Interview: Neverdying by Shanti Hershenson [Lola Book Tours]

We are pleased to be hosting Neverdying by Shanti Hershenson by Lola Book tours today where we’ll be speaking to the author.

Neverdying is a Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian novel by a fourteen-year-old author.

In a dystopian future where “Immortals” are hunted and exterminated, an immortal and exterminator meet, sending them both in a journey of triumph and sacrifice.

This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours and the tour runs from 10 till 30 October.

About the Book:

  • Title: Neverdying (Neverdying #1)
  • Author: Shanti Hershenson
  • Genre: Sci-fi/ Dystopian
  • Age category: Young Adult
  • Release Date: June 30, 2022
  • Find it at: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookbub

Synopsis:

If you could live forever, would it be a gift… or a disease?

A doctor created a genetic mutation meant as a gift to society—to those at random in future generations who were born with it: Immortality. But the risk of overpopulation and questions rising about the imbalance of only few being Immortals brings the ruthless President Wilde to a different stand—a facade of peace and equality whereas Immortals are executed daily—thus creating the ruination of the United States… and the world soon after.

Scarlett Caldwell is a girl of many mysteries—but along with that, she’s an Immortal. Having run away from a very young age and forced to forget the part of her identity that could get her assassinated, she turns to very few of her friends and spends the majority of her days hiding in the Immortals Legion, a compound for Immortals in hiding. But times are changing and tensions are only growing—Scarlett knows she can’t stay hidden forever. When she encounters an unfairly attractive Exterminator who, despite seeming rigid, has an amusing thing or two to say, she is left absolutely livid. But beyond that, beyond all the parts of him that she hates, there’s a secret. And Scarlett will do anything to unravel it.

Cain Hawkins is an Exterminator, a member of the country’s new authority specially trained to hunt down and exterminate the remaining Immortals. He truly believes that being an Exterminator is what he is meant for—despite what he may or may not know. And when a skirmish with an Immortal on the street leaves him questioning every last bit of himself, he will have to rise to stand with his president and failing country, or run from everything he was conditioned for. Besides, Cain has a secret: He is an Immortal too.

Their first encounter is far from the last, for an opportunity rises for the two to (unwillingly) work together. Already, they are left with a spark—a spark of hope for a future where Immortals are not prosecuted. And no matter if Cain sees the spark or not, the question still remains: How long will it be until a single spark ignites a fire?

TUCK EVERLASTING meets STAR WARS in this compelling and romantic novel by 14-year-old author, Shanti Hershenson.

Interview with Shanti Hershenson

1) You wrote this novel at 14. Was it a challenging fitting time to write around school work and everything else in life? 

I would say that, with this novel, the challenges relating to balancing schoolwork, writing, and everything else were not terribly difficult. While I was writing this book, I was in eighth grade, and the school I was at assigned little homework. I managed to write during my creative writing elective, and then would write at home each day as well. Now that I am in high school, I find myself with more schoolwork, however I am still managing to keep on top of things. 

2) When you first started writing, did you ever intend to publish your work or did this decision come after you finished it? 

I had both written and published several novels beforehand, so, because of that, I already had a clear idea that I was going to publish it. I thought at first about publishing it traditionally or through a small press, although as the process continued, I decided that self-publishing was the best route, considering I had had successful releases prior to it. 

3) They say that only 3% of people who start writing a book actually finish it. What would you say was your biggest drive to push forward and complete the novel? 

There were several things that drove me to complete the novel. The first of which was the scenes I had planned that would occur later on in the book; I badly wanted to write them. However, I would have to write the rest of the book in order to reach them. The second thing—and I know it sounds silly—was TikTok. Right when I had first began to write the book, I began to post about it as a part of a very early pre-marketing campaign. Upon posting more and more, many of the videos went viral, and that left me without a choice. I needed to write, edit, and publish the novel. 

4) Let’s talk about the inspiration for the story. Neverdying is a romance novel about an Immortal and an Exterminator. What inspired you to come up with the story? 

Neverdying sprouted from an idea I originally had for a fantasy novel about immortal people and a villain who had the ability to kill them. The original idea I had come up with was quite different than what I ended up doing, and while it was always going to have romance, the two would simply be immortal, and that was that. However, since I had been meaning to write an enemies-to-lovers novel for a while, I ended up making several changes to better fit the plot that was taking shape. The first was that it would take place in a dystopian setting, and rather than a single villain, a government that wanted to get rid of the “Immortals”. The second change I made was that the love interest was going to be an Exterminator… who would later discover that he was an Immortal too (it’s not a spoiler—it’s mentioned in the blurb). While Neverdying is no longer a fantasy novel, nor is it as sad as the original idea I had planned, I definitely prefer it. 

5) Who would you consider to be your biggest inspiration? It can be an author or someone else.

I’ve had different inspirations throughout different periods of my life. In early elementary school, I was inspired by Ursula K. LeGuin and her Catwings series, and as I grew older, I became inspired by Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In middle school, especially when I began to write my first novel, I was inspired by George Lucas (not technically an author, but he created Star Wars), since I was writing Sci-Fi at the time. All in all, it’s quite hard to pick my biggest inspiration, but there are several who have stuck out over the years.

