SPECIAL SF & F WEEK – Becoming Human

Becoming Human
by Amy Michelle Carpenter
Genre: YA Science Fiction
A redneck boy. An Earth-obsessed alien. And a robotic girl… Three wildly different teenagers must work together, and accept one another, to conserve humanity.
A breathtaking debut with Southern charm, whimsical worlds, and meet-cuteness, for fans of Marie Lu and Lois Lowry.
Carter doesn’t believe in aliens. And he certainly doesn’t defend his dad’s claims that they exist, even if they aired on national television. But then, the girl he’s falling for starts doing strange things, magical things, things that seem a bit out of this world.
Kokab hungers to be a Perfect in a world where her emotions are her greatest flaw. But when her planet faces extinction, her sympathy makes her the best ambassador to persuade humans to accept her people. Failure means invasion, but success means she will never become a Perfect. Ags dreams of graduating from the Academy and becoming a guardian of Earth.
Obsessed with all things human, she’s eager to spend time on the unique planet. But when she uncovers an impending invasion, she’s willing to lose everything, including herself, to stop it.
“Human and alien, complex and sweetly personal, Carpenter’s thoughtful world blends sci-fi with coming of age as three unique worlds collide. This book will make you laugh, make you fall in love, and then make you re-evaluate what it means to be human.” McKelle George, HarperCollins author of Speak Easy Speak Love

 

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

It all started with an assignment I got in sixth grade to create a book about myself. In it, I announced that in ten years I’d be a published author. Right around my 22nd birthday, I found that book. Had I become an author? Nope. So, I decided that it was totally feasible to accomplish my kid dreams, and I went for it.

I checked out a guidebook on how to be published for dummies (this isn’t a joke). Then, I followed its advice. I joined a writing group, started going to conferences, honed my craft by taking on an internship with an editing company (because I thought there was no better way to learn to write than to learn how to tell others how to write), and built connections. A friend of mine got a publishing contract with a company, and she recommended me. And that’s how I broke into to the wild business of publishing!

 

 

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Before having all my little babies, I lived in a school bus with my husband. My husband tore out all the seats, and we got to work remaking the inside of it into a little home.We had a bedroom, a little kitchenette, a bathroom, and a living room. We even had a giant tub in the bathroom that fit the two of us and a full-sized couch.

While living in a school bus may sound like luxury (haha), I wasn’t the biggest fan, so I highly recommend not jumping on that bandwagon. I won’t get into the gritty details, but let’s just say that a lot of basic like electricity and heating struggled to work, and, even though we were renting a piece of land, we looked sketchy sitting there. The cops may have showed up at our house a few times in the middle of the night. But, it ended up well enough because when we moved into a real house it felt like a luxury!

 

Where were you born/grew up at?

My dad was military, so I basically grew up all around the USA. That was a good time. My dad was stationed in Georgia for a year, so I pulled some of my distant memories of the place to write this book.

 

 

How to find time to write as a parent?

I have three babies under three, so finding time to write is basically impossible these days. It’s a good thing I wrote this novel when I only had one newborn who slept all day.

 

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Redneck Intellect.

 

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

The two female protagonists are me, which is weird to say because they’re foils of each other, but it’s true. I’m a crazy perfectionist like Kokab. There have been times in my life when I’ve been so obsessed with being a good person that I couldn’t really function. There’s a part of me that really feels that rigidity and confusion about customs, and I definitely sometimes feel like social things can take a second to click. But then, there’s this other side of me that is all Ags, super excited and exuberant about things, with high energy and happiness.

The male protagonist Carter, is kind of just a mesh up of my husband and also what I think the ideal guy is.

 

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I think I most enjoyed the process of working on it with others. I have an amazing critique group, and it was so fun to brainstorm with them and then steal their ideas that they had for my book and look like a total genius. Looking like a genius is great fun.

 

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

Becoming Human is the whole theme of the book. Theme is really important to me, and the book is all about what makes us human and what the point of the human experience is.

 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Of course. I’m one of those people that could keep picking at something forever and ever. But I won’t since it’s now been through all the beta reading stages and three stages with Immortal Works’ editor. I’m pretty sure I’d make a lot of people annoyed if I went in and tried to change things now.

 

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

Ags is really obsessed with the humanities, so it was really fun to go out and learn about a plethora of different paintings, and stories, and ballet, and such.

 

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Yes, I did theater in high school, so that’d be a blast. My favorite character to play would be Anna though. Anna is really overdramatic and wild and does whatever she wants, and that’d be an exciting character to play.

 

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

One of my favorite parts of the book is Kokab and Carter’s first date (spoiler, sorry..not sorry). It’s just so cute and awkward and real. I feel like it’s how a real first date goes with two teenagers who are crushing on each other.

 

What did you edit out of this book?

Well, this book was originally a completely different story so half of the ensemble of characters, most of the scenes, and the overall storyline. The theme stayed the same though, so that’s good.

 

 

Do you see writing as a career?

Of course.

 

What do you think about the current publishing market?

I’m a big fan of Indie publishers. I like them because they have more wiggle room for originality and wholesomeness.

 

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I love YA books. Maybe I’m immature; I don’t know. I most especially love sci-fi with female protagonists.

 

Advice they would give new writers?

Join a really good writing group. They will teach you how to write. Go to conferences. Use the conferences to learn but also to meet people. Making friends with people who are authors will help you break in yourself.

 

What makes a good story?

To me, it’s what I come out with. A good story is one that inspires or uplifts me or makes me question things. I only have so many hours in a day, so I want to come out better than I went in before I read it.

 

Amy Michelle Carpenter is a developmental editor with Eschler Editing and a professional blogger. She’s written hundreds of blogs and news articles for local and national companies. She also has a children’s story in an anthology.
As the daughter of an Army officer, she grew up traveling the country and has lived by sandy beaches, southern woods, towering cities, and the rocky mountains. Now, she resides in the countryside of Tooele, UT with her husband and baby girls. She enjoys seeing what wildlife and farm animals dare venture into her yard only to be chased by her toddlers. Wherever family is is home.
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