Sunday, April 17, 2011

Interview with Amy Plum- Author of Die For Me

Today Romance Magicians welcomes Amy Plum, the author of upcoming Die For Me.  Amy is a Birmingham native who now makes her home in the Loire Valley in France.

Die For Me weaves the mythology of a new supernatural monster--the Revenant--into the beauty of Paris and the mystery of falling in love.  After the horrific death of both of her parents, 16-year-old Kate moves to Paris to live with her grandparents.  While adjusting to her new life, she falls for Vincent, a broodingly handsome Frenchman. But Vincent is anything but the average teenager. He's a Revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others

I was lucky enough to get a hold of an ARC of the novel months ago, and I really can't say enough about how much I enjoyed the book.  In a market over-saturated with angsty supernatural teen romances, Die For Me stands out. The novel is beautifully written and imaginatively conceived.  I can't imagine how this book won't be huge. And one lucky commenter will get to read it before anyone else, because I'm giving away an ARC of the novel!

Amy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.  Enjoy!  (And make sure you go pre-order the book.)

1. I know that the success you've had so far with Die For Me has given you the chance to do what most writers dream of--quit the day job and write full time, but at what point did you make it your goal to be a writer? What did you do to stay focused and motivated on that goal?

Lisa, I’ve always wanted to write. But after a few early rejections (by my university’s literary magazine and by friends whose advice I trusted), I decided to keep my writing to myself. Besides my MA thesis and art historical articles I wrote for Sotheby’s (where I worked for a few years), my writing was limited to journals and long storytelling letters to friends and family about the foreign places I lived.

It wasn’t until I moved to the Loire Valley five years ago that I began blogging. Finally, people I didn’t know from Adam started giving me feedback on my writing. And it was overwhelmingly positive, which shocked me because I still felt that it was a passion that I had no talent for. It was because of those readers’ encouragement that I found the courage to write my first manuscript (A Year in the Vines).

So the blog was my “coming out” as a writer. I didn’t know what blogging was, so I usually wrote full essays and articles. And I did that every day for two years, and then every other day for another year, before it became necessarily (because of my book-writing) less frequent.

The thing that kept me focused and motivated during that period was pure desperation. I had gone from being a career girl in the big city (New York) to jobless and isolated in the French countryside. I had no friends. When my husband traveled I sometimes went a whole week without speaking to anyone. My husband and I weren’t doing well. Our financial situation wasn’t good. And I had this round-the-clock screaming colicky baby that I had no clue what to do with.

For me it was write or die: make my desperate situation funny and in doing so seduce a following of readers who would give me emotional support. (Unless I’m deluded, those readers didn’t know how bad things were. Who wants to read a sob story? So I made it comical. If they’re reading this now...surprise!) If I hadn’t had that creative and social outlet, I would probably have been hospitalized for severe depression. Instead, I found my calling. You could say that writing saved my life.

2. Even though your first manuscript found an agent fairly quickly, it hasn't been published yet. Was there anything that helped keep you focused on continuing to write, even as you waited for news on that first one?

Finding an agent (Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich) so quickly was a huge confirmation to me. And then the encouraging feedback from the publishers she submitted it to gave me the affirmation that another book was worth trying.

By this time, I had found a job teaching university English, and had done an overhaul of A YEAR IN THE VINES (changing it from part-fiction to pure memoir at the request of publishers). I didn’t like the new version as much and had a feeling it wouldn’t sell. So while I waited for the news from Stacey, I threw myself into a new project. Although I was used to writing stories from my life on the blog, I thought I’d try a different genre. And since I had just read TWILIGHT and saw how well it was working, I figured I’d give YA a try. I wrote DIE FOR ME during the university’s summer vacation.

It was really a stab in the dark. I had no expectations that the book would work. I was already geared up to write something in a different genre the next summer, which would be my last go at publication before having to quit the low-paying university job and find something full-time.

3. You've talked about using the theme of "impossible love" in Die For Me. Do you think that the theme has more resonance for a YA audience than an adult audience?

That’s a really good question! I think that impossible love holds resonance for a YA audience for one reason, and for an adult audience for another.

When you’re young you dream of Prince Charming (or Princess Charming!) because you haven’t had enough experience to know that he/she doesn’t exist. I remember watching the film West Side Story when I was a teenager. I became hysterical afterward, and cried for hours. Totally freaked my parents out. The impossible love in Tony and Maria’s case was so incomprehensible and unfair to my fifteen-year-old mind that it destroyed me. I sobbed after reading Romeo and Juliet for the same reason.

So we all fast-forward a decade (or two in my case) and several relationships later. You know the difference between reality and fiction now. But oh, how you wish the fiction were real.