6) What made you decide to write Sci-Fi? What attracted you to this genre?

I’ve always loved Sci-Fi. I was introduced to the genre at a very young age with movies like Star Wars and books like Space Cat. When I was younger, I used to want to be an astronaut or a scientist at JPL. To me, Sci-Fi is a genre that lies between contemporary fiction and fantasy—it has realistic elements, explanations for everything that happens, and is realistic to the point where I could, within reason, imagine it happening in real life. I’ve always been a fan of futuristic technology, and I’ve always been fascinated with space and aliens, so naturally writing about it is something that I enjoy doing.

Excerpt

I discovered I had the disease when I was in the seventh grade, when it was fine to be anything but normal, when people were never checked or hunted, when everything was both at peace and on the brink of chaos.

But mostly, when news of the disease had not yet surfaced on the Web—or anywhere else. 

I discovered there was a problem with my health—if one could even call it that—on what was supposed to be a delightful weekend trip to the mall. We went only because a store or two was on clearance—little did we know, it would close days later due to a mandatory closure caused by… well, me. They don’t know that, though. 

My realization was brought down upon me with the impact of a sports car—a car that moved too fast down the street and did not notice a scrawny twelve-year-old, shopping bags stuffed in each hand, dashing across the scorching asphalt. 

My friends had dispersed and gone their separate ways. I was the only one from our group left at the intersection. I was to be picked up across the street and taken to a home that I cherished. 

A home that I never saw again.

With the excitement of my newest purchases resonating in the form of a laugh spilling from my lips, I began to dash across what I thought to be a desolate road. 

A road that was supposed to be down for construction.

A road that bridged the mall from the upmost parking structure. 

The moment I reached the halfway point on the street, I heard a sound. A grueling, painful sound. Before I could even register the horror I was hearing, I saw it—a fancied, sleek sports car that moved too fast to spot anything in absolute, let alone myself.

And then it happened—the car slammed into my body so quick and painless I thought I was dead. But I wasn’t. 

I tumbled over, scrapes collecting on my skin. There was no pain. There was no blood. There was almost nothing at all. My arms bent in ways I didn’t know were possible, though it did not feel as permanent as one would think. I was dizzy, the sun being the most of my worries. Its rays beat down on my helpless, confused body.

The screams came next—a boundless symphony of sounds that came both from the bewildered onlookers, and, myself, too. I screamed without knowing what I was doing. I screamed because it was horrifying, because a miracle had ensued that, at the time, seemed nothing short of impossible. 

I recall the splintering sound of police cars in the distance, fear building up inside my frame. I sat up, inspecting the tremulous crowd of onlookers with eyes that stung. The police drew closer. The crowd grew tighter. But I was okay. I swore that I was okay and alright, but I didn’t feel that way. 

I was horrified for reasons I couldn’t begin to dissect. 

The sound hitting my ears suddenly felt thick, as though I were underwater. But I heard the words from the onlookers, from the police—the very people who were supposed to protect me.

Monster.

Witch.

Mutation.

Freak.

And then one, final word that meant hardly anything to me at the time (but would, of course, later).

Immortal

I stood up. I brushed the dust scattered across my sweater which was already stained with sweat. There was no blood, to my further surprise. I did the one thing that would’ve broken the heart of any twelve-year-old—that shattered mine into a million disintegrating pieces. 

I ran. 

I ran from the words, from the thoughts and theories circulating in my brain. 

I ran from the monstrosity of what I felt. From the confusion. 

I ran and hid for the years when things were uncertain, when the buildings transformed and built up, when there were no longer houses and instead apartments and sleek office buildings. I ran when the information about the disease was no longer thought of as a conspiracy theory, but a fact of reality, and when my alleged death was no longer marked as accidental. I ran when I found out there were more of them—of us—when the word disease was associated with one more. 

Immortal.

About the Author

Shanti Hershenson’s first two novellas were published when she was in the sixth grade, although her writing journey started long before then.

Ever since she could hold a pencil, marker, or crayon, she was creating stories.

They started from pictures, mere scribbles, and eventually, turned into captivating tales.

Learn more about Shanti at her Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tiktok

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Neverdying. Five winners each win a paperback copy of Neverdying by Shanti Hershenson (US Only).

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

10 October
– The Fantasy Princess & Instagram thefantasyprincess333 – Excerpt

11 October
– Jazzy Book Reviews & Instagram jazzybookreviews – Excerpt

12 October
– Binding Addiction & Instagram binding_addiction – Promo Only

13 October
– Books Blog & Instagram @sylvdotnet – Promo Only

15 October
– Living in a Bookworld – Excerpt

17 October
– Epic Book Society – Interview and excerpt

20 October
– Bookworm for Kids – Excerpt

22 October
– All the Ups and Downs – Guest Post and Excerpt

26 October
– #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog & Instagram @bookreviewvirginialee – Promo Only

28 October
– Why Not? Because I Said So! & Instagram ssdawn2002 – Review and excerpt

29 October
– Zbestbooks – Excerpt and Interview

30 October
– Instagram @theenchantedshelf – Review

Review after tour
– Bookworm for Kids – Review
– Zbestbooks – Review

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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