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GRADUATION DAY Blog Tour: Author and Character Interviews + Giveaway

GraduationDay

I am so unbelievably excited to be today’s stop on the GRADUATION DAY Blog Tour. I love this series and while I’m so sad that it ends with this book, I can’t wait for GRADUATION DAY to be released so that I can discuss the ending with everyone.

It may have been a while since I read this last book in the series, but I can’t forget how everything went down. It was just that awesome.

And what’s also awesome is the fact that I got the chance to interview Author Joelle Charbonneau and Character Cia Vale for my stop today. I loved learning which book was the author’s favorite to write. I really loved hearing about the different themes for each book. And I loved getting to ask Cia many of the questions I had for her.

The Testing Trilogy is one of my favorite dystopian series. Each book brought something new. Each book was unputdownable. And each book really made me think.

So if you haven’t yet discovered this series, be sure to check out each book’s description a bit further down in the post. And if you’d like to know just a little bit more about the series from the author and from Cia, the interviews follow immediately below.

This tour also includes the chance to win all the books in this series, so if you don’t yet have them, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter for the chance to win.


The Interviews
Interview with Author Joelle Charbonneau

Q. Of the three full-length books in the series, which was your favorite to write? And why? Your most challenging? And why?

Wow…that’s a tough question since I loved writing each story for a different reason. I think my favorite to write was THE TESTING because I was telling the story just for me. I never really thought about whether the book would be published. Up until that book, I’d only written contemporary set books. So I was terrified and thrilled to be creating a brand new work for my characters to live in. The most challenging to write has to be GRADUATION DAY, mostly because I don’t write with an outline. I am surprised by every turn of the story and don’t really know where it is going until I get there. So GRADUATION DAY scared me a bit because I wasn’t sure if all the pieces would fall into place the way I hoped. I had a lot of ideas I wanted to do justice to and I hope readers like where Cia ends up by the final page.

Q. While the overarching story flows beautifully as the series progresses from one book to the next, each book feels distinctly different, bringing something new to each reading experience. When writing the series, had you planned for each book to offer up something different – setting, characters, pace, tone? Or did the different characters and the story’s direction develop as you were writing?

The one thing I knew going into writing this series is the theme I wanted each book to follow. For THE TESTING I wanted to create the world’s worst college admission process. I wanted to look at the tests that our students go through (which are terrible now) and decide how society would have to be changed in order to make those test even more demanding with much higher stakes. INDEPENDENT STUDY was about going to college and how no one knows your past. They don’t know the mistakes you have made or judge you on that. They only know you for who you are now, which is someone who has an idea about how the world works and what place you want to hold it in. While at college, students learn more about the wider world around them and often have to decide if what they really wanted to do with their lives is actually the future they wish to have. And GRADUATION DAY is about how graduation doesn’t make you an adult and how elections aren’t what make leaders. Becoming an adult is about stepping up and saying you are ready to make tough choices just as leaders are people to step forward and do what is necessary even when it is hard. Beyond that I hadn’t a clue where the story would go. But I can say that I loved every minute of the journey.

Q. Toward the end of INDEPENDENT STUDY you introduced a bit of a jaw-dropper. Without revealing just what that was, did you always intend for what happened to happen? Had you imagined other possibilities.

Ha! Yeah – there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of INDEPENDENT STUDY. Sorry about that! Actually, there are several turns at the end of that book that I didn’t see coming. Each turn took me down a road that was unexpected and ultimately very exciting for me to explore. I actually had imagined the story going in a more traditional dystopian path with the typical rebellion and a larger physical conflict occurring in the United Commonwealth. And yet once I saw the story going in a different direction I was excited to embrace it and see where it took me.

Q. You created a number of complex characters in The Testing Trilogy, many of whom had secret motivations, goals and pasts. Who would you say was your most complex character – Cia? Will? Raffe? Tomas? Dr. Barnes? President Collindar? Someone else?

This is an awesome question. You know, I think there are very few people who see things in all black or white. Most people think in shades of gray. I hope that comes through in THE TESTING and especially in the characters of Will and Dr. Barnes. I think they are two of the most layered and complex characters in the series and were a wonderful challenge to write.

Q. If readers could take one thing away from having read this series, what would you like that to be?

I really want people to walk away with the idea that no test can ever define someone’s potential. Nothing limits a person when they are passionate about what they are doing. And anyone who says that how you perform on a test or deal with something on a specific day defines who you are and what you are capable of is wrong.

Interview with Character Cia Vale

Q. Thinking back to that very first day you found out you were chosen for The Testing, would you ever have imagined how different an experience that, and every day since, was? Knowing what you know now, would you have gone ahead with The Testing anyway?

I thought I knew what The Testing would be like or how my life would go. I mean, it was such a dream to go to the University so I could learn enough to help our country move forward and become stronger. I never understood how much stronger I would need to be both physically and mentally to not only pass the test, but to survive. If I had known…I’d like to say that I would have still worked hard to be selected for The Testing. I’d like to believe that if I knew then what I know now I would want to still work hard to change things for the better. But I just don’t know.

