Saturday, June 1, 2013

Interview with Lenore Appelhans, author of Memory of After (previously Level 2), and INT giveaway of signed copy of her book!

The Memory of After (The Memory Chronicles, #1)I'm so excited to introduce this next author, Lenore Appelhans, who I was lucky enough to meet when she came to St. Louis for a book event!

Goodreads Book Description: In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Blurb:
Thanks to her father's job in the US military, Lenore Appelhans became addicted to travel early. To date, she's visited nearly 60 countries and has stepped on every contintent except Antartica. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and three fancy Birman cats. Her novel, The Memory of After (published as Level 2 in hardcover by Simon & Schuster BFYR) is "immensely layered" (VOYA) and "a griping debut" (NYT Bestselling Author Megan McCafferty). The second book in The Memory Chronicles, Chasing Before, is due summer 2014. She has been blogging about books at Presenting Lenore since 2008.
Author Interview
You have an unusual path to becoming a writer-- a blogger first and then the writer. I'm so jealous and awed by you! Can you tell us more about that journey?
Sure! So back in 2004, my husband, an illustrator, and I set out to create a picture book. We worked on that first story for years until finally stumbling upon the organization SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).  SBCWI’s 2008 conference in Bologna was a turning point for us. My husband’s artwork got discovered (and he was later offered a 2 book illustration deal) and I discovered both YA and book blogging – both of which I quickly embraced.  By the time LEVEL 2 sold to Simon & Schuster in March 2011, I had read (and blogged about) hundreds of YA books. Blogging definitely helped me analyze what works and what doesn’t in YA. It was an intensive course in writing!

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel? I love the whole ideas of bees and hives.
Thank you. This novel arose out of two main questions: 1) How might memories be used as currency in the afterlife? 2) What might a dystopian afterlife look like?

The hives were inspired by an interview I saw with Tori Amos about her album THE BEEKEEPER and the idea that bees fly in a figure eight pattern which somehow links them to the eternal.

Do you outline or do you just create characters and just see where the story takes you?
I don’t outline in detail, but I do start with a vision of where I want the story to go and I know the main plot milestones. A lot about writing is unconscious and magical, so I was often surprised about where the characters took me.

I was curious about the title change from Level 2 to the Memory of After-- why the change and did you have any say in it?
S&S had gotten feedback from their sales team that many people were overlooking Level 2 because they thought it was a sequel.  The Memory of After was another title I always liked, and when I discussed it with the team, we agreed that it would best to repackage the book going forward so it might find a larger audience.

What is your favorite mode of communication (this can get as specific as twitter) and why?
I used to write and receive so many snail-mail letters.  I do really miss that mode, even though e-mail is so much more convenient!  Have you ever heard the Arcade Fire song Used to Wait? Love it!

What were some of your favorite YA reads of the past year?

Some of my favorite reads of 2013 so far can be found here:

I’ve been recommending In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters to everyone recently!

What has it been like to become a peer of some of the authors you've admired? Is there one you were particularly starstruck by and awed to meet?
One of the perks of being a book blogger was getting to meet authors and realize that they were regular people – that writing and publishing was an attainable dream.  Probably the most starstruck I ever was? When I met Neil Gaiman! I kind of followed him around for 10 minutes before I worked up the courage to speak to him.

Tell us a little about what going on tour for a new book is like-- the good, the bad, and the ugly!
It’s a blast to meet all the readers. I’ve had such great experiences at all of my stops so far – so I can’t complain at all! I will say that because I live in Europe, I have to cluster my events, and that can be really tiring. By the end, I just want to collapse in my bed for about two weeks.

Can you tell us a little bit about the follow-up to Level 2 without giving too much away?
Whereas the arc of Level 2/The Memory of After is about a “bad” girl seeking forgiveness, Chasing Before is about a redeemed girl tempted back down a dangerous path.  It’s also about the way we curate our memories and how that shapes who we are as people. 

Readers are in for lots of explosions, twists and the return of characters that seemed to be lost forever …  

Thanks so much for this terrific interview! Now sign up to win a signed copy of her book, The Memory of After, or some great swag!
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  1. Somewhere where you can be happy and never want for anything

  2. Soemwhere peaceful and no worries? :)

  3. I don't belive in afterlife..but I hope for a lot of peace..

  4. Hmmm...I think some place where you can be happy all the time :)

  5. Great interview, and Lenore rocks! I love the new cover, by the way.

  6. Happy and where I can meet all those loved ones, human and canine, that I have lost before me.

  7. Interesting story about the title change. I've read the book, so I'm not entering, but I enjoyed your interview :)
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  8. i don't really know, I don't think about that.

  9. Thank you for the great interview with Lenore! Usually with book reviews that include author interviews I tend to just read the synopsis and review of the book but this interview was very interesting to me that I read it all!
    Thanks Christina!

  10. Afterlife should be like our dreams. Where anything is possible.

  11. I would like the afterlife to peaceful and no more pain.
    Great review and love the cover on the book, can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.
    Donna Harris

  12. That's a deep question! I think I would want the afterlife to be a big tail gate party with all your loved ones that have passed. But instead of watching a game, you're watching our loved ones on earth

  13. Something like the heaven from The Lovely Bones would be nice.

  14. well I prefer to be in hell.At least there I can have some fun

  15. Honestly? I don't think death is necessary at all, and I hope science hurries up and finds a cure. I believe in reincarnation, so I think that in the afterlife, you get to reflect on your life and the lessons you learned, and figure out what you need to work on and how to do that, because it will influence what your next life is like. You reunite with loved ones and basically work on self-knowledge. So, you know, you could do all that without dying. Hopefully that becomes an option soon.

  16. Mhh. I'm actually not quite sure. I would hope that it's peaceful and enjoyable and you're able to do what you want.

  17. Reunited with all your lost loved ones and peaceful and pain free.... All we could ever hope for in a perfect place.

  18. Somewhere where you'd be happy, where you'd have no worries :)

  19. It would be great if there was.. but I'm a realist and figure what happens after is out of my control.. thank you for doing this great giveaway.

  20. Peaceful and surrounded by family, friends and pets who have passed