Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interview: Julianna Baggott and Pure

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Julianna Baggott to the blog to answer a few questions about her young adult novel Pure which just released this week. Pure features a beautifully strange, dark, and disturbing world that's truly the stuff of dreams and nightmares, staying burned in my memory long after reading:) Hope you enjoy the interview!

Let’s say that right this minute the same detonations that decimated Pressia’s world and changed it forever hit us. What, at this exact moment, would you fuse with? Can you describe your post-detonation self?

Well, as I read it, my hand was curved to the mouse – so that would embed. To my right, there’s a glass lantern, and the blue light of the printer, and a 1950s-era desk fan – the brand is called Eskimo. That aged fan could get blown into me, and I’d have a shoulder of caged fan blades.

Everyone who dies inside the dome (and some family members outside of it) have a small box of mementos kept in storage that survivors can visit. If you could choose what went in your box, what couple of items would you put in to share with your loved ones?

This is hard. I’m not an object person, per se. I’d include photographs – ones that mean something – ones that say: this is who you come from. I have one of my great grandmother who ran a house of prostitution during the Great Depression. Most photos of the era are tidy and stern, but she’s wearing a paper-dress she made herself, her kinky hair is loose down her back, and she’s glaring at the camera – she’s maybe 15. I have one of my grandfather (not my biological grandfather but the man I knew as my grandfather) – a double amputee and WWII vet. He’s in a wheelchair, holding my grandmother in his arms and she’s kicking up her legs. That. That’s what I’d keep in a box to hand down.

What aspect of Pressia—either physically or personality-wise—first popped into your head when you were conceptualizing Pure?

The doll-head fist existed in a failed story. Once Pressia was there – in the ashen cabinet – the doll appeared and words came – They will come for you if … a litany. And so it began.

If you were to play “I Remember” with the people in Pressia’s world, what memory would you most want to share with them?

You’re SO damn good at this!

Okay. I remember checking on my children asleep in their beds. The humidifier kicking out puffs of steam. Their legs kicking the covers. Their purring snores. Their heads a little damp with sweat. I remember walking downstairs after and telling my husband that they’re all fine and fast asleep, and patting the dogs curled on their pillows. Night. Calm night.

Pure has a hugely imaginative and awe-inspiring world. Is there a specific world from another piece of fiction that you’ve been completely absorbed by when reading?

I literally read parts of Cider House Rules while in early labor. (I tend to labor for days. There’s time to read, sadly.) That’s a very strange and engrossing read – I mean, if you can read while in labor, that’s a real testament to the writer. John Irving is that good.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters and they could ask you one question about how you created them or how you wrote their story, who would it be and what might they ask?

I think of El Capitan. He turned on me, you know. He was supposed to be so hardened and really he’s got this endless tenderness. He’d want to know what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to exist in this world – being both of those things, hard and tender. His father left him. His mother’s gone. Both before the Detonations. He was alone in charge of his little brother. In some ways, he’s the one who needs the most mothering. I don’t know how to answer the question though. I don’t know how to be both hard and tender in our own world, yet alone theirs.

How do you think you’d fair against one of the Beasts or Dusts?

While shooting the film Norma Rae, the actress Sally Field was going to be hauled off by two cops and put into the back of a cop car. The director told her to fight with everything she had, everything. Sally Field has to be just a little over five feet if that and thin. She fought so hard, she broke the ribs of one of the actors in the role of a cop.

I’d fight. I don’t think I’d win in the end, but I’d break some ribs along the way.

If pre-detonation Pressia could leave post-detonation Pressia a note in one of the memento boxes in the dome, what would she tell her future self?

Beauty endures. Faith endures. Love endures.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Julianna! More information on Julianna and her books can be found here:



We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.


  1. Right?! Jenny is a damn good interviewer!

    Wow, Julianna. Your grandmother's history sounds so interesting. It gives you a lot to wonder about.

    And, laboring for days! YIKES. I guess reading something engrossing would be the best way to endure it.

    Thanks for the interview, ladies. :)

  2. I love this "Beauty endures. Faith endures. Love endures."

    Now that is beautiful

  3. LOL I know, right?? Jenny always knows how to asks those amazing in-depth questions -- and you're really good at answering them too, Julianna! :) I just finished reading Pure yesterday and when Jenny calls the world, "beautifully strange, dark, and disturbing world that's truly the stuff of dreams and nightmares," she couldn't be more right! I loved it! :)

    Haha the items you would fuse with are so original -- I never would've thought of those! (I can't even think of something I'd want to fuse with LOL!) And I just love that you'd choose a photo of your grandparents for your box. :) This was such a beautiful & thoughtful interview!

  4. Jenny knows how to come up with the great questions that leads to great answers :)

    I love the "Beauty endures. Faith endures. Love endures."---that is what I would like to think endures everything.

  5. Wow- Jenny you inspire me to make my author interviews harder....:D

  6. Missie - Aw, thanks! I try:) And the laboring for days things absolutely terrifies me, I think I'd like to pass on that!

    Linda - I couldn't agree more:)

    Mimi - I can't think of anything I'd necessarily want to fuse with either. Like Julianna, I'd most likely fuse with my computer since I'm constantly on it, or maybe a book. A book wouldn't be so bad:)

    Felicia - I love her answer to the last question. I would like that made into canvas prints I can hang in my home:)

    Tina - Hahaha thanks! There were so many interesting things about her world that I just had a lot of questions I wanted answers to:)

  7. I'm super curious about "Pure" and can't wait to read your thoughts on it, Jenny. :) The idea of being fused to an object is scary to say the least, considering what is around me at this moment in my office. And yes, the idea of being in labor for days is absolutely terrifying. Awesome interview, Jenny!

