three years of short story rejections until I wrote and sold my first novel. Since then, I’ve publish a book every year. 

Although, I cannot imagine my life without writing, I truly love to teach. I’ve worked in several schools and have taught writing to adults. But in my secret life, if I weren’t a writer or a teacher, I would be a primatologist like Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey, studying chimps or gorillas in the wild. 

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ALICIA: 6. In 10 words, can you best describe HUNGRY for us? 

HEATHER: Ten words! Dude, I’m a novelist. I can’t even say hello to a friend in less than 10 words. I’m horrible at Twitter because I’m verbose. See, it’s happening now. I can’t shut up. Okay, how about I do it in haiku form? 

No food, no hunger.

The world is not what it seems.

Thalia must make change. 

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ALICIA: 7. If HUNGRY was opted for a movie, what actors/actress would you like to play your main characters? 

HEATHER: The good news is, HUNGRY has been optioned for a movie--YAY! Then again, very few books that get optioned ever go into production—BOO! But, just in case the film company is looking for casting ideas, let’s see who might be good…
Like most people in their world, Thalia and Basil’s families are made up of many different ethnicities. For example, Thalia’s grandparents are African-American, Vietnamese, Mexican, and white. I live in Brooklyn, NY so when I go outside my reality is not a sea of white faces, which sadly is what tends to be reflected in movies. I have a hard time understanding this. Not all stories are about people with light skin yet multi-ethnic actors are sorely under-represented in Hollywood. What’s up with that? Time to get with the program movie industry. 

Despite that lack of representation, there are some exceptional young actresses who would make a great Thalia like Amandla Stenberg (Rue in The Hunger Games) or Anna Shaffer (who played Romilda Vane in the Harry Potter movies). As for Basil, maybe a floppy-haired, serious Ezra Miller (from The Perks of Being a Wallflower). 

But here’s the thing, half way through the book, while on the run, Thalia and Basil genetically alter their appearances. Her skin and eyes are lightened and her hair becomes pink. Basil turns into a “Scando-boy” pale, blonde, and blue-eyed. It begs the question, would you alter the appearance of the actors or hire different actors to play these versions of the characters? I’m going to leave that one up the casting director!

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ALICIA: 8. If you lived in the world of HUNGRY what would be YOUR biggest challenge and why? 

HEATHER: I’m so much like Thalia in my reluctance to jump fully into Internet culture. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my smartphone. Like most people, I’m at a point where I can’t imagine living without it, but the constant barrage of clicking and liking and connecting over the interwebs annoys me after a while. Add to that, the constant babbling of the personal cyber assistants in Thalia’s world and I would lose my mind.

ALICIA: 9. What are 3 things that you must have in order to survive in the world of HUNGRY? And why are they needed OR helpful in your survival? 

HEATHER: This is a great question. If you asked Thalia at the beginning of the book she’d say you must have Synthamil (the synthetic nutrition people drink to stay alive), inoculations (drugs which suppress hunger), and a Gizmo (their super-powered smart phones) but when she meets Basil, she begins to realize that those assumptions might be wrong. 

ALICIA: 10. Again, you live in the world of HUNGRY, would YOU be able to stand up and take part in the revolution? Why or why not? 

HEATHER:  Yes, absolutely! I’m a rabble rouser. Always have been. I was the kid in school organizing written petitions when teachers were unfair. In college, I marched around protesting issues I felt passionately about. And now, when I learn of some inequity in the world that ticks me off, I try to actively participate in creating change. I think we each have an obligation to stand up and take part in making the change we want to see in the world, as Gandhi said. When I first started working on this book, I was inspired by the young adults who were leading the Arab Spring and Occupy movements around the world. I knew I wanted to write about characters who were willing take risks like that for the greater good of their society. I’d love to hang out with Thalia and Basil and the Dynasaurs (the underground hacktivist network) and the Analogs (the underground food rights movement) from the book. They’re my kind of peeps. 


