ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Danielle Ellison, Author of Follow Me Through Darkness

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As a fitting post-Halloween followup, today we’re featuring Danielle Ellison’s dystopian novel, Follow Me Through Darkness, which came out on October 21st from Spencer Hill Press.

First, the book cover and blurb to whet your appetite:

FMTDThe truth won’t always set you free.

Less than a year ago, Neely Ambrose’s biggest worry was having the freedom to follow a path that wasn’t chosen for her.

Less than a year ago, she believed she could trust the Elders who said they had everyone’s best interest at heart and who said they were keeping them safe from the outside.

Sixty days ago, she discovered what they had planned for everyone she loved—and that all of it centered around her.

Now she’s on the run through a dangerous wasteland full of killing machines, secret organizations, and people who want to sell her back to the Elders for their own safety. The whole world outside the Compound is living proof that everything in Neely’s life was a lie manufactured by the Elders, which may even include the boy she loves.

All Neely wants is the truth, but each new piece of it drives her further from what she thought she knew. With only forty days until everyone she loves falls under the Elders’ mind control, Neely must decipher who to trust, what questions to ask, and how to get one step ahead of the Elders, who will do anything to keep their secrets buried.

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I don’t know about you, but that blurb really raises some intriguing questions I want answers to! For now, here are some interview questions with Danielle:

ARJ: It sounds like the format of Follow Me Through Darkness, with its flashbacks and contrast between the Compound and the outside, could be either a playground or a minefield for a writer. What were your favorite (or easiest) parts to write, and the most difficult?

DE: It was definitely not easy to master. I wrote and rewrote and revised this book eight times, and the flashbacks weren’t part of the story until a later revision. You’re absolutely right: flashbacks can be a minefield. Part of the difficulty, for me, was figuring out the placement of the flashbacks. You don’t want to reveal the wrong info in the wrong order, you have to be careful how much info you reveal in one section and for me, I had to have some relevance between where I placed them and what was happening in the present day. I’d definitely say that in this book those were the most difficult to write. The easiest parts to write were any scene with Xenith because he was a very clear character and is the most fun to write from day one.

ARJ: What writers and books influence you today, and how many of those would have been on Teen-You’s list?

DE: I really love Jennifer Donnelly, Laini Taylor, Nova Ren Suma, Courtney Summers, Beth Revis, and Cecelia Ahern. I did read Harry Potter as a teen, but teen-me was really into movies and plays, and not so much books. But I think she’d like all of them. 🙂

ARJ: Did you have a playlist you listened to while writing Follow Me Through Darkness? Or some other ritual that puts you right into the pages when you’re working on the series?

DE: I have a huge playlist for FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS. The story was darker and I had to pull myself into it, and that meant music. I worked on the book for two years before it sold and then two years after, so the playlist kept growing and growing. There’s a full list here: http://www.xpressoreads.com/2014/10/follow-me-through-darkness-playlist-giveaway.html

Now though, I can just enter the world with ease, which means so far there hasn’t been a playlist for the rest of the series.

ARJ: Lastly, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

DE: I’m not really afraid of anything normal. I really really HATE bugs and spiders, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m most afraid of failure, which is a ridiculous fear because there’s no way I will fail if I don’t quit. I’m not afraid of heights. (I don’t think.)

Thanks so much for the interview, Danielle–it was so much fun to interact with another Publisher Sister!

About Danielle:

d-ellison

Danielle Ellison is from a small town in West Virginia. She spent her childhood pretending to fly, talking to imaginary friends, and telling stories. She hasn’t changed much since then. You can still find her pretending to work, talking to imaginary characters, and writing stories.

When she’s not writing, Danielle is probably drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. She is the author of five upcoming novels and you can find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.

In keeping with her scattered Gemini nature, Angelica R. Jackson has far too many interests to list here. She has an obsession with creating more writing nooks in the home she shares with her husband, and two corpulent cats, in California’s Gold Country. Fortunately, the writing nooks serve for reading and cat cuddling too. Her debut novel, CROW’S REST, a darkly funny young adult urban fantasy, is coming from Spencer Hill Press in May 2015.
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