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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Interview with Kristen Simmons, author of Metaltown!

Hey guys! I'm fortunate to have the awesome Kristen Simmons, author of MetaltownThe Glass Arrow and the Article 5 trilogy, on the blog today! I hope you enjoy the interview as well as an amazing giveaway! 

Kristen Simmons is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, and METALTOWN. She has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma as a mental health therapist, taught Jazzercise in five states, and is forever in search of the next best cupcake. Currently she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, where she spends her days supporting the caffeine industry and chasing her delightfully rambunctious son.
Connect with Kristen: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pub. Date: September 20, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.

Brittany: What inspired Metaltown?

Kristen: A few things actually! An author friend once told me it takes two sticks to start a fire - meaning you can't write a book with just one idea. The first "stick" came years ago, when I was twelve or thirteen and my parents took me to see the musical Les Mis. I was enthralled by the story - a small group of people fighting for their rights even with the odds stacked against them. To this day I still root for the underdog. That musical also introduced me to Eponine, who immediately struck a chord with me personally. See, I wasn't the cutest girl in middle school. There were braces involved. Big glasses. I wasn't funny or athletic. I was awkward, and plain, and because of that people didn't pay any attention to me. They didn't look at me at all. I wasn't seen. And that's Eponine - the girl who is smart, and fierce, but not beautiful, and therefore unseen by the boy she really loves. I never lost my love for the fighting storyline, or my Eponine.

Years later my husband was lecturing at a university about Nike, a company everyone knows, that has made tons of money utilizing overseas sweatshop labor. The owner of the company is aware of this, however has no plans to stop because observing US labor laws (for example, paying a minimum wage, meeting job safety requirements, providing insurance, etc.) would simply cost the company too much money. More research into this topic shocked me. I knew then that I wanted to write a story where the kids in a sweatshop like that fought back. Where they stood up to the boss, like those in Les Mis did, even when it was unlikely they'd succeed. I wanted them to win, and I wanted my hero to be a street-smart, kickass friend, just like Eponine. 

That night I sat down and started outlining METALTOWN. 

Brittany: What is your writing process like? How different was it to write Metaltown versus The Glass Arrow and the Article 5 trilogy? 

Kristen: I'm an outliner, which came in handy working with three alternating POV's. Everything previous that I'd written had only one POV, a female. This had three, one of them male. It was both a challenge and a complete delight to weave their stories together.

Brittany:  What character (not from your own books) do you most identify with, and why? You can choose from any book, TV show, or movie.

Kristen: Definitely going to go with Eponine again. She spoke to me at time in my life when all I wanted was for someone to notice that I was smart and interesting and important. A part of me will always be that girl who wants a spot at the cool kids' table.

Brittany: What is your favorite song(s) from Les Mis? I ask because I had One Day More in my head while reading xD 

Kristen: YES! I love that one! I listened to it a lot! Also A Little Fall of Rain (Sorry, ok?? Sorry!) and Do You Hear the People Sing? Oh man, that one times a million.

Brittany: What is the scariest thing you've ever done for fun?

Kristen: Oooh. I've done a lot of scary-fun things in the name of book research. I've taken sailing lessons (sailing is HARD, btw), and ridden on a motorcycle. I've gone on a 3rd shift ridealong with the cops which involved breaking and entering calls and zipping 115 mph down surface streets. All of these things have helped inform different parts of my stories, and hopefully helped to make them more authentic. 

Brittany: What kind of research, if any, did you do in order to write Metaltown

Kristen: I did a ton of research on sweatshop labor and US labor practices, as well as the history of labor unions. I listened to the Les Mis soundtrack a lot. I also talked to some scientist types on how to make bombs, because the characters in the story work in a factory making parts for bombs. I had to get the chemical combinations right, as well as the side effects for people exposed to those chemicals (which is what sets off the chain reaction and causes the strike - or press - at the factory in METALTOWN). A lot of the homeless issues and scenes that arise in the book come from my experience as a social worker and mental health therapist - I did that before writing books full time.

Brittany: What is weirdest thing you've ever had to Google while researching for a project? 

Kristen: Haha. My husband always says I'm one Google search away from an FBI warrant. Probably how to make a pipe bomb.

Brittany: Who was your very first OTP? 

Kristen: Definitely me and Han Solo. Or me and the beast from Beauty and the Beast, which was admittedly confusing on many levels. 

Brittany: What would make you DNF a book? 

Kristen: Well, I never like to say I DNF a book because I know how hard someone's worked to put it together, but that said, I will always be a social worker/mental health therapist at heart, and books that don't address mental health issues with appropriate sensitivity or research are tough for me. That said, everyone's take on these things are different, so I try to see it from the author's perspective. There are so many really good books out there right now featuring mental health issues. It's beautiful for raising awareness and challenging stigma.

Brittany: What's next for you? Can you tell us anything about your next project? 

Kristen: Yes! I'm currently working on edits for my 2018 book, BLOOD AND TAR, which involves the president's son, a girl who lives on a heap of trash and makes a living selling junk, and a kidnapping. Oh, and kissing (obviously). I hope you all LOVE it! 

Brittany: Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing! I'm all for the kissing xD I can't wait to read it! Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Kristen <3

Kristen: Thanks again for having me, Brittany! I'm delighted to be on your blog! 

Brittany: I hope you guys enjoyed our interview! Be sure to enter the giveaway below ^_^

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Woot, I got this book in a subscription box I received last month! Great interview :D

  2. I have this book on my TBR and hope to read it yet this year. I love the research this author did for this book and it sounds like her husband and my husband have similar senses of humor.

  3. I have not read Metaltown but I have been recommended to read it!! It really sounds fantastic and I loved her first trilogy. I cannot wait to read it!

  4. Great interview! This book is going in my tbr!

  5. Actually, until I read this post, I wasn't sure if I'd read this one or not. I really liked The Glass Arrow, but the cover and title of this one made me think it was a SteamPunk story, which I don't really enjoy. But reading more about the story made me think it wasn't really steam punk, and so I definitely want to read it now. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. It really isn't a steampunk story, in my opinion. I highly recommend this book and I think you'll enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I've seen it around and was planning on adding it to my TBR. This giveaway reminded me to do so :) thank you!

    1. That's awesome! You won't regret that decision, believe me! Thanks for stopping by ^_^

  7. I was just watching Les Mis yesterday and Eponine is honestly the best character ever created. I am SO stoked for Blood and Tar! I have a feeling it's going to be too timely.

  8. Great interview! I'm even more excited to read this book than I already was. Thanks for the giveaway too :)

  9. This book sounds so different to anything I've read recently, and it's great to hear more about what goes into making a story. Thanks for the interview & the giveaway

    1. I highly recommend this great book! It's sooo good. I also love what goes into making the story! Thanks for stopping by and good luck on the giveaway ^_^

  10. Lovely interview post Brittany :D I adore Kristen. <3 Sadly, did not love this book, but love the interview :) Hugs.

  11. Great interview really! I adore her. I saw her in a movie when watching on but can't remember exactly which one.

  12. Your article is well written sir. I suggest you Bemovies to watch full free movies and tv shows. I'm using it for 2 weeks and never disappoints me. Enjoy.