RAWA: PD, please tell us about your latest novel.
PD: ‘Unplugged’ is a thriller about a group of rich young teens who are
|Unplugged by P.D. Quaver
enrolled by their parents in ‘The Natural Path’, a summer camp for internet-addicted kids. Stripped of all their electronic devices when they enter the camp (and thus out of contact with the outside world), they are easy prey for what turns out to be an ingenious kidnapping scheme. They are flown to a remote tropical island and held for ransom. And forced to band together (and use all their ingenuity) to overpower their captors, survive on the island, and–ultimately–escape. Though aimed at young adults, the edgy, realistic plot appeals to adults as well.
RAWA: Where did the idea come from to write this novel?
PD: I wanted to do something special for my son’s thirteenth birthday, and decided to write a novel with him as the protagonist. Immediately I ran into a problem: I came of age in the sixties, and didn’t think I could write a convincing story involving the incessant texting, video-gaming and smartphone use which are central features in the lives of today’s plugged-in teens. Which immediately suggested a question: what would my son and his peers do if they were forced to live without all their devices? This was the genesis of ‘Unplugged’.
RAWA: Give us an insight into your main character. Why is he/she such an important part of the story?
PD: As I said, the book was written for my son Max and told from his point of view. The youth of Max and his companions combined with the extreme challenges they face make the book a “coming of age” novel. All of them confront death, hunger and the possibility of being marooned on the island forever. In addition, Max is insecure about his small size, feels unable to compete with the cocky American kid Bone for the attentions of the alluring Monique, and is insecure as well–around all these rich kids–about his relatively modest family. But the ordeal brings out his leadership qualities, and he finds romance in an unexpected place. I hoped that every reader would relate to him and cheer him on as the central focus of the story.
RAWA: Where does the story take place and why did you choose this setting for the novel?
PD: The tropical island setting was directly influenced by my love of the novel ‘Robinson Crusoe’. The challenge of having to create life from scratch I find endlessly fascinating, and the cache of tools the kids find on the island (which enables them to take control of their environment) was suggested by the tools Crusoe salvages from wrecked ships. ‘Unplugged’ is also a rebuttal of sorts to ‘Lord of the Flies’, another book about kids marooned on a tropical island. For instead of descending into savagery, the kids in ‘Unplugged’ cooperate in order to survive, and discover strengths they hadn’t known they possessed.
RAWA: What was the hardest thing about writing this novel?
PD: Mainly the fact that I’d never written a novel before! Though once I had my characters vividly in mind I found the ability to generate dialogue came fairly easily. Really, the entire process was fascinating, and there’s an intoxicating feeling of omnipotence one gets creating a lot of people and breathing life into them. Still, I had a lot to learn, and there were several rewrites before I got what I wanted.
RAWA: Is this book part of a series? If so, tell us a little about the series. If not, would you consider creating a series from this novel and what are your thoughts on writing a series?
PD: I had not thought of ‘Unplugged’ as being the first in a series. It seems quite self-contained, and the ironic final chapter–in which the “unplugged” kids become the center of a media firestorm leading to book and movie rights for their heroic story (and thus more “plugged in” than ever) seems a fitting conclusion. It is true that Max and Nootan have registered to attend the same private school in Switzerland, and since they are my two favorite characters, I could perhaps imagine them as the center of another adventure.
But I hasten to add I have nothing against the idea of a series, and will be publishing the first five volumes (of a projected eight) of my series of historical novels entitled ‘The Ordeals of Elly Robin’ within the next year.
RAWA: If this book were made into a movie which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character (s).
PD: This question I find difficult to answer, as my eleven protagonists are all age 12–14, and I have not been keeping up with the current roster of young actors. And in the nature of things, by the time the movie were cast and filmed, I suspect any actors who are now ideal would by then be too old! The villains are easier, and I should think the suavely sinister Dr. Zarkov would be a juicy part for someone like Jeremy Irons.
It would be another story if I were allowed to imagine actors from the past. The young Hayley Mills, for example, would have made an excellent Agatha; Roddy MacDowel had the modesty for a good Max, and Mickey Rooney the ebullience for a Wooly; If Brigette Bardot had acted as a young teen, she’d have been perfect for Monique…One can dream!
Unplugged by P.D. Quaver is available at Amazon.com.