Carrie Ryan blog tour!

Today we are participating in Carrie Ryan‘s blog tour. I read her book The Forest of Hands and Teeth last year and enjoyed it (and so have my students!). You might remember it as The First Zombie Book I Ever Read. Her new book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, just came out. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I am very excited to get to it. I am also a particular fan of Carrie Ryan because she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. (I am trying to overlook that whole thing about her going to Duke for Law School.)

Carrie graciously agreed to answer some of my burning questions about The Forest of Hands and Teeth, with some hints about things in The Dead-Tossed Waves. Here are her answers below. (Please note how politely she avoids commenting on Edward and Bella. Any animosity towards them is mine and mine alone.)

KARI: I think part of the isolation that was present in The Forest of Hands and Teeth is that no one, even the reader, finds out how all of the Unconsecrated came to be that way. Why did you choose to keep that hidden? Did the intense isolation make it difficult in places for you to maintain the story, since you only had a few characters to work with?

CARRIE RYAN: Great question! There are several reasons that I chose to keep the cause of the Return (the zombie apocalypse) hidden. First, with a first person point of view, the reader didn’t get to know unless the character gets to know and there was just never a chance for her to know. Mostly this is because in Mary’s world the existence of the zombies is just a fact of life, much like the fact that the Civil War ended without the Confederacy breaking away from the Union is a fact of life that we just accept and don’t really think about. The existence of zombies isn’t new to Mary or her mother, or her mother’s mother or her mother’s mother’s mother, etc.

Second, I realized the cause isn’t important to the story. Whether it was caused by radiation, government experiment gone wrong, mutating virus, etc doesn’t change in any way what happens in the book. Finally… I’m not sure most people would have even known what caused it. I imagine the world would have dissolved into chaos so quickly that the truth was never fully known or understood.

KARI: At the end of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Mary realizes she still has worlds to explore and decides that she cares more about finding answers rather than choosing a boy. I enjoyed that because of the contrast to the Edward-and-Bella soulmate nonsense. Did you make that choice simply because you knew that’s who Mary was and that’s what she would do or because you wanted to offer a contrast to the messages/pressure that teenagers have to pair up?

CARRIE RYAN: I still remember the moment when I realized that Mary had to go after her dream on her own and what that would really mean in terms of the plot. I was sitting in the car and I wanted to grab my fiancé and cry about what I knew in my heart had to happen in the story.

I didn’t come to that decision to make a contrast with any other books, mostly it was just who Mary is as a character. I definitely knew that part of her story is what she has to give up in order to achieve her goals and I think that often teens (and adults) have to make similar decisions, especially when deciding where to go to college, where to live after high school, what priorities to make in their lives, etc.

KARI: Religion is often an easy target in literature and movies, and it’s true that religious beliefs don’t keep people from making bad decisions. Why did you choose a religious order like the Sisterhood to keep the secrets from people rather than simply some kind of government organization?

CARRIE RYAN: From the moment I started writing the book the Sisterhood (the government running the village) was always a dominant force. Often in history (and today) there’s little distinction between some religions and some governments and because of how the village was founded (which I discuss a bit in The Dead-Tossed Waves) I knew that religion would dominate their world. I didn’t think of religion as an easy target as much as I found several historical models to base the village off of — situations where, out of love or duty or desire for power and control, people withheld information and dictated beliefs for what they considered to be a higher power. One reason I found using an organized religion useful in the book is the idea of blind faith — Mary is asked to take on faith that the village is all that’s left in the world and she’s uncomfortable and wants to test the boundaries of what she’s been told.

If you are interested, you can follow Carrie Ryan’s tour as she blogs at the following places:

3/16 Cynsations
3/17 The Book Smugglers
3/18 MTVNews.com “Hollywood Crush”
3/19 The Page Flipper
3/21 Reader Girlz
3/22 Mundie Moms
3/23 Cheryl Rainfield
3/24 Just Blinded Books
3/25 The Story Siren
3/26 Bildungsroman
3/27 Beautiful Creatures

Carrie is also answering questions from March 22-April 2 at Random Buzzers, and you can become a fan of The Dead-Tossed Waves on Facebook. I’m hoping to read The Dead-Tossed Waves this weekend, so expect my review next week! I am not kidding when I say that my students have loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth, so I am going to brave the zombie apocalypse for them again.

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