Welcome to this stop on the Stung Blog Tour. Read Write and Read Some More is pleased to host Bethany Wiggins and her brilliant novel Stung. At this stop you will find an author interview with Bethany Wiggins and my review of Stung. First I'll post the book review and then the author interview below. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end too!
Series: Stung #1
Release Date: 2nd April 2013
Synopsis: There is no cure for being stung.
Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right.
Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded while a select few live protected inside a fortress-like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.
Now Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.
Review: After reading Bethany Wiggin’s first novel Shifting last year, I was excited to see what she would produce next and that result is Stung. First impressions then, the cover is brilliant, it’s simple, interesting and lethal. It doesn’t give any part of the story away but it does intrigue the reader. Then the synopsis introduced us to the basic idea of the novel and by this time I was sold on reading it anyway. I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels and this one sounded very unique. Fast forward a few months and I received a review copy and dug straight into it. Stung is a very original novel based on a problem with bees. That problem is so realistic. I mean it could happen in today’s world. That in itself is scary but Wiggins has taken it to the next level and produced a fast-paced novel.
Stung begins when Fiona Tarsis wakes up in her home, with no memory of the past four years. Her home is in tatters and she is alone. It seems her parents left a long while ago. Looking in the mirror, Fiona notices her body has changed drastically and she doesn’t remember growing up at all. The next thing she notices is a tattoo on the back of her hand of a ten legged bug. It marks her as a level ten and a possible beast. Leaving her already desolate house she realises the world is not the same. Caught up with the militia, Fiona is treated with severe caution, everyone around her is waiting for her to turn into a beast, after all it’s inevitable. She has to survive a few days and wait for the wall to open and then she will be passed on to the lab that will use her for experiments. Only with the help of Bowen will she survive in this new world, where everybody is after her.
Fiona wakes up with no memory of the past four years; we get to see her shock and disbelief at what’s happened to the world around her. It was really interesting to watch the main character learn about this world at the same time and pace as the reader. We both got to witness it together and in a way I believe that really helped connect the reader to the main character. Fiona was lost at the start and hence she was stepping out into a completely dangerous world with no knowledge of the harm that could come to her. She’s scared and alone, and she has to trust the first person she meets. How scary would that be, just thrust back into the world with no idea at all? When she is taken by the Militia we begin to see her survival instincts kick in and her strength appear. She is strong when she needs to be and she knows that she has to survive and will do what it takes to keep her heart beating. Even when faced with danger, she’s scared yes, but she doesn’t scream and run like a little girl, instead she holds her ground. I really enjoyed reading Fiona’s journey and character growth. I become very attached to her along the way as she really came into her own.
The other main character is Bowen. He’s Fiona’s captor and rescuer. He’s also the love interest and is totally swoon worthy! Bowen is part of the militia and he’s in charge of looking after Fiona before she goes to the lab. The thing is Fiona knows Bowen from the past and he can’t bring himself to hate her like the others as he knew her before. He realises that she isn’t a beast and is more relaxed around her. Bowen has come to terms with a lot of loss during the four years of change and this has changed him. Bowen sacrifices himself and his life to protect Fiona, knowing that she is different. I loved the connection between the two and I was falling for him from the start. He was perfect and I hope there’s more of him in the future.
Now onto the world Bethany Wiggins has created. It’s scary how realistic the problem featured in the novel is and how it could happen one day. The whole world created has been well thought out, with the wall and city inside being for all uninfected people up to the age of 55. Then there’s outside the wall where the true danger lurks, with fecs hiding in the dried up sewers, beasts living in abandoned buildings and some survivors just hanging on to life there too. You have a whole new currency system of honey, a new government and a new military. There must have been so much planning to get this perfect but the final result is amazing. It’s scary and harsh but also so realistic.
Stung is a very promising start to a series, and once again it shows the talent Wiggin’s possesses. I can easily say this is one of my top reads this year. It’s a fast-paced, compelling novel that will keep the reader hooked from the very first page. From a unique idea this brilliant book has developed into a fantastic novel, which is sure to be a favourite with readers. Wiggins’ you are a very talented writer and I cannot wait to read the second novel.
