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Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

Saturday, June 19, 2010

YA Author Spotlight Presents...

Alyson Noel - latest
Alyson Noel!!!

EvermoreEver and Damen are fated to be together...or are they? Their journey began with Evermore, where some pretty interesting developments happen to Ever. Even though she loses her entire family, including the family dog, Buttercup, Ever talks to her younger sister's ghost, Riley, and if that wasn't enough, she now lives with her aunt Sabine whom she hardly knows, lives in a new place and starting high school in a new city. As if that wasn't enough trauma for a teenager to deal with, she discovers a neat little flaw...that she's immortal. Everything was going fine, until she meets someone Damen forgot to mention, Drina, Damen's longtime lover and another immortal - and she's jealous and on a rampage to have Damen all to herself! During this journey, Ever learns things about herself she never knew, and makes some startling revelations that lead to events that will forever alter her and Damen's destiny.

Blue MoonBlue Moon continues the saga of Damen and Ever, introducing another person from Damen's past, a past he neglected to tell Ever and one he'd prefer remained closed. Unfortunately, Roman plows into their lives, forcing the door wide open - showing Ever the truth of what Damen has done, forcing her to make decisions she's not ready to make, and puts her into situations where she's not capable of truly understanding the depth of the consequences to her actions. But it's not all Roman's fault. The situation they find themselves in teaches Ever some lessons she's not wise enough to comprehend and Damen a truth he's not ready to face.

ShadowlandThe events of Blue Moon lead Damen and Ever on quest for answers. The arrival of Jude in Shadowland causes Damen to close off from Ever, yet again, and he begins to doubt himself, the choices he made, and if what's happened is fated or a perversion of it. As he doubts himself and drives Ever away in an attempt to balance the karma he believes to be unbalanced, Ever begins to question things too, even though she keeps insisting that she loves Damen, she cannot deny the pull Jude has on her, especially when she realizes how her fate has been connected to him throughout her past lifetimes.

Is Jude the innocent he appears to be or does his connection to Ava indicate more than he admits or knows? What role does he play in Roman's sick, twisted little game? I'm hoping that's what Dark Flame will reveal!

In my opinion, this is one terrific series! I could prattle on about these books all day, but let's get to the reason we're here - Alyson's interview!

ME: When you stop to consider trends and traditions, June marks a time of beginnings (marriages, commencements). What about you, any weddings, anniversaries or graduations to attend this month?

ALYSON: Nope, not a one—though I will be going on my very first book tour for Dark Flame beginning June 22, so that’s a beginning of sorts!

ME: While April 22nd marks Earth Day, June 5th is World Environment Day. What will you do to celebrate our environment?

ALYSON: Not to sound too hokey, but I try to celebrate the environment everyday by recycling, conserving water and energy, and by taking time to appreciate the lovely Laguna Beach views!

ME: Speaking of the environment, do you strive to be more energy efficient or more environmentally conscious? How do you accomplish this goal?

ALYSON: I try to do both, and I like to think that the small things like turning off the taps while I brush my teeth, doing only full loads of laundry, hanging clothes to dry, and recycling, can make a difference.

ME: What traits make the men in your life good father figures? Will you do anything special to celebrate these men? If so, what will it be?

ALYSON: While my husband and I don’t have kids of our own, when he lost his twin brother five years ago this past April, I was so awed by the way he jumped into the role of looking after the son and daughter his brother left behind. Even though we live in different states, he’s totally there for them in so many ways—they stay with us for 5-6 weeks every summer, they visit for a week in the winter, and the rest of the year, my husband makes frequent trips to their neck of the woods to visit them. He’s built a really wonderful relationship with them, and it’s been a pleasure to watch it blossom and grow!

ME: While the summer solstice occurs on June 21st, warmer weather usually arrives earlier than that, encouraging people to get out and enjoy the weather. What activities do you usually start in June?

ALYSON: Since I spend all day cooped up in my office writing, my favorite part of June is when the days get longer. Wrapping up my work while it’s still light out makes me feel like I didn’t really miss out all that much, and as the weather gets warmer and warmer, I try to sneak in as much pool time as possible. I may not be much for swimming laps, but I’m pretty good at floating around with a drink in my hand!

ME: While people generally clean in spring, they need to do something with all the stuff they find they do not need. If it isn’t given away or donated, many people have rummage or estate sales. What about you, do you like to hit the rummage sales on a nice warm morning? Do you go alone or with someone else? Is it a family tradition?

