Welcome Tracy Lawson, author of the Resistance series. Tracy has kindly graced her with her presence and answered a few questions about her books. Counteract and Resist are already published, and the third book, Ignite, is set to be published on July 19th!
The series is set in a dystopian world, but what sets it apart from other dystopians is that it’s a lot more realistic – it’s something that I could imagine happening to us right now.Tracy’s interview answers are extremely insightful and I hope you guys have as much fun reading them as you do reading her books (My reviews are somewhere in this post too!)
But first, a little about Tracy:
Once upon a time, Tracy Lawson was a little girl with a big imagination who was obsessed with telling stories. Her interests in dance, theatre, and other forms of make-believe led to a twenty-year career in the performing arts, where “work” meant she got to do things like tap dance and choreograph musicals. She made the mid-life career change and began writing in 2010. Ignite is her sixth book to be released since 2012.
Tracy, who is married with one college-aged daughter and two spoiled cats, splits her time between Dallas, Texas and Columbus, Ohio.
QUICK SUMMARY OF COUNTERACT:
The Resistance Series takes place in a near-future version of the United States. The powerful Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has enacted a long list of Civilian Restrictions designed to keep the people safe from frequent terrorist attacks, but it hasn’t worked: as the story opens, the threat of a chemical weapons attack is literally hanging over everyone’s heads.
Careen takes the OCSD’s offered antidote, but the side effects cause her to hallucinate. Her erratic behavior attracts the attention of a young law enforcement officer, who mistakenly pegs her as a dissident. Careen doesn’t realize the antidote is causing her confusion…until she runs out on the day of the anticipated attack.
Tommy, recuperating from injuries sustained in a recent auto accident, is unaware that there’s a link between that accident, which killed his parents, and the chemical weapons attack that threatens him now. When he discovers that working out before he takes his dose of the antidote helps him feel more like himself, he defies the rules to regain his strength and his sanity. On the day of the attack, he meets Careen, who just might be the girl of his dreams, and tries to save her by sharing his last dose of the antidote, even though doing so could potentially hasten his own death.
What Careen and Tommy learn about the true nature of the terrorist threat spurs them to take action; their decisions lead them to run afoul of local law enforcement, team up with an underground resistance group, and ultimately take their quest for the truth to the highest reaches of the United States government.
QUICK SUMMARY OF RESIST:
In Resist, the second volume in the Resistance Series, Tommy and Careen are no longer naïve, frightened teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense can protect them from terrorist attacks. They’ve discovered the OCSD’s miracle antidote’s true purpose: to create a population bereft of free will, incapable of defying the tyrannical OCSD. They join the Resistance, but on their first mission, things spin out of control and soon they’re on the run, dodging the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the Resistance’s secret headquarters.
Being part of the Resistance presents them with new challenges. Not everyone working for change will prove trustworthy, and plans to spark revolution go awry with consequences greater than they could’ve imagined. Tommy and Careen’s relationship is tested when their philosophical differences and the pressures of interpersonal rivalries and jealousy put a strain on their romance. Can they make time for each other while trying to start a revolution?
QUICK SUMMARY OF IGNITE:
Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439.
Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight—and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital.
The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who has been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes?
Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?
Onto the interview:
1. What was the inspiration behind The Resistance Series?
I was mentoring a friend of my daughter’s when the initial idea for Counteract came about. Chase is a pretty sharp guy and an excellent writer—and when he was in high school I had a lot of fun working with him and editing some of his short stories. We had finished working on a story about baseball, a broken nose, and a broken heart, and were ready to start something new, when he suggested we write scenes in response to the prompt: “What if everyone were on LSD and all thoughts were communal?” It was certainly thought provoking! Chase created the character Tommy, I created Careen, and right away, we knew we were onto something. Obviously, the story morphed and changed a lot before it became the finished version of Counteract—but that was how it all began.
Once we’d written several scenes, we began to ask “why” and “what if” until the plot emerged. “Why is everyone on a mind-altering substance?”
There was more than one answer to that question; “because they want to be” would have led us to write a very different story than “because they are being tricked.” Our choices led us to a dystopian story.
2. Did you always plan to write another book in the series?
I let my husband read the first draft of Counteract when I was about a third of the way through the first draft. He was enthusiastic and supportive and suggested developing a story line that could be carried forward if I chose to make Counteract the first in a series.
