Dystopian December - Sara Grant!

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Guest post by Sara Grant!

Communicating With the Future

Thanks for inviting me to take part in Dystopian December and providing the perfect opportunity to share the inspiration for my next novel titled Half Lives –which will be published in the US by Little, Brown in July and in UK by Orion in May.

Half Lives is two separate stories twisted together. One is set in the near future, which is being ravaged by a fast-spreading and deadly virus. The other takes place in the distant future where one of the last surviving civilizations is under threat. It’s both an apocalyptic and dystopian thriller.

The idea for Half Lives came from my editor at Little, Brown. In 2009 she emailed me a link to a podcast titled ‘Atomic Priesthoods, Thorn Landscapes and Munchian Pictograms: How to communicate the dangers of nuclear waste to future civilizations’ (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/green_room/2009/11/atomic_priesthoods_thorn_landscapes_and_munchian_pictograms.html). It discussed how a United States Department of Energy panel planned to label the site of an underground nuclear waste repository.

At first glance, the topic doesn’t appear to be the obvious inspiration for a novel, but the more I thought about it the more intrigued I became. The idea that we are creating a substance that will be deadly for tens of thousands of years definitely seemed like science fiction, something right out of a superhero comic book. Some types of nuclear waste are deadly for more than 10,000 years – that’s longer than the world’s oldest civilization.

And then there was the added conundrum of how to communicate with future generations. Who knows what the world will be like even a thousand years from now? What language will we speak? What symbols will have meaning? Many ‘do not disturb’ signs marking Egyptian tombs – threats of curses – now hang in modern museums. So how do you mark a long-term nuclear waste repository so that no one will unearth its deadly contents? To draw attention to it might make future explorers curious. They might think it’s sacred or special. They could even think it hold treasures.

Both stories in Half Lives are set on a mountain outside of Las Vegas. The mountain and abandoned nuclear waste repository in Half Lives are fictional. I based my setting on both the deserted nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada and the ongoing construction of the Onkalo Waste Repository, a long-term storage facility for highly nuclear waste in Finland.

These issues and questions set the stage for my two tales of survival…Half Lives chronicles the journey of two unlikely teenage heroes – Icie and Beckett. Even though they live hundreds of years apart, Icie and Beckett’s lives are mysteriously linked. Half Lives is a race against time and the battle to save future generations. It’s about the nature of faith and power of miscommunication – and above all the strength of the human spirit to adapt and survive. 

Author Bio:

Sara Grant was raised in a small town in the Midwestern United States. She graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. As a senior commissioning editor for Working Partners, a London-based company creating series fiction for children, she has worked on 10 different series and edited more than 75 books. Dark Parties, a dystopian thriller, was her first young adult novel published this year. It won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for the UK and Europe. Her second novel for teens is titled Half Lives, and will be published in 2013.

Sara blogs as part of The EDGE – a group of UK-based writers who create edgy fiction for teens – edgeauthors.blogspot.co.uk

Author Links:

Website - Blog - Twitter - FacebookGoodreads -

Half Lives - 
Sara Grant
Released: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown Books

Synopsis: I learned that surviving isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you survive, you've got to live with the guilt, and that's more difficult than looking someone in the eye and pulling the trigger. Trust me. I've done both. Killing takes a twitch of the finger. Absolution takes several lifetimes.
Seventeen-year-old Icie's parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie's only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what's happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all?
Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie's secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they're ruled by a teenager...and they have surprising ties to Icie.
This high-stakes, original, and thought-provoking adventure from Sara Grant follows two unlikely heroes, hundreds of years apart, as they fight to survive.

Win an ARC of Half Lives! US Only!

Claire Blennerhassett

Reader, Blogger

Twenty-something | book-blogger | tea-drinker | procrastinator | wannabe-writer | student


  1. Great guest post.. Thanks for sharing it. I am off to check out Half Life.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  2. Half Life sounds awesome!! It's already on my TBR. Thanks so much for the chance to win!!

  3. Oh wow I haven't heard of this one. It's going straight onto the TBR though.


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