Q. Both you and Tomas did things during The Testing that are difficult to live with, but yet without having gone through them you might not have been able to do what you needed to do when everything went down. Would you have preferred not to have done them? Or do you think those experiences were necessary in order to do what needed to be done?

I really hate thinking about the things that we’ve done, but if I hadn’t experienced the things I did in The Testing, I would never have been able to face the choices that I’m having to deal with now. Which is scary because it makes me wonder if that is what The Testing is really for. If it is…it worked. What does that mean?

Q. By remembering (and being told by you) what happened during The Testing, your experiences post-testing were very different than they might have been had you been completely in the dark. Do you at all miss the future you might have had? Do you think everything would have ended up where it did without your involvement in the mix?

It’s hard to miss what I have never had. But I do wonder. And while it would be nice to think that everything is the way I once imagined, I realize that if I was allowed to live that life, it would be an illusion. I guess that makes knowing that it will never happen a little easier to accept.

Q. For those who don’t yet know what happens next, can you give a hint about what may be on the horizon?

Hopefully, most people in the Commonwealth will never know what happens next. But for those who wonder…well, I have some tough choices to make. I used to think that deciding between what is right and wrong was easier to do. But I’m learning that it is harder than I ever imaged and if I want to step up and become a leader I have to test those who I want to help me the same way Dr. Barnes tested me.

Q. For those who may not already have met him, what do you think of Raffe? Do you think he can be trusted? Do you see him as a friend? An ally? A threat?

Raffe is smart. Really smart. And driven. He’s driven by something I don’t understand, but I respect the passion I see in his eyes. It’s compelling. I hope to at some point to get to know him better. Really get to know him. Can he be trusted? If this was The Testing I would say yes. I trusted easier then. But I think that I might have to trust him. I want him to be an ally, but I know that wanting something doesn’t always make it true. Which means he might still have more to prove before I am certain he is on my side.

Q. Do you think there’s a happily ever after in your future with Tomas? Do you even think that a happy ending is possible for anyone who’d been through The Testing?

I don’t know if Tomas and I will have a future. I hope so, but Tomas has lots of choices he has to make about his future. I may not love the choices that are in front of me, but I believe in our country. I want the best for my family, my friends and everyone that I’ve met….whether I like them or not. I can’t turn away from them.

Q. What is your biggest hope for the future of the United Commonwealth? Of Tosu City? Five Lakes?

I hope we can find a way to move forward – all of us – together. There is so much good that has been done. More than anything I want us to build on all the good things and learn from the mistakes we’ve made. Then those who have died won’t have died without cause. I want them to matter – because they do.


About the Book

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Series: The Testing #3
Release date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Description…

In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | GOODREADS


About the Author

JoelleCharbonneau_Publicity_Photo-264x300Ever since I can remember I loved telling stories. As I grew up, I started performing those stories on the stage. Creating vivid characters and singing wonderfully complex songs were my passion. I graduated from Millikin University with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance and then continued onto DePaul University for my Masters Degree in Opera Performance. From there I went onto perform across the Chicagoland area in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals. I also started teaching acting classes and private voice lessons to pass my passion along to the next generation.

Not exactly the path you’d expect a writer to take.

I’d never dreamed of writing a novel. But I loved to read. Then one day I had an idea and I started to write. I found my passion for creating characters lived on the page as well as the stage. It is my hope that the characters I’ve created resonate with you and make you smile.

I still teach voice lessons and sing for the occasional professional event. But the rest of my time is spent with my husband and son while dreaming up new and interesting stories. I hope that someday I hear yours.

WEBSITETWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


Other Books in the Series

The Testing GuideTitle: THE TESTING GUIDE (The Testing #0.5)
Release date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pages: 46
Formats: eBook

Find it: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

Description…

It’s an honor to be chosen for The Testing. But it’s not enough to pass The Testing. Cia will have to survive it.

The Testing Guide is the short story prequel to The Testing, the first novel in the stunning and epic Testing Trilogy.


The TestingTitle: THE TESTING (The Testing #1)
Release date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

Find it: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

Description…

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.


Independent StudyTitle: INDEPENDENT STUDY (The Testing #2)
Release date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Find it: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

Description…

In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization.

In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.


The Giveaway

This tour includes an awesome tour-wide giveaway for…

  • 3 sets of the complete series, plus a GRADUATION DAY pen and T-shirt – US ONLY
  • 1 GRADUATION DAY T-shirt – US ONLY

Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Tour Schedule

Week One

June 9th – Nightly Reading – Review

June 10th – The Book Cellar – Guest Post

June 11th – Curling Up With A Good Book – Review

June 12th – Fiktshun – Author and Character Interviews

June 13th – Magna Maniac Cafe – Review

Week Two

June 16th – Magical Urban Fantasy Reads – Guest Post

June 17th – K-Books – Review

June 18th – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Interview

June 19th – Parajunkee’s View – Spotlight

June 20th – Two Chicks on Books – Guest Post

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