The Fast and the Furious gets a futuristic twist in this action-packed debut!
On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn't stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It's up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?
Check out the book trailer!
Now on to the interview!
Hi Jenny! First I want to say welcome back to Two Chicks on Books I’m so happy to have you here again! I’m so happy you chose me to be your host for the Debut Author Bash I’m totally honored!
For the readers: can you tell us a little bit about TRACKED and the characters?
Tracked is the story of Phee Van Zant. Phee’s a spitfire who lives on another planet, in the far future—a girl who evolves from south side street racer to pro-circuit legend, to rogue-rescuing revolutionary. (I like to think of Phee as a Han Solo girl, who prefers driving to piloting space ships. Also, her Princess Leia isn’t a princess at all. Instead, Phee rescues a prince!)
Oh...and that prince? His Highness, Cashoman “Cash” Dradha, is a bit of a rogue himself, though Phee’s best friend and pacer (navigator), Bear Larssen, would probably use more colorful words to describe him. ;)
Together, they must do more than win on the track. They’re destined to face down the galaxy’s most powerful empire.
Ok I am a huge auto racing fan are you too? Is that what inspired you to write TRACKED?
Believe or not...before writing this book, I didn’t know much about racing. I’ve always enjoyed racing storyline in movies and books, and I live not too far from Texas Motor Speedway, but I’ve never actually had the chance to attend a real race! Hmmm...I may need to fix that.
I know we have a title for book 2, MARKED right? Is that the end or will there be a book 3?
Marked is a duology. With the sequel finished, I've had the chance to tell the story I always wanted to tell, and end it in a satisfying way, with all the major plot points and character arcs resolved. I hope readers will feel the same! But...here’s a little secret: I did leave myself one tiny loophole, in case I ever wanted to dive back into the world and begin a brand new adventure. Maybe...someday...I’ll write one.
Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?
Absolutely...my family influenced the individual characters. Phee has such a strong bond with her foster parents, and in writing those relationships, I thought a lot about my own mom and dad, and also, my grandmother, Joy, who is a huge mentor and inspiration to me. There’s a lot of my fierce, wise, Grandma Joy in Mary Larssen.
And in writing Phee’s relationship with her best friend, Bear, I borrowed a lot from my own best friend…who also happens to be my husband, Chris. Believe it or not, but we’ve been married for twenty years now, and there’s something to be said for growing up with someone, growing more and more close to them and enjoying the infinite comfort and familiarity of a deep, loyal, abiding love.
At the same time, my husband was also a big inspiration as I wrote Cash. There’s a quiet kind of everlasting love, and then there’s the kind that knocks you out like TNT. I think readers will know which is which when they’re introduced to Prince Cashoman. When Phee meets this bad boy--a gambling, headstrong prince—sparks fly, but it’s not exactly opposites attract. Phee and Cash are all too much alike, and oh my, that made for some fun banter and crackling chemistry.
Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?
As fun as it was to write Bear and Cash, Phee was my favorite to write. And I think it’s because she came into my life, popping into my head, just when I needed her the most.
Phee is everything I’m not. She’s bold and reckless; foot to the floor, all the way. I’d never have the guts to get behind the wheel or smash my way into the winners’ circle. But somehow, this girl invaded my imagination, and as she began her journey, she taught me how to begin mine. As she came alive on the page, I did, too. I pushed past my self-doubt and hesitation. I grew in confidence. I wasn’t so worried anymore.
In a way, I needed Phee.
As for my least favorite...honestly, I can’t think of one. Even my villain, Charles Benroyal, was fun to write. For the past several years, these characters became such a big part of my writing life, and I came to love getting to know them on the page. ;)
What is your favorite passage/scene in TRACKED?
My favorite scene to write was probably the biggest race, the Sand Ridge 500. It was such an adrenaline rush to imagine Phee roaring down the track, smashing through the competition. As I drafted, I listened to Foo Fighters’ White Limo and Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, over and over. It was so. much. fun.
What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
As I wrote Tracked, I learned a lot about various kinds of real-world racing. Beyond street racing, I researched formula one, NASCAR, drag, auto endurance and rally car racing. I devoured biographies by racers, car magazines and articles about the sport. I visited Texas Motor Speedway. I interviewed an amateur stock car racer. Fun fact: one of my favorite resources was (and still is) Red Bulletin Magazine. They cover extreme sports, and there are always a ton of interesting tidbits to inspire the writer in me.
What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
Right now, I’m rereading A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. She’s one of my favorite authors, and I love this story so much.
Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend?
Forget Gale and Peeta, I’m w/ Annie Cresta...Team Finnick all the way!
What inspired you to write YA?
First and foremost, I love children’s literature and I love YA. I read it growing up. I still read it, and I’m also a school librarian. So that’s a big part of the allure. And I’ve always been interested in the journey from the safety and familiarity of childhood to the perilous (dare I say trackless?) wilderness of adulthood. This theme of coming of age, and discovering who you really are…it really can be powerful stuff.
Lightning Round Questions
If the Sorting Hat sorted you into a house at Hogwarts which house would you be in?
Gryffindor...no question. (Though it seems most of my best friends are Slytherin. Go figure!)
Twitter or Facebook?
TWITTER. No contest. Facebook is for the friends you went to high school with...Twitter is for the friends you wish you went to high school with.
Superman always. Lately? Daredevil.
Favorite TV show?
Did I mention Daredevil? ;)
Sweet or Salty?
Sweet AND Salty!
Potluck dinners. Slithery things. Crawly things. Small spaces.
Song you can’t get enough of right now?
The Healing by Gary Clark, Jr.
Upcoming Movie you’re most looking forward to?
Episode VII: The Force Awakens!
Thanks so much Jenny for answering my questions!
Jenny Martin is an author and librarian. Her first novel, Tracked, will be released on May 5th, 2015 by Dial, an imprint of Penguin Random-House. Jenny is also an experienced speaker, panelist and presenter who’s appeared at many state and regional conferences, events and festivals. She lives in Dallas, with her husband and son, where she hoards books and writes fiction. And yes, she’s still on a quest for the perfect pancake.
1 winner will receive a signed hardcover of TRACKED! International.