Oh, there is a fun story behind this. Believe it or not, the initial idea for Nexis came about when my agent, Louise Fury, was still part of the L. Perkins Agency. She and Lori Perkins and I were eating dinner at a convention and they were talking about wanting a Steampunk Cinderella story. I also write Steampunk, so the idea was intriguing to me. On the spot, I came up with a Cinderella who loses her whole leg instead of just a shoe and ends up with some crazy Steampunk gadget for a leg instead. I didn’t want to do another Steampunk story though, so I decided I’d try and do a futuristic Cinderella instead. I’ve always been a huge fan of anime and, if you’re also a fan like me, you’ll probably be able to pick out some of my influences. Anyway, I wrote this sort-of futuristic Cinderella story. The initial set up in the original version was very Cinderella, but then, I sort of flew off the track with the whole virtual game idea and the ending. The work and the character became so much bigger and better than its initial starting point. After numerous edits and Cinder coming out in print (yes, I wrote Nexis that long ago), I decided to nix the Cinderella aspect all-together and really make Nexis its own story. I really love what this story has become and the journey that the characters and I have taken.
How long did you work on NEXIS?
Hm…Well, the convention where I first conceived the idea of a Steampunk Cinderella was in August of 2011. I think I didn’t start with the futuristic Cinderella idea until late fall of 2011. The oldest finished version that I can find dates to February of 2012. So, obviously it didn’t take me very long to finish the book. I think that Nexis was one of the fastest books that I’ve written. The characters just sort of took hold and ran away with the story. Over the years I’ve obviously changed the story a lot and added quite a bit, but if someone were to hand you the original it would still look and feel very similar.
What do you hope readers will take away from NEXIS?
The Tricksters Series as a whole is designed to be a cautionary tale. Like many Dystopic pieces, most of the inhabitants of the city of Evanescence are happy – blind to what they’ve done and are doing. The Aristocrats don’t pay much attention to the Disfavored who live outside the domed city. Why should they? The citizens in the dome are isolated away from the Disfavored and don’t need to have contact unless they want to. Likewise, they don’t think about the rights of the androids who work for them. The Aristocrats control the androids with a single thought – using and abusing them as they see fit and the androids can’t retaliate so there is no danger there. Everything is literally perfect for the Aristocrats. But, perfection breeds jealousy and abuse breeds resentment and paired together they’re deadly…Which the Aristocrats will learn throughout the progression of the series.
I deal with a lot of issues in this book that I hope that readers, especially young ones, will resonate with. My main character, Ella, struggles with body image issues. Not only is she a minority racially and socially, she’s also unable to Modify and Alter herself (which is basically the equivalent of being the girl in school who wears no make-up; has hairy legs and a bad haircut; wears glasses and uncool clothes; has braces and a lisp; and no smart phone…we’re talking social suicide here. And, of course, it’s all her parents’ fault). Her issues are compounded when she ends up losing her legs in an accident. But, she manages to endure. She learns to love herself for who she is, hate what society does to the people, appreciate the real beauty around her, and utilize her internal skills to get what she wants and needs.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
Oh man…This is the epic question! Let’s see. I started writing my first book in high school, which was in…2001. Oh gosh, I’m old. Okay, so wrote that and a few other books in that series (6 in all) throughout high school and into college. My Sophomore year of college (2005) I started writing The Will of the Fallen and I worked on that until the beginning of 2009. I felt confident with this novel and wanted to try publishing it, so I started the query process. Which, let’s just say, went nowhere. During that time I started writing a YA paranormal romance called Scar-Crossed and I got a few of my short stories published by a small press.
After I gave up submitting The Will of the Fallen, I started on submitting Scar-Crossed. A few agents were interested and I even did a rewrite for one, but the one who I signed with was Louise Fury in November 2010. We spent a good 9 months editing and polishing Scar-Crossed to make it perfect. Unfortunately for us, The Twilight Saga had just boomed and the publishing industry had made this mad scramble to put out as much YA paranormal romance as possible. We got a lot of interested editors, but they either didn’t have the budget, weren’t able to make it stand out in the market, or they already had a book like it on their list. While Scar-Crossed was being submitted to editors I wrote Nexis.
I handed Nexis to my agent in early 2012, but I believe we didn’t start submitting until quite a few months after that because we were still on submission with Scar-Crossed. Once Scar-Crossed had exhausted its options, we went ahead with submitting Nexis in the summer of 2012. Nexis was on submission until the summer of 2014 when Entangled Teen finally took it.
During that time I wrote three more novels, For Your Heart in 2012, which I self-published. Dark Entry Guard in 2013, which I haven’t decided what to do with yet. And Cutter’s Kids in 2014, which I currently have on submission with agents. The small press that had been publishing my short stories also folded during that time, so I self published a few my favorites.
Over-all it has been a very eye opening experience. I’ve learned that traditional publishing takes an exceedingly long period of time for everything and that success is based on timing and luck. The most frustrating thing about being on submission was hearing an editor say something like “I really love this book and I’ll buy it for my shelf when it comes out, but…” We have to realize that a book being awesome isn’t the only thing that catches an agent or editor’s attention. They have to feel like it’s a shoo-in -- that it’s easy to pitch and sell to the people who pay their salaries, and that there will be a large enough market for the content of the book so that it pays out its advance and makes a profit for the house. It’s a business, pure and simple.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I’m all over the place. I’m a pantser, so I write whenever my muse deems to show me an ounce of her attention. I’ll go for weeks, sometimes months without being able to write anything. And then, all at once, I’ll need to work on four stories at once. When I can, I like to visit cafés. I have to get out of my house because I get too easily distracted. I’ll sit at a café all day and just down cup after cup of tea. I do listen to music. Mostly I listen to instrumental stuff so that I don’t get distracted, but sometimes I need some emotional lyric filled music to kick-start my ability to really connect with a character or situation. If I’m stuck, I take a walk, go driving, or take a shower. The alone time and the quiet usually allow my characters to start talking.
What are you working on now?
I have so many projects! I just finished writing Redux, which is the sequel to Nexis. I am always working on more books in the Hill Dweller world (For Your Heart, Dark Entry Guard, Scar-Crossed). I’ve been editing Will of the Fallen for years and I still can’t figure out what I feel is wrong with it…Maybe one day. I’m also working on a couple of little one-off projects, the closest to completion is The Great White Light which is a novel to compliment my Steampunk short stories.
ABOUT THE BOOKNexis by A.L. Davroe
In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.
Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again. But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is. And it’s been waiting for Ella.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORA.L. (Amanda) writes both YA and adult speculative fiction. She prefers revisionist tales in paranormal, romance, Steampunk, and fantasy. She is the author of Salvation Station (adult psych horror), The City Steam Collection (adult psych horror), For Your Heart (YA Paranormal Romance) and her YA Sci-Fi novel, Nexis, is coming out with Entangled Publishing December 1, 2015!
By day, Amanda lives in Connecticut with her two feline hench-creatures. She's a terrible blusher, has a weak spot for cuddly animals, loves Laffy Taffy and Cadbury MiniEggs, and she's a huge advocate of alternative healing methods. Amanda also wears purple shoes and corsets...Though not always in the same ensemble. She's a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, a bit gothic, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal. Amanda also suffers from Resting Bitchface Syndrome (RBS), so even though she might look like she'll tie you in a knot if you come near her, she's more afraid of you than you are of her (see blushing problem above).
Have you had a chance to read NEXIS yet? Would you like to have an android at you beck and call? What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa