We are less than two weeks away from the May 5 release of BOOK 2 of my duology that opens with AFTER THE END and closes with UNTIL THE BEGINNING.
During these two weeks, I will be giving away copies of both books as well as some super-special gifts that are being made AS WE SPEAK.
I will start the festivities with an interview that I premiered during the YA Scavenger Hunt a few weeks ago. But for those of you who didn’t catch it the first time around, I would like to present one of the two protagonists of AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING…
ANSWERING THE HARD QUESTIONS.
And with that presentation, I will leave you to listen in…
Interviewer: Hi Miles. It’s so nice to have you here today. Please take a seat and help yourself to the cookie tray, water, whatever you’d like.
Miles: Smiles broadly. Thanks for having me.
Miles takes a bottle of water and spends a few seconds perusing the offerings of the cookie tray before choosing-chocolate chocolate chip. He settles in his chair and looks around at the room, which is completely empty except for two chairs and the refreshment table.
Miles: So what is this place anyway?
Interviewer: It’s a place away from time and space. A neutral place.
Miles: Like that pure white space in the Matrix where Laurence Fishburne shows Keanu Reaves how to fight?
Miles: Looks around at the nothingness and nods. Cool.
Interviewer: In the real world, the events in AFTER THE END and UNTIL THE BEGINNING have already happened. But even I don’t know where you came from to join us today.
Miles: Starts to say something.
Interviewer: Don’t tell us. No spoilers please, even for me.
Miles: Smiles. Gotcha.
Interviewer: Okay. First question. Why do you think it is that Amy Plum’s readers are considerably less impressed with you than with Jules Marchenoir or even Vincent Delacroix from her DIE FOR ME series?
Miles: Stares at interviewer. Excuse me?
Interviewer: Ignores his astonishment and looks down at notes. I have a few examples here from Goodreads, if you’d like. Let’s see: Jenna says, “JULES! Ma chérie. Mon amour! Your heart needs fixing and maybe I can help!”
CrazyBookReader says, “I looove Jules!!!! Like a lot!! If Kate doesn’t want him, can I have him??”
Bungle Midnight Reads says, “Oh Jules! How I love thee, let me count the ways.”
Interviewer looks up at Miles, who sits there dumbfounded. Interviewer looks back down at her notes.
As for Vincent, Janel says, “Vincent is so romantic!!!”
Interviewer looks up at Miles. That was with three exclamation points.
Noel says, “VINCENT!!!!” This time with four exclamation points. “He’s so amazing! Plus he’s SMEXY!”
Miles: Gobsmacked. What the hell is SMEXY?
Interviwer: Disregards Miles’s comment and continues. Inger says, “Vincent is so perfect! I mean come on! Vincent All The Way!!”
Miles: Shifts uncomfortably in his chair. Okay, enough examples. I get it.
Interviewer: As for you, let’s see…Brandi of Brandi Breathes Books says, “I didn’t connect with Miles, he didn’t show me his heart or anything to make me relate to him…”
Miles: Interrupts. Holy crap! Has no one ever heard of character growth? There are TWO BOOKS. Count ‘em. TWO. And honestly, I’m happy that Amy didn’t make me perfectly loveable from the very first chapter. My excuses to Vincent and Jules, but THAT’S JUST NOT REALISTIC. Actually no excuses at all to Vincent and Jules. Those guys can keep going around showing their hearts and being all relatable. I’m fine being myself. Takes a big bite of cookie.
Interviewer: Okay, how about this one? Tabitha of Bows & Bullets Reviews says, “Miles is a normal dickheaded teenage boy. He’s done some stupid things and is altogether too cocky for his own good, but he’s a good guy, hiding deep (very deep) under that asshole exterior.”
Miles: Chokes on cookie and starts coughing.
Interviewer: Walks over to hit him on the back and hands him his bottle. Are you okay?
Miles: Takes a long swig of water and clears his throat. Interviewer returns to her seat. Miles leans over to catch his breath and ruffles his hair back with one hand before looking up at the Interviewer. So this is a place out of time and space where you can toss any old offensive quotes at your interviewee without shame?
