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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview with Alaya Dawn Johnson + The Summer Prince Giveaway!

Hello everyone! I am back with a Dystopian Domination post and today I have Alaya Dawn Johnson on the blog to answer some questions about her wonderful dystopia sci-fi novel set in a futuristic version of Brazil, The Summer Prince!

How much research and planning was involved in the creation of a futuristic Brazil? What inspired you to create such a world?

I've always loved Brazilian music and culture, but when I visited the south of the country with my sister and cousin I got the seeds of what eventually became The Summer Prince. Seeing the strong influence of
African diasporic culture there really inspired me, because I had always wanted to write a science fiction novel that was about other parts of the world besides the United States. When you watch disaster
movies, even though the disasters often affect the *whole world*, all we see are how they affect the US. I wanted to write against that, and depict other countries as centrally important after a huge cataclysm.
It definitely took a lot of research, and I had the help of Brazilian writers who were kind enough to read and comment on an early draft.

Are any of your characters inspired by other people, especially Enki? Or are they crafted purely from imagination?

I don't think that I've ever written a character purely based on someone that I know. However, people in my real life do seep into the characters that I write. Sometimes, though, I don't even know that I'm
doing it! In hindsight, I think that the character of Principal Ieyascu bears a strong resemblance to a few of my teachers in high school. The fact that Bebel enjoys and respects her competitors is very much like me. Enki is entirely a character from my imagination--if he references anyone, it's characters from other books!

There has been quite a mixed reaction over The Summer Prince, but ultimately, what do you want readers to get out from your book?

A big reason why I wrote The Summer Prince was because it was the sort of book I wanted to read. And particularly, the sort of thing I wish I'd had to read when I was a teenager. So I hope that it finds readers
like me, ones who want a book with characters of color and characters with varied and fluid sexuality, who have to navigate complex moral and political dilemmas. I hope that it will challenge readers, but
also reward them. I wanted to write a book that would reward re-reading. For the right reader, my hope is that this novel will stick with you for a long time. I know that it won't work for everybody, but I hope the readers who need this sort of book find it.

I was reading your profile and it said there you lived in Japan for quite a while. Any plans on writing a book set purely in Japanese City/island or Japan in general?

Great question! In fact, when people ask me about a sequel to The Summer Prince, I always say "no." However, my slight exception to this is Tokyo 10. I couldn't write another novel about June, Gil or Enki but I admit to being fascinated by the hints I dropped about the ghost city of Tokyo 10. I have vague notions of a giant city filled with the voices of people who have uploaded themselves, but only the bodies of
a few holdouts. There might be a gang of wild teens who rule their section of the ghost city until something goes who knows! Maybe in a couple of years I'll be able to go back into that world with fresh eyes.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Published March 1st 2013 by Arthur A. Levine

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

About the author:

Alaya (rhymes with “papaya”) lives, writes, cooks and (perhaps most importantly) eats in New York City. Her literary loves are all forms of speculative fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional highbrow novel. Her culinary loves are all kinds of ethnic food, particularly South Indian, which she feels must be close to ambrosia.

She graduated from Columbia University in 2004 with a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures, and has lived and traveled extensively in Japan.

Follow her: Twitter | Facebook


US Only (publisher's request, sorry!)
Ends 7/18
Must be at least 13 years old


  1. This book sounds really amazing and I've heard such great things about it! The cover is really gorgeous. I enjoyed reading the interview and thanks for the giveaway. :)

  2. Love the idea of a futuristic Brazil!

  3. I have been wanting to read this book for ahile!! Thanks for the giveaway!!!

  4. I agree with Alaya. We readers definitely need a change in settings other than the US or UK. It gives readers a new place to discover. I can't wait to discover the futuristic Brazil in The Summer Prince!

  5. I love the idea of a Brazilian setting. While I love books of all genres set in the US, part of the fun of books is not just to explore what-ifs but also different cultures and locations. Brazil is a place I haven't read much about--I'm excited for The Summer Prince!

  6. This is a new title for me and the storyline sounds unique. I am looking forward to reading and finding out what happens with June and Enki. Thank you for sharing with us.


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