Q&A with Krista McGee: Anomaly
Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring the Anomaly trilogy
With everything we read in the news, it’s easy to allow our imaginations to wonder what will happen tomorrow, or even the very near future. I think of my three girls; what will they grow up to experience? What will our world be like for them? Sometimes I become anxious about it, worrying how I will protect them from the unknown dangers of the future. In the Anomaly trilogy, Krista McGee gives us a glimpse into one of those possible futures, one that certainly worries me. And though it’s one I hope doesn’t comes to pass, she reminds us that there is always Someone we can rely on no matter what the future holds.
Brock: Krista, you’ve written an exciting series. I was glad that I discovered it after the third book was being released, because I’m not sure I would have been able to wait. Tell me, how did you come up with the idea for the Anomaly trilogy?
Krista: In the spring of 2012, I was asked to write a dystopian series by my editors at Thomas Nelson. I have always loved that genre, so my mind began to race with possible story ideas. I knew I wanted the Christian element to play a major role in the plot, so with that in mind, I began brainstorming what my future world would look like.
Brock: There are three books in the series, can you tell me a little bit about each one. (Warning Spoilers! Skip to the next question.)
Krista: Anomaly introduces a future where the world has been destroyed by nuclear war. Only the 10 Scientists who were preparing an underground community – The State - in the event of a nuclear war survived. These, known as “The Ten,” decided to create a new world by genetically engineering new generations to be without emotions or curiosity, focused solely on completing the tasks they have been designed to complete. Thalli is an Anomaly – she feels deeply and questions everything. Those “malformations” lead to her arrest and only the intervention of childhood friend and Scientist-in-Training, Berk, keeps her from annihilation. As their alliance grows stronger, and Thalli’s use as a test subject increases, Thalli is introduced to John. Because he was visiting the State when the nuclear war occurred, he survived. But he is kept far away from others because he holds to a faith the Scientists believe is both primitive and dangerous. Thalli discovers John has more answers than anyone she has ever known, and her curiosity about the Designer that he serves grows. Thalli faces dangers from every angle, and the annihilation that she avoided becomes a reality.
*Spoiler Alert* In Luminary, Thalli has escaped above ground, with the help of Berk, Rhen (Thalli’s best friend), and John. The foursome discover pockets of survivors who are at war with each other, and as Thalli volunteers to help these cities find peace, she is placed in situations even more dangerous than anything she faced in The State. Her faith and her allegiances are tested as she discovers disturbing news about both her past and her future.
*More Spoilers* In Revolutionary, Thalli and Alex have been forcibly returned to The State. Determined to ensure his leadership is uncontested, Dr. Loudin commits unspeakable acts. Thalli learns truths that shake her world, and she is placed in a position where she must face Loudin and stop his plans or her friends in the State and in the world above will be destroyed. Once again, she leans on the help of the Designer as she seeks to save everyone she loves.
Brock: In three words, what is Revolutionary all about?
Krista: Overthrow, Overpower, Overcome (okay, I cheated and used the words from the cover…but they work!)
Brock: Had you always planned on a trilogy? Are there more books planned after Revolutionary?
Krista: Yes and no. I knew from the start this would be a trilogy. I am working on another book, but it is a new story. The Anomaly trilogy ends with Revolutionary.
Brock: I’m disappointed there won’t be another story, but glad to hear you’re working on something else. Did you outline the entire series, or did you write each book as you went and let the characters take control of the story?
Krista: I had a basic outline for the series, but that outline changed quite a bit from the brainstorming stage to publishing.
Brock: Do you enjoy writing in a Dystopian world?
Krista: I love the freedom of creating a whole new world; it is, however, much more challenging than writing contemporary novels.
Brock: Me too! It’s fun to imagine and envision where our world might be a decade from now, a century, or even a millennia. Another fun aspect of creating new worlds is creating the characters that live within them. Tell us about the main characters Thalli and Berk?
