Anne Merchant Interviews Author Joanna Wiebe
Thanks to Parajunkee for letting me crash her blog like this! I just had to sit down and talk with Joanna Wiebe… to clear a few things up.
See, Joanna wrote this book about me. It’s called The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant – I’m Anne – it’s totally filled with personal stuff, and, as of Jan 14, the whole free world is going to be able to read it, analyze me, make all sorts of judgments about me and my fam – the list goes on.
I’m not, like, freaking out about the book. It’s a pretty accurate telling. Here’s the gist: My dad sent me away to a Maine boarding school for a ‘fresh start’, and I arrived there only to find that not only was the school filled with really competitive rich kids but everyone was in on a secret they seemed to be keeping from me and me alone. So, kinda tough sitch.
Anyway, I’d like to get Joanna’s take on a few points – and there will be spoilers – so join me as I chat with her now. Joanna, welcome.
Anne: Look, why did you have to tell everyone I checked out my naked bod in the mirror?
Joanna: (laughs) Nice to see you, too.
Anne: Seriously, that’s mortifying. There’s so much else that I’m dealing with on Wormwood Island, and I’m not the first girl to look at myself. But it’s like you had to write it down as if no one’s ever done it and it’s somehow totally monumental.
Joanna: Well, no, I don’t think a sixteen year-old girl noticing her body in the mirror is monumental. I think it’s real – something we all do in private. And, given your history, it was an important moment that’s one of many clues for readers as to what’s going on with you.
Anne: Spoiler alert! What do you mean?
Joanna: Yes, spoiler coming up. I mean that you were barely fourteen years old when you fell into a coma. You slept through more than two years of your body changing. It’s little surprise that you’d find your clothes unusually tight and that you’d be curious enough to, as you put it, check yourself out in the mirror.
Anne: So it’s not just gratuitous nudity?
Joanna: Anne! Of course not. Nothing in the book is gratuitous.
Anne: Even the stuff with Teddy reading my soul?—y’know, when he says that I could be successful in life by being, like, oversexed like Harper and her gang?
Joanna: Especially that. Objectifying girls isn’t something I take lightly.
Anne: Okay. Next Q. You know me pretty well. Any insights into why I’m, like, not very good at making friends?
Joanna: You are good at it! Molly takes to you quickly. And Ben wants to be your friend, in spite of what he says. Even Jack likes you. It’s just that you’re a little sharp-tongued, you’re unlikely to back down – which hurts your likability factor – and you’ve got this loner instinct built in. Being raised in a funeral home will do that to you, right? Taking care of your mentally ill mother will do that to you. The cards were sort of stacked against you from a social-integration perspective. But that’s okay. That’s just part of who you are – and it gives you plenty of time to read and stuff.
Anne: To nerd out.
Joanna: Being a reader is part of what saves your butt – don’t forget that. And don’t act like you’re not proudly nerdy.
Anne: There’s a lot I’m not proud of, but I guess being a tiny bit of a geek – an artsy one – isn’t one of them. I’m definitely not proud of what happened with Molly, when I lost her shoe and didn’t go back to find it. The consequences were… Well, I couldn’t have imagined.
Joanna: No one could have.
Anne: But, well, I knew something bad could happen. Molly told me so. But I didn’t take it seriously. So do you think I was ignorant… or just a really bad, lazy friend?
Joanna: You were not in the know. If you’d had a clue, Anne, what the consequences would be, you would have looked for Molly’s shoe until sunrise and then some. Until you found it.
Anne: But, I mean, I just ran away from it. Like a whiny brat.
Joanna: Well, you were hurt. You’d just seen your late mother’s heirloom destroyed by a girl who’d been nothing but mean to you – a girl you temporarily trusted in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, you could get along. You’d heard about the expulsion of sweet Lotus. And you’d faced total rejection from the boy you’re crushing on. Would it have been better for Molly if you’d searched in the dark for her shoe? Yes. But was it bound to work out as it did, no matter what you did or didn’t do? Yes.
Anne: Okay, enough of my pity party. When are you going to tell readers the real reason Headmaster Villicus allowed me into Cania Christy? Because, thanks to your inability to sugarcoat anything about my life, everyone’s about to find out just how little money my dad had to pay for such a school…
Joanna: There are two reasons Villicus wanted you at his school. The first is the one you and Ben guessed: your dad’s network and access to, um, ideal students for Cania. But the second reason you’re there is much bigger. Readers will find out everything about that in the second book. There are, of course, clues in this book.
Anne: Okay, cool. Now, I’ve saved the best Q for last. This is embarrassing, but do you think Ben’s actually, like, into me? Like for real?
Joanna: Let’s put it this way: he’s been thinking about you for the last five years. He dated a blonde girl only because she reminded him of you.
Anne: Garnet. Too bad she turned out so crazy.
Joanna: (laughs) That is too bad. And hold that thought because Garnet’s dislike for you isn’t all used up – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right?
Anne: Oh, great.
Joanna: But as for Ben, Anne, yeah, he’s into you. You’re into him. But you’re both young. If you think the story of your time at Cania Christy is about you and Ben, I’m sorry to disappoint. It won’t be that easy. Your destiny, as you’re about to find out, is anything but romantic.
Anne: On that happy note, thanks for clearing things up a bit and filling me with a new sense of dread.
Joanna: That’s what I’m here for.
You can read more about Anne Merchant’s mortifying moments, romantic challenges and near-destruction by picking up a copy of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, written by Joanna Wiebe and published by BenBella Books, in bookstores and online Jan 14, 2014.
Amy Plum called the novel “deliciously dark”, and VOYA said it’s great for fans of Anna Dressed in Blood.
About The Book
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna WiebePublished by BenBella Books, Inc. on 2014-01-02
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.
Big giveaway for the tour! Fifteen finished copies of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant up for grabs. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
About the Author
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Monday, January 13th – Curling Up with a Good Book
Tuesday, January 14th – Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, January 15th – Such A Novel Idea
Thursday, January 16th – The Story Siren
Friday, January 17th – Book Whales
Monday, January 20th – Jump Into Books
Tuesday, January 21st – Supernatural Snark
Wednesday, January 22nd – Doonie Darko Girl
Thursday, January 23rd – Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy
Friday, January 24th – Literary Me