Hey guys! Today I’m excited to share with you an interview with Jason Price, author of middle grade sci-fi Pleasant Grove. I posted a review for this book last month, which you can find here and I’m thrilled to by sharing some insight into this story and Jason’s writing process. I hope you enjoy!
What inspired you to write the story?
Pleasant Grove was written for my daughters, who are both in grade school now and fast approaching the age when I first discovered Steven Spielberg’s Amblin films, like E.T. and The Goonies. I wanted them to read a book that captured the same sense of wonder, where ordinary kids went on extraordinary adventures. I couldn’t find a book that fit the bill…so Pleasant Grove was born. The story is also inspired by Rod Serling, whose supernatural tales were often rooted in the ordinary. I grew up in the suburbs and I wanted to reflect those experiences as well. So, while the story pulls from sci-fi and horror, it’s also a meditation on leaving a hometown – what’s gained…and what’s lost. My hope is that Pleasant Grove is enjoyed by middle-graders and the middle-grader at heart.
What was your favourite part of the writing process?
I had a blast building the small town of Pleasant Grove – a community that, in many ways, exists outside of time. It’s an 1850s agricultural community, with an idyllic 1950s suburban design, enclosed by a towering glass dome that might belong in the 2050s – a setting that feels both familiar and foreign, which mirrors the experience of our 12-year-old protagonist Agnes Goodwin, who wonders: What’s outside Pleasant Grove?
What do you think readers will love about this story and the characters?
My favorite sci-fi stories give as much care to the ordinary as the extraordinary. I tried to do the same. I hope readers want to spend time with these characters outside the pages of the book, and the story offers a few hours of escapist fun during these heavy days.
Did you always intend for the book to be middle grade?
The main characters were always going to be 12 years old. It’s when many of us begin finding our place in the world; so it seemed the natural age when Agnes would discover her own sense of agency, asking questions that threaten her entire world. Much like that transformative age, I wanted the story to take the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Finally, how would you find life in Pleasant Grove? Would you be curious to investigate what’s outside the dome?
At 12 years old, I was closer to Maddie. She’s living in a safe, comfortable environment where she’s never in need. She asks Agnes early on, “Why would you want to leave?” Now though, I’m closer to Agnes. At the heart of the story is a quest for knowledge – a quest for truth – and I think that’s a universal longing, whether you’re 12 or 112.
Thank you Jason for stopping by! You can find the book on Amazon UK.