Hey, everyone! Emery Lord here. I recently got to ask Robin Constantine some questions about her contemporary young adult book, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, which was released on December 31st! The story follows two teens, Wren and Grayson, in an opposites-attract love story that begins with the Heimlich manuever. Thanks for talking to us, Robin!
THE PROMISE OF AMAZING is told in dual-POV, which I thought was a really interesting creative choice. Why did you go that route? Was it planned or is that how the narrative unfolded naturally for you?
When I first set out to write TPofA, I wasn’t planning on two POVs. I was a bit terrified to write from a boy’s perspective but when I hit chapter two from Wren’s perspective, I froze. Then I realized at that point in the story, Grayson had the more dramatic moment. When I started fooling around with the male POV, I thought it might turn out to be an elaborate character sketch. As I delved deeper into Grayson’s side of the story – he had a lot to say, so I just went with it.
Wren is pegged as the quiet, rule-following type, where Grayson is outgoing and a bit of a troublemaker. In writing both perspectives, is there one you identified with more or one that came more easily to you?
I was/am a rule-follower extraordinaire. There was once a piece on 20/20 about people in a (simulated situation) burning restaurant and how there were some patrons who wouldn’t leave – even though there was imminent danger – because they didn’t pay the check. Yeah, that would be me. Troublemakers fascinate me and I tended to pal around with them and lived vicariously. So, I identified with Wren much more but also understood her pull to someone who ‘lives out loud’ like Grayson.
The Arthurian-themed catering hall is such an great setting/high school job that I have to ask: how did you come up with it?
Thanks! Originally I was going to set the story in a coffee shop, but I realized early on that that was going to be limiting in what could happen. So that’s when I switched the setting to a catering hall, and I definitely had some experience to draw on there.
I worked at a catering hall during college. The hours were so long and the work was fairly grueling (seriously, there is a science to piling plates on a tray) but most of the time I worked weddings and that was pretty fun. And while the weddings could be full of drama – that was nothing compared to the behind the scenes dramas. The place was full of such characters and I definitely drew a lot of my inspiration from some of the things that went on, but The Camelot is a work of my imagination. There was no love shack where I worked (at least not to my knowledge!) and while a guest did in fact ask me what I was serving when I offered up a plate of cocktail franks, the hot dog name game is something I came up with for the novel.
As for the Arthurian theme, I wanted something that would add a kitsch factor – something that may have been popular at one time, but has faded a bit. And the Arthurian legend was really perfect for that. It was also slightly symbolic for me as well, since Camelot is associated with sort of a timeless golden age and I felt like having it close and yet be reimagined was a nod to not letting your past define you.
In many MG and YA books, the parents are conveniently out of the picture for one reason or another. In The Promise of Amazing, we see both Wren and Grayson’s families. What went into your decision to put the families “on-screen?”
I’m not sure if this was conscious, or just how I saw the characters. You always hear “kill the parents” because it’s more exciting for your main character to figure things out for themselves. Wren and Gray figure out things for themselves but to portray them without a family life would have felt unrealistic for me. And people who come from supportive and loving families can screw things up too.
And as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.
The book that always comes to mind for me is Are You There God It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. It was the first book that spoke to me, and made Judy Blume an auto-buy author for me. I liked it because it spoke directly to my experience and was so relatable. I also loved The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and could hardly believe that was required reading!
About the author:
Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene. Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, is available from Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
|Emery Lord lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with one husband, two rescue dogs, and three packed-full bookshelves. She spends her time impulse shopping, laughing so loudly that other people in the restaurant shoot dirty looks at her and her friends, and reading everything. Her debut novel, OPEN ROAD SUMMER is out with Walker/Bloomsbury on April 15, 2014.|