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*Heather's Favorites*

ALICIA: - Favorite place to write? 

HEATHER: Standing up at my kitchen counter which my dog nearby.

ALICIA: - Favorite author? 

HEATHER: I can only choose one? That’s cruel. I can’t do that. There are so many! I love the work of Kate Atkinson, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut, Lois Lowry, and Margaret Atwood. 

ALICIA: - Favorite book? 

HEATHER: Dang, you’re really sticking it to me here! I like so many books for so many reasons. But okay, okay, if you insist, let’s go with Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It’s one of those books which taught me a part of world history that I never had thought about. It takes place in India during the transition from British colonial rule to Indian independence, but that’s just the backdrop for an amazing story chock full of compelling characters, lots of action, and magical realism. The language is beautiful, the story is great, and I learned so much from reading. It’s the kind of book you can read over and over again without getting bored. 

ALICIA: - Favorite book-boyfriend?

HEATHER: Zaphod Beeblebrox from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Even though the has two heads and three-arms and was voted “Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe” seven times, you’d never get bored with him! 

ALICIA: - Favorite song 

HEATHER: It changes all the time, but an enduring favorite is Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill. I think Thalia would like that song, too! 

ALICIA: - Favorite season? 

HEATHER: Autumn, always autumn. I love the sense of impending change. That shift from one extreme to the other. 

ALICIA: - Favorite vacationing place? 

HEATHER: Any quiet pristine glacier lake in the mid-west surrounded by trees will do me fine. 

ALICIA: - Favorite food?

HEATHER: I love black raspberries right off the bush and have since I was a kid. They ripen around my birthday in early July so my mom would always make me a pie instead of a cake. They’re hard to find, though, because they’re not blackberries and they’re not red raspberries. They’re black raspberries and they are wonderful.

ALICIA: - Favorite book YOU wrote? 

HEATHER: Hungry! Definitely. And not just because it’s the one we’re talking about. I grew so much as a writer in the process of working on this novel. I’m deeply invested in Thalia and Basil and what happens to their world. 

ALICIA: - Favorite animal? 

HEATHER: I love animals. We have two cats and a dog and if we didn’t live in the middle of a city, I’d be the kind of person who has goats and chickens and turtles and whatever poor animals limped onto my property in need of a little help. But, my 15-year-old Shetland sheepdog who is usually asleep near my feet is my most favorite non-human creature in the world. He’s my writing totem. 

ALICIA: - Favorite weekend thing? 

HEATHER: Anytime I can have a lazy morning with good coffee and a crossword puzzle (I’m obsessed with crossword puzzles) then mosey over to the farmer’s market to buy what looks good and cook a big ol’ dinner for friends that we eat in our garden while our kids run around, is a great day in my book. 

ALICIA: Heather, it was a blast having you here today! Good luck with the release of HUNGRY, and I look forward to your books in the future! :)

HEATHER: You’re the best! Thanks so much for including me.

***BIG thanks to Macmillian for sponsoring the Giveaway***

Prize: ONE Winner will receive a copy of HUNGRY by Heather Swain

Contest runs: May 29th, 2014 to June 18th, 2014 11:59pm

Open to: US Only.

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter Giveaway below.

Terms and Conditions: ONE winner will be randomly chosen through the Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted by email, then they will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is picked. I reserve the right to disqualify anyone you does not follow the rafflecopter instruction.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

H. A. SwainHeather Swain lives in a crooked house in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children, a barkless dog, and two rescue cats. She is the author of novels for adults and young adults, craft books, and numerous short stories, personal essays, and non-fiction articles.

When she’s not writing about vampires and elves, she’s making toys and playing games at home with her kids. Her first craft book, Make These Toys made a splash in the summer 2010, with reviews and excerpts in national magazines such as Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, and Better Homes and Gardens. The follow-up book, Play These Games hit shelves on May 1, 2012.

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  1. I absolutely love the concept of this book, and I look forward to reading it.


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