Scott Westerfeld On Secretive Characters And Why Storytelling Is A Superpower

Jul 3, 2017

Scott Westerfeld is a bestselling author of books for both children and adults best known for his young adult series Uglies and Leviathan. While on tour with his new graphic novel Spill Zone, Westerfeld spoke with The Write Up host Owen Egerton about monsters, collaboration, teenagers and storytelling.

Westerfeld’s recent projects have embraced visual storytelling. From the stunning illustrations in the Leviathan series to the Uglies graphic novel adaptations to Spill Zone, Westerfeld says he's learned lessons not only about writing for comics and other visual media, but about writing prose as well. 

“I’ve learned that books breathe better when you vary scale or light between scenes," he says. "And while, in a prose novel, your audience might not see the crowd or the space you've written around your characters, if you do it right they will feel it anyway."

Spill Zone, is the first installment in a new series with artist Alex Puvilland. The graphic novel is set three years after a mysterious event destroys the town of Poughkeepsie and follows Addison and her little sister, Lexa. The narrative revolves around Addison's secret: that she sneaks into the otherworldly Spill Zone to take photos to support herself and her sister. Westerfeld says he's always been drawn to writing characters shrouded in secrecy.

“I love characters with secrets because there’s always something that can go wrong for them," he says. "[There's] always something churning in their head, and it allies the reader with the person with the secret because we're in there with them. We’re keeping the secret with them.”