EXCLUSIVE Q&A Interview with Amy Engel, Author of The Book of Ivy!

Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to present an exclusive Q&A interview with Amy Engel, the author of The Book of Ivy and its sequel, The Revolution of Ivy! (You can check out my review on The Book of Ivy here.) Thank you Amy for accepting to participate in this interview!


Q: What was your inspiration for The Book of Ivy?

A: Honestly, I’m not really sure. I just had an idea about a girl forced to marry a boy she was coached to kill and the rest of the story flowed from there. I’ve always been really interested in family dynamics and the ways in which our families influence us, so that definitely had a big impact on the story.

Q: The Book of Ivy is a YA dystopian duology. Are there any other genres you think you’d be interested in writing?

A: I think I’d like to try a YA contemporary at some point. And I love dark, suspenseful books as well.

Q: What was the biggest challenge for you when writing The Book of Ivy and/or its sequel?

A: The biggest challenge was just the pressure that came with writing a sequel. I wanted to make sure I was true to the characters and their journey, and I didn’t want to disappoint fans of the first book. There’s a lot more expectation with a sequel.

Q: Do you have any other novels (or ideas) you’re currently working on or planning to work on?

A: I wrote an adult novel, The Roanoke Girls, which is being published in early 2017. It’s a gothic suspense novel and I’m working on edits for it right now. Once those are done, I plan to start something new, but I haven’t nailed down exactly what yet.

Q: What advice would you offer an aspiring author?

A: Read as much as you can. Write even when you don’t feel like it or aren’t inspired. In order to write, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices with your time because there are only so many hours in a day. Grow a thick skin. Learn to take criticism well. Work hard to develop your “voice” as a writer. Believe that good things can happen.

Q: Did you have any specific people (yourself included) in mind when you were creating your characters?

A: No. I rarely base characters, even loosely, off people I know in real life. Ivy, for example, isn’t based off anyone I know and is actually very different from me in a lot of ways. When I was writing her there would be times I would stop and think, really, that’s what you’re going to do, Ivy? Because her choices were so different from the ones I would’ve made. But that’s a lot of the fun of creating characters. It’s like you get to live a dozen different lives instead of just your own.

Q: What has your journey to being an author been like? Did any part of being a published author take you by surprise?

A: My journey to being an author feels like it took a long time, but I know in the grand scheme of things it really didn’t. I wrote my first YA novel a few years ago and tried to get an agent, to no avail. So I trunked that book and then had the idea for Ivy. Again, I tried to get an agent and I got more interest, but many of the agents who read the book didn’t think they could sell another dystopian novel to publishers. That’s when I found Entangled Teen and sent them the manuscript. I waited a couple of months while they read the book, and then they made an offer of publication. I was thrilled and they’ve been amazing to work with! For my adult novel, I went back into the query trenches and was lucky enough to have multiple offer of representation. I signed with Jodi Reamer of Writers House and she sold the book to the Crown imprint of Random House in May. I think the thing that’s surprised me the most about being a published author is the amount of waiting involved at every step of the process. I’d heard that publishing was slow, but it’s REALLY slow. It definitely teaches you patience. But it’s worth it all at the end when you hold your book in your hands!


So there we have it! Thank you so much Amy for answering my questions! I loved The Book of Ivy duology and it was a pleasure to have you on my blog today.

Now, you readers tell me: Have you read The Book of Ivy duology? Do you want to? (Of course you do! RIGHT?!) Tell me whatever thoughts you may have below! 

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Note: *Credit for the featured image goes to the owner, I did not make it myself.

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | Book Review

The Book of IvyThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre(s): Dystopia, Young-Adult
Series Status: The Book of Ivy #1
Page Count: 282
Source & Format: Bought, Paperback

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

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Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to present my review and thoughts on The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel! I’ve heard some great things about this book before reading it, and I’m so happy that I read it—It was a worthwhile read! Although there are some parts I would say could’ve been done better and didn’t fully meet my expectations, I enjoyed the story quite a bit despite its flaws. Let us go into more detail below, shall we?

