THE LOST CODE and THE DARK SHORE (together in this giveaway) are the first two books of The Atlanteans trilogy.
THE LOST CODE: In the year 2086, Camp Eden promises summer “the way things used to be,” back before the oceans rose and modern civilization sank into chaos. Located inside the EdenWest BioDome, the camp is an oasis of pine trees, cool water, and rustic charm.
But all at Camp Eden is not what it seems.
No one will know this better than fifteen-year-old Owen Parker. A strange underwater vision, even stranger wounds on Owen’s neck, and a cryptic warning from the enchanting lifeguard Lilly hint at a mystery that will take Owen deep beneath Lake Eden and even deeper into the past. What he discovers could give him the chance to save the tattered planet, but first, Owen will have to escape Camp Eden alive….
THE DARK SHORE: Owen and his friends have escaped Camp Eden, but the next step on their journey to find Atlantis and protect it from Project Elysium involves crossing the perilous wastelands of a wrecked planet. And out here, the horrors live bright in the poisonous sun.
Check Out an Original Song Written For the Book!
Check out our Exclusive Interview with the Author Here!
1) What did your friends and family think when you said you were going to write your first book, if indeed you DID tell people? Or, did you wait until after you had been accepted and your book was to be published before you told anyone?
I didn’t really tell anyone when I was writing my actual first book, which was a novel I wrote in notebooks on Saturdays senior year in high school. But I did bring that book to college and, once I typed it up in the “Mac Lab” and printed it out on the “Stylewriter,” I did show it to people. And by people I mean girls. And then I learned that girls dig when a boy is all sensitive and has a novel. Except then I learned that dorms are only so big, and girls talk. Side note: sophomore year I showed that novel to another girl, and she was unimpressed. I married her.
2) No matter how many books you write, I’m sure each one has it’s own challenges. How was this book more challenging to write than your others? How was it easier?
The hardest part about this book was having a character who was neither young enough to make the book a middle grade, nor old enough to make it a pure YA. I’ve been teaching in middle schools for years, and I wanted to write a story about a kid who was in that 14-15 range, but still young in his skin. He’s not a kid. But he’s also not a butt-kicking teen android. He’s kissed like one girl, and it was awkward. He’s thoughtful, but getting his thoughts and his emotions to come out of his face is still really hard (actually, not sure that’s changed!). He’s the kind of kid who doesn’t make friends easy, who might try something stupid like take a swim test (during which he drowns) to impress the first safe person he’s met at camp (Lilly: he thinks he loves her; he has no idea what that really means).
At the same time, I wanted to write a speculative, sci-fi, fantasy coming-of-age adventure. But Owen can’t just own that role. He has to grow into it. But once I got inside his weird head, I totally loved him. And I feel like his slow, organic evolution throughout these first two books is true to what I experienced, and what I see kids experiencing. And what else can we do? (note to Kevin: butt-kicking android!)
3) When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Have you had other jobs along the way?
I was always writing stories all through elementary school, mainly fan fiction about action movie heroes. I’ve always been a musician too, though, and have always wanted to be both. After college I moved to Boston to be in a band (I was in a Phish phase at the time; it happens to nerdy musicians, so we won’t be discussing that band), and I got a job as a bank teller. This was the worst/best job I ever had. Dealing with people and their money, under soul-sucking white lights, drinking tar coffee, and making small talk with Dan the security guard, Carla the former-high-school hottie now in an abusive relationship, Carol who “just couldn’t wait to get home and put her feet up on the couch,” and the myriad regulars with their weekly paychecks. I think at the time I thought I was above it and yet also hopelessly overmatched. Sometimes I dream about going back to being a teller and just owning it, like, wearing a Fedora, talking like Jimmy Stewart, and counting those crisp twenties like a goddamned pro, saying pithy ism’s to old ladies who still keep their money in CD’s, and so on. Or maybe not.
4) THE LOST CODE is a great title! Who came up with it? Was it the original title or did it change along the way?
I’ll be honest, all my original titles were really nerdy and obscure (The Aeronaut? Dragonfly Ascending???? WTF kind of title is that? Get over yourself, Emerson!). The Lost Code was like, title 10, and it was in an email where I was just like, “screw it, here are five titles, I honestly don’t care.”
That drama actually speaks to the whole difference between what HarperCollins saw this book as (a boy-accessible commercial dystopian book) and what I saw it as (a weird, thoughtful, coming-of-age sci-fi/fantasy adventure). On the one hand, it’s “The Lost Code!” with “sexy action teens on the cover!”, and on the other hand, it’s a book about a kid who has never had friends finding friends and being asked to grow up before he is ready.
I’m not criticizing that difference. To Harper, there are two shelves where you can sell a book at Barnes & Noble, the 9-12, and the 13-and-up. A book searching for Atlantis that takes place at a summer camp sounds 9-12, but a book about first romance (mostly in bathing suits), with icky gill-growing and eventually creepy subterranean labs sounds YA. And in the business of selling books, you have to choose. We chose older, because an innocent “search for Atlantis!” book sounds super boring. I wanted to write intimately about first loves, environmental hellscapes, and that moment when you can’t gloss over the urges you feel, but you have no [bleeping] idea what to do with them. And kudos to my editor, Katherine Tegen, who believed in that book idea.
5) What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
All I want my readers to get from my books is the sense of seeing themselves in the characters. I hope they feel like the lonely, anxious, dreamers they keep tucked inside have a voice, and that someone out there feels their pain. I don’t expect everyone to like my books; they are too much me, and I am a certain kind of mess. But for those readers out there who vibrate on those same frequencies, I think they will love it, and it will feel honest and true, but also with a bad-ass crystal skull every now and then.
About the Author:
Kevin Emerson is the author of THE ATLANTEANS series, THE FELLOWSHIP FOR ALIEN DETECTION, the OLIVER NOCTURNE series and CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT. He writes smart music for kids in THE BOARD OF EDUCATION. Kevin is a former K-8 science teacher, and currently teaches with Richard Hugo House and Writers in the Schools. Originally from Connecticut, now living in Seattle, by way of Boston.Visit him online at www.KevinEmerson.net
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