ALYSON: I’ve never been one for garage sales or rummage sales—mostly because it requires one to wake up early in order to get a shot at the good stuff, and I’m just not a morning person—I don’t really peak until mid-afternoon!

ME: In many areas, private community schools tend to schedule festivals and bazaars as fundraisers throughout the summer. What about your area? What kind of festivals and bazaars can be found and when will they occur? Do you make appearances at them, or do you avoid them? If so, why?

ALYSON: There’s a blues fest near my town, the next beach over, and I used to look forward to that every year as they’ve always get a great line up. And, of course, anything to do with food and/or art—I’m so there!

ME: The weather in June seems to be a great mix in almost every state, and most people tend to plan vacations in June. What about you, are you a June traveler? If so, where will you be going? If not, when do you prefer to travel and why? Where have you gone or will you be going this year?

ALYSON: Actually, I always try to avoid the crowds, so I’m really more of a May or September traveler. But, like I said earlier, I will be going on my first tour this June, so I’m looking forward to spending time at my stops in MN, IL, TX, FL, & CA!

ME: We’ve had our fun now, so let’s put the focus on your writing. While there are many genres to choose from, what specifically brought you to YA? Why this genre over the others?

ALYSON: I didn’t intentionally set out to write YA. With my debut novel, Faking 19, I just really wanted to tell a particular story that happened to have a teenaged protagonist. It wasn’t until I started my second book, Art Geeks & Prom Queens, that I realized just how much I connected with this age group. Despite the number of birthdays I accumulate, I never really feel like a grown-up, so writing YA is a natural fit!

ME: YA novels have always been popular with teens, but not always so much with adults, yet recent years have shown an explosion of the YA genre marked by an increase in YA Authors and interest by adults into the YA genre. What, in your opinion, is the reason for the explosion of the YA genre and for the strong interest and appreciation for the genre by adults?

ALYSON: Well, for one, I think the variety of really well-written stories in a wide range of subjects is a huge draw, and, for another, YA books tend to get to the meat of a story right from the start. They draw you in early and take you for an amazing ride all the way to the end. There’s not much meandering, no room for page after page of idle description—they’re very story centric. And besides, were else can you go back in time and re-experience all those wonderful firsts?

ME: Earlier, we asked about what traits make the men in your life good father figures. Now, we want to know, have any of these men, or their traits, been inspiration for characters in your stories? If so, which men, what characters and/or traits and why?

ALYSON: While I’ve never had a close relationship with my father, I suppose in a sense that the absence of that has informed all of my books. Though I did get really luck in the husband department—I married a man who’s good at every single thing he sets his mind too—and he’s served as my inspiration for a few of my male characters—Jas in Art Geeks, Dane in Fly Me to the Moon, and more recently, Damen in The Immortals!

ME: For a writer, inspiration can be found everywhere and in almost anyone, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits, events or situations that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, Dark Flame, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

ALYSON: I steal from my own life all the time, and the entire Immortals series was inspired by grief—something I probably talked about last time I was here, but in brief, a few years back I lost several loved ones in a short time and then almost lost my husband to leukemia (he’s in full remission now). Going through that got me thinking a lot about life & death, immortality & mortality, and the soul’s purpose and journey—all of which are subjects I explore in the books.

Also, during that time, I began to read a lot of metaphysical books, and was very much taken by the idea that our thoughts actually shape our experiences—a theme that is definitely at the core of Dark Flame.

ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

ALYSON: Ever & Damen first met in Paris on August 8, 1608, when Damen was, well, his charming, dreamy, immortal self and Ever was a servant named Evaline. Then they met again when Ever reincarnated as a spoiled, London society girl, and again when she came back an artist’s muse living in Amsterdam, and again when she was living as a Puritan’s daughter in New England. Each time they met and fell in love, and each time their love ended tragically soon, which is why Damen wasted no time in feeding Ever the elixir of eternal life when he found her again in this lifetime—he couldn’t bear to lose her again.

They are far more serious than comical, for two seventeen year olds they are burdened with secrets, challenges, enemies, and a huge, life changing destiny for Ever that is only beginning to reveal itself . . .

