'Twilight' star Peter Facinelli talks co-writing new YA novel -- EXCLUSIVE

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Actor Peter Facinelli — better known to Twihards as vampire patriarch Dr. Carlisle Cullen — is joining the YA craze.

Facinelli has teamed up with author Barry Lyga and producer Rob DeFranco to pen After the Red Rain, a young adult novel set in a dystopian future about a boy named Rose (more on that below) who discovers inhuman powers. Those inhuman powers don’t make Rose a glittering vampire who battles wolves, but he does battle to save a ruined planet with his only friend Deirdre.

In an exclusive email interview with EW, Facinelli talked the trio’s collaborative writing process, his take on the genre, and why they chose the name “Rose” for their hero.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off — why YA?
PETER FACINELLI: We didn’t specifically choose the YA genre. The story is what came first. And it felt like the YA market lent itself the best for the story we wanted to tell. We felt like our story had something to say to the YA market because the characters themselves were young adults.

What inspired you to go into writing?
I love storytelling. Being an actor is a form of telling stories through characters. As a writer I get the opportunity to create the entire world that all the characters live in as opposed to focusing on one character or one part of the story. I enjoy being able to create and manipulate characters and events in order to tell a whole story. I have written two film scripts, but I have not tackled a novel before.

What was it like writing a novel with two other authors?
The task of writing a novel was overwhelming at first, and I am happy that I get to collaborate with Barry Lyga and Rob DeFranco. It makes the process less daunting when you get to bounce ideas off of others you respect, and Rob and I both feel very fortunate to work alongside Barry who has experience in this form of storytelling.

How does collaborating work between the three of you?
When writing with partners it’s important that someone takes the lead. Since Barry has the most experience in writing a novel and it is his forte, we tend to talk a lot about the story and let Barry take point creating the voices of the characters. We comb through the chapters as a team and weigh in giving notes and shaping the story. When you have a team that clicks like the three of us, it’s easier since we all see the same story. There are no egos involved. Just configuring the best way to tell the story. Since this is a collaboration, I respect that Barry and Rob both have different writing styles so I find it’s important to allow everyone to have their process in order to collaborate.

Did your experience working on Twilight contribute to your writing process at all?
I really don’t think of Twilight when working on our book. After the Red Rain is its own tale, and there really is no formula to copy the success of Twilight. Rob, Barry and I really just focus on our story and hope that the YA fans who will read the book, whether they are Twilight fans, Barry Lyga fans, or new YA readers, like the story we are telling.

The book is set on an Earth that’s overrun by 50 billion people and in danger of collapse. Why did you choose a dystopian setting?
It wasn’t so much that we chose a dystopian setting; it is integral to the story. The effects of over-population become a significant force in our story, and the challenges to deal with it from a personal and governmental level push our two main characters together.

How did you choose the names for the protagonists? “Rose” is admittedly a strange name for a boy.
It is. He is a different boy, very vulnerable in some aspects, but with a strong purpose and understanding. It is that combination of strong and weak in one person that is embodied in his name. Like all of us, he desires to find his true purpose in life, despite not knowing exactly who he is and where he comes from. He is confident but inside him he needs to come to terms with his obvious differences and understand if finding out his history will help him.

Is there anything you can tell me about his powers?
There is an element and inspiration from the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue.”

Going forward, will you be turning this into a series?
Sure, we have thought of a series of three books, but we are focused right now on finishing the first. Because we are writing it in collaboration, it takes you in many different directions, which can affect how the second and third would look.

Much of the book’s plot has been kept under wraps. Has anyone other than the three of you read it yet?
So far we have been very discreet about the subject matter. There are many secrets that get unlocked while the story unfolds that we don’t want to give away just yet. But I do have my own YA test group at home. I’ve read some sample chapters to my 10-year-old and 16-year-old daughter. So far I’m getting thumbs up.

After the Red Rain will hit shelves in 2015.


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