Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blog Tour: A Photographic Tour of Plus One by Elizabeth Fama + Giveaway

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published: April 8, 2014 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (Macmillan)
Find: AmazonBarnes and Noble | Goodreads
See below for full blog tour schedule 

About the book

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

I'm thrilled to have Elizabeth Fama visiting today to 
talk about the real locations highlighted in her story.

"One of my favorite aspects of Elizabeth Fama's writing is the way she makes her story seem real and possible. This includes the characters' travel thru Chicago and its surrounding areas, visiting national parks and places in around and under the city that actually exist."

The previous thoughts are from my review of Plus One, and I'm excited that I now have a visual guide through the pages of the book. The following post is a great resource as you read, or re-read, which is what I want to do with these images in mind. I'm such a visual person that this post helps me imagine the book even more clearly.

Welcome, Elizabeth!

A Photographic Tour of Plus One 
by Elizabeth Fama

When I wrote Monstrous Beauty, I took research photos of some of the locations, to help inspire me while I was writing. (With Wendy Darling's design help, those photos became a gorgeous post at The Midnight Garden.) Plus One is set in a contemporary, alternate-history version of Chicago that is pretty much identical to my own, which means many of the locations were in my core memory. But I still took some walking tours to inspire myself, and we took a special trip to Maquoketa Caves State Park to record the setting. Note that I was researching this book in the fall and winter, but it takes place in the summer. You'll have to warm these photos up and leaf out the trees in your imagination!

Wooded Island is a tiny urban oasis in Sol's life. She and her grandfather, Poppu, and her brother, Ciel, walk there in the evenings after dinner, and Poppu often plays his ukulele, which would otherwise violate the Quiet Ordinance on the streets. Wooded Island "was a small lagoonlike park with willows along the shores, gnarled live oaks and scrub in the woods, and an improbable, beautifully manicured Japanese garden in the middle of it all." (p. 43)

 This is where Poppu was sitting when he, Sol, and Ciel encountered the Noma for the first time. (p.44)

The Osaka Garden, looking north, toward the Museum of Science and Industry. The garden and the museum are both remnants of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, although the garden was vandalized during WWII and was rebuilt with a donation from the city of Osaka, Japan. (That tall building in the distance is my brother's apartment.)

Pagoda (looking south)

(A lot of the live oaks were destroyed in a freakish high-wind storm (with microbursts) in July of 2003, including a Bur oak that dated to the 1700s. This is one of the survivors.) 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the places Sol camped with Poppu and Ciel when she was little.

The sunken ship Sol viewed with Poppu and Ciel from an inflated raft on one of their many camping trips (although she saw it at night, with flood lights). Photo credit: John McCormick, with permission.

SS Francisco Morazan Closeup. Photo credit: Jeffrey Lee, superiorpaddling.com.

Maquoketa Caves State Park (Iowa) is one of my favorite locations in the book, where Sol and D'Arcy trade their views of night and day. Speaking of this section of the book, if you've never seen a murmuration of starlings, watch this video. You won't regret it.

Stairs to Lower Dancehall Cave. "We followed the boardwalk for a short way, and Day Boy turned left at the first opportunity, down a stairway....I could make out the shadows of stone walls that rose around us. The air was all earth-smell: damp rock, dust, decaying leaves. We went down and down--it must have been a few dozen stairs and several landings--into what felt like a cool grotto." (p. 198)

Lower Dancehall Cave

"The rock looked like an exuberant version of gray limestone--jagged, pockmarked, riddled with holes." 

Looking back at entrance to Lower Dancehall Cave, from inside.

Using the flash inside the cave allows me to show you the spot where D'Arcy and Sol have to duck to pass through. Gene (pictured) is 5' 10"-ish. "When I reached him, he stood still and shone the light in every direction, carefully, allowing me to survey the cave. It was stark, eerie, and utterly lovely." (p. 199)

The exit from Lower Dancehall cave. 

If you've read the book you know how important this sign is! It's a bit like the "as you wiiiish" moment from The Princess Bride.

"We walked back the way we'd come: through the woods, the long saber of our flashlight slicing through the trees; down the dirt path; passing single file between two giant boulders with stairs cut into them." (p. 210)

Ice Cave: the cave that D'Arcy chooses for them to spend the night.

Yep, the real thing. Balanced Rock. All seventeen tons of it.

"For lunch we found a pretty spot to sit down, in a bed of dry leaves beneath the trees near the creek." (p. 224)

The natural bridge."The bridge was geologically ancient, an impassive observer, surrounded by life that was fleeting in comparison: tress that would only survive hundreds of years, tourists who would live decades, insects that would thrive only for weeks." (p. 227)

The stargazing meadow. (*Sigh.*)

And now back to Chicago: 

The 59th Street Tunnel from the Jackson Park parking lot to the lake:

This is the viaduct that leads to the breakwater where, um--how to say this without spoilers?--one group of kidnappers pulls up their yacht for negotiations.