I liked the idea of doing more than one book about Tommy and Careen, and as I wrote the rest of the first draft, I pinpointed elements of the story I’d need to develop and expand to pave the way for a series.
3. How do the characters of Tommy and Careen develop in Resist?
Tommy and Careen are law-abiding citizens until they accidentally discover that the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense lied about the terrorist attack and why it mandated the use of the Counteractive System of Defense drug. They go from being accepting and compliant to impulsively joining a rebel group that’s working to overthrow the oppressive government agency, without having a chance to think about what they’re doing and why.
They’ve only known each other for a week, and their relationship has progressed far too quickly—they became a team, then a couple, without really getting to know each other, and soon they realize they don’t have much in common.
Tommy’s all for the physical aspects of revolution, and is eager to learn about guns and explosives. Careen finds kindred spirits among the older leaders of the group, who are committed to sway the public’s allegiance away from the OCSD by waging a war of information. Her pacifistic approach clashes with his need to prove himself on the field of battle, and further complicates their partnership.
4. The main characters in The Resistance Series are Tommy and Careen. Where did you find your inspiration for them?
My characters are a little bit of me, and little bits of people around me, but as I spend time with them in the context of the story, they become less like people in the real world; I don’t stop developing them until they are individuals: unique and unlike anyone else.
Because Chase created Tommy, I didn’t feel as close to him as to Careen. That changed as I wrote more scenes for Tommy—especially the scene when he and Careen meet. His reactions and his choices came from inside me; before long, he was unique and independent of any outside influence.
5. How does the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense (OCSD) differ from other dystopian governments in young adult series like The Hunger Games and Divergent?
In the Resistance Series, there has been no rebellion, no cataclysmic event. The dystopian world in which they live has been created by fear, engineered by an enemy masquerading as a protector.
The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense was created to protect against the rampant terrorism that has affected the nation for the better part of the twenty-first century. Little by little, the OCSD usurped power from the traditional three branches of the US government.
The OCSD’s long list of Civilian Restrictions was designed to maximize safety and security. Most people don’t consider themselves oppressed or fettered by their lack of freedom. Teenagers like Tommy and Careen don’t know things were ever different. They can’t remember a time when teenagers learned how to drive and went on dates to malls and movie theaters.
6. What elements test the relationship between Tommy and Careen in Resist?
Tommy and Careen had only each other to rely on in Counteract, and their relationship progressed quickly—perhaps a little too quickly.
Now they’ve joined the Resistance, and they’re part of a community for the first time. They have a hard time adjusting to the constant scrutiny, and Tommy laments about how their relationship seemed a lot less complicated when they were alone.
Their philosophical differences about how to fight the OCSD drive a wedge between them, and interpersonal rivalries and jealousy test their budding relationship.
7. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
First and foremost, I want readers enjoy the story! I hope they relate to Tommy and Careen, and look forward to reading the next installment in the series.
Books for young adults often reflect the reader’s need to question authority and rebel against the rules set down by older generations; the Resistance Series looks at what can happen when people surrender our civil liberties in exchange for the promise of safety and security.
I hope readers understand that protagonists in dystopian books are often branded as outcasts or rebels because they question the restrictive rules of their societies—and that individuals who change the world rarely do so by going along with the herd.
8. Can you draw any parallels between things that are happening in the real world?
Unfortunately, yes. In Resist, the OCSD accidentally causes the food delivery schedule to be interrupted. One-sixth of the nation is suddenly without food. I wondered whether those people would seek out a neighbor or friend who was on a different delivery schedule and ask for some food to tide them over until the deliveries resumed, or if they’d break into a stranger’s home and steal what they wanted.
In the book, people panic, and before long there are riots and looting. Within days, nearly everyone (except people in the government) is desperate for food, and the violence escalates.
When I wrote that story line, I couldn’t have predicted the devastating food shortages that would affect the people in Venezuela a year later.
9. What kind of research did you do for the series?
Please don’t call the police if you see what’s in my browser history! I’ve Googled the effects of various controlled substances, different types of explosives, and interrogation techniques.
I learned to shoot a handgun so that my characters’ first experiences with weapons would be authentic. At first it was scary, but now I enjoy going to the target range. I’m no Annie Oakley yet, but I’m at least as good as Scarlett O’Hara, who once saucily told Rhett Butler, “I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.”I’m not very tech savvy, so I chose not to invent any futuristic devices. Instead, the technology has slipped backward a little.Everything my characters use in the books, from the antidote to the encrypted satellite phone to a small square of fabric that is a GPS tracking device, are real.
