Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lenore Appelhans Author Interview

Photo Credir: Vania Stoyanova

Thanks to my father's job in the US military, I became addicted to travel early. To date, I've visited nearly 60 countries and have stepped on every contintent except Antartica. My travels inspire my writing - in fact, the original spark of the idea for LEVEL 2 grew out of an discussion with my grandmother about whether it was better to spend my money on Precious Moments figurines (her view) or plane tickets (my view). 

I currently live in Frankfurt, Germany and the last foreign country I visited was Krygyzstan (Sept 2012).

Fun facts:
I've lived in 7 US states (North Dakota, Colorado, Utah, California, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma) and 5 foreign countries (Greece, Ecuador, Spain, Japan, Germany)
I have 3 fancy Sacred Birman cats. You can see pictures of them in cute and crazy poses on my blog.
I wrote my first book, Timothy the Bug, in the car on a family vacation when I was in the 5th grade. In 8th grade, I made it to the state semi-finals in Ohio's Power of the Pen competition (I placed 5th at the regional level).
I've swam with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, walked with lions in Zimbabwe, fed anteaters in Tikal, Guatemala, braved fire ants in Australia, chased a puffin across a black sand beach in Iceland and narrowly avoided stepping on a snake in Burma.

What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
The first novel that opened me up to the possibilities of YA was Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. I loved the big concept premise and just how fast paced and gripping it was compared to the adult literary fiction I’d been reading up to that point. After that, I read hundreds of YA novels before I started writing my own.

Did you learn anything from writing Level 2 and what was it?
Where to start? I learned a lot about myself as a writer. I’m not someone who can draft quickly. 1500 k words a day is a good goal for me (some authors do that in an hour easily). That’s probably why I like revising better than drafting. I love adding depth and layers.

For those who are unfamiliar with Felicia, how would you introduce her?
There are few different incarnations of Felicia in Level 2. When we meet her in Level 2, she’s fiercely loyal, restless, and curious. But the earliest incarnation of Felicia, when we meet her in the Germany timeline, she’s more self-centered and doesn’t fully appreciate the value of friendship. In the Ohio timeline, she’s troubled – definitely guilt-ridden but yearning to redeem herself. She grows a lot during this book!

What part of Julian did you enjoy writing the most?
Julian was fun to write in general because he’s very charming, and yet he also holds himself at a distance – the kind of character who smirks a lot. At heart, he’s a guy who has had limited experience of the world, and he’s on a quest to remedy that.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Lauren Oliver. I met her for the first time at the Bologna Book Fair in 2010 and she has always been very generous with her advice and support, even though she’s super busy writing her own books and running her book packaging business Paper Lantern Lit.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
I read a quote recently that really resonated with me. It was: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” My advice is to live as fully as possible. Take risks. Create memories. You only have this one chance.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I’ve only ever had one summer job. Most of my summers were spent traveling, but one year I decided to earn some travel money by working at Subway. We always seemed to have a lot of problems at our store – the AC going out, the ovens not working, people dropping meatball subs on the floor. I also had coworkers that stole from the till and gave away free subs to their friends. One guy even came in and robbed us at gunpoint. I am so grateful that I work from home now!

What scares you the most and why?
Ebola. After I read Executive Orders by Tom Clancy, I’ve been freaked out about it.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
The first – always.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
Julian asks this question of Felicia in Level 2. She has a ready, seemingly obvious answer, but he reminds her the huge repercussions that one different decision would have. So I’d probably choose not to eat that bad bacon that gave me food poisoning in Burma. Or something relatively minor like that.

When was the last time you cried?
I was telling my editor about this really emotional scene in the Level 2 sequel (called Chasing Before) and I got tears in my eyes!

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Praise for LEVEL 2

"Readers will root for Felicia and Neil....The way Appelhans mixes memory with plot is exceptional." Romantic Times

"Immensely layered." VOYA

“This imaginative debut brings conflict to the afterlife....An absorbing, sensitive read.” Kirkus Reviews

“Appelhans’ storytelling is well paced, tantalizing the reader with hints, and the compelling theme of the necessity of facing the wrongs of the past in order to move forward into the future will appeal to teens.” Booklist

“Appelhans brings the afterlife to a whole new level. . . . A high-voltage thrill ride through love, death, and memory that will leave you breathless.” Jess Rothenberg, author of The Catastrophic History of You and Me

“Absolutely gripping. My heart pounded on nearly every page. You won't be able to put it down.” Mary E. Pearson, award-winning author of the Jenna Fox Chronicles

“A gripping debut! This utterly unique take on the afterlife poses fascinating questions . . . I can't wait to read the rest of the series to find out the answers!” Megan McCafferty, New York Times bestselling author of Bumped and Thumped

Lenore Appelhans’ Level 2 is the riveting dystopian story of teenager Felicia Ward’s precocious death in which she finds herself trapped in Level 2, a place between our world and the next. With the use of a device, she’s able to search through and relive her favorite memories from earth. She can also organize her memories with notes and ratings. Her favorite memories are filled with the people she has lost, especially with her true love Neil. She has yet to watch her death but loves to watch the happier ones. When one of the friends she visits out in the hive go missing, a guy from her past, Julian, suddenly appears and tells her he can break her out. He explains the truth to Felicia and also tells her if she joins the rebellion to overthrow the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be reunited with Neil.

Certainly the world that Felicia is stuck in is something that has always been of curiosity. This world that Lenore has built is absolutely amazing and highly intense. The Mortai angels of Level 2 have abandoned their duties. Instead of having the people in the hives confront their bad memories so that they can move on, they keep them trapped so they can use up their energy. The visual presentation she delivers with her descriptive texts allows readers to get a clear picture of this unknown, yet very intriguing world.

Felicia is introduced as dead but readers are able to learn a lot about her by the memories she relives in the hives. Neil is absolutely sweet and caring. He was there for her when no one would understand what she was going through with her short-lived harmful relationship with Julian. Although she’s in quite a predicament that we could barely fathom, she’s totally relatable.

There’s a heap of action sequences throughout the book that will have readers on the edge of their seats. The story about the Mortai angels’ intentions adds more intrigue to an already fascinating book. Lenore sure knows how to grip her readers really knows what to do to keep interest at high levels at all times. Level 2 is an amazing dystopian sci-fi YA thriller that brilliantly mixes worlds of angels, robots, and Greek mythologies. The story develops smoothly delivering amazing sequences within the claustrophobic Level 2 and the stunningly fashioned memories that Felicia accesses. There are plenty of twists and turns and surprising revelations that it becomes difficult to even think about putting the book down.
You can purchase Level 2 at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LENORE APPELHANS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans.


  1. Thank you Lenore and Jean. I really enjoyed the interview. This book has been on my TBR list for over a month now (since I first read about it!!)

  2. Thank you Lenore and Jean! I've been wanting to read this book for a while now.