2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Friday, 17 October 2014

Q&A With Amy Ewing - The Jewel

Friday, 17 October 2014
This week we put our burning questions to Amy Ewing, author of the forthcoming book The Jewel! Here's a little bit about it:
The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide. Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity - until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other's jeopardy - and salvation. It will appeal to fans of dystopian, dark romance, stepping beyond the paranormal craze. It is perfect for fans of Allie Condie and The Hunger Games. It is a debut novel from a radical new voice in YA.

Do you write mainly for girls or boys, or does it not matter?

I never go into a project thinking, “This book is for girls,” or “This book is for boys.” Certainly in The Jewel there are a lot of women’s issues, but I don’t think that should immediately mean that boys won’t like it, or shouldn’t read it. What better way to gain an understanding of things that are unfamiliar to us than by reading about them? 

Which books have inspired you to become a writer, and are there any books which make you think "I wish I'd written that"?
Oh, I can think of so many! The Harry Potter books for sure, on both counts I can’t imagine planning out seven books. I would love to know how much J.K. Rowling knew before writing and how much came during the process. Twilight was also an inspiration because Stephenie Meyer, like Rowling, was just a regular person with no credentials or training or anything. And she wrote a book and it got published. Which made me think, hey, maybe I could do that too.

I certainly credit my love of all things dark and fantastical to my obsession with Roald Dahl - he was the first author I fell in love with as a child. Which lead to The Chronicles of Narnia and then The Lord of the Rings. I remember distinctly getting halfway through The Return of the King and thinking to myself, Slow down, Amy. You are going to be devastated when this story is over. I have strived to write worlds like that, worlds that you want to live in forever, that you never want to end.

Which of your characters are you most similar or dissimilar to?
Violet and I have a lot in common - we are both stubborn, creative, and not overtly rebellious. Though Violet’s rebellious side certainly comes out over the course of The Jewel. Fortunately, I have never been tested the way she is! I am least similar to the Countess of the Stone. She is a sadistic psychopath and, to the relief of my friends and family, I am not. Even knowing her background and her history, and understanding why she is the way she is, she is probably the only character in The Jewel that I really don’t like. 

How did you come up with the premise of The Jewel?
I was watching action movies on cable one Sunday afternoon and the movie Taken came on. I thought to myself, “Sure, why not? I like Liam Neeson.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, there is a scene when his daughter (the one who gets taken) is paraded onto a stage and bid on by powerful men who want to buy her as, essentially, a sex slave. As I watched that scene, I wondered to myself what it would be like if, instead of men, it was women bidding on her. Why would a woman buy another woman? I thought at first it would be to carry their children for vanity purposes. Why go through nine months of hormones, stretch marks and dietary restrictions when you can have some other girl do it for you? Slowly the idea evolved to the point that these women needed these girls. Generations of inbreeding had caused too much chromosomal damage, and that these surrogates had the power to fix it. And so, the Auction was born, and Violet’s story came to life.

Do you ever imagine a dream cast for The Jewel, if it were to be turned into a film or TV show?
My best friend and I actually have a running list of actors to play Ash and Garnet! We keep adding to it over time because, I mean, who wouldn’t want to research sexy guys? Ash was actually based (physically) on Paul Wesley, though alas, he is probably too old to actually play Ash now. But here’s a list of some dream actors for a few of the characters:

Violet: Chloe Grace Moretz
The Duchess: Lucy Liu (The Duchess was Lucy Liu from the beginning for me. That’s always how I’ve pictured her.)
Lucien: Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch
Raven: Malese Jow
Annabelle: Saoirse Ronan

The Garnet list:
Robert Hoffman
Hunter Parrish
Zac Efron
Tom Felton
William Moseley
Chase Crawford

And the Ash list:
Paul Wesley
Zac Efron
Asher Book
Andrew Garfield
Penn Badgley

(And yes, Zac Efron made it onto both lists. We couldn’t decide).

If you could collaborate with any author who would it be and why?
This is a funny question, since I am currently working on a collaboration with a fellow author! But in terms of an author that I don’t know personally, I would love to collaborate with Neil Gaiman. I love his sense of humour and the darkness of his stories. He creates such fantastically twisted worlds. And his writing is brilliant.

What did you read as a child?
As I said before, Roald Dahl was my first literary love. I’ve read The BFG more times than I can count. I was obsessed with Little Women when I was in middle school. As a teen, I actually loved horror stories—I read a ton of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine, which is strange to look back on, since I am such a scaredy-cat and would probably never read Horror now!

If you were a bookseller recommending The Jewel to a customer, how would you describe it to them to try and hook them?
My pitch line when someone asks me, “What’s your book about?” is always this: “It’s about a city where young girls are auctioned off as surrogates to royal women who can no longer have children naturally on their own.” Quick, easy, one sentence, to the point. To add to that, what I personally love about The Jewel is the contrast between the luxury and glamour and the dark underbelly. There are many layers to this society and the surrogates are not the only ones who are forced to play by the rules. But I love how Violet is constantly shocked out of anger by the beauty that surrounds her - it is a difficult place to stay mad at, which I think only adds to the tension. And I love discussing real issues that I’m passionate about (for example, the right to ownership over one’s own body) in a setting that is fantastical. It gives me so much room to explore, to really push the boundaries of “What would happen if things were this way?”

Amy Ewing's The Jewel will be instore from 4th September and available to preorder now!

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