The Inspiration Behind Countdown + Giveaway | Harlequin Blog

by Michelle Rowen, author of Countdown (Harlequin TEEN)

I’ll admit it. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching Reality TV. Not so much the dating ones, or the celebrity rehab ones — but the survival ones. I tuned in for the very first episode of Survivor, back when it was an incredibly fresh idea, and was intrigued by the metaphors the show posed as well as the alliances formed and the subsequent backstabbing, intrigue and lies. Good clean family entertainment! ;)

When you’re voted off the island, your torch is extinguished. “Fire represents life,” the host tells the contestants. And then he doses it. They lose. Buh-bye.

The torch is a symbol for a life being snuffed out. These survival games have their origins in a much more sinister place – ancient history. Gladiators in Roman arenas fought to the death for the viewing pleasure of the audience, the champion received the roar of approval from the crowd – and probably a whole lot of groupies as well. At least, until the next game.

So I was intrigued by this – both the original death-matches of history and their modern counterpart – Reality TV. I put them both together to write COUNTDOWN, the story of a girl who finds herself in a super-secret survival game where if you lose, you die. But if you win, you get pretty much anything you like. And in the post-plague, near-future world I’ve created, the prize for my heroine would be a ticket to a better, happier place.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Jordan didn’t sign up for this. She’s being forced to play against her will. She was an easy mark because she’s an orphan, her family was killed by a burglar two years ago and she’s already been doing her “survivor” thing on the streets. She’s a fighter.

Ramping up the tension is the fact that she’s been partnered with seventeen-year-old Rogan Ellis, a boy who reminds her all too readily of the fate of her family since he’s well known for an infamous mass murder that put him in juvie until the day he turns eighteen—and that day is coming up fast. I wanted to throw these two very different characters together and force them to work together to survive this game.

Six dangerous levels. A boy Kira doesn’t know if she can trust, especially since he seems to be keeping a whole lot of secrets from her. Not only does Kira have to survive to the next level, she needs to get to the heart of who exactly her dangerous partner is – a friend or a foe?

This book was a serious blast to write and I enjoyed every page of torturing my poor characters as they fight for their lives. Has the next season of Survivor started yet?


Follow the Countdown Blog Tour:

Tuesday, September 10th – Alice Marvel’s

Thursday, September 12th – The Book Cellar

Tuesday, September 17th – Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

Thursday, September 19th – Mundie Mom’s

Tuesday, September 24th – Falling For YA

Thursday, September 26th – Literary Meanderings


We have one copy of Countdown available to be won! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about what your favorite kind of competition is – reality TV show? Sports?

Giveaway closes Sept. 11 at 11:59pm. One winner will be selected from eligible entries by randon number draw and announced on Sept. 12. Open to US/Canada residents. For full contest rules, click here.

Good luck!

About Countdown:

3 seconds left to live.

Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family’s murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira’s psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan’s secrets prove ever more deadly, Kira’s only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can’t escape.



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The Inspiration Behind Countdown + Giveaway | Harlequin Blog.


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