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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Starlight Saturday

YA Author Spotlight Presents...
Alyson Noel - latest
Alyson Noel!!!

Before I continue with the introduction, I want to let everyone know that this is the last Saturday that the YA Author Spotlight will be featured here on the main blog.  Beginning with the New Year, the YA Spotlight will be moved to the YA Room where instead of one day in the spotlight, YA Authors will have the entire week there.  Next week begins our YA Year in Review, so I can't think of a better way to close out the YA Spotlight for 2009 than to celebrate it with one of my favorite YA Authors, Alyson Noel. 

The first time we featured Alyson in our spotlight, she was new to me. Now, she's back to promote her newest creation in this series, Shadowland.

Honestly, this book has opened to mixed results. If you just look at the surface, you'd see that people either like it or they don't. However, when you look at the reviews a bit deeper, you'd see what's really going on. Alyson Noel has evoked some very strong emotions from her readers.

First, they're mad because they haven't had the HEA (happily ever after) yet for Damon and Ever. So far, Damon and Ever have gotten over two obstacles with a brand new one to climb and now there will be even more in the way. Some of the young reviewers who read this book miss the point entirely and others don't quite get it. While they end up on the right path by initially thinking that this is about deciding if you chose correctly, it's more than that. The notion of this book delves far deeper. The idea here is that any true love, love worth keeping, is worth fighting for. What many young readers do not understand about relationships is that the longer they last, the harder they are to maintain. Some people might disagree, but if you don't work very hard at a relationship, it will not survive. And yes, in real life, there can be just as many obstacles to fight through for two people to spend their lives together.

Second, they're mad because she seems so naive and unable to learn from her mistakes. What they're forgetting is that in so many ways, she was just a child when she first became immortal. She wasn't given a choice and it's not like Damon has ever been a fountain of information when it comes to his past. She's also had a very traumatic time. Oh, and need I remind you that she's seventeen? It's quite possible that's she's driving on autopilot! What I mean here is that, how much time has she really had to completely process the deaths of her family and her new found immortality? Truthfully, not much because there has always been something there and she's had Damon to distract her from the pain. When the psyche deals with traumatic circumstances, it deals with it differently depending upon how old you are when things happen. Sometimes, when you're as young as she is, the rational, thinking part takes a hiatus until the anger and grief can be fully processed. From experience, that isn't done overnight. It can take months, even years, especially if you're distracted by other problems, like Ever has been with Damon.

See, that's what I like about this series, there's enough realism in it to complicate the characters and situations in ways many of us older YA Enthusiasts can truly appreciate it. The ending of Blue Moon presented Damon and Ever with a problem very similar to the problem that Max and Logan had in James Cameron's Dark Angel - the inability to physically touch. This was a side effect from Ever trusting someone she shouldn't have. Mistake, yes, but understandable given the lack of information about Damon's past. Even with all the information she now has, will it be enough to help her save Damon and keep her from making a similar mistake?

You'll have to read the book to find that out, and I strongly suggest that you do read this series because it is deceptively deep, evocative and addictive.

Now, enough about the book, let's get to the fun part - my interview with Alyson!!!

ME: Do you have a movie that you must watch every Christmas? What's your favorite Christmas movie? Do you have a favorite Christmas character or character type?

ALYSON: Oh, I like ‘em all! White Christmas, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life (I cry every single time I watch it and always in the exact same parts), A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Carol . . . they’re all on my “must see” list!

ME: Do you have any Christmas traditions like decorating your house, having house parties, making cookies etc.?

ALYSON: Well, for the last few years my niece and nephew have come to stay with us, and since their dad was Jewish we try to keep up the tradition of celebrating Hanukah with them. And yes, even though they aren’t part of the tradition, I do make chocolate chip cookies—and struggle to not eat all the dough before I’ve had a chance to bake them!

ME: If you do make Christmas Cookies, what kinds will you be making this year? What was your all-time most favorite Christmas Cookie that you ever made? Why? Care to share the recipe?

