If you're looking for a gobble-up-in-one-sitting-page-turner that will keep you clinging to the edge of your seat, check out The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian. A great mix of action and romance, this suspenseful new adult novel follows Evalyn Ibarra - an accused killer who becomes one of a handful of test subjects that must prove their innocence in an experimental prison. Evalyn is sent the mysterious Compass Room, where she must survive to gain her freedom. This of course proves to be no easy feet, and with the many surprises along the way, you won't be able to put this book down. Promise.
The Wicked We Have Done is available March 18th, and I caught up with author Sarah Harian to get all the details behind her intoxicating debut.
What was the inspiration behind your book The Wicked We Have Done?
I came up with the idea when I was re-watching one of my favorite shows, LOST. All of the characters on that show have some form of darkness in their past that they are running from, and are forced to face it (usually through a supernatural experience) on the island they're stranded on. I loved this idea. The Wicked We Have Done ended up being a much more literal version of this concept.
Also, I grew up in the mountains and I hike a lot. I have a strange fascination with merging wilderness and technology, either making them work together or pitting them against each other. This fascination definitely helped shape the Compass Room in The Wicked We Have Done.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a writer.
I've been writing since I was eight. When I was a kid I was heavily influenced by Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I was pretty nerdy in high school and wrote a lot of fanfiction and played a lot of story-driven video games.
After I started college, I took the goal of becoming a novelist seriously and finished my first book. The thought of making writing a career was really daunting because of how selective and competitive the industry is, but I chose to focus on my craft in school because it was the one thing I cared about actually getting better at. I decided to get my MFA in Creative Writing even though I knew I'd probably be writing commercial speculative fiction for the rest of my life, and I'm really glad I did. The program helped me look at my work more critically. I graduated last year, around the same time that The Wicked We Have Done sold to Penguin.
One of things I love about your book is Evalyn's character. How did she come to life?
Before I wrote the book, I knew that Evalyn's state of mind and her past had to be complicated. I didn't want her to just be a victim, and I wanted her more complex than your typical lovable-but-deviant antihero. While the crimes of the other inmates in the book were mainly triggered by sickness or a need for revenge, Evalyn committed a crime because she was forced to. She takes more responsibility for it than she should, believes wickedness resides inside her, and tries to counter it with selfless deeds throughout the novel. However, often her choices lead to bloodshed in the prison because she's so driven to act immediately in order to save those she cares about.
I also knew I wanted Evalyn to have traits that made her different than a typical young adult or new adult heroine. I was aware of the lack of representation for girls and women who weren't virginal, meeker than their romantic counterparts, lacking in self-confidence, etc. She's not bashful about her body or sexuality. She's brazen and foul-mouthed. She argues and flirts without hesitation. She falls in love quickly not because she's seduced by charm, but because she wants to. I wouldn't consider her a standard role model, but I think that she's real, which in turn makes her a role model, albeit a screwed-up one.
The Wicked We Have Done, falls into the new adult category. What are your hopes for this emerging genre?
I grew up during the Harry Potter-Twilight-Laurie Halse Anderson-John Green boom of young adult fiction. I devoured it when I was a teenager and never stopped. I know a lot of people in their twenties who are the same way. I think that new adult has the capability to be a sort of extension of the YA category--books that are stylistically similar to YA with content geared for a college-aged audience. But this is just my hope for it. New adult is still too young to really know where it's headed.
What is the message (if any) that you want readers to get while reading your book?
I think the message has more to do with the human spirit than anything about society. Like, I'm not trying to use the book to say that I think America is moving in a direction where we could start weeding out psychopathic genes by killing people off. I think the message has to do with considering the complexity of those who are wicked enough to do something like pre-meditate a murder--that they love, grieve, make friends, and fear death like the rest of us.
If you had to describe your book in one word, what would it be?