Saturday, September 5, 2015

Book Spotlight: Counteract and Resist by Tracy Lawson

I hope so, because today's spotlight is on a very action-packed series that already had two gorgeous books out! Today it's all about Tracy Lawson, Counteract and Resist.


In Counteract, Book One of The Resistance Series, the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense (OCSD) has guarded the public against the rampant threat of terrorism for the last fifteen years with the full backing of the US government. Their carefully crafted list of Civilian Restrictions means no concerts or sporting events, no travel, no social media, no cash transactions, and no driver's licenses for eighteen-year-olds Tommy and Careen. The OCSD has even outlawed grocery stores, all in the name of safety. 

Now, there's a new threat-airborne chemical weapons that could be activated at any time. But the OCSD has an antidote: just three drops a day is all it takes to stay safe. It's a small price to pay for safety. Or is it? 

Book Two, Resist, picks up this fast-paced dystopian series with the resistance forming against injustice. After their plan to rescue a group of dissenters imprisoned by the OCSD spins out of control, Tommy and Careen are on the run, dodging the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the remote mountain headquarters of the Resistance. 

Their budding relationship is tested when an attempt to spark a revolution goes awry, and the pair move toward an inevitable confrontation with the forces that terrorize the nation. Will their differing viewpoints drive a wedge between them? And where does love fit in when you’re trying to overthrow the government? 
Counteract: BookLikes | Amazon | Goodreads
Resist: BookLikes | Amazon | Goodreads

I'm actually in the process of reading Counteract, so I can tell you first hand that it's fabulous. I love the premise, and it's scary how hard it hits home. After all, don't we generally follow blindly along with anything that is claimed to be good for our well-being? Scary stuff, that trust.


1. What was the inspiration behind The Resistance Series?

I was mentoring a friend of my daughter’s when the initial idea for Counteract came about. Chase is a pretty sharp guy and an excellent writer—and when he was in high school I had a lot of fun working with him and editing some of his short stories. We had finished working on a story about baseball, a broken nose, and a broken heart, and were ready to start something new, when he suggested we write scenes in response to the prompt: “What if everyone were on LSD and all thoughts were communal?” It was certainly thought provoking! Chase created the characters Tommy and Eduardo, I created Careen, and right away, we knew we were onto something. Obviously, the story morphed and changed a lot before it became the finished version of Counteract—but that was how it all began.


2. Did you always plan to write another book in the series?

I let my husband read the first draft of Counteract when I was about a third of the way through the original outline. He was enthusiastic and supportive and suggested developing a story line that could be carried forward if I chose to make Counteract the first in a series. 

I liked the idea of doing more than one book about Tommy and Careen, and as I wrote the rest of the first draft, I pinpointed elements of the story I’d need to develop and expand to pave the way for a series.


3. How do the characters of Tommy and Careen develop in Resist?

Tommy and Careen are law-abiding citizens until they accidentally discover that the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense lied about the terrorist attack and why it mandated the use of the Counteractive System of Defense drug. They go from being accepting and compliant to impulsively joining a rebel group that’s working to overthrow the oppressive government agency, without having a chance to think about what they’re doing and why. 

They’ve only known each other for a week, and their relationship has progressed far too quickly—they became a team, then a couple, without really getting to know each other, and soon they realize they don’t have much in common. 

Tommy’s all for the physical aspects of revolution, and is eager to learn about guns and explosives. Careen finds kindred spirits among the older leaders of the group, who are committed to sway the public’s allegiance away from the OCSD by waging a war of information. Her pacifistic approach clashes with his need to prove himself on the field of battle, and further complicates their partnership. 


4. What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your other books? 

The Resistance Series is my first published fiction. My other book, Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More, is based on a journal kept by my great-great-great grandfather during his family’s 1838 horse and wagon trip from Cincinnati to New York City. 

I did a ton of research before writing that book, and amassed two filing cabinet drawers full of information related to the 22-page journal! During the publication process, I nearly went crazy double-checking all my facts and citations, and by the time the book went to print, I never wanted to see another footnote. Fiction? Yes, please! 

Now that I’ve had a little break from footnotes, I’m enjoying writing another nonfiction history book. I’m planning to merge my two favorite genres and write some YA historical fiction sometime after I finish the Resistance Series. 


