Hi everyone !
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to interview one of my favorites writers, Amy Plum, about her last novel After The End. It was really great and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do. Please check her website: http://www.amyplumbooks.com/ , and ad her on Twitter and Goodreads.
Thank you !
1. How did you get the idea to write After The End? What was the trigger for the beginning of the story?
I was in the country when I got the idea. I had this image of a girl surrounded by snow, her lifestyle was from another time. Then I saw her discovering a new world. I knew that the story would take place in today's world but that it wouldn't be a dystopia. From there, I started wondering about her: why would she and her clan be put aside? Why would she live in a worlds ostracized from society? Why stay hidden from the world? Why did her parents lie to her? And so on. Then, from those questions, I worked step by step and the story and details came to me as I was writing.
Could you explain what the Yara is?
The Yara is like magic circulating within the group, but above all, it is linked to nature. I wanted to go with an existing religions, such as the Native Americans', but it wasn't possible. My publisher told me that the topic was too sensitive for someone who isn't a part of that ethnic group. So, I had to look for something new. I wanted something like a philosophy, with a spiritual side as well. I thought about the Gaia movement in the United-States in the 60s. Everything is linked to nature. Then I wanted to expand that circle outside of nature and I focused on Carl Jung's ideas: a collective subconscious linking and connecting everything on the same level. The I added it to Gaia, with nature and its own consciousness.
Before writing the story, did you know you would tell it from two points of view?
No, when I started writing After the End I didn't have two points of view in mind. The boy came later, after I had written about fifteen chapters from Juneau's point of view. I was just planning the story of a girl and her adventures. I didn't want romance at all! (laugh) But when I was told that my story needed a boy, I started writing and discovering Miles. He had to be discovered through his own voice and point of view. It was really fun and I enjoyed writing from his perspective.
What was the most fun and the most difficult to write in this new series?
Writing and revealing a character through the other's point of view was fun to do. The way the characters see each other made some passages really fun to write.
Making the rules of the Yara such as the “conjuration” or the “reading” was the most difficult thing to me. As always, I discovered everything as I wrote.
I said in my review that the relationship between Juneau and Miles wasn't “love at first sight”, how would you describe the evolution of their relationship? In your opinion, what is the strength of their relationship?
Before writing Die For Me, I hadn't read a lot of young adult literature, but I quickly understood that romance was mandatory. For Vincent and Kate, the love at first sight was obvious, and a lot of readers likes it. But I also received some criticism about Vincent and Kate's love story. I also wanted to change some things, to have fewer kissing scenes for instance ! (laughs) I wanted the characters to hate each other from the beginning, because their personalities are completely different. For instance, Miles is shallow, and Juneau despises that.
The reason why they eventually start liking each other and being attracted to each other is the same reason why they hate each other at first. To Juneau, Miles's flaws make him endearing, like the fact that his father's love is conditional, that he has been abandoned by his mother, etc. All of this makes him human and breaks the shell Miles had built over time.
If Miles and Juneau met today, in high school for instance, what would bring them together? Would a relationship be possible?
I have no idea! But Juneau would stay the same. With her leading abilities, I can see her becoming school president and earning her peers' respect. She and Miles would belong to different groups and wouldn't hang out with the same people; But something could happen, probably outside of school (at work, for instance), because Miles would want to earn the respect of someone like Juneau.
Between Miles and Juneau, who could you have as a friend?
I could be friend with both characters since they are representative of the kind of friends I already have. I would have fun with Miles, Juneau would intimidate me, but since friends are important to her, we could bond over that quality.
Sometimes I like to wonder if my characters from two different novels could be friends if they happened to meet. So, in your opinion, which character of Die For Me could have been friends with Miles? With Juneau?
That's a very good question, which I never asked myself! (laughs) I really don't see Vincent becoming friend with Miles. They are so different! Vincent would be repelled by Miles's attitude and superficial aspect. He wouldn't try to look further. Ambrose could be friends with Miles, since he is also from America and already knows the kind of personality that Miles has.
It's hard to say if Kate and Juneau could be friends because they are also very different, just like the worlds in my two series. I wrote Kate based on my personality, whereas Juneau and I have hardly anything in common.
I think Jules would see Juneau as a challenge. He wouldn't try to seduce her, but rather to expose her to him in order to get to know her. Ute could be friend with Juneau, because they both have a strong personality and a leading attitude, they don't care about what people say.
In After The End, I am Tallie, caught in between, someone who would appreciate Miles, while still making fun of him because of his poor survival skills. (laughs)
When you wrote the ending of After the End, did you you know exactly at what moment you were going to end the novel?
Not at all! I was writing and I thought it would be a turning point before the rest of Juneau and Miles's adventures. I decided it on the spot. The car chase scene surprised me! (laughs) Because I never thought I would write a scene like this, it was surprising.
Can you tell us a few words about what to expect in Until The Beginning?
It's hard to summarize what is going to happen... I can already say that Miles doesn't die! It's not a real spoiler, a sequel wouldn't be possible without Miles. I can also tell you that the rite started by Juneau (the same one received by every child in the group) will change Miles, but the result will be different. Because Miles, as opposed to Juneau's group, wasn't raised to be close to the Yara. It's also different because he was about to die, whereas the members of Juneau's clan are in perfect health when they receive the Rite.
Then, Juneau will have to discover the mystery around her group's disappearance and you will meet a new character who I already had in mind while writing After The End. Juneau will find out the truth about Whit and will learn more and more about her powers. Of course, the romance continues and Miles and Juneau's relationship will be different from the one they have in the first book of the series.
Thanks a lot to Amy for taking the time to answer these questions. I loved speaking to her directly, it was a nice change! (despite some technical difficulties) I learned that Until The Beginning will only be published in May of next year, so we still have about thirteen months to wait! I hope this interview made you want to buy After the End. And if you have already read this last novel, I recommend the Revenants saga. You won't be disappointed either!
Enjoy your reading!