By now we all know about my undying love and affection for A.G. Howard, yes? So, it sort of goes without saying that of course I was going to do whatever I could to help promote Unhinged. I bugged asked Anita if she would do an interview, she agreed. And then I read The Moth in the Mirror and had another set of questions I wanted to ask… So, we had a redo.
But, before we get to the interview: take two, let’s check out the book, yes?
Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.
Sounds amazing, right? [It totally is.]
1. How did the idea of Splintered come to you?
I’ve always been a Carroll junkie. The man was a literary genius. But the idea first came to me when I went to see the Tim Burton & Disney Alice adaptation. The cinematography was so vivid and evocative that it stayed with me, and I started playing out my own Wonderland scenarios in my mind. One evening, I went to my writer’s critique group and pitched the idea of a modern day Wonderland — though darker and more twisted — with a teen protagonist who was related to Alice Liddell, Carroll’s real-life inspiration. My group’s enthusiasm was palpable, and I knew I was onto something.
2. Alyssa. She’s feisty and smart and unique. I absolutely adore her. What do you love most about her and why should we root for her?
Thank you! I’m pretty sweet on her, too. ;) My favorite thing about Alyssa is that she’s 100% human, even though she’s not, if that makes sense? She’s having to navigate the high school teen waters and feeling all the same insecurities as we do (did), albeit with the added obstacle of otherworldly stuff going on in her life. But even with that, the core of her insecurity stems from not yet knowing who she is, and we’ve all been there. I think this is what makes her human and relatable.
3. You recently wrote a novella featuring Jeb/Morpheus POV. Who was easier to work? Was it easier to be in one of their head than in Alyssa’s?
Haha. Pulling out the tough questions now, are you? ;) Both guys are complex individuals with their own dark pasts, but Jeb was easier because I once wrote from his POV. In the earliest version of SPLINTERED Alyssa and Jeb had alternating chapters. So I already knew his voice and thoughts inside and out. Plus, Jeb is first and foremost a gentleman, and didn’t make life too difficult. Morpheus was a bit more of a challenge. Even when I was “in his head”, I didn’t always know what his motives were…or what he was going to say or do next. It was the same way in SPLINTERED and UNHINGED. He’s often surprising me and taking the story on detours I didn’t see coming. My job is to decide whether to follow his lead, or reign him in. Most often, I let him have his way (he can be quite persuasive). But sometimes I have to pull the boss card. He’s definitely the most demanding character I’ve ever written. And Alyssa’s head is the easiest to write from because I myself was once a teenage girl and living *some* of her issues.
4. Can we mention the last chapter in Splintered? There was a pretty big reveal and some satisfying closure, but it was sort of cliffhangery [or was that just me?]. Did you already know it was going to be a trilogy?
I sold it to Amulet as a standalone with a two book potential. That’s why the ending was closed with one thread left loose. I signed a two book contract, so I knew there would be another YA book, but they hadn’t okayed a second Splintered. They had me set it aside and in fact had me working on a Phantom of the Opera spinoff instead. But when presale numbers started coming in for Splintered, they were ready to invest in UNHINGED. The problem was, we waited so long that my deadline was swiftly approaching so everything was rushed. When I got to the end of book 2, we all knew there would have to be a third, or I would have to change some major plotlines. But they had a meeting, and everyone loved the story as it was, so they signed me for the third book. All that to say, no. I didn’t know it would be a trilogy and neither did my publisher, but I’m happy it worked out that way. I wasn’t quite read to say goodbye to these characters yet.
5. What has been your favorite part about writing these books?
Rereading and studying Lewis Carroll’s masterpieces.
6. Describe Unhinged in 5 words.
Speed [ish] round:
1. What three things would you take to a desert island?
Since you didn’t specify whether the desert island is real or fantasy based, I’m choosing fantasy. Which means I only have to pack one thing: a genie in a bottle.
2. What are you reading right now?
I’m at the tail end of So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev. It’s the last in a YA fantasy trilogy. I’ve read them all and love the uniqueness of the premise.
3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?
Living or fictional? Ryan Gosling, Jr. for my live guy. And for my fictional, Hareton from Wuthering Heights. One of the most underappreciated book heroes. He was loyal, devoted and patient, even in the face of abuse and scorn from the two people he loved most in the world. He was the one redeeming character in the story (If you’ve read it, reread the last 30 pages to see my point). He’s definitely swoon-worthy.
4. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?
Heck yah! Here are my top six: Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, Charlotte Bronte, Melissa Marr, Christina Rossetti, and of course Lewis Carroll.
Huge thanks, boxes of Godiva and squishy hugs to Anita for being so EPIC and taking the time to deal with my fangirling answer the questions. Make sure you’re following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her blog and adding all of her books to your GoodReads shelves.
To celebrate the upcoming release of Unhinged, I’ve got a signed hardcover copy of Splintered up for grabs. Rules for the giveaway are under “terms and conditions” on the Rafflecopter widget and this contest is international! Also? Don’t forget that Jeb is mine, I have proof.