Tumble & Fall - Interview with Alexandra Coutts (Giveaway US/Can ends 9/25)

Thanks to author Alexandra Coutts (née Bullen) and Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (BFYR) for including us on the blog tour for Tumble & Fall! Alexandra answers some questions and you can enter to win a copy of the book (make sure you use the Rafflecopter widget below). Then check out the rest of the blog tour posts!

Find this book on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the book:
A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.

Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.
About the author:

Alexandra Bullen Coutts has been a playwright, waitress, barista, gardener, script reader, yoga instructor and personal assistant. She grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in New York City, and lives most of the year full time on Martha’s Vineyard.


RNSL: If you knew it was the last day of the existence of the world, how would you spend your last day? What would make it perfect?

The perfect last day on earth for me would be spent with my family and friends on the beach. Ideally, it would be glorious, beachy weather, and we would swim in warm water and picnic on delicious, summer food and play in the sand, and there would be music, and at the end of the night we would huddle together to watch the sunset.

RNSL: What's in your emergency kit? Are you the kind of person who's ready for anything?

I am the kind of person who is ready for nothing. I never even have a Band-Aid when I need one, which is starting to be a problem, now that I have a kid. I am the opposite of an alarmist, whatever that is: it takes a lot to get me to freak out about something, and I am prone to suspecting that everything is a conspiracy, unless I witness it firsthand. I guess this would make me pretty much the last person you would want in your corner, in the event of the real apocalypse. (Unless steadfast denial is your cup of tea!)  

RNSL: Tumble & Fall isn't so much a dystopian as it is a story of relationships and attitudes. What inspired you to write this kind of book?

I think that is a wonderful description of not only this book but of every book I’ve written and hope to write. “Relationships” and “attitudes” are the things that most interest me in the real world, and so I find myself drawn to writing primarily about the way characters grow and change, as their relationships and attitudes grow and change around them. “Story” and “plot” for me are fancy ways of talking about the stuff that happens to make these changes happen, over the course of a book. But it’s the changes themselves that I find most interesting.

RNSL: There are so many elements put together in this story: astronomy, sailing, art... Did you have to do research, and what form did that research take? Were you already interested in these topics before you incorporated them into your novel?

The only thing I researched was the asteroid science, and let me tell you, it was terrifying. There are a number of videos floating around the Internet that simulate what would happen to Earth in the event of a serious asteroid “shower,” and I spent hours watching them, and biting my nails.

The rest of the stuff is pretty much from my life. I live on Martha’s Vineyard, where the book is set, so I spend a lot of time talking to people about their boats, or surfboards, or artwork. It’s a pretty fascinating community of people that live here year-round, and I do a lot of eavesdropping to make my characters more interesting, whenever possible!      

RNSL: The characters are very much an ensemble -- so many individuals! Was it difficult to keep track of how their stories intertwined? How did you manage it?

This was my first multi-POV (point-of-view) book, and I have to say I found that aspect of writing it very, very challenging. There were times when my brain would start throbbing, from the effort of trying to keep track of where everyone was, what day it was, where we had seen them last and where they needed to end up. I had color-coded outlines and Stickies on my computer desktop with character names and descriptions, so I could remember everything from favorite foods to eye color. It was tough, but in the end, I felt like I had created this other little world: another island, similar to the one I live on but populated by a totally different group of fictional people!    

RNSL: Do you have a new project in the works? If you can share anything about it with us, please do.

I do have a new book that I’m working on, but it’s still in the super-secret early stages. I can say that it’s another island story, and it’s something I’m really, really excited about!

RNSL: Did you set out to write a YA novel, or did you write it first without a clear idea of who the audience would be?

I knew that TUMBLE & FALL would be a YA book from the beginning, because I was interested in exploring the way every-day teenagers might react to something as big and terrifying as the end of the world. But what surprised me while writing was the fact that I wanted to know so much more about all of the secondary characters, as well, regardless of their ages.

Each main POV character (Sienna, Caden and Zan) had parents and siblings and acquaintances of all ages, and I found myself really drawn to the various ways different people might handle the same, incredibly high-stakes situation in different ways. It’s definitely a YA book because of the way it focuses on the teens in the story, but it’s my hope that people of all ages might be able to find characters they can relate to, as well.

RNSL: When you were a young(er) adult, were you a reader? What books did you read?

I read constantly when I was younger (still do, although I had more time to do it back then!) I went through a very serious Judy Blume phase (my all-time favorite childhood book was JUST AS LONG AS WE’RE TOGETHER. I still remember the first line: “Stephanie is into hunks.”) I took a brief detour into the teen horror genre, with guys like R.L. Stine (whom I met at BEA this year!) and Christopher Pike.

When I got to high school, I did most of my reading for classes, and I remember being introduced to amazing authors like Joyce Carol Oates, William Faulkner, and the poetry of E.E. Cummings. I wrote my senior thesis paper on The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner and it’s still my favorite book, today.

Find out more about the author on her website alexandracoutts.com, and follow her on Twitter @abcoutts. You can also check out more stops on the Tumble & Fall blog tour, the Fierce Reads tour info and read an excerpt from the book!

My review post is still to come, but you can enter to win your own copy (if you live in US/Canada) using the Rafflecopter below!

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US/Canada residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway