New Release: The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe – Ally Condie ’17

Who do you become when you have nothing left to lose? There is something Poe Blythe, the seventeen-year-old captain of the Outpost’s last mining ship, wants far more than the gold they tear from the Serpentine River… Revenge. Poe has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who robbed her of everything two years ago. But as she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine and realizes there might be a traitor among her crew, she must also reckon with who she has become, who she wants to be, and the ways love can change and shape you. Even—and especially—when you think all is lost.

Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched trilogy, returns with an intricately crafted and emotionally gripping story of one young woman’s journey to move beyond the grief and anger that control her and find the inner strength to chart her own course.

Hi Ally, and welcome to Wild Things. Can you tell us what was the spark that ignited your new book?

I was on a family vacation in Idaho, driving up a valley near the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains, when I saw a ruined river with a huge, metal dredge (a mining ship) sitting where it had been left to rust and ruin. It was a very end-of-days, Mad Max-looking scenario, especially since the valley was all torn up and wrecked from the dredge. I thought, “What kind of girl would I have captain this kind of ship? What kind of personal experience would have to go through in order to relate to or understand this kind of ruin?” I knew right away it would be a revenge novel, and a romance, and Poe came to me pretty quickly as the right girl for the job.

Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

I write listening to, and I have for years. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the desert and rain was always such an exciting event, or if I just find the sound refreshing, but rainfall=writing to me. Before I write, however, I do listen to songs from the playlist I’ve created for each book. It helps me get into the mood. I love lots of artists—M 83, Selena Gomez’s recent stuff, the Strumbrellas, the Killers, Bruce Springsteen. Give me a good beat and/or a good story in a song, and I’m yours.

Tell us about something special you keep on your desk/wall as you work.

I have a quote on my wall from Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.” It does. It takes courage to put yourself out there, to start with something small and make it bigger—or to start with something big and attempt to capture it. It takes courage to listen to your editor, to sit down and write when you could be hiding instead.

What are your favorite VCFA memories?

I have a lot of amazing VCFA memories that happened in groups—hiking with friends, finding waterfalls, ghost-hunting, listening to my classmates read their work. But one moment that I remember in particular is going on a run by myself through Montpelier and around campus. It was cold, one of those white-and-pink-and-blue Vermont mornings where the trees stand out gray and stark against the hills. I could see my breath—puffs of white, here and then gone. I thought, “I am here, for this moment, and I am so lucky.”

What was special about your VCFA graduating classes?

My class (the Dead Post-It Society) was a gift. I honestly believe that we were all meant to be together at VFCA at that time. We came from around the world, from places as far away as Zimbabwe, and we all had the most varied, interesting stories. Everyone was warm. Everyone was good. We had no drama. We were there for each other, in the moment and in the work, in a way that I think is rare. It’s not something I’ll ever forget, or take for granted.

Thanks, Ally, for sharing your memories of VCFA and telling us about this exciting new book!

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is published by Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House), March 26, 2019.

Ally Condie

Ally Condie is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched trilogy and co-author of the Darkdeep middle grade series. She is also the author of the novel Summerlost, an Edgar Award Finalist. A former English teacher, Ally lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She has an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is the founder and director of the nonprofit WriteOut Foundation. Ally graduated VCFA in July 2017, and is a VERY proud member of the Dead Post-It Society! 〉 (the non-profit writing camp for kids that Ally runs in June every year)