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February 27, 2016

Interview: Michael Buckley

About Michael`s Books:

Publisher: HMH
Published On: 5/5/15
Page Count: 376
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Cover: 5/5
When I first heard of this book I was confused by the cover. I thought it was going to be about a carnival near the water. Instead it was Cooney Island itself. The colors are absolutely gorgeous and I love how book 2 (Raging Sea) keeps with the theme.

Characters: 4.5/5
Lyric: I really couldn't believe Lyric was 16. There are choices that she makes that just make zero sense and its frustrating. Also the love thing between her and Prince Fathom is just so not needed. I would have been happier if they were just friends. 

Bex: Speaking of freinds Bex is amazing. I love her ways and thought process. I wish when she went away we could learn what the hell she was doing. He story seemed more fleshed out than Lyrics and I hope to read more about her in Raging Sea

Fathom: Starts out as the typical whiny royalty brat but then we get to watch as he goes and develops into something deeper. As a prince he expects everyone to worship the ground he walks on but once on land that title goes away and he has to learn to be respectful. He`s no book boyfriend for me but i could totally see chilling with him and discussing some comics or something. 

Plot: 4/5
I adored the concept behind having the Alpha mix in the school. I feel like the synopsis gives away a little too much for my liking. Earth`s oceans arent as explored as we have been led to believe so the idea of a separate race of beings isn't as far fetched. I wanted more background though on the Alphas but i truly believe there will be a short story or something in Raging Sea that goes into them further.

Overall Thoughts: 4.5/5
I don`t hear a lot of people talking about Undertow and I wish they would. There is a lot going in a short amount of time. I wish it was broken into two or some scenes cut out however the story does progress and I am excited to get my hands on Raging Sea. The character development is strong and I see it growing even more with the story. 

How did it feel writing a female main character as a male author?
I've written a lot of female characters and sort of have a reputation as a guy who writes for women. I'm not exactly sure how it happened but I'm glad that people see that in my work. Still, with Undertow I was very intimidated. The main character is a teenage girl and really cool and a bit punk rock, and I wanted to do her justice. I reached out to other authors for advice - Adele Griffin, Jenny Han, Rebecca Serle, and a few others. They were nice enough to let me know what they felt about love, sex, life, and their worlds when they were teens. It was incredibly helpful and honest and a rich resource for something I will just never get to experience myself. I hope readers can see their advice on the page. I don't think I could have written Lyric without them.

Do you have similar qualities to Lyric?
I think there's a little bit of me in all my characters. Lyric is a lot more confident than I was at that age but we have similar tastes in music and friends. Like her, I enjoy being the center of attention and I thrive in a crowd. And like her, there were things going on in my family that I wanted to keep secret so I suppose the big personality was my way of hiding the truth. In that way, Lyric and I are very much alike.

Do we get a more fleshed out romance between Lyric and Fathom in Raging Sea?
In some ways we do, but Lyric and Fathom are not the typical YA couple and they aren't experiencing the typical YA story. I think what readers will see is exactly why Fathom loves Lyric so much. He is willing to throw off hundreds of years of tradition and his own crown to be with her but his love comes with expectations that Lyric may not be able to live up to. This is a very feminist teen love story filled with a lot of passion and longing. I'm hoping it appeals to fans as much as it did to me.

Why Coney Island as your starting point?
Coney Island is so rich with history and culture and has had as many ups and downs as the Cyclone rollercoaster. I spent a lot of time there with my friends Josh and Sharlene, hanging out in the bars, lying on the beach, soaking up the people. I've done a lot of research on its history and as a kid I was drawn to it because of The Warriors. It's easily the most multi-cultural neighborhood in all of NYC. It's the perfect setting for the story. Placing it in some all-white community full of rich people wouldn't have been very clever. I wanted to show real people dealing with this situation. It's such a fantastic premise that making it feel real was important. 

What male debut authors should we be on the lookout for in 2016?
Adam Silvera is the author to read right now. MORE HAPPY THAN NOT has been out awhile but I still think of him as a debut.  

You started out writing middle grade was the YA group a difference for you?
YA is a totally different world. The stories can be more complex and layered, you can tackle subjects that middle grade really can't, and the audience is wildly invested in what they love. The fans are so passionate about books in a way I haven't experienced with younger readers. I'm sure I'll write more middle grade in the future but I have to admit the next thing I'm plotting out is for teens. I'm hooked. 

It was great interviewing Michael. Comment below What male author books I should be on the look-out for.



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