As for an excerpt, here’s a bit from Dark Flame, Chapter 19, that explains the way Ever views him:

“The air has changed, ignited by his presence, his gaze sending a delicious warm tingle over my skin. And when I open my eyes to meet his—it’s like the first time we met in the parking lot at school—mesmerizing, magical, a moment of complete and total surrender. The sun at his back, enveloping him in a blaze of bold orange, golds, and reds so brilliant, it’s as though they’re emanating from him. And I hold on to the moment, hold it for as long as I can. All too aware that it’s just a matter of time before it dulls and I become numb to him again.
He takes the swing alongside me, gliding high into the sky and instantly matching my pace. The two of us swooping to such deliriously, wonderful heights, only to plummet right back down again—an analogy of our relationship for the last four hundred years.”

ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes, even if the author did not intend this to happen. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these characters gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? Is there the possibility for them to get their own story? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)

ALYSON: Well, Riley, Ever’s ghostly sister, definitely turned out to be a scene stealer in Evermore as she ended up walking away with far more page time than I originally intended, so I suppose it’s only fair to her that she ended up with her own series, beginning with Radiance on 08.31.10!

I think Riley really spoke to me as a character because she’s so spunky and snarky yet also very poignant. The only thing she ever really wanted was to be thirteen, but as fate would have it, she was struck down at twelve. Yet, she’s making the most of her ghostly form, and enjoying unrestricted access to Ever’s life, as illustrated from this scene in Chapter 14 of Evermore:

“What’s your problem? Why so grumpy?” Riley asks, perched on the edge of my bed, dressed in a Zorro costume identical to the one Eric wore to the party.
“Halloween’s over,” I say, staring pointedly at the black leather whip she slaps against the floor.”
“Duh.” She makes a face and continues to punish the carpet. “So I like the costume, big deal. I’m thinking about dressing up every day.”
I lean toward the mirror, insert my tiny diamond-chip studs, and scrape my hair into a ponytail.
“I can’t believe you’re still dressing like that,” she says, her nose crinkling in disgust. “I thought you bagged yourself a boyfriend?” She drops the whip and grabs my iPod, her fingers sliding around the wheel as she scrolls through my playlist.
I turn, wondering exactly what she saw.
“Hel-lo? At the party? By the pool? Or was that just a hookup?”
I stare at her, my face flushing crimson. “What do you know about hookups? You’re only twelve! And why the heck are you spying on me?”
She rolls her eyes. “Please, like I’d waste my time spying on you when there’s way better stuff I can see. For your information, I just so happened to go outside at the exact same moment you shoved your tongue down that Damen guy’s throat. And trust me, I wish I hadn’t seen it.”

Dark FlameBLURB: Their love has burned bright for countless centuries—now their journey may be coming to a dark end . . .
In Alyson Noël’s most darkly seductive Immortals novel yet, Ever fights for control of her body, her soul—and the timeless true love she’s been chasing for centuries.

Excerpt from Dark Flame, Chapter 3 - (not formatted yet, sorry!)