4. Do you think you'll continue to write YA fiction beyond Die For Me?

I have one other YA paranormal series in mind, but only because it is about a topic that has fascinated me for years. If that doesn’t work out, I don’t think I will stick with YA paranormal. But I do enjoy YA and would be open to writing something else for that age group.

But I do hope to write adult books. That diamond project I keep seeing glittering in the distance is a dark southern novel—in the manner of Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but with a pretty high creep-factor. And I have a Rosemary’s Baby-style psychological thriller that I wrote about fifty pages of before not knowing what to do with it. I can’t wait to jump back into that project.

5. Die For Me isn't out yet, but you've had a well developed internet platform for the book for a while now.  As a newly published author, what do you think are the most important lessons you've learned about using the web or social media to market your book?

I already had a good readership from my old blog, and they all generously followed me over to my writer’s blog and to Facebook. (Even though most are not YA readers.) So thanks to them I wasn’t posting in the dark. As ARCs get out, reviewers are beginning to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and that is definitely helping to spread the word about Die For Me. But it is still early days, and I’ll only be able to measure social media’s true value in hindsight: once the book is published and the numbers are out.

I do put quite a bit of time and effort into it. And some days I wonder if my time wouldn’t be better spent writing another book. But I do feel that this period pre-publication is important for “building a buzz” as the marketing people say. And I want to do everything I can to help that along.

6. What has been the best surprise about the whole publishing process of Die For Me?

If I can turn your question around, the whole publishing process of Die For Me has been a huge surprise.

I really knew nothing about publishing when it was bought. To the point that when someone asked me for an ARC, I had no clue what they were talking about. The editing process was less of a fun surprise—in fact it was more of a shock—but it has been extremely valuable (albeit painful at times). And then all of these crazy little things keep popping up, like helping to choose a voice for the audio book, being asked my opinion on cover art, and filming an author video (deer-in-headlights-alert!).

But I think that the most amazing, awe-inducing moment was when I got the call from my agent telling me about HarperCollins’s offer. The amount of the advance almost made me faint, it so exceeded anything I could have imagined. But WAY more important than that was the fact that a major publisher wanted something that I wrote, and they wanted it badly enough to give an amazing pre-empt bid. I felt so validated, so valued, that my feet didn’t touch the ground for about two months.

Die For Me will be in stores on May 10th, but one lucky reader will get it next week.  Just post a comment telling us about YOUR favorite supernatural beings by Friday the 22nd and I'll pick someone at random to receive an ARC of the book.

Update: The winner of the ARC drawing is Lexi. Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the book.


Heather said...

What a great interview! Thank you, Amy and Lisa. I would love to hear about Amy's world building and research process. The story in Die for Me sounds fantastic. I can't wait to read it.

Callie James said...

Sounds like a wonderful story! Thanks for the interview, Amy and Lisa. You know I love reading those success stories.

The Total Book Nerd said...

Awesome interview! Great Blog too! :D
Do Pixies count as supernatural beings? LOL. Cause I LOVE pixies. LOL. The thought that there are good and bad pixies is exciting! haha! And of course the golden pixie dust. How awesome is that. hehe

Karla Vollkopf said...

Loved the interview!
My favorite supernatural beings are shape-shifters and werewolves! I am absolutely insane about them! :))

if it's international, please count me in. ;)

kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

Bailey said...

Awesome interview! My favorite supernatural beings are dragon shifters. =D


Safari Poet said...

Great interview. I doubt there are very few who want to get their hands on an ARC.

Mmmm, that's a tough one. I love the idea of fairies, but read more about vampires. I also like Bean-sídhes, which now I think about it, were once fairies as well.

Lisa Dunick said...

Heather- I'll see if Amy would be willing to pop onto the comments and talk more about that.

Callie- It's definitely an inspiring success story. After reading the book, and then about her, it really kicked me into gear to get something out.

TBN- Of course Pixies count!

Lisa Dunick said...

Oh- and did I mention that the ARC is of the old cover? (Yup, that's right. The publisher believes in this book enough that AFTER they did a big push with its original gorgeous cover, they gave it an even better one!)

Neil Raz said...

awesome!! and my favorite supernatural being are witches and warlocks.. magic is way awesome!

adiba-s said...

this book is at the top of my to-read shelf.

my favourite supernatural beings are faeries. I fell in love with them after reading THE IRON FEY series by Julie Kagawa

Carla Swafford said...

Hauntingly beautiful cover. The book would do good in Japan too. I've been told they love hopeless love stories.

Hiba said...

Wow...more restless than ever to read the book!!!!!
My favourite supernatural being....fallen angels...I don't know, they jus intrigue me... ;)

Morpho Melinda said...