1. First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a mother of four, a wife, an avid reader, like to bake and garden, I thought magic was real until I was about 25 years old, and I like to dance while I wash the dishes (though I am a terrible dancer!).
2. When did you start writing and when did you begin to take writing seriously?
I started writing about ten years ago, on a dare, and realized I loved it. The first book I wrote was garbage (I never let anyone read it because I could tell my writing was terrible!). The second book I wrote was decent. It was at that point that I decided I wanted to be an author. The fifth book I wrote was finally good enough to get published! That was about seven years after I started writing!
3. Stung is your second novel, can you tell us a bit about how it started from an idea in your mind to becoming a published novel? What was the whole process like and how did it differ from the process of Shifting?
STUNG all started because of a nightmare (see question #4). It took me about a year to write, while SHIFTING took six weeks (I only had two kids when I wrote SHIFTING. I was pregnant with #4 when I wrote STUNG). Shifting took a very long time to get an agent and publisher. With STUNG, I sent the finished manuscript to my agent. She read it in three days and sent in directly to my publisher. I knew within a week that they wanted to publish it, so STUNG was much slower to write, MUCH faster to be accepted by my publisher!
4. Where did the idea for Stung come from?
A few things inspired STUNG. The first was an early morning nightmare that woke me from a dead sleep. This nightmare was so vivid and riveting, I wrote it down and it became chapter one of STUNG.
Also, I started writing this book at the time the swine flu scare was running rampant through the USA. I watched these crazy people on the news who were swarming the health departments, frantic to the point of violent to get the swine flu vaccine for their kids, and it made me wonder, "What if the government told us there is this huge flu to scare us into taking a vaccine that is really going to harm us?"
Lastly, I remember getting a Discovery Magazine that talked about the decline of bees. And all of sudden, it was like a puzzle clicking into place. I had everything I needed to write a book. And that is the recipe for STUNG!
5. Shifting was a paranormal novel and Stung is a dystopian, was it difficult switching between the genres?
Not at all. I just wrote the story that was inside my head.
6. What made you choose to write a dystopian novel?
Actually, I thought I was writing a Science Fiction novel! And I didn't decide to write it, it sort of decided to be written by me.
7. What was your favourite part about writing Stung?
The romance, and the ending. They are both bright spots in an otherwise intense book.
8. You have one very unique cover! What were you first thoughts when viewing the final concept? How well does it fit the story?
First thought: Yay! There's not a pretty girl on the cover! Not that there's anything wrong with pretty girl covers, they're just sort of being overused at this point. The cover fits the book so well that it gave me chills the first time I saw it.
9. Which authors and novels have influenced you and your writing?
Robert Jordan, Patricia McKillip's The Changeling Sea, Robin McKinley's Hero and the Crown and Blue Sword, Frank Herbert's Dune, Catherine Paterson's Jacob Have I Loved.
10. Do you write your novels by hand or straight away on the computer?
Straight away on the computer! I don't have the hand muscles to write 300 pages by hand! Plus, I type really fast.
11. What are your current writing projects and what can we expect from you next?
STUNG 3! Stung 2 aka CURED, comes out this January.
Totally bonus question: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Jane Austen! I'd ask her how she wrote such amazing novels without being able to edit them on a computer! Her first drafts must have been pretty near perfect.
About the Author:
Bethany Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid student. Seriously!!! She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn't until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction--not the Bible
Seven years ago, Bethany's sister dared her to start writing an hour a day until she completed a novel. Bethany wrote a seven-hundred page fantasy novel that she wisely let no one read--but it taught her how to write. Since then she has completed six more novels, each one a little better than the one before.
The fifth book she wrote, "SHIFTING," is represented by Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency, and was published by Walker Books September 27 2011!!!
Thank you Bethany for participating in the interview. You can find the blog tour schedule here. Thanks to Book Paparazzi for hosting the tour and choosing me as a tour host. Be sure to enter the giveaway and Thanks for stopping by!