In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.
In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.
Catalyst is a thrilling adventure of danger, romance, intrigue, and deception.
Interview with Kristin Smith (Questions from her critique partner, Leandra Wallace)
What inspired the story of Catalyst?
The premise of Catalyst actually came to me in a dream (boy, does that sound cliché or what?!). But in my dream, it was the story of a man who was a matchmaker by profession in a society where everyone is matched. (No, I had not heard of Matched by Ally Condie at the time). He had a horrible dilemma because he was in love with a woman he wasn't matched to. Gradually, that idea evolved into a society where the wealthy choose genetic matchmaking and modification for their children. And the main character became a "normal" girl who has red hair and freckles.
How would you describe your writing process?
Eclectic. Lol. No, seriously, I wish I could say that I sit down and outline every detail of the novel before I begin, but the truth is, I pretty much wing it. Even when I do try to write an outline, I tend to stray from it. I draw inspiration from everything around me, whether it's music, books, movies, or nature. When I'm writing, the scenes come into my mind like a movie reel, and I try to describe what I'm seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, etc. so the reader can be immersed in the moment and feel like they are a part of the story.
If you're in the candy aisle at the store, what calls your name the loudest?
Oh, hello, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Where have you been hiding?
Having written a dystopian novel yourself, what are some of your favorite dystopian novels?
Ooh, this is a tough one! I have so many favorites! But I have to say that hands down, The Hunger Games is my all-time favorite. Suzanne Collins broke the ceiling when she wrote that series, and she left a high mark for other authors to live up to.
The second runner-up would have to be Divergent. I absolutely loved the first book, especially Four. :)
And I can't forget about The Selection Series, which I believe I devoured all of those books in the space of two days. (Sorry, my children! That's why I was MIA during that time period!)
Your main character, Sienna, is a red-head (and has a sassy 'tude to match). Did she spring from your imagination as a red-head, or did that come later?
As soon as I imagined her, she had red hair, green eyes, and rode a Harley. It's funny because in the book, Sienna is so critical of how she looks. She's surrounded by gorgeous genetically modified people and all she can see are her "imperfections", but her features are actually what make her stunning and unique. I hope that girls who read this book will catch that message. They are beautiful and unique, and they need to stop comparing themselves to others.
What are three things in Catalyst that you think people will enjoy the most?
Can I really only pick 3? Well, I think they'll enjoy all of it, but if I HAVE to narrow it down...
1) Zane and Trey, who in my opinion, are both yummy!
2) The kissing.
3) Sienna's experience in the underground Compound.
If you could go on a writing retreat with one other author (dead or alive), who would it be?
My first thought was to pick an author I greatly admire like J.K. Rowling, Kiera Cass, Sarah Dessen, or Veronica Roth, but there's really only one person I'd like to go on a writing retreat with: my critique partner, Leandra Wallace. We'd have so much fun eating junk, talking books, and bouncing ideas off of each other!
What is a piece of writing advice that has been most beneficial to you?
Don't give up. This business is hard to break into, but you can't let it break you. Know that failure is necessary to experience success.
As all writers typically need 'refuel' days, what do you find fills back up your creative well?
For me, binge-watching Netflix or reading a good book helps to get the creative juices flowing again. Oh, that and about a pound of chocolate.
Lastly, where is the best place to get ice cream in North Carolina?
Well, I'm more of a gelato fan (love me some gelato!), but if I had to choose, I'd say the tiny little walk-up shop called Bruster's. They make the BEST sundaes with brownies and ice cream and fudge sauce and whipped cream. YUM!
Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.