An Outcast and an Ally (A Soldier and a Liar #2) by Caitlin Lochner
Published by: Swoon Reads | Publication date: April 21st 2020
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Dark secrets and conflicting loyalties abound as four superpowered teens are torn apart by war in Caitlin Lochner’s An Outcast and an Ally, the epic YA sequel to A Soldier and a Liar.
Lai, Jay, Al, and Erik are on the run after the military accuses them of being traitors. Tensions between everyone are high, but they have to stick together if they want to survive. And somehow stop the war that’s now in full swing.
But when Erik returns to the rebels to find answers about his past, Lai, Al, and Jay have no choice but to go to the Order―a peace coalition bent on stopping the rebels and dissolving the enmity between gifted and ungifted. However, the longer the war drags on, the more Lai’s long-kept secrets threaten to destroy everything she’s ever worked for. Sparks fly as the team constantly questions whether they can trust one another and everyone tries to navigate a war that will change everything.
Filled with the same high-stakes superpowered action and complex relationships as A Soldier and A Liar, Caitlin’s first book, An Outcast and an Ally brings this story to a dramatic and satisfying close.
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Q.: How do you get inspiration for your stories? What steps do you then formulate to cause it to “all come together”?
A.: It really varies! Sometimes inspiration comes from media I’m consuming that does A Thing I really love and want to try writing with my own spin on it. A Soldier and a Liar’s conception was like that; I watched a superhero movie and wanted to write about people with powers, only, with a focus on them being more morally gray than heroic. Sometimes it’s a random phrase I read or hear that I think sounds like it could become an interesting concept. For example, I recently wrote down “fishing for ghosts” after a friend said it in conversation, thinking it’d be a cool story idea to have a character literally fishing for ghosts.
But more often than not, I don’t really get inspiration. I get intense urges to write. And then I sit down in front of a blank document and don’t know what to write. So I make a list of tropes I love and if I still don’t have any ideas, I think of my favorite stories and just start writing random things that come to mind until I stumble on something I like. It’s an imprecise process that often takes a few stabs/sessions before I discover something worthwhile enough to write about.
This is actually what I did for my most recent project I’m working on. Once I have my general concept (for example, “A mismatched crew of outcasts goes on a quest to find a missing princess”), my next step will vary depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes I’ll write snippets of conversations or interactions between characters, trying to flesh them out and figure out their dynamics. I’ll often make lists of scenes I want to happen, vague overall plot ideas, character motivations, world-building details, or anything in between that I’m thinking of incorporating in the story. This is all very messy and may or may not be used later. Sometimes this step doesn’t even happen and I have a good enough idea of what I want to do that I go straight to outlining.
I didn’t use to outline, but now I can’t seem to write coherently without one! Again, this stage can vary. Sometimes I start with an overall plot summary. Sometimes I go straight into making my chapter-by-chapter outline, which is the final form I use throughout my drafting process. The outline changes a lot during the drafting process, so even once I have a completed version of it, I’m constantly updating and revising it as I write. But even if I know it’s going to be very different by the end of the first draft, it’s still an incredibly useful guide to have as I’m writing. I have a bad tendency of forgetting things I’ve already written, so it allows me to quickly glance back and remind myself of what’s happened. And it reminds me of all the things that still need to happen in order to get to the end of the story in a realistic way. Otherwise, my story starts to wander and feel directionless, losing tension and usually meaning I’ll have to go back and cut a ton of writing from the draft.
That’s generally how my inspiration to complete first draft process goes! I think different things work for different writers, but I’ve found directing myself and making guides has really helped me out a lot over the years. Then there are always revisions to worry about, but that’s a whole other beast!
I’m a nerd, traveler, and architecture enthusiast who worked as an assistant English teacher in Tokyo for three years before pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida. I love reading and writing anything with magic, adventure, and complex found-family relationships. I can typically be found absorbed in books, games, or manga, or else obsessing over said books, games, and manga.
Author links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram |
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