ALYSON: The truth is, aside from the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies—I’m not much of a baker. Sadly, that was a gene my sisters were both lucky enough to get that skipped me altogether! I just follow the recipe on the Toll House bag.

ME: Do you celebrate St. Nick’s Day? Why or why not? On what day do you celebrate it, on December 6 or some other date? Are the stockings a big deal? What is the biggest present you’ve received/given for St. Nick’s Day?

ALYSON: I’m not very familiar with St. Nick’s Day, which must mean I don’t celebrate it! My husband and I usually have a very low key Christmas, and since we give each other little gifts all year long, this year, we’ve decided to donate in each other’s names to Heifer International instead.

ME: Even if you don’t put one up, do prefer real or artificial trees? Why?

ALYSON: Even though I don’t decorate, as a kid we always had a real tree, and just one whiff of their scent can bring back a flood of memories, so yeah, there’s nothing like the real thing to me!

ME: Have you ever made your own Christmas presents or decorations? If so, what were they? Were they successes or failures? Did you have fun while making them?

ALYSON: Honestly, I’m just not that artsy-crafty, though as a kid, I thought differently, and used to make my mom all manner of hideous jewelry, but she was such a good sport, she always wore them proudly!

ME: What foods will be at your Christmas celebration this year? What is the most unusual food that you saw at a Christmas feast? Would you eat the fruitcake or use it as a doorstop?

ALYSON: I really think fruitcake gets a bad rap—I’ve definitely eaten one or two that weren’t all that bad! As far as unusual foods go—well, my family is pretty traditional, so there’s really nothing too “out there.” But one year, back when I was living in Mykonos, Greece, I saw all manner of unusual foods on display, but I learned to love most, if not all of them!

ME: Do you celebrate Christmas on the Eve or Day? Why?

ALYSON: As a kid, we would have a party on the Eve and I couldn’t wait for all the adults to go home so Santa could come! As an adult we usually head to one family member’s house on the Eve and someone else’s on the day—so it’s a little of both.

ME: Who, if anyone, in your family plays Santa Claus to hand out the presents? Or do they just “magically” appear under the tree? How do you handle presents that just don’t fit under the tree?

ALYSON: Well, they used to just appear magically under the tree. But now, that we’re all grown up, the pretense is over!

ME: Tell us 3 funny or strange things that happened to you, or someone you know, on past Christmases.

ALYSON: Oh, I’m drawing a complete blank. But if something funny or more likely, strange, happened, I’m sure it was back when I was a flight attendant, working nearly every Christmas—I saw some crazy stuff going down on the airplane—especially during the holidays!

ME: Do you send out greeting cards to your friends and family? Why or why not? What greeting do you like to see on the greeting cards you send? On the ones you receive?

ALYSON: Yep, I’m def a big fan of the greeting card—and am getting ready to send mine out today! It’s a really great way to say hello to people you may not get to see all that often, and I usually send Unicef cards with wishes of world peace on them.

ME: Other than money (because who doesn’t want more of that), what would your ultimate gift be?

ALYSON: World Peace. I know it’s a cliché, but the truth is, I ask for it every single year without fail, and even though it’s yet to deliver, that doesn’t stop me from hoping!

Now, let’s get to your writing:

ME: Why the YA paranormal genre? What was the draw for you?

ALYSON: I sort of stumbled into YA by accident. I was so green and naïve when I first started out that I didn’t think in terms of the genre I was writing in. All I knew was that I had a burning story I just had to tell, which just so happened to have a teenaged protagonist. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I’d written a YA, and I enjoyed the process so much, I decided to write another, and then another, . . .

As for paranormal—well, I’ve always been intrigued by anything mystical or metaphysical, to the point where I’m actually kind of surprised that it took me this long to write one of my own. But it wasn’t until I started toying with Ever and Damen’s story, and the themes I wanted to explore, that I knew that delving into the paranormal was the only way to do it. So I dove in headfirst, and writing it has been a total blast!

