I'm excited to welcome Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began, back on the blog! Ann is has a new book coming out in January called Afterparty, about dangerous friendships and an even more dangerous party, and she is here to answer a few questions about it.
"Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother—whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma isn’t.
And it may be more than Emma can handle.
Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, a bash where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop..."Here's Ann!
TCR: Who is your favorite character in Afterparty, and why?
AS: This would have to be Emma,a girl who has spent her life moving from city to city, her whole world shaped by a strict and controlling father. As Afterparty opens, Emma finds herself living in the Hollywood Hills with the possibility of spending the rest of high school in one place, attending one school, with new friends who have no memory of the geeky girl she thinks she used to be. Here she is, embracing the possibility of experiencing some (totally forbidden) freedom and having some (absolutely unacceptable) fun.
But facing life in her reinvented form has some challenges, and Emma finds herself sucked into the vortex of what start off as innocuous lies, dealing with her hot and completely imaginary French boyfriend, and pining for the very real boy her dad cannot find out about.
All this is facilitated by a new best friend who gets her completely, understands the painful secrets of her family’s past, and helps her stand up to her dad -- and would be kind of perfect if she weren’t going completely out of control and taking Emma with her on a wilder ride than Emma had in mind.
Every time I try to explain why all this adds up to a character I love, I end up with some major spoilers, but here are some tidbits: her humor, her struggle with moral dilemmas, her basic decency, her desire to break free from her ghosts (not actual ghosts; this is realistic contemp), and, most importantly, her heart.
TCR: What was the hardest part about writing Afterparty? The easiest?
AS: With Afterparty, I went in knowing Emma and Siobhan, the two girls at the center of the story, really well. So writing the first draft, just letting their relationship unfold with its highs and lows, flowed easily. Also, I loved some of the guys, especially Dylan and Arif -- after my last novel, it was such a pleasure writing boys who had little in common with the devil!
And again, I knew the geography. I live exactly as far above the Sunset Strip as Emma, just a little further West, and doing things like setting a first kiss at The Griddle over red velvet pancakes, or putting the characters on a picnic table by a hiking trail where I know the terrain helped make the first draft process a lot of fun.
In a way, the first draft unfolded too easily, because I ended up with a ton of back story and many, many superfluous scenes and chapters that, ultimately, had to be slashed. (Seriously, if you ever want to know what happened when Emma fell off a horse in Montreal when she was five years old, ask me for a truly lame
deleted chapter. Not kidding.)
So I guess the hardest part was paring the voluminous first draft down into a book!
TCR: What was your reaction when you first saw your cover?
AS: I was knocked out! First of all, it’s gorgeous. It feels perfectly like Los Angeles late at night, romantic and promising and a little bit dangerous. And those brightly colored lights reflected in the rain-drenched street, the lone girl, sandals in had, wearing that diaphanous skirt – so evocative and so perfect for the story.
Because this cover is an almost-literal depiction of a key scene in the story. You’ll see where immediately.
And here’s the wonderful thing my editor, Patrick Price, did to make the cover even more perfect. In the original photo, the girl had two champagne glasses in one hand. (You can still find this picture floating around the internet.) But in Afterparty, when Emma is walking toward Hollywood Boulevard, shoes in hand: no champagne glasses. Patrick had the art department remove those glasses. I was completely thrilled!
Thanks so much, Ann! We're excited for the release date!
Afterparty will be out January 7th, 2014, so plan on using your Christmas giftcards to pick it up!