Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Alexandra Monir author of The Final Six (and a giveaway)


the final six

The Final Six

By: Alexandra Monir

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: March 6th, 2018

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

1) THE FINAL SIX is a bit of a departure, genre-wise, from your previous books. What similarities does THE FINAL SIX have to what you’ve previously written? What makes it unique and what made you want to venture into science fiction? Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for THE FINAL SIX?

Yes, this is my first true sci-fi novel! But my debut, the time-travel novel, Timeless, had definite sci-fi elements as well. I think The Final Six and Timeless are similar in that they’re both about normal teens being transported into the most extraordinary circumstances, from going back in time, to training for a mission to Jupiter’s moon. And all five of my books incorporate a love story—I can’t resist a good romance!

What makes The Final Six unique from my other books is that everything, even the most inventive elements of the story, are steeped in science. I’ve always been fascinated by the science behind space travel and life on other planets, so in a lot of ways, this is a book I’ve been gearing up to write since long before I even came up with the idea!

2) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete. What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?

It’s true, a book really transforms over the course of revisions! In this case, one of the biggest changes I made was slowing down the romance a bit. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but there is a love story at the heart of the book, and I spent the last couple drafts fine-tuning it, to make sure the romance is well-earned and that the characters don’t jump in too fast. While I slowed that down, there were other elements in the story that I sped up—like the pacing! My editor suggested cutting a bunch of pages from before the characters arrive at International Space Training Camp, and I think that really added a sense of urgency to the story, and also eliminated any potential filler.

Something else that didn’t make the final cut was a poem I originally wrote to open the book, called the Verse of the Survivors. It didn’t end up fitting with the book as a whole, but I do still love it and hope to share it with readers, maybe on my website at some point!

3) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble? If you could ask a character of your choice from THE FINAL SIX one question what would it be?

My favorite character is Naomi Ardalan, one of the two narrators of the story. She’s the first protagonist I’ve written who shares my Iranian-American heritage, and for that reason, she feels closer to me than any of my other characters. I also love how brilliant and badass she is! The trickiest characters to write were probably Dr. Takumi and General Sokolov, mainly because they serve similar purposes in the story but their characters needed to be clearly defined and different from each other. And if I could ask a character one question, I would probably ask Beckett Wolfe what else he is hiding.

4) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)? Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?

I’m most proud of the action scenes, since this is the first action-oriented novel I’ve written, and I worked hard to make those scenes as breathlessly exciting as possible for the reader. I definitely labored over the virtual reality simulation scenes more than anything else in the book, since it was such a fine balance of including the scientific details but also keeping the pace fast and furious! As far as becoming emotional, I definitely got teary while writing Leo’s opening scene, when he is at his low point, and also while writing a certain couple of scenes at the end—I think you’ll know which I’m referring to when you read!

5) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting THE FINAL SIX? (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, their situation, etc)

  1. The Final Six is set in the near-future, after climate change has destroyed much of Earth. I kept the year vague, so it could be anywhere from five to fifty years from now.
  2. Not only do Naomi and I share an ethnicity, but we both live in L.A. and love to read. Unlike Naomi, though, I am not quite a science or tech genius!
  3. The Final Six has an entirely international cast of characters. The twenty-four finalists at the center of the story represent a wide variety of countries and backgrounds.
  4. The character of Leo Danieli, the male narrator, was partly inspired by my love of Italy. I could see his world so clearly in my mind while writing his character.
  5. If you’re interested in extraterrestrials…this is a book for you!

6) What is next for you? What are your currently working on?

I’m currently writing the sequel to The Final Six, and developing some other projects that I’ll hopefully be sharing with you all very soon!

Iranian-American author and recording artist Alexandra Monir has published five novels for young adults, including her popular debut, Timeless. A Barnes & Noble bestseller and one of Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month,” Timeless and its sequel, Timekeeper, have been featured in numerous media outlets and been published in different countries around the world. She followed the duology with Suspicion and The Girl in the Picture, both standalone YA thrillers. Her upcoming science fiction novel, THE FINAL SIX (March 6, 2018) was acquired by HarperCollins and Sony Pictures on the same week, in two major pre-emptive deals.

Alexandra is also a singer/songwriter who often integrates music into her books’ pages. She wrote and recorded three original songs to accompany Timeless and Timekeeper, which were released as the album The Timeless EP and distributed by Jimmy Buffett’s record label, Mailboat Records. She also recorded a song that was released with the publication of Suspicion, and is composing a stage musical geared toward Broadway. Her musical roots are deep, as she is the granddaughter of the late Monir Vakili, the foremost Iranian opera singer.

Alexandra Monir is a frequent speaker at middle schools and high schools across the country and at major events including fan conventions, women’s leadership conferences, and book festivals. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and newborn son. To learn more about Alexandra, visit her online at

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by the Fantastic Flying Book Club.

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