The truth won't always set you free.
Less than a year ago, Neely Ambrose’s biggest worry was having the freedom to follow a path that wasn't chosen for her.
Less than a year ago, she believed she could trust the Elders who said they had everyone’s best interest at heart and who said they were keeping them safe from the outside.
Sixty days ago, she discovered what they had planned for everyone she loved—and that all of it centered around her.Now she’s on the run through a dangerous wasteland full of killing machines, secret organizations, and people who want to sell her back to the Elders for their own safety. The whole world outside the Compound is living proof that everything in Neely’s life was a lie manufactured by the Elders, which may even include the boy she loves.
All Neely wants is the truth, but each new piece of it drives her further from what she thought she knew. With only forty days until everyone she loves falls under the Elders’ mind control, Neely must decipher who to trust, what questions to ask, and how to get one step ahead of the Elders, who will do anything to keep their secrets buried.
Danielle Ellison spent of her childhood reading instead of learning math. It's probably the reason she can't divide without a calculator and has spent her life seeking the next adventure. It's also probably the reason she's had so many different zip codes and jobs.
When she’s not writing, Danielle is usually drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. Danielle is also the author of SALT and STORM, a series about a snarky witch without magic. She has settled in Northern Virginia, for now, but you can always find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
It was never a developed idea—it was a line. At the time I was at work in the border's coffee shop & I was unloading the stock that came in. It was late, toward the end of my shift, and had a bunch of frozen food so I had to get it put away. I heard this line in my head, "There's never enough time," and I kept repeating it. Then I had a second & third line. I stopped putting stuff away to write it down and then it was a paragraph. When I clocked out, I sat in the back & wrote—pages and pages on napkins & receipt tape. It would be a long time before I had the whole plot but that was the first moment, first line, first scene I wrote. I guess that’s inspiration, so to speak, since the whole book is a race against time.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love them all! I can't pick one as my favorite, but I will say Neely holds a special place in my heart. She is like this part of my soul because we've been together for so long that she's ingrained in me & I can tap into her at any moment, yet she's still always surprising me.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
They both changed. I rewrote this book 8 times before I sold it. In my first 4-5 drafts the title was SILHOUETTES—then the changed title changed to FMTD. The story still changed 3-4 more times…so I guess technically the title.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The scene I wrote that very first day is my favorite scene—partially because it's the only one that survived every draft with little to no alteration at all. That is such a pivotal moment for me personally because it l changed my life in so many ways.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve narrowed it down to three things. I know you said one, but they all pretty much go together. Those three things are how to handle criticism, the value of a support system, and the belief in what you’re doing.
It comes down to this: everyone will have an opinion. On your book, on what you should’ve done (or not done), on if they like it or not, on how you can improve, on how you should tweet or not tweet, or what your website should look like…the list goes on and on. Criticism will come at you from every different direction, and you have to be able to take it. That's why surrounding yourself with positivity and with people who believe in you, support you and will have your back no matter what is important. To that end, it’s also imperative that you know why you are writing and believe in yourself, in your story, and keep writing stories that you believe in.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Everything! I told my designer when we were planning that the most important thing to me was that the book felt a certain way—that when you look at it you get a feeling. She accomplished that. It's everything I wanted and didn't know I wanted all at the same time.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?
P.S. I Still Love You, which is the sequel of To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han—and a bunch of other sequels! I'm also excited for More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.
What was your favorite book in 2014?
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski—if you haven't read it then you need to. Everything about is perfection. I also loved Isla & the Happily Ever After, which was such a great ending to the series and well worth the wait.
What’s up next for you?
I've been waiting for this for so long that I've never had to think beyond October! The rest of the trilogy needs to be finished, but my agent & I are revising a project right now and I have a few things up my sleeve. Aside from that I'm in grad school & planning NoVa TEEN Book Festival, so staying busy!