Recently I had the amazing opportunity to interview the ever so lovely A.G. Howard, author of Splintered! Her debut novel will be released January 1st, 2013, and below there will be links to where you can add the book to Goodreads (by clicking the book title right next to the cover) and/or enter the giveaway that A.G. is currently hosting on her blog!
Visit A.G.'s website here.
To view my review of Splintered, click here.
by A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
1. Firstly, when and how did the idea for Splintered first come to you?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Carroll’s masterpieces, but the spark actually lit back in in April, 2010, when I first saw the Tim Burton & Disney Alice adaptation. I’m a very visual person, and the Burton cinematography was so vivid, techno-colored, and evocative that I didn't want the movie to ever end. So I came up with my own settings in my mind, and played out Wonderland continuations and scenarios. The idea became too big to contain in my head and I needed to get it out on paper. My goal was to make a follow-up story about a different Wonderland where things were darker and funkier. I also wanted my version to be contemporary, because I’d never seen that done. Once I saw the book Alice I Have Been (a historical fiction account of Alice Liddell, the real-life girl who inspired Carroll to write his story to begin with), everything clicked into place: I could have my contemporary heroine be a descendant of Alice Liddell! When that idea fell into my lap, I was ready to dive in.
2. The cover art for this book is absolutely gorgeous! What was your reaction when you saw it for the first time?
Thank you! I love it, too. When I first saw it, I was surprised and in awe. Everything about the picture was stunning and captured the book's essence perfectly. I'd always envisioned a dark cover, but the vivid colors lent a whimsical feel, which is important so the reader goes in knowing to expect some strange silliness along with the creepiness. I loved the fact that the model's face was partially covered by her hair (making you wonder what she's hiding) and how subtle details were woven in (the bugs and flowers who talk to her, the snaky vines, the key). Someone once said the model reminded them of a startled cupie doll. It made me smile because that's a pretty fair comparison. Her innocent doe-eyed expression has a wild and haggard edge to it, which is true to the story (poor Alyssa goes through some crazy stuff in Wonderland…heh). And the vine-like font for the title completes the pretty package.
3. Was the whole plot line of the book completely planned out from the start? Or were there things that you never planned on happening that ended up happening anyway?
I usually only do skeleton plots, which allows for flexibility when I’m writing. But I did have to write a rather detailed outline of the scenes in Wonderland since it does get a little complicated—who Alyssa and Jeb would meet, what roles the creatures would play in their “quest”, and even what “tasks” she’d be expected to complete in order to come home—but it still didn’t turn out exactly as I’d planned. The characters all had a few surprises for me along the way, most especially Morpheus. And most especially at the end…
4. What was the most difficult thing about writing Splintered?
It was important to me that my book be a tribute to Carroll's amazing works without copying him, and that’s not an easy balance to capture. Lewis Carroll won my heart as a child by weaving underlying threads of violence and eeriness into his nonsensical scenes and characters. So I tried to pay respectful homage to those elements while coaxing the funkiness/creepiness from subtle nuance to center stage. I’m hoping I accomplished that, and if I could have only one wish for my book, it would be that Splintered will entice readers to seek out the Carroll originals if they aren’t already fans, because those books are masterpieces.
5. Did you have a playlist while writing the book? Were there any particular artists or songs that kept you inspired?
Yes! I make playlists for every book I write. You can listen to Splintered's playlist here on my website. There is also a list of the titles, artists, and scenes or character arcs/emotions inspired by the songs.
6. Do you and Alyssa have any similar traits? Or would you say that she's completely different from you?
We have some similarities. Where she skateboards, I rollerblade. Where she makes mosaics, I sew. And we share a fear of heights. But our fashions are a little different. I tend to be attracted to Victorian and lacy things, and Alyssa is, too. But she’s also drawn to gothic Lolita styles, which I could never pull off. So when it came time to dress Alyssa, I went to my daughter’s closet for outfit ideas.
7. If Jeb and Morpheus showed up at your house one day and professed their love to you at the same time, what would you do?
First, I would wipe the drool from my chin. LOL. My publicist at Amulet asked me the same thing once. I’m going to give you the answer I gave her: I love both guys. They each bring out and complement different qualities in Alyssa—not just her light and dark sides, but how she makes decisions, either cautiously or spontaneously; or how she views the world, either as a canvas or as a playground. This isn’t a typical love triangle, because it’s more than just choosing a guy. It’s choosing which way she wants to live her life. And if I were the one who had to make that choice, I’d pick Jeb in the here and now because he’s steady, noble, and shares human interests and goals; but I’d pick Morpheus in the far-off future, because he’s immortal and will still be young and up for some crazy magical misadventures even in seventy years or so.
8. If Splintered were ever to be translated to the big screen, who would be your dream cast?
Oooh, I really want to answer this, but my publisher is having a poll in December for their Unlock the Secrets to Splintered Campaign, where readers and prospective readers will choose which actors they would cast. In January, I’ll post who I would pick. So I can’t say right now without spoiling the fun later. If you really want to know, hop over to the Unlock the Secrets link during December and January. I’ll have the answer for you then.
9. Last but not least, are there any future projects on the horizon for you? Like maybe a sequel, perhaps? :D
Haha! Does that mean you’d like a sequel? I would! Fact is, I have a 2-book deal with Amulet (Splintered’s publisher), but the contract doesn't specify a series. It's just for 2 YA titles, one in 2013 and one in 2014. I wrote Splintered with second book potential but whether I get the green light depends on how well it sells. Even if I don’t write another Splintered, I have TONS of book ideas, and a contract to fulfill. I sent my editor several book proposals, and they really like a couple of them, including a Phantom of the Opera YA spinoff. We’ll just have to wait and see which one they choose to be next… ;)
Great answers! :D Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and do this interview with me!
Thanks again for having me over, Fauzen! I’ve enjoyed meeting you, and the questions were so much fun! ^.^
A.G. is currently hosting a GIVEAWAY for Splintered on her blog, for a chance to win one of 5 ARCs or other Splintered-related goodies! Click here to participate!
Don't forget to follow her blog, and also her Twitter, @aghowardwrites! And click here to visit her Facebook page!
Hope you all enjoyed this interview. :D Thank you once again to the amazingly awesome A.G. Howard for doing this interview with me! I'm extremely honored to have yours be the first author interview I've had on this blog. <3