World meet Amy Ewing, the new face on the literary scene you need to know.
Back in 2000 Amy hotfooted it to NYC to pursue a career in acting but it wasn’t to be. Instead, she spent years making ends meet working as a waitress, an admin assistant, a nanny and a sales rep before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to sit down, and pen her first novel. Fast forward to autumn 2014 and The Jewel, the first in a futuristic trilogy, is released.
It’s seriously addictive; we couldn’t put it down and devoured the enchanting tale in about 48 hours. If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games you will LOVE The Jewel.
Suitably obsessed and desperately awaiting the sequel (due to be published in the autumn of 2015) we caught up with author herself to talk the inspiration behind the novel and get her writing tips…
Grazia Daily: Hi Amy, if you could summarise the book to a potential Grazia reader how would you describe it?
Amy Ewing: The Jewel is about a city where young girls are auctioned off as surrogates to royal women who can no longer have children on their own. Violet is a surrogate who is sold to the Duchess of the Lake and sent to live in the Jewel, the glittering heart of the city. But while the trappings of the Jewel are glamorous, Violet quickly discovers a world where surrogates are abused, humiliated, and even killed.
Grazia Daily: Comparisons have been made between The Jewel and The Handmaid’s Tale. Are you a fan of reading dystopia / futuristic novels yourself?
Amy Ewing: I am! I mostly love reading stories about worlds that are different from our own, with different societal structures. I think it’s one of the best ways to tackle big issues, seeing a “What if…” scenario played out against a fantastical background. It was so much fun to explore the world of the Jewel, to play with the dynamics of the royalty and a female dominated society.
Grazia Daily: The protagonist Violet is quite a complex character, walking the line of playing the game and rebelling. Do you relate to her character at all?
**Amy Ewing: **I was never a super rebellious kid, so I can certainly relate to Violet’s res
pect for authority in the beginning of the novel. We are both stubborn and creative. And both romantics!
Grazia Daily: You wrote The Jewel alongside studying. Was that challenging?
**Amy Ewing: **Since The Jewel was my thesis project, it was the only thing I was working on for my last semester of graduate school. I had a lot of time to focus on it, which was so great. And I had an incredible thesis advisor who really got the book and pushed me to make it better, and a terrific peer group of other students who were encouraging and supportive. It was a tough semester because I was pushing myself hard to get a draft done, but I had so many amazing people supporting me. I felt pretty lucky!
Grazia Daily: What inspired you to start writing?
**Amy Ewing: **I was always making up stories when I was younger, though I never thought about writing professionally until I was in my late twenties. I got laid off when the economy collapsed in 2008 and I had all this time on my hands. So I wrote a YA fantasy novel that is currently in a drawer somewhere. But that novel got me into graduate school, and that’s where my life really changed. And I’m so glad it did.
Grazia Daily: Which other authors do you admire?
Amy Ewing: First, I have to say Tolkien because he really inspired my love of fantasy and of world building. And Roald Dahl was my first literary love - I must have read The BFG a hundred times. J.K. Rowling, obviously, because she’s amazing. In terms of more recent books I’ve read, I love Rainbow Rowell, and Andrea Cremer, and Stephanie Perkins.
Grazia Daily: What are your top 5 tips for budding writers?
1. Finish what you start.
There is so much power in finishing a draft of something, even if it’s bad.
Cut, cut, cut. I overwrote so much when I first started writing.
3. Keep it simple.
Always remember the heart of the story you are trying to tell. Don’t get too bogged down with flowery language or long descriptions if they don’t serve the needs of the story.
4. Love what you write.
Rejection happens to EVERYONE in this business. And it’s hard and it hurts, but always remember why you wrote this particular story. Love your world, love your characters, because if you don’t, why should anyone else?
5. Don’t give up!
Keep going. Just when you feel like you want to give up push one more time…
*The Jewel is available to buy now, £5.99 Amazon. *