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Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Erin Bowman here to talk about her new dystopian novel, TAKEN, that will be released on April 16, 2013. OMG, I loved this. I was immediately sucked into the story because Gray is waiting for his older brother Blaine, who’s turning 18, to be taken in The Heist. Then I had to keep turning the pages as he finds a strange note and we get to see what’s on the other side of the wall. This is filled with action, plot twists, and revelations.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Hi Erin. Thanks so much for joining us. Happy Debut!

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

The simplest answer is to say I've always been one. As soon as I could hold a crayon and make a poor attempt at spelling, I was scribbling stories into notebooks.
The more formal answer would be that I took a lot of writing classes in high school (electives) and college (for my minor), and then continued to write on the side once I started my career as a web designer. Eventually, TAKEN was drafted and unlike the other works under my belt, I thought it was might be worthy of seeing the light of day. I started researching how one goes about getting published, and you know where it goes from there… ;)

2. I wish I’d known I liked writing earlier and taken some classes. My learning curve would have been so much quicker. I loved the idea of this story—guys being taken away in The Heist when they turn 18 and the town of Claysoot being a mostly female society. That’s really unique. Then you show us so much more about the world Gray lives in. Where did you come up with this fantastic idea?

It sort of fell into my lap. Actually, the story didn't, but Gray did. He walked into my head nearly fully formed, and for that, I'm incredibly lucky. (Not all of my characters come to me this way. In fact, very few do.)

In this instance, I saw Gray's predicament clearly: an isolated town he could not escape, his older brother's approaching birthday, how no boy made it a day beyond eighteen. I started asking why? and as I began digging for answers, the story revealed itself.

3. I love how the seed of the story just came to you and then you really made it explode by digging for answers. I read that you aren’t a plotter. But your book is filled with plot twists and revelations. Share your secrets for creating such a well plotted story.

I don't plot in the sense that I never write detailed outlines before drafting. (I've tried, but they always end
up extremely vague and manage to kill most of my creative drive.)

Instead, I brainstorm and daydream for a few days/weeks, and usually by the time I start drafting, I can see all the major plot points in my head. I jot a few of them down in a notebook. Then I start drafting. As I write, and as smaller details become clearer, I make note of those as well. (It's sort of like I'm always looking a chapter or two ahead, which I think is called headlight outlining.)

With TAKEN, the process was similar. I knew the major twists ahead of time, but how to effectively weave them together came to me during drafting and were later polished while revising. It was all about layering in subtle clues and timely hints.

4. That’s a great process and one I’m following right now too. I really enjoyed that the story was from Gray’s POV. There aren’t too many YA stories out there from the guy’s point of view. Did he come easily to you as a character or did you find challenges in writing from his POV?

Voice has always been a crucial element for me as a writer. If I can't hear or understand my protagonist, his/her story always comes out forced.

With Gray, I was lucky, because his voice was shockingly clear from day one. We have very little in common, Gray and I, but I understood him so well that slipping into his head--while weird at times--wasn't excessively difficult.

5. Your agent is Sara Crowe. Tell us about how she became your agent and your road to publication.

Before I started querying agents, I spent a good two months researching them. (Let me take a moment to
shout my boundless thanks to Literary Rambles, which was one of my frequent haunts during those days.) Sara requested a full off my query, but I ended up with another offer of rep shortly thereafter. When I followed up with Sara to let her know I'd be making a final decision within the week, she was home sick. But she read anyway. And then immediately called to talk about TAKEN and Gray, stuffy nose and all.

The tell-tale signs of a good match existed in our phone chat--Sara got the story, had smart suggestions and submission plans, made me feel totally at ease--but it was talking with her existing clients that sealed the deal. I sent a few emails to some of her authors and everyone gushed and praised Sara; for her insight and sharp business intellect, but also for her patient, calming ways. (Now speaking from experience: all so true!)

I signed with Sara and she found TAKEN the very best home with Erica Sussman at HarperTeen just a few months later.

6. I’m using the agent spotlights right now and totally know what you mean about them being super helpful. And that’s a great idea to e-mail the agent’s authors before making a final decision.

You’re a part of the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog, which I love. (Everyone, you can find the blog here and I recommend you follow it.)  How did you become a part of this blog and how has it helped you as you prepare for your book release?

I was approached by Sarah Maas at the end of 2011 with an offer to join the blog as a contributor. Sarah is a good friend of mine now, but at the time, we were complete strangers. In fact, I didn't know any of the PubCrawl girls personally back then, but I did obsessively read the blog (then Let the Words Flow) and knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to work with such sharp minds.

I don't know what made them reach out to me, but I'm so glad they did! The road to publication is an exciting one, but it's also stressful and over-whelming, filled with lots of anxiety and self-doubt. The PubCrawl ladies have become a wonderful support system. We cheer each other through highs and lows. I can't imagine having gone through this without them.

7. That sounds like it’s been such a great opportunity. I’d love to become friends with all the authors there. I read on your website/blog that on May 29th, Susan Dennard, Sarah Maas, Kat Zhang, and you are going on a multi-city, pay-it-forward book tour. It sounds fantastic and I wish you were coming to Ann Arbor. Tell us about it and how it got organized. What does it mean that it’s going to be pay-it-forward?

The four of us have been discussing the idea of a group tour since the summer of 2012. We wanted to hit the road together (what's more fun than a road trip with friends?), but we also wanted to give back.

We all started writing young, and we each owe a lot of our success (and love of stories) to mentors who encouraged and inspired. The ability to pay-it-forward became a crucial part of our brainstorming, and in addition to bookstore visits and signings, we decided to host free writing workshops for young, aspiring writers while on tour.

You can learn more about tour plans (and the schedule) here

8. Have you found Twitter to be a good way to make connections with other authors and potential readers? How? What advice do you have for aspiring authors starting out on Twitter? That’s me and I could use some advice.

I love twitter! Love, love, love. And yes, it's been great for making connections. Some of my closest writing friends were once nothing but an avatar in my twitter feed.

The biggest advice I can give is be yourself and engage in two-way conversation. Twitter is a party, not a podium. If you talk too much solely about your own writing/book, I can almost guarantee that people will grow bored and start tuning you out.

The people I love following on twitter are the ones who talk back to me and also share good content. They tweet compelling links and videos. They’re insightful. If they also happen to have a book coming out, that's an added bonus. But I follow them for what they bring to the table, first and foremost.

9. Thanks for the tips on Twitter and the inspiration to spend some time there. What are you working on now?

I'm putting the final touches on TAKEN2 while simultaneously drafting book three. In between deadlines for the series, I also bounce between two standalone novels (a fantasy and a sci-fi) in various stages of drafting. So many story ideas and never enough time! :)

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Erin. 

Thank you for having me. It was an honor to stop by!

You can find Erin at:


Erin and her publisher Harper Teen have generously offered an ARC of TAKEN for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on April 27th. I’ll announce the winner on April 29th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday I have an ASK THE EXPERT Interview with a 7th grader and a giveaway of BLACK CITY, a YA dystopian/paranormal story, THE COLOSSUS RISES, a middle grade fantasy Percy Jackson fans will enjoy, MILO 2.0, a YA Sci fi story, and a cute backpack with goodies for one of your kids.

On Tuesday I have a Tuesday tip by Stephanie Keyes and a giveaway of THE FALLEN STARS, a YA paranormal romance.

Next Wednesday I’m interviewing agent Jill Corcoran about her new A Path to Publishing workshops and of course I asked her what submissions she’s looking for right now. There’s a giveaway too!

The following Monday I’m interviewing Lisa Rojany Buccieri and giving away a signed copy of WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES. Even though you might think this is too basic for you, I found it had a lot of great tips on the craft of writing and some on social media. And they were all discussed so succinctly. I really found it and Lisa’s interview really helpful and I think you will too.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Nara said...

This book definitely sounds really intriguing! Can't wait for it to come out so we can finally discover what "The Heist" is!
GFC: naralee94
Tweet: https://twitter.com/greengp01/status/321927380845346816

Unknown said...

I've read a lot of reviews about TAKEN and have gone as far as seeing if it is available on audiobook for pre-order yet [no :( ]. I really can't wait until it comes out!

Here's my tweet.

And on facebook.

Pili said...

I've been really looking forward to reading Taken since I first heard of it, waiting for next week to get my hands on it!

I'm a follower and here's my tweet https://twitter.com/pili28/status/321941783019929601

Donna K. Weaver said...

