Posted on | August 28, 2013 | 6 Comments
I’ll be honest with you, I tend to be pretty limited on the types of books I read. I wasn’t always this way. As a History major and an English minor, I’ve been through a vast selection of literacy genres. I used to delve into any and every book and would read it front to back regardless of how I felt about the writing just for the experience of it all. But enter the world of children, and my world of literacy suddenly grew much smaller. Maybe it was the lack of time. Maybe it was the fact that I was suddenly now so hyper aware of the bad things in this world that I tried to avoid them when I was having my down time. My me time. I jumped into the world of dystopic novels because, hey, zombies may happen, but it doesn’t seem like a likelihood that I have to worry about them showing up at my children’s Mother’s Morning Out program tomorrow.
When Amanda Lynch, an up and coming author, contacted me about reviewing her new book, I thought, “Well, why not?” A quick look at the synopsis made me a bit nervous that this book would have the kind of material that kept me up at night with worries:
Anabel Martin’s world was destroyed the day her father was murdered. After spending seventeen years of her life trapped on a Top Secret island in the South Pacific, she now finds herself in Washington, DC in the care of her former politician brother and his unwelcoming wife. While she wants nothing more than to be left alone, instead she is thrust into the limelight as a key witness in the Congressional hearings investigating the murder of her father and the very existence of her former home. For Anabel, it’s hard to concentrate on these proceedings when the thing she wants most in the world is for Jared Sorensen to die. What’s even worse is that Jared is the only reason she’s still alive.
Murder. Mystery. It was all so different from what I’m used to reading. But y’all, I’m glad I took the chance with Amanda and her new novel. Anabel Unraveled is electrifying, enticing, and suspenseful. Filled with relateable and yet outrageous characters, it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Opening with a young girl, Anabel, in a crowded courtroom, the book dives right into the plot. We learn that something terrible has happened, something that resulted in the death of her father, and Anabel must tell her story. I immediately fell in love with Anabel. She’s witty, sarcastic, naive, and vulnerable, and still, she is one of the strongest female characters I’ve “met” in ages.
A whole cast of characters enter including Jared, Anabel’s brother (who happens to have recently been the President of the United States), and many others. The character development is fulfilling, and everything that happens to each character feels as though we are right there in the moment with them. Unlike many debut novels that leave character development to be desired, we are left with no lack of empathy, anger, joy, and surprise as though we are experiencing the story through their eyes.
I won’t go into more about the plot of the story, but I highly recommend it as a good, quick, fun, and exciting read. Not quick because it’s short, but quick because it’s incredibly hard to put down. Amanda kindly offered an interview with me, and I thought it would be great to get to know her and her motivation behind the story a bit more. Please read with discretion…I asked about a few things that could potentially be considered spoilers! My questions are in bold (obviously..hence the question marks. heh).
1) When did you begin your writing career?
Unofficially, I’ve been writing forever. But it officially began in January of 2009, when my husband and I moved back to Virginia. We had been living in Maryland because he worked in MD and I worked in DC, but he got offered a job in Virginia that paid a lot more and I was unhappy in my position, so I quit and sat down and wrote a book! And then I got pregnant with my first child, so writing went on the backburner for awhile, but after I had him I finished what became ANABEL UNRAVELED and spent a lot of time rewriting and submitting to publishers. In August of 2012 I signed with eLectio Publishing (http://electiopublishing.com/) and ANABEL UNRAVELED came out last December.
2) What was your inspiration for this novel?
I actually got the idea for the island of Caereon back when I was in high school. My History of the Americas teacher (whom I positively adored) went on a tangent one day about Fort Knox conspiracy theories. So I toyed with that idea for awhile, and then I generated Anabel in her earliest form. I actually still have the spiral notebook (do people still use those?) which has the first scenes that I actually wrote.
3) How do you develop characters so deeply? What do you do to create the layers?
I hate flat characters. People are complicated. I think when I was younger I used to see the world in much more black and white terms, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that so many, many issues are in the gray, if you will–which is why Anabel and Jared spend so much time in rather hazy areas. I don’t think you can truly care about a character if you only see one dimension.
When I write, I spend a lot of time in my characters’ heads. I think about things like, What would Anabel want from Starbucks? and What are Jared’s hobbies? How do they affect things? Nuance is important. I ask myself things like, What kind of a mom would Anabel want to be? What is Jared’s family structure like, and how does that affect everything? So all of these things are already fleshed out in my mind when I start writing about these characters, and when they come up, I insert them into the story.
4) How did you confront the horrors of rape in such a strange situation without degrading the crime?
That was hard. I won’t lie. Unfortunately, the statistics involving rape are disgusting: one in four women is a victim of this crime, and I sadly know way too many people who have been through this. And then there is the fact that society as a whole has a tendency to blame women for being victims of rape, which is a whole other level of sick that I won’t go into. But I wasn’t really interested in writing about a straightforward situation, either, and Anabel and Jared’s is convoluted in many ways. I tried to give Anabel a dose of all possible scenarios in the aftermath: she had her father, who blamed her; her brother, who insisted that it wasn’t her fault; and then she had Jared, who hates himself for what he did.
5) Anabel may not have been in love with her rapist, but she certainly loved him. You handled their relationship with tact and made it easy for the reader to see how Anabel could love Jared. What do you see if their future?
When you have a child with someone, whether you like it or not, they will always be in your life somehow. So Anabel and Jared will always be connected in that way. But one thing about Anabel is that she is positively desperate for love, having spent so much of her life with a parent whose relationship with her is ambivalent. I actually explore that a little more in the next book…
6) Will there be a sequel?
I am in the middle of writing it, which is fun. First drafts are fun for me. It actually is set a few years in the future, beginning at (spoiler alert!) Meghan and Kevin’s wedding. It turns out Anabel’s not a huge fan of weddings…
7) What does your writing process look like?
Like you, I have kids. So the actual writing happens during naptime/after they go to bed. Especially because mine are so little (I have three boys–a 3.5 year old, a 20 month old, and a 5 month old). I am also a non-linear writer; the best way I can describe it is I kind of get writing ADD and I will write a scene and then I’ll suddenly skip ahead to another scene. So, for instance, in the sequel to Anabel, I have the ending written but I don’t have the beginning solid yet. I find writing to be a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I know I need to get from one place to another in my writing but I’m not exactly sure how to get there, so I skip ahead and write something that I have figured out already. It’s rather convoluted, to be honest, but I have a very gracious editor. I also spend a lot of time daydreaming about Anabel and Jared and their world and trying out things in my head. Sometimes when I write them down I immediately scrap them, because some things sound a lot better when you think about them than when you write them. I also like to talk about my writing with my close friends. My dearest friend, Carly, actually has made me rewrite things because she holds me to a pretty high standard. There was one scene in Anabel 2 that she made me rewrite four times. And THEN I get to do rewrites based on what my editor and publisher say, so it’s a party all around.
Now, Amanda has graciously offered a free copy of her book Anabel Unraveled. You can choose from an e-book or (dundundun!) a SIGNED copy! Enter easily below: