by Zack Smith
And the roots of the former schoolteacher’s interstellar romance came from her time at NC State University.
“When I went to NC State, my parents just dropped me off,” says Revis, who’ll appear with four other YA authors at Quail Ridge tonight as part of the “Breathless Reads” book tour.
“With my main character, Amy, I was remembering what it was like to be alone in college," she says. "There’s a sense of freedom, but also danger, and it was very harrowing to be alone.
"College really helped me become who I wanted to be, something I couldn’t have done just staying in one place.”
Revis received an undergraduate degree in English education and a graduate degree in English literature from NC State, but it took her about 10 full novels before she sold Across the Universe, the tale of a teen girl awakened from a cryogenic sleep on a long-term space voyage to discover that 1) the ship’s 50 years from its destination, 2) a patriarchal and highly superstitious society has evolved from the ship’s permanent crew and 3) she can’t be put back to sleep.
Revis says that her background as a teacher in Rutherford County helped her capture the teenage voice for the novel.
“I never really grew up all the way—I still have that teenage voice in me,” she says.
“It helped being a teacher and hanging around kids a lot. And you have to remember what it’s like—that worry and self-doubt that you have as a teenager, which I think everyone has.”
One of the highlights of getting the book published, she says, is “seeing my students read the book—and writing in fan letters!”
Though she counts such SF TV series as Firefly, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica among her biggest influences, Revis admits that Across the Universe is “not as heavy on the science part—I kind of had to invent my way through the book.”
“I tried to research what we’d need on the ship, and what we don’t have now, and how to make it possible,” says Revis, who’s currently editing the sequel to Across the Universe, the second part in what will be a trilogy.
“For example, in the first chapter, the character is cryogenically frozen, and we don’t have that because freezing makes cells burst. So I invented a goo that solves that problem.”
Nit-picking readers, though, should be warned that at least one error is intentional: “There’s actually one scientific inaccuracy that’s in there on purpose, and it’s a big clue as to what will happen in the next book.”
Beth Revis appears at Quail Ridge Books and Music tonight as part of the Breathless Reads Book Tour with Ally Condie, Andrea Cremer, Kirsten Miller and Brenna Yovanoff. The event starts at 7 p.m. and includes drawings for free books and more. Click here for more information, or call 828-1588.