This scifi thriller is unusual because it combines traditional elements of the genre with a mood that sometimes veers a little closer to horror, which makes a fantastic combination.
With the book just released in stores, and with the recent announcement that it’s been optioned by Imagine Entertainment for a film, we’re excited to have the author with us today chatting about the origins of her story.
Josin has been a great friend to our blog, so please help us give her a warm welcome!
What is ARCLIGHT?
by Josin L. McQuein
I get that question a lot. The blurb on the back of the book is pretty open, and can be interpreted a dozen different ways. It’s an unusual mash-up of genres, but to really explain how the world works, you need to know that Arclight started off as a movie.
No, I’m not talking about the deal with Universal and Imagine. I’m talking about the ambition of a teenage writer who had stories to tell, but didn’t think she could sustain a story for 300 – 400 pages. Screenplays are about 1/4 the length of a novel, and have 1/10 the words. To my younger self, that made them perfect, so I decided I was going to write films. One of the first ones that I wrote was a set in space, aboard a spaceship. (I’m a nerd, what can I say?)
It never went anywhere, of course, but I finished it, and I kept it. A few years later, when I was putting Arclight together, that old screenplay became its backbone. The deep dark of space became “The Dark,” an endless vacuous stretch of nothing, uninhabitable by humans. The shiny, brightly lit spaceship became the Arclight, a militaristic safe-haven surrounded by that darkness and never able to escape it.
There’s a desolation to space, both for the silence and the vastness, but it also has a sort of hypnotic beauty that makes people curious about the secrets it keeps. I tried to keep that atmosphere intact, even though the Dark is a tangible place located on Earth. It’s ever-expanding, like the universe, and nebulous, so that there’s no real dimensions to it. It simply is, and it’s simply everywhere.
There’s usually a scene in space movies where someone stands at a window and stares out at the stars in total awe. They exist reminded of how small they are in the grander scheme, and know that if not for that thin piece of glass, they’d be pulled into the void. It creates a claustrophobic quality where the characters can feel the pressure of something deadly pressing against their safe zone. Their world shrinks to a series of hallways and identical doors, and a repeated parade of the same faces every day. They know that no one new is ever going to arrive, just like they know they can never leave. And suddenly, their sanctuary is a prison well on its way to being an asylum.
That’s the atmosphere I hope carried over into the Arclight. The people are on edge. There’s no way to escape the encroaching Dark. It can be seen from every window, inching closer every day. People start to grate on each other because of the forced proximity. They go through their safety routines, and keep the lights burning, chanting the mantras they’ve been taught about how it makes them secure, but they don’t feel secure. They feel the crush and know they’re helpless to stop it – and that’s on a good day.
The world exists in a state of equilibrium until something comes along to disturb the balance. In space, it would be the scene where an air lock gets opened or someone blows a hole in the side of the ship. With the barrier between the two halves removed, air rushes into the void, attempting to reinstate that equilibrium, because that’s the way of the universe. With Arclight, that hole in their routine is caused by a girl.
Marina causes a breach. She’s something from the outside, introduced into a closed environment. She’s gone through the Dark, into the Light, and upset them both, so that both sides are struggling to reset their balance. As a consequence, light and dark make an exchange, so that both invade the other’s territory. But Marina remains an agitator. She’s the black hole throwing off everyone’s inertia, causing them to stray from their normal paths, and so long as the agitator is in motion, the systems will continue trying to even themselves out. And like that open airlock, it’s a violent process that leaves both sides changed in some way because they’ve both taken in bits of the other.
Now, that’s only one component of the abandoned story mish-mash that became Arclight, but it’s the biggest piece.
So what is Arclight?
It’s a space opera. Set on Earth. With no aliens or space ships. But there are shooting stars, and wishes, and the hope that there’s something out there worth finding.
About the Author
Josin L. McQuein was born and raised in Texas and can trace every place she’s lived in by the movies that were filmed there. She currently lives with three crazy dogs in a town so small that the buffalo outnumber the people and things like subways and consistent internet service are creations of that far away fantasy land called “Civilization.” Connect with her online through her blog and Twitter.
Arclight is available in stores and online now, through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and many other retailers. You can also add it to GoodReads, along with her book Premeditated, which is out from Random House this October 2013.
Are you excited about reading Arclight? We think it’s a great addition to the YA scifi genre, and it has all the makings for a terrific film. Let us know if you agree!