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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nil On Fire Blog Tour:
Interview with Lynne Matson

Nil On Fire releases today!

Two years ago, I requested a book with an interesting and intense premise that instantly hooked me. That book was Nil. And at the time, I had no idea it would evolve into the pulse-pounding series it has become, but I am so excited to be the Release Day blog tour stop to celebrate the final installment! 

What's even more exciting is that Lynne Matson, author of the Nil series, is here to tell us all about where the Nil series started and how it grew from an idea into a full-blown trilogy. 

A Note from Lynne to Readers:  Finishing a trilogy is both bitter and sweet, and saying goodbye to my characters and the Nil world was HARD. But it’s not over…yet. :) The end begins on May 31, 2016 with the release of Nil On Fire. So, to all the #NILtribe: THANK YOU. For loving the Nil world, for adoring my characters, for staying until the end. Nil On Fire is for you!

On to the interview!

How did you conceive the idea for the Nil series? Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when the idea came to you?

I remember EXACTLY the precise moment the idea for NIL fell into my head...

Flash back to February 2010: My husband had won a trip to Hawaii (the Big Island) with his job, and it was our first vacation without our boys since the arrival of baby boy number four two years earlier. This meant that our car was crazy quiet—no one fighting, no one asking for a sippy cup. It meant I had time to just chill, look out the window, and let my mind wander.

Minutes after leaving the airport, we found ourselves driving through miles of ancient lava fields. Broken red rock stretched endlessly both sides, gorgeous and desolate. There were no roads, no buildings, no people—and in the quiet of our car, all I could hear was the eerie sound of wind blowing over the rocks. I remember thinking how much the landscape looked like an alien planet, and thinking how creepy would it be to wake up there, alone, without a clue to tell you where you were? And what if you were a teenager? And--because let’s be honest, isn’t this every teens’ worst nightmare? Or maybe just mine! lol—what if you woke up naked?

Nil was born in that moment. That barren-red-rock visual locked in my head, and that's what Charley sees when she first opens her eyes on the island of Nil…that first moment when she wakes up with no cell, no clothes, and no clue. It was the first scene I wrote minutes after checking into our hotel. From that point forward, the story exploded in my head with the island at the story’s core.

For me, islands offer the perfect mix of paradise and doom. The ocean provides a clear and ever-present barrier to escape, but at the same time, beaches embody natural beauty. The idea of being trapped in paradise gave me heaps of material to work with as I created the world of Nil . . . especially the idea of a dangerous paradise, one with cracks in the facade. What if the teens aren’t alone on the island—what if there are other creatures there too? Deadly ones? And what if some teens on Nil have more knowledge than others? What if the island has an entire history, a complicated backstory that creeps into the present? And of course, the year deadline was key. It’s how the teens choose to spend those precious, dwindling days that drives each book.

In the end, the Nil series is more than just a survival story; it’s about love and friendship and above all, hope. Because without hope, we have nothing. Many of my characters felt that way, too.

If you had to stop someone on the street and describe the Nil series to them in 25 words or less, how would you sum it up?

Teens trapped on a mysterious island have one year to escape or they die. Think Survivor meets LOST with dashes of The Twilight Zone and lots of feels.

(Okay, that was 28 but still. :D)

From book to book, there has been a sort of passing of the torch between characters as we begin each new era in the series. Why was it so important in writing this series to have a successor or heir apparent to lead into the next book? 

For me, each book is told by the person who is best suited to tell the story and to move the entire Nil story forward. Each book had to not only share each individual character’s story and arc, but also had to tell a crucial part of Nil’s story—a story now told over three books.

In Nil, Charley and Thad told their versions of one girl’s time on the island: Charley’s. But her stay on Nil was one blip in time… one moment in the island’s long history. I knew there was a full backstory to the island itself, but the first book wasn’t the right time or place to tell it.

But Nil was the perfect place to start. In Nil, the teens are not only trapped by the island, they’re locked into the dual framework of survival and escape. Charley’s story introduces readers to both a newcomer and a veteran, allowing readers to feel the shock of arrival and holy-crap-where-am-I? moment, as well as the pain of constant waiting and fear of dwindling time that is felt by each Nil veteran. But there’s more to the island, and its story. I knew if I wanted to tell the readers about Nil’s past, I’d need another way to share that information—which led me to Skye, Maaka, and Paulo, and of course, Nil Unlocked. Plus Rives begged me to give him his own book.:) Readers meet Rives in NIL, and he becomes the link to the next book. In Nil Unlocked, Nil’s story continues with him, and through him. Rives is also in Nil On Fire, as are characters from both books one and two.

But the biggest character that provides continuity through all three books? The island itself. And in Nil On Fire, the island finally gets its own point of view!

The number of POVs increases as the series moves on, and even the island of Nil itself gains a perspective. Was the latter always the intention? What made you decide the island needed to speak for itself?

Even though the POV’s change from book to book, the island is always there, as both the island setting and an evolving character in its own right. Because Nil is truly the heart of the story, it was the natural evolution of the trilogy for Nil to get its own POV. When I first started writing the series, honestly, Nil was a stand-alone. I knew there was a huge backstory to the island, but I also knew (as I mentioned above) that the first book was not the place to tell it. And once I got the go ahead to write book two, I knew that there would have to be a book three and that Nil would have a voice in that final book. For readers to truly understand the island, I would have to let readers more deeply into Nil than ever before.

Unlike the first two books, Nil On Fire contains three points of view, rather than just two! And one of the three POV’s is the island itself. Creepy, but cool. Can you imagine being trapped on a sentient island with a form and substance and abilities beyond our human comprehension? Super fun to write, and I hope the #NILtribe enjoys reading Nil On Fire as much as I enjoyed writing it!:)

Mantras or personal encouragements are a big part of surviving Nil and even life after the island. They are also very telling about a character. For example, in Nil on Fire, Rives says his dad's advice will never leave him: "Look around. Pay attention. Notice what others ignore." What role do you feel these constant reminders have in the books? Do you have words you live by? 

Every summer when our boys go off to camp, we always tell them: “Be kind. Be brave. Be strong. Be you.”

I love this advice, and try to live it myself. Kindness matters, as does bravery. You can’t be afraid to fail, to go after what you want in life, or to live life to its fullest. Mistakes matter as much as successes. And you need to be strong, to face the hurdles that life throws in your path, and to do the right thing, which is not always the popular thing. Above all, you need to be true to yourself, and figure out your own special gifts and qualities—the ones that make you you. When you embrace all the wonderful things that make you unique, that’s where the magic in life happens.:)

Lynne Matson grew up in Georgia in a house full of books and a backyard full of gnarly pines. Back then, Lynne would stay up late, reading Nancy Drew books under the covers (with a flashlight . . . a weak attempt at ninja stealth). Now she still stays up late reading books and writing them. When she doesn't have a book in her hand, you'll find her listening to music, messing around with paint, or hanging out with her husband and their four boys . . . or all of the above.

Find her online... 

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Despite Rives and Skye's attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won't let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can't ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As Skye fights to keep her mind intact, she realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil's vicious cycle once and for all--and she can't do it alone.

Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone's fate hangs in the balance, including Nil's own--and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she'd never imagined she'd have to make. Soon one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

Losing isn't an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.

Tour Schedule
May 18 - Reading Teen
May 19 - Xpresso Reads
May 22 - SciFiChick.com
May 29 - Fierce Reads

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