Monday, November 12, 2012

DEVIANTS by Maureen McGowan

Today I'm happy to welcome Maureen McGowan, author of DEVIANTS, to the blog! Here's a brief description of the book:

In a post-apocalyptic world, where the earth is buried by asteroid dust that’s mutated the DNA of some humans, orphaned, sixteen-year-old Glory must hide and protect her younger brother. If their Deviant abilities are discovered, they’ll be expunged—kicked out of the dome to be tortured and killed by the Shredders. Glory would give anything to get rid of her unique ability to kill with her emotions, especially when Cal, the boy she’s always liked, becomes a spy for the authorities. But when her brother is discovered, and she learns their father, who was expunged for killing their mother, is still alive, she must escape the domed city that’s been her entire world.

Outside in the ruins, they’re pursued by the authorities and by sadistic, scab-covered Shredders who are addicted to the lethal-to-humans dust now covering the planet. Glory’s quests to transport herself and her brother to safety make up the thrilling and fascinating first volume of The Dust Chronicles.

"A deliciously dark, harrowing world, brightened by dazzling characters and sparkling prose." --Kelley Armstrong

"A tense thriller with a strong, beating heart at its center. Glory and her impossible choices will keep you glued to the page. I'm still trying to catch my breath!" --Diana Peterfreund

“Exciting…McGowan keeps the suspense throbbing…” Kirkus Reviews
When I was at BEA earlier this year, I was able to snag an ARC of DEVIANTS. It's a super fast-paced book with a kick-ass heroine, some seriously creepy-scary characters both inside and outside the domed city, and a complex and slow-developing romance (my favorite kind). I invited Maureen here today to answer a few of my questions about the book!

1. The domed city of Haven is a very well-defined dystopian setting, and it seems to have a distinctly corporate feel to it. From your bio, it seems like you might know the corporate world pretty well. How did you draw on that knowledge to create Haven?

When I first had the idea for Deviants, I wasn’t thinking of it as a dystopian novel at all—more futuristic suspense with a little horror and romance thrown in for good measure. But as soon as I started imagining how this particular group of people survived the “apocalypse”, the idea that corporations would take control—versus governments—instantly made sense to me.

Not that decisions get made quickly in either governments or big corporations (LOL), but I thought that, in a crisis where immediate action was required, I could easily imagine that the CEOs of big corporations would do whatever it took to ensure their own survival. Instead of asking for permission or being “fair”, I figured they’d procure whatever materials, supplies and manpower they needed—and get rid of those people whom they didn’t deem essential. Once I made those decisions, the dystopian world of Haven, the domed city in Deviants, developed naturally.

I’ve written a short story, “Out of the Ashes”, which was published in Canada by McGraw-Hill Ryerson as part of an anthology for high school English classes. That story is set while they’re building Haven and hiring the original employees. “Out of the Ashes” will be available for readers (beyond Canadian high school students) sometime soon—probably as a special offer before the release of Compliance (The Dust Chronicles #2), which comes out May 21, 2013. (Canadian teens: ask your teacher or librarian to get it for your class now.)

To me, Deviants isn’t about the dystopian society, but it is an important part of the setting. It was fun to imagine how a city might run if everyone in it was an employee—from birth—and imagine which departments and people would have the most power. To do that, I definitely drew on my experience from the corporate world. I began my (first) career as an auditor, and most of my clients were large corporations, so to me it was hilarious (and obvious) to have the audit, or compliance department rule the roost. They’re the ones who’d make sure everyone followed the rules. I figured the HR department would have a lot of power too, because they’d be responsible for training (aka school) and assigning the jobs. In Compliance (The Dust Chronicles #2), the Health & Safety department’s role will become clearer. And it’s not pretty.

2. Glory's brother, Drake, who happens to be paralyzed from the waist down, is such an interesting character to me. I'm looking forward to seeing more from him in the sequel. Can you talk a little about him and his relationship with Glory--like how he thinks about it?

Great question! Both Glory and Drake had to grow up way too soon. I think that’s true of all “employees” of Haven, but so much more so for them.

At the beginning of the story, Drake is completely dependent on Glory for his survival. He recognizes everything she’s done for him and, later in the novel, Glory discovers how much he’s been doing for her. Drake and Glory love each other unconditionally and would do anything to protect each other.

Given his situation and everything that’s happened, Drake could be surly and angry, resenting his sister’s relative freedom—a typical bratty little brother—but Drake is someone who sees the best in people and the positive in situations. He’s hopeful. And he knows how difficult life is for his sister.

Drake won’t play a big part in Compliance (The Dust Chronicles #2) but he’ll never be far from Glory’s mind, and he will be a major player in the third book—and might have a romance storyline of his own.

3. Deviants are people with unusual or special abilities. How did you come up with the "deviations"? So many of them seem to be manifestations of psychological/emotional experiences, like something abstract made tangible. How do you think about them?

I wanted to explore the idea of strong emotions being dangerous and especially how teens would feel if expressing their emotions posed a danger to people they loved. (Hmmm... What does that say about me? Are you psychoanalyzing me now?)

The teen years are a time of heightened emotions—a time when we learn to deal with new emotions that can feel out of control and dangerous, so I liked the idea that the Deviant abilities were triggered by emotions. I also wanted to explore what might happen if the out-of-control-rage or passion that some teens experience manifested in a dangerous way.

As for the specific Deviances, they came from imagining how the human body might adapt to protect itself in a new and dangerous world—imagining what powers or abilities might prove useful if the asteroid dust could mutate humans’ genes in any way.


 Maureen McGowan always loved writing fiction, but side-tracked by a persistent practical side, it took her a few years to channel her energy into novels. After leaving a career in finance and accounting, she hasn't looked back.

Aside from her love of books, she's passionate about films, fine handcrafted objects and shoes.

She lives and writes in Toronto, Canada where she attends the Toronto International Film Festival each year.

DEVIANTS came out a few weeks ago--check it out!


  1. A post-apocalyptic world with CEOs in charge? Now that's a scary thought!

    About 12 years back, I started writing a story about life on a Mars colony where every citizen was also an employee(and always in debt to the company). I thought it had great possibilities as a setting, but my story lacked a plot! :(

    1. That sounds like a cool setting, Dianne. Don't give up on it. You'll find the right characters and plot for the setting.

  2. It's wonderful to meet you, Maureen. The story sounds awesome and the cover is quite intriguing. I agree with Sarah; Drake sounds like a very interesting character. I'll definitely have to check him out. lol

    Thanks for sharing! *waves at Sarah, too

  3. What an awesome premise. It sounds just like your kind of book!

  4. Sounds like a really unique premise, and fun read! Great learning more about Maureen and her book!

    1. Thanks!!! :) And you won Sarah's book at my group blog. :)

  5. The corporate world would definitely provide some great ideas for a book. Love the premise. Thanks for introducing me to Maureen, Sarah!

  6. Okay, I have to read this. Sounds right up my alley!

  7. great interview, Sarah and boy does this sound like a great read. Must add to TBR list!

  8. Excellent interview! Gonna have to check Deviants out!