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The Extinction Trials: Exile

Susan Wilson

SUSAN WILSON's debut THE EXTINCTION TRIALS - in which individuals battle to win a place to visit Piloria, a land in which dinosaurs still roam - has gripped readers since its launch last year. The follow-up, EXILE, is just as compelling.

THE EXTINCTION TRIALS saw the winners of the trials sailing to Piloria where they were tasked with stealing dinosaurs' eggs; many did not survive the challenge.

In EXILE, Storm and Lincoln find themselves once again bound for Piloria, but this time the stakes are higher and the dangers even greater, especially as the trust that bound them together during their first visit has been broken.

We asked author SUSAN WILSON to tell us more about THE EXTINCTION TRIALS: EXILE.

Q: THE EXTINCTION TRIALS, published last year, was your debut YA title. Do you now write full time or do you have another 'day job'?

A: My day job is working in public health, I'm a nurse and health visitor and look after some of the screening and immunisation programmes for our area. I'd love to write full time but it's just not a possibility right now.

Q: You already write romance, so what took you into writing an adventure fantasy?

A: I found my feet writing romance and I still love it and still write it. But I read YA books passionately, I love and adore then and it was always a field I wanted to work in. I found my agent Sarah on my first YA submission and she really helped shape The Extinction Trials into something that could be sent around publishers. I was really lucky it found a home at Usborne who have been extremely enthusiastic about my dinosaurs!

Q: The Extinction Trials has been described as 'The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park.' How would you describe it?

A: I actually think that description is the best this book could have. Lots of bloggers and reviewers have commented about how accurate they think it is.

Q: In the book, you create an alternate world where people live on one continent; dinosaurs on another. What gave you the idea for this, and why did you decide to avoid offering an explanation for this setting?

A: I just imagined what if our earth had evolved a little differently than it currently is? Who says that different evolution can't occur in different parts of the planet? We've found scientific evidence that it has happened in certain areas in the world. I just did it on a much bigger scale!

Q: How did your main characters, Stormchaser and Lincoln, develop?

A: They are still developing. In the books they are teenagers, and people grow and develop at all stages of life. For Lincoln it's all about loyalty and survival, he will do absolutely anything for his family. For Storm, she doesn't have that grounding - everything about survival she's learned on her own and forming relationships is difficult for her. Both are strong and both are feisty, but in entirely different ways.

Q: Absent parents but especially absent fathers is a strong thread in your novel. Why did that become such an important part of the story for you?

A: Let's face it, how many teenagers in YA have a happy family? It happens rarely because it helps shape the people they become and helps you understand their decision making. I thought this was important for both Storm and Lincoln.

Q: Dinosaurs also have a big role in The Extinction Trials! Were you a fan before you started on this book? If there was one dinosaur that you bring back, which would it be?

A: Doesn't everyone love dinosaurs???? I've always been a fan. My favourite place on the planet is the American Museum of Natural History; their dinosaur specimens are just fascinating.

What I love more is the fact that millions of years on, we are still virtually discovering something new about dinosaurs every day. How brilliant is that? And if I'm bringing something back it has to be the T-Rex. Every single time!

Q: How much research did you need to do into dinosaurs, and were there any surprising facts?

A: I did loads. I have kids books, adult books, research books and academic journals on dinosaurs. I even sent a few emails to the American Museum of Natural History which they kindly answered.

My one big change was the raptors. In real life they were the size of chickens, but Jurassic Park took a bit of poetic licence and made them bigger than humans, and for storytelling, that works well. I decided just to go with the flow and not write them differently from how they are now commonly considered.

Q: How well would you have survived on the dinosaur continent, Piloria? And your weapon of choice?

A: I would survive approximately sixty seconds on the dinosaur continent. You'd want to be with me. Just consider me dinosaur bait. I can't climb. I'm not a great swimmer and I am definitely the slowest runner on the planet. So the dinosaurs could eat me, while you were escaping!

Q: The setting of Piloria also provides lots to think about in terms of colonising virgin territories and damaging the environment; are these issues that are close to your heart?

A: Geography was not a subject I studied at school so I had a big learning curve on these issues. I remember visiting a museum that had an electronic counter with the population of the world climbing constantly. It was more or less terrifying. How do we sustain our planet when there are so many people? It definitely played into the story for The Extinction Trials.

Q: Are you planning a sequel to Exile? If so can you give us a glimpse into what next for your characters?

A: There is a follow up to Exile and it will be the final book in the series. The only spoiler I'll give is that 85% of the book is set on Piloria.

Q: Although dangerous, Piloria also offers much to entice the characters. Where is the most dangerous place you've ever visited?

A: I'm not sure I've ever been anywhere really dangerous. I've visited some great places. I loved Athens, Rome, Venice, Sicily, Monaco, Barcelona. I'm not really a beach girl and far prefer a city to explore!

Q: What's your favourite escape from writing?

A: Reading! I am an addict and read around a book a night.

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Author SUSAN WILSON talks to us about THE EXTINCTION TRIALS: EXILE, in which Storm and Lincoln...

Your reviews

Love, Hate and Other Filters, It is good for readers who like romance with a real life twist.