Today I’m talking with Evan Angler, author of the middle-grade dystopian novel Swipe, which I reviewed here.
Evan, your first novel released a few months ago. Congratulations! Share some of the exciting things that you’ve done during this release time.
Thanks, Jill! It is certainly exciting. These last few months, I’ve been very fortunate and grateful to be able to pop my head up now and again throughout the American Union for radio interviews, written interviews, school visits, Skype visits, signed book giveaways, and email discussions (you can always reach me at email@example.com)…but I have to admit that mostly I’ve just been sticking to the shadows of Beacon City, doing my very best to stay one step ahead of the Department of Marked Emergencies (DOME). They aren’t happy. And I’m pretty sure they’ll do anything to stop me from writing the Swipe series. Books are powerful, it turns out. A book can save lives. A book can start a war. A book can topple a government.
That’s the truth, Evan. Us writers have to be careful. But we have a responsibility, don’t we? I’m so glad you risked it all to come out and chat with me for a few moments. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
There was never really a question of me wanting to be anything other than a writer, though there were plenty of questions along the way as to whether or not I would ever actually get to be one professionally. The thing I’ve learned about chasing a career is that you really are chasing it. Meaning that the only thing you have control over is how fast and how long you’re willing to run. But that’s enough control, in fact. Even if at times your goals seem elusive, sooner or later you’ll catch up as long as you choose to keep running. For me, writing has always been the thing that makes me happiest, so I just kept doing it until that writing found a home. And now it has, in the biography of Logan Langly and the Dust, with the Swipe series.
When did you decide to try writing books?
Though I’d always loved writing, it wasn’t until recently that I began writing novels.
Two years ago, while I was still living as part of the underground Markless community in Beacon City, I spent a lot of my time helping Markless refugees get in and out of the city. I met a lot of people while doing this, and it was through these interactions that I began hearing whispers of Logan Langly and what he was getting involved with out west in Spokie, outside of New Chicago.
It wasn’t long before these whispers became shouts—the Department of Marked Emergencies (DOME) got angry pretty quick, and the effects of that were felt all the way out in Beacon. They were rounding us Markless up, taking my friends away, never to be seen again, and I realized that Swipe was a story I simply couldn’t leave untold. I had to write about it, and I had to become a part of it myself.
I’m sure glad you did. What do you consider one of your biggest life adventures?
Truly, my biggest life adventure so far has been meeting Logan Langly, Erin Arbitor, and the members of the Dust. Before they came along, I was just another garden variety Markless, living outside the boundaries of Marked society, fending for myself, and living by my own principles.
Of course, this lifestyle had led to many adventures of its own. I’ve slept on the ground with nothing around me, just staring up at the stars, or the sunset, or the sunrise, more times than I can count. Have you ever tried that? Do you know the feeling of it? I’ve traveled too, to places I knew nothing about, with ways of life I didn’t understand. I’ve read books I wasn’t supposed to read and learned facts I wasn’t supposed to know. I’ve done what challenged me, what scared me, even. I’ve gotten hurt doing those things, and then I’ve tried them again. Because our biggest adventures in life are the moments that take us outside of our comfort zones, that broaden our horizons, that make our worldview more inclusive, more nuanced, and more mature. Those are the real adventures.
Here’s a little bit about the story, Swipe:
Everyone gets the Mark. It gives all the benefits of citizenship. Yet if getting the Mark is such a good thing, then why does it feel so wrong?
Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.
The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It’s almost Logan Langly’s 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago . . . and never came back.
When Logan and his friends discover the truth behind the Mark, will they ever be able to go back to being normal teenagers?
Evan, Logan is a little shy, but he really puts forth a lot of effort to make friends with Erin. What advice would you give teens that have trouble making friends?
What struck me most about Logan’s effort to be friends with Erin, as well as with Dane and Hailey and the rest of the teens in Swipe, was that Logan was willing to look out for them and do right by them even when that went underappreciated, unnoticed, or punished. Too often we measure our actions according to how helpful they might be for us or for achieving our own goals. By that I mean that even selfless actions—like doing a favor for someone or being generous—are too often thought of in terms of, “Will people notice this and like me more because of it?” Or, “Will I be rewarded, even indirectly, down the line?” But looking at Logan’s case, I notice that ultimately, many of his motivations reach beyond these considerations. By the end of Swipe, he is doing what he’s doing because he believes in it, and because he is following his heart and his passions and his basic respect for other people.
The thing about acting in this way is that there is a ripple effect to it. Like dropping a pebble in a pond, these simple actions, coming from the right place, have far-reaching positive effects, even if all the pebble does is sink. To a certain extent, Logan is willing to sink, and he makes a far bigger splash as a result.
For any teens looking for friends, I might suggest keeping this in mind. Be generous and kind and honest in your actions to other people even if it goes unnoticed or underappreciated or punished. Eventually, the ripples of these actions add up, and you will find yourself making waves.
Well, I’m very excited to be able to say that the second book, Sneak, will be available everywhere in September. And I’m equally excited to say that I’m in the process of writing the third book in the Swipe series now. So there will be at least three! From there, we’ll just have to see where Logan and Erin and the rest of the Dust end up. And I’ll just have to see whether or not I can continue to evade DOME. No matter what happens, though, I very much look forward to chronicling this adventure as it goes.
Me too, Evan. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Any other fictional adventures you’re working on besides the Swipe series?
Currently, all of my energy is going toward making sure Logan’s story and the story of the Dust is told well and is heard by as many people as possible. By now, everyone involved is in a bit of a tight spot, to put it mildly. All of them are in worse trouble than they’ve ever been, and there’s no easy way to undo the choices they’ve made in Swipe. But Logan has a purpose now. He’s on a mission that’ll take him all the way across the American Union, and he’s determined to see it through, no matter the consequences. It’s a really fun adventure with a lot of twists and turns, and right now my job is to transcribe it as fully and as truthfully as I can.
But if DOME asks, you know nothing about it.
You got it, Evan! My lips are sealed to all DOME agents. Where can readers learn more about you and your writing?
Careful who hears you asking that question! The Swipe series is officially banned throughout the American Union, and DOME is none too pleased with anyone who’s looking for it—especially if they’re Markless.
But if DOME does give you any trouble, let me know, and I’ll see if I can pull any strings within my network. Best places to find me online are www.facebook.com/swipeseries (where we have Swipe videos, pictures, wallpapers, fan profiles, contests, giveaways, and even a Swipe-inspired iPad adventure game!), www.evanangler.com, and www.twitter.com/evanangler. You might find some rumors in there about upcoming Swipe books too, but if anyone sees you reading them—deny everything.
And I was never here.
Whew! I sure got nervous talking with Evan. I was sure some DOME agents were going to burst through my door and arrest me–make me get the mark. But all is well. Evan is gone now, and we managed to get this interview to you fine people, so you can all learn what’s going on in the American Union, which, if you’re confused, is what used to be the United States of America. I know, right? Freaky.
Evan’s Publisher is giving away one copy of Swipe to a lucky reader today. This is your BIG chance to find out what’s going on around here. Please enter on the form below!