After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.
Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.
When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada. Viral Nation is her debut traditionally-published novel.
Where did you get the idea for Viral Nation?
It wasn’t just one idea that came to me. There were several that kind of conglomerated. I had a dream that resulted in the words “time mariner.” I’d known for a long time that I wanted to write a character with autism. The idea for Mango came out of my research about autism. The state of the world around me at the time I was writing Viral Nation, in 2010, had a lot to do with it, too.
Who was your favorite character to develop?
Definitely Clover. I love her so much. I was really worried that people wouldn’t connect with her, so it’s been so satisfying to read reviews and hear from readers that they love her. I also really loved writing Clover and West’s dad, James.
What is your favorite scene or quote?
Viral Nation’s prologue is my favorite chapter of the book. I wrote it for a workshop when I was a student at Goddard College. Everything stems from it.
Are you in the process of writing any other novels?
I am! I’m working on the sequel to Viral Nation, which will release next summer.
Do you have a favorite author, or one that inspires you?
I have so many favorite authors and they all inspire me. Sometimes it feels like whenever a book really captures me, the author is my new favorite! I love Octavia Butler, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Nancy Farmer, George R. R. Martin, Margaret Atwood.
What is your favorite book?
If I had to pick one very favorite, it would be Stephen King’s The Stand. My dad gave it to me for my thirteenth birthday and I’ve read it several times over the last almost 30 years. The world-building, character development, and storytelling are all something I aspire to as a writer.
Dark, white, or milk chocolate?
Milk chocolate—I like it smooth and sweet!
Cats or dogs?
Can I have both?
Coke or Pepsi?
Diet Pepsi, of course!
Morning person or night owl?
Definitely morning person. My brain is mush by the time the sun goes down.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. After those last questions, I really want some dark chocolate and a Dr. Pepper!
Thanks for being here, Shaunta!!