5. The main characters in The Resistance Series are Tommy and Careen. Where did you find your inspiration for them?  

My characters are a little bit of me, and little bits of people around me, but as I spend time with them in the context of the story, they become less like people in the real world; I don’t stop developing them until they are individuals: unique and unlike anyone else.

Chase created Tommy, and at first I wasn’t as close to him as I was Careen. That changed as I wrote more scenes for Tommy—especially the scene when he and Careen meet. His reactions and his choices came from inside me; before long, he was unique and independent of any outside influence. 


6. How does the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense (OCSD) differ from other dystopian governments in young adult series like The Hunger Games and Divergent? 

In the Resistance Series, there has been no rebellion, no cataclysmic event. The dystopian world in which they live has been created by fear, engineered by an enemy masquerading as a protector.

The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense was created to protect against the rampant terrorism that has affected the nation for the better part of the twenty-first century. Little by little, the OCSD usurped power from the traditional three branches of the US government. 

The OCSD’s long list of Civilian Restrictions was designed to maximize safety and security. Most people don’t consider themselves oppressed or fettered by their lack of freedom. Teenagers like Tommy and Careen don’t know things were ever different. They can’t remember a time when teenagers learned how to drive and went on dates to malls and movie theaters. 


7. What elements test the relationship between Tommy and Careen in Resist? 

Tommy and Careen had only each other to rely on in Counteract, and their relationship progressed quickly—perhaps a little too quickly. 

Now they’ve joined the Resistance, and they’re part of a community for the first time. They have a hard time adjusting to the constant scrutiny, and Tommy laments about how their relationship seemed a lot less complicated when they were alone.   

Their philosophical differences about how to fight the OCSD drive a wedge between them, and interpersonal rivalries and jealousy test their budding relationship. 


8. What do you hope readers take away from this book? 

First and foremost, I want readers enjoy the story! I hope they relate to Tommy and Careen, and look forward to reading the next installment in the series. 

Books for young adults often reflect the reader’s need to question authority and rebel against the rules set down by older generations; the Resistance Series looks at what can happen when people surrender our civil liberties in exchange for the promise of safety and security. 

I hope readers understand that protagonists in dystopian books are often branded as outcasts or rebels because they question the restrictive rules of their societies—and that individuals who change the world rarely do so by going along with the herd.


9. What kind of research did you do for the series? 

Please don’t call the police if you see what’s in my browser history! I’ve Googled the effects of various controlled substances, different types of explosives, and interrogation techniques. 

I learned to shoot a handgun so that my characters’ first experiences with weapons would be authentic. At first it was scary, but now I enjoy going to the target range. I’m no Annie Oakley yet, but I’m at least as good as Scarlett O’Hara, who once saucily told Rhett Butler, “I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.” 


10. What made you want to write books for young readers? 

I love reading YA, and I taught dance classes for twenty years before I got serious about writing. I spent a lot of time around my students, my daughter, and her friends, so it seemed natural to write for a teen audience.


11. How long did it take you to write Resist?  

I wrote Resist in a little over a year. It went a lot faster than Counteract (which took almost three years) because I knew the characters well and had planned ways to continue the story into the second book. 


12. Do you have any interesting writing quirks? 

I like to write with pen and paper—preferably outside. I sit quietly until one of the characters starts to speak, and then I write down what they say. Some days I’ll scribble for pages and pages, and when I look at the clock I’ll be surprised how much time has flown by! I usually let those pages sit for at least a few hours, sometimes a few days, before I transcribe them into the computer, and that’s where the scenes really begin to take shape. 

As far as writing snacks go, I’m partial to sunflower seeds and Diet Dr Pepper!


13. What does your family think of your writing? 

My family has been very supportive. My husband knows how to urge me on when I get discouraged, and my daughter says I’m a better choreographer now that I’ve become an author. I guess writing helped me refine how to advance a story through dance. 

I haven’t shared much about what happens in Resist with my family. My five teenaged nieces can’t wait to read it, and I can’t wait to hear what they think!


14. Tell us where we can find your book and more information about you.  

My books are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, and on Barnes & Noble’s online store. If you live near Columbus, Ohio, you can buy signed copies of my books at three independent stores: The Book Loft of German Village, Mary B’s, and Urban Emporium.


You can get the behind-the-scenes scoop on all things Resistance Series, see book trailers, and check out my blog at http://counteractbook.com. You can also find me on Twitter @TracySLawson and on Instagram as TracyLawsonAuthor.

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