Debut Author Bash 2016: Ami Allen-Vath
If you missed Friday's post, I'm participating in the Debut Author Bash this year to bring attention to some fantastic authors and their books! You can find the full bash schedule here! Today I'll be talking with Ami Allen-Vath, author of Liars and Losers Like Us which is already out in the world! First we'll take a look at my review and afterwards there will be an interview I did with her. Enjoy!
Liars and Loser Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath
I actually won this book in a giveaway hosted by Stephanie Scott and the day it arrived, I told myself that I was only going to read one chapter because I had a lot of things that I needed to get done. I was lying to myself. I finished the whole book in one sitting because it sucked me in like a vortex. At first glance, I thought this book was simply about prom, but it is just so much more than that. Liars and Losers Like Us deals with friendship, bullying, loss, and your typical high school issues as well.
Our main character Bree is on the tail end of a break up of her own as well as dealing with her parents divorce. She isn’t super confident, but she also knows that it could be worse and she spends her time daydreaming of the cute boy in her language arts class. Enter Sean, he’s a cute, sweet, charming, totally crush worthy football player and boy do I love him. He’s totally goofy and real. Another character I’d like to mention is Maisey, she’s only seen in a couple parts of the novel, but so much of it all has everything to do with her and, while it’s not the happiest of stories, I love the lessons that she teaches in such a short time. Ami handled her very well in my opinion. Obviously there are more than three characters in this story, but if I talked about them all this post would be painfully long. I will say that I find everyone to be completely important to the story and I love them all, even if with some it’s a hate kind of love.
My absolute favorite thing about this debut is how it deals with the topic of sex. Yes, our character is a virgin and it’s not like she didn’t have the opportunities. She just wasn’t with the right person and right now you’re probably rolling your eyes at how cliche that sounds, but trust me, when you read it, you’ll understand. It’s also not some “Oh I’ve found the love of my life. I’m going to give him what’s most precious to me” kind of stuff either. While being discussed as naturally as it has been in my life, it also has a darker tone which we will discuss with Ami later. We definitely need more realistic representations of sex like this one in our young adult literature.
Some darker things happen within this story and I love how the author added something like prom as kind of a buffer to keep things from being too deep. I highly recommend Liars and Losers Like Us to anyone who has ever felt alone, consumed by a tragedy, disliked, misunderstood, basically just anyone because it’s perfect. It’s an incredible, quick, emotional, and impactful read. I hope you’ll grab a copy and discuss your thoughts with me. Until then I will be dancing like no one’s watching, for Maisey.
Meet Ami Allen-Vath
Ami Allen-Vath is a MN born writer, living in GA and has lived in six other states and one country in between. Aside from books, Ami's into The Walking Dead, yoga, warm vacations in the wintertime and ice cream in any season. Ami's debut, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, is available now. You can check out her website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and like her on Facebook but please ignore her if you see her in pj pants at the grocery store.
Signed/personalized copies of Liars and Losers Like Us can be purchased and shipped from Little Shop of Stories: Call them at: 404-373-6300. You can also buy it from IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. And extra bonus points for requesting it from your library!
Ami: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Gabriella!
Liars and Losers Like Us has a moment where a male character gets violent over sex or lack thereof and while it isn't specifically at our female it has everything to do with her. This isn't something I see a lot of in YA and maybe I'm just not reading the right books, but what made you include such an important scene?
I didn’t have any specific message in mind when I wrote this scene other than to show how that particular character was. I will say this though: instances like this are not uncommon. Almost every sexually active girl/woman I know will have (at minimum) one story about how a guy tried to convince her to do stuff she didn’t want to do or got upset when she said no. There’s nothing worse than having the assertion to say “no” and getting anything else than understanding and respect in return.
We also touch on how casual sex can be no big deal, but sex with a loved one is almost a huge deal, while not 100% pertinent to the story I like how this is added because it seems like sex just happens in novels. No one talks about the emotional side and how it brings things to a whole new level for some people. How important do you feel it is to discuss the emotional side of things and bring them to light?
If you’ve read my book, it’s not a secret that there’s a lot of sex (talking about, doing, not doing, etc) in it. While it’s definitely not something as important or central for every teen, it was to this particular group of kids. My main character Bree wasn’t necessarily waiting for the right person to have sex with, but when she did find someone, it was important to her. And while I had characters with different relationships and views on sex, I wanted to show how much it meant to Bree and yet, show how it didn’t mean everything. I also made sure to drop little hints that the first time is not this huge hallelujah perfect stars-aligning experience, whether the couple loves each other or not.
You shared such a personal piece of yourself, and in a debut no less, did you ever have any reservations about how people might react?
The author’s note. Oh man. My author’s note for Liars and Losers Like Us is something I felt very obligated and compelled to include. In the book, Bree gets help for her mental health issues and my wish is that readers will find inspiration in that. But there were a lot of other issues in Liars, and unfortunately not everything has a “happy ending.” I feel absolutely awful that a certain character’s story ended the way it did. But for that character, that was their story and in real life, although the circumstances are very different, that’s how things almost ended up for me. It’s very important for me to emphasize though, that specific character’s ending is only one story. I absolutely do not want to leave any readers with the idea that being abused or victimized leaves you damaged or doomed. My author’s note hopefully explains this well.
As for writing the actual note, I wrote from my heart and experience keeping in mind what would’ve been helpful for “teen-me” and teens today to read. Then, I had it read over by a mental health professional and an activist/advocate for victims of rape. This was all the “easy” part. Once I sent it to my editor, I was terrified. There’s a certain vulnerability in having those words out there, knowing that strangers, friends and family are going to read them. But there’s also power. As a survivor, I am always compelled to tell my story in the hopes that others will see that they’re not alone and there is moving forward and really living after trauma.
Since we're talking about the personal side of your novel, would you mind expanding on that and how it ended up being such a huge piece of the story despite not really being the spotlight?
There were a lot of full stories that could’ve been told and I really do feel bad about some of the characters not getting more page time. But LALLU is from one person’s point of view. It was Bree’s story to tell. Not Kallie’s Todd’s, Molly’s, Jane’s or Maisey’s. In high school (and life), we meet and interact with so many different people. When I was a teen, because of how my classmates looked and presented themselves, I judged. I assumed that everyone one else had their lives together except me. Everyone seemed to exude confidence and have great homes lives. But just like in LALLU, everyone has their own story. I honestly didn’t start out writing to show this, but in the end, that’s exactly what happened. And I think the reason is because I’ve learned that and OMG do I wish I would’ve known that in high school.
My hope for readers is that they’re entertained by all the Belmont High drama and find a character or storyline to connect with. I’m also extra happy when a reader is reminded that they’re not the only ones stressing out about the little and the big things going on in life. I mean, we’re all doing this amazing life thing together so it really doesn’t hurt to be honest about how anxiety inducing it can be.
Gabriella: I would like to thank Ami for stopping by and shedding some wonderful insight into Liars and Losers Like Us. I hope y'all will grab yourself a copy! Be sure to come back and talk about it!