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 INTERVIEW 

Neal Shusterman

El Templo #39 (abril 2014) por R. A. Calle Morales


As a writer, you adress very controversial issues like children's death or abortion. Why that choice of topics? Has censorship never worried you?

I do address difficult subjects, but I do it responsibly. I like to ask hard questions, and really challenge readers to think. People appreciate that. Not just kids, but teachers and parents, too. The only censorship issues I ever have for my books are from people who haven’t actually read them.

In the Skinjacker Trilogy you write about a world where children's souls go when they die: Everlost. How did the idea of that place come to you?

It’s not that their souls go there – it’s that sometimes they get stuck there on the way to where they’re supposed to be going. A place that’s in between life and death. Teenager’s lives are all about being “in-between.” Not quite children, and not quite adults. Everlost is a metaphor for that. It’s a place they have to navigate for themselves. A place where they can’t rely on adults to tell them what to do. My goal was to take that metaphor of the “world in-between” and create a entirely new, and fresh reality that we haven’t seen before, with it’s own rules, it’s own wonders, and it’s own terrors.

In Unwind you show us a terrifying future where young people can be retroactively aborted any time before their eighteenth birthday. How was the developing process of the story in this book? What came first: the concept of "unwind" or the idea of young people fighting the system?

Young people are always fighting the system in one way or another – that’s nothing new, but what got me interested in the idea was an article I had read about a woman in France who had the world’s first face transplant. The article talked about how medical technology is advancing, and that in a few years, 100% of a person could be used in transplant. That made me wonder, if 100% of you is alive, just transplanted, are YOU still alive? It suddenly makes the question of life and death a “gray area,” like the question of when does life begin. No one can say with certainty when a human life begins – what if we couldn’t be certain when a life ended either? And how might people use that to manipulate society’s ethics? Because if everyone were convinced that someone could be alive but in “a divided state,” what awful things might we allow to happen? Unwind is a story about what can happen when a society allows it’s ethics to be manipulated. The story intentionally does not take any political sides on the controversial issues it addresses. I wanted people on all sides of the issues to be able to appreciate the story.

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