North Carolina author Beth Revis achieved fantastic critical and commercial success with her Across the Universe series, a young adult science fiction trilogy about “a love out of time and a spaceship built of secrets and murder” that has been translated into more than 20 languages. For The Body Electric, Revis once again offers a young adult science fiction novel, this time focused on memory, identity, and trust: “The future world is at peace. Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift, the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother, to help others relive their happy memories. But not all is at it seems. Ella starts seeing impossible things, images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience, and influence, the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love, even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing? Someone’s altered her memory. Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings. So who can she trust?”
Here, Revis writes about the difficulties in revising what had been meant as the first book as a trilogy into one standalone novel. It — and the novel — makes for intriguing reading. I’d originally asked her about this “hardest part” for The Hardest Part guest column series, and then saw that she has 5 events scheduled across the Carolinas from November 1-5 including Quail Ridge Books, Flyleaf Books, Malaprop’s, Park Road Books, and Fiction Addiction, as part of the Compelling Reads Tour which also includes (among others) Meagan Spooner and Megan Shepherd. So! I’m including this in the Coming to Town column as well. I hope you enjoy!
By Beth Revis:
The hardest part of writing The Body Electric was the revision process. In its original inception, the book was going to be the first of a trilogy and heavily focused on a government subplot. My agent and editor, however, pointed out that dystopian was fading, and the government subplot was distracting from the main plot of the book–a more personal story about a girl whose memories have been altered without her knowledge and who is wrapped up in something far bigger than her. Taking out the subplot was a huge change–but not as huge as cutting the book from three to one. Taking out the strings that led to sequels made the story tighter and stronger in the end, but it was excruciatingly painful to revise!
Once the book was done and edited, the rest sort of…fell into place. I did have a set back when I learned it didn’t fit with my publisher’s catalog, but the actual decision to self publish was fairly easy, mostly due to my wise agent, who was behind me the whole way. I’d worked with a graphic designer before on other projects, and she was available to do the exterior and interior design of the novel. I had great friends (and the internet!) to show me the ropes of self publication, and a wonderful indie bookstore that helped with the launch of the book. After years of writing and three published novels, it was amazing that the hardest part of the book was in the writing process, not the publication process!
Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s latest book is a new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric, which released October 6, 2014.