Today I am absolutely thrilled to have the super talented Amy Engel on the blog.
Ms Engel is the author of one of my top reads of 2014, The Book of Ivy. The second book, The Revolution of Ivy, is releasing in November and I cannot be more excited!
The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1)
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.
This year, it is my turn.
My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.
But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.
Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…
Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty--forced marriages and murder plots--for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall's borders.
But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy's life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she's fought for.
1) Describe The Book of Ivy series in the length of a tweet (140 characters or less)
I am SO bad at this. If you follow me on twitter, you already know I suck at tweeting. How about “A Romeo & Juliet story set in a post-apocalyptic future”? SEE? I’m the worst. I promise I write novels better than I tweet.
2) The Book of Ivy was one of my top reads of 2014. It is one of the most intelligent and well thought out dystopians I have ever read. Where did the idea for the series come from?
To be honest, I don’t really know. The idea for Ivy’s character and situation just popped into my head one day—a girl forced to marry a boy she’s been coached to kill. And then the whole rest of the story flowed from that initial thought. I’ve always been interested in family dynamics and how our families influence us and that idea obviously played a big part in the development of the story.
3) Ivy and Bishop are fantastic characters with so many layers to them. I especially loved Ivy’s fierceness and strength and how strong willed she was. Did you draw inspiration from real people for any of the characters?
No, I didn’t really base Ivy off of anyone in real life. I knew I wanted to write a strong girl who, at the same time, wasn’t super human. Ivy has flaws and weaknesses. She’s a little naive, and her family uses her love for them to manipulate her. But she grows and changes over the course of the series and I love that about her.
4) Book 1 ended on a huge cliff-hanger! Is there anything you can tell us about what to expect in book 2?
You can expect Ivy to learn just how strong she can be when she’s forced to rely on only herself for survival. She really comes into her own in Book 2, but she doesn’t lose that capacity for love she discovered in Book 1. And you haven’t seen the last of other characters from Book 1, both those you love and those you probably hate.
5) Do you have a favourite quote from the series?
I don't know if I have a single favorite quote. I’ve noticed that often a writer’s favorite lines are not the same ones readers would choose. I will say that I really love the epilogue of Book 2. It’s the scene I’ve been writing toward the entire series and I’m happy with the way it turned out. But I can’t quote from it because I don’t want to spoil anything for readers!
6) What has been your favourite part of writing this series?
My favorite part of the actual writing of the series has been the evolution of Ivy’s character and developing the relationship between Ivy and Bishop. Both those things were great fun to write. Aside from the writing, I’ve loved connecting with readers and book bloggers. Everyone has been wonderful and I am so thankful for the support.
7) Do you have any tricks or methods you use to encourage your muse?
Like many writers, I find that exercise or water really help my muse if I’m feeling stuck. So a long run or a shower works wonders. I have no idea why these things help, but they definitely do!
8) What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
This is probably not a shock, but I love to read. I usually spend a good part of any free time I have reading. And I like to go for a run most days. Spending time with my family and friends is also one of my favorite things when I’m not writing.
9) What other projects have you lined up?
I have an adult gothic suspense novel (THE ROANOKE GIRLS) coming out from the Crown imprint of Random House in early 2017, so right now I’m working on edits for that book. After those are done, I plan to start something new, although I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to be yet.
10) And finally, what was the last book you read that you absolutely loved?
The last book I read and absolutely loved was an adult novel called FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff. I can’t stop thinking about it. Her writing is absolutely beautiful and the story knocks you for a loop.
Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas; California; Missouri; Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two kids. Before devoting herself full-time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV. When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping. The Book of Ivy is her debut YA novel. Find her online at http://amyengel.net/ or @aengelwrites.
A kindle copy of The Book of Ivy to 3 winners.
Open to anyone who can accept Amazon US ebooks.