Krista: Thalli changes a great deal from Anomaly through Revolutionary. At first, she sees her curiosity and emotions as aberrations that demonstrate her inferiority. But as she comes to know the Designer, she learns she was created for a purpose and her “anomalies” are actually gifts. Berk is confident in his abilities as a Scientist, but as the story progresses, he is faced with situations beyond his training and control. He struggles to understand and adapt and he, too, needs help from the Designer to fulfill his purposes.
Brock: Can you describe their (Thalli and Berk) relationship for us?
Krista: If this was a Facebook status, it would read “It’s Complicated.” Having been raised in the same Pod, Thalli and Berk have known each other since birth. Berk was the only one to appreciate Thalli’s differences, and he spent their childhood alternately protecting and provoking her. As teenagers, their feelings mature from friendship to something more. Berk, however, continues to see himself as Thalli’s protector, but Thalli does not appreciate that. They work through their differences only to be faced with more. Ultimately, Thalli has to decide whether or not their relationship can move beyond a childhood friendship.
Brock: “It’s Complicated,” I just got funny looks because you made me laugh while I was editing this... Tell us more about the Designer.
Krista: The Designer is God. John uses that name to explain Him to Berk and Thalli because the name “God” means nothing to them. The concept of a Designer, though, is understandable. So John speaks about God in a way they would understand – similar to the way missionaries to unreached people groups speak to those who have never heard of the Savior.
Brock: I’ve taken a similar tact in one of my series with Creator, Rescuer, and Helper. Is it difficult to be accurate to Biblical perspective/facts when writing fiction fantasy? I know I’ve sometimes called on pastors or friends for help.
Krista: I believe the Truths of scripture can permeate any literary genre. Though I doubt God would permit a world-wide nuclear war on the scale presented in Anomaly, there is biblical precedence for a new beginning (Noah) and the maintaining of a remnant in a world that tries to eradicate belief in God (the Isrealites). My husband is a theologian, so I “fact-checked” with him before beginning Anomaly to make sure the literary license I took wasn’t too far-fetched.
Brock: That’s great that you have such an awesome resource. I’m sure sharing your story with your husband creates some fun conversations and discussions. I agree that these Truths can permeate any literary genre. Any specific Biblical stories or basis that you incorporated into the series beyond the Designer?
Krista: I don’t take one story and modernize it, as I did with my previous novels, but there are certainly allusions to Noah’s and Abraham’s stories in this one.
Brock: What do you hope readers take away from the series?
Krista: 1) God will never allow himself to be erased from the minds of men. 2) God has a purpose for everyone.
Brock: Those are both very comforting and truthful takeaways. Was there any certain research required for the book, or is it all straight from your imagination?
Krista: I spoke to several friends who are experts in music and science so I could make sure I was accurate in my depictions of those disciplines. For Luminary, I researched ancient Athens because that is what King Jason modeled his city on.
Brock: Now a bit more about you as an author. How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?
Krista: My favorite spot to write is my local Panera. I grab a coffee and a bagel (cinnamon raisin or blueberry, depending on my mood) and find an empty booth. I have to ease into writing, so I usually pull up my social media sites and scan those. Sometimes, if I am struggling to get started, I’ll write a blog entry. That gets my creative juices flowing – kind of like a runner warming up. From there, I begin working on my novel. I write fast – rarely stopping to fix anything – and often get so lost in the story that I don’t even notice the people around me. I am “in the zone.” My limit is about four hours, unless I am really on a roll. That’s also about the time the folks at Panera begin giving me dirty looks, so it is usually a good time to head home.
Brock: That made me laugh, I’ve experienced a few of those looks. I usually go up and buy something additional out of guilt. What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Krista: Other writers…I read a lot, from a variety of genres, and I try to learn from all of them. I have also learned a great deal from my editors – they help me sift through my ideas and find the strongest elements, and they help me craft those elements into a better story than I could write on my own.
Brock: Krista, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Readers, you won’t want to miss this series. It will capture your attention and imagination. The characters will be like friends and I promise you it’s hard to say goodbye to them as you turn the last page. Then again you can reread the book right away if you want.
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