Interview with Lauren Lynne, Author of The Recalcitrant Project
Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Lauren's new book has been released and is available. This interview was originally published prior to the release of The Recalcitrant Project.
The Recalcitrant Project, Lauren Lynne’s sixth novel, and first in the dystopian genre. Published by Wyvern’s Peak Publishing, The Recalcitrant Project was released May 27, 2017 and is available here.
Wyvern’s Peak Publishing (WPP): Your new book is only weeks away from being released. How excited are you and what can you tell us about The Recalcitrant Project?
Lauren Lynne (LL): I am truly thrilled. I started The Recalcitrant Project in 2013. It began as a nightmare I had while getting my students ready for state testing. I took the idea of testing and retesting our students and blew it all out of proportion. In my story, students begin school at age three, are tested several times a year, and are continually recategorized. The protagonist, Elise, is a computer genius. It is now her senior year and programming is all she does. Her government tricks her into creating a scenario her year group can’t beat. The last few years of Elise’s schooling, a group has been rising against the government. The government has named this group The Recalcitrants.
What is a recalcitrant you may ask? Someone who is recalcitrant is an obstinately defiant person. The government decided that Elise’s year, having no relatives of anyone in the government, would be the ones to let Elise’s scenario loose on. They also thought it would be a great way to tie up loose ends (Elise) and get those rotten Recalcitrants to back off.
WPP: This is quite the venture away from your first series The Secret Watchers. What inspired you to write a dystopian targeted to teens and young adults?
Like I said, it began with a nightmare. I did such a good job scaring myself that I woke up and immediately knew I had to start writing. I’m not teaching this year, but I love working with students. My first endorsement was to teach the biological sciences to grades 5-12. In 2010, I added an elementary endorsement which covers grades pre-kindergarten through grade 9. Writing for young people is a perfect fit for me. Besides I am a big child at heart.
WPP: The main character is a young woman named Elise. What can you tell us about Elise without giving anything away? What sets her apart?
LL: Elise in our world would probably be on the autism spectrum. She is not fond of people in general but has connected with a few special folks. She is also brilliant. Elise feels much more comfortable in the computer world than she does in the human one. In addition, she has a strong will, a big heart, and the deep desire to make the world a better place.
WPP: We understand there is a certain young woman that sort of served as a creative “muse” for you during this project. Who is she? How did she inspire you, and what can we learn about this fierce and fascinating young lady?
LL: I first met Cipriana when she was dating my oldest son. She would be the first to tell you she is not a computer genius. Though, on a road trip to California, she proved that she could Google the heck out of ANYTHING, right down to telling us what was growing in the fields next to the road!
Cipriana is not the introvert that Elise is. Instead, she is bubbly and outgoing. Cipriana graduated in just three years and participated in show choir and theater. I watched Cipriana perform despite hurting her ankle, making it difficult for her to do anything. She made it work and that is the kind of survivor that Elise is. They share the qualities of being smart, hardworking, focused, and … fierce (what a great word choice).
WPP: Do you believe The Recalcitrant Project is a mirror held up to any current events or society as a whole these days? Is there a larger message readers should hear?
LL: The way the world is today, I’m not sure I want to touch that one. What if I’m harassed, bullied, or picked on? I’m kidding. I see things happening in our world and I stretched them out of proportion. The message here is that if you don’t like things – YOU need to do something about it and complaining doesn’t count. Educate yourself and become a voice of reason. There is argument over who said it, but I would like to remind us all to be the change we want to see in the world.
WPP: In terms of current dystopian novels, how is The Recalcitrant Project different? How is it the same?
LL: I have not read them all, but to name a couple … It is like Divergent in that people are classified based on their abilities. In Divergent, the protagonist got to choose her area, Elise does not get to choose – the testing has determined where she should be. It is like the Hunger Games in that Elise and her classmates are the age group that will be eliminated. They are all set to die in a horrible way but Elise sees the way out. She is a survivor like Katniss is. Like these and the Maze Runner, government has gotten out of control and has started to believe that they know better and their people and can do whatever they want.
WPP: Is your new book all action, action, action, or is there a love interest, or another element that stands out to you that readers would want to sink their teeth into?
LL: Ha! I actually had one early reader tell me that there was too much pain in it. Turns out she had never read a dystopian before and had to look up what it was. She wanted way more of the love story element, but I think that dystopian fans will be pleased. Girl gets in impossible situation and then she attempts to fights her way out.
WPP: About you … What do you love to do in your spare time?
LL: Spare time? What’s that? I use most of my spare time for writing endeavors. I also enjoy working in my yard, baking, hiking, taking pictures in nature, reading, and action adventure movies.
WPP: What are you working on now creatively?
LL: I have reached a phase where I have all kinds of stuff going. There are currently ten different projects saved to my computer is various stages of completion. They are all children’s literature, middle grade, and young adult novels. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll start writing for adults. For now, I know who my tribe is!
WPP: Favorite food? TV Show? Movie?
LL: Favorite food? YES! I love the same foods that Elise does. If there is Marionberry pie involved, I’m there. When it comes to TV and movies, I love action adventure themes. I also really like suspense and some humor. If I had to pick an all-time favorite movie series it would be the Jason Bourne and the Harry Potter films. I used to love CSI and I have also enjoyed Person of Interest, Blue Bloods, Super Natural, Grimm, The Blacklist, NCIS, and Teen Wolf. See a pattern there?
WPP: If you could pick someone to play the part of Elise from The Recalcitrant Project in Hollywood today, who would it be?
LL: Ooooh, good question. I used Josh Hutcherson as a base model for the Bren character. I’ve always seen my little buddy Cipriana as Elise, but let’s see … Nicole Gale Anderson of the Beauty and the Beast TV series would be a good choice. Another option is Danielle Campbell from The Originals. Someone like Elle Fanning would make a great Malorie and someone like Isabelle Fuhrman would make a great Jill.
WPP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
LL: Never give up on your dreams – sometimes what we want doesn’t come in quite the way we expect, but don’t give up on anything completely. This is my sixth book, ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me I would publish even one. Today, I feel like I have something amazing to leave behind. No matter what, I’ll always be able to say … I did that!
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