Hi everyone! The Bevy has the pleasure today of welcoming the author of Mortal Danger, Ann Aguirre to our blog. Ann’s visiting us as part of the blog tour for Mortal Danger and has been kind enough to answer a few questions!
About Mortal Danger:
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.
In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly… bad things are happening. It’s a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what–she can trust. Not even her own mind…
Mortal Danger will be released Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Jen: There are so many different themes present in Mortal Danger, perhaps chief among them revenge. What are some of your favorite revenge plot-lines, either from classic film, television, and literature, or modern day mediums?
Ann: Payback, Dead Man Down, Taken, Harry Brown, Man on Fire, Count of Monte Cristo, Oldboy, The Crow, Gladiator… these movies all have in common the revenge trope. I enjoyed all of the above for various reasons. Generally, someone has been murdered or kidnapped, so that’s how the revenge quest begins, though in Count he was betrayed by his best friend. It’s such a darkly tempting thought, isn’t it? Imagining wrongdoers getting their comeuppance. But a quote from Nietzsche seems apt here, something about staring into an abyss. If you do terrible things for the right reasons, how long before that darkness infects you completely, until you can’t even remember why you’re committing such horrific acts? I’d be afraid I would lose myself if I started down that road.
Jen: Similarly, there’s the Faustian Bargain that the main character Edie makes. The Faustian Bargain has been popularized through many different television shows, books, and films (such as the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate, for example). Would you say that any of these inspired you in writing Mortal Danger? In what ways?
Ann: Obviously the idea of selling your soul to the devil for power or beauty or success is a tale as old as time. It wasn’t new, even when Marlowe wrote about it in Faustus. I saw that play performed once in college and it made great impact on me. Since then I’ve imagined reinventing the idea, modernizing it, and for me, corporations are sort of the megalithic, faceless villains that I can imagine doing dreadful things behind closed doors. So I guess you’d say I took my inspiration from Marlowe himself.
Jen: Do you think that Edie sees an element of karma to her revenge? Or, for that matter, to revenge in general?
Ann: She’s worried about becoming as bad as or worse than the people who tormented her. It takes a particular sort of person to truly revel in another’s pain. Even if they’re bullied you, most people can’t completely shut off their empathy and just laugh maniacally at pain. That sounds a bit sociopathic, to be honest. So when she was at her most wounded, that sounded appealing, but the reality of it turned out to be much more awful than she expected. Sometimes you think you want something, but once you get it… well, we say be careful what you wish for, don’t we? As for karma, it’s not much on Edie’s mind. She’s very scientific and she’d want to break down any karmic system, make it track rationally. How many bad thoughts equal a bad luck day, that sort of thing. If it can’t be readily quantified, it’s hard for her to deal with, which makes the messy, inexplicable Game so much worse for her.
Jen: Although Edie was obviously wronged by her classmates, how did you balance her good traits with her bad traits (i.e. the morality of revenge) in order to keep from alienating readers?
Ann: I think people want to root for the underdog so I would’ve had to write her as cold and remorseless to lose a lot of readers from the start. No protagonist is a perfect fit for everyone, though; some will find her boring and cautious. Others will judge her silly or shallow. Some people will misunderstand her goals because they can’t know the big picture. I don’t ever write a character while weighing what a reader will think of him or her. That’s a perfect way to paralyze yourself and make it impossible to work. I’m writing about Edie Kramer as a whole person: awkward, shy, scientific, nerdy, quiet, angry, wounded. She’s all of those things and more, just as we all are. Some days I’m cranky and I just want to be left alone. That doesn’t mean I’m generally a terrible person. I’m not sure how readers would feel about me if I was written directly into a book… but I suspect they’d find most aspects of my life implausible. So basically, I tell the story and let the chips fall as they may.
Jen: In addition to writing Young Adult fiction in a variety of genres, you also write Adult fiction in a variety of genres. Do you ever find it a challenge switching gears– from one audience and genre to a totally different one?
Ann: I enjoy both, very much. I have genre ADD, which means I need to switch it up frequently so I’m always tackling something new. YA was a new mountain to climb, but now that I’ve done it, I am eager to keep writing it.
For me, it’s not different. I don’t change my style or pull punches. I use all the same storytelling, worldbuilding, and characterization techniques from writing fiction for adults. The primary difference is the age of the protagonists, which informs their levels of personal experience and emotional development. Other than that, I write the same kind of book; my work tends to be gritty, dark, and action-packed.
The most difficult thing about it is that sometimes I really want to be writing one genre when I have a contract that says I have to finish this book before I can move on to the shiny new idea.
Jen: What do you hope readers will take away from Mortal Danger?
Ann: High school can be devastatingly difficult, but you can make it through and come out stronger at the end. I also hope they’ll be eager to read the sequel.
Thanks for stopping by, Ann!
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