author of Chemistry
published October 29, 2012
Connect with the author: website : Twitter.
Jodi is offering Chemistry for free today and tomorrow (April 26-27) on Amazon. Yes, free!
The backstory: In March, Jodi emailed me and asked me if I'd be interested in reading her recently published book, Chemistry, which is a contemporary retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Here's the blurb she sent me:
You don't want to read this book. I'm warning you. This isn't a heartwarming, boy-meets-girl, high school romance. I wish it were—God, do I ever. No, if you read this, you're going to be angry… with me, mostly. You'll probably yell at me, if you're the type of person who yells at books. You'll tell me not to be so stupid, but I won't listen. I'll be exactly as stupid as I need to be to destroy everything I love because that's who I am: a walking, talking tragedy. That's who I've always been. But if you're determined to read on despite my warning, I may as well introduce myself. My name is Claude Frollo, I'm nineteen going on ninety, and this is my story. It isn't pretty, but it's honest. And it's the only story I have left to tell.Why was I drawn to this blurb? First, the very strong narrative voice. I love that in a book. I also love retellings, although I've never read The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And I liked the fact that this was a contemporary YA. Now that I've finished the book, I see that Claude was right. Chemistry isn't a heartwarming romance. This is an intense story of love, jealousy, betrayal -- a story full of complex characters and some very dramatic moments.
So here are my questions for Jodi and what she had to say:
Jen: I learned from your website that you used to write books on stapled-together pieces of paper. Me too! Can you tell me a little bit about your journey as a writer from Dragon to Chemistry?
Jodi's early work, Dragon.
Jodi: I started writing stories pretty much as soon as I learned how to write. At first, it was to record some of my stranger dreams. Then I read a book called DRAGON OF THE LOST SEA by Laurence Yep. There was one scene that brought me close to tears for the villain. The villain! I was shocked. I was just a child and only accustomed to evil villains of the Disney variety. Bad is bad, you know? But this villain had a reason and a painful history to go with it. That was what made me realize how complex stories could really be and what made me want to be a writer. After reading Laurence Yep's novel, I folded my notebook paper, stapled it, and composed DRAGON. And writing just became this amazingly bad habit of mine. I loved it. I have boxes of old manuscripts that will never see the light of day. It's interesting to me that the idea behind CHEMISTRY (as an attempt to acknowledge the humanity of the villain) kind of recalls that early experience.
Jen: Chemistry is a retelling of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I've never read. Can you give us a short summary of the book and explain why you decided to use it as your inspiration?
Jen: As much as I questioned the choice while reading, I love that you kept Esmeralda's pet goat and didn't make him into a Yorkiepoo. Can you tell us a little more about some of the elements of the original book that you either decided to keep or decided to change?
Jen: Claude is nineteen, and he -- and the book -- have some dark moments. Do you think that Chemistry skews a little more toward New Adult than YA, or do you think YA is trending toward darker, more complex stories?
Jen: Thanks so much for answering my questions, Jodi. I wish you much success with your writing!
You can read my review of Chemistry on Goodreads here. And don't forget, if you want to give Chemistry a try you can download it free here through April 27.
If you have questions for Jodi about goats, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, being a writer, or anything else, just leave them in comments and I'll ask her to stop by and answer them :)