Thank you for stopping by on our blog tour for PITCH DARK by Courtney Alameda, hosted by ROCKSTAR Book Tours. We are fans of Courtney’s darker side and jumped at the chance to read her newest novel. What’s not to love about being in space and having it go all kinds of wrong….HELLO!! ALIEN comes to mind and it is all good.
We had the chance to interview Courtney and are so very happy about it and can’t wait for you to see what transpired. You will definitely want to check it out and get to know her a little better. Don’t forget that there is an amazing giveaway at the end of this post. GOOD LUCK!
About The Book:
Pub. Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.
Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.
Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.
Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.
In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.
Interview with Tales of the Ravenous Reader and Courtney Alameda
1. The concept for PITCH DARK is unique and incredibly terrifying. How did you conceive of the idea for this book?
For me, characters always come to me first. Long before I knew what PITCH DARK wanted to be, I saw Laura walking into the pitch darkness of a busted ship, scared and alone. In general, I start with the human element of a novel, and let the world develop itself around it naturally. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
2. Considering the world in which PITCH DARK is based in, how did you prepare yourself to write this story… i.e. storyboard, soundtrack, scary sci-fi movies?
My experiences playing a video game called DEAD SPACE contributed a fair bit to this project, at least atmospherically. The plots of PITCH DARK and DEAD SPACE have nothing to do with each other (outside of both projects featuring ships full of monsters); however, the creeping dread of being alone in a decrepit space ship, tens of thousands of light years away from help, had a major impact on the way I approached this book. I wanted to capture that dread on the page for readers who may never pick up a PlayStation controller on their own.
Of course, I’m a huge and unabashed ALIEN fan. Ridley Scott’s thriller has become the visual basis for so many sci-fi horror projects since (DEAD SPACE being one of them), so I watched that film several times while working on the novel. Not so much for inspiration, but rather for reassurance that I was on the right track, and yet creating something fresh and different.
Finally, I spent a lot of time researching post-colonial ideologiesin Mexico, which led me to the Zapatistas and their remarkable saying, “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” That saying is not only featured prominently in the book, but it also has become a fixture in my personal life, too.
3. While reading PITCH DARK I could totally visualize it as a video game.
Totally! Laura and Tuck are both loosely based on my favorite tomb-raiding characters from video games: Lara Croft and Nathan Drake. For those of you who aren’t gamers, you should know that Lara Croft was originally Latina archeologist Laura Cruz, and her name and background were changed in the 90s by TOMB RAIDER’s original publisher, Eidos. (It’s true! Here’s an article on the history of Lara Croft: http://www.ign.com/articles/2008/03/01/ign-presents-the-history-of-tomb-raider.)
Additionally, video games have been hugely impactful on me as a storyteller, particularly in teaching me how to construct extended action sequences. I grew up playing video games like TOMB RAIDER and RESIDENT EVIL, and I try to hide “Easter eggs” in my books for people who are familiar with those franchises.
4. Why Horror? What do you love most about reading and writing in this genre?
I was drawn to horror as a kid for multiple reasons, the first of which was because I saw more women being included in the genre than in any other. And these women often weren’t the sidekicks or sex objects, they were the stars. I loved Ripley’s toughness (ALIEN) and Dana Scully’s skepticism (X-FILES);the brilliance of Clarice Starling (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), and the moxie of Claire Redfield (RESIDENT EVIL). These women gave me someone to look up to, as women weren’t featured as heroes in many other genre projects at that time.
Secondly, I have always had an affinity for monsters. I often joke that I choose my projects “based on how cool I can make the monsters,” and that’s probably more true than I’d like to admit. A good monster can make or break a project for me. Recently, I was watching a new horror film, THE RITUAL, and mocking its male protagonists for being the very apex of too-stupid-to-live. While the acting was excellent, I was expecting it to be another quasi-frightening romp through the woods.
And then the monster steps on the screen in the last act, a glorious, nightmarish imagining of a Nordic jötuun. It’s a twisted, dreadful beast—as large as an elephant but lithe as an elk, with too much human morphology to be called anything but horrifying.
THE RITUAL is now one of my favorite horror films of all time. I’m a sucker for a great monster.
5. For anyone that is reluctant to read Horror what would you suggest for them to read and why?
There are a lot of lovely novels (particularly in middle grade) that one could read to “ease” into the genre, as it were. I’d start with Neil Gaiman’s CORALINE or Marina Cohen’s THE INN BETWEEN for some light chills. Kenneth Oppel’s THIS DARK ENDEAVOR is also a good introductory read, as it is a creepy bildungsroman about Victor Frankenstein. For those who would like to dive straight into YA horror, try Barry Lyga’s I HUNT KILLERS, Franny Billingsley’s CHIME, or Rick Yancey’s THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST (my personal favorite). For adult, pick up Joe Hill’s HEART SHAPED BOX or Lauren Beukes’ THE SHINING GIRLS, the latter of which I was listening to on audio book in my car, and I actually had to pull over because my heart was pounding so hard at one point.
6. I like how there is a message in PITCH DARK, warning us that we should be kinder to our planet. What do you want your readers to get from this book?
PITCH DARK is about the power of the human voice. The mourners are metaphors for humanity in the time of #GamerGate and similar online fiascos, in which users (typically women)* are targeted by hordes of trolls, doxxed, threatened, and eventually chased offline.
If readers walk away with any message from PITCH DARK, I hope it’s a renewed commitment to use their voices to build people up, rather than tearing them down.
*Please note I’m not referring to any of the controversies in the YA community here.
7. What is your favorite scene in PITCH DARK?
The middle of the book has an action sequence that involves Laura using a medieval set of bow and arrows to draw the book’s monsters away while Tuck fixes a train. The plan fails, and everything goes very, very awry. I believe it’s the best action scene I’ve written to date, and I am very persnickety aboutaction scenes!
8. What is coming up next for you?
I’m currently finishing up Seven Deadly Shadows with ValynneMaetani now (HarperTeen, Spring 2019), and I’m absolutely thrilled with the way the book is turning out! The novel is a YA fantasy retelling of the Japanese classic film Seven Samurai, and is about a young Shinto priestess who must save her home from an ancient evil by recruiting seven Japanese death gods.
I’ve also got another solo project in the works called Hollowgate(Feiwel & Friends, Fall 2019), which will be about competitive gaming, #metoo, and the coolest monster I’ve ever had step out of my imagination.
Courtney holds a degree in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five-pound cat with a giant personality.
Member HWA, SFWA, SCBWI; and SDCC Creative Professional.
Giveaway Details: International
3 winners will receive a finished copy of PITCH DARK & Swag, US Only.
Ends on March 6th at Midnight EST!