SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard (Amulet Books, January 1, 2013)
And now here is A. G.
PJHoover: You’ve run into an old classmate from high school and you tell them SPLINTERED just came out. They ask what it’s about. What do you say?
AGHoward: It’s a modern spinoff of Alice in Wonderland, in which Alice Liddell’s granddaughter has to face the darker side of Wonderland’s whimsy to fix Alice’s mistakes and the resulting curse on her family.
PJHoover: I love hearing happy publication stories. Can you tell us the path to publication for SPLINTERED?
AGHoward: Wow, that’s a tough one to sum up in one answer. To really get the full effect, you’d have to know how low I was just after writing it. I actually left my first agent over this book, and worried I’d never find representation again. As any good writer knows, showing beats telling, so these three links can show you my journey better than I can tell it:
PJHoover: I love the blend of classic literature and fantasy both above ground and down the rabbit hole! What made you decide to create this wonderful, twisted retelling for ALICE IN WONDERLAND?
AGHoward: Thank you! I’ve always been a huge fan of Carroll’s masterpieces, but the actual spark lit back in in April, 2010, when I first saw the Tim Burton & Disney Alice adaptation. I’m a very visual person, and the Burton cinematography was so vivid, techno-colored, and evocative that I didn't want the movie to ever end. So I came up with my own settings in my mind, and played out Wonderland continuations and scenarios. The idea became too big to contain in my head and I needed to get it out on paper.
PJHoover: There are tons of books out there. What are five awesome reasons why SPLINTERED should be the one for them to read?
1. SPLINTERED’s main character, Alyssa Gardner, has been blessed (or cursed) with the power to talk to bugs and hear their whispers, the very thing that sent her mother to an asylum. So to keep herself from going crazy, Alyssa does the only thing she can to silence them: capture and smother them in bug traps. But, being a frugal and artistic gal, she doesn't waste the corpses ... she preserves them and uses them in her mosaics. The girl's not squeamish, which is a good thing, considering some of the creatures she encounters in Wonderland.
2. Alyssa’s best friend/secret crush, Jebediah Holt, is a bit of a bad boy due to his scarred childhood. He rides a souped-up Honda CT70, wears a lip labret, and is fiercely protective of Alyssa and his younger sister, which sometimes triggers glimpses of his white-hot temper. But like Alyssa, he relies on his art for therapy, curbing his violent side through sketching and painting. His favorite subject? Gothic faeries with veined-wings—black tears pouring from their eyes as they stand over withered human corpses in haunting depictions of misery and loss.
3. Alyssa’s sexy-but-enigmatic guide through Wonderland’s warped landscape is Morpheus, a fae-like creature who may have dark motives all his own. His characterization, wardrobe, and smug sneer were heavily influenced by two of my favorite anti-heroes in fantasy movies from my teen years: Jareth from The Labyrinth, and the Crow from, you guessed it … The Crow.
4. Both Alyssa and Jeb skateboard, proof that an author’s passions sometimes bleed into their books. Although I never actually learned to skateboard, I can rollerblade with the best of them. In fact, when I get stuck on a story and need inspiration, I go to a neighborhood park and roller-blade several times around. It opens up my mind to new ideas and directions I might never have come up with while sitting boxed inside four walls.
5. Throughout SPLINTERED, Alyssa often turns to her mother’s copy of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece to help her solve riddles. I’m hoping this will set my book apart from the other Alice in Wonderland young adult spinoffs being released in the near future. From what I’ve seen, SPLINTERED is the only one that is actually a tribute to the original Lewis Carroll tales, with creepy counterparts of the characters from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
PJHoover: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?
AGHoward: An online presence. Especially for YA authors. You need to be on FB or twitter and have a blog / website where you can connect with your fan base and let new readers know about your books.
PJHoover: What is next? WIPs? Future publications? Please tell all!
AGHoward: I was signed for two YA novels, but the contract didn’t specify a series, so I’m working on another contemporary fantasy. I’m not at liberty to give any more info than that yet (but soon, I hope!). I also have one New Adult novel, a Victorian gothic paranormal love story, that I hope to sell sometime this year, if my agent and I can find a publishing home for it!
PJHoover: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?
AGHoward: Hanging out and chatting with the readers who love your book and characters. THEY ROCK!
PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!
AGHoward: You always pass failure on the way to success.
AGHoward: Thank you for having me, PJ! <3
PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here!
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
About A. G. (Anita):
A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would've happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.
P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.