Behind the Book

Behind the Book:
Wither by Lauren DeStefano

 The story behind the story for Wither is . . . there isn’t one. I was holed up in bed with the flu when I started writing it, and as the sniffles and coughs subsided, I may have called out of work sick for the rest of the month so that I could keep writing uninterrupted. The more I wrote, the more Rhine’s world appeared around me, and before I knew it, I had a first draft in less than a month. I didn’t write Wither to stress the pros or cons of genetic research and engineering, nor did I write it to highlight the issue of human trafficking, or to put polygamy into a favorable or unfavorable spotlight. The truth is that when I started writing this story, I didn’t know who Rhine was or where she was headed—or even that her name was Rhine; when I opened my word document and started typing, all I really knew was that she was a girl in a very dark place, and she was scared. The rest all sort of fell into place as I went along. There are three female leads in this story: Rhine, who is the protagonist, and her two sister wives, Jenna and Cecily. Each girl exemplified something different about Wither’s world—I won’t go into that, as I don’t want to spoil the story. And while each girl proves something different, my intention was only to write believable, human characters. They may not always be likeable, and they’re certainly flawed, but I wanted to be sure their behaviors and actions were a reasonable result of the world and time period in which they lived. I’m very character-driven, and I let my characters guide me, rather than me trying to guide them. I wrote this story with no ulterior agenda, and it wasn’t exactly inspired by any specific current-world events, although I am a fan of daydreaming “what if” scenarios while watching the evening news, and who knows what kind of long-term effect that’s had on my brain. I can imagine, with science always moving forward, and with the objectification of women still being a not-quite-extinct societal issue, that Wither will cause readers to consider a lot of issues, ask a lot of questions, maybe incite some outrage here and there. But, at its core, and at its origin, I wrote this story to be just that: a story. And I’m excited to see what comes of it. - Lauren DeStefano