2015 Debut Authors Bash: Interview with Carol Riggs + Giveaway

The Body Instute

Title: The Body Institute
Author: Carol Riggs
Publisher: Entangled Teens
Publishing Date: September 1st 2015

Are we our minds… or our bodies?

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

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Interview with Carol Riggs:

When writing The Body Institute, did you stick to the original plot ideas or figure it out as you went along?

I always outline a rough plot trajectory, a roadmap of sorts. But I keep the journey loose, in order to have room for wiggle-room creativity and those “happy accidents” where the characters say or do something that twists everything into new and exciting directions.

If this were made into a movie (and a very epic move that would be), who would you cast as the main characters?

I’m not up on current movie actors and actresses, but Emily Rudd’s photo looks like I always imagined Morgan (main character) to look except Emily has blue eyes instead of brown. I have no idea if her personality could be like Morgan’s. For Leo (director of the Institute), it’d be fun to have Jason Isaacs but I suppose someone younger would be more accurate. Jude Law? Jake Gyllenhaall? Ioan Gruffudd? Not sure. For Vonn the love interest, maybe Brenton Twaites from The Giver, since sometimes he grins and shows some cute facial dimples.

What did you find most exciting about writing The Body Institute?

The concept itself has intrigued me for a long time, the idea of being in someone else’s shoes—literally—and finding out what her his/life is like. But also because I’ve always been fascinated by Before and After photos and how they relate to weight loss and body image.  

What do you find most exciting about writing generally?

Creation, exercising my creative mind! I love choosing names for my characters, and figuring out their journey. Getting to know them along the way, like friends I’ve just met.

 Who’s your favorite character (in TBI)?

Not surprisingly, my favorite character is the main character, Morgan. Morgan’s heart is kind, even though she makes mistakes. She’s strong, resilient. Brave. She pushes herself into new territories even when it might be risky, because of her love of her family and her desire to help others. She also has integrity, a sense of what is right and fair and just.

What’s your favorite book of all time?

Whoa, that’s a hard one. Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes has always been a fave, since I love his writing style. It’s one of the few books I’ve ever read more than once, along with L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game trilogy, which is like Jumanji with paranormal romance—very cool. For a more recent choice, Maggie Stiefvater’s Ballad and Lament.

What do you do in your spare time?

What spare time? (haha) When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading or going to writing conferences. I love listening to music and watching dance, many different kinds. My hubby and I like to walk but not jog. I’m also an artist, so I could say drawing and painting, but I’ve done more writing than artwork the past few years. I used to do pencil portraits.

If you could live in any book world, which would you pick?

Um…Harry Potter’s, probably. Any other book I can think of would be a terrible, scary place to live. Visiting Diagon Alley would be fun, or popping in to have tea with Mrs. Weasley. Well, as long as Voldemort has already been vanquished!

Will there be a sequel to The Body Institute? If yes, when should we expect it?

If there is a sequel, it would likely release in 2017. I had originally devised a sequel, but before TBI released, Starters by Lissa Price came out, and the plotline was so similar that my agent and I tabled the idea. But lately I’ve been contemplating a sequel IF I can make it different enough from Starters. However, the themes of body image and identity wouldn’t be as much of an issue, which was a lot of the point of TBI…not just the body swapping elements.

What/who motivates you to keep going when you want to give up?

I read and hear about others’ journeys, and see that I’m not alone in the frustration, waiting, and challenges that often come with being an author. Reading well-written and creative novels also inspire me, delving into something by Maggie Stiefvater, Victoria Schwab, Rae Carson, Neil Gaiman, or Laini Taylor.

What’s your favorite quote ?

My favorite inspiring quote is probably Neil Gaiman’s: “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” 


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About the Author:
Caral Riggs
I’m a YA writer represented by Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary. My sci-fi novel THE BODY INSTITUTE explores the themes of society, identity, and body image. I live in the beautiful, green state of Oregon and have a Studio Arts degree; I’m an SCBWI member.

You’ll usually find me in my writing cave, surrounded by my dragon collection and the characters in my head. I also enjoy reading–mostly young adult novels–as well as drawing, painting, and quilting. I also attend writing conferences, walk with my husband, and enjoy music and dance of all kinds.

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