Darksouls, Shadows, and Love with Jodi Meadows

Today, Olivia from YA-Mag sat down with the lovely and enigmatic Jodi Meadows, author of ASUNDER!

Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

Olivia with YA-Mag: Jodi, welcome to the Young Adult Magazine! Ana’s world in Heart sounds so tragically beautiful; I can’t wait to see what is in store for her—and Sam!
Jodi Meadows: Thank you!! I’m excited to share the story!

YA: This is the second book in the Newsoul trilogy. How did Ana (originally called Erin!) assert herself as the voice for this particular tale?  Why did you stick with her as the narrative voice for this second part instead of, say, switching to Sam’s perspective?
JM: Ana seemed like the natural choice for the narrator. She has the most to lose, the most to learn, and she’s not exactly a rule-follower. That makes her a good choice as a protagonist.
Originally, I alternated between her point of view and Sam’s; he had about six or seven scenes to narrate.  But during revisions, I either removed the scenes or switched them to Ana’s viewpoint. This is her story. She needed to tell it.

YA: What sets Ana’s story apart from other utopian fantasy novels, like Allie Condie’s MATCHED series or Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES series?  What will readers find in you and your latest work that they can’t find anywhere else in YA books?
JM: Wow, tough question! Well, I like to think my trilogy takes a different look at reincarnation and immortality than other books that deal with the subject, but I’m sure someone could dig up other books that do the same thing. Still, every author brings their own perspective and ideas to any story they write. Incarnate is 100% mine, just as Matched is 100% Allie’s and Uglies is 100% Scott’s.

YA:  What non-book influences helped spark this story or your writing career in general?
JM: I can’t think of anything specifically that brought the idea for Incarnate, but I do learn a lot about storytelling and structure from my favorite TV shows like Supernatural and Fringe

YA: When you were a teen, what was your favorite book (YA or otherwise)?  Now that you’re an author for teens, what is your favorite contemporary YA?
JM: I’ve always had an allergy to choosing favorites. It makes me feel really guilty about any book I forget to mention. A few books in particular, however, that really shaped the writer I’ve become are WAIT TILL HELEN COMES by Mary Downing Hahn, THE GIVER by Lois Lowery, WINTER OF FIRE by Sherryl Jordan, THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley, WILD MAGIC by Tamora Pierce, and SABRIEL by Garth Nix. Those are still some of my favorite books. 
A few of my modern favorites are DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine, GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson, HEMLOCK by Kathleen Peacock, HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire, UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand, and EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton. I’ll stop there, because I really could go on and on.


YA: I’m fascinated with how authors decide on a book’s title.  Sometimes a title sticks from rough draft to published novel; sometime the author works with their agent or editor to find the perfect title.  What is ASUNDER’s story?
JM: Asunder was a challenge to title! I tried to title it before I’d written it, before I really knew what it was about, which might have been my first mistake. When I queried my agent for (Erin) Incarnate, I included the working titles for books two and three — Erin Asunder and Erin Eternal. Of course, later Erin became Ana and we dropped the name part of the titles, not sure whether we’d keep the other words or come up with something different.
After a lot of discussion and potential titles, everyone agreed they loved Incarnate for the title for book one. I was pleased with that. Then it was time for book two’s title. I wrote up lists of more titles that would work. I worried about it. I sent frantic emails to my (incredibly patient) editor. Eventually she wrote back that the sales team liked “Asunder” and we were going to stick with that.
Of course, after that story, you might think you know what’s coming for book three. But there are already a lot of books called Eternal and most of them have to do with vampires. That doesn’t describe my book. So that one actually is getting a different title.

YA: Speaking of book three…. up next is the finale in the Newsoul Trilogy. What can you tell us about Ana’s final chapter on this journey?
JM: Many bad things happen. My crit partners cried. One sent me inconsolable instant messages as she was reading. 
While I was writing it, I could not be torn from the story. I was forced to leave the house for a few hours during the writing of the climax. I wrote a chapter in the notes function on my phone. Then I came home and put it into my document and turned my music up loud. When my husband asked me an innocent question, I yelled at him to go away because I was too busy weeping over my keyboard and I had to finish this story. He looked a little scared.
I can’t tell you anything specifically since the book is still a year off, but I can tell you that it’s caused extreme anxiety for anyone who’s come in contact with it. 

YA: If you could cast the dream film adaptation of the Newsoul Trilogy, who would you cast in the main roles?
JM: Oooh, that’s hard. I’m really bad at this game. I’m always more interested in who other people would cast!

YA: Do you have any secret pet projects you’d like to try out sometime soon?
JM: Of course I have other projects! They have code names: Sparkle Story, and Broadway Story. (It has nothing to do with musical theater.)

YA: All right, last one!  With Valentine’s fast approaching, if you were to spend the day with Ana and Sam, what would you do together?
JM: Before or after they beat the snot out of me? 
Assuming we all got along and they didn’t have hard feelings about what happens to them, then I think I’d like to laze about and let them play music for me. We could eat junk food, too. That sounds nice.

YA: Thank you very much, Jodi!  And again, from YA Mag, congratulations on your latest work!  We look forward to hearing a lot more from you in years to come!
JM: Thank you for having me!! 

Readers, be sure to check out Jodi Meadows at her website www.JodiMeadows.com. Or follow her on Twitter @JodiMeadows.
ASUNDER, published by Katherine Tegen Books, is available January 29th at your favorite retailers and local independent bookstores! 

When Olivia Hennis is not investigating the latest in the Young Adult world for us here, she is part of the Papercuts Podcast team! For more info, follow her on Twitter or at her blog, Olivia’s Secret Reading Room.

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