Today I get to interview the long-time YA blogger and Leaguer Lenore Appelhans about her writing and publishing process for her debut YA novel, LEVEL TWO. You’ll enjoy her contemporary take on the afterlife where reliving your past memories is key to making sense of your life.  Add in a rebellion and a love triangle and what more could you want from the afterlife?

Readers always love to hear how writers come up with their concept, especially when it is a different kind of fantasy as yours is, so let’s start there. How did this story come to you and how did you build your world?  

I’ve always been fascinated with authors’ visions of the afterlife (DEFENDING YOUR LIFE is one of my favorite movies). I’d had this idea of an afterlife where memories are currency – some more valuable than others – but for so many years, I didn’t know how to implement it. 

My friend and I were in Pompeii and a question came to me in the shower: “What would a dystopian afterlife look like?” Afterwards, the basics of the story came pouring out of me.  My friend asked me tons of logistical questions - and in the answering, Level 2 was born.

As far as world building, I did a lot of research into the afterlife visions of different religions and mythology and I dug deep into my own imagination.

I love how well-traveled you are that you can begin a sentence with “My friend and I were in Pompeii.”

The memories that your main character Felicia plugs into are so wonderfully rich with detail that it’s hard to imagine that these memories are not real.  You, like her, have lived in many countries and traveled extensively. How much did you mine your own history to write those memories?

All the places Felicia’s been in the memories, I have been – with one big exception. The trip she takes with her father to the Turkish coast is based on a trip that my husband took. He talked about his adventure so vividly, I was captivated and knew it had to be in my book.  The roofless shack they stay in is real, but the prancing goats are pure fiction.

Darn. I wanted to see the prancing goats! With a story like this, there seem to be many different places you could have started. Did Level Two always begin this way?

The first scene I wrote (right after my Pompeii epiphany) was Felicia’s death scene, but I knew even then that I wouldn’t start the book with that. I let everything percolate in my head for about five months, and when I sat down to write again, the first five chapters came very easily. The opening few pages haven’t changed at all (save a few copyedits) since my first draft.

At later points in the story the characters say that the rules are changing. Did you always plan to change the rules or did that evolve in the writing process?

Part of the writing process for this novel was figuring out what the rules were. They definitely evolved during drafting and revising.

You’ve written and turned in the sequel, Level Three. Will that be the end of the series?

Interesting question! I originally intended Level 2 to be a standalone, but then I found that there was more to tell, hence Level 3.  Theoretically, the Levels could be endless – because no one ever knows what’s next.  I could see Felicia’s story extending into one more book, but we’ll just have to see!

What has been your biggest surprise in the publishing process?

I started aiming for publication with picture books back in 2004. So it’s been a surprise to be debuting in 2013 with a novel and a picture book.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the League readers about Level Two or about yourself?

Level 2 is exactly the kind of book I love to read – full of twists with a dash of romance, action, mystery and literary allusions.  Level 3 gets even crazier – and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Congratulations to Lenore on Level Two, available for pre-order now, coming out in just days -- Jan 15!



Twitter: @lenoreva

Read an excerpt of the first 50 pages of LEVEL 2 here

Preorder LEVEL 2 here

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View the Book Trailer

1 comment:

slcard said...

This book sounds absolutely fabulous. Twists, romance, action, mystery with literary allusions...! Sounds exactly like the kind of book I love to read too. I can't wait to own a copy!

Thanks for the review, Lissa. And congratulations, Lenore!!