The cover for this book is gorgeous and I'm following the buzz around it. My favorite supernatural creature is the ghost, which can have many forms. We are always haunted by something.

WulfLuva said...

I've always been obsessed with werewolves, probably because I'm an animal lover and it would be awesome to cuddle with a wolf!

oreo_93 at hotmail dot com

Evelyn said...

Love this interview- it's the best I've read so far and Amy has done a few.

Leprachans are my favorite supernatural creatures. I said I hoped to see one when I went to Ireland several years ago and I got to sit on one's lap in Dublin!

Amy Plum said...

Hi all! Heather - I have actually done an interview completely on creating mythology (in my case, the same as world building). It will be coming up on May 20 on

As for research...I took the age-old advice of writing what you know and because of that barely had to do any research. The locations I used in Paris were ones I knew well. The art and history I had studied or read about out of interest in the past. I researched names to make sure they were era-appropriate and created back-stories for two characters through tidbits I found while researching names. And I did some myth-based linguistic research to create a few terms I needed.

It's not that I don't like research. I love it! But I had a very short time frame in which to write, so I just used the information I already had.

RockyHorrorBirthday said...

I loved the interview and this book sounds awesome. The paranormal themes have really gotten me into YA books, which is great because I was clearly missing out on one of the more exciting genres for a long time!

Anonymous said...

Great interview!!! I guess i would have to say at this time my favorite supernatural beings are vampires.

Lexi said...

I agree with Heather. This sounds fantastic! Can't wait to read it and I know my teenager will eat it up too!

Minas said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read this book. My favorite supernatural beings are vampires.


Gwen Hernandez said...

Fabulous interview, Lisa.

This sounds like an intriguing story, Amy. Good luck with the release!

As far as favorite supernatural beings, I guess shapeshifters, or those that are basically human but have special powers.

Louisa Cornell said...

What a terrific interview! I am really looking forward to reading this book. I LOVE the premise!

And I truly admire your determination to stick with your blog and then your writing. Great inspiration!

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for vampires. I have since I read Dracula when I was about ten years old.

However, I also love to read about witches as they have that all too human factor to go with their supernatural powers.

I am intrigued by all sorts of paranormal creatures and I so admire the people who write them and create those worlds!

Seine Judeet said...

I think that Revenants will be my favorite supernatural characters :)) Great interview, Amy! I can't wait to finally get a copy so that I can tell my students first hand how good it is!


Mariya said...

Yeah! Giveaway time. I have always loved vampires. I think they will always be my favorite. XD


Anki said...

My favorite supernatural beings are definitely the ELVES! Too bad they're such a rarity in YA fantasy!

Great interview and giveaway!

Reading mind said...

I'm kinda hunting an ARC of this book around the blogsphere cause I'm dying to read it! I'll Die for it!

as far as supernatural beings I guess my favourite are demons...bad demons, tortured demons...all kind of demons!

aliasgirl at libero dot it

starryeyedjen said...

great interview! thx for the opportunity to win an arc. i can't wait to read this novel!

hmm...fave supernatural being...i love them all, but i think the most fun to read about is faeries. they're just so versatile. on the evil spectrum, they can be entirely deceptive but seem so good, and even when they're the good sort of fae, they're still deceptive. with faeries, you never know what you're getting until you've already been ensnared. :P they have magical powers and live in an entirely different realm, yet still live among humans when necessary. i wouldn't mind being wisked away to fairyland, that's for sure. :D

thx for the giveaway!


Nina @ Death Books and Tea said...

This makes me want to read it even more...great interview!
My favourite supernatural being...hard one...I'd say demons cos bad guys are fun!
Nina xxx

AmyC ~ said...

GREAT interview.

Hmm, I have always liked fairies - with the supernatural you get Ghosts. Yes, I believe in'em. I have seen, felt, heard, etc...Angels too.

Elanor Lawrence said...

Hmmm... my favourite is probably either a faerie/pixie or the kind of watery shapeshifter thing that Kiersten White has in Paranormalcy. I'm a fan of Amy's on FB, and I would love to win an ARC.

dani_nguyen said...

My favorite supernatural beings are faeries. Also, dragons.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Cherie K. said...

Awesome interview. The story sounds wonderful! I can't wait.

As for my favorite supernatural being I would have to guess angels. Though we know them as messengers and soldiers of God there are so many facets to their being such as their personalities and feelings towards each other and their duties regarding mortals. I also enjoy their interactions with other supernatural beings such as the fae and vampires.


Kayla said...

I have to say I'm really fond of angels. They are my favorite supernatural beings.

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