Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The best part about I&I posts? Writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want: their new book, series or career as a whole.

We are delighted to have author Sherri L. Smith as our guest! Sherri is the author of Flygirl, an award-winning historical YA novel about a young black woman’s dream to fly during WWII, and today she is here to talk about her newest book. Orleans paints a dystopian future in which Louisiana and other low-lying gulf states have been devastated by hurricanes, rising waters, and a deadly epidemic, Delta Fever.

Sherri L Smith Orleans

Here to talk about the inspiration for Orleans, please give it up for Sherri, everyone!

Before I do anything else, let me say how awesome you guys are. I covet your banner—in all its James Jeans/Tara McPhersonesque glory (kudos to Ms. Pytyck for making it both yours and yet all her own!)—and the fact that you embrace all thinks pop geek. I’m a huge nerd without any female peers when I was a teen, so it’s good to see the love is happening for the next generation (see, nerd reference)!

And now for a non-sequiter: When I was a kid, my brother and I would beg our parents to take us out for Chinese food. To us, it was the most delicious cuisine in the world. But it was reserved for special occasions, and we’d usually end up eating at home instead. So, we came up with the sort of solution that makes sense when you’re seven—we would turn our mom’s food into Chinese food. As far as we could tell, Chinese was a blend of meats and veggies in different sauces. So we would chop up all of our chicken or beef and roll into the mashed potatoes and frozen corn on our plates. It didn’t taste right, which we blamed on a lack of soy sauce. It didn’t look right either, but we ate it and dreamed.

Writing is like making Chinese food out of mashed potatoes. There are all of these ingredients you chop up and mix together to make something succulent. The difference is writing is alchemy. It transforms every ingredient into something delicious. A trick I never managed, on the plate or on the page when I was seven (although mashed potatoes mixed with corn and peas truly is delicious).

So, here is a list of some of the things that drifted through the transom of my mind while working on Orleans, in no particular order. This book took me three years to write, so it’s been a long journey. I went to go back to some of my notes and journals while putting this together and was surprised to see how many ideas I’d forgotten the genesis of along the way. (I suppose that was where the alchemy stepped in and transformed the ideas into story.) I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has read the book—do you recognize any of these threads in the final work?

I Am Legend Dune (Frank Herbert)

  1. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (and the Omega Man and the Will Smith movies)
  2. Dune by Frank Herbert (and David Lynch’s movie, to an extent)
  3. Snow White, the Brothers Grimm version
  4. Hansel and Gretel, the Brothers Grimm version
  5. The Wizard of Oz the 1939 classic
  6. Escape from New York Wizard of Oz (Original Poster)

  7. Escape from New York (Which I actually hadn’t seen until I started working on this book. But hey, who doesn’t love Kurt Russell?)
  8. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (I love his grasp on the architecture of his city and the depth of his myths.)
  9. The Bible
  10. Children at War by P.W. Singer – about child soldiers around the world
  11. The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock
  12. Myth of Sumerian goddess Inanna
  13. Baba Yaga
  14. Artful Dodger
  15. Children at War The Heroine's Journey

  16. Rwandan genocide
  17. The Tuskegee Experiment
  18. Hurricane Katrina
  19. My mother
  20. New Orleans
  21. Mardi Gras
  22. A little herb shack on Whidbey Island, WA – I was in residence at Hedgebrook writing retreat and I walked past it on the way into town and the name stuck in my head. “Mama” or “Mother” must be in the name, because lead me to the idea of a hedge witch, or a voodooienne, which lead me to Mama Gentille. The birds rustling in the tall grass on that walk made me think of feral children, and thus another element was born.

About the Author:

Sherri L. Smith has written several award-winning novels for young adults. Flygirl (2010) won the California Book Award, was a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and has received fourteen State Award nominations. She lives near Los Angeles. For more information, visit her website at www.sherrilsmith.com or her blog, The Middle Hundred. She can be found on Twitter @Sherri_L_Smith.

About the Blog Tour:

The next stop on the tour is over at Charlotte’s Library. Make sure to check it out, plus these other stops on the tour for other giveaway chances, posts, and reviews!

