We’re thrilled to welcome to the blog Lenore Appelhans, author of LEVEL 2, which releases today from Simon & Schuster BFYR, Usborne in the UK, and Allen & Unwin in AUST/NZ.
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
Hi, Lenore! Welcome to OneFourKidLit! Tell us a bit about your road to publication. Any part of the process you found particularly surprising?
I started out writing picture books back in 2004. That led to joining SCBWI, which led to starting my blog (http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com), which led to reading tons of YA, which led to actually writing a YA novel. Probably the most surprising part of this all is that I have a novel (Level 2, January 15, 2013) and a picture book (Chick-O-Saurus Rex, July 2013) debuting in the same year and that both were with the same editor.
What is a typical writing day for you? Any ‘must haves’, like music, food, etc.?
I write a bit every day, even if it is just a blog post or answering interview questions. My most productive writing time is from 3 pm – 11 pm (I’m pretty useless in the mornings). No must haves, but I can’t deny I crave chocolate while I’m drafting.
Where did your inspiration for Level 2 come from?
The basis of Level 2 was the intersection of two questions. 1. What might currency look like in the afterlife – are certain memories more valuable than others? And 2. What might a dystopian afterlife look like?
What did you enjoy most about writing Level 2? Do you have a favorite scene you can share with us?
I enjoyed getting to integrate references to world travel. There are scenes set in Germany, in Kenya and in Turkey. The scene in Turkey with Felicia and her father is probably my favorite. It’s also the only landscape I didn’t experience for myself. My husband took a similar trip to the Turkish coast and described it so vividly, I knew it had to be in a book someday.
How much research and/or world-building did you have to do for this book?
One piece of advice writers give and get a lot is “write what you know” and Level 2 is full of bits and pieces of what I know. Still, I did do quite a bit of research into the afterlife visions of different religions, mythology and angels. And I googled so many things I wasn’t sure about – like terminology for parts of skateboard, how to hack a VPN, and how to take care of bees.
How do you plan to celebrate your release day?
I live in Germany, but I’m flying to the US for a book tour, so I’ll be in my hometown of Wichita, KS on January 15th. My book launch party is the next day at Watermark Books, and I’m so thrilled that a bunch of my friends and family are coming in for it. I’m really looking forward to sharing the excitement of the day with them.
Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
I’m busy with edits for Level 3, the sequel to Level 2. I’m also hoping to submit another picture book manuscript soon, so wish me luck!
This interview was conducted by OneFour member Michelle Krys, whose YA novel HEXED releases from Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books in Spring 2014. The interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.