Joelle Charbonneau on What Makes TIME BOMB Tick

Joelle Charbonneau knows a thing or two about a good thriller—we're still reeling after the ending of the Testing trilogy, and that was years ago. True to form, her new YA release, Time Bomb, offers thrills aplenty. But Charbonneau also weaves in provocative narrative themes around the destructive power of assumption and how there can be much more to a person than what meets the eye. The author is visiting us for a special in-store event on March 20. Before she comes, check out our exclusive Q&A below—and don't forget to preorder Time Bomb from our website. Once you get your hands on it, you won't be able to put it down.

We're so excited to see you again in Houston! For our readers who aren't familiar with you, can you tell us a bit about you and your books?

I am so delighted to be coming back to Blue Willow.  Let's see—I'm an opera singer/music theater girl turned writer who loves TexMex food and baseball. Go Cubs! I tend to write in a wide range of young adult sub-genres—science fiction, contemporary and fantasy.  But all of my books are thrillers that will hopefully make you have to turn the page so you can find out what happens next.

What was the particular inspiration for Time Bomb?

Time Bomb was inspired by two things. I was struck two years ago by the way the news media covered certain events in our country and how easily some people who committed terrible acts were immediately deemed "evil" while others were categorized as troubled. The act of journalists and those on social media automatically jumping to conclusions about those people bothered me a great deal. Meanwhile, I was traveling around the country talking to students, which is the very best part of my job. I was lucky enough to meet several really special teens who opened up about how they are often viewed as 'different' than other kids at their schools and how they dealt with being judged or how the worry about being judged often changed the way they thought about themselves. Using those two inspirations, I decided to write Time Bomb as an effort to explore how easy it is to judge one another by what we see on the surface and how everyone is more than what we see every day.

We've had the immense pleasure of hearing you sing. Are you still able to work as a vocal coach or have you moved fully into the writing realm?

Well, I'm delighted you think it was a pleasure to hear me sing. Thank you! And technically I am now firmly in the writing realm for my career, but I still have a few students who use me as their coach and their industry phone a friend. Which is wonderful because teaching is something I love and I am grateful to still be part of their journey.

How does your musical background and skill influence your writing? Do you have certain music playing while you write? Do you have specific playlists for your books?

Well, my theatrical background certainly makes me very aware of pacing and character as I write. After all, if a show drags in the middle and the characters are boring, the audience might never come back after intermission. But because I am a music and theater girl, I have found that I can't listen to music when I write. If I have music on, I stop and listen and break out into song, which is fun, but not helpful when it comes to productivity. So, my playlist is often whatever is on the TV. I like having background noise and have no problem tuning out whatever is on the screen, much to my husband's dismay.  When he asks for an update on what is happening on a show I always frustrate him by admitting I was focused on my writing and I haven't a clue.

What are you reading?

I was lucky to just finish reading Empress of All Seasons, by Emiko Jean, which will be out in the fall. It is a wonderful Japanese inspired fantasy with shapeshifting and weather magic and the hardest quest of all—learning to accept and embrace who you are meant to be.


Time Bomb Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544416703
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - March 13th, 2018

Seven students trapped in their school after a bomb goes off must fight to survive while also discovering who among them is the bomber in this provocative new thriller from the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing Trilogy. Perfect for fans of This Is Where It Ends. 

A congressman's daughter who has to be perfect.

Dividing Eden Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062453846
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - June 6th, 2017

From the author of the New York Times bestselling The Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

NEED Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544416697
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - November 3rd, 2015

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”
Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises.

The Testing Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544336230
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - January 6th, 2015

It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization.

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