Welcome to this stop on The Last Academy Blog Tour! Today I have an interview with the author Anne Applegate and also a giveaway, so be sure to enter that. First here's some info about the book:
The Last Academy
Release Date: 1st May 2013
Synopsis: Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP meets THE SIXTH SENSE in this spine-tingling, unforgettable debut.
Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam--and readers--stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.
First of all Welcome to Read Write and Read Some More, we are very pleased to host you!
Hi Annabelle, thanks for hosting! Great questions – I had fun answering them.
First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I have a pretty good case of social dorkwardness in real life, so I’m well-suited to a job in which most of my coworkers are imaginary.
When did you start writing and when did you begin to take writing seriously?
I’ve always loved to write, but I’ve also had the writer’s equivalent of stage fright. Up until my thirties, being afraid was more important to me than being a writer. Finally, I realized I wasn’t a kid any more – if I kept putting off my dreams until I was braver, I might end up dead before I ended up a writer. There were lots of baby steps to getting here, and even now, my delete key takes a lot of abuse.
The Last Academy is your debut novel, can you tell us a bit about how it started from an idea in your mind to becoming a published novel? What was the whole process like?
I had an unusual path to publishing. As part of getting over my stage fright, I kept an anonymous blog (now defunct). It was a place where I could try any goofy thing without anyone I knew looking. That space felt like the very best possible version of being Tom Cruise circa RISKY BUSINESS in the underwear dancing scene. One day, a literary scout/ film producer named Cori Stern emailed me. She’d stumbled across my blog, liked my writing, and wanted to see more. It was one of those fluky, one-in-a-million kind of things. All I could do was laugh. That’s what you get for dancing around like no one’s watching, I guess.
I’d just finished THE LAST ACADEMY and was getting up the nerve to send it out to agents, so I sent the manuscript to Cori too. She got it into the hands of the producer who optioned the movie rights. Shortly after, I lucked out again when Scholastic’s fantastic senior editor, Aimee Friedman, decided to take THE LAST ACADEMY on. She and the publication team at Scholastic have been incredible. Basically, it feels like this book fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch.
Where did the idea for The Last Academy come from?
I met Barnaby Charon on an airplane when I was fifteen. You can read more about that on a hidden page on my website: anneapplegate.com/secret
I’m really intrigued that the novel is set in a boarding school. What made you decide to choose this setting?
I went to boarding school, so Lethe Academy felt familiar to me. Most of my high school memories are wrapped up with Pacific Ocean views, red tiled roofs, and an absence of family.
What was your favourite part about writing The Last Academy?
My favorite part was about three quarters through the rough draft, when I finally believed I’d finish a whole book. Up until that point, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Once I could see how the end would fall together, I knew I could keep revising until the story made some kind of sense. That transition from a place of insecurity to a place of surety? Amazing.
You have one gorgeous cover! What were you first thoughts when viewing the final concept? How well does it fit the story?
Thank you! I think so, too. I was completely in awe when I first saw the cover. Yaffa Jaskoll created an image that beautifully conveys the book’s emotional tenor and storyline.
Which authors and novels have influenced you and your writing?
Oh man, that is a tough question to answer, for fear of leaving out the dearly adored. Growing up, I loved THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris, and anything by Stephen King.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m more influenced by bits and pieces of books. For example, in HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski, the story included a coded note from one character to another. The reader was required to count lines and mark letters to reveal the true message. When I glanced at my transcription and saw this CREEPY letter, written in my own penmanship, I had to stop reading for a day or two while I got over my heebie-jeebies. That’s the sort of thing I love – when a story is so unnerving you throw the book across the room, but so intriguing you are forced to pick it up again, desperately curious to read a little further.
Do you write your novels by hand or straight away on the computer?
Computer! I’ve heard writing by hand is a good technique – it makes you slow down and think about what you’re saying. But for me, I like to fly via typing. Sometimes, I can go so fast, I am almost actually there, in the story. It’s like breaking the time-space continuum for make-believe.
Thank you so much Anne for answering my questions! It's been great hosting you!
About the Author:
Photo credit: Brittany App
Anne Applegate was born in Chico, California. Most of her childhood was spent moving across America with her family, nomad style.
When Anne was fourteen, her parents sent her to boarding school so she could spend four years in a single educational system. As it turned out, her family then promptly settled into a small mid-western town and lived there for the next sixteen years. Anne still hasn’t figured out if this means something.
After graduation, she went on to Tufts University in Medford, MA, where she had a wicked good time. Eventually, she wound up back on the west coast, where she married a fantastic Californian guy. Together, they have three children.
For the last twelve years, Anne has lived in San Luis Obispo County. This is by far the longest time she has stayed in any one place her whole life. She immensely enjoys living where 1) the sun always shines and 2) she isn’t the weirdest person in town.
Find Anne here:
Huge thanks to Anne Applegate for answering my questions and for stopping by. Also thanks to Shane at Itching for Books for hosting the tour. You can find the rest of the tour schedule here.