Today I have the ever fashionable and creative A.G. Howard visiting the blog to talk to us about her books, Splintered and upcoming Unhinged. In this series she takes Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and adds her own unique and dark twists.
The most obvious question is what drew you to Wonderland?
I’m a huge fan of Lewis Carroll’s genius. The actual idea came to me when I went to see the Tim Burton & Disney Alice adaptation. The cinematography was so vivid, techno-colored, and evocative that I didn’t want to leave the setting when it was over. So I started playing out Wonderland continuations and scenarios in my mind. I decided to write a follow-up story about the world, making things a little darker and a little funkier, but I needed it to be contemporary and different than it had ever been done. Then I saw the book Alice I Have Been and everything clicked into place. I could have my contemporary heroine be a descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who actually inspired Carroll to write his story to begin with! Once that fell into my lap, I started the process of writing.
Alyssa, your main character, has an interest in insects because they speak to her. I personally have a fascination with Entomology and was impressed with your knowledge and descriptions. Where did your idea of her artwork and incorporating our smaller, less understood companions in your novel?
I wanted her to be able to converse with bugs and flowers, because the talking flower scenes in Carroll’s two books, the Disney cartoon, and the Tim Burton/Disney rendition, were some of my favorites. Also, I always remembered the scene from Through the Looking Glass when Alice is riding a train through the countryside and has a conversation with a gnat. Those were such quirky and indelible images, that I just had to incorporate them somehow. For Alyssa, it’s more survival tactic than inspiration that leads her to kill and preserve bugs and flowers. It’s the only way she can keep their whispers from clouding her thoughts. She feels guilty for cutting their lives short, so tries to do something constructive with their bodies … something that brings other people happiness.
Your character descriptions (along with their attire) are described in exquisite detail. As I read I couldn’t help but imagine you sketching characters as they came to you because art has such a presence in your work. Do you sketch your characters, their attire or do you do a written description or both?
I used to try to draw some when I was younger, but I didn’t stick with it. Maybe someday I’ll give it a shot again. But right now I’m too busy painting pictures with my mind. 😉 In my teen years, I dreamed of being a fashion designer, so that’s why fashion plays a huge role in my books. A mix between my daughter’s closet and mine actually contributed to Alyssa’s outfits. I love anything lacy and Victorian, and my daughter is all about the gothic and punk.
Morpheus is such an enigmatic character, is there anything you could tell us about him that we might not know (that wouldn’t be spoiler-ish)?
He doesn’t like not being in control. And once you read Unhinged, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to. 😉
I was ecstatic to see him on the cover of the next book, Unhinged, do you think you’ll ever write from his view point?
I might do a short story one day in his and Jeb’s POVs. It’s still in the brainstorming phases, but it’s something I’m considering.
Do you create your characters or their setting first?
Every book I write starts with the character(s). Then I build their world around them.
I imagine after spending so much time creating characters that they take on a life of their own. Do your characters ever do things that surprise you?
Absolutely. In Splintered, all the characters had a few surprises for me along the way, but especially Morpheus. And especially at the end…
After Unhinged what’s next for you?
With the genre “New Adult” becoming popular, my agent and I are hoping to submit one of my other finished MSS to some publishers. It’d be nice to have books in both YA and NA.
Now to some random questions:
What are you presently reading?
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. It’s WONDERFUL.
Is there a character or story you wish you had written?
Jane, from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. She had so much quiet strength and intelligence. She didn’t need a man to complete her, but it didn’t keep her from opening her heart to love. She was a kick-butt heroine before her time.
Now for a teaser from Unhinged:
“Alyssa,” Morpheus murmurs. “We were children together. I’ve waited for your return more years than your mortal knight has even known you existed.”
Check out what Morpheus would look like as a Lego