Scottish-born and 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, Kristen talks with us about her new book, Flight.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
The series itself was inspired by the power of words to shape reality. But this particular book was inspired by the challenge we face when life doesn’t go the way we expect it to. Is God there for us when the unexpected happens, or when our world feels like it’s falling apart? That’s the question that inspired me in this book.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Cadence has grown up a lot. She’s about to graduate from the Elite Academy, and is feeling a greater sense of confidence about her place in the world, and in her relationships. She’s grown in her relationship with the Composer, too, and loves her Siren friends and the chances she gets to sing with them. Hodge is an emotional rock for her, keeping her balanced. They’re not quite ready for what hits them, though, after Cadence makes a particularly disturbing discovery…
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Oh man, that would be a massive spoiler. Let’s just say that a character from the first two books turns up somewhere you would least expect them, and behaves in a really…uh…different…way…
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Stories get in under our radar. They captivate our emotions, and keep us interested to find out what is happening. But while we’re being entertained, we’re actually also being shaped. Benson P. Fraser wrote about this in his book Hide and Seek. He says, “good stories invite the listener to question one’s self and one’s place in the world.” He points out that when we’re reading a story, we’re able to hold it at arm’s length in a way that we can’t with debate or direct communication of truth. We get defensive if someone directly says to us, “Hey, you’re wrong. You should think differently.” But if we read a story where the hero thinks differently to us and experiences events that way, we can begin to sympathize with them and want them to succeed. Before we know it, we’re thinking differently, too.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
I think my search history was a little weirded out this time. There is some action, and I wanted to make the details believable. A bit of medical research, too.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
Hope. Hope and a confidence in God’s love for them, no matter what situations they have to go through.
FF: What was the challenge in creating a biblical viewpoint through a dystopian science fiction story?
In some ways it is easy. The real world is a dystopia because it is fallen thanks to sin. Where the Bible diverges from what we see more commonly in dystopian fiction, though, is that instead of the answer being in our own potential to rise up against oppressors through rebellion or violence, the answer is seen in Jesus giving up his life for his enemies so that they could be forgiven. We love a good story where justice is done. But God weaves justice and mercy perfectly together, and gives us his grace through Jesus.
Having said that, it’s also pretty hard to write God into fiction in a way that is faithful, balanced, and convincing. It’s easy to write characters that are “human plus”—superheroes or supernatural characters that are like humans but with extra powers—but it’s quite hard to write God into fiction now because we’re so used to flawed and morally grey characters who live in a world where the transcendent doesn’t exist. In other cultures and further back in our own history, the supernatural world was taken for granted. Angels and demons and God were as natural a part of our thinking as trees and grass. But now, our society seems to have lost the language of God. We most often hear about him in literature only if the characters no longer believe in him, or if he’s an evil parody of himself. So I find myself having to pray a lot that God would guide my writing and make it possible for me to write well in a way that honors him. I tremble as I seek to include God in a story because I’m a finite human with a finite brain, so the best I can do is to write something that approximates the back of his cloak as he passes by while I’m in the cleft of the rock.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
I believe the best stories are Gospel-shaped. Although our world is broken, and we suffer, and bad stuff happens, we have a Hero who came to rescue us. So in every story I write, I want to be pointing people to the better Story. God designed his people for his happy ending, after all.
Collective Underground Series #1
Genres: YA/Teen, Sci-Fic/Dystopian
Release Date: September 13, 2022
The Fight for What is Right is Also a Fight to SurviveOn the cusp of graduation, Cadence is finally feeling in control. She’s about to become one of the prestigious Elites working in the Hall of Love. Plus, she can take her place as a full member of the underground Sirens who meet secretly in Love City. She’ll finally be able to use her memory skills for good, instead of reporting people as a Watcher.
But a dangerous trap is set, throwing Cadence into unwelcome and unfamiliar territory. Someone in the Collective remembers things that could very well get her killed. The Muse is by her side, after all, but will she be protected when someone powerful wants her dead?
Cadence just wants to be normal, free from politics or squad intimidation. Will she be able to achieve her Elite dreams, or will sinister forces leave her running for her life?
Buy Flight from the FF Store HERE!
Buy Flight from Amazon HERE!