I'm so adding this to my to-read list! The thing that makes me able to cope with Twitter is TweetDeck.

Angela Brown said...

Thanks so much for this interview Natalie and Erin. And thank you, Erin, for sharing your experience. Taken sounds like a wonderful dystopian novel (I'm such a sucker for dystopian novels)and this is one that will be moving up on my TBR!

Kim Van Sickler said...

I tweeted about it and I'm entering! I have to laugh at the title. It's the same as hubby's favorite movie with Liam Neeson. You know the one where his daughter and her friend are kidnapped in France and sold into the sex slave industry and Liam kicks ass to save his daughter and shows up his ex-wife's new husband in the process. Total man flick.

Ellie said...

Been looking foward to this for (it feelsl ike) forever! Can't wait for it to finally be in my grasp :)

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Erin! I hadn't heard about the Pub Crawl blog either - I'll go check it out.

Theresa Milstein said...

Nice to meet Erin Bowman. What a great position to be in to have a couple of agents to choose from.

I hadn't heard of Pub Crawl either.

mshatch said...

I've been hearing about this book and it looks interesting, reminds me a little of Sheri Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country. Congrats to Erin :)

Rachel Ballard said...

I've seen a few things about this book and I am STOKED to read it. Seriously, cannot wait. I love it when authors write from the opposite gender's perspective - I think it's so interesting.
Can I just say that I am amazed at how many ARCs this site is able to give away?! - you make the reading world go 'round. Thanks again for the opportunity to win!

cleemckenzie said...

Great interview. I like that she daydreams and lets the story gestate. That's always been the most effective way for me. It's kind of like "seeing" the story as a movie before setting it down in words. Her books is very intriguing. I look forward to reading it.

S.P. Bowers said...

Sounds fascinating. Just added it to my goodreads list.

Joshua David Bellin, Sci-Fi Author said...

I've been waiting for a lot of YA books--but this one is at the top of my list! Really intriguing premise, and everything I've read about/from Erin makes me think her book's going to be sensational.

Katy Upperman said...

What a fantastic interview! I was lucky enough to give TAKEN an early read and I thought it was incredible. So cool to hear about how Gray came about fully formed -- he's one of my new favorite protagonists!

nutschell said...

great interview! lovely to meet Erin. Taken sounds like a very intriguing story and that book cover is cool:)

Unknown said...

Great interview! Erin's writing process is so similar to mine--I like to mull over a story for a while before writing it out. And her "headlight outlining" is exactly what I do! Looking forward to this book.

Peggy Eddleman said...

My goal is to some day love
Twitter like Erin does. :):) I love Pub Crawl! And TAKEN is amazing.

Cynthia said...

Congratulations to Erin on her book, and great interview, Natalie! A number of the dystopian novels I've come across have featured female main characters, and so it's cool to come across a story that features a male as the main character. And the story sounds quite intriguing.

I'm going to enter the giveaway for this book!

Cynthia said...

And I just tweeted about this contest:


Carol Kilgore said...

Great interview! I love Erin's cover :)

Vivien said...

Another book that caught my eye months ago. I really hope this one is good!!! She's a HP nerd just like me.
GFC: Vivien

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Another great interview, and I was glad to see Erin give a "shoutout" to Literary Rambles. It's such a great resource for aspiring writers. And I love Pub Crawl - lots of good stuff there, too.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Loved this interview with Erin and the fact that she daydreams out her major plot points! I do that too. And then I scribble it all down.
The book looks really good!

Stina said...

Love Erin's cover and the premise.

And I'm so happy to see the comment about Twitter. I wish more people would realize it's a two-way street. I miss the conversations I used to see when I first started using Twitter. Now it's more like a constantly running commercial break. :(

Jill the OWL said...

Great interview! And I agree about needing to be able to "hear" the voice of my characters in my head when I write. If I can't hear them i can't write them!

jpetroroy said...

Great interview--nice comments about Twitter, too.

Nas said...

Great interview. Book sounds great and cover looks good.

All the best!


Lydia Kang said...

Can't wait to read Erin's book!

CG @ Paper Fury said...

This book looks amazing! I'm a follower. And I read Pub(lishing) Crawl already, which is a fantastic blog. Congrats on your book, Erin!

Amber said...

