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Orleans Blog Tour: Sherri L. Smith Interview PLUS Giveaway

I'm excited to welcome author Sherri L. Smith to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Sherri L. Smith has written several award-winning novels for young adults. Flygirl (2010) won the California Book Award, was a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and has received fourteen State Award nominations. She lives near Los Angeles. For more information, visit her website or her blog, The Middle Hundred. She can be found on Twitter @Sherri_L_Smith

Be sure to follow Sherri on her Orleans tour to the next stop at I Read Banned Books.

About Orleans: (From Goodreads) After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

What made you decide to write a novel set in the future?

I guess the devastation left by Katrina had me worried for the future, so it made sense to look ahead. I was weaned on science fiction and I remember my dad always had a copy of Alvin Toffler’s FUTURE SHOCK by his bed. It’s a book about the psychological scars caused by the perception of “too much change in too short a period of time.” I didn’t know that at the time, of course, but my dad talked about what was to come, so it seems like a natural direction to look toward.

Where did you get the inspiration for Orleans?

My mom was a New Orleans native and she was trapped in the house she grew up in during the storm and for a week after. It was hellish, and we had to do all kinds of crazy things to finally get her evacuated. During that time, she reported to me what was happening and I posted on the local newspaper’s website chat room. I also read everything I could about what was going on, trying to find a way to get her some help. There was an article about gangs protecting their turf when the cops had fled, and it struck with me. And then, in the middle of the week, looters gave my mom enough water to make it a few more days. Fortunately, the Coast Guard (of all groups!) helped get her out of the city before that bit of help ran out. It made an impression. A little later, I heard Fen’s voice in my head. And ORLEANS the novel was born.

How did you create the world of Orleans? 

Brick by brick. Seriously, I thought about all of the places I know and love in the city of New Orleans, and where the guide books would tell a tourist to go. Then I imagined how those places would change based on the events in the book. It’s not an exact map of New Orleans, and I’m sure locals might take exception to the condensing and stretching of the landscape, but there are landmarks there:  restaurants, marketplaces, libraries and churches. And a healthy dose of make-believe. Funny how that can make things seem real.

What fictional character would you like to have over for dinner?

On the heels of Orleans, I’d want to have dinner with Fen. Make sure she gets a proper meal and a clean, safe place to sleep for once. Although I suspect it would be rather intimidating. At least until I served my mom’s gumbo. That wins everyone over!

What books are in your to be read pile? 

That’s an embarrassing question. I’ve been trying to read THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS about the African American expansion across the US from the 40s to the 70s, but I keep getting distracted. There’s a book about the young Sherlock Holmes, a manuscript a friend of mine is honing, a book on life in Victorian England, another one about Victorian crime (research… can you tell?), and a few things on my Kindle I can’t even remember. This list would be longer, but I’m just coming off of a month of bed rest courtesy of knee surgery (zombie obstacle course. Zigged when I should have zagged…), so I’ve torn through a giant pile: ROOTLESS by Chris Howard (fantastic!), DARK STAR by Bethany Frenette, CHIME by Franny Billingsley, RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles, and RAIDERS!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock. That last one is fascinating because, not only is it a true story that will make every film geek and Indiana Jones fan swoon, but it’s about a friend of mine. Want a weird experience? Read a biography of someone you know!

Thanks Sherri! 

Sherri has compiled an Orleans survival kit! One lucky winner will receive a Delta Relief Kit, complete with a signed ARC, a blood type ID dog tag, a glow stick, and the ever-crucial Snickers bar—everything you need to navigate ORLEANS, at least from the comfort of your armchair!

To Enter:
-Leave a comment about what candy bar you would put in your relief kit!
-US Address Only
-Ages 13+
-One Entry Per Person
-Contest ends March 14
-Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the giveaway


  1. I just received a copy of this from the publisher along with an author's letter about her inspiration for this book-so interesting to read and it gives me a great perspective as I prepare to read the book itself.

  2. The candy bar in my emergency kit would be a Milky Way. I would be a better survivor if I knew I had a Milky Way on my side.

  3. I would put a Butterfinger in my emergency kit. They are so yummy.

  4. It would have to be something dark chocolate mint (Andes, Peppermint Bark, York Peppermint Patties).

    jbeckstead (at) natronacountylibrary (dot) org

  5. I'd definitely put a Snickers bar in my pack. I've been hearing great things about this book. I'd love to win it.

  6. Yes! Thank you! This group understands how important chocolate is in an emergency. Snickers is my pick because I can always claim there's protein in the peanuts!(I do have a weakness for Andes, JennB, but they just leave me wanting more. Snickers, on the other hand, really DOES satisfy me.)

  7. I would put M&Ms in my emergency relief kit because they would be easier to ration out. I love Sherri Smith's inspiration for Orleans.

  8. It would definitely be a frozen Reese Cup. It's the only way to have one.

  9. My emergency candy bar has always been Butterfinger. Plus, my blood is O pos, bring it on!

  10. Cadbury fruit & nut bar. It's what I used to take backpacking when I was young.

    Can we get Sherri's Mom's Gumbo recipe??????

    I want that book --If I don't win it, I'll buy it.

  11. Although I suppose a Snickers would be more practical (real peanuts!), I would have to put a life saving Reese's Peanut Butter cup inside!

  12. Love Snickers, but I think my first choice would be Hershey's with Almonds. I second the gumbo recipe request. Thanks for the heads up about this novel!

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