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Blog Tour: Novel Secrets for CONCENTR8 by William Sutcliffe, plus giveaway!
January 18th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

Concentr8 Tour Banner

CONCENTR8

by William Sutcliffe

Published by Bloomsbury

Pub date: January 19, 2016

 

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT CONCENTR8:Concentr8

In a not-so-distant future London, riots have become the norm. But when the government suddenly stops distributing Concentr8–a behavioral modification “miracle” drug akin to Ritalin–the city’s residents rise up fiercer than they ever have before.

Amidst the chaos, five teens pick a man seemingly at random and chain him up as a hostage in a warehouse. Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet sidekick–the only person he has ever trusted. But even Troy didn’t see this coming, and as their story unfolds over six tense days, one thing is clear–none of them will ever be the same again.

Told from the perspective of multiple characters in a world familiar to our own, this searing look at a group of teens who push back from the margins of society is perfect for fans of thoughtful fiction like Panic and The Program series.

 

 

NOVEL SECRETS – a behind the scenes look into CONCENTR8!

Sometimes the idea for a book takes shape slowly, with various thoughts gradually coming together. Concentr8 wasn’t like that. It came to me in a flash, during a conversation with a friend of mine who is a child psychiatrist. I asked how her work was going, and she started telling me about a problem that was troubling her. The issue was with ADHD and Ritalin.

She told me that she suspected some parents were bringing children to her who were perhaps naughty, or misbehaving in school, but essentially perfectly healthy, and pressuring her for an ADHD diagnosis. She spoke to me at length about cultural pressures to conform and succeed; about a medical orthodoxy the tends to see drugs as a quick-fix solution to all problems; and also about how some parents will get extra welfare if their child has an ADHD diagnosis. She also added that Ritalin was very similar to the amphetamines that adults take recreationally, usually referred to as “speed”.

I was horrified and outraged, but the novelist in me felt an immediate spark of excitement. Horror and outrage are the jet fuel that often get me started on a project. More than this, I felt that I had stumbled on something that sounded like the premise for a speculative sci-fi novel – a malevolent state drugging “bad” children – which was in fact happening in right here, right now.

I had just finished a novel called The Wall set in a seemingly fictional dystopia that was also a real place – The West Bank – and this premise seemed like a perfect companion to that novel. I quickly came up with the idea of Concentr8, a fictional drug similar to Ritalin, which a fictional London mayor dishes out to ever-increasing numbers of children in the wake of riots similar to those which hit the city 2011. As soon as I had Concentr8, I was on the path to Concentr8. I knew the book would be very different in tone and setting to The Wall, which preceded it, but I liked the idea of playing a similar game with readers, where as you read you learn that the seemingly fantastical setting is far closer to reality than it at first seemed. In both books, I want readers to sense the ground shifting under their feet as they progress through the book.

But I could never have written this novel if it wasn’t for one other experience, which happened to me almost ten years ago. I was in a London park, and a group of drunk people attacked me, for no reason. I was punched, pushed to the ground, and kicked in the head. The assault left me with lingering headaches but didn’t do any lasting physical damage. I was quite traumatised, though, tormented by fear and anger which circled round my head without any outlet.

Not long after this, an email from a friend arrived, asking for volunteers to mentor troubled teenagers in Camden. I decided this would be a good way to psychologically turn a corner. If my mentee was from the same world as the people who attacked me, this would be a way to confront my fears and turn them into something positive.

As it turned out my mentee was not white, like my attackers, but was a 16-year-old black kid who had been excluded from school, had a very challenging home life, no qualifications, and felt he had no career prospects whatsoever. For one year, we met more or less every week for a coffee. We slowly came to a mutual understanding and respect. In the end I don’t think I did anything to improve his life chances, but I did listen to everything he said, which seemed to be a new and empowering experience for him. I’m pretty sure, though, that I learnt more from him than he did from me.

I didn’t do it to research a novel, except in the sense that when you are a writer every experience you have is, in a sense, research. When I started writing Concentr8, almost a decade after my year of mentoring, this boy’s voice came back to me. The way he talked, the way he sat, his mannerisms and his perpetual worry about “the feds” – it all bubbled up to the surface and came out on the page. There is nothing of his direct experience in the book, but his voice is right there in the voices of the kids in the novel. Thanks to him, I also have a bedrock of understanding about how it feels to be intelligent yet failed by the education system; bright but with a feeling that society has given you no opportunities for the slightest self-advancement. Without our friendship, I wouldn’t have had the empathy or understanding to write this novel.

I no longer live in London and I’m no longer in touch with him, but, nonetheless, it is to my mentee, Darren, that I have dedicated the book.

 

ABOUT WILLIAM SUTCLIFFE:William Sutcliffe c. Maggie O'Farrell

William Sutcliffe is the author of the young adult novel The Wall, which was published in 2013 to much critical acclaim, including being short-listed for the 2014 Carnegie Medal and long-listed for the 2013 Guardian Fiction Prize. He also wrote five adult novels, including the international bestseller, Are You Experienced, and a middle-grade novel, Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. William currently lives in Edinburgh.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

1/18: Who R U Blog – Guest Post

1/19: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Pocket Letter

1/20: A Book & A Latte – How I Write

1/21: Kelly Vision – Review

1/22: The Cover Contessa – Q&A

 

Week 2:

1/25: The Petite Book Blogger – Review

1/26: Go Read A Book – Top 10

1/27: Resch Reads & Reviews – Review

1/28: Emily Reads Everything – Q&A

1/29: Avid Reader – Review

Giveaway: (US)

2 Finished Copies of CONCENTR8

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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