Interviewer: Smiles. Yes.
Miles: Shakes his head in dismay. Okay. First of all, those guys are French. Which gives them automatic sex appeal. I’m sure they totally play up those stupid accents and do all sorts of Frenchie things like complimenting girls on their clothes and spouting pretty words and romantic poetry and giving them flowers at every possible occasion. But get them off the pages when the author’s not looking, and I’m sure they leave their dirty underwear lying around on the floor and don’t replace the toilet roll and have farting competitions or whatever.
Interviewer: Do you leave your dirty underwear lying around on the floor?
Miles: Never. Crosses arms. Looks intently at cookie plate.
Interviewer: So you think readers prefer these guys to you because they’re French and the author made them unrealistically romantic.
Miles: Well, that’s a starter. But also, Amy made them perfect from page one. Okay, maybe not perfect, but …how would you say it in romance book terminology? “An element of sexy dangerousness?” “Flawed in a way that makes the readers’ hearts melt?” To be quite honest, I agree with Tabitha. When AFTER THE END starts, I’m a bit of a shit. Lifts hand to mouth. Am I allowed to say shit in a YA interview?
Interviewer: I think Tabitha already burst the clean-interview bubble with her colorful review. Plus I’m against censorship. Say anything you want.
Miles: Smiles, relieved. Cool. Okay. It’s not like it was my choice or anything, but Amy Plum just happened to start the book when I was at my least charming. Which totally puts me at a disadvantage when you weigh me against those French zombie guys.
Interviewer: Are you, Miles Blackwell, comfortable using the word zombie in a negative sense? Stares at him intensely.
Miles: Didn’t you just specify no spoilers?
Interviewer: Sly smile. I stand corrected.
Miles: So anyway, when the first book starts, I’m getting kicked out of school just months before graduation.
Interviewer: Would you like to tell us why?
Miles: Sheesh! Don’t hold back with the hard questions.
Interviewer: I won’t. Thanks.
Miles: Fine. I had been ‘behaving badly,’ as the school faculty put it. Brought alcohol and drugs to school. Drugs being pot, okay? Not like crack or anything.
Interview: Bringing illegal substances to school.
Miles: Yes. And then I cheated on an exam. And all that together got me kicked out. So my dad forced me to work in the mailroom at his pharmaceutical company as a kind of punishment, and when the book begins I’m doing that and spending the rest of my time playing video games since I’m banned from leaving the house besides for work.
Interviewer: I agree. Couch potato? Mailroom job? That’s not a very sexy way to start a book series.
Interviewer: So why don’t we skip ahead a bit, and you can tell us how you met Juneau.
Miles: Oh, come on!
Interviewer: This is your opportunity to prove yourself, like I said. So just be honest.
Miles: Okay. Speaking really quickly. I tried to kidnap her in order to impress my dad who had his men out searching for her.
Interviewer: That is honest. But I’m afraid it’s not helping your case much.
Miles: I said I TRIED to kidnap her. And then I got to know her. And I changed my mind and ended up playing chauffeur as she had me drive her halfway across the United States with her pet raven, who by the way shat in my back seat. Not that I haven’t forgiven him, but still…
Interviewer: Okay. Let’s back up a step. What is up with all this bad behavior? I have to say, at this point I’m siding with Brandi. I wouldn’t be relating to you much either.
Miles: You know what it’s like to be an eighteen-year-old guy?
Interviewer: No, I don’t. Points to chest with pen. Boobs.
Miles: You can say boobs in a YA interview?
Interviewer: I can. Being the owner of said boobs.
Miles: Looks embarrassed. Okay. Let’s stay away from body part conversations. You’ll have to take my word for it. Being an eighteen-year-old guy is hard enough. And before you say it…I know Vincent and Jules are the same age as I. But you see…they really AREN’T. They’re really like a century old, which is freaking weird…
Interviewer: Raises eyebrow. Is there a reason you feel so strongly about the topic of immortality?
Miles: Mimics Interviewer’s eyebrow-raising move. Spoilers.
Miles: What I mean is, those guys had decades to learn about life. To understand who they are. To come to terms with their place in the world. I’ve had eighteen freaking years, and the last two were spent alone with a father who cares more about his work than his family.
