Ben Oliver: 'I'd say the younger generation are inspiring the message of my book rather than me trying to inspire them'
- Julia Kajdi
- 2 April 2020
Debut author of Young Adult sci-fi thriller The Loop talks about his trilogy in the making, a possible TV series and what he reads during self isolation
After putting his first highly anticipated book, The Loop on our spring reading list, we sat down with author Ben Oliver to talk about his inspirations, why he writes YA pieces and whether his first ever published book will be turned into a TV series.
Can you describe the book's premise?
The Loop is a young adult sci-fi thriller set in a young offenders death row in the future and the prison is run by artificial intelligence. We follow the main character Luka who just turned 16, his life inside this prison is quite boring and repetitive until things start going wrong in the outside world and they realise they have to break out from this prison.
How and when did you come up with the idea?
The idea of a person in prison getting a reduced sentence if they take part in a medical or scientific experiment was in my head in some form or another for a good two years before I started writing. It took a long time before the rest of the plot sort of came together in my head and I got all the characters which is strange because usually I just get an idea and start writing but with this one I sort of incubated it in my mind I suppose.
Why Young Adult? Is there a specific message you want to put out for the younger generation?
I write for a kind of age group of maybe 12 upwards because that was when books meant the most to me, when I could really get lost in a story. I guess I'm kind of writing for me when I was about 14 years old; when books meant the most to me. I wouldn't say I'm trying to give any kind of message because I feel like the younger generation is nailing it right now. More just reinforcing what they are already doing, questioning everything, doing the right thing; basically trying to fix the mistakes the older generations have made. So if anything, I'd say they are inspiring the message of my book rather than me trying to inspire them.
Is it true that you named some of your characters based on people that you actually know?
It sort of started off accidentally with my main character, Luka. Once I realised it, I ended up naming a few characters after family members to put little nods towards characters but mostly they are background figures.
But you have no one named Sarah, your wife.
No, not yet. But there's still two more books in the series to come. So maybe there'll be a Sarah in there somewhere.
So is there going to be a sequel?
I've finished the first draft and first round of edits of the second book of The Loop. I knew I wanted it to be more than one book, I kind of thought I wanted it to be a trilogy but I didn't know what books two and three were going to be about. I don't plot, I don't plan out my books, I just start writing. Which I think scares my publishers a little bit. But book two is looking good now, it is probably coming out April 2021 with book three coming out April 2022.