Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Welcome to Author Aimee Agresti

Aimee Agresti was voted “Quietest” of her high school class–probably because she spent too much time with her nose buried in books. Clearly, becoming a writer was the only possible choice. She now happily toggles between the realms of fact and fiction. The author of the young adult novel ILLUMINATE, she’s also a former Us Weekly staff writer and entertainment journalist whose work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC Magazine, Capitol File, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, The Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer to name a few. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Headline News, A&E, and ABC News Now. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and son in Washington, DC, where she can often be found skulking around the Smithsonian museums on slow writing days waiting for inspiration to strike.


Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
It’s an update of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” with some extra twists, and some angels and devils.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
An update of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” with some extra twists, and some angels and devils.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I absolutely LOVE hearing from readers. As soon as the ARCs went out, I started getting such nice tweets and emails from readers who had gotten an early peek at ILLUMINATE and even from folks who hadn’t gotten a copy yet but who told me how excited they were for the book. That meant so much. One sweet journalism major even wrote to ask for advice on breaking into magazines and then jumping from magazines to fiction, because that’s what I did. It was like corresponding with the college me! Things like that just make my day.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Great question! In my mind, the theme for ILLUMINATE and Haven, herself, is “Lights” by Ellie Goulding. I love that song, though I didn’t discover it until long after I’d written the book. The lyrics are perfect and there’s just something magical about it. I actually made a little soundtrack for the book on iTunes, I’ll be posting it on my website soon! Stay tuned!

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
As a kid, I had so many favorites: Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, the whole Nancy Drew series. Then I read The Catcher in the Rye and fell madly in love with Holden Caulfield. That’s still my absolute favorite book and I re-read it every so often. I just love it.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Oooh, so many! Hemingway, Salinger, Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Dorothy Parker, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll and on and on.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Keep writing no matter what! The more you write the better you get at it. My laptop is full of unpublished stories, but all of that work definitely made me stronger and I like to think I keep improving every time I sit down to write.

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I would love to go back in time to 1920s Paris and hang out with Hemingway and his crowd. I would’ve had a huge crush on Hemingway!

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
I’d want to be able to fly. That’s why ILLUMINATE is about angels!

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
“It’s Always the Quiet Ones…”

Hidden talent?
I love to bake: I make very pretty cupcakes! It’s all about the mechanical pastry bag.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Celeb gossip magazines! I used to work at Us Weekly. And, you know, you can take the girl out of Us Weekly, but you can’t take the Us Weekly out of the girl.

Favorite quote from a movie?
“I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen,” from Say Anything. Cameron Crowe is one of my favorite writers, he’s so sharp and he writes the kind of characters we all want to hang out with. I actually had a major fan girl moment interviewing him years ago when I was working for a movie magazine. I got so giddy and gushy, he must’ve thought I was insane.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m polishing up the sequel to ILLUMINATE! You can keep tabs on it at!

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.
As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?
Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Illuminate
Open to US only
Ends 3/21/12

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