Interviewer: What happened two years ago?
Miles: Suddenly looks vulnerable. Speaking in a quiet voice: That’s when my mom abandoned us after trying to kill herself. Cradles his forehead in his hand.
Interviewer: Is silent for a while. That sheds a different light on your…behavior.
Miles: Dabs at his eyes. Looks back up. Takes a sip of water. Sighs. Listen. I’m not looking for pity here. Just saying I was in a completely different situation than they were. Anyway, there I was at the beginning of Book 1 wallowing around in my suck-filled life when suddenly I find myself with this girl who is unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. At first I think she’s crazy. And then she infers that she’s magic or something and I KNOW she’s crazy. And then she tells me her own messed-up story and I feel a bit bad for her and I let down my guard. And then she drugs me, makes out with me, reads my mind, and steals my car.
Interviewer: I’d like to just clarify something in that timeline. You were not, in fact, under the influence of the oracle drug she gave you when you initiated that make-out session in the tent.
Miles: Hesitates. No. Not officially.
Interviewer: Good. I’m glad that’s clear.
Miles: The only reason I’m telling you this is to explain that we had a rough beginning. But then things happened. And I began to see Juneau for who she really is.
Interviewer: Which is?
Miles: Blows out puff of breath, and then looks interviewer in the eye. Juneau is one of the strongest people I know. She has an almost suicidal sense of loyalty and responsibility toward those she loves. She is magic. Or not really magic…it’s this whole earth magic, Yara, communicating with nature thing that she has a gift for.
But that isn’t even slightly the most important thing about her. She is like…
Miles looks around the room, as if searching for words, finds them, and then puts the stare back on the Interviewer. Juneau is like a force of nature. She swept me off my feet, pulled me along in her wake, and forced me look at myself for who I really was. She made me decide whether I was going to choose to use the strength inside me—strength I didn’t even know was there—to become a force for good like her, or wimp out and return to my sad little chicken-shit life.
Interviewer: And you chose…?
Miles: Are we talking seriously now, or is this still just a lighthearted YA interview about book boyfriends?
Interviewer: At this point I couldn’t be more serious.
Miles: Sits straight up in the chair, and suddenly he no longer looks like the typical swoony teenage boy. He drops his casual act and there’s something almost noble about him. Okay, then. Look me in the eyes and tell me how you think I chose.
Interviewer: For once, speechless.
Miles: A corner of his lips rises slightly, and there is a light in his eyes that wasn’t there before. Of course I could tell you. But that would be a spoiler.
Interviewer: No, no. I think it’s pretty clear. Can I ask one last question?
Interviewer: Puts her pen and pad down on the floor and leans in toward him. Do you consider yourself a man in love?
Miles: Gives a cryptic smile and then stands up. I’d love to stay and chat, but there’s someone I need to get back to. Starts to leave. Then stops and turns back to face the Interviewer.
No, wait. I’m going to answer that question.
When I wake up my first thought is of her. Every moment I spend with her seems like a gift. One I don’t deserve, but one I would fight to keep. I spend my time thinking of ways to make her happy. When I make her smile, I feel like I’ve flipped the switch that turns the stars on. And when I make her laugh, it’s like I singlehandedly created springtime.
Interviewer: Picks jaw up off the floor. Clears throat, and presses hand hard against chest in order to speak. Miles Blackwell, what was that you were saying before about the French having an unfair advantage by using pretty words? Because that sounded suspiciously like poetry to me.
Miles: Opens a door that suddenly appears, and turns to face the Interviewer with a good-natured grin. I’m ready to take on those French ladies’ men any time they want. As far as I’m concerned, Vincent and Jules, it’s time to bring it. We’ll let the readers decide who’s the best man.
To make up your own mind on who is truly the best man, read the books!
AFTER THE END: purchase on Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, Indiebound
UNTIL THE BEGINNING: preorder for May 5 on Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, Indiebound.
TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: tell me in the comments below which of the three boys would win your heart to win a signed copy of either book. I will choose a winner in 24 hours! And…go!