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Scott Westerfeld

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Five Scary Things About Dolls

I think we can all admit that dolls are scary.

Even for those of us who don’t start life with pediophobia, movies are sure to give it to us. My own fear of dolls was fostered by such memorable, murderous films as Poltergiest and the Chucky series, and a Twilight Zone episode called “Living Doll.” So when I started to write Spill Zone, my first graphic novel, I knew that a doll would play a part somehow.

Spill Zone is about a young woman, Addison Merritt, whose hometown and family were destroyed three years ago by a mysterious, unknowable event. Her town is walled off now, full of deadly phenomena, the laws of physics warped inside. Addison sneaks into the Zone to take photographs of the strange apparitions inside, which she sells as outsider art. This is how she supports herself and her little sister, Lexa, who escaped the Spill but hasn’t spoken since the event—except to a doll that she brought out of the Spill, with whom she shares a psychic connection.

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Spill Zone

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone.

The Spill claimed Addison’s parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn’t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone’s twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death—or worse.

When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits—and it seems to be calling Addison’s name.

Spill Zone is the first graphic novel in a new series from Scott Westerfeld and artist Alex Puvilland—available May 2nd from First Second!

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Teenage Wastelands: How Dystopian YA Became Publishing’s Next Big Thing

Young adult literature in the English-speaking world has had a huge rush of dystopian novels in the last few years, following the success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series (2008-10). The trend went global at this year’s Bologna Book Fair, with Publisher’s Weekly mentioning dyslit seven times in its fair round up, and Bookseller declaring dystopia “the new paranormal.” That’s a heady claim to make in an industry still spinning from the 100-million-plus-selling Twilight phenomenon.

As the writer of the Uglies series, I’m sent a handful of these dyslit books every month to blurb—more all the time, it seems. Many are awesome, though a few show their authors’ lack of familiarity with dyslit 101; wheels are often reinvented and clichés deployed in an un-self-aware way. But I’m not here to bemoan knockoffs or fads. After all, if Hunger Games fans desperately need more dyslit books for their shelves, it’s capitalism’s job to provide them.

What I’d rather look at is how a sub-genre with the aesthetic parameters of dyslit could wind up as “the new paranormal.” How do grim, gritty, dark stories of oppression and chaos fill the same ecological niche as glamorous, glittering vampires with high-modern houses in the Pacific northwest? It’s easy to see what teenagers find attractive about being immortal, beautiful, and super-powered. But what’s so appealing, even obsession-worthy, about tales of dystopia?

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Series: Dystopia Week