Today, we interviewed fellow Chicago author Monica Leonelle to promote her newly released novel Socialpunk, the first in her YA cyberpunk trilogy. In addition to Socialpunk, Monica is an accomplished marketer and author of the YA urban fantasy series Seven Halos.
– How did your writing career begin?
Really, it began when I wrote my first novel, about two years ago. That’s when I knew there was nothing else I could do. I’m still a struggling writer in a sense, and I definitely have several side jobs that help me pay my bills. But ultimately, I think of myself as a writer.
– What are some notable influences on your writing?
C.S. Lewis heavily influenced my first novel series, called the Seven Halos series. The first book is Silver Smoke and the second book, Tin Soldier, is out in May. I’ve also been influenced by several young adult authors, including JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater and Suzanne Collins.
– How did you come up with the idea for Socialpunk?
I love social media and digital technology, so the idea formed naturally. I wanted to write a cyberpunk series, and for whatever reason, winters in Chicago remind me of movies like The Matrix and Minority Report. The idea just kind of sprang from the intersection of these topics.
– If Socialpunk was made into a movie, what would your ideal cast be?
Brenda Song would probably be my choice for Ima. Ember is a tall girl, but for some reason I think Kristen Bell could embody her. The guys are more difficult, but maybe Cam Gigandet for Nasser, Hunter Parrish for Dash, Matt Lauria for Vaughn, and Raza Jaffrey for Nahum. Of course, most of those people are television stars, so I probably wouldn’t get any of my choices if there ever was a movie!
– What was your favorite book published in the last year?
I really enjoyed the Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. It’s the second in the series, but it was just so lovely and romantic. I can’t wait for the last book in the Infernal Devices.
– What would be your personal strategy for survival in a dystopian future, zombie infested or otherwise?
Oh geez. Part of me thinks I would be one of the first to die because I’m not super coordinated and would probably have terrible aim with a gun. But I’m such a fighter at the same time, so I probably wouldn’t give up that easily. My strategy would probably involve playing some sort of futuristic dystopian politics game with anyone who was left… I’d try to make them like me so much that they would protect me.
– What is your favorite place to eat in Chicago?
Right now, I am loving Custom House in South Loop. Such good steak. I ate lunch at Mercadito today too, and that is some of the best Mexican in the city. And I’ve eaten a lot of Mexican.