Postcard For Reader + TIME

Interview: Kristen Simmons (Article 5)

Swinging by today is Kristen Simmons, author of the upcoming Article 5! It looks absolutely fabulous and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials and maybe worse. People who get arrested don’t usually come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different.

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs—like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes—and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Nicole: Hi, Kristen; welcome to WORD! Where did the idea spring up for Article 5?
Kristen Simmons: Hi Nicole! Thanks for having me!

The wheels for A5 actually started spinning several years ago, when I went to the local bookstore for something, and came across this group of people who were protesting the release of a certain story about “witchcraft.” It got me thinking: of course they had the right to protest whatever they liked, but what if they succeeded? What if they were able to ban a book on the grounds that it was against someone’s beliefs? It happens other places in the world – it even happens certain places in the US. And what if it didn’t stop at books? What else could you ban based on its offensive nature? This led to bigger questions – what if the Bill of Rights was dissolved? What personal freedoms would we lose? What rules would be implemented in their place? It all sort of fell into place from there.

N: What did you think of the cover when you saw it? (Goooorgeous!)
KS: OMG, well, first I thought, “nooooo wayyyyyyyyy. That’s totally my name.” And then I screamed a lot. And then I stared at Chase, and was so stoked that the artist had put him in a red flannel just like in the book! And then I was pretty much just blown away by the design of the city. I mean, they really tore that place up, and it was just like I imagined. Cover Day has been one of my most exciting days so far.

N: Who is your favorite villain-ish character in your story?
KS: There’s an obvious “bad guy” and he was very complicated to write, but since I don’t want to give too much away about him, I will say Ms. Brock (the headmistress at the reform school). She is so deliciously evil, just deep down to the core evil, the kind that’s irredeemable, and writing her was sort of thrilling and indulgent and sinful – like eating chocolate mousse with no dinner, with no whip cream even. She doesn’t make a long appearance in A5, but it’s enough to scar Ember for the rest of her life, and I thoroughly enjoyed hating her. I even gave her the name Ms. Brock as a shout out to Mr. Brocklehurst, who is the hypocritical, terrible schoolmaster in Jane Eyre.

N: A shout-out to Jane Eyre!? I knew I liked you for a reason. What was the most difficult part about writing it?
KS: Hurting Chase. Those are always the most difficult scenes for me – anytime he feels hopeful only to be let down, anytime he struggles with his past and the baggage he carries. I don’t want spoil anything, but yes. His pain really has an effect on me.

N: If you could transport yourself into any book world, where would you go?
KS: Ha! You know, it’s funny, most of my favorite reads right now are dystopian/post-apocalyptic, but I wouldn’t want to transport myself into ANY of those worlds! I’m no Katniss, that’s for sure!

I’m going to say the Shadowhunter world in Cassandra Clare’s Moral Instruments Series. One, because I think I could be a pretty awesome demon hunter (I have the essential angel blood flowing through my veins, plus, I’m decently flexible and given training, could probably pull off a quadruple back flip). Two, because I’m dying to learn how to glamour people into seeing what I want them to see (necessary for world domination of course). And three, because Jace. Is. Hot.

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Interview: Kristen Simmons (Article 5) + TIME