Miranda is a 15-year-old concerned with the usual things a sophomore in high school thinks about like classes, grades, her friends and boys. She barely even notices when people start talking about a meteor on a direct path to hit the moon. After the meteor hits, however, sending the moon off its axis, her world starts to rapidly change. With the tides out of control and weather patterns distorted, basic services start to shut down and only thanks to some fortunate circumstances and fast preparations by her mother, do Miranda and her family stand a chance.
Told through Miranda’s diary entries, she shares her struggle of coping with an unfamiliar life and the her newly arranged priorities in this quiet story that contrasts drastically with what must be the harsher reality of the crumbling world outside her immediate family. The narrative is compelling, particularly as she struggles to gain independence in the increasingly smaller world of her family. The first in a trilogy, this “Moon Saga” will be tough to put down.
About the Author
Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of the YA classic The Year without Michael, the Moon Trilogy and many other books for young people. Determined to become a writer since the first grade, her book Just Morgan was published during her last semester at New York University. She lives in The Town of Wallkill, New York.
Q & A
Where are you from and what was it like growing up there?
I grew up on Long Island in a suburb of New York City. I liked it there. The high school I went to was academically very competitive, and I enjoyed being surrounded by smart people (even if their grades were better than mine).
There were a lot of very rich kids in my high school, but I don’t remember envying them. My parents both liked their jobs and they had a very happy marriage. I had a terrific big brother and a house with room for all of us, and while there were things I wanted that I didn’t get, for the most part I was okay with that.
I was, however, very impatient to be through with school and be a grownup.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer and how did you get started?
I wanted to be a writer from first grade on. My father was a constitutional lawyer, and his first book was published when I was in first grade. I remember looking at the title page and seeing the name Pfeffer and looking on the dedication page and seeing the name Susan, and thinking they both looked really good in print.
I had always been an imaginative kid. I gave personalities to letters and numbers. So in first grade I wrote my first “novel.” It was called Dookie The Cookie and it was four pages long. Dookie escapes from the cookie jar and ends up in the attic where he falls in love with Sally The Scissors. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end, action and characters.
I’ve probably learned a lot about writing since then, but it was definitely a good start.
What kind of research did you do to figure out what effects the moon moving off course would have on the earth?
I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that the moon controls the tides. And I have a basic understanding of gravity, or at least an awareness that gravity exists. So when I was looking for a disaster to use in Life As We Knew It, I was attracted to the idea of moving the moon a bit closer to earth and affecting its gravitational pull.
I don’t remember doing real hard core research. I did talk to my brother about various things that might happen. He mentioned the loss of off shore oil rigs and confirmed the loss of communications satellites.
I was looking for what I call a rolling disaster, where one bad thing leads to another and then another and another. I knew volcanic eruptions could affect the climate, and I figured with famine comes disease.
I have to admit I had a fabulous time ending the world.
What books and authors do you enjoy or find inspiring?
I mostly read non-fiction, which I pick based more on subject matter than author (although there are some writers who I’m pleased to see have written a new book, but then again, they generally pick subjects that are of interest to me).
I guess there were two writers that inspired me. One was a woman named Mary Stolz, who I read when I was a kid, and whose books were so much better than anything else I was reading at the time, that she gave me a glimpse of what my books could be.
The other was my father, who proved to me by example, that I could write books (and who always encouraged me to do so).
What’s your favorite candy?
Cinnamon licorice. I get three packages twice a year at the New Paltz (NY) Crafts Fair and I devour them in no time flat.
What do you like to do for fun?
I waste absurd amounts of time on the Internet. I also love watching movies and figure skating (I go to the occasional figure skating competition). I’m a huge baseball fan and I get the MLB package, so I can see ball games from all the different parks. I talk to my friends and I play with my kitten, Scooter.
Can you give us any hints or spoilers for This World We Live In?
While I was writing Life As We Knew It, I felt certain people would want to know what happened next, but originally my publisher was reluctant for me to write a sequel. So as a compromise, I wrote the dead & the gone, which takes place at the same time as LAWKI (and therefore isn’t a sequel), but uses the same disaster as a backdrop, while focusing on a teenage boy, Alex, and his family in New York City.
Eventually my publisher decided they wanted a sequel after all, so This World We Live In is a sequel to both books. It’s told from Miranda’s point of view, but she gets to meet Alex.
People are just beginning to read it, and it’s very exciting and nerve wracking for me to see what others think. I loved writing all three books and I’m glad to have had a chance to answer my own questions about what became of Miranda, Alex, and their families.