The after-life is a mystery to all humans. What really happens after we die is truly unknown, so it is a great area for authors to explore using their wildest imagination. Lenore took advantage of this matter and created a new dimension and called it: LEVEL 2. A contemporary dystopia following a girl named Felicia who has died and now can only explore life in LEVEL2 through her memories.
Lenore’s concept for LEVEL 2 is edgy and inspiring for all aspiring authors. Learn more about Lenore’s experience writing her young adult debut novel, the latest heart throbs to hit the market, and how her constant travelling has affected her writing.
How did the idea for LEVEL 2 come about?
I asked myself two questions. The first concerned the value of memories: how might an afterlife currency based on memories function? I pondered that one for years, never really figuring out how to implement it into a story, until a second question dawned on me: What might an afterlife dystopia look like?
Can you tell us more about The Three Seasons, and how you were able to merge it into LEVEL 2?
The Three Seasons was a novel I wanted to co-write with a friend in high school. I created the characters and wrote an outline and then assigned her one of the three points of view. She never wrote any of her chapters though, so the book died a quick death. While I was going through my old papers, I found the outline and a few chapters I had written. It is so marvelously melodramatic (read an excerpts).
In LEVEL 2, Felicia’s best friend Autumn wants her to write a novel with her and the particulars fit. So I borrowed from my real life. It’s a fun little meta fact!
We know how much you love to travel. What country or culture found it’s way into LEVEL 2 and why?
Quite a few actually. I needed Felicia to have had a lot of extraordinary memories for a not quite 18 year old, so I made her the daughter of a foreign service officer. All of the places Felicia has been (with the exception of the north Turkish coast) are places I’ve been too.
Germany is a big one as this is where Felicia lives in one of the memory timelines. The German superstition of not wishing someone a happy birthday until the actual day has big plot implications here, so that’s a cultural thing.
Through your journey from book blogger to published author what do you think changed in the way you critique books? Is there any advice you’d like to give book bloggers about reviewing books?
I’d say that before I became a writer, I was much more critical of a book’s “unreached potential”. I would often go into books with certain expectations that would not be met. But here’s the thing – the author wrote the book they wanted to write – not the book I wanted them to write. I am much more conscious now of reviewing what’s on the page instead of what’s not on it.
What was one of the most drastic changes you made from draft one to the final copy of LEVEL 2?
My editor was very smart to advice me to leave several of my big twists for LEVEL 3. They have so much more room to breathe now!
Let me share a paragraph from LEVEL 2 that I love:
“Normally I come out of my memories in a sort of daze, able to savor the sensations of my life on earth for a few precious seconds. But no matter how hard I try to hold on to them, these moments slip away, leaving me hollowed out and hungry for more. In Level Two, time is a never-ending burden. In my memories time is weightless and there’s never enough.”
LEVEL 3 is still in flux, so I don’t want to share anything yet except to say that it’s crazy and fun and I can’t wait for people to read it.
What rituals do you preform before you start writing?
Lots of procrastination? Ha! I usually play a song or two from my book playlist to get me into the mood to write. Then I jot down a few keywords of what I want to write in the session ahead and dive right in.
Tell us the most/least exciting part in your journey from being an aspiring writer to becoming a published author.
There have been so many exciting moments. The e-mail from my agent saying he wanted to represent me. The phone call with the offer from S&S. Seeing my cover for the first time. Holding the advanced copy of the book for the first time at BEA with a bunch of my blogger friends around me. My launch parties in London and Wichita, KS.
I do have to say I’m not very glam most days when I’m writing. It’s just me sans make-up with a cat nearby and a cup of tea.
Felicia Ward is in love with both Neil and Julian. Tell us more about the boys and why they’re the newest YA heartthrobs!!!
Well, Felicia is not in love with them at the same time – I just wanted to make that clear!
In LEVEL 2, we see a very idealized picture of Neil because we only see him in Felicia’s memories via the lens of her nostalgia. He’s a little too perfect. Cute, patient, a great listener – he even sings and plays the guitar (swoon!).
Julian is more of a mystery in the “bad boy” mold. He’s dangerously charming, but Felicia knows she shouldn’t trust him. Too bad they have such explosive chemistry together 😉
Finally, what would you like to say to your readers before diving into LEVEL2?
I’d advise readers not to skim. Every word is in the book for a reason, and if you skim, you’re missing something and will likely get confused. Just fair warning!
Also, LEVEL 2 is exactly the book I love to read – with twists and foreign locales and secrets – but my taste doesn’t match up with everyone’s. Hopefully though, LEVEL 2 will blow your mind as much as it did mine!