FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS,
Interview with editor Patricia Riley
Published October 21, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
The 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.
Patricia Riley, Senior Editor of Spencer Hill Press & Managing Editor of Spencer Hill Contemporary
For today’s blog post, we have an interview with the editor of FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, Patricia Riley.
Tell us something about you, and how you came to be an editor.
I have always had a critical eye when it came to the books I read (for instance, 8 year old me would have chopped Baby-Sitters Club, Chapter 2 out of EVERY one of them!) but it was only more recently that I began to look toward editing in the professional sense. After beta-reading for author friends for a few years I got an internship at a small press, which lead to another internship with another small press (Spencer Hill Press) where I ended up being hired as an editor. After a few years at Spencer Hill, I was offered the opportunity to create the Contemporary YA imprint, Spencer Hill Contemporary where I am currently the managing editor. But for the same reason I wanted to edit some contemporary stories (VARIETY!), I am still madly in love with my Press-side genre books as well. As both an editor, and a reader, I love to have the option of diving into a real-world or a fantastical-world depending on my mood. Some days visiting a different part of our world is exactly what I need and other days I need to fly off and play with magic and myth.
What was your favorite novel as a teen, and why did you love it?
This is an impossible question for a lifetime avid-reader, but if I have to pick I’d say as a teen it was THE UNLIKELY ROMANCE OF KATE BJORKMAN by Louise Plummer (to this day I have only met one other person who knew of and loved this book – but we became FAST friends based on this fact!). This was one of the first truly YA romances I ever read and everything about it from the trope-y falling for her older brother’s friend to all the holiday decorations and kissing in the snow just cemented it’s place in my heart. I still pull it out and re-read it once a year around Christmas.
Considering all the books that cross your desk, what made you want to publish FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS?
The first time I ever read FMTD it felt like one of my favorite books from childhood, RUNNING OUT OF TIME by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The stories are not exactly similar, but it so strongly reminded me of the book in tone and feeling that I knew I had to have it! The other reason was the main character, Neely’s voice. Voice is such a critical component in YA and FMTD had a character who so deeply connected me to her own emotions that it really made me feel as though I was going on this journey with her.
Tell us about your editing journey on FMTD. Are there any moments that stick our to you? What was the process like? What was the most surprising part? The hardest part?
FMTD had an extensive editing process from beginning to end which Danielle has detailed so excellently here (http://www.danielleellison.com/2012/01/30/sometimes-you-write-a-book-again/). By the time FMTD came across my desk it had been re-written many times and was an incredibly “clean” manuscript. The biggest challenge with FMTD was taking the pieces of all of those re-writes and making sure that the amazing elements that Danielle had discovered throughout her re-writes worked cohesively. The most surprising part was how organic the answers to various questions that came up in editing ended up being – Danielle is a master at getting a question and finding the answer has already been accounted for, either consciously or unconsciously, somewhere in her world-building. It made the discovery process a lot of fun to be a part of.
How is FMTD different from other dystopian/sci-fi (ish) YA novels?
Even though it has both dystopian and sci-fi elements I would hesitate to categorize it in one column or the other because I think that comes with stereotypes that FMTD far outshines. I think what sets FMTD apart for me is the characters and the level and type of connection they have to each other, and in turn, to the readers. Not only do you see the world(s) that they live in but you get to see the heart of who they are in the face of incredible challenges. It really brings you into the core of who they are as people and challenges you to question who you would be if faced with similar situations.
Which character is your favorite?
I admit total bias on this front, but my favorite character is Thorne. He is absolutely one of my favorite YA “book boyfriends” and called dibs on him from the first draft of FMTD that I read. There’s just something about a selfless guy who has a great heart (and is hot…did I mention the hotness?).
What’s something potential readers of FMTD should know?
Nothing is what it seems. Be prepared to go on a journey that challenges everything you think you know about Neely’s world and every single person in it – including Neely herself.
I’m standing in the YA section at a bookstore. Convince me to buy FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS.
Do you like kickass (kickbutt if this is a young teen 😉 girls who take their lives into their own hands and stand up and fight for what they believe in? Do you like hot, incredibly kind sweet boys or hot, incredibly mysterious bad boys and kissing? Do you like thrilling adventure and action-filled journeys through uncharted territory? Then you WANT FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS.
ABOUT THE DANIELLE ELLISON:
Danielle Ellison spent of her childhood reading instead of learning math. It’s probably the reason she can’t divide without a calculator and has spent her life seeking the next adventure. It’s also probably the reason she’s had so many different zip codes and jobs.
When she’s not writing, Danielle is usually drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. Danielle is also the author of SALT and STORM, a series about a snarky witch without magic. She has settled in Northern Virginia, for now, but you can always find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.
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