ME: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

ALYSON: I hope that readers find the stories inspirational, empowering, and entertaining. Even though I’m writing about a lot of fantastical ideas, it’d be really great if it got people thinking more about the energy they put out into the world and the boomerang effect it has on themselves and others. I’d love it if they realized that the first step to changing their circumstances is to change the way they think about it. But it not, well, then I hope they just enjoy the story—that’s perfectly fine with me!

ME: With the current movement to encourage people to give books as gifts, what, in your opinion, makes your story unique? What makes it stand out among all the others?

ALYSON: Books and donations to charity are always my “go to” gifts, and I really enjoy choosing titles that’ll resonate with the recipient. As for my own books, well, I think they’re unique in that on one level, they involve a pretty intense love story of star-crossed soulmates who’ve traveled through centuries and faced bitter enemies just so they can be together, and on another, they raise some serious questions about the meaning of our existence, our destiny, and the true nature of our quest for physical immortality.

ME: Do you prefer throwing snowballs or serving hot cocoa? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

ALYSON: Snowball tossing, followed by hot cocoa—I think a little of each is good for the soul! And yeah, I think it probably does show through in my writing in that I like to be playful, but I also like to insert my quieter moments of deep contemplation too.

ME: Who decides what your characters do, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one stuffing the stocking?

ALYSON: I create the characters, but sometimes I’m surprised by the way they grow and change in ways I did not see coming. Watching them evolve like that is one of the parts I enjoy most!

ME: What character did you have the most fun creating and why?

ALYSON:  Riley! I think because she’s sort of tragic and poignant, having had her life ripped out from under her at age 12 when all she ever wanted was to be 13—and yet, she’s still retained her spunk and spark and she’s determined to make the best of her situation—whether that be helping her sister break into her boyfriend’s house, or spying on celebrities! She ended up getting a much bigger part in Evermore than I originally intended, mostly because she was just so much fun to write. I just finished the first book in her new series set to debut in fall 2010 (no titles as of yet!), and I had an absolute blast writing about her and her life in the afterlife, and I hope readers enjoy it too!

ME: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why?

ALYSON: Well, Damen of course! For all the usual, shallow, completely superficial reasons!

ME: Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

ALYSON: Drina = SCARY!!

ME: If you could give any of your characters a Christmas gift, who would it be and what would you get them?

ALYSON: I would give Haven a box full of self-esteem. She’s so angry, jealous, and lost inside—I worry about her!

ME: If you could be any Christmas Character, who would it be and why?

ALYSON: I’d take any of the ghosts of Christmas past, present, or future—they all had a profound effect on the scrooge!



BLURB:


ShadowlandShe always believed he was her destiny—but what if fate has other plans?

Enter the realm of The Immortals—and experience the extraordinary #1 New York Times bestselling series that has taken the world by storm.

Ever and Damen have traveled through countless past lives—and fought off the world’s darkest enemies—so they could be together forever. But just as their long-awaited destiny is finally within reach, a powerful curse falls upon Damen…one that could destroy everything. Now a single touch of their hands or a soft brush of their lips could mean sudden death—plunging Damen into a bleak afterlife in the Shadowland, an eternal abyss for lost souls. Desperate to break the curse and save Damen, Ever immerses herself in magick—and gets help from an unexpected source…Jude Knight.

Although she and Jude have only just met, he feels startlingly familiar. Despite her fierce loyalty to Damen, Ever is drawn to Jude, a green-eyed golden boy with magical talents and a mysterious past. She’s always believed Damen to be her soul mate and one true love—and she still believes it to be true. But as Damen pulls away to save them from the darkness inhabiting his soul, Ever’s connection with Jude grows stronger—and tests her love for Damen like never before…




EXCERPT: Chapter Thirty


“So you kept it.” I smile, settling into his BMW, happy to see he’s kept it in place of Big Ugly.

He looks at me, eyes still serious but voice light when he says, “You were right. I went a little overboard with the whole safety thing. Not to mention, this is a much better ride.”