I really want to read taken too~~~ read so many awesome reviews on the book!

mariska said...

i've been eye-ing this book for a while. love to read it :) and yeap i'm a gfc follower

Audrey said...

Thanks for the giveaway!
gfc- audreyclair

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read this book. Congrats to Erin on her debut and it was great reading about her journey. I love Twitter, too. I tweeted the giveaway.


_Sandra_ said...

Heard great things about this book, dying to read it. Thanks for a giveaway! :)
GFC - Sandra K
Pin - http://pinterest.com/pin/48061920995869071/
Tweet - https://twitter.com/_Sandra_R_/status/322274950952153088

Cassi said...

Thanks for the giveaway!
I follow GFC as Cassi Z.

Carina Olsen said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this book ;) Thank you for sharing. <3 I didn't love it, though :\ A bit sad that I didn't. But I'm sure lots of other people will love it :)

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for another great interview and awesome giveaway! I can't wait to read Heist and hoping to win the ARC. I learned a lot about meeting agents and the importance of networking. It's inspiring to me that free workshops are being offered by these talented authors.

Lori L. Clark Art said...

I've been wanting to read this. Great interview! Thank you for the giveaway. :) I'm a GFC: clarklori Lorielle11@ gmail

Julie R said...

I have been waiting for this book. It sounds great. Would love to win. Thanks for the giveaway.

Reader said...

Another fantastic interview. Love how you both tend to "daydream" out the major plot points/sketch versus be super high-maintenance about it!

The twitter support is wow.. I don't even know how to operate twitter to be honest :) Not sure if you need something special. I only have a basic cell phone and this laptop....hmm....one step at a time for me I think :)


PK HREZO said...

Awesome! Such a great path to pub and the book sounds great!!

Jocelyn Rish said...

I'd never specifically heard the term headlight outlining before, but I really like it since it very much describes my process.

Thanks for another great interview!

Unknown said...

I just love the cover! The premise is very exciting, reminding me of such greats as "Running Man" and "The Island."
Congrats, Erin, and best wishes! :-)

Lauri Meyers said...

Great image of being taken away! (well great in a scary kind of way)

Ashfa said...

Taken is one book I'm really looking forward to read!!! Thanks for the giveaway.

GFC- AshfaAnwer
Tweeted: https://twitter.com/TopsyTurvy_Ash/status/322556855769522176


Mary Preston said...

A fabulous post thank you & TAKEN does look amazing.


Snazel said...

I'm really interested in reading this book, both because it sounds like an awesome adventure and characters, and because I'm really interested in seeing what the heist does to society and gender. :D

Stacey Wilk said...

Thank you for sharing your publishing story. You will inspire many writers to believe in themselves. The will be a book on my "to read" list.

Robin said...

Great interview. I love how Sara Crow read her MS sick in bed and how well they connected. Also, I'm a huge fan of Pub(listing) Crawl.

Holly Bryan said...

Great interview, thank you, ladies! I've read a number of interviews with Erin since I first heard about Taken (feels like I've been waiting to read this for almost a year!!) and each one just has me even more excited than before to read this! I love dystopian and apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic books, and I love the fact that this one is told from the male character's POV. I'm really interested to see how it plays out, especially because I've heard he actually has *feelings* (ones that he talks about, no less!) and that his character grows through the book. In other words, I'm excited to read about a teenage boy who actually explores his feelings and questions about the changed world in which he finds himself, as opposed to it being all about action and mindless adventure and hot girls :) I can't wait!! Congrats to Erin on the imminent release!

Holly Bryan said...

Ah, somehow I knew I'd do this - forgot to include the URL to my tweet!!


Christina Lee said...

Wow, this book sounds FAB!!

Also, love that you said," Twitter is a party, not a podium."


Jello Dela Cruz said...

This book seems interesting although the story is some-what familiar with GONE series by Michael Grant, but I guess it will have a different story and twist along the book. I am a fan of dystopian novels, that's why I love to read this!

I do enjoy your interview with Erin Bowman. Great!
Thanks for the giveaway!

Darlene said...

I love dystopia and this one has been on my Wishlist!! Can't wait to read it, and I enjoyed the interview!! Thanks for the giveaway!

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

+1 for tweeting:


Tricia C. said...

