First Friday Five Favorite Things – Nil

July 7, 2014 | Comment

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by Lynne Matson

This past Friday, July 4, 2014, Marcy and I posted
our answers to Lynne’s debut novel, NIL. We would like to
congratulate Lynne on her debut novel and for providing us with her responses
which will give you terrific insight into her intricate characters.

BIO: Lynne Matson grew up in Georgia in a house full of books and a backyard full of gnarly pines. Back then, Lynne would stay up late, reading Nancy Drew books under the covers (with a flashlight . . . a weak attempt at ninja stealth). Now she still stays up late reading books and writing them. When she doesn’t have a book in her hand, you’ll find her listening to music, messing around with paint, or hanging out with her husband and their four boys. Cookies are her kryptonite, especially Thin Mints.:)

Thank y’all so much for having me! I love the format
of this interview, and the questions!
1) What is your favorite line or
paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character’s development
and/or growth? 

I chose the following paragraph (okay, I cheated,
because it’s actually a few paragraphs :D) from Charley’s point of view.
Charley is the newcomer. She’s still putting the pieces of Nil together, and
the following excerpt shows how she thinks: how she both sees the island and
questions it at the same time . . . even as she struggles to figure the island
out. The following excerpt also highlights the beauty and horror of Nil, a dual
vibe running throughout the novel.

The sun sparkled, rising into a
cloudless sky. The ocean lay ahead, stretching until it met the horizon, blue
kissing blue. Close to shore, the waves broke and retreated. But for the first
time since I’d set foot on Nil, the beach was full of people and activity. A
firepit wafted lazy smoke into the air. Around the fire, kids laughed ad
talked. Two shirtless boys were playing catch with a coconut, their shoulders
and backs rippling under a sheen of sweat. The girl built like a Playboy bunny
was sprinting down the beach beside a tall boy with dreadlocks, like an
advertisement for island athletic wear. Other kids floated on surfboards past
the whitewater. It looked like an island retreat, like the perfect Hawaiian
vacation spot.

Something twanged, like when a violinist
strikes a sour note.

“Natalie,” I said, turning, “where are
the adults? The little kids?”

2) What is your favorite chapter ending
or cliffhanger?

Oh, great question! And tough. :D Probably the very
last one, but since I don’t want to give away the ending, I’m going to pick one
of my absolute favorites from early in the novel. From Charley’s point of view,
and it’s the same one Marcy picked! Why? Because this chapter ending drives
home how surprising Nil is at the most unexpected moments…and how frightening
I took another step and my toe hit
something hard. My sandal caught and stuck. I looked down, and when I realized
what I’d kicked, I screamed. 

It was a human skull.

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Nil has a full cast of secondary characters, and
this question is like asking me to pick among my children!  (I have 4
boys btw…so I know all about large casts of characters. :D)

Rives is one of my absolute favorites. He’s strong,
a Leader-in-waiting, and he’s not only one of Thad’s Second, he’s Thad’s
undisputed wingman, the one Thad trusts most. He’s close to Thad, and Charley,
and he’s clearly the glue of the City in Thad’s wake. Through his relationship
with Talla, the reader learns that Rives is more than he appears, that pain
lurks beneath the easy-going exterior. Plus, he’s got the most international
background of all the teens on Nil, giving Rives depth that Nil barely
scratches the surface of.
Another favorite secondary character? Dex. I love Dex.
How he arrives, and grows as a character. Dex provides much needed humor at
just the right moments. Other faves? Ramia, because she’s creepy and
mysterious. Jason, Li, Natalie….I’ll stop.:)
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of
I have so many! I love the one that y’all both
picked, the one from Thad’s point of view.
Here’s another. From Thad’s point of view as well,
but Charley is the speaker. It captures the tick tock of Nil, the sense that
it’s temporary–that everyone arrives with a personal expiration date already
stamped in invisible-yet-permanent ink. That even though it’s gorgeous, danger
lies beneath Nil’s beauty:

She shook her head. “I’ve never seen
such beauty. The black sand, the Crystal Cove. The Flower Field. Even the red
lava field was beautiful in its own freaky way. But it’s not really real.
Because in three hundred fifty-two days, it will all disappear, right?” Charley
turned to me, and her golden eyes were haunted.

The façade was gone. For Charley, Nil’s
mask had finally cracked, this time for good.

5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

Again, I have many.:) But I’ll pick one where
Natalie, a veteran and former Leader, is talking to Charley in their hut one
night. The dialogue comes in the contest of a conversation about Thad, but the
implications are much broader.

Twisting her covers between her fingers,
she spoke quietly. “I know this sounds old school, but don’t waste a minute.
Not one. Time flies here, faster than you’re ready for. No regrets, okay?”

Time does fly fast on Nil, and the idea of “no
 plays a big role. Time flies fast everywhere, actually. :D

Thank for having me! Welcome to the #NILtribe, Marcy
and Dave!

To read more about Lynn Matson’s debut YA
novel Nil, please go to:
(signed copies):
  Atlantic Beach, FL. (
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