Sugar Scars: An Interview


This woman had a tough job when the world ended. Seriously.

I have the honor of interviewing the main character of the novel SUGAR SCARS today. I met Travis Norwood through our mutual fate as writers in Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. Travis has gone on to publish his first novel since then. I read it, enjoyed it, and wanted to do something fun with Travis and the book on this blog. I asked if I could interview his character, Sugar, and he agreed.

I think Sugar had a slightly different sentiments.





THE INTERVIEW: Elise Stephens talks to Sugar


  1. You decided to ditch your given name and to go by “Sugar” in the new community that was left behind after the virus destroyed almost everyone in the world. How does it feel to change your name? Do you feel like you’ve become a different person, or that you’re the same person with just a small detail changed?


How did you know that? If you know it somehow, don’t tell anyone my old name.

Anyway I’m glad we got you on the radio. I didn’t think this thing would work from Tallahassee to Seattle. Listen, I’m gonna die if …

Hold on a minute.


Okay. Ralph said I’m being rude and should answer your question. Sorry. I’m not good with people.

Um … I’m glad to change my name. I hated the old one. I don’t know what my parents were thinking. What was the other part?

Oh yeah. I’m a completely different person. Before I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, except for the ten thousand pricks on my finger that diabetics have to do. Now I’ve had to … well I’ve had to see a lot of blood. Let’s just leave it at that.

Anyway, I need—


  1. The desire to survive is a force that is so strong in humans, we never get tired of hearing stories about other humans fighting against the odds to live. You decided to dedicate a ton of time and risk and effort to try to make insulin so that you could live with your diabetes after your supply expired. What was going through your head when you made this decision? Did you have anything you focused on to help you keep pushing even when results were discouraging?

What do you think was going through my head? I didn’t want to die!

And the results are discouraging now. Making insulin is complicated and I haven’t even figured out the simplest first step. I’ve got to learn how to get a pancreas out of pig. You think it would be simple, but have you ever look at the raw insides of a pig you’ve just cut open? It’s nothing like the clean, bloodless pictures in the anatomy books. That’s why we’re contacting people on this radio. I need to know if there’s anybody up there in Seattle that can—


  1. There are a lot of things that disappear from society when just about everyone dies. One in ten thousand people survived this illness. That’s a lot of people dead. But some stuff remains. What did you notice about the people in the society that was left? What did they all still decide was important? What did they decide wasn’t worthwhile anymore?


Why do you keep interrupting me with these questions?

And it’s 1 in 9,600. Get the numbers right. Numbers matter.

I’m done. This is pointless.


Sorry. I’m back. I guess this has been hard and you’re probably just lonely. I forget how this has affected other people sometimes. I’m fine with being alone. The loss of people hardly phased me. My problem was the loss of insulin.


I’ll answer your questions, but please answer mine when you’re done.


What did I notice about the people in the society that was left? I thought it would be all Mad Max or The Walking Dead, but it’s not. The people left are just lonely and hurting from all the loss. There’s no reason for people to fight for resources. Everything is in vast supply. I’m sure it’s that way in Seattle too. I calculated that there are at least five full grocery stores per person. And thousands of houses to choose from. Well, if you don’t mind clearing out the dead bodies.


We all realized pretty quickly that materials and money had no meaning anymore. The only rare resource was people. And that’s part of my problem. Making insulin takes skills that I don’t have. That’s why we’re trying to find someone that can —


  1. You described yourself as not wanting to spend much time around other people before the virus struck. Then, after it had devastated the globe, you found yourself enjoying the companionship of the few people you encountered. How would you say your perspective shifted?

Before the virus I thought my desire for other people was zero. It turns out that was wrong. It’s a non-zero value. Small, but definitely above zero.


And then I realized that I needed people. Not in the emotional way. Physically. Mentally. You take for granted all the things that civilization does for you, until it’s gone. I curse myself every day for not learning more for the brief time that the internet still worked after the virus hit. Have you ever tried to learn something from a library? It’s literally about five thousand times slower than just googling. Researching how to make insulin would have taken a few hours or days with the internet. I spent weeks pouring through book after book.


And that mainly taught me that I need someone with expertise. Do you have anyone in Seattle that can —


  1. You’ve faced a ton of terrifying situations (I’m not going to detail them all here because I want people to read the book!) and what you’ve faced leads me to the conclusion that you’re an extremely gutsy, dauntless woman. Then again, I know everyone has their fears. What would you say you’re most afraid of?

Book? What are talking about? Have you read my journals? Those are for people to read after I’m gone. Which won’t be long if I can’t make insulin.


I guess I was most afraid of the first step. I stood holding a gun to the head of an unsuspecting pig, knowing that I would have to cut him open and find the one tiny part I needed in all his bloody flesh. The pancreas.


You know what I’m most afraid of now? You’ll never guess.


Dying. I don’t think you understand. If I don’t figure out how to —


  1. If you could give advice to someone who has just stepped into a world devastated by some disaster similar to the virus, what would you tell this person?


Advice? Don’t be a type 1 diabetic.


  1. Anything else you want to say?



Please help me. I’m going to die if I can’t make insulin. Are there any doctors in Seattle? Someone who could extract a pancreas from a pig and help me through all the steps to refine the insulin.


Hello? Are you there?




If you enjoyed this or found yourself intrigued, take a look at Sugar Scars. Here’s some more about the book and about Travis.

sugarscarsLiving after the apocalypse really isn’t that hard for most of the survivors. The virus killed all but 1 in 10,000. The few remaining people are left in a world of virtually unlimited resources. Grocery stores overflowing with food and drink. Thousands of empty houses to pick from.

But one survivor, a nineteen-year-old girl, requires more than simple food, water and shelter. As a type 1 diabetic her body desperately needs insulin to stay alive. With civilization gone, no one manufactures it anymore. She hoards all the insulin she can find, but every day marches toward the end of her stash of vials. She has a choice. Accept her fate and death, or tackle the almost insurmountable task of extracting and refining the insulin herself.

Brilliant scientists struggled to make the first insulin. What hope does a high school dropout have?


ProfilePictureTravis Norwood lives in Montgomery, Alabama with his wife and five children. Like in Sugar Scars, he would be perfectly happy living in a world emptied of almost all people. But not you, of course. He sincerely hopes you survive the apocalypse.

Ways to connect with Travis:

twitter: @travislnorwood




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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the interview.
    Please forgive Sugar’s responses. She’s under a lot of stress.

    1. Her reactions took me a little by surprise, to be honest, but it makes total sense! She wants to live, and some of these questions just pale in importance when you look at it through her eyes. It was a pleasure. Thanks for setting up the interview!

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