The Eleventh Plague started with an image: Late at night on a hilltop overlooking the ruins of an old mall, a boy watches his father dig a grave and bury someone that's wrapped in a burlap shroud. The rest of the story was all about answering for myself who the boy was and what would happen to him next. Along the way other images popped to mind. A Mortal Kombat arcade game sitting, nearly pristine, in the middle of a forest. (That one is still in there) A boy and girl bonding over a Marx Brothers movie they watch using a jury-rigged film projector and the side of an old barn. (That one didn’t make it.)
|Published September 1st, 2011 by Scholastic|
Eventually what The Eleventh Plague came to be about is that kid on the hilltop, Stephen Quinn, a 15 year old scavenger growing up in a time after what’s called the Collapse when war and plague have decimated the population and destroyed all we know of as civilization. Stephen’s life is fairly simple. He and his father travel a well worn path, scavenging what they need to survive. They keep to themselves. Stephen does what he’s told. Nothing ever changes.
But after an uncharacteristic act of heroism, Stephen stumbles across a slice of pre-Collapse America in a small town that’s somehow survived hidden out in the ruins. There, he meets Jenny Tan, the beautiful town outcast, and encounters a world comprised of suburban homes, baseball games and schoolhouses, and a kind of stability he’d never imagined before. Soon, he’s also presented with the darker aspects of civilization when he discovers there are some in the town who want to remake the America they once knew, no matter what it takes to get it.
Once the story came together I started to see it as a heightened version of what we all go through as teens. Being a teenager is about transitioning out of a time when you live in your parents’ house and follow your parents’ rules and into one where you have to make your own decisions about how best to confront a world you had no hand in creating. Do you live the life you’re expected to or do you strike out on your own and create something new?
It’s been great to be here. Thanks to Kai and Precious for inviting me to take part. Hope you all enjoy The Eleventh Plague!
Jeff is a writer of Young Adult Fiction living in Astoria, Queens. His first novel -The Eleventh Plague- will be published by Scholastic on September 1, 2011 with the second novel- Magisterium- hot on its heels.
The Eleventh Plague was edited by David Levithan and Cassandra Pelham and blurbed by no less than the bestselling author of The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins:
“With its crumbling Starbucks and rusting theme parks, The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home, vividly depicting a world that has nose-dived into a futuristic nightmare. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn struggles to define his rules of survival in Jeff Hirsch’s excellent, taut debut novel.”
You can find more about Jeff Hirsch by visiting his website: http://www.jeff-hirsch.com
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