Monday, March 4 – The Compulsive Reader
Tuesday, March 5 – The Story Siren
Wednesday, March 6 – The OWL for YA
Thursday, March 7** – GreenBeanTeenQueen
Friday, March 8 – I Read Banned Books
Monday, March 11 – Poisoned Rationality
Tuesday, March 12 – The Book Smugglers
Wednesday, March 13 – Charlotte’s Library
Thursday, March 14 – Literary Escapism
Friday, March 15 – Cari’s Book Blog
Friday, March 29 – A.L. Davroe

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Delta Relief Package photo

We have ONE prize pack up for grabs as part of the official Orleans blog tour. One lucky winner will receive a Delta Relief Kit, complete with a signed ARC, a blood type ID dog tag, a glow stick, and the ever-crucial Snickers bar—everything you need to navigate Orleans, at least from the comfort of your armchair! The giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will run until Sunday March 17 at 12:01am EST. To enter, use the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you, Sherri! And make sure to stick around today for our review of Orleans.

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52 Responses to Orleans Blog Tour (& Giveaway): Sherri L. Smith on Inspirations & Influences

  1. Allison says:

    Oh, it has definitely got to be The Stand

  2. Tim R says:

    I’m going to pick A Canticle for Leibowitz, I think.

  3. It’s tough to pick one favorite, but I think I’ll go with Pure by Julianna Baggott.

  4. April says:

    I liked Ariel by Stephen Boyett and of course A Canticle for Liebowitz. I know there are others but those are the first that came to mind.

  5. Linda W says:

    I have to go with Stephen King’s The Stand as well.

  6. Emilia says:

    I’m not a huge post-apocalyptic fan, as it can sometimes be depressing. But I do enjoy Margaret Atwood’s books.

    I think this book about NOLA sounds interesting!

  7. erinf1 says:

    Thanks for the great post and giveaway! Congrats to Sherri on her new release! This sounds awesome!!! I really enjoyed Divergent/Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

  8. Lexi says:

    That is a hard one. Does Ship breaker count?

  9. Marg K. says:

    One of my favorite post-apocalyptic books that springs to mind is Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. I’d have to say that World War Z was probably my favourite post-apocalyptic book because of the spot-on social commentary. I think Max Brooks is a total genius (and he gets bonus points for being the son of my fav director, Mel Brooks!). I’m super excited about Orleans and I can’t wait to read it!

  11. de Pizan says:

    Emergence by David Palmer

  12. Allison and Linda W– thank you for reminding me! Stephen King’s THE STAND was definitely an influence. I modeled the BEFORE section on his spread of Captain Trips. See? Too many things to rememeber!

    Ana and Thea – Thank you for the trip down memory lane (sorry about the pot holes!), and for making the post look so great! Seeing book covers and movie posters is like seeing old friends.

  13. Tamara says:

    I have to say World War Z, I really loved that book.

  14. Imane says:

    i really enjoyed ashes ashes

  15. Kaethe says:

    In addition to those mentioned above, I’m going to offer up The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Good Omens as the two funniest apocalyptic books there are, and Death From the Skies for a serious look at earth-destroying events.

  16. Mary Anne says:

    Emma Bull’s “Bone Dance”. I’ve read it way too many times. ANd maybe I’m due to read it again…I’m getting the yen.

  17. Kate K.F. says:

    I don’t read that many post-apocalyptic books, but recently read Ship Breaker for the first time and enjoyed it. Though if the Borderlands’ series counts as it does have some post-apocalyptic vibes especially in the early ones then that. Nevernever and Elsewhere in particular.

  18. Barbara Elness says:

    Although it’s tempting to list I Am Legend because it’s a favorite, I’ll go with Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield because I’ve read it more recently and loved it.

  19. Hannah H says:

    Hmm. I don’t read that many post-apocalyptic books (I prefer the ones where the apocalypse is slowly happening during the book!). I do, however, love folk stories about the end of the world. I’ve read Revelations for fun and loved the twisted symbolism running through it, I’ve read a story about Coyote leaving the world, but my favorite ever are the stories about Ragnarok.
    …I read over this and realized that I was not, as my teacher would put it, Aing the P. (Answering the Prompt). Oh, well!