10. What about humorous moments?
There’s not much levity in Counteract. There’s so much world building to do in the first book in a series, and I needed to paint a pretty grim picture of the world inhabited by Tommy and Careen. Tommy does enjoy witty banter, and he’s the one who gets the lines that give the reader some comic relief, no matter how small.
In Resist, the cast of characters expands to include a sassy 15-year-old waitress who’s a hopeless practical joker, and David Honerlaw and Grace Hughes, a divorced older couple that bicker constantly. I created David for comic relief, and he makes me laugh out loud a lot. For example, I was writing a scene for Ignite in which three of the men get into a huge knockdown brawl. As I was visualizing the scene, I heard David shouting, “Someone turn the hose on them!”
Resist definitely has the most humor of the three books.
11. And of course there’s romance…
Oh, of course. Whenever you put a bunch of teenagers together, they’re going to get crushes. There’s going to be drama, and jealousy, and rivalries. In our current society, we often say that the use of social media has stunted our teens’ ability to simply talk to one another and relate to each other without using some device like a phone as a go-between. In the world I created, people are kept as isolated as possible, so my characters aren’t used to interacting, except at school or in the presence of adults, and when they’re on their own, they have to figure out how to relate to each other.
Even though Wes and Jaycee Carraway grew up in a household that pretty much ignored the Restrictions, they’ve lived so far off the beaten path they rarely have to deal with strangers. All the young people in the book are a little awkward, and that increases the tension.
Thank you so much for sharing your answers with us!
But wait – here’s a little message from Tracy about her fantastic Ignite Launch Day Promo!
Readers call the Resistance Series books “terrifying” and “eerily believable.” Are you ready for the adrenaline rush?
Get FREE E-BOOKS and read the story of Tommy and Careen’s fight against the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense from the very beginning!
Here’s how it works:
Download Ignite: Book 3 of the Resistance Series for $2.99 on July 19-20 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/295WBYY
Send your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and in return, you’ll receive FREE downloads of Counteract and Resist, the first two books in the series!
A huge thanks to Tracy for sending me e-copies of her books and for sharing her answers with us! I’ve read all three books of her series so far, and it’s definitely something you guys should read!
Here are my reviews:
Counteract (4 of 5 Stars)
So, this is a dystopian story. But what really sets it apart from the other ones like Divergent, The Hunger Games, or Legend. Why? Because this book seems so real. The premise of this book seems like just another dystopian, but in truth, there are so many parts of this story that are grounded in modern society, and when you think of the terrorist threats that have plagued the world and compare it to the society in Counteract, the similarities are striking.
This book depicts just how powerful fear can be – which kind of explains Trump’s popularity – and how it allows an already corrupt government to take away people’s liberties all under the guise of protection.
Admittedly the only thing I had trouble with was the multi-character perspective; there were so many people and so many different thoughts that at first I had some trouble wrapping my head around who was who. Eventually, I did get into the groove, and I thought this book became a fast and engaging read.
Resist (4 of 5 Stars)
One of the first things I noticed about this book was that it began right where Counteract ended. Since I read this right after Counteract, it was really easy to get back into the groove of things.
I thought the characters continued to be very diverse and strong, especially Careen. In this book, I thought she definitely developed the most and began to lead.
The relationships were very strong as well – what I love about this series so far is that casual balance between lighter aspects that we are used to, and the more political dystopian world that is much more heavy in terms of subject matter and writing.
And like I said for Counteract, the book was extremely strong in the fact that the book was “realistic” and frighteningly probable, considering the path the world is currently headed in.
Ignite (4 of 5 Stars)
Wow, if this is possible, I think I liked this book even more than than its prequels!
I think the character development in this book was so powerful.
Careen and Tommy definitely changed the most (in my opinion) and I thought that they were heartbreaking examples of the loss of innocence of young people in a world that forced everyone to grow up too quickly.
The dynamic between those two was definitely realistic – I had been so tired of reading about two sappy lovers who were attached at the hip even in dystopian times, and I felt like this book really encompasses the kind of fear and anxiety that people fear in these times, even if they’re with someone they love.
Atari was also one of my favorite characters – he was so sassy and wacky – I loved him so much 🙂
And that Harry Potter reference…
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The Resistance Series books are available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook format on Amazon.com: