Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

 After her mother’s death, 16-year-old art prodigy Anne Merchant moves from sunny California to the cold woodlands of Wormwood Island, Maine for what is supposed to be a fresh start. She is the newest student of Cania Christy, an elite boarding school that is as filled with secrets as it is with the world’s most privileged—and competitive—teens.
From the first day of school, Anne finds herself thrust into the Big V competition, an intense race to the top of the class. With enviable talents, she quickly becomes the enemy of every junior seeking the Big V—especially Harper, the presumed frontrunner.
Like every student, she is assigned a guardian, and a unique mission. Anne’s assignment is to “look deeper.” Anne is determined to succeed, and won’t let anything —not even her distractingly beautiful neighbor Ben—get in the way. But the deeper she looks the more questions arise, and the more she is forced to reexamine all of her assumptions—about the school, her classmates and even herself.
As layers of secrecy deepen, Anne leans on the friendship of Molly, a lifelong islander, and Pilot, the only junior not competing for the Big V, to make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world. But 
when people start disappearing, Anne uncovers a stunning truth that she must face head on
before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

About Joanna Wiebe

By day, Joanna is a copywriter and the co-founder of CopyHackers.com and Page99Test.com, a critique site for published and unpublished writers. As an undergraduate student, Joanna won several academic awards for excellence in creative writing: Canada's James Patrick Folinsbee Prize, which she won twice, as well as the Godfrey Prize.
After graduating, she lived for a year on the remote northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, which is the inspiration for the verdant Wormwood Island of the V Trilogy. She holds a BA in Honors English and an MA in Communications from the University of Alberta and lives with her partner Lance in Victoria, British Columbia.
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is her first novel and the first installment in the V Trilogy.

Love Triangles: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?

When plotting the V Trilogy and its first installment The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (Jan 14), this quickly became clear to me: the choices a character makes – or doesn’t make – drive a story forward.
Sound obvious? I guess it is, but it was something that I hadn’t, in my years of writing short stories, considered.
Choices create tension. Tension turns pages.
Anticipating an MC’s choices is why readers turn the page. Setting up those choices is why writers wake up early, stay up late and bail on their friends – just to madly dash off page after page.  
In paranormal and fantasy YA, decisions and choices are everything. The MC generally has one major decision to make across the arc of the series or by the end of the book – something like:
·         Choosing to lead an uprising or rebellion
·         Choosing to destroy a person or system
·         Choosing to exact their revenge
·         Choosing a side in a battle
·         Choosing to do the right (but extremely difficult) thing
Then there are the minor choices – the things that happen every day, in every chapter. Will she stay at the new school or move home? Will she snap back at the mean girls? Will she stand up for the bullied kid? Will she overcome her shyness and put up her hand? Will she turn her friend in?
And, somewhere between those major and minor decisions, there’s the love plot. Or, more typically, the love triangle. It seems to me that love triangles are common in paranormal and fantasy books largely because love triangles require the MC to make a tension-building choice. Will she choose Edward, or will she choose Jacob? Peeta or Gale? Daniel or Cam? Will or Jem?
It’s a great question that keeps some readers intrigued…
I’ve never been a big romance reader, so, for me, I can tolerate love triangles the same way I can tolerate any love subplot: just don’t let it overtake the story. I personally don’t want to read – or write – any story that reinforces the idea that all girls want to find Prince Charming and get married, and that the biggest decision we have to make is to choose Colonel Brandon or John Willoughby. That was fine in Jane Austen’s time, maybe, but we’ve got Marissa Mayer at the helm of Yahoo! and, depending on how you lean, hopes for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Love and marriage are not the be all and end all. Obviously.

I also think that most love triangles make the girl look flaky. How can Bella string Jacob along like that? And why is she totally fine snuggling up to a dude who’s made no bones about hating the man she loves?
That said, sometimes a love triangle – or the suggestion of one – creates opportunities in a story to explore the sides of a character that we may not see when she’s only around one guy. We saw Bella’s more reckless side when she was with Jacob; we saw Katniss’s more nurturing side when she was with Peeta. What I find particularly intriguing about the opportunities love triangles create is that they point to something that is real in life and, with any luck, to be explored in fiction: neither guy is The One. If she could go either way, maybe she should go neither way.
In The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, a rather minor love triangle exists – but it is less about Anne being torn between two romantic interests and more about Anne struggling to accept the affection of a guy she’s not that into.
So, question for you: Are you Team Love Triangle… or Team OMG Stop the Madness?
Joanna Wiebe is the author of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, available Jan 14 in bookstores and online. Amy Plum called it “deliciously dark”, and VOYA said it’s great for fans of Anna Dressed in Blood.
Visit Joanna at www.joannawiebefiction.com and follow her on Twitter 
or Goodreads.


Contest Info:  
We have a big giveaway for the tour, with 15 finished copies of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant up for grabs. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

author image


(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.


  1. Great guest post: Love Triangles: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em! This is one of those subjects that is so fun to talk about due to the fact everyone feels so differently about love triangles.Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. "I personally don’t want to read – or write – any story that reinforces the idea that all girls want to find Prince Charming and get married, and that the biggest decision we have to make is to choose Colonel Brandon or John Willoughby. "
    Ha, this one is SO true and probably my biggest downfall :D I catch myself more often than not skimming over the action-packed plot to get to the romance of the book! And my only goal in life totally is finding Prince Charming!! Okay, more or less my only goal, depending on the day. But I guess every hopelessly romantic girl should read this post and seriously reconsider her life choices!! I'm gonna go hide in a corner and do that right now...

  3. hate triangles; don't buy/read books with them

  4. A love triangle can definitely add interest to a story. I find the plot of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant intriguing and have added it to my TBR list.

  5. The debate rages on! ;) Thanks for hosting me here, Diamond, and to everyone for your thoughts on love triangles.

  6. You make an awesome point about the dreaded triangle that I had never considered before. They do offer different glimpses into the same girl or guy. Very interesting. Still, I must say that my preference will always be no triangles. That said, I do believe they sometimes have a serious purpose to the story. An actual purpose. A reason for existing instead of added drama. If they are done well, I don't mind them quite as much. Another intriguing thing that you mentioned: A love triangle where there is no love. For the one that is supposed to choose, I mean. Not wanting either person. Very different. I haven't come across one of these yet, and I must admit I am intrigued. Either way, I can't wait to read The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant. I have a feeling the more I read from the author on this tour, the more intrigued I will become. I'm ready to read it already!

  7. Holy cow, this is such a good topic. And everything you said is totally true. On one hand, I love the excitement, especially when I myself can't choose a guy. So I'm eager to see what each one is really like and hope the MC chooses wisely (aka like I would have chosen). But then I hate that she *has* to choose a guy sometimes. But then I'm annoyed when she chooses neither.
    Love triangles are hard.
    I feel like they say almost as much about the reader as the MC. Because I was all for Jacob (when I was into Twilight) and I've always loved Peeta, whereas I was on and off on Gale.
    So I think I judge the triangle based on how it's presented. If it's one that happens naturally and accidentally- well, that's life. But if it's forced. Like, one of the guys is stalking her. Umm... Nope. Not in a love triangle.
    I think you're more likely to care if the characters are built well.
    But what you seem to be doing is different entirely. It's vague enough to have me wanting more. Especially because I had a similar situation once. Or, at least, sounds similar from that little snippet you provided!

  8. Triangles are good if each guy offers the girl a valid choice - both have to be nice, good for her, she has to be good for them too, and she has to be happy with either. It has to be a hard choice, like it would be hard staying friends after, to make it interesting. And to be interesting the triangle has to be valid, no obvious choice.

    LOVE how choices, especially bad ones, create tension!!

    Lovely post:)

    Thank you:)

  9. This is an awesome way of talking about a topic people are passionate about - I like love triangles if both guys make her happy, and if she's nice and respectful to both. No obvious choice :)

    Thank you:)


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