by J.E. Anckorn
Genre: young-adult, science-fiction
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Re-Release: March 23, 2015
Cover Artist: Amy Chitulescu
It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it’s your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next.
In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn’t too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn’t: A plan.
Brandon’s uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave.
Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon. Brandon is big into army guys. Gracie has to admit that Brandon’s Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn’t for Jake.
They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone’s ranch house. He’s a good kid, even if he won’t-or can’t- talk. But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they’ve started to forge looks set to break apart.
When the people you’ve been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.
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J. E. Anckorn has been an artist and writer ever since she began to surreptitiously doodle on school supplies instead of learning about practical things, like osmosis and mathematics.
After barely surviving a freak mathematical osmosis disaster, she set out to travel the world, living in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong before returning to her native Britain- just in time to marry an American and leave for the U.S.A.She still failed to learn anything about osmosis, but did manage to cultivate an accent that is unintelligible to almost everyone. (It happened through a mysterious net movement of information from the outside environment into her brain. If only there was a word for that!)
This led to her development of a new language, based almost entirely on polite yet uncomprehending nods.In between these adventures, she has worked as a toy designer, copywriter, and freelance illustrator.She lives in Boston, with a small grumpy dog, and a large, slightly less grumpy husband.
Find J.E. Anckorn Online:
Please welcome Untaken author J.E. Anckorn to Diane’s Book Blog.
Where did the idea for Untaken come from?
For months I had one random scene lodged in my brain: Three kids are lost in an abandoned, pitch dark shopping mall- and something else is in there with them. Something stealthy and vicious, slowly tracking them down.
I wrote it out and then thought, ‘Well crap. I guess I need the rest of a book to go with this.’
I also got inspired by visiting an outdoors supply superstore, during a long drive home from
And by ‘visiting’ I mean ‘stopped by to use the bathroom and became entranced
by all the dead moose and creative ways to make other moose dead.’
It was mildly horrific but utterly fascinating. As I wandered the aisles looking at first aid kits bigger than my car and chupacabra proof tents, I thought ‘this is where I’m coming to stock up when the world ends,’ which is basically what my characters do.
Also, I love movies with shopping montages, so it’s appropriate my whole book was basically built around a spooky shopping montage.
What sort of research did you do while planning the series?
Untaken is set around
MA, a neighborhood just outside of Boston, where I was
living when I began the story. I’m actually British and I’d only been living in
for six years when I started writing Untaken, so those six years count as
research in a way. Untaken is everything I’ve observed about Massachusetts, decanted into a book…with
aliens. It’s my love letter to Boston.
The kind of love with lots of doom and destruction and terrifying
The other research I had to do was on hunting.
Brandon’s dad is a hunter and one of Brandon’s
big insecurities is trying to live up to his dad’s vision of what it means to
be a capital ‘M’ Man.
The hunting stuff had to be authentic, and I had no clue. I’m sure there’s a
lot I got wrong, but I learned some interesting things. For example, some people
put out delicious food for wild animals to attract them before shooting them!
Who knew? That’s not being a wily forest ninja hunter really, is it? More like
a really lousy dinner party host. Also, I should share that you can buy bear pee. All the goodness of ursine
micturition with none of the hassle!
If you were stranded on a desert island which of your characters do you want by your side?
Gracie is the character who is most like me. A little awkward, a little nerdy. We could both be happy on our iPads, ignoring each other until the water or the wifi ran out. Imagine getting stuck on a desert island with someone peppy and talkative? Nightmare.
However Gracie is very resourceful, so she could probably build a luxury canoe and a modest volcano lair and whip up seaweed soup while I was still fighting a hermit crab for part of a dead seagull.
Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
My mum. When she was little she’d get told off for ‘wasting time’ reading. She made sure that we always had access to books and it was her who taught me to love stories. If you love stories, sooner or later you’ll start making them up yourself, even if you never write them down. Mum used to tell us stories she’d made up herself, including one about aliens, now that I think of it. I’ve pestered her to write a book of her own for years….get on it, mum!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’d say Margaret Atwood, if I really have to pick just one. I read ‘Cat’s Eye’ when I was ten, and was far too young to understand most of it. Part of the book deals with the loneliness of being an adolescent girl, especially a smart adolescent girl. The way she wrote about bullying, and friends you torment and love and hate all at the same time just blew my mind. It was a revelation to me that someone else not only understood what that was like but could articulate it so perfectly. It’s true for all her books, even the more fantastical speculative fiction. They may have fantasy elements, but what makes them great is the way she captures details that are true. Truth is the foundation of good fantasy. A magic door lets us into Narnia, but seeing bizarre things reflecting back truth is what makes us want to stay.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Remember how Untaken blossomed from my one cool scene set in a spooky mall? Never do that! Bad author!
The surest way to block myself is to imagine ‘really cool scenes’ for months, because after I write them down, the daunting feeling of having to somehow spin them into an actual plot is usually enough to send me running from the computer gibbering and rending my garments.
I get past writers block by not letting myself daydream about how awesome one particular scene will be, and by keeping my daily word count low.
Set yourself two thousand words a day: You won’t wanna!
Five hundred words a day: You won’t wanna, but it will only take ten minutes, then you can go back to the warm sheltering arms of the internet, then…oh wait. You already wrote three thousand!
What do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or eBooks?
My husband and I just moved house. Our worldly possessions fit into a small bindle. Oh, plus there were the TEN THOUSAND BOXES OF BOOKS, EACH WEIGHING MORE THAN A SMALL PLANET. Smaller boxes of books orbited them. More innocent people died moving our books than constructing the pyramids.
Sure, with a ‘real’ book, you can smell it, lick it, fondle it, or throw it at the heads of nemesisi, but eBooks for me, all the way.
Last year we went to gothic illustrator and author, Edward Gorey’s house on
Cape Cod. It was delightful. He owned
so many books that he stacked them up around the walls, having given up on
shelves. The tour guide pointed out the way the walls were cracked and leaning.
The sheer volume of paper had damaged the structure irrevocably. My husband and
I exchanged worried looks. He owned fewer
books than we did!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want you to love this book, or I want you to hate it enough that you’ll write a better one. Either way, keep reading. Stories are the true history of any era. All the prejudices, dreams and fears of humanity, without any of the spin and gloss of a factual account.
Read, write, and if you ever find yourself in an abandoned shopping mall, run like hell.
Curiosity Quills Press (CQ) is a small hybrid publishing company specializing in genre fiction of the highest quality. With 150+ titles in our catalog already and approximately 6 new books coming out each month, there’s never a dull moment at CQ. We work with major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Audible to ensure that you, the reader, can find whatever you are looking for at your convenience.
Founded in 2011 by Eugene Teplitsky and Lisa Gus, CQ was initially a resource portal for writing and publishing, created in an effort to help writers, like themselves, survive the publishing industry. After rapid success, CQ morphed into publishing press that over time has solidified its share in the market. Now we spend our days searching for the next great escape!