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Suzanne Weyn, widely known for her science fiction novels The Bar Code Tattoo and The Bar Code Rebellion, has written over fifty novels and short stories, mainly geared toward children and young adults. In 2007, she was nominated for Jugendliteraturepreis for youth literature in Germany for The Bar Code Tattoo; The Bar Code Tattoo was also nominated in 2007 by the Nevada Library for Young Adult literature and the same novel was the ALA 2005 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Her newest novel, Empty, an ecological romance, will be released in October 2010.
I recently was able to interview Ms. Weyn for Teen Ink.
1. The Bar Code Tattoo seems to be based upon conspiracy theories. Are you a conspiracy theorist? Or do you enjoy hearing the conspiracy theories?
Great question! I guess you could say that I don’t believe that the regular person always gets the straight story on what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to the things governments, big business, and other powerful groups are doing. I believe it’s important for people to be well-read and well-informed. As well as reading and watching TV, people should talk to each other. If something doesn’t seem to make sense based on a person’s own experience and observations, that person should look further. If that makes me a conspiracy theorist, I suppose I am.
2. The Bar Code Tattoo is set only thirty years into the future. Do you believe technology will advance at such a rapid rate that it is possible for the government to control our entire lives?
It seems to me that we are moving that way very quickly.
3. Where do you find inspiration for your novels?
Everywhere! TV news, newspapers, things I see, conversations with other people, overheard conversations, stories from life, literature, art, history. Inspiration is endless and everywhere once one has an eye to look for it.
4. Have any of your friends or family ever come to you with an idea? Have you ever used one of their ideas?
People come to me with ideas but I seldom use them. Someone else’s idea is unique to that person. On the other hand, though, sometimes editors tell me they want a certain kind of book, but it’s very general. Scholastic wanted a series about horses and they knew I had experience with horses, so they asked me to create a series for them which became Wildwood Stables. This series is based on my daughter’s experience of taking care of a horse rescued from a neglectful situation.
5. When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
I loved the character of Jo March in the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Jo March wanted to be an author and I wanted to be like her. I wrote my first short story at eight. But I wrote just because I liked doing it. I always wrote, but just for fun. It wasn’t until I was nearly thirty that I had the idea that I might write full time for living. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that something I loved doing was what I should be doing for the rest of my life. Maybe it was because I was focused on trying to be an actress which is the career I expected to have. (Funny, but Jo March also wants to act. The two things go together in a lot of ways.)
6. What are some of your hobbies?
I like to swim, hike, horsebackride, dance, and kayak. I enjoy books and movies. I love to spend time with my friends going out to dinner or to plays.
7. Who is your favorite author[s]?
I love the adult author Margaret Atwood.
Children’s and young adult authors I admire are: R.L. Stine, Nancy Krulik, David Levithan, Peter Lerangis, M.T. Andersen, Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, and Louisa May Alcott.
8. Which author[s] has been your influence?
I’ve learned a lot from reading Margaret Atwood. Stephen King’s book, On Writing influenced me, too. I admire the emotional honesty and clear storytelling of the Beezus and Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I’ve also learned about storytelling from R.L. Stine. And of course, Louisa May Alcott made me want to become a writer.
9. How would you describe your writings for someone interested in your work?
I have two threads in my novels. The first is a future-fiction like The Bar Code Tattoo, The Bar Code Rebellion, and the novel I have coming in October called Empty. In Empty, I imagine a future where all the oil has finally been used up. When that happens—and it’s bound to happen eventually—the lives of people will never be the same. I want people, especially young people, to think ahead before a crisis hits. If you’ve been warned, you have time to prepare, to plan, to think about how you want to act, Maybe then a crisis can be averted.
The other thread in my writing is historical fiction. In my novel Distant Waves, I re-imagine the story of the Titanic. I love history. History is a fascinating story that never ends.
10. What advice do you have for the aspiring authors at Teen Ink?
Write. Read. Be observant. Listen closely. Believe in yourself.