I gaze out the window, wondering what sort of adventure he’s planned, but figuring he wants to surprise me as usual. Watching as he pulls onto the street and weaves through the traffic until we’re clear of all cars and he picks up the speed. Pushing the gas and accelerating so quickly, I have no idea where we’re going, until we’re already there.

“What’s this?” I gaze around, amazed by his ability to always do the least expected thing.

“I figured you’d never been here.” He opens my door and takes my hand. “Was I right?”

I nod, taking in a barren desert landscape, dotted only by the occasional shrub, a mountainous backdrop, and thousands of windmills. Seriously thousands. All of them tall. All of them white. All of them turning.

“It’s a windmill farm.” He nods, hoisting himself onto the trunk of his car and dusting off a space for me to sit too. “It produces electricity by harnessing the wind. In just one hour it can make enough electricity to run a typical household for a month.”

I glance all around, taking in the turning blades and wondering what the significance could be. “So, why’d we come here? I’m a little confused.”

He takes a deep breath, gaze far away, expression wistful when he says, “I find myself drawn to this place. I guess because I’ve borne witness to so much change during the last six hundred years, and harnessing the wind is a very old idea.”

I squint, still not getting its importance, but definitely sensing there is one.

“Despite all the technological changes and advances I’ve seen—some things—things like this—remain pretty much the same.”

I nod, silently urging him on, sensing something much deeper in his words, but knowing he’s choosing to dole them out slowly.

“Technology advances so quickly, making the familiar obsolete at an increasingly rapid pace. And while things like fashion may seem to advance and change, if you live long enough, you realize it’s really just cyclical—the readapting of old ideas made to seem new. But while everything around us seems to be in a constant state of flux—people at their very core remain exactly the same. All of us still seeking the things we’ve sought all along—shelter, food, love, greater meaning—” He shakes his head. “A quest that’s immune to evolution.”

He looks at me with eyes so deep and dark, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be him. To have witnessed so much, to know so much, to have done so much—and yet, despite what he thinks, he’s not the slightest bit jaded. He’s still full of dreams.

“And once the basics are covered, once we’ve secured food and shelter, we spend the rest of our time just looking to be loved.”

He leans toward me, lips cool and soft as they brush my skin—fleeting, ephemeral, like a sweet desert breeze. Pulling away to gaze at the windmills again when he says, “The Netherlands is known for their windmills. And since you did spend a lifetime there, I thought you might want to visit.”

I squint, thinking he surely misspoke. We’ve no time for that trip—do we?

Watching as he smiles, gaze growing lighter as he says, “Close your eyes and come with me.”

Be on the look out for Dark Flame which comes out in Summer 2010! - No cover or tasty tidbits yet, but I'll do my best to post updates in the YA Room!   

Hope you've enjoyed this little peek into the world of Alyson's Immortals World. Want to see October's peek?  Click Here

5 Moonbeams (comments):

Alyson Noel said...

Thanks so much for the interview (and for getting what the books are truly about!)!
:)

beautifiers said...

I loved this interview, as well as your commentary regarding the slightly misguided reviews of Ms. Noel's series. I'm over the age limit for YA fiction but I can't help myself when there's a good series to read--the Immortals are definitely one of my favorites and I adore the struggles and triumphs Noel writes in them. They're realistic, oddly enough.

It was cute to hear about holiday traditions and her comments about characters and writing in general. I hope Haven can cheer up soon, too. :( She reminds me of a younger me.

Thank you for posting this!

Carrie said...

Hey there Alyson - I'm glad to have you anytime you have a book coming out! Your very talented and should be known by all!

Hi there beautifiers - Thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing which character you relate with! I do like Haven and hope she finds what she's looking for too!

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
WOW!
Thank you for an excellent indepth interview. One of the best! Thank you to Alyson for sharing. Thank you for the great excerpt too! *I am in fan heaven*
:)
Happy Holidays,
RKCharron

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely interview. Thanks.