Hi everyone, and welcome to October’s Reaping Day! I’m pleased to introduce Nina de Gramont, and her her latest book, Meet Me at the River, is out in bookstores today! Meet Me at the River is a paranormal contemporary romance, centered around the love of two stepsiblings, and how their relationship might just be stronger than death itself. Read on for the interview and giveaway.
Q: Give us five quirky, one-of-a-kind traits you have!
1. When I fall in love with a song, I listen to it over and over again, and sometimes play it in my head while I’m falling asleep. These days it’s “You are the One” by Meiko. It makes me feel happy.
2. As a teacher it throws me off when a student suddenly sits in a different seat than usual. Generally I’m not a rigid person but for some reason that upsets my sense of equilibrium.
3. I love all animals but opossums frighten me. Their faces look so human.
4. If I find something funny enough, I will laugh to a point where I am seriously crying and it takes me a long time to stop.
5. I guess along those same lines, my eyes fill up with tears very easily, if I am talking about anything even vaguely emotional.
Q: MEET ME AT THE RIVER sounds incredibly intriguing — what are some things that will make it a memorable read?
Although it is technically a ghost story, the novel is quite realistic. It deals with loss and grief and healing. What I mostly wanted it to be was a love story, albeit a very sad one. I hope that readers will walk away with a strong sense of what Luke and Tressa have together, and how that can endure even after he’s gone.
Q: I love how different and abstract-looking the cover for the book is. Is there a particular story behind its creation? Or does it tie in with the book in any way?
Isn’t it beautiful? I wish I could take even a tiny bit of credit for it, but that all belongs to the designers at Atheneum, and of course the photographer, Magdalena Lutek. The girl is a model named Joanna Sobesto, Magda and Joanna are both from Krakow. The only reason I know as much as I do is a friend of Joanna’s contacted me. The cover is printed on special stock, in person it kind of shimmers, and the image on the back is very evocative, too.
Q: Are any of the characters in MEET ME AT THE RIVER based on people you know in real life?
Of anything I’ve ever written, this book is distinguished by being almost entirely from my imagination. Traits from people I’ve known will sneak into certain characters, and the name Tressa is borrowed from someone I know, but nobody is modeled after any one person. The strongest connection is that an old friend, Cassie Wright, died tragically in an accident very much like Luke’s. The book is dedicated to her.
Q: Forbidden romances are pretty common in YA novels nowadays, but I like to think that this one is different because Tressa and Luke’s relationship is “accepted” only after his death. What do you think, though? What is it that makes their romance different from others out there?
The construction of their family is pretty unique, as you’ll see when you read the novel. When I was writing it, I didn’t really think of them as step siblings, though technically they are. Like all the best relationships, theirs is rooted in a deep friendship – Tressa, who had a very nomadic childhood, thinks of Luke as her only friend, so his loss is that much more unbearable. And Luke, even as a ghost, is so willing to let Tressa need him. The drama between them is created by other people; between Tressa and Luke there’s a steadfast understanding of who the other is as a person. Their relationship is actually quite healthy, not destructive at all. If not for the accident, these two would have had a real chance together.
Q: What inspired you to write such a tragic story?
Early indoctrination! For me, as a teen, Wuthering Heights was the absolute pinnacle. There was also a novel called The Summer Before by Patricia Windsor that I read over and over again. Novels that made me feel so much, as if I had lived through the stories and not just read them.
Q: If there is one thing you want readers to take home after reading your book, what would it be?
There are messages to be found in the book, about love staying behind when a person dies, and about living through what seems impossible. But for me, when I finish reading a novel that I truly love, I close it with a very particular kind of shuddery but satisfied sigh. That’s always my secret goal when I write a book, for readers to close it with that same sigh.
Q: And lastly, would you mind sharing a short excerpt with us?
The book is narrated by both Tressa and Luke. This is Tressa’s voice:
I understand, believe me, all the ways I need to atone. But in the meantime I am grateful for the one thing that persists, my last acceptable solace – which is Luke and me, together again. I will take that in any shape I can, however limited or brief or fleeting. Please believe me when I say that I regret everything. And still I would do whatever I needed, anything in the world: to bring him back to me.
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Doesn’t Meet Me at the River sound fascinating? While ghosts and tragic contemporaries aren’t an uncommon sight in YA fiction, I feel like Nina Gramont’s book is different, because of the level of personal content it carries: Luke’s accident wasn’t something the author made up, and in that way, I think Meet Me at the River will be a lot more gut-wrenching.
I hope you’re excited for Meet Me at the River, because Nina has generously offered to giveaway a finished copy of her book to one lucky winner! The giveaway is open internationally, and will end on November 2, a Saturday, at midnight. All the best to you entrants!