The latest YA craze: ‘Half Bad’ by Sally Green

Sally Green’s book “Half Bad” comes out March 4.
Credit: Mark Allen

Sally Green’s book “Half Bad” isn’t out until next week, but it has already been sold in 45 countries, turned into a trilogy and optioned for a movie being produced by Karen Rosenfelt, who was responsible for “Twilight,” “Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters” and “The Book Thief.” Oh, and it’s her first book.

If you’re already completely over “The Hunger Games” and need something to hold you over until “Divergent” hits theaters, this is it.

“Half Bad” is about a 16-year-old boy named Nathan who lives in a cage and is being trained to kill. Living among humans are witches, some purely good and some horrendously evil, with Nathan’s father being the worst of the worst. To survive, Nathan needs to escape his keepers, find his father and receive three gifts that will bring him his own magical powers.

Bucking the trend of YA novels set in a futuristic dystopian time, “Half Bad” is set in modern-day England. “The book is [dystopian] in a way, but to be honest I never really believed it was going to be published, so my idea was just to write the book I would want to read if I was 15 or 16,” Green tells us. “It wasn’t in my mind about what the market needed or didn’t need.”

Interestingly, when Green began writing she had a very different novel in mind: “Initially, it was a completely different story about a girl who didn’t know she was a witch.” She did, however, always plan on writing a trilogy. ”My original idea was for the White Witches to be assumed good and Black Witches assumed to be bad.

“Originally, I had Nathan living in a White Witch world in book one and you would think the White Witches were going to be good. When you move to book two, the Black Witch world, you see the witches in an entirely new way. And then the third book would tie it all together. But actually, it didn’t work out like that,” Green reveals.

As far as the movie goes, Green guesses the cast will be mostly unknown actors, although she has two dream people in mind: “To play Marcus, I would love George Clooney, but it would be the mean George Clooney, like in ‘From Dusk till Dawn.’ And Gabriel, the Black Witch that appears in the end of the book, is definitely Aidan Turner, who was in the latest ‘Hobbit’ movies. He’s gorgeous,” she says.

Green is at work on the second book, which she says is much more daunting than writing the first. “I didn’t even know the first one was going to be published. I was writing it mainly for myself,” she says. “Now I have a deadline and an audience that I have to keep happy. The blank page in the beginning [for the second book] was a bit nerve-wracking. I was in a bit of a panic to get the first words down,” she says. “After the first 10,000 words, then I relaxed into it.”

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence


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