Plot

There are three main things in this plot that I wanted to point out; the pacing, the concept and the world-building. While the pacing didn’t bother me as much by the end of the story, I must admit that the story was paced more slower than I was expecting from this sort of novel. While the book didn’t take its time introducing us slowly to this world (we’re put smack in the middle of something big happening, which I greatly appreciated), as the story goes on, I feel like the pace really slowed in the middle and I simply feel that could’ve been done differently. It would’ve suited the story more, and made things more action-packed, which I imagine readers would expect from the synopsis of the novel. Or at least, I did.

Apart from that, I also wanted to mention that I really liked the concept and execution of the world-building! Although there are several cliche dystopian tropes in this book, the idea of the novel was still kind of refreshing to read. It felt unique, while still being familiar. Does that make any sense? Also, I really liked that we’re not given all the information right from the start about the post-apocalyptic world we’re in. Throughout the novel we’re given more and more pieces of how this world is, which makes the whole reading experience much more engaging and interesting!

Characters

“And it is Bishop who helped me break free. He didn’t save me though. He allowed me the freedom to same myself, which is the best type of rescue.”

While I enjoyed Ivy (the protagonist), I do think there were a bit too many parts in the book where I simply see Ivy struggling to go forth with her family’s expectations. I guess I was expecting more of a backboned character, assassin-type? Don’t get me wrong, Ivy was a great character and I loved her development as she tries to form her own opinion of everything (instead of blindly following her family’s ideals), but—and this kind of goes in with the pacing thing—I was expecting more action, maybe even more time of her hating the Lattimer family? It would’ve brought out some more intriguing things like some spying maybe and/or political tension, etc.
However, aside from all that, Ivy was great, and I did like seeing her grow a bit more by the end of the novel. I will be interested in seeing how she is in the following book!

Bishop is Ivy’s love interest; and I have to say, I fell in love! Even more than I liked Ivy. He’s sweet, smart, modest—and so accepting of Ivy! (Which had a key part in the decisions Ivy makes.) I really wish we could’ve gotten some chapters through his POV.
The romance between him and Ivy was nice too. That being said, I did want to mention a few things about the romance. I will be honest and say that I did not exactly get what I was expecting in this department. I was thinking it would be more of a dangerous/forbidden and slow-burn romance, but that wasn’t exactly the case. I immensely enjoyed the romance all the same, but it’s more of a tamer romance than expected. But it was still really sweet!

Writing Style

“I want my love to be greater than my hate, my mercy to be stronger than my vengeance.”

This book is written in first person, from Ivy’s perspective, and I really liked how this really let me really get a clear perspective into how she thinks—and how she develops as the story goes on. I also found that the romance scenes didn’t come off as tacky or overtly cheesy because of the POV. (You know, how sometimes when you’re reading a romance scene in first person, and it becomes really weird and awkward to read?) And although it was pretty slow-paced for a lot of the novel, I didn’t even realize I was turning the pages at all, until there were no more pages to turn. 😉

Overall…

This book is great for those of you looking for an engaging and well-written dystopian read! However, I do recommend that you be aware that this is a more slow-paced novel than most other novels of the same genre; whether or not that’s a huge issue is up to personal preference!

The characters were great, I really sympathized with Ivy’s situation, and Bishop was swoon worthy and so sweet! The romance is pretty subjective, and I was expecting more of a slow-burn and forbidden romance, but it was pretty tame—but sweet and still heartbreaking. (And no love triangle included!) I also really loved the writing; the words simply passed swiftly, and overall it was very well-done.

Despite the flaws of the novel, I found I really enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to reading the sequel and finale! Although I’m kind of sad that my journey will be ending so quickly. 😉

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What do you think of this novel? Have you read it? Do you want to read it? What expectations do you have for it? Let me know in the comments below!

Until the Next Meal, Analee