Sunday, April 7, 2013

Titanic Giveaway Hop and Author Interview with Jodi Lamm

Recently, Chantelle and I reviewed a very interesting and unique book: Chemistry by Jodi Lamm. It is a retelling of The Hunchback of the Notre Dame written from the perspective of Claude Frollo, notoriously the villain of the tale. We liked it so much that when the Titanic Blog Hop came up, we really wanted to share it with our readers as it is both a Tragic Disaster and an Epic Love Story. We were lucky enough to be able to interview Jodi herself and we'll be giving away two copies of Chemistry as well as a $10 book from the Book Depository!

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.

Interview with Jodi Lamm

1. To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, so the ocean is home to me and always will be. I've worked in caf├ęs and libraries, but I'm just writing for now. I write as a habit. It's something I've done ever since I could manage to hold a pen in my hand. It was only recently I decided it might be fun if others could read the stories I wrote, so I published. It's been awesome and utterly terrifying at times, but I think it's worth it. Stories are meant to be told.

2. For our curious readers, could you describe your book in three words.
Tragic, Tangled, Unrelenting

3. Chemistry is a contemporary YA retelling of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' by Victor Hugo. We loved the idea, it was so unique, but how did you come up with it? What inspired you to write Chemistry? And most of all, why Claude Frollo's perspective?
I've always loved The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I loved that so many seemingly unrelated events came together to form the perfect disaster. I loved the mix of comedy and tragedy. But most especially, I loved that there was no dichotomy of good and evil. The characters were all alarmingly imperfect, human, and oftentimes downright stupid. But every retelling I saw (they were all films) made a point of drawing a thick line between good and evil, and they changed so much in order to do so. I wanted to read a retelling that stayed true to the aspects I loved about the original, so I tried to write it myself.

I chose to tell Claude Frollo's story because he was the most changed character in the versions I saw. They often portrayed him as a purely evil man (he wasn't), who was unloving (he adored Quasimodo and his brother Jehan), very old (he was 36), and dogmatically religious (he was a secret heretic with a love for alchemy). I really wanted to capture the Claude I remembered from the original for a modern audience. I got the idea to set the story in high school after rereading his desperate, clumsy profession of love. It kind of reminded me how it was to be in love as a teenager, when you just know this feeling will never happen again with any other person. And the challenge of the whole idea was too crazy to pass up.

4. Although you chose to write from the villains perspective (it's safe to say that Claude Frollo is definitely not the good guy), what character from Chemistry do you find you relate to the most?
I relate to little things about all of them, honestly. If I had to pick one, though, it would probably be Peter (Pierre Gringoire in the original). I'm an introverted person, terrified of rejection, more comfortable around animals than people, and kind of obsessed with my own little world. I mean well, but sometimes I mess up.

5. Could you explain the cover design of your book?
Sure! It's an homage to a photograph by NASA. They were demonstrating the insulating properties of aerogel by showing how it could protect a flower from the heat of a Bunsen burner. In Chemistry's cover, the flower is burning because its protection has failed. The cover is supposed to reflect Claude's failure to protect Esmeralda from himself. You can see the original photo among others here:

6. Now onto the miscellaneous portion of the interview, if you could enter the world of any book, which one would you choose and why?
I would enter Diana Wynne Jones' fantasy world from Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air. I get the impression almost anything could happen there.

7. Do you think you could win The Hunger Games?
Absolutely not. I'd be one of those people who hides in a cave and then does myself in by accidentally consuming poisoned berries.

8. What do you think your favourite subject at Hogwarts would be?
It would be a toss-up between Potions (only because I'm sure I'd have a huge crush on the teacher) and Care of Magical Creatures.

9. If you could be granted three wishes, what would they be?
I'd wish for life-long financial security (boring I know, but it sucks to be poor), the freedom to travel and write as much as I want, and for my little family to stay healthy.

10. And finally, because our blog is called, Looking for the Panacea. If you had to choose some Panacea Candidates, what would they be?
You already mentioned a couple in your questions. I'd recommend Harry Potter and The Hunger Games to anyone. I'd also recommend anything by Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. And I'd recommend the greatest book ever written, in my personal opinion, which is J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

Giveaway Details
  • The giveaway is open to wherever The Book Depository ships free. Check here
  • There will be TWO winners. One will win a book up to 10USD from TBD and one copy of Chemistry. The other will win one copy of Chemistry.
  • You must be a follower of this blog to enter (by GFC)
  • You must be 13 or older to enter, and have your parent's permission if you are younger than 18
  • Giveaway ends on the 14th April
  • Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
  • We are not responsible for any packages lost or damaged in the mail.
  • ALL ENTRIES WILL BE CHECKED. So don't cheat. Yeah, we're watching you....

Onto the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I always find it so annoying when a book I love is imperfectly retold and leaves out something I find important or love the most. I admire Jodi Lamm for choosing to write a version that remains true to the characters Victor Hugo created with all their good and bad qualities. I'll definitely have to read Chemistry! :)

    1. It's a very interesting read, and certainly stays true to the original! Hope you enjoy it :)

  2. 'chemistry' sounds a great book..
    thx u for the chance to win it :)

  3. I've always been a huge Disney fan and Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of the best classic movies I saw. So retelling this classic tale in a contemporary novel seemed a great idea and I've been curious ever since. I am greatly looking forward to this. :)

  4. I've never read the hunchback of notre dame so this would be a first for me!

  5. Oh gosh, I've never actually read The Hunchback of Notre Dame and now I really want to! The idea behind this is so fascinating (the book sounds so much more interesting than the Disney film) and this just sounds absolutely fantastic. I love that you decided to tell the story from a perspective that (I never knew) generally gets taken completely out of whack.

  6. Oh, this is a must read since I totally loved The Hunchback of Notre Dame (this was an obligatory read in high school).
    Thanks! :)

  7. As a follow Howl's Moving Castle fan, HANDS UP! Woot woot. Loved the other books that she liked too!!

    Thanks for this

  8. I am certainly joining her in the cave for the Hunger Games..except that I'll be dying of hunger because I'd be too scared to look for berries out there lol

  9. Oh great interview, loved the bit about Hunger Games. And the cover design story is interesting.

  10. Ha, I'd end up killing myself somehow on the Hunger Games as well.

    And I think I'd also wish for financial security. Times are tough in the world!

  11. I really liked this author!! She is so funny and witty and she doesn't take herself too seriously!! I love her answers to the questions and I really want to read her book now!!

  12. Great interview and the book sounds really interesting. I'd love to read it.

    Thanks for this giveaway.

  13. I love retellings, and I don't think I've ever heard of a Hunchback retelling! Sounds very interesting, and I love tragic stories!

  14. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! The cover and blurb are very intriguing!
    ~Lesley D

  15. I entered your Titanic Giveaway Hop
    It would be great to win a copy of Chemistry.
    This sounds like a book i would enjoy reading.
    I enjoyed reading your interview with the author Jodi Lamm.
    Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!!!!

  16. Great interview! Sounds like a really good read! Added to my wishlist!

  17. Jodi Lamm retained the essence of Victor Hugo's characters which I like. Thanks for a chance to win this book!