Monday, January 13, 2014

Interview: Robin Constantine THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

Hi Robin, I’m so excited about your novel THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and thrilled that you agreed to this interview.  I read the book shortly after it came out on December 31st and absolutely fell in love with the story and characters.

First, can you tell can you tell us what THE PROMISE OF AMAZING is about?

First and foremost it’s a romance, but it’s also a story about friendship and family and a lot of high school drama!  The book opens on a day that Wren Caswell is having a “what am I going to do with my life crisis” and by the end of the chapter she is saving Grayson’s life.   Grayson is also putting back the pieces of what was once his post high school dream – so when their worlds collide, he considers it an act of fate.  The story is about their semi-volatile beginning, and how they ultimately choose to take a chance on each other in spite of some past mistakes.  Oh, and there are cocktail weenies.

I had the pleasure of hearing you read a couple of scenes from THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and I was totally hooked by Wren’s voice (and the cocktail weenies). Can you talk a little about your inspiration for Wren and about finding her voice?

Thank you, Patty!!  I was so happy everyone laughed at the right moments during that reading!

As for Wren…I wanted to write a story that would relate to some of what a typical teenager goes through when they hit junior year and are suddenly expected to have concrete goals regarding what they want to do with their life.  I know I went through this in high school and I also went through this process with my son as I wrote TPofA.  So there’s this huge pressure wondering what path you want to take to your future, and yet, you’re still living, experiencing classes, and jobs and a social life and your brain is still developing!  On this side of the experience, it’s different of course, I’m firmly a ‘bloom where you’re planted’ advocate but I wasn’t that way in high school – everything took on epic meaning.  Like “if I don’t get into this school my life will be over before it starts”.   So finding Wren’s voice was easy because it was peppered and influenced by my own experience.

The other point of view in the book is Grayson. Where did the idea for his character and voice come from, and was writing from a guy’s point of view more difficult for you?

Grayson was a character in another novel I ended up scrapping because it was a book two to a book one that never sold, so, um, you get the picture.  It was funny because he was only supposed to be a secondary character but he kept stealing every scene he was in – any time he was on the page the scene came to life, so naturally I wanted to put him with the main character of that book even though he wasn’t supposed to be with her!  So when I put that project aside, and started working on TPofA I took him with me and expanded his character.

As for writing from a guy’s POV…I was worried I couldn’t pull it off but my critique group helped me get that confidence. TPofA is the first book I’d written from dual POV and I really wanted to make it sound genuine. Boys can be gruffer and more direct, especially with each other.  It’s also about a certain cadence.  Grayson’s POV was slightly more difficult because he was very visceral and shoot from the hip in my initial draft and I had to reign him in a bit.  His chapters needed more editing during revision.

Is the book’s setting imaginary or based on places where you’ve lived? Did you have to any research to make sure the setting details were accurate?

It’s set in my hometown but everything else is fictional – the schools, the Camelot, Leaning Tower.  Now if you asked me if these places are inspired by real places…absolutely.  I didn’t even realize how much until I went back to my high school for a reunion over the summer.  I was walking down the halls and I kept thinking – this is where this scene takes place, this is where that scene takes place…it was WILD.  The same goes for when I was wandering around town.  There’s a scene in a park and I could probably point out the exact bench where I imagined it taking place.  I didn’t feel comfortable using the real name for anything because you never know how something you’ve written is going to be taken. I did do some research for the police station scenes, mostly about procedure though.  I think it’s important to have specific details to give authenticity to your writing.

THE PROMISE OF AMAZING is a story about how meeting one amazing person can change your personality and life. Have you ever met someone who has done this for you and if so what happened?

I think I might get in trouble if I don’t mention my husband!  We met when we were sixteen and we were friends for a while before we started officially dating but whenever we were in the same place we always gravitated toward each other. The thing my husband has always been able to do is make me laugh, both at myself and at life in general.  He’s the one who knows how to bring a smile to my face. I always used to take myself so seriously but he has a way of looking at a situation and pointing out the absurd.  I can be myself with him, the good, the bad and the ugly.

On a different note, because I certainly think amazing people can help you change even if you’re not romantically involved, my freshman year English teacher, Mr. Prior solidified by love of books.  I remember he read Romeo and Juliet out loud and did the voices and he would make the learning environment less of a drag.  This class definitely shaped me into the writer I am today.  In other hands, the class might have been a snore!!

What place would each of your main characters view as the most romantic spot in the world?

Well, they are teens – so I would say the Jersey shore but not the one on TV.  Spending the day together at the beach, then hitting the boardwalk would be ideal.  But to be totally cheesy and cute…the most romantic spot would be anywhere they were together! 

(Check out this YouTube and hear Robin answer this question in even more detail) 

Where can people order THE PROMISE OF AMAZING?

IndieBound, B&N, Amazon, Powell’s and iBookstore!

Thank you so much, Robin. I truly enjoyed reading THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and so excited that you were willing to stop by and answer a few questions.


  1. Love the interview girls! I've had the pleasure of reading this book and what a page-turning relationship Wren and Grayson have. This is such a fun book and the point of views were done so well.

  2. Thanks for stopping buy, Christina. I totally agree with the page-turning. I tend to be a slow reader, but this one I read in a couple of big gulps--kind of like cocktail weenies ;)

  3. So I learned that no writing goes wasted. How cool to be able to resurrect a character from another story and make it work. Congrats.

    1. I loved that part too and Grayson was so worth saving ;)

  4. Some writers, like Robin, can take on a guy's POV convincingly. Male writers have written women characters really well, and some even specialize. I think the other-gender voice is just not strong enough in me, because I have real doubts about doing it well.

    1. Now that you've said that, you'll probably be totally possessed by some male character's voice. That's the way it goes, you know.