Q&A: Evan Angler
Evan Angler writes apocalyptic fiction like he's living it. That passion and immersion comes across in his stories and particularly in Swipe, the first novel in the series of the same name.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION DRIVING THE STORY IN SWIPE?
A few years ago, while I was still living as part of the American Union’s underground Markless community, I spent a lot of my time helping Unmarked refugees sneak in and out of Beacon City. It was through these interactions that I began hearing whispers of Logan Langly and what he was getting involved with out west near New Chicago, and these soon became whispers that I couldn’t ignore.
Swipe is the first volume in the chronicles of Logan Langly, Erin Arbitor, and the Dust. It takes place in our newly formed American Union, where basic rights are only acquired beginning at age 13, once people are mature enough to Pledge allegiance to Chancellor Cylis in exchange for his Mark of citizenship.
Logan Langly is about to turn 13. He’s about to get his Mark.
And he is certain he’s being watched.
Swipe is many things, but at its heart, it is a story about friendship against the odds. It’s a story about a group of boys and girls who come together to do the unthinkable: to stand up for what they believe in.
OVER THE COURSE OF WRITING IT, WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST DURING THE JOURNEY?
At its core, Swipe is a mystery novel, and mystery novels are all about surprise. But I’m not sure it’s possible for an author to surprise a reader without first surprising him or herself, so when I write, I try to shock myself as often as possible. In fact, while writing Swipe, I would say there was something that surprised me on every page. Sometimes this was something small, like a turn of phrase that came out of nowhere, but often it was something pretty big, like course-altering reactions from Logan or Erin, or reveals of intention that I just wasn’t expecting.
Of course I always have plans and hopes for Logan and Erin and the Dust and their futures, but just as in life, the most memorable stuff—the story itself—usually comes out of those twists and turns that were least expected.
If I had to choose, I’d say I was most surprised by Logan and Erin’s actions during a certain sequence of events very near the end of the book. But I hesitate to be more specific than that—I’d hate to spoil anything!
WHAT PARTS WERE INSPIRED BY REAL LIFE (EITHER RESEARCH OR EXPERIENCE)?
Well, truthfully, I wasn’t there for many of the events I’ve described in Swipe. But I have recounted everything as accurately as possible, based both on what I’ve learned and also on what I’ve heard from first-hand accounts. There has been some dramatization, of course, but the character portrayals and basic facts, tragically, are accurate.
That said, even those details that I did happen to fabricate or embellish—even those that are fiction—were inspired in large part by my own real-life experiences.
Have you ever noticed that your dreams at night, while wildly fantastic and absurd, are often sparked by some small moment or thought that you experienced during the day? It is similar with storytelling. We write by tapping into that same deep, creative root of our brain, electrifying synapses and memory trees all along the way, and then we use those memories as the building blocks for our portrayal of characters and story. In this way, all of Swipe was inspired by real-life experience, whether it was intentional or not.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT STORY IS SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO COMMUNICATE TRUTH?
At the heart of it, I think it is because stories communicate at an emotional level. Facts and teachings aim to impart an understanding of what is true, while stories aim to impart an empathy for the truth itself.
Books, in particular, allow readers to peek directly inside the mind of a narrator or of a group of characters (as is the case in Swipe) to see the universe in a new way, from a new perspective, following a new and unexpected train of thought. Their stories don’t push a given worldview—they merely present it. And they do so in a way that helps us as readers understand the emotional motivations behind it, even if we might disagree with the worldview itself. They do so in a way that finds the common ground in our ongoing discussion of what truth is.
I don’t think it’s incidental that stories are good at communicating in this way, and I don’t think it’s by accident; I believe our cultural thirst for stories exists because of it.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Currently I am very fortunate to be writing the third book in the Swipe series. I am on quite the journey with it! Meanwhile, the second book in the Swipe series—Sneak—launches this September. I hope you’ll join me for the ride, and until then, you can keep up to date on all things Swipe on Facebook, where we have Swipe videos, pictures, wallpapers, fan profiles, contests, giveaways, and even a Swipe-inspired iPad adventure game!