12 September 2014

First Line Friday- Joshua Bellin

Today's First Line Friday Guest is my fellow Fall Fourteener, Joshua David Bellin, author of SURVIVAL COLONY 9.

In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to--because heat, dust, and starvation aren't the only threats in this ruined world.

There are also the Skaldi.

Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they're not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.

Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi--and now he can't remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can't, he's their next victim

So let's get started!
What are the opening lines of your book?

Survival Colony Nine starts with a single word of dialogue, the name of my main character: “Querry.” The word is spoken by Querry’s father as he wakes his son in the middle of the night during an attack on their camp. Here’s a little bit more:


My dad’s voice in the dark.

“Son.  Come on.  Time to get moving.”

His hand on my shoulder, shaking me from sleep.

“Querry.  On your feet.  Now.”

I opened my eyes to more darkness and my dad’s shadowy shape filling the tent.  I couldn’t make out his face, but I could hear his quiet breath.  There was no urgency in his voice, there never was, but I knew this was for real.

Were these lines set from the first draft? And if not, how many times do you think you've changed them?

You’d think that with a single word, nothing would have changed, right? Wrong! I never changed the idea of using a single word of dialogue to open the book, and the lines that follow that word remained almost exactly the same from first draft to final version. But the word itself changed many times. In the first draft, the word was “Son.” In a later draft, the word was “Hey.” Before I’d fully established the characters, their speech patterns, and the way they related to each other, I even experimented with “Boy.” But in the end, I decided the main character’s name was the right choice.

Why do you think this opening is perfect for your novel?

A couple reasons. First, Querry is an amnesiac, so I wanted to open the novel abruptly, in a disorienting way, with the reader knowing no more about what’s going on than he does. But also, for reasons I can’t delve into without giving away major surprises, it’s important that the first word in the book is Querry’s name. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Give us your favorite opening line(s) from a favorite book, and tell us why you love them:

Can I give two? My first would have to be from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” I love the rhythm of the language, and also how this line sets up so many questions: “What’s a hobbit? Why do they live in holes? What’s interesting or special about this particular hobbit?” I also love the opening line from Roger Zelazny’s sci-fi/fantasy novel Nine Princes in Amber: “It was starting to end, after what seemed most of eternity to me.” I love the mystery (What’s “it”? Why is “it” starting to end?), and I also love how this line throws the reader right into the narrator’s experience. Zelazny’s narrator is an amnesiac too, and we’re immediately as confused as he is. Who knows--maybe that’s where I got the idea for the opening lines of my book!

Love it! 
SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is out September 23!!
Be sure to ADD it on Goodreads and PREORDER your copy now!