Shaun, what do you hope readers will take away from THE APOCALYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA?
I hope everyone will take away something a little different from the book, but mostly I want readers to know that no matter what anyone tells them, they get to choose. They get to choose who they are and who they want to be and what they do with the talents and circumstances they’ve been given, and no one can take that from them.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
It’s funny; every time someone asks me this, it changes because advice that seems so useful at one moment in the journey becomes pointless at another. So I think the best advice I could possibly give another writer is simply to figure out who you are and put that on the page. Anyone can write a vampire book or a dystopian, but no one can write your story but you. My first book was The Deathday Letter. A couple years later, Lance Rubin wrote Denton Little’s Death Date. And just recently, Adam Silvera published They Both Die At the End. Three books with a similar conceit—the characters know when they’re going to die and have only a short time before that happens—written by three authors, each very, very different. Because the idea isn’t what’s special. What’s special is what each of us brought to the story. Our lived experiences and the way we view the world. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but you are unique.
What was your inspiration for writing THE APOCALYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA?
Mostly I wanted to tell a story about personal choice and consent and the ethics of “the greater good.” I’m also interested in exploring the boundaries between science and religion, and this book gave me the chance to do all of those things while telling a really fun story. When I was younger, I loved fantasy books by Dennis McKiernan because he’d begin each book with a sort of forward that announced some philosophical idea he was going to be looking at. It never got in the way of the story, and I loved seeing that exploration of ideas work its way through the narrative. It’s something I’ve always admired about his work, and I hope I’ve been able to give people something to think about.
Elena as a character was really inspired by my mom and my best friend. Not so much that I wrote a character that was like them, but that I wanted to write a character that they would be proud of.
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
by Shaun David Hutchinson
Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.
This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.
As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Have you had a chance to read THE APOCALYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA yet? What can you bring to your story that no one else can? Have you incorporated some personal knowledge or feeling into your WIP? If not, why?
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