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Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Beth Revis

Teen Read Week is October 14th through 20th, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating for ten days so we can bring you interviews, guest posts, videos, and more with each of the authors whose books made this year’s Teens’ Top Ten. Today we feature an interview with Beth Revis, whose book Across the Universe is #6 on this year’s list.

Congratulations! How did it feel to know your book was a Teens’ Top Ten selection?

I screamed out loud! This is one of the pie-in-the-sky awards that I’ve secretly longed for even before I was published. This is such a vote of confidence from the very people I wrote the book for, and that means everything to me.

While it clearly has its roots in science fiction, Across the Universe can just as easily be called a mystery or a love story. Did you intend to create such a genre-blending book, or did it evolve naturally?

It evolved naturally. When I started writing, I was frankly scared. I’d never written a sci fi before, and wasn’t sure I could do it properly. The roots of the story comes from the murder mystery and the twist at the end — and for those two things to work, I needed a science fiction setting. Once I started writing the world of Godspeed, everything else came naturally.

Across the Universe opens with a detailed scene that is quite chilling for both the characters and the reader. How much of that is based in current cryogenic science and how much was from your imagination?

A lot of it comes from my personal experience. The yellow eye drops are the same ones my mother uses for her glaucoma; the tubes down the throat come from my memories of having a tonsillectomy. I find it fascinating (and sad) when we see the way people are flesh and skin and bones, and I wanted to capture that moment. That said, I did have to research current cryogenics to make it believable. Currently, we don’t have realistic cryogenics because cell membranes burst from ice crystals. To make that work, I just invented the blue goo!

You bring up some heavy philosophical questions about race and diversity when Amy is on the ship Godspeed. Why did you feel it was important to include those issues in the book?

I think this came from my time working as a teacher and from my travels around the world. Growing up, I don’t think I really paid attention to race or the way people interacted. I knew, on an intellectual level, the history of racism and the need for diversity, but I had very little personal experience until I started traveling in college. I participated in two study abroad programs and became heavily involved in education programs that emphasized diversity in the classroom — not just racial diversity, but diverse learning needs, religious diversity, and more. When I became a teacher, I was armed with knowledge, and that helped me to see the consequences of prejudice and act to prevent it.

When I look at my own personal beliefs, I think it can best be summed up thusly: no one has the right to take away the choices and rights of anyone else. Which means that my core philosophy relies on a principle that is the antithesis of prejudice.

Prejudice is a result of ignorance and leads to hate, but knowledge and love defeat it. I will always stand on the side of love and knowledge.

Amy and Elder are such different characters. Amy is smart and calculating while Elder seems ruled almost entirely by his emotions, and their relationship is unsurprisingly complicated. Would they have fallen in love if they weren’t on the Godspeed?

I’d like to think they would! Part of what I was trying to do in writing Amy and Elder’s romantic relationship was flip the clichés — I wanted the girl to be hesitant and the boy to be the hopeless romantic. But by making them such opposites on an emotional level, I can’t help but feel that they’re perfect for each other. It’s not Godspeed that brings them together — it’s the fact that they’re two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

Because I always wrote while I had other obligations — college, and then being a teacher — I don’t work to a schedule. I tend to write in bursts. I might not write for a week, but then I’ll sit down and pound out ten thousand words or more in one go.

I also spend a lot of time thinking. I believe in writing constantly, which doesn’t mean I’m always typing. A lot of my most important work happens when I’m driving the car or mowing the lawn, because it’s then that I think about what the plot problems are and how to make the story work.

Like many readers out there, I am dying to find out what happens in the final volume. Can you give us a hint of what’s to come in Shades of Earth?

I can tell you a few things! First, the very best death scene I’ve ever written is in this book, and I’m tickled pink about it! It should tell you a lot about me as a writer that the thing I’m most proud of is a murder!

In Across the Universe, my favorite part of the book was the chapter that was only one sentence long. In A Million Suns, my favorite part was the page that only had one word on it. In Shades of Earth, my favorite part is a blank page. Minimalism for the win!

Many thanks to Beth Revis for the interview! If you are interested in learning more about Beth and her books, be sure to check out her website.

— Summer Hayes, currently reading, and getting thoroughly creeped out by, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson (a 2012 Alex Award winner)

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  1. I LOVE how you flipped the roles – I like that Amy is very smart in her moves, and Elder is borderline obsessed (not a bad thing!). And what is this I see about VERY BEST DEATH SCENE?!
    Beth you tortue us.
    I love the one sentence and one word thing! So, it totally makes sense that Shades of Earth would have a blank page! But WHY? I’ll just have to wait and see with the rest of the world :)

    Great interview!!!! <3

  2. Make me even MORE impatient for Shades of Earth, will you? Lovely interview! I find it very intriguing that you used your memories of a tonsillectomy when writing the part where Amy has tubes shoved down her throat. And I ADORE that page with only one word in it in A Million Suns.

