Shaunta Grimes just celebrated the release of her debut novel, VIRAL NATION, early this month. I am in love with the cover and premise and excited to share a guest post with the author herself as part of her blog tour. First, here’s a little bit about the book. Then I’ll let Shaunta take over to tell us a little bit about her journey to publication – it’s a true story of perseverance.
After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.
Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.
When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
I wrote Viral Nation in 2010. I sent it out to a few agents that fall, and almost all of them requested the manuscript. In the midst of that excitement, my little girl (who was five at the time) got very sick. We lived in a teeny little town in Central Nevada, so when she had to be in the hospital in Las Vegas for three weeks to be treated for severe pneumonia, I went with her and slept in a chair. And I raked in the almost instant rejections from the agents.I ended up putting Viral Nation aside for several months. I couldn’t face the rejection, my daughter was recovering, and I just couldn’t deal with it for a while.
The next summer, I decided that I’d self-publish. I was in love with the story, it felt like the story of my heart, and the whole indiepublishing idea was blowing up all around me. Everyone was doing it. Some of them very, very successfully. Why not me? So, I hired a cover artist. I made a website. And I read through it one more time. After sitting on the shelf for eight months, the problems in the manuscript were glaring to me. Once the problems were fixed, I decided to go out on submission to agents one last time. This was in November. I didn’t expect much, so I didn’t wait for the holidays to be over. I just shot it out to the agents who had rejected, with a note that it had been substantially revised and to a few others. And then a lot of others when the query letter drew requests for the manuscript, and the manuscript didn’t draw immediate rejection like it had before.
I signed with Kim Lionetti at BookEnds in January 2011. In May, she sold Viral Nation to Berkley Trade. Three weeks ago, it hit the shelves! I was in Atlanta last week for a conference and my first ever book signing. I took a cab with a friend to the nearest Barnes and Noble, and there was my book. It’s hard to even put into words how cool that was.
Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada. Viral Nation is her debut traditionally-published novel.
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