Welcome to the Tilt-a-Whirl! This is a fast paced thrill ride that should be very fun. But before you get on the ride I need to warn you guys that you need to make sure and stay in groups. Please don’t venture around the carnival alone today. There have been recent reports of kids mysteriously disappearing lately and we don’t want any of you to go missing. Now everyone get in your seat and make sure that your lap belts are secure. Get ready to experience a rush like you have never felt before, one that will test your strength and bravery. It’s not called a thrill ride for nothing. Oh and please try not to get sick, there has been a deadly virus going around and I don’t want you to catch it. Enjoy the ride!!!
*Enter to win an iPad sleeve with the “Don’t Turn Around” cover, plus signed copies of the first two books in the trilogy at the end of this post*
*Don’t forget to enter the grand giveaway for your chance to win 2 books featured during the Fall Carnival Event!!! Click HERE for your chance to win!*
DFT: For our wonderful guests that have yet to discover the Persephone series how would you summarize it and where did you get the inspiration to write it?
Michelle: The best description I’ve heard is that the trilogy is, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo meets The Bourne Identity,” which are two of my favorite books (and movies!) I collaborated with an editor on the initial idea, and kind of ran with it from there. But basically, a foster kid pairs up with a rich kid to battle a corporation that’s conducting illegal experiments on street kids.
DFT: Just like the Tilt-a-whirl ride the Persephone series is a high speed adventure that keeps you right on the edge of your seat the whole time. Was it difficult to keep the action consistently going throughout the whole trilogy? What made you decide to write a young adult thriller?
Michelle: I love that Don’t Turn Around is basically one long chase scene, that was so much fun to write! The challenge for me was making each book self-contained, but part of a larger story; and I felt a lot of pressure in the final book to come up with an ending that would leave readers cheering, while still staying true to the characters. Hopefully I succeeded!
I was having lunch with an editor a few years ago, and she pointed out that in my adult novels, there’s always a teenage character who plays a major role in the story. She thought I’d be great at YA; all it took for me to make the switch was finding the right story.
DFT: Noa is such a unique character that I completely adored. One of the best things about her was how in each additional book I was able to instantly reestablish my connection with her and my fondness for her just kept growing! What is your favorite thing about Noa? Where did you find inspiration for her character? Did she just come naturally to you or was she a difficult character to write?
Michelle: I think that of everyone in the book, Noa has the biggest character arc. I really love how she grows into herself over the course of the three books, and ends up accomplishing things she never would’ve expected when she first woke up on that operating table. She’s a tricky character, in that she’s much pricklier and more antisocial that I could ever imagine being. But she’s overcome so many personal obstacles, it’s impossible not to root for her. I already miss her!
DFT: Peter is such a likeable guy that has lived a fairly charmed life, but he has also dealt with a lot of heartache as well. When writing his character what was the one thing that you liked most about him? Is he like anyone you know in real life or is he a complete figment of your imagination?
Michelle: Peter is a total figment, but to be honest, he’s probably the character I identify most closely with. I love the way that he manages to stay positive, and to find humor in even the darkest moments.
DFT: Each book is told from multiple POV’s which usually I am not a huge fan of, but I loved it in your books. You made me love and care about each individual character which is a rare thing at least for me ! Did you always plan on writing it with multiple POV’s? Was it difficult to make each character have their own unique voice?
Michelle: Aw, thanks! I usually write in multiple POVs; I feel like it gives the reader a better overview of what’s going on, and sometimes first person POVs can start to feel claustrophobic, since you’re basically locked into one character’s view of the world. The characters all had pretty distinctive voices in my head, so they basically did the work for me.
DFT: I know that in many books there are lots of scenes that are cut because they just don’t work with the finished story. Can you think of a specific scene that you wish could have made it into the story but didn’t?
Michelle: Yup- I actually had to cut two scenes with fan-favorite Cody in DON’T TURN AROUND. I loved the scenes, but my editor felt the story should only be told from Noa and Peter’s POV, and that it would be too jarring to jump to another character. I was really sad to lose those sections, though.
DFT: I honestly think that this series would make fantastic movies. So if it ever did hit the big screen who do you imagine playing Noa? Peter? Amanda?
Michelle: NOA: There’s an AMAZING Australian film called, “Tomorrow, When the War Began,” (if you haven’t seen it yet, put it on your to-be-watched list immediately!) The lead actress in it was incredible; the whole time I was watching the movie, all I could think was that if you chopped her hair short and dyed it black, she’d be a perfect Noa. Her name is Caitlin Stasey, and I’d be shocked if we didn’t end up seeing a lot more of her in the future.
