METTE JAKOBSEN is originally from Denmark but now resides in Sydney, Australia. She is an adventurer, author and playwright who has a PhD in Creative Writing. Her latest novel Fireflies in Flight is the powerful conclusion to The Snow Journey and draws you back into its dystopian world. Good Reading for Young Adults caught up with the author to discuss her new book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The city is in ruins.
Her friends are in mortal danger.
Nothing about being back in the city is easy, but Ally knows that she must find the missing research before ONE does. The Administration has tight control of the capital and there are eyes everywhere.
As tension builds in the city, Ally learns that the go-ahead has already been given to start the deadly experiments on her friends who are still locked up in the Towers.
In a race against time, Ally is forced to risk everything. Will she be able to find the hidden research? Can she get back to the Towers to save her friends before it’s too late?
And can she really trust Josh, the handsome resistance group leader?
MEET METTE JAKOBSEN
As this is a direct sequel to The Snow Laundry, can you give us a quick spoiler-free rundown of the first book?
In The Snow Laundry, my main character, 17-year-old Ally, is one of 400 homeless young people who are forced to work for the Administration.
Instead of making their life better, the Administration keeps them locked them up in a former Hilton hotel, renamed the Towers.
When Ally’s boyfriend Bon vanishes into thin air, her search for him leads her to discovering that her friends in the Towers are really lab rats intended for scientific testing. And as Ally delves deeper into her search for Bon, she learns the frightening truth behind his disappearance.
We’re reunited with Ally again in Fireflies in Flight – what challenges will she face in this new story?
Fireflies in Flight starts with Ally being on the run. She has managed to escape the Towers but is returning to a city in ruins. The Administration has tight control of the capital and there are eyes everywhere.
As tension builds in the city, Ally learns that the go-ahead has been given to start the deadly experiments on her friends who are still locked up in the Towers. And now she’s forced to risk everything to save them. In a race against time, she needs to get back to the Towers before it’s too late.
In this sequel, Ally desperately needs to figure out who she can trust, or if she can trust anyone at all.
What inspired the dystopian setting of your Tower series?
In Fireflies in Flight, Ally hides in an abandoned embassy, and I had great fun describing that cold, derelict space.
I love writing dark settings, and I spent a lot of time looking at images of cold-war concrete buildings. Even before I started the novel, I was obsessed and probably spent far too much time scrolling through images of abandoned buildings.
I’m also fascinated by what is left behind when people are forced to leave their home or work in a hurry. Leftover objects stand out in abandoned spaces and almost take on a character of their own, whether it’s a teacup, a doll, a chandelier, or something else. I was also interested in the usage of abandoned buildings. Who uses them? And why?
This fascination spilled into the way I portrayed the ruined city in Fireflies in Flight.
And then, of course, there is the snow. The Towers series is full of snow, which added a great dose of gloom and darkness to the story, but also, at times, a splash of beauty.
I grew up on a small island in the Baltic Sea and most of my memories are of winter. Snow is second nature to me, and I really enjoyed writing it into the setting of this series.
Who is your favourite character from the first instalment? Or do you have a favourite new character that you’ve introduced in the sequel?
Ally came to me out of the blue, and I immediately loved her resilience and her sense of loyalty towards her friends. She’s without a doubt a fighter, having survived lots of adversity. And I’m a little in love with all her friends – they’re such a great bunch and I could spend time with them forever. Even in the middle of all the dark stuff they’re facing, they still have a sense of humour and often made me laugh as I was writing.
In Fireflies in Flight, I think I love Josh – the resistance group leader that Ally meets – the most. He’s pretty special; funny and smart and a little left of centre. Not to mention handsome.
What was the most enjoyable part of writing this sequel?
I don’t plan ahead when I write and most of the time, I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I was fearing for Ally’s life and on the edge of my seat more times than I can count when writing Fireflies in Flight. This book is definitely scary.
I admit that following my characters into the great unknown rather than planning ahead sounds a little mad but it’s just such an enjoyable way to write.
Another great part of writing this sequel was revisiting the characters after having spent a year with them while working on The Snow Laundry. It was a lot of fun and a great privilege.
What do you hope your readers will take away from this latest novel?
Apart from just enjoying the dark dystopian twists and turns of the novel, I hope readers will take away the idea that there can be resilience and friendship despite adversity. And that you’re able to survive more than you think and still come out on the other side with your heart intact.
How does it feel to be saying goodbye to your series?
I hate it, and wish I could stay with them all forever. Although a third book in the series is not planned, I’m very tempted to write a final instalment just so I can stay with them a little longer.
What are you working on next?
I’m deep into writing a new YA crime series which features three young adults who are working as crime-scene cleaners in a dystopian city. Stay tuned. It’s going to be good.