Search the Site

Interview with YA author Maureen McGowan about DEVIANTS

Over the weekend, I was excited about attending Maureen McGowan‘s book launch for her new YA, DEVIANTS: THE DUST CHRONICLES (Book 1). I met Maureen through the Toronto Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group, a fun network of kidlit/YA writers who meets monthly.

Maureen’s one of my favorite YA authors: she’s so positive, encouraging and supportive…plus I love her wicked sense of humor. 🙂

Maureen kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her Deviants experience:

Could you tell us a little bit about your new book?

Deviants is the first book in a new sci-fi series called The Dust Chronicles. Glory is a sixteen-year-old orphan who can kill with her eyes. She and her younger brother are both “deviants”, their DNA having been mutated by asteroid dust that covers most of the Earth. When her brother, a paraplegic, is discovered, she must accept the help of a mysterious, hulking boy to flee the domed city they live in before they’re captured and killed.

Outside the dome they’re pursued by horrible scab-covered monsters, called Shredders, and Glory discovers the truth about her parents’ deaths. It’s fast-paced, full of action–and some kissing too.

Did you plan it as being the first of a trilogy from the beginning?

Yes. I think each of the books work as standalone titles, but I knew that Glory’s full story could not be told in one novel. She learns things in Deviants that completely change her perception of herself and the world, and more in book 2 that changes her perception of others and her ability to differentiate between right and wrong… Basically she needs more than one novel to work through all these issues.

How did DEVIANTS get published?

When the version of Deviants that sold was ready to go on submission, my agent knew that each of the traditional publishers already had several post-apocalyptic-set novels on their lists. We figured there was a good chance that, even if one of those editors picked up the series, it was unlikely they’d be able to give the books “lead title” treatment.

So to increase the chance for the books to find a wide audience, he suggested we try something different and submit to Amazon who, at the time, were just getting ready to announce plans to ramp up their publishing arm.

At first I thought the idea was crazy. But I took it as a sign when Connie Brockway and Barry Eisler (then Penny Marshall and James Franco and Deepak Chopra) among others, announced they were planning to publish with Amazon. Suddenly it seemed like a bold and interesting option.

Claudia Osmond & Maureen at the DEVIANTS book launch this past weekend

The editor offered very quickly after reading the manuscript. I had to keep the sale a secret for a long time and that was tough! We first discussed releasing my trilogy under their planned adult sci-fi imprint 47North (not yet announced at the time) but ultimately decided to release the books as young adult titles.

I think the young adult market is so exciting right now, with so many fabulous books that smash both age and genre barriers. Most of the best books I’ve read in the past three years have been young adult and I’m excited to be part of that world.

Fabulous DEVIANTS book cake at the launch (by Fanta Cakes)What’s your typical work process?

When I’m working on a first draft, I’m obsessed about the word count—to the point where I’ll change a passage to the strikeout font, rather than delete it, even when I know that a section needs to go.

I need to see evidence of forward momentum to keep motivated and meet deadlines. First drafts are the hardest part for me—usually. I can lose confidence in the book and myself midway.

The days when ideas are coming fast and furious and my fingers are flying are magical—but those days are few and far between. I need to store up that fabulous feeling to get through the bad days.

If you could travel back in time and give your younger writer self some advice, what would it be?

Don’t expect publication to happen too quickly or on the same timeline as other authors. Don’t try to write only what you think will sell. Know the market, but don’t pander to it. Write books you’d want to read.

Any tips for aspiring writers on handling rejection?

Rejection is part of the business. Everyone—and I mean everyone— gets rejected multiple times, and at every point in his or her career. Rejection typically begins the first time you show your work to someone and ask for objective feedback, and it doesn’t end when you get a publishing contract.

Embrace rejection. Every “no” simply means that particular editor or agent wasn’t right for that particular project at that particular time.

Success in publishing is like being struck by lightning. All you can do is build more and better quality lightning rods to up your odds.

Maureen doing a reading at her book launch

Any news about upcoming projects or events you’d like to share?

Compliance, the second book in The Dust Chronicles will be released May 21, 2013, so readers won’t have to wait long to see what happens to Glory next.

I’ll be appearing at the World Fantasy Con, in Toronto, November 1- 4th. I’m also excited to be part of a “Teen Books for the Apocalypse” tour with Megan Crewe, Lesley Livingston, Leah Bobet, Cheryl Rainfield and Courtney Summers. We’ll be visiting bookstores in southern Ontario during the month of November. It feels a long way off right now, but I’ll also be attending the Teen Day at the RT Booklovers convention May 1-5, 2013.

Readers can find me at: or follow @MaureenMcGowan on twitter.

Thanks so much for having me!


For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.


Publishing success=struck by lightning.All you can do is make better lightning rods. @MaureenMcGowan