The Jewel (Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

Synopsis: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. 

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

About the Author: Amy Ewing is the young adult author of The Jewel, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen. She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing. Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Excerpt: 'When Patience comes for me, I'm curled up on my bed, still in my bathrobe, memorizing my room.It isn't much, just a small bed, a closet, and a faded wooden dresser. My cello is propped in one corner. On top of the dresser is a vase of flowers that gets changed every other day, a brush, a comb, some hair ribbons, and an old chain with my father's wedding ring on it. My mother made me take it after the doctors diagnosed me, before the Regimentals came and took me away.

I wonder is she missed it, after all this time. I wonder if she missed me, the way I’ve missed her. A knot tightens in the pit of my stomach.

The room hasn’t changed much since I came here four years ago. No pictures. No mirror. Mirrors aren’t allowed in the holding facilities. The only addition has been my cello - not even mine, really, since it belongs to Southgate. I wonder who will use it once I’m gone. It’s funny, but as dull and impersonal as this room is, I think I’ll miss it.

So, I had the chance to interview the wonderful author of The Jewel, which is the first in a trilogy of a Young Adult, Dystopian. I asked a few questions about the book and inspiration behind it which you can read below.

The Jewel is your first book to be published. How does that feel knowing people will be reading your book? Is it exciting or a little daunting?

'It’s absolutely a combination of both. I’ve been working on this book for close to three years and having it finally be out in the world and out of my hands is thrilling and terrifying. I think mostly because I no longer have control—the book is the way it is. I can’t change or revise or add or do anything to it. And people will react to it in ways I might not have imagined or intended. But there’s something just so lovely about seeing readers get to know my imaginary friends and (hopefully) love them as much as I do.'

The concept of this book is really intriguing. What inspired the premise of the trilogy?

'I got the idea for the Auction while watching the movie Taken—weird, I know. There’s a scene when Liam Neeson’s daughter (the one who gets taken) is paraded on stage and bid on by wealthy men. As I watched that scene I thought to myself, “What if it was women buying that girl?” And that’s how the Auction, and eventually the Jewel, came to life.'

Has the ending of the trilogy stayed the same in your mind or has it changed over the course of writing it? Have you been jumping back and forth between several endings? 

'Oh, the original synopses of books 2 and 3 that I had put together are NOTHING like what is actually going to happen in the series now. So much has changed. There were even a couple of big things in the first draft of The Jewel that changed with revisions—and thereby affected the overall outcome of the story. But I love that about writing. I like not quite knowing where I’m going, having a few major plot points and then figuring out the rest as I write it.'

So, who is your favourite character in the book? Mine are definitely Raven, Annabelle and Ash. I find Annabelle so adorable.

'Ah, I love those characters!! Though, I must admit, I love all my characters—except maybe Raven’s mistress, the Countess of the Stone. But if I can only pick one, I choose the Duchess. She is so layered and you never know if you want to hate her or hug her. She’s unpredictable and yet very real and I think that’s my favorite sort of character to read. She was certainly fun to write!'

Violet is a lovely name and of course she got it because of her eye colour but did any character names change and did it affect the book? Because I find that Violet having violet eyes as symbolic.

'I did a lot of research to make each name specific to whatever circle that character was from. For example, everyone in the Marsh is named for a physical characteristic—Violet for her eyes, Raven for her hair, etc. There was actually only one name change the entire time I was working and it happened very early—Dahlia, the young surrogate Violet meets in the Waiting Room at the Auction, was originally named Ruby. And then someone pointed out that Ruby should be a name reserved for the Jewel, since all the Jewel characters are named after gemstones. So I changed it. And it took forever for me to stop thinking of her as Ruby. I’m very careful with naming characters now because I really don’t like changing them!'

There are a lot of aspiring writers out there, do you have any tips for them on their writing or how to get published? 

'Finish what you start. There is such an amazing feeling of accomplishment in finishing a book, and it’s only when you get to the end of something that you can see how to fix it. And don’t give up! This business is hard. Keep trying. Keep writing.'

A huge thank you to Amy Ewing for this interview. It’s given me and hopefully other readers a insight into the world and characters. It was interesting finding out about inspiration and how the character names worked. 

If anyone is interested in this fantastic YA Dystopian, there’s a links below.  You can also check out my review of the The Jewel.

Buy your copy today: The Book Depository | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

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