Interview with Bridget Tyler, author of The Pioneer

“I grew up in Berkeley, California in a house filled with books. I started telling stories before I could read, so my mother took dictation until I learned how to turn the words in my head into words on a page. She knew I was going to be a writer when I grew up, but it took me a while to catch up. 

I studied at NYU in New York and London before heading to Hollywood to make my living in the film business. I worked as a feature film development executive until 2008, when I finally realized that it was time to start telling my own stories, in my own words. I called my mother and said, “I think I want to be a writer.”

She said, “I told you so.”

I began my television career on USA Network’s hit show BURN NOTICE. USA then bought and produced my first pilot, HORIZON. Gale Anne Hurd, legendary producer of everything from THE TERMINATOR to THE WALKING DEAD oversaw production. Since then I’ve developed original pilots for networks including AMC, BBC America, Fox, Starz, and Warner Brothers Television. 

THE PIONEER is the story of a young adult adventure story about a young woman struggling to deal with the loss of her beloved big brother while her family struggles to survive on a brand new planet. It will be published by HarperTeen in March of 2019.

These days, I live in Oregon with my husband, a Robotics professor at Oregon State University, and my daughter, a toddler who loves to sing. “

Hello Bridget, welcome to YA SH3LF. Where did your inspiration for The Pioneer come from?

The world of the Pioneer was inspired by the Kepler telescope’s planet hunting mission. We’ve discovered so many planets orbiting so many stars out there, I couldn’t help but imagine what some of them might be like. Joanna, my main character, started as a wish — when I was a kid I was always looking for books like this. Exciting stories with big, interesting worlds and female main characters. Back then, I used to daydream a lot, telling new stories in my head that took place in the worlds of my most beloved books. (nothing has changed, I just got lucky enough to convince someone to publish some of my daydreams) I often had add my own character, because there were no girls in the story for me to pretend to be. So, the Pioneer is the book I wanted to read when I was a kid. Heck, it’s the sort of book I love to read now. It’s exciting. It’s emotional. It has a crazy, open ended world. And it explores what it means to be human and grow up from a female perspective. That said, I haven’t left out my male readers! There are four central male characters, all of whom are really different. One of them actually turned out to be my favorite character in the book, though I can’t tell you ANYTHING about him without super huge spoilers.

How was building the world of The Pioneer?

Complicated, but so much fun! I tried really hard to anchor as much of my world building as I could to science without being too slavish. That meant doing a lot of very cool reading (I heart science, so it’s fun for me to have an excuse to nerd out about faster than light travel and evolutionary biology). I also got to talk to a lot of smart people who generously gave their time and expertise to help me. But once you’ve done all that work, you have to let it go and focus on the story. That means letting a lot of the details fade into the background. I’m just so thankful my amazing editorial team was there to help me figure out which details contribute to the story and which don’t.

If you could spend the day with one of your characters, what would you do?

Go into space! I am mildly obsessed with space and space travel. Joanna, my main character, is a pilot. I would be so thrilled to get the chance to go on a simple delivery run with her, taking supplies or crew from the planet to the starship Pioneer in orbit.

Finally, if your readers had to get one thing out of reading your books, what would you want them to learn?

Something is always going to go wrong. (though hopefully not as dramatically as it does for Joanna and her friends) But you can’t let that stop you. Don’t get hung up on who you thought you’d be or what you thought life would be like – the future is an undiscovered country and we’re all pioneers in it. (which is just a fancy way of saying nobody else knows what the hell they’re doing either) Make good friends and just keep going, even when your plans blow up in your face and it turns out that nothing is as it seems. To quote Dr. Ian Malcom… “Life finds a way.”

Read more about the Pioneer HERE


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