Author Alexandra Bracken has a lot going on. Her novel The Darkest Minds has been adapted into a movie, starring the fabulous Amandla Stenberg, and hits theaters on August 3.
And her next novel in the series, The Darkest Legacy, comes out on July 31, 2018.
We literally can’t wait.
In the meantime, Alexandra let us dig deep into her dark mind to find out what inspired her to revisit the series, who inspires her writing and which, of all her characters, is most like her!
Frolic: Did you ever think you’d revisit The Darkest Minds and how exciting was it to revisit this world?
Alexandra: Yes! I’d been plotting a return to the world of The Darkest Minds series pretty much from the moment I finished the last novella (Beyond the Night). There was a plot thread in it that I really wanted to explore, but I needed time to tease out the idea and decide how to frame it. That, and I just needed a break from the darkness of that world! Over the years, many readers have asked me if I was considering returning to the story and characters, and I always demurred because I wasn’t sure when that right story would finally manifest. It all clicked last spring, and The Darkest Legacy unfolded with the same ease and energy as The Darkest Minds did back in the day. That felt like a good sign! I think that mental and emotional distance ultimately helped The Darkest Legacy grow into its own distinct story.
I was so, so, so excited to come back, and with this particular idea. I thought I might be nervous or struggle to get back into the groove of the world (so much pressure!), but — to be a total cornball — it felt like coming home and hanging out with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while. The easiest scenes to work on were the ones with the old gang back together. Writing that banter and group dynamic again filled me with pure joy.
Frolic: What’s your biggest inspiration as a writer?
A: I think all writers should be sponges — they should be seeking out new experiences and meeting new people and learning, learning, learning. But the spark of any story for me is the emotional arc of the main character. I can’t write a story — at least not a story I love — without a strong emotional hook. Before I sit down to write a word, I look for a big growth arc for the character and work hard to tease out their weaknesses and flaws. Sometimes, the emotional arc is related to something I’ve been through, and sometimes it’s an observation I’ve had about the wider world. For example, in The Darkest Legacy, Zu has to face some unwelcome truths about the reality she’s helped to create–and that thread was inspired by the months it took me to process the 2016 Election and see what it revealed about our own society.
Frolic: Which character do you relate to the most and why?
A: Is it cheating to say all of them? It’s true! I think all of my characters inherit a little something from me. Sometimes it’s a detail (Liam loving classic rock, for example — and, well, he also got my goofy sense of humor), and sometimes it’s a fear I have, or something I’ve struggled with in the past. In The Darkest Legacy, we see Zu dealing with a punishing perfectionism and a need to present as “fine,” when she’s actually genuinely struggling with her past trauma. While I haven’t been through half of what’s she’s been through, I definitely relate to that need to be perceived as “fine,” even in the worst times I’ve had with anxiety or depression.
Frolic: What can fans expect from this new novel? Will their hearts be able to handle the anticipation and what do you recommend they have nearby while reading the book? 🙂
A: You can expect: danger, big twists, little twists, so many twists oh my gosh, superpowers, an on-the-run road trip, did I mention the twists, the return of the original gang, banter, approaching darkness, new friendships, a lil’bit of romance… you get the picture! The Darkest Legacy is a standalone story, and it isn’t a we-must-save-the-world dystopian tale. Instead, it starts with the conspiracy of Zu being framed for a crime she didn’t commit and the mystery of who is behind the horrific act unfolds and reveals more mysteries.
I can’t wait to talk to everyone about what the old Betty crew has been up to in the five years between In the Afterlight and The Darkest Legacy, and for you guys to see the ways they’ve changed, and the ways they’re still the characters you know and love.
Frolic: What’s next for this world?
I could tell you… but I think it’ll be more fun for everyone to wait and see!