So many questions in my head after reading about Taken! Very intriguing premise! Definitely will be added to my list of books I want to read.

Unknown said...

Thank you! I've wanted to read this for a long time :D

GFC: Darith L.

I tweeted! (@Bookbrews)

Janhvi said...

Taken sounds really good :)

Eli Yanti said...

I hope I can read this book soon, enjoy reading the blurb from the first time I read it :)

Jesselle said...

I love the interview and Taken seems really interesting! I'd love to read it! Thanks for the opportunity to win an ARC. :)


Unknown said...


Rachna Chhabria said...

This book sounds super interesting. Love the cover; its has such an amazing blend of colours.

Unknown said...

Thank you! I've wanted to read this for a long time! :D

GFC: Darith L.

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/bookbrews/status/325040778328035328

Email me at: Darith8ly(at)yahoo(dot)com

Unknown said...

Seems like such an interesting book! :D Can't wait to read it.

Followed by: Kayla DeGroote

Tweeted here: https://twitter.com/KaylaDeGroote/status/325045269974622209

Email: sonic_girl_905(at)hotmail(dot)com

Thanks for the giveaway! :D

Veronika said...

I'm dying to read this book! It's already on my tbr pile!
Thank you for the chance to win it!
GFC follower: Veronika
verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

Silverlight said...

I just posted my review for Taken and I enjoyed it. I thought it was a unique concept, and I will be looking forward to book #2. Great interview, and insight on Erin's writing and insight about Taken.

Unknown said...

I have been waiting for this book forEVER it feels like. I sadly can't afford the book (or any book, because this would be my first choice) so I have scoured the internet looking for giveaways! Great interview! I love to read about the journey to becoming published and finding an agent and all that.

I am a follower on twitter: @centerstagemom

Here is my tweet : http://www.literaryrambles.com/2013/04/erin-bowman-interview-and-taken-giveaway.html

My email is: centerstagegirly AT yahoo DOT com

Thanks again for the opportunity!!!!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Love this cover! Great interview, too :)

Bryann James Almeda said...


Vanessa K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tammy216 said...

I've read a few reviews of Taken and have heard so many positive things about it. It sounds like a great book I would love to read :)

Chantelle said...

Thanks so much for the giveaway! I've heard some really good things about Taken so I cannot wait to read it.
GFC: chip
Tweet: https://twitter.com/Readingfordays/status/327421898097061889

Tiffany Drew said...

I have been waiting months for this book, honestly. I am so glad it is finally here because I don't think I can handle staring at that gorgeous cover much longer without diving into the pages. Thank you so much for the opportunity to win a copy!

I also Tweeted:


GFC: Tiffany Drew

Vanessa K. said...

I really want to read this book thanks for the giveaway.
Email : littlewizzo@gmail.com
I mention it on twitter here: https://twitter.com/JacquelineW5555/status/327537496156160000

Videoclimber said...

This one is on my wishlist
I follow on GFC as Tia

Unknown said...

Great interview!!!
GFC Bridget Howard
Tweet: https://twitter.com/Bridget_DFT/status/327562793664524289
Thanks for the giveaway!!!

Emily R. King said...

I've been waiting to get my hands on this book. An ARC would be fab.

Huge congrats to Erin for her upcoming debut!

erittelking at gmail dot com

Amanda D said...

This has been on my to be read shelf. I would love to win it! I love dystopians so I know I would enjoy it.

I am a GFC follower : Amanda D
I tweeted https://twitter.com/mandykalp/status/327800173533224960

iLuvReadingTooMuch said...

Thanks for the amazing giveaway! Really looking forward to reading this one :D

GFC: iLuvReadingTooMuch

iliveforreading AT hotmail DOT com

Jana said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win!
GFC: Jeanne

Eisen said...

Thanks for the giveaway! :) I am a follower and I tweeted about this giveaway as well:
Merci :)

deasuluna said...

Great Interview, I have been waiting for this book for awhile now and the cover is gorgeous.

GFC Follower: Christina Torres


Texas Book Lover said...

Taken sounds so fresh and different. I am super excited to read it!


GFC: Texas Book Lover
mmafsmith AT gmail DOT com

Kiera Paul said...

I've often imagained a socitey without men... lol. This book sounds really interesting! I blogged about it on my site to help spread the word!