“How’d it go?”
Damen opens the door before I can knock. His gaze deep and intense as he follows me into the den where I drop onto his plush velour couch and kick off my flip-flops. Careful to avoid his eyes as he lands on the cushion beside me, usually all too eager to spend the rest of eternity just gazing at him—taking in the fine planes of his face—his high sculpted cheekbones, lush inviting lips, the slant of his brow, his dark wavy hair, and thick fringe of lashes—but not today.
Today I’d prefer to look just about anywhere else.
“So, you told her?” His fingers trail along the side of my cheek, the curve of my ear, his touch filling me with tingle and heat despite the ever-present energy veil that hovers between us. “Did the cupcake provide the distraction you hoped it would?” His lips nip at my lobe before working their way down my neck.
I lean back against the cushions, closing my eyes in a feigned bout of fatigue. But the truth is, I don’t want him to see me, to observe me too closely. Don’t want him to sense my thoughts, my essence, my energy—that strange, foreign pulse that’s been stirring inside me for the last several days.
“Hardly.” I sigh. “She pretty much ignored it—guess she’s like us now—in more ways than one.” Feeling the weight of his gaze as he studies me intensely.
“Care to elaborate?”
I scrunch down even lower and toss my leg over his, my breath slowing as I settle into the warmth of his energy. “She’s just—so far advanced. I mean, she has the whole look, you know? That eerie, flawless, immortal look. She even heard my thoughts—until I blocked them.” I frown and shake my head.
“Eerie? Is that how you see it—see us?” Clearly distressed by my words.
“Well—not really—eerie,” I pause, wondering why I phrased it like that. “More like—not normal. I mean, I doubt even supermodels look that perfect all the time. Not to mention, what are we gonna do if she grows four inches practically overnight like I did? How do we possibly explain that?”
“Same way we did with you,” he says, eyes narrowed, cautious, more interested in the words I’m not saying than the ones that I am. “We’ll call it a growth spurt. They’re not that uncommon among mortals, you know.” His voice lifts in a weak attempt at levity that doesn’t quite work.
I avert my gaze, taking in the crowded bookshelves filled with leather-bound first editions, the abstract oil paintings, most of them priceless originals, knowing he’s onto me. He knows something’s up, but I’m hoping he can’t sense just how far it goes. That I’m just saying the words, going through the motions, not really invested in any of this.
“And so—does she hate you like you feared?” he asks, voice steady, deep, the slightest bit probing.
I peer at him, this wonderful glorious creature who’s loved me for the last four hundred years and continues to do so no matter how many blunders I make, no matter how many lives I mess up. Sighing as I close my eyes and manifest a single red tulip that I promptly hand over. Serving not just as the symbol of our undying love, but also the winning wager in the bet that we made.
“You were right—you win.” I shake my head, remembering how she reacted just like he said. “She’s thrilled beyond belief. Can’t thank me enough. Feels just like a rock star. No—scratch that, better than a rock star. She feels like a vampire rock star. But you know, the new and improved kind—without all that nasty bloodsucking and coffin sleeping.” I shake my head and smile in spite of myself.
“A member of the mythical undead?” Damen cringes, not liking the analogy one bit. “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
“Oh, I’m sure it’s just a side effect of her recent goth phase. The thrill will die down eventually. You know, once the reality sinks in.”
“Is that how it is for you?” he asks, finger just under my chin, making me look at him again. “Is the thrill dying down—or perhaps even—gone?” His gaze deep, knowing, attuned to every shift of my mood. “Is that why you find it so hard to look at me now?”
“No!” I shake my head, fully aware that I’ve been caught and desperate to refute it. “I’m just—tired. I’ve been feeling a little—on edge lately, that’s all.” I nuzzle closer, burying my face in the hollow of his neck, right next to where the cord for his amulet rests. That edgy prickly feeling I’ve been carrying for days, tempering, melting, as I inhale his warm musky scent over and over again. “Why can’t every moment be like this?” I murmur, knowing what I really mean is: why can’t I always be like this—feel like this?
Why is everything changing?
“It can.” He shrugs. “There’s really no reason why it can’t.”
I pull away and meet his gaze. “Oh, I can think of at least two very good reasons.”
Nodding toward Romy and Rayne, the twin terrors we’re now responsible for as they bound down the stairs. Identical in their straight dark hair with razor-slashed bangs, pale skin, and large dark eyes—but complete opposites in their dress. Romy wearing a pink terry cloth sundress with matching flip-flops, while Rayne’s barefoot and dressed in all black, with Luna, their tiny black kitten, riding high on her shoulder. The two of them shooting Damen a happy, warm smile and glaring at me—business as usual, and pretty much the only thing that hasn’t changed around here.
“They’ll come around,” he says, wanting to believe it and wishing I would too.
“No they won’t.” I sigh, fumbling for my flip-flops. “But then, it’s not like they don’t have their reasons.” I slip on my shoes and look at him.
“Leaving so soon?”
