It gives me huge pleasure to welcome fellow VCFA alumna and Beyond the Margin critique partner, Ann Jacobus to World Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a story set outside of the United States for children or young adults. I’ve been fortunate to watch this story evolve and grow and the best way I can sum it up is by describing ROMANCING THE DARK IN THE CITY OF LIGHT as an “ANNA KARENINA meets THE BOOK THIEF in a Parisian setting” story. Read on to learn more about Ann and her debut novel.
From Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan
Release date: October 6, 2015
This is a dark and edgy upper YA thriller so for readers 14 and up.
Where is it set?
My YA novel is set in what most people will agree is one of the most beautiful cities in the world—Paris, France. Some scenes take place in parts of the city that most tourists don’t see. And the setting is filtered through the point of view of a character who is depressed and suicidal.
In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.
Troubled, eighteen-year-old American Summer Barnes has one more chance to graduate from a high school in Paris. There she meets an awesome guy named Moony who’s totally upbeat about life, and her. She needs his friendship desperately, but he can’t put up with her bad choices much longer. Hot, mysterious Kurt, on the other hand, is all about self-destructive fun. He wants Summer to understand that life, and death, are easy choices.
Links to reviews or blurbs you wish to share: Publishers Weekly
How are you connected to the setting of your story?
I lived in Paris for ten years with my family. I also studied and traveled in France as a teen and as an undergraduate.
Lucky you, Ann! What inspired you to write this story?
The germ of the idea for this story came from a scary incident in the Métro, where someone ended up on the tracks in front of our train. I was with my young daughter and we quickly left. We never found out exactly what happened. But I couldn’t forget it and that’s where my imagination and the writer’s eternal question of “what if?” took over.
What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?
My protagonist is depressed and ultimately suicidal. It was more challenging than I imagined living in her head for long periods of time (like, years). But the only way around it was through. This was a story I wanted to tell, and even when I gave up on it, I always returned to it.
What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it set outside of the United States? If so, where? And what is it about?
I am working on a companion book that picks up a year after RTDCOL ends, with Summer living with her aunt and working on a suicide crisis line in San Francisco. Some other characters from the RTDCOL show up, too. She’s very ANTI-suicide now.
We can’t wait for the next book, Ann! What else would you like us to know about you or your story?
I’ve lived outside the US for over two decades of my life and wish everyone could have the chance to travel, or better yet, to live outside their native country for at least a year. I’m convinced it could do wonders for world peace. My family and I lived in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf for four years. So one of Summer’s love interests is from the Gulf. We also lived in the Czech Republic for two years, and then for ten in Paris. We loved each experience and are grateful to have had these opportunities.
I remember reading the timeless The Witch of Blackbird Pond at a tender age, and being outraged at the injustices heaped upon poor Kit Tyler. She was forced to leave her tropical island home in Barbados and live in cold, harsh, hard-core Puritan 1687 New England. And they thought she was a witch to boot.
Where can readers go to learn more information?
If you like thrillers, memorable characters, and a good read, be sure to order your copy today at your nearest bookstore!! Thank you Ann, for joining us at World Reads and a big congratulations!
Thank you for having me, Annemarie!