Hi guys! I am super excited about the books that 2018 is bringing in! Already, I’ve read some amazing debuts that have stunned me, and I am so glad to say that Your One & Only is one of them! It is already one of my favorite novels of all-time, and to celebrate its release, I have invited the author Adrianne Finlay to speak a bit about herself and her book in this exclusive interview! I hope you enjoy, and please go pre-order this amazing novel!
About the Book
Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?
While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?
Your One & Only is releasing from HMH on February 6th!
1. Your debut YA sci-fi novel Your One & Only—which is set to release from HMH Books for Young Readers on February 6th—follows the story of Jack, the only human in existence, and Althea-310, a manufactured clone, as they fall in love and uncover hidden secrets about the community of Vispera. If you were a clone in Vispera, which model would you be and why?
Oh, that’s a tough question! The thing is, writing the different clones models—their actions, their dialogue, their motivation—forces me to imagine the world from their perspective. I can’t have a character act in a way that’s mean, for instance, without considering what drives them. In some measure, I understand and empathize with all my characters, because I have to. So trying to pick the one I identify with most is hard! I guess of the traits the different models hold, I’d probably imagine myself most aligned with an Inga, because they’re artistic, and I like to think I am too.
2. One of the main reasons why I love Your One & Only is that it examines the underlying question of “What truly makes each of us human?” How do you explore this theme throughout the novel, and how would you answer this question?
The clones have refined their DNA to foster the form of communication they have, where they commune. Because they commune—a sort of empathic ability that makes them feel the emotions their siblings and their community are feeling—they’re not forced to use their imagination to understand the feelings of someone else, someone different from them. That’s part of what makes us human, I think, our imagination. No other animal has our defined concept of the future or the past, and can’t contemplate its own mortality or the suffering of others. We have that ability, and when we use it to empathize with others, we become our better selves. One of the ways we enact this ability is through storytelling.
3. Would you consider yourself to be more like Jack or Althea? Are there any similarities between you and any of the characters in the novel, and if so, what are they?
I’m not as volatile as Jack is—I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve like he does, so in that way I’m more like Althea, logical and thoughtful. As a parent, and like most parents, I’m definitely like Sam. He worries about Jack, and feels a lot of concern about how Jack will navigate a world that in so many ways is a difficult world to be in.
4. Could you describe to us the world-building process you used to create the society of Vispera, from the nine models and the ceremonies to the Slow Plague and the history behind the community? What were some of the challenges you faced as you created this futuristic dystopia, and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges was just making it clear how the cloning system worked. Early on, I tried to spell it out clearly in a way that didn’t feel like it was just plopped into the story. The clones create a new generation every ten years. The generations are made up of ten siblings, and there are nine sibling models. Another challenge was figuring out how the naming system would work. I knew from the beginning that all the clone siblings would have the same name within their sibling group, so then I came up with the numbering system that counts up, so Althea is Althea-310, and her siblings are Altheas 311-319.
5. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Did you ever surprise yourself as you drafted and revised your novel?
Definitely a pantser. I like to discover things as I go, and I love when a story or character surprises me. Being a pantser often means spending more time on revision, especially if the story has gone in a direction you didn’t know it would. But even if I sometimes do end up trying to outline, I still try to leave room for surprises to happen.
6. Was Your One & Only influenced by The Giver? What were some other science fiction or dystopian literature, TV shows, or movies that impacted the book and its storyline?
Your One & Only was influenced by The Giver—particularly I think in the way Jack is the only one in the community who can hear music, and Jonas in The Giver comes to see color and hear music when he gets the memories. The last line of Your One & Only is a bit of homage to the last line of The Giver (and also Paradise Lost, actually).
7. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. A couple of times I even created audio versions of my stories on cassettes, like a radio show. My interest in writing and story telling was probably formed because I read a lot. We didn’t watch any TV in our home, and reading was a big part of every day life. I’ve made up for the lack of TV since then, but as a kid, needing to find other ways to entertain myself made a big impact.
8. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
I love end of the world books, like Station Eleven, The Passage, and Zone One. In YA my favorites are the Delirium series, Under the Never Sky, and I’m looking forward to The Belles, which comes out the same day as Your One & Only. Currently I’m reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, which is great, as well as book one of the comic series Saga. I’ve also been loving the ARC’s of the other 2018 debut writers that I’ve had the opportunity to read this year, contemporaries like Fat Girl on a Plane, The Calculus of Change, and Nothing Left to Burn were all fabulous.
9. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
When I’m not writing, I’m teaching. I’m a professor of English at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa. I also make soap, lotion, and lip balm with my friend Rachel as Semisweet Soaps. We sell it locally and raise money for type one diabetes research. I also have two small children, so between them, reading, writing, grading, and soaping, I have no idea what I was thinking, putting all this on my plate. It’s a lot!
10. How does it feel knowing that your first book is going to be published very soon? What are you looking forward to the most as a debut author in 2018?
It feels a little surreal! I’m most looking forward to forging relationships with other writers and authors.
11. According to your bio, you are one of the co-founders of Semisweet Soaps, in which you and your partner Rachel Morgan (who is also a fellow writer) make and sell soap, lotion, lip balm, and butter to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes research. How did you and Rachel conceive of the idea for the business? Could you describe to us some of the processes you use to produce your products? (You don’t have to give away any company secrets, haha.)
First, a few years ago my mother-in-law declared a handmade Christmas. It was November, so too late to knit something for everyone, so I started researching other things I could make. I wanted it to be something people would actually enjoy, would be useful, and would feel luxurious. That led me to making cold process soap, which is made with butters, oils, and lye. People really seemed to like it! My partner Rachel has a son who was diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was four years old, and once I got her into the soap making too, we decided that would be the cause we focused on. Since then, we’ve raised thousands of dollars for diabetes research.
12. Will there be a continuation of Jack and Althea’s story in the future? (I really, really want a sequel so much!) What else can we be looking forward from you, and could you give us any secrets about them?
There aren’t any plans right now for a sequel, but we’ll see what happens. Right now I’m working on another science fiction project, but this one is set in the contemporary world. I’m loving writing it!
13. Before you go, would you like to share any advice you have to any aspiring authors or writers?
The best advice I’ve gotten is to keep going. Even when it gets difficult, or you’re not sure of yourself, get that whole draft written and worry about making it good later.
Thanks so much, Adrianne, for coming onto the blog! It’s so great having you!
About the Author
I received my PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University. Originally from Ithaca, New York, I now live in Cedar Falls, Iowa with my husband, the poet J. D. Schraffenberger, and our two young daughters. I’m an associate professor of English at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa and the Program Director of Creative Writing. I teach creative writing, composition, and literature classes. One of the really fun classes I teach is Adolescent Lit, where we read some of my favorite authors: Lois Lowry, S.E. Hinton, Robert Cormier, Laurie Halse Anderson, Walter Dean Myers. I change this list up a lot by adding new releases and various titles just to keep things interesting. Because I don’t have enough to do (ha ha), I also make soap, lotion, and lip balm with my partner Rachel under the name Semisweet Soaps. We sell our products locally, raising money for Type 1 diabetes research.
Pre-Order Your One & Only today!
Are you excited for Your One & Only? Do you like sci-fi romance?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!