  3. Amanda Amanda

    I’m very curious about the best death scene she ever wrote! I can’t wait to read the final book and I hope Beth continues to give us more great stories :)

  4. This interview makes me so excited for Shades of Earth. It’s amazing how you slipped so many parts into the story (for example, how Amy and Elder’s roles are flipped from the usual) that I didn’t notice as I was reading, but made the characters and the world so much more believable and real. Thanks for the great interview!

  5. Kayeleen Hamblin Kayeleen Hamblin

    I have loved this series. I’m so excited to get Shades of Earth. Thanks for the interview!

  6. Suzanne Hill Suzanne Hill

    What a great interview, such a tease! I’ve really enjoyed Across the Universe and A Million Suns. I’m really looking forward to Shades of Earth. I can’t wait!

  7. Aimee Aimee

    SOOO excited for Shades of Earth! Great interview!

  8. Jessy Jessy

    I dunno… The death scene would have to top the Harley death scene in Across the Universe. And that was a pretty great death scene.

  9. I can’t wait for this one! And I love how you describe your writing process. I always feel like I’m doing something wrong when I don’t actually write every day, but then I read this and realized that I do what you do–constantly think and plan. Thanks so much for sharing, and I’m so looking forward to the end of a great trilogy!

  10. Now I can’t wait to read this death scene! I like a good murder in my novels >:)

  11. Stina Stina

    Thanks so much for the interview! I love it!

  12. Beth Revis certainly deserves her place in the top 10. I was never a fan of sci-fi but I fell in love with Across the Universe. Can’t wait to see what happens in Shades of Earth.
    Awesome interview. :D

  13. Love the answer to the last question. :) And I have to admit that the extremely creepy first chapter was what drew me into the book! {I had read the first chapter online.} The gorgeous cover was what drew me to the book itself.

    Great interview!


  14. Vivien Vivien

    Congrats to Beth Revis and all the winner!!! So well deserved. What a fabulous interview. I absolutely adore this series and cannot wait for Shades of Earth. GAH!!!

  15. denisse denisse

    NO NO NO NO! now i just can’t wait for shades of earth. :(
    i loved so much the first two parts, and in fact i also love the one sentence chapter and the one word one.
    I do not want to imagine anything about that “dead scene” my brain will colapse….PLEASE JANUARY COME TO ME!


  16. Jenny Jenny

    Thank you so much for the interview! I was always wondering about how you came up with the opening scene, so this was probably my favourite interview of your’s, Beth!
    Blank page in SoE……
    Too much anticipation. New goal: get an ARC and visit Centauri-Earth (metaphorically of course…)
    Congratulations AtU making the list. If I’m going to be completely honest, I kind of did a little happy dance when I found out it made the list:)

  17. Thanks for hosting such a lovely interview. I’m so glad that Across the Universe made the list. It was clever to make Elder the romantic.

  18. Thank you so much for the interview! I’ve heard really great things about Across the Universe but I haven’t read it yet. Reading this interview made me want to read it more ( flip of relationship stereotypes? Yes!)

  19. Gaby Gaby

    This got me so anxious!! It’s a great interview, and I’m pretty sure we’re all super excited about Shades of Earth!! Maybe I should go do a re-read!! xD

  20. Grace Radford/Anna Pett Grace Radford/Anna Pett

    best death scene? Woah. I wanna read that!!!

  21. Maithilee Maithilee

    I love the chapters with rarely anything in them because it’s kind of like ASDFGHJKL;’ the feels! The things that are unsaid are more prevalent than that which is said.

  22. Evie Evie

    I love the relationship between Amy and Elder! I can’t wait to read the last book in this series.
    And Congrats, Beth!

  23. Death scene! Oh no! And I agree that Amy and Elder do fit together. You don’t quite see how, yet you can’t imagine it any other way :D

  24. Loving the interview but now I am scared of Shades of earth. I know it will be amazing but this death… I am scared

  25. Scarlet A Scarlet A

    I am sooooo excited about Shades of Earth! Now im dieing to know who you killed off!!! The Across the Universe series is one of the best i’ve ever read!!

  26. Tammie Tammie

    I am completely in love with this series. I can’t wait to read the next book!

  27. I bet everyone in your neighborhood heard that scream. Those are the best. I’m so happy for you Beth! Your book is amazing and you totally deserve it!!!

