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Friday, July 28, 2017

Blog Tour: BLIGHT By Alexandra Duncan An Interview & Giveaway!

Hey everyone! I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for BLIGHT by Alexandra Duncan! 

I have an interview with Alexandra to share with you today! And make sure to enter the giveaway below!

Haven't heard of BLIGHT? Check it out!

Author: Alexandra Duncan
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it:  AmazonBarnes&NobleiBooksTBDGoodreads
When an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out.

From the author of the acclaimed American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce pick Salvage, which was called “Brilliant, feminist science fiction” by Stephanie Perkins, the internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. This stand-alone action-adventure story is perfect for fans of Oryx and Crake and The House of the Scorpion.

Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again.

Inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity, this is an action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.

Now on to the interview!

Hey Alexandra! First I want to say welcome back to Two Chicks on Books! It’s been a while since you’ve been here I’m so happy you could stop by for a chat! BLIGHT sounds absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

For the readers: can you give us a little info on BLIGHT and the characters?

Blight is a YA eco-thriller about a world where giant agribusiness firms have taken over North America. Tempest Torres works as a border guard for one of these companies, AgraStar. A moment of mercy one night on patrol unleashes a chain reaction that upends her whole world and sends her on the run, trying to beat a rapidly-spreading genetically engineered blight to the company’s headquarters in Atlanta.

Is this a standalone or a series? And if it’s a standalone what are you working on now?

Blight is a standalone, although I’d love to write a sequel or companion to it. I just turned in a draft of my next novel, The Ember Days, about witches in Jazz-Age Charleston. Fingers crossed my editor likes it!

Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?

Not directly. There are always pieces of me and other people I know in my characters, but none of my characters were directly based on anyone. (Thank goodness, because everyone in this book is someone who might be able to win a firefight, but none of them would be very good company.) The closest thing to a character being inspired by a real-life person is actually the setting. I grew up in the piedmont of North Carolina, close to the South Carolina border, and a lot of the landscape and plant life in Blight is based on my experience rambling around outside as a kid. For example, these vast areas overrun by kudzu were one of the defining topographical features of my childhood. In fact, it’s still something I see walking around my neighborhood, and it never ceases to spark my imagination.

Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?

I really enjoyed writing some of the supporting characters, like Eli and Juna, because they came to life so easily. The one I struggled with most was Dr. Salcedo, who shows up in the second half of the book. It was a tough balance to portray someone who has bought into some of the toxic beliefs of the company so wholeheartedly, but not to make her a cardboard cutout villain. Like many of the characters in the book, she’s an accomplice to what AgraStar does, but also a victim of it. The real villain is the system everyone is trapped in, not any one character.

What is your favorite passage/scene in BLIGHT?

I really like the end of chapter two, where Tempest has just been part of a raid on a family farm that left the father in the family injured. Tempest is trying to turn his 12 year-old daughter, Juna, to AgraStar’s side and persuade her to give them information. It’s not a happy scene, but it reveals a lot about Tempest’s character and worldview, contrasted with Juna’s.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

There were two main areas I needed to research - the science and ethics behind agribusiness companies’ practices and the subject of cultural erasure.

The first area was fairly straightforward. I read books like Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire, consulted guidebooks and websites about invasive and native plants of the Southeast, and attended a lecture about herbicide resistant weeds and scientific innovations to combat them. This is actually a topic I’ve followed since I was a teenager, when I heard rumors about “terminator seeds” being developed - seeds that would produce one generation of corn, soybeans, or whichever crop you chose, but wouldn’t produce viable seeds that you could plant. After that single generation, they were a genetic dead end. (If you’re getting worried, the technology for terminator seeds was developed, but they were never put into production.)
My research into the second area came about because of a suggestion from one of my sensitivity readers. I knew from the beginning that I wanted my protagonist to be Latina, largely because I wanted to dispel a misconception I’ve run into from people across the country and the world that there aren’t any Latinx people in the Southeastern US. I’m not Latina, but I speak Spanish and have volunteered as a translator with several nonprofits over the years. When I would tell people about studying Spanish or my volunteer work, they would look at me as if I had multiple heads and say, “I didn’t know there were any Spanish-speaking people in North Carolina!”

The difficulty I ran into was that the culture of AgraStar in the book is one of conformity, and Tempest has to buy into that mindset for the first part of the book. How do you write a character from a particular cultural background in a setting where corporate culture has deliberately choked out everything else? My first sensitivity reader suggested approaching this conundrum head-on by making cultural erasure a theme and point of discussion in the book. After all, that very dynamic plays out in places like public schools, where kids are discouraged from using any language other than English and made to feel bad or awkward about celebrating their home culture’s traditions. I read articles and listened to radio programs about the ways cultural erasure manifests, discussed the topic with my second sensitivity reader, as well, and looked back at historical examples of cultural erasure, like the removal of Native children from their families and their placement in boarding schools in order to make them “assimilate” into white culture. I hope I’ve done the topic and the people who helped me research it justice with what I’ve written.

Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?

It’s 100% Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. Everyone craps on Sam, but he’s sweet and loyal, a good cook, and a good gardener. He’s willing to literally walk into hell for the people he loves. I also feel like he would be completely fine with spending Saturday evening hanging out on the porch together and putting our feet up, which is exactly my speed.

What inspired you to write YA?

Books were my escape from a difficult home life as a teen. I write YA because I want to pay forward the gift stories gave me during that time.

Lightening Round Questions

What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

I would do unspeakable things for an ARC of Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles. February is too far away.

What Hogwarts House would the Sorting Hat place you in?

I’ve always thought of myself as a Ravenclaw, but every single Sorting Hat quiz I take puts me in Hufflepuff.

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter for writing-related stuff, Facebook for family and friends.

Favorite Superhero?

Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel!

Favorite TV show?

I might be addicted to Scandal. That show is bananas.

Sweet or Salty?


Any Phobias?


Song you can’t get enough of right now?

“Hungry Ghost,” from Hurray for the Riff Raff’s album The Navigator.

2017 Movie you’re most looking forward to?

Can I bump it to 2018 and say Black Panther?

Thanks so much Alexandra for answering my questions! I can’t wait for everyone to read BLIGHT! Big hugs!!!!

About Alexandra Duncan

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

You can visit her online at http://alexandra-duncan.com/

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a signed hardcover of BLIGHT plus a set of the gorgeous prints in the photo, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
7/24/2017- Savings in SecondsReview
7/25/2017- The Autumn BookshelfInterview
7/26/2017- Wandering Bark BooksExcerpt
7/27/2017- A Dream Within A DreamReview
7/28/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

Week Two:
7/31/2017- Buried Under BooksReview
8/1/2017- The Bewitched ReaderGuest Post
8/2/2017- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
8/4/2017- YABooksCentralReview


  1. Blight is a great concept for a novel. Very timely.

  2. LOVED this book! I'm a gardener and usually order from seed savers' companies, so this story really hit home with me. Great author interview.


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