STARTERS by Lissa Price
My life has changed so much in fifteen months. My debut YA futuristic thriller, STARTERS, is now an international bestseller, published in 24 countries. The book trailer played before the Hunger Games movie in selected cities in the US, the UK and the Philippines. Random House sent me on a national tour where I met remarkable booksellers, librarians, teachers and bloggers. As amazing as all this is, it’s not the best part of being published.
Two years ago, I was caught in the recession like many, hardly able to sleep at night. And then I wrote this book. I was quickly offered representation and I went with an agent that I had met a few years before that, one night during Thrillerfest. We never spoke about writing, but I had a good feeling about her. And then I found out that she had represented a book I admired.
Now readers from many countries email and tweet me, saying they couldn’t put STARTERS down, golden words to a thriller writer. I thought my readership would be teen girls but in fact it’s also been boys, adults and even seniors. Everyone wants to know how I got the idea. It’s pretty simple, really. I couldn’t get a flu shot at Costco. A batch had been spoiled and so the government set up a triage system — only the very young and the very old and the infirm could get the vaccine first. I left without the shot but with an idea — what if this were a killer flu? Then all that would be left would be the vaccinated ones, the most vulnerable members of our society: the very young, and the very old. The idea haunted me and it formed my world for STARTERS. My main character, Callie, came forth quickly, a 16 year-old who had lost her parents and didn’t want to be separated from her sickly brother. They squat in abandoned office buildings until she hears of this mysterious place that will pay a lot of money to rent out your body.
Of course big twists and turns follow. And then I get the emails from readers – from France, Korea, Germany, Holland — where I can practically hear the gasps (love that part) as they tell me how shocked they were and how they can’t wait for the sequel. And even though I sit alone in my room, typing at the computer, I’m able to reach people across the globe and share the visions in my mind. Out of all the wonderful benefits of being a published author, this is one, for me, is truly the best.