PETER: I really love Dylan Minnette, the actor who played the son in the (sadly) short-lived series AWAKE. He didn’t have much of a chance to display humor in that role, but he’s such a talented actor that I believe he’d be a perfect Peter.
AMANDA: AnnaSophia Robb. She’s got the right look, and I think she might manage to make Amanda more sympathetic. I get A LOT of emails from Amanda-haters; she’s a tricky character, in that she’s moralizing and judgmental; but a lot of that is a cover for her insecurity and vulnerability. So a really likeable actress like AnnaSophia could help humanize her.
DFT: Noa and Peter are both pretty handy when it comes to figuring out computers and they both possess a rather competitive side. So I was wondering who would be the most likely to win a carnival game that is part luck and part skill, say like the ring toss game?
Michelle: Noa would dominate, no question. Peter is too full of self-doubt, he’d end up tripping himself up.
DFT: Don’t Let Go is the final book in this amazing trilogy. What was it like to finish out the series? What can you tell us about other projects you may be working on?
Michelle: It kind of felt like getting off a really epic carnival ride: I was exhausted, slightly nauseous, relieved, and yet a little sad. I’m currently working on a book for Disney/Hyperion called, “Zero Hour” about the kidnapping of the President’s daughter.
Quick Fire Questions (Which do you prefer?)
Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Indie Book store? Honestly this is a tricky one, since some of my favorite booksellers manage Barnes & Noble stores, and I’ve had wonderful events there. I’d say it’s a tie between B&N and the indies.
Reading YA, NA, or Adult books? Argh, this is so hard! I’ve actually never read a NA book, so YA or adult for me. I tend to switch back and forth between them.
Hot guy, smart guy, or funny guy? Funny, for sure. Although I was super lucky to find a guy who’s hot, smart, AND funny.
Sarcastic girl, shy girl, or confidant girl? Confident
Judge a book by its cover, by its blurb, or by its reviews? By the reviews; I know from personal experience how little input an author has into cover design, and blurbs don’t tell much.
Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, model, and Russian supper club performer. To the delight of her parents, she gave up all these occupations for an infinitely more stable and lucrative career as a crime fiction writer.
Michelle’s novels have been published in North America, France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Argentina, and Australia, and have been IMBA top 10 bestsellers. Her debut thriller THE TUNNELS, about a series of ritualized murders in the abandoned tunnel system beneath a university, has been described as “Silence of the Lambs meets The Wicker Man.” The following book in the series, BONEYARD, depicts a cat and mouse game between dueling serial killers in the Berkshires. Michelle’s third book, THE GATEKEEPER, involves a domestic terror plot by anti-immigration hate groups. The fourth and final book in the series, KIDNAP & RANSOM, is based on the real life abduction of a renowned hostage negotiator by Mexican drug cartels.
Michelle Gagnon’s Young Adult technothriller DON’T TURN AROUND was nominated for a Thriller Award in the Young Adult category by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. It was also selected as one of the best YA books of the year by Entertainment Weekly Magazine, Kirkus, Voya, and YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association); and was chosen for teen reading lists in Texas and Florida. DTA is also a finalist for the Black Eyed Susan Award in Maryland.
Michelle Gagnon’s Young Adult dystopian thriller STRANGELETS was released by the new SoHo Teen imprint in April, 2013. Publishers Weekly described it as, “”Well-executed survivalist horror… Pulse-pounding;” and Kirkus said, “Three very different teens on the edge of death get firsthand experience of the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics.”
In her spare time she runs errands and indulges a weakness for stale cinema popcorn and Hollywood blockbusters. She splits her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Want to read more from Michelle Gagnon?
This giveaway is provided by Michelle Gagnon!
Available August 26, 2014 from HarperCollins
About this Book:
In this pulse-pounding final installment of the Don’t Turn Around trilogy, which in a starred review Kirkus called “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens,” Noa and Peter race across the country in their search to destroy Project Persephone before time runs out.
After a devastating loss, Noa Torson is out of options. On the run with the three remaining teens of Persephone’s Army, she is up against immeasurable odds. The group is outnumbered, outsmarted, and outrun. But they are not giving up.
When Noa and Peter realize they can’t run anymore, and that Noa’s health is failing, they know they must go back to where this began. But when they come face-to-face with the man who started it all, the question becomes, can they win?
This riveting final book in the Don’t Turn Around trilogy ratchets up the action as Noa and Peter confront the evil that has chased them and won’t let them go.
Click HERE to read an excerpt