What if whom you loved, what occupation you pursued and even when you died were all dictated by the government? These are the essential questions behind Ally Condie's dystopian drama "Matched" (released last year) and its follow-up, "Crossed," which hits bookstore shelves today.
In "Matched" we're introduced to 17-year-old Cassia on the eve of her Matching Banquet—a rite of passage in which teens' pre-selected spouses are revealed. Cassia is set up with her long-time neighbor and friend Xander, no doubt a relief for the apprehensive girl. But when a computer glitch momentarily displays the face of "Aberration" Ky (and not boy-next-door Xander) as her match, Cassia begins a journey to find out the truth about The Society that has ruled her every waking moment.
"Crossed" picks up shortly after the end of "Matched," with Cassia roaming unknown lands in search of the boy she loves, with a little help from the boy she's matched with. We hopped on the phone with Ally Condie late last week to talk all about the novel's dual points of view, the new cast of characters we meet and that long-gestating "Matched" film adaptation.
Read the full interview after the jump!
Hollywood Crush: Did you know right away that you'd need to write "Crossed" from both Cassia and Ky's perspectives. Did that pose any challenges?
Ally Condie: I knew right away. I just didn't see how there was any other way to do it geographically. And their experiences were so important. I kind of thought of the first book as Cassia's book and she changes a lot. But this book I always thought of as Ky's book. Cassia is very important; she's still definitely the main character in this series, but this is the book where we finally get to know Ky, and I knew there wasn't any way to do it if it weren't in his mind.
It was challenging. I feel like Ky keeps things close to the vest, even with himself in some ways, so it was kind of hard sometimes to get his voice down on paper and tell me a little bit. Otherwise it was easy. I feel like he's a pretty straightforward guy. Mostly it was just fun to have a new perspective and discover him a little bit.
We meet several new characters in this sequel. What was your inspiration for these key players?
Vick is the first new character we meet, and he's right there on the first page. He more than anyone else I've ever written is based off of people from real life. I thought, Ky has been kind of a follower. He's good at surviving and one reason he's good at that is because he finds the best, smartest person at whatever they're currently doing. He kind of sees this leader and follows him a little bit. But as the book goes on, Vick actually sees Ky as the leader. They're well matched in that way. Vick, I knew, needed to be this sort of person you could throw in a canyon and you'd know he'd survive. My brother's like that. He's a lot younger than I am; he just finished college. He's just that guy. His job is to walk around and assess fish and streams, so he was really the inspiration for this character, as was my brother-in-law who married my younger sister. I knew him in high school too. He was that guy that went out and killed deer and made his own venison.
Indie—I just knew that Cassia would probably not be willing—she wants to find Ky, but I knew it would be good to have someone with her. She's a little nervous about taking on this new experience by herself, but I kind of thought Indie would be her best friend. But as I wrote the book, I never trusted her. So she ended up being a little different than I planned. She's probably one of my favorite characters to write because she's so unpredictable, and I like that a lot.
The main setting of "Crossed" is an expansive, somewhat mysterious canyon, which was inspired by your childhood.
I grew up in southern Utah, which is where everyone comes to film their post-apocalyptic movies. It's just this place that's really beautiful but really stark. And that's just what I grew up doing every weekend. We would go hike the canyon, so it felt really natural to put it there. My dad is the federal magistrate of the parks down there, and it's kind of a great place to hide, too. There's all kinds of crazy stuff happening there. Someone threw drugs into the canyon and they were really hard to find. And then there was this case where a man shot a police officer and ran into the canyon, holed up there forever. If you're in the canyon first, you have this awesome position of defense, even if you're outnumbered. Not to glamorize that or anything, but I thought that's where people would go.
If you had to pick your favorite moment or scene to write in "Crossed," what would it be?
Let's just say the end scene. That one took a lot of work to get right, and it was really fun when it was like, "Oh, yeah, that's it."
Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but how is progress coming on book three?
It is coming along. It is really fun to write. It's really fun to kind of do all the stuff you've been waiting to do, but by the same token, you want everything to come together. So I find myself wanting to get it right. It's time consuming but very fun to do.
Do you have a working title yet?
We don't. We are just out to lunch! [Laughs] We're always brainstorming it. We're a little locked in with the "ed," so we're kind of trying to make something that sounds good with all of that. We're getting closer, but we don't have a final one yet.
Has any forward motion been made on the movie adaptation of "Matched"?
No. Disney optioned it. They hired screenwriters, they're the Mulroneys. I don't know how widely that is known, but it's been out there. They're the husband-and-wife team who wrote, among other things, the second Sherlock Holmes movie. That's as far as we've gotten. I'm really excited about the screenwriters.
How much involvement do you anticipate having with the film?
I'm not sure. It's uncommon for authors to be flying to set all the time, so I don't anticipate that level of involvement. But they've been lovely—the people at Disney and the screenwriters and the producers—about using me as a sounding board.
Will you be picking up "Crossed" today? Are you excited about a potential "Matched" movie? Sound off in the comments and on Twitter!