I nod, avoiding his gaze. “Sabine’s making dinner, Munoz is coming over—it’s a whole—bonding thing. She wants us to get to know each other better. You know, less student teacher, more future nonblood relations.” I shrug, realizing the instant it’s out that I should’ve invited him. It’s incredibly rude not to include him. But Damen’s presence will only mess with my other evening plans. The ones he may suspect, but can’t possibly witness. Especially after making his feelings on my foray into magick so abundantly clear. Tacking on an awkward, “So—you know . . .” and leaving it to hang there, dangling between us, since I’ve no idea where to take it from there.
“And Roman?”
I take a deep breath as my eyes meet his. The moment I’ve been avoiding is now here.
“Did you warn Haven? Tell her what he did?”
I nod. Recalling the speech I practiced in the car all the way over, about how Haven could be our best chance to get what we need from Roman. Hoping it’ll sound better to his ears than it did mine.
“And?”
I clear my throat, allowing myself that, but nothing more.
He waits for me to continue, the patience of six hundred years stamped on his face, as I open my mouth to launch into my speech, but I can’t. He knows me too well. So Instead, I just lift my shoulders and sigh, knowing words are unnecessary, the answer’s displayed in my gaze.
“I see.” He nods, his tone smooth, even, without a trace of judgment, which kind of disappoints me. I mean, I’m judging me, so why isn’t he?
“But—it’s really not like you think,” I say. “It’s not like I didn’t try to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen. So I figured, what the heck. If she’s going to insist on hanging with Roman, then what’s the harm in her trying to snag the antidote while she’s at it? And I know you think it’s wrong, believe me, we’ve been over that, but I still don’t think it’s all that big a deal.”
He looks at me, face calm, still, betraying nothing.
“Besides, it’s not like we actually have any real proof that he would’ve let her die. I mean, he had the antidote all along, he knew what I’d choose. But even if I did prove him wrong, how do we know he wouldn’t have given her the elixir himself?” I take a deep breath, hardly believing I’m borrowing Haven’s argument, the same one I balked at just a few moments earlier. “And then—maybe he even would’ve tried to turn the whole thing around! You know, tell her we were prepared to let her die and end up turning her against us! Did you ever think of that?”
“No. I suppose I didn’t,” he says, lids narrowed, concern clouding his face.
“And it’s not like I’m not gonna monitor the situation cuz I totally am. I’ll make sure she’s safe. But she does have free will, you know, it’s not like we can choose her friends for her, so, I figured, you know, when in Rome . . .and all . . .so to speak . . .”
“And what about the romantic feelings Haven holds toward Roman? Did you consider that?”
I shrug, my words containing a conviction I don’t really feel when I say, “She used to have feelings for you too if you’ll remember. She seemed to get over that pretty quickly. And don’t forget about Josh, the guy she was convinced was her soul mate who got booted over a kitten. And now that she’s in a position to have pretty much whatever or whoever she wants—” I pause, but only for a moment, not long enough for him to interject. “I’m sure Roman will lose his allure and slide way down on her list. I mean, I know she can seem kind of fragile, but she’s actually a lot tougher than you think.”
I stand, signaling an end to this conversation. What’s done is done and I don’t want him to do or say anything that’ll make me doubt my stance on Haven and Roman’s relationship any more than I already do.
He hesitates, gaze moving over me, taking me in, then rising in one, quick, languid move as he grasps my hand and leads me to the door where he presses his lips against mine. Lingering, fusing, pushing, melding, the two of us drawing this kiss out for as long as we can, neither one willing to break away first.
I press hard against him, the contours of his body barely dimmed by that ever-present energy veil that hovers between us. The broad expanse of his chest, the valley of his torso—every inch of him conforming so tightly to me it’s nearly impossible to tell where he ends and I begin. Wishing this kiss could do the impossible—banish my mistakes—this strange way I feel—chase away the dark angry cloud that follows me everywhere these days.
“I should go,” I whisper, the first to break the spell, aware of the heat rising between us, that incendiary pull, a painful reminder that, for now anyway, this is as far as it goes.
And just as I’ve settled into my car and Damen’s gone back inside, Rayne appears, Luna still perched on her shoulder, twin sister Romy at her side.
“Tonight’s the night. Moon’s moving into a new phase,” she says, eyes narrowed, lips grim. No other words necessary, we all know what that means.
I nod and shift into reverse, ready to back down the drive, when she adds, “You know what to do, right? You remember our plan?”
I nod again, hating the fact that I’m in this position, knowing that as far as they’re concerned, I’ll never live this one down.
Backing out of the drive and onto the street, their thoughts chasing behind me, burrowing into my mind, as they think: It’s wrong to use magick for selfish, nefarious reasons. There’s karma to pay, and it’ll come back times three.

Want to learn more about Alyson and her books?

Check out:
her previous interviews with us - October 10th, 2009 and December 12th, 2009

Her Website - www.alysonnoel.com

4 comments:

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds like a series I should try. Thanks for another really interesting interview.

Dana Davis said...

Was out of town on Friday so popped by today. Great interview, Alyson. Good luck with the series!

Sandra Cox said...

Sounds like a great series, Alyson.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Love this interview! Great questions, great answers. What a touching story about her husband and the children of his twin brother. Nice job!