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Between Two Lockers With Lenore Appelhans

Debut author Lenore Appelhans stops by to chat about her debut novel Level 2, traveling, and chocolate malt cocktails.

Between Two Lockers With Lenore Appelhans

Most of us all know Lenore Appelhans from her blog, Presenting Lenore, but now that her afterlife dystopian novel, Level 2, is on shelves -- read my review here -- she's no longer merely a fellow book blogger, she's a celebrated author!  Lenore took time out of her busy blog tour to sit down and answer our hard-hitting journalistic questions:



One of the things that amazed me the most when reading Level 2 was THE CONCEPT!!!  I kept thinking to myself, "How did Lenore come UP WITH THIS?!!!"  So, how did you come up with the concept for Level 2?

I’d been thinking about the idea of memories as currency for a long time (with some being more valuable than others) and how such a system might work in the afterlife. But I didn’t really know how to implement that idea into a novel until “afterlife dystopia” popped into my head one day.  That was the epiphany that led to me developing to the story of Level 2

Another of my favorite things was the vivid and stark descriptions of Level 2 itself.  I feel like I can picture the entire layout exactly as you've written it, and it reminded me of some classic sci-fi, which made me think that it could appeal to fans of dystopia and sci-fi.  Are you a fan of both genres yourself, and was that your intention?

Thanks! My father introduced me to sci-fi early on and I read a ton of it growing up (my favorite was Sheri Tepper). And you know I love dystopias (I’ve already dedicated over 6 months of my blog to it). The design of the Level 2 hives was kind of a mix of sci-fi films and Tori Amos’ The Beekeeper (weird, I know).
But – even though the afterlife world of Level 2 is decidedly futuristic in feel (and is ruled by evil overlords), this is not your typical sci-fi or dystopia.  It has a lot of contemporary scenes in it (via the memories) and I’ve heard it described as paranormal suspense most often. It’s a genre-bender.

Suspense is right!

In the book, Felicia travels a lot with her parents, and her detail of the places she's seen and lived make me feel like I'm there with her.  Do you have a passion for traveling?  And have you been to all of the places Felicia describes?

I love traveling! I’ve had the opportunity to visit nearly 60 countries so far in my life, and one of my favorite parts of writing Level 2 was inserting these travel memories and references. I’ve been to most of the places Felicia describes, with the exception of the Turkish coast (where Felicia goes with her father). However, my husband did take a similar trip, and his descriptions of it really captured my imagination. The roofless shack they stay in really exists – but the prancing goats are invented.

But I want them to be real so bad.

And finally, the question everybody wants to know: are Felicia, Neil, or Julian based in part on people you know/have known? 

All of the main characters have a purely fictional basis, though I did borrow Julian’s name from a friend of mine (they are nothing alike though, beyond both having a perfect accent when speaking German).  Felicia and Neil have a habit of brewing tea and forgetting to drink it – and that’s a habit my husband and I have too, so that is plucked from real life.

Pretty much the most adorable thing I've ever pictured.


Lenore with her Grandma.  Look at those amazing Mom Jeans!

If your real life adolescence was a YA book…

Who is your secret crush?

So picture this: You’re at summer camp, and the guy you’re crushing on is sitting next to you. The hours long conversation under the full moon is sweet but awkward. No one ever makes a move, though. You go back to your separate cabins and that is that. Why didn’t anyone ever tell you that no boy would hang out with you that long if he didn’t like you? It takes you forever to figure that out on your own.

Why DON'T people explain that?!!!

What is your #1 source of angst?

  At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?

Since you’re so clueless in the boy-seducing department, most of your angst comes from girl politics (well, that and wondering why everyone has a boyfriend except you).
But maybe one day you’re feeling a bit reckless when you’re sitting next to your crush again. Maybe you reach out and take his hand. Maybe this is the start of something beautiful.

Who would play you in the film adaptation?

Funnily enough, a friend just commented that I look like Emma Roberts in my prom picture. What do you think?


Wow.  Yeah.  Your friend is SO right!  Also, so pretty!


What is your secret power?

I can teleport. (I wish)

Me too!

What is your #1 favorite food?

I think I’m going to have to go with avocado maki (sushi rolls).

Tell me about your area of expertise.

I’m pretty knowledgeable about the dystopian genre. At least in regards to recent YA releases.

Pretty knowledgeable?  I think you qualify as an expert.

If you could assemble your own Ocean’s 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?

Peeta Mellark (from the book, not the movie) because he’s loyal to a fault
(Young before she was evil) Mystique (from X-Men) because a shapeshifter is always a great addition to your team
Karou (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) because she’d take us traveling through the portals
Maruman (the cat from Isabelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn) because you always need a cat
And also: Eowyn and Faramir, Frankie Landau Banks, Helo from Battlestar Galactica, Emer Morrissey from AS King’s Dust of 100 Dogs, the technopath kid from Heroes, Gob Bluth from Arrested Development.

Forget a heist!  That's a group of people I'd like to hang out with!  Helo!  

What is your best karaoke song?

Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind. And …. my worst is Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard. Sorry you had to experience that!

I only wish I had it on video...

Tell me something scandalous!

I stole a pack of gum when I was five. I got caught chewing it all on the ride home from the store. As punishment, my mom made me apologize to the shopkeeper, but he thought it was adorable.

What is your favorite adult beverage?

I tend towards the sweet end of the scale. White Russians, Bailey’s on the rocks. Oh and the amazing chocolate malt cocktail I had at Co Co Sala in DC. 

What book have you read the most number of times?

Frog and Toad are Friends. I was obsessed with it as a child. I still kinda am.

Who is your “freebie”?

I plead the 5th!

YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?

They are cool! I’ve been lucky to meet so many amazing YA authors and I couldn’t possibly choose one. But if Jessica Spotswood and Miranda Kenneally would bribe me with the chocolate malt cocktails from Co Co Sala, they might have a slight edge.

Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most
wish you could be?

I once created this character for D&D that could speak 24 languages fluently and could teleport. I want to be her!

That is both the most amazing and nerdiest thing I've ever heard!

If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what pajamas would you wear, and what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie you’d bring?

I still have these awesome penguin pjs from my high school days. I’d bring salty plantain chips and The Last of the Mohicans. (“I will find you!)

No matter what occurs!!!!  And now it's time to predict Lenore's future with a round of MASH.  While Lenore's answers were varied and fun enough on their own, we went ahead and added the 4th "silly'" option.  For those of you playing along at home, the number was 17:


Daniel Jennewein, illustrator
Sexy reclusive billionaire

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

# of Kids: 



Caretaker of baby red pandas

Cat Psychic

Frankfurt, Germany
International Space Station


3 sacred Birman cats
a maine coon cat
a Karthauser cat
Herd of Goats

Volvo station wagon
Ice cream truck
Tricked-out RV

Well, I hope you and your diplomat husband enjoy driving your twins and herd of goats around Frankfurt in an ice cream truck!

Thanks SO much to Lenore for stopping by, and be sure to check out Level 2!

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.