  20. Wendylp says:

    The Stand, because its the stand

  21. scribe k. says:

    THIS IS NOT A TEST!!!

  22. jenmitch says:

    orleans looks so good! can’t wait to read it!

    i’m feeling like a broken record, because i always answer that my fave apocalyptic book is the road by cormac mccarthy.

    ship breaker and the drowned cities by bacigalupi and WWZ by brooks are also close seconds :)

  23. Serena says:

    I loved The Road.

  24. LisaC says:

    I still like The Terminator. Arnold IRL, not so much.

  25. Shaleena Barker says:

    I don’t think this book classifies as dystopian but its definitely post-apocalyptic, Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew it series. It’s amazing.

  26. Megan says:

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I Am Legend. :D

  27. Jayden says:

    Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.

  28. Grafton says:

    Water World

  29. Alison C says:

    The Passage & The Twelve by Justin Cronin

  30. Kelley B says:

    I’m obsessed with The Walking Dead currently. I also really enjoyed Kresley Cole’s first real foray into YA Poison Princess.

  31. Ruby says:

    I really enjoyed Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari.

  32. Jamie says:

    I love the genre too much to pick a favorite, by most recent favorite was Blood Red Road. I’ve had it for less than a year and reread it four or five times already.

  33. Paige says:

    I guess I haven’t read that many post-apocalyptic books, so it’ll be Hitchhiker’s Guide for me…but Orleans sounds wonderful!

  34. Anna says:

    Post-apocalyptic favorite…I think it might be Shipbreaker. And look, it’s also (sorta) set in New Orleans. Orleans looks really awesome (and Fly Girl was wonderful too, read that a few years ago, really makes me excited to read Orleans); thank you for doing a giveaway!

  35. Lauren says:

    I think I’m going to have to go with The Walking Dead, which my husband and I just started watching. Zombies never scared me before, but this show really makes you feel the horror, terror and desperation of a world overrun by zombies. Not a great show to watch just before bedtime (or while eating red velvet cupcakes…)

  36. Superbwg says:

    I am liking the Deadflesh trilogy, mostley because it is a combination of post apocolyptic, zombies and the idea that people just want to go back to how it was. I like the Uglies series because it shows how much freedom a society may be willing to give up to not go back to the end of the world, and the hunger games was a good read, if a bit implausible

  37. Beth E says:

    I so would love a copy of Orleans!! I would love to spotlight it on my blog!! :)

  38. Lillian says:

    I really enjoyed Ship Breaker, great dystopian novel. Orleans sounds terrific!

  39. Elisquared says:

    Okay, I actually have an answer for all three of those categories:
    Book – Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
    Movie – The Day After Tomorrow
    TV – Dark Angel

    Thanks for the giveaway! I can’t wait to add this to my Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian collection!

  40. claire says:

    It is hard to narrow it down: Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower and Robert Merle, malevil (and Louise Lawrence, Children of the Dust)!

  41. Maggie says:

    This book sounds really amazing! I can’t really decide as far as post-apocalyptic- I really love The Stand, but Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is also pretty near and dear to my heart, even though it was immensely upsetting.

    Also this is random as hell, but I absolutely love this blog. With my first comment, this seemed like a good place to say it.

  42. Ray Pratt says:

    It has to be a 3-way tie between Earth Abides, The Stand, and Swan’s Song.

  43. jennie says:

    For me, it’s got to be Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler; Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It series is a close second.

  44. Lindsey Connell says:

    I recently read Monument 14 by: Emmy Laybourne. I would consider it one of my favorite end of the world books! :)

  45. Victoria Zumbrum says:

    The Stand by Stephen King.

  46. Andrea Egbert says:

    I really liked Life as We Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It was possibly the most believable apocalyptic novel I’ve read. But I also liked Divergent!

  47. jlee says:

    Brave New World

  48. LiLi says:

    Blood Red Road by Moira Young

  49. Angela says:

    I would say Blood Red Road.

  50. I loved Poison Princess by Kresley Cole! Can’t wait for Endless Knight! :D

    Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  51. My partner and I stumbled over here by a different web address and thought I might as well check thi

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