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Ask the Author (Almost) Anything: Sherri L. Smith, author of Orleans

Teenscape Department, Central Library,
Part of the logo of Los Angeles Teen Book Fest

Sherri L. Smith will be at Teen Book Fest on Saturday, Oct. 12 moderating the Historical Fiction panel at 11am in Meeting Room A, and on the Other Worlds panel at 2pm in Teen’Scape. Sherri will be signing copies of Orleans at 3:30pm in Meeting Room B.

The picture of Author Sherri L. SmithSherri L. Smith’s latest book, Orleans, is completely different than anything she’s ever written before. We love her thoughtful, realistic stories like Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet and Flygirl, but Orleans is set in a dystopian future where a hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast has been walled off from the rest of the country and a pandemic rages. What sets it apart from other dystopian stories - and makes it recognizable as one of Smith’s books - is how real and eerily possible the whole thing feels.

Book cover of Orleans by Sherri L. SmithThe year is 2056, and the remaining survivors in the Delta are quarantined from the rest of the United States, trapped behind a giant wall. Those who haven’t been killed by Delta Fever are carriers, and they’ve learned to survive by separating themselves into tribes by blood type.

Seventeen-year-old Fen feels as secure as it’s possible to feel under the circumstances until her tribe is ambushed and massacred, and her chief and closest friend, Lydia, dies in childbirth. Fen finds herself alone, and freesteaders don’t live long in the Delta. Especially not when they have transfusion-friendly O-positive blood and are carrying a day-old infant around with them.

With Lydia’s baby tied to her chest in a sling, Fen dodges blood hunters, kidnappers, rival tribes, and blood farms as she tries to find a way to get the baby safely over the Wall while she’s still free of Delta Fever. Then she meets Daniel, a scientist who sneaks into the Delta to try and find a cure for the virus. At first, Daniel seems like more of a hindrance than a help, but Fen soon realizes that they may need each other’s help to survive.

Fen’s voice is amazing, and the action is nonstop in this book. Orleans will keep you glued to the page, and it will make you think, too. We asked Sherri to talk about some of her favorite books and writers - here's what she had to say:

1. If you could have any writer living or dead critique your work, who would it be?

That’s a terrifying question. I suppose Shakespeare would be interesting because we’re worlds apart. I kind of wonder what Virginia Woolf would make of it all, too. And China Mieville. He’s still alive and kicking, so maybe one day I’ll get some feedback!

2. Is there a book you didn't write for which you'd like to write a prequel, spin-off, or sequel?

When I was a freshman in high school, we had to write a final chapter for The Catcher in the Rye. I thought that was a blast. In that vein, I actually am writing an altered version of E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. So, yeah, I’d like to keep that going with a prequel and maybe a sequel, too!

3. What are one or two of the best teen books you've read lately?

The first book that comes to mind is M.T. Anderson’s Feed. It took me years to read it because, for some reason, I always thought it was a vampire book (Yes, I’m too literal… and I read a lot of SF/F Horror). It’s a book I wish I had written in hopes of waking people up to some serious technology-based mental slippage in our society. And then I realized the book had come out nearly a decade before I read it… and here we are today. Texting ourselves into oncoming traffic. Maybe everybody should read it again?


To learn more about Sherri, visit