A Scottish-born Australian author Kristen Young has worked in children’s and youth ministry for decades. She writes fiction and non-fiction for teens, and always has a notebook on hand to capture stray story ideas. In her spare time she loves hanging out with her family, watching movies with subtitles, and enjoying a little too much chocolate.
In this interview, she discusses the second book in her Collective Underground Series book, Elite.
FF: What inspired the story in your book, Elite?
It started with language, really. I love YA stories like the Hunger Games series, and I’m also interested in history. I was fascinated by the way throughout history that different groups of people used language as power. The way political regimes used language and propaganda to build this notion of “we’re the good guys. Trust us.” So I guess when I wanted to write an exciting mystery, that love of language came in to help build the world of the Collective.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Flick is in a process of metamorphosis. She has this dilemma of having to choose her path in life. Having to choose who she can trust. She’s really smart in many ways, but in other ways she knows almost nothing about the world, which makes her vulnerable. She’s also developing deeper friendships in this book. Her relationship with her former best friend is difficult, so others are starting to step in. Akela is becoming her mentor more, too.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Hodge and Wil surprised me the most. Both of them react in ways I did not expect!
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Storytelling captivates our attention. We immerse ourselves in imaginary worlds, and as we do we immerse ourselves in the worldviews, values, mythologies and trajectories of those worlds. We absorb values while we’re focusing on plotlines and characters. We empathise with our characters and their struggles, and while we’re doing that, we can kind of absorb the truths they’re grappling with.
FF: What can readers expect from the rest of this series?
Fun. Suspense. Unexpected turns every now and then. Hopefully a great experience!
FF: How do you get into the right frame of mind to write for your genre/audience?
I work with young adults, which helps me to see the world from their point of view—what their hopes and dreams are, their struggles and passions. It helps me to find an authentic voice in my characters.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
There is a Someone who can help us deal with the struggles of life, and who can give us a better story.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
If the world or civilisation you’re writing is fictional, it still has to make sense to the people in it. Technology has to make sense. The rules of the world have to make sense. The customs and culture have to make some kind of sense, too. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work to create a cohesive society. But then what makes people read a story? It’s the exciting events and characters that we actually want. So a lot of the work you put in to thinking up these worlds, you have to leave out or just hint at. You don’t want to bore readers with long descriptive paragraphs about a cultural event that the citizens themselves take for granted.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
So many! In high school, I was fascinated by Aldous Huxley’s dystopia in Brave New World, which I think was a little more plausible than George Orwell’s visions. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games was in a similar vein. I loved the mysteries of Agatha Christie, and the way she could keep you guessing. CS Lewis’ wit is a favourite, too.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
I think we’re all part of a much bigger story than we realise. God’s the ultimate storyteller, who spoke the world into being and made it good. We wrecked it by trying to write our own stories instead of being a part of his, but he didn’t just throw us away. He sent Jesus to heal our stories and bring us back into God’s narrative. I think all the best stories are shadows or glimpses of this ultimate Story.
In the past decade or two, I’ve noticed a lot more ‘faith-losing’ stories out there, where faith is either absent, or in the process of being lost by the characters. I wanted to write something that provided the space for faith to grow. For Christian young people to be able to pick up a story and see themselves in the pages, and not as a caricature or the judgemental villain. To know that they can be seen by our Creator even in the middle of this broken, messed-up world, and they can find something better to live for.
Collective Underground Series #2
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Where do you find safety when your world is falling apart?
Apprentice Flick thought the Elite Academy was the answer to all her problems. But the revelation of her past turned everything upside down. Now, she is caught between two worlds set on a collision course.
Will she embrace the chaotic memories that flood her every waking moment? Or will she run to the security of her Elite training?
Discovering her parents’ identities takes her to a secret underground bunker where she finds new friends, opportunities, and maybe even love. But Flick must decide where her allegiances lie soon, or the Triumph of Love festival might bring about her demise.
Buy Elite from the FF Store HERE!
Buy Elite from Amazon HERE!
Christian Fiction New Book Release: Elite—Collective Underground Series #2 by Kristen Young
Buy Elite from Amazon HERE!