Jake Lukin has an incredible power he’s been hiding his whole life…but one (big) mess-up later, and the U.S. government knows all about it. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with twenty-four-hour bodyguards. When his family is threatened, Jake has to make a terrible choice.
TUNNEL VISION is a young adult thriller with psychic spies, graveyard chases, Call of Duty, Buffy and Veronica Mars references, and a stubborn little sister you’ll wish you had, even if you are an eighteen year-old boy.
The book already is receiving rave reviews, and the author graciously agreed to answer a few questions.
Welcome Susan, and thanks for spending some time with us.
Thanks so much! I’m so excited to be involved with The Big Thrill.
Brian: I’ve raised three teenagers, my interview partner Ellie is the youngest, and I’ve seen how hectic a modern teenager’s life can be. How much of a challenge was it for you to take an already hectic teenage schedule and cram in the potential complications of life as a psychic and secret government work?
Poor Jake. I never let him have a restful moment. I did try to make sure that his full life before this happened was reflected: he’s focused on trying to get into Stanford, playing on the tennis team, helping with his sister, and trying to balance friends and a love life before the government even enters into it. If he was the sort of person to have a to-do list, it’d be crazy full.
Ellie: What ambitions do you have for your career as a writer?
My ultimate goal is to be able to balance two threads, writing books for teens and for the middle-grade audience, and to keep publishing in both!
Brian: TUNNEL VISION is your first published work. How long have you written with an eye for publication?
I’ve been dabbling in writing for about fourteen years. I completed my first novel and began querying agents in 2006. I’m now working on my eighth manuscript. So…a long time.
Ellie: What was the hardest part about writing this book for you?
The writing of this book was unique. Just before this I was so frustrated with the whole process I tried to quit—I did quit, left my agent and everything. But I started telling myself a story at night to go to sleep, and it wouldn’t let me go. After two months of writing the story only in my head every night, I finally decided I’d just write it down, if only for myself. It poured out in about ten weeks…and that is TUNNEL VISION. The hardest part was the year on submission.
Brian: Once you transcribed the story that had been kicking around in your head, did you immediately realize it was for young readers?
As I mentioned above, this story was entirely for me…but the main character was always eighteen, so it naturally was YA. It took me a couple weeks to realize the main character was a boy, though, and from there it really clicked.
Ellie: If you had to choose one quote from your book, what would be your favorite?
Ah, it’s tough to pull quotes from a thriller with twists, without spoiling! But I think it’d be this, from an old Russian proverb his grandfather, Dedushka, tells him: “There is no shame in not knowing, malchik. The shame lies in not finding out.”
Brian: We can both imagine how being a psychic could complicate a teenager’s life, but are there any ways you could imagine where Jake’s abilities could help him over the usual bumps and rough patches in a teenager’s life?
I suppose his ability could be useful if he wanted to find out where a friend or girlfriend was, or spy on them to see what they’re doing. But that’s a dubious talent, because most of the time we probably don’t really want to know!
Ellie: When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
It wasn’t a decision as much as a compulsion. As soon as I started writing stories it became impossible to stop, even when I tried. I wanted to have my books published to share those stories I love with other readers.
Brian: Who are a few of your favorite writers?
My favorites are a strange, eclectic group! The classics are Madeleine L’Engle, Jane Austen, Susan Cooper, Mary Stewart, and Douglas Adams. More modern choices are Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Perkins, Ally Carter, Kiersten White…
Ellie: A related question: Who are some authors that inspire you and influence your writing?
In general the kidlit community inspires me. It is such a close-knit, supportive group of authors, and I am influenced by them every day. Courtney Summers’ books inspire me with their realism. Victoria Schwab’s language is amazing. Laini Taylor’s world-building is some of the best I’ve ever seen. When I get a bit burned out and need to recharge, I read one of Mary Stewart’s books to remember what it’s like to read something I’m passionate about.
Brian: The reviews of the book are strong and one mentions a potential sequel. Will we see more of Jake?
I am working on a sequel! It was originally going to be a trilogy, but as of today I’m focusing on the next book. And possible spin-offs.
Ellie: What can you tell us about the sequel?
Almost all of the main characters from TUNNEL VISION make a comeback at some point or other, several in quite different ways than you’ve seen them before. And there’s a new character I can’t wait for people to meet.
Thanks again for visiting with us, Susan. We wish you continued success with TUNNEL VISION.
Susan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. She danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, traveling, and writing more books.
To learn more about Susan, please visit her website.