  8. *reads the first question* Whoa, what? Okay, I officially need this book right now. That concept is so cool! (And creepy!)
    I love the way Julianna answered your questions! She seems like a great writer. :)

  9. You ARE damned good at this, Jenny. Love love love all your interviews. :)

  10. Brilliant interview, Jenny! You ARE really good at this! :D I loved reading Julianna's answers, especially the one about El Captain. He was a strange character for me so it was good to hear Julianna's thoughts on him.

  11. The picture JBaggott would put in her box sounds AWESOME. I love pictures from that era.

    Also, I love what she says about El Capitan, although there is an exchange in the book between El Capitan and Helmud that I'd be curious about...if I had her in front of me, I'd have to question her further on that piece of GENIUS that came from nowhere. Such a great character, that El Capitan.

    I love this book so hard. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a book tour so much either. Great interview Jenny and Julianna. Neither of you ever fail to enlighten and entertain me with your words.

  12. I love Julianna Baggott, but I love love love her stories she writes as Bridget Asher. Can't wait for more from her! Great interview!

  13. Rummanah - The fusing thing was very creepy, and you could fuse with anything, even animals. Crazy imaginative:)

    Lauren - Right? When I started reading I was like "please don't let detonations like this ever hit me, I don't want to fuse with random objects". So interesting:)

    Wendy - *blushes* Thank you:)

    Sam - Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed the interview:)

    Asheley - I agree. I kind of want to find some photographs that I could put in my box:) So happy you had fun reading the interview!

    Ashley - I'll have to look up the books under her other name, thanks for mentioning it!

  14. I read parts of "Checkmate" by Dorothy Dunnett while climbing stairs during labor. Nothing like a good book to keep you going! :)

    Pure is on my to-read list. I loved the website and can't wait to get into the entire story!

  15. Awesome interview.
    Great advice.
    I definitely agree that love and faith endure but I'm not sure about beauty. Unless it's inner beauty.

  16. I am reading this book right now Jenny and it is dark, gritty and fascinating. Each new deformity is more twisted than the last I encountered. Pressia with her doll fist, El Captain with is brother, it is so imaginative. I loved the interview. Ms. Baggot's grandmother must have been some woman. Running a whore house! Would love to hear her story!

  17. I've heard some pretty good things about PURE. Mementos are very hard to choose, that's for sure!

    Great interview, Jenny!
    By the way, I love your new look, though I haven't stopped by in a while!

  18. This was a GREAT interview! Loved the questions. And a great grandma who ran a house of prostitution during that era... seriously, you have no idea what I'd give to hear her stories.

    I'm currently reading Pure, and find myself creeped out, fascinated, and just all around wow'd. You have some imagination!

  19. LOVE the new blog look, very pretty and great colors! Anyways, Pure has always caught my attention, I still haven't picked it up though.

    Your interviews are great. I love getting the insight from the authors!

  20. Sarah - Can't wait to see what you think of it:)

    Juju - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it:) I'm thinking she means beauty not so much in the physical but more like in the ability to find beauty in different things. Like there can be beauty in darkness and pain just like there can be beauty in light and joy:)

    Heidi - It's definitely dark and gritty isn't it? Her imagination is crazy (in a good way obviously):)

    Hafsah - Thanks! I just redesigned it last week:)

    Christy - Yay! Glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to your thoughts on PURE when you're done!

    Tawni - Thank you! I thought it was time for something a little different:)

  21. You always ask the most amazing questions! Love this interview!

  22. Gah! I am SUCH an 'object person'!!! I'd need a GINORMOUS box...

    Jenny... I love you so hardcore and am continually jealous of how AMAZING you are!

  23. Awww! This interview makes me SO sad I couldn't finish it. I know I had my reasons, but I still loved the idea of the world... So awesome interview! Love it.

  24. Hum. I guess if that cataclysmic event were to happen right now...I'd be forevermore wrapped in a pink snuggie with a laptop for a hand. *shudder* So creepy. Great interview, though!

  25. I've heard so many amazing things about this book and reading that amazing interview has me wanting to read it even more. I'm dying of curiosity here!

  26. Awesome interview, as always Jenny!! I definitely need to check this book out!

  27. Ooo, you've got such interesting questions, Jenny, and I like that they allow you to get a feel for the book even if you haven't read the synopsis. If I ever fuse with something, I hope it's useful.

  28. I hadn't heard much about this one and wasn't very interested in reading it before reading your post Jenny :) !! Thank you so much because now I can't wait to read Pure ... GREAT post !!

  29. I bought this one this week, and I can't wait to read it. I've heard great things about it. Loved the interview.

  30. Yes, Jenny you do a great interview! I aspire to be you!! I haven't read much about Pure. The cover is beautiful and very symbolic. I'll have to add it to the list.


  31. Awesome interview! I love your questions. I'm so jealous of your questions. LOL

    I'm little, too. (4'10") So I would fight, fight, fight! I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for FUSE.

  32. Dude, so I totally read this post the other day and I sucked at commenting. However, I'm here now! *jumps up and down* I really like the premise for this book. It sounds absolutely amazing and besides that I've heard some really good things about world building. I always love interviews because it gives such a voice to the author. Excellent questions, Jenny!