  28. Julia Julia


  29. Amanda Douglas Amanda Douglas

    Congrats, Beth!
    Thanks for the interview!

  30. Those hints are torture! I really can’t wait to read Shades of Earth and get to that blank page!

  31. Fernando Viera Fernando Viera

    Beth, I’m glad you made it to the Top Ten. Well deserved. Great series. :)

  32. The reason why I love Beth’s books so much is the way she weaves together sci-fi and dystopia, mystery and romance. Across the Universe took me by surprise, A Million Suns took my breath away…and now with the murder, I’m sure I’ll bawl like a baby!
    Shades of Earth is the book I’m most anxious to read. January can’t come fast enough!

  33. Kristine Kristine

    I’m so excited! Congratulations on making top ten!:D

  34. That’s the best description I’ve ever heard of Amy and Elder and when I read it, I was like “of course!!!!”. Am slightly worried about said death scene in Shades of Earth but I trust you and naturally that would be your favourite scene *rolls eyes * lol

    I can’t wait to see what happens in the final books and you know what? We share the same favourite pages :)

    Well done for making the Top Ten!!!!!

  35. Elizabeth Elizabeth

    I’m both extremely excited and terrified for Shades of Earth!

  36. What a lovely interview! And congrats, Beth!

  37. Julia K Julia K

    January is going to be a great month. I can’t wait to read Shades of Earth. It’ll be kind of sad, though, because then their story will be done. I really hope you return to their world eventually, Beth. Maybe not in novel form, but short stories would be nice. Your books are some of the best that I have read in a long time, tied with The Golden Compass, Book Thief, and I am the Messenger for my favorite book. Thank you for writing such a fantastic series, and even though your next book will be nothing like this trilogy, I’ll be interested to see what you write next.

  38. I love the Across the Universe series to pieces, can’t wait to get my hands on Shades of Earth :D
    Congrats for making the Top Ten, well deserved! And thanks for the interview :)

  39. Ooh, looking forward to the best death scene :-)

  40. sara sara

    Like everyone else I am excited but also a little scared to read this death scene…who will it be!? So excited for Shades of Earth.


  41. Cannot Wait to read Shades of Earth. <3

  42. Laura P Laura P

    You deserve this so much! Your novels are great and everyone should know about it!

  43. Jenny Lynn Jenny Lynn

    This interview makes me so excited for the final book! And I really love that you don’t write to a schedule either but instead when the mood hits you. That’s typically how I write, too, and I’ve always felt a little weird because it didn’t sound similar to what other writers did. That said, I do typically work better when I have a deadline since I’m a queen of procrastination.

  44. Fantastic interview! I loved loved loved Across the Universe; the storyline is great, the writing is awesome and the characters are top notch. I was so happy to see that it made the Top Ten! YAY!! :D

  45. Adriana Marachlian Adriana Marachlian

    Oh gosh I am SO excited for Shades of Earth!! Can’t wait! Although this death scene worries me…

  46. Congrats! I can’t wait to read Shades of Earth and this was such a great interview. I love how you got the cryogenics ideas and the blue goo. And now I’m *dying* to read that death scene.

  47. Zyanya Garcia Zyanya Garcia

    I really did love ATU. I remember reading about it online and not really being into it because I don’t really tend to like books with female leads BUT I saw the cover and just thought it was really really beautiful. It’s one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen for any book. The story is pretty wonderful as well. I love the twists and turns and I love the maturity but innocence of everything and I just really love this book. It’s dark and heavy and wonderful. Great book and I’m so very happy for Beth.

  48. Congrats! Great interview!

  49. Danielle Danielle

    Congrats Beth!!! I love the Across the Universe series and have had a ton of fun sharing it with my friends. Now I can forward this interview too!!

  50. Daisy R Daisy R

    Can not wait to read Shades of Earth! Curious to see who gets killed. Awesome interview!


  52. I love how you said you’re always writing, even when you’re not actually typing. That’s what my family always says about me! :)

  53. Stephanie27 Stephanie27

    Congrats and great interview! This series is one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait to see what happens when they get to earth. I always picture writers at their keyboard constantly so I am glad you told me about your style. It is great to see into the way you really do things. Thanks for sharing.

  54. Gah! I CAN’T WAIT to see how this fantastic series ends! From meeting Beth (and reading the first two books), I know how much she loves to kill of characters… this makes me nervous!

    SO EXCITED!!!!!

  55. Amanda Ross Amanda Ross

    Words cannot even describe how much I am looking forward to Shades of Earth!!!

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