*Where did you get the inspiration for the Viral Nation series?
Hmm...a couple of places. First, I was inspired by my two oldest kids to write a story about autism, and about the relationship between siblings when one has a disability. When I was writing Viral Nation, in 2009, a bunch of bad stuff was happening all at once. The US economy was tanking, everyone was terrified of the pig flu or the bird flu or both, no one could find a job, wars were raging. I started to wonder what would happen if just one of those things went to its worse case scenario—I went with virus, and Viral Nation was born.
*How many books do you have planned in the series? Any hints you can give us for what's in store next?
There will be one more book in this series. The second in the trilogy, Rebel Nation, comes out on July 1 of course, which I'm super excited about! I'll also be releasing a prequel novella as an e-book in the next couple of months. Follow me on Twitter (@shauntagrimes) for updates. The novella is a story about the start of the Bad Times told through the point of view of Leanne Wood, who becomes Clover's trainer.
*If your books were to be made into a movie, who would be your top picks for the cast?
I'm not a very visual person, so it's hard for me to answer this one. If Viral Nation and Rebel Nation were ever made into movies, I think I'd be so excited, it wouldn't matter to me at all who they cast. I think it would be cool if someone who really does have autism was cast as Clover, though.
*Could you tell us a little about the ups and downs you have experienced in publishing?
Even the downs are ups, if that makes sense. Writing books is my dream job. I love working with an experienced, talented editor, copy editor, design team. Sure, there a few frustrations, but even when something doesn't go exactly how I wanted it to or hoped it would, it's completely overwhelmed by the incredible joy of being able to do what I love as an actual job someone's willing to pay me for.
*What are some of your favorite books in the paranormal or dystopian genres?
Oh, wow. I have so many. Stephen King's book The Stand is my favorite book of all time, followed closely by David Birn's The Postman. I loved Hugh Howley's book Wool. Of course, I loved The Hunger Games series. I also really enjoyed Jeffery Hirsch's book The Eleventh Plague. I love City of Embers, and The Giver, and Nancy Farmer's book The House of the Scorpion. Dystopian is my favorite.
*If you could tell readers one thing about yourself or your books, what would that be?
That, at heart, I'm a storyteller, and telling a good story is my happy place. I hope that when you read my books you feel like you've been told a good story.
*What is the craziest or at least most interesting thing you have ever done?
When I was 24 years old, I was a newspaper reporter in a tiny little rural Nevada town. My first day on the job I was sent to start covering a murder trial for two 15 year old boys named Kyle and Colby. They killed Kyle's family. In a lot of ways, covering that trial shaped the kind of writer I am today. It made me want to tell the truth of a story, not just the sensational parts. It made me learn, fast and on the job.
*Just for fun. If you were stranded somewhere but had electricity, what three things other than basic survival supplies, would you have to have?
Either a fan or a heater, depending on where I was. My Kindle, fully loaded. (That's not cheating, right? LOL) And a fridge.
*Finish this statement: "You'll like the Viral Nation series if...
You'll like the Viral Nation series if you like dystopian books, but want a different angle.
Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada. Viral Nation is her debut traditionally-published novel.
Sixteen years ago, a plague wiped out nearly all of humanity. The Company’s vaccine stopped the virus’s spread, but society was irrevocably changed. Those remaining live behind impenetrable city walls, taking daily doses of virus suppressant and relying on The Company for continued protection. They don’t realize that everything they’ve been told is a lie…
Clover Donovan didn’t set out to start a revolution—quiet, autistic, and brilliant, she’s always followed the rules. But that was before they forced her into service for the Time Mariners. Before they condemned her brother to death, compelling him to flee the city to survive. Before she discovered terrifying secrets about The Company.
Clover and the Freaks, her ragtag resistance group, are doing their best to spread the rebellion and stay under The Company’s radar. But when their hideout is discovered, they are forced, once again, to run. Only this time, The Company has special plans for Clover, plans that could risk her life and stop the uprising in its tracks…