The Thousandth Floor is set to take the YA market by storm, with the first book in the trilogy publishing this month, and a TV adaptation already in the works. Here the book’s author Katharine McGee discusses the inspiration behind her futuristic novel, set inside a thousand-storey tower stretching into the sky.


What was your inspiration for writing The Thousandth Floor?

Writing a book has been my dream for as long as I can remember! I first got the idea for The Thousandth Floor two years ago, when I read an article about “vertical cities”—that the future of urban living would be enormous self-contained skyscrapers, just like the Tower. I was blown away by the idea of a city being a whole building unto itself, complete with hospitals and schools and apartments and parks and swimming pools and even farms. For weeks after I read the article, I kept wondering… what would it be like to actually live in a skyscraper like that?

I’m in Philadelphia now, but I lived in New York at the time, and I’ve always loved the city. I love its pulsing energy, I love that there’s always something going on, and most of all I love the way New Yorkers treat one another. They pretend to be gruff and sarcastic, but when push comes to shove, New Yorkers always have one another’s backs. Which got me to thinking, what if this vertical city was the future New York? What would its inhabitants be like—especially the ones on the highest floor, literally at the top of the world?

One of our favorite parts was the descriptions of futuristic technologies (communication via contact lenses, voice activated instant hairstylers, etc.) Which example from the book would you most like to have in your own life?

Oh, that’s a tough one! I’m dying for Eris’s hairstyler and closet organizer, but I’d have to say I want the Hyperloop train to become a reality. If it was possible to get to Europe in just a few hours, I would go to Paris every time I was craving some fresh-baked Poilâne croissants… so at least once a week!

Do you have a dream cast in mind at all?

Dreamcasting is tricky, because I don’t want to interfere with the images of characters that readers have already constructed in their own minds! I didn’t have any specific actors in mind when I envisioned the characters myself—more like certain physical traits were very visible to me from the beginning, like Cord’s bright blue eyes or Eris’s hair. That said, if The Thousandth Floor ever becomes a TV show or movie, I wouldn’t hate it if Liam Hemsworth was cast!

There are so many complex characters in the book. Are any of them based on your own experiences, or on friends and family? Where else did you get inspiration for your characters?

There are bits of me in each of my characters, absolutely. I feel fiercely protective of, and loyal to, my younger sister the way Rylin does Chrissa. I gave my love of art history and travel to Avery. I have some of Watt’s curiosities, and Leda’s insecurities, and occasionally I’m careless and carefree the way that Eris is. When I was writing, I tried to pull those emotions from various moments in my life into all the stories, to make them feel real.

And in a few places, the dialogue in the book did come word-for-word from real life (after all, sometimes people say things that are too good to pass up!) But I can’t say which lines, otherwise my friends will stop talking to me, and then who will I talk to for inspiration? 🙂

The book ends with such a bang…what can we expect from book 2?

An unexpected romance (or two), a new character appearing on the scene, more secrets to be revealed… and someone else may not make it to book 3.

Katharine McGee is from Houston, Texas. She studied English and French literature at Princeton and has an MBA from Stanford. It was during her years at living in a second-floor apartment in New York City that she kept daydreaming about skyscrapers… and then she started writing. The Thousandth Floor is her first novel.

The Thousandth Floor is out now.