We are so pleased to welcome Janette Rallison back to YA Fresh, to talk about her latest release, SLAYERS (writing as C. J. Hill).
Please, tell us about your book in ten words or less.
Dragons are coming back. Slayers have superpowers to fight them.
Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I'm going to have to go with Bess because she doesn't take anything too seriously--not even the fact that she's been conscripted into fighting dragons. Plus she has a good sense of humor. I love people like that.
Tell us something fun about SLAYERS. It can be a character detail, something that inspired the story, or a behind the scenes story from the writing process.
One of the inspiring incidents of this novel happened when I was fifth grade and had just moved to Silver Springs, Maryland. All the adults there were quite excited because this was the year that the cicadas would emerge from the ground after remaining dormant and hidden for 17 years. The next door neighbor happily explained to me that this was the cicadas’ way of avoiding predators. Since they only emerged every 17 years, predators couldn’t depend on them as a food source.
A brilliant adaptation, I might add, for an insect that isn’t smart enough to avoid accidentally flying into your hair.
I remember finding a lot of hollow cicada skins that summer, because cicada’s also shed their skin. Ahh, there’s nothing nicer to find hanging from your bedroom windowsill than a creepy, hollow bug skin.
But anyway, the point to all of this was that as a child I immediately picked up on what the adults seemed to have missed in the cicadas’ amazing return from the underworld. If bugs could (sort of) hibernate for nearly two decades in order to give themselves a natural advantage, why couldn’t other species do it too? Maybe there were animals with such long life cycles we just hadn’t caught them emerging yet.
I grew up on Godzilla movies and so had a strong and deep rooted fear that dinosaurs might one day show up and start smacking buildings around and eating screaming Japanese people—or worse yet: eat me.
No one knew what had caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and I was surprised that no one had come up with my theory. They weren’t really gone. They were just hibernating. Waiting until there were lots of yummy fifth grade girls around to chomp on. And there were probably some eggs buried under my house!!
The nice thing about childhood fears is that you can use them later in your novels. Nothing is ever wasted when you’re a writer. In Slayers, dragon eggs can hibernate for over a hundred years, and now they're coming back.
Great story, and love how you were able to bring it forward to your writing! What is a favorite comment you've ever received from a fan?
Sometimes kids tell me they they were reading my book in school--when they were supposed to be doing something else--and they got caught because they laughed out loud. You've got to love a kid who risks punishment to read.
Great! What are you working on now?
I have some revisions to do on a paranormal romance, and then I'll start writing the second book of Slayers.
Thanks so much, Janette!
Now, for our readers, in order to be entered to win a signed copy of Slayers, and playing off Janette's chat about cicadas flying into her hair and shedding their skins on her window sill, mention a bug that is less than thrilling to you in our comments. (I'll start: since I have a bee allergy, for me it's, well, bees!)
Best of luck, and be sure to check in on Monday to see the name of the randomly drawn winner!