And here is the breakwater itself, with the vastness of Lake Michigan beyond.

Revetment at the south end of 57th Street Beach

"D'Arcy rowed toward the Fifty-seventh Street Beach. Soon we pulled in at the southern tip, where the beach ended and the riprap was piled high--giant boulders of limestone with an overgrowth of volunteer trees and bushes that created a mini urban wilderness." Of course the story takes place in September, so imagine this spot warm and pretty. (p.336)

Harper Memorial Library is where Sol searches for Gigi.

"Harper Memorial Library was a Gothic-inspired building with leaded glass windows, a limestone façade, and crenellations at the top like a small castle. As theme-park as that description sounded, it had a stolid scholarliness and aged patina that gave it genuine gravitas." (p. 339) Photo credit: Tom Rossiter, architecture.uchicago.edu

"It was the most beautiful room I had ever seen, like something out of an old British movie. There were two massive chandeliers at each end of the cavernous space..." (p. 350). (I find this section poignant in the book, because we get a glimpse of the hidden longing Sol has for an intellectual life.) Photo credit: Avi Schwab, Web Project Manager, University of Chicago.

The Steam Tunnels at the University of Chicago are featured prominently in Plus One. Not many Chicagoans have been inside...just facilities workers and delinquent high school and college students.

In many sections of the tunnels you have to crouch to travel. (That's me in a hard hat.)
Photo credit: Gene Fama Cochrane.

Looking up through an entry/exit grate toward daylight from the steam tunnels. 

And finally, in this photo you can see the bench in Harper Quadrangle that Sol sits on to key-in the most important text of her life.


About the author

ELIZABETH FAMA is the YA author most recently of Plus One, an alternate-history thriller set in contemporary Chicago. Her other books include Monstrous Beauty, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and an Odyssey honor winner, and Overboard, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a society of Midland Authors honor book, and a nominee for five state awards. A graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in biology and an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in economics, she lives with (and cannot live without) her boisterous, creative family in Chicago.

More information: Website | Twitter | Tumblr

Tour Schedule

March 31st  -  Fiction Fare
April 1st       - The Starry Eyed Revue
April 2nd      - Ivy Book Bindings
April 3rd       - Carina's Books
April 4th       - Presenting Lenore
April 5th       - Shae Has Left the Room
April 6th       - The Best Books Ever
April 7th       - Teen Librarian Toolbox
April 8th       - Love is Not a Triangle  (Release Day)
April 9th      -  The Bevy Bibliotheque



A Hardback copy of PLUS ONE

Thank you Macmillan for this generous giveaway!

Giveaway is for US/Canada residents only (Sorry, other international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE


  1. This is a great post Elizabeth, my copy of Plus One arrived the other day, so I can't wait to start my copy and then go over this post again, and to make my reading experience even more real. Thank you for sharing such an informative post with us! :)

  2. Oh, VERY cool! I love seeing the pictures and reading the quotes that went along with each spot. I've always enjoyed seeing how authors work and how they gain their inspiration.

  3. I loved that I could put an image in my head to the different settings in the book, Lauren. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Ow, wow, this post is amazing, Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing, Lauren! It makes me want to give up everything else and go re-read the book while perusing the images as I do so. I want to go to there!

  5. What an excellent post! I'm going to have to revisit this when I read the book. I also REALLY want to go to all of these places :D

  6. Oh, this is such a fun post you two! What a great idea!! The Osaka Garden looks absolutely gorgeous. The only "garden" I've been to is Mother Teresa's in Vienna. That was pretty magical as well. And your brother lives near this gorgeous thing? Sigh :) Ha! Where I live, we have so many oaks and during nighttime they look so freakish and scary. Oh, look at those colors! Must check out more pictures by John. I wouldn't mind a hike on the stairs and the exerpt to describe this is nicely written. Definitely brings the atmosphere to the reader. Geez! They're all just so gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing this post, girls!

  7. This was such a great post. And wow that balanced rock would freak me out to stand next to! The natural bridge is beautiful, and looking at all of these has just made me even more excited to read Plus One. I'll be bookmarking this page so I can come back while I'm reading it :) Thanks for the giveaway - fingers crossed!!

  8. Love that the book`s settings are based on real places! That makes it so much more vivid. And I had no idea that it was going to be set in Chicago!

  9. This is absolutely fabulous! I love when we the audience get glimpse inside of mind of the writer. What better way then which actually pictures of the location. Makes me what to read this book immediately.

  10. Oh the pictures were so pretty and I think it's great to have a "photo tour"! Thanks for this and the giveaway as well!!

  11. Oh, the pictures! I love traveling, but I never really get to see places in the United States, even though I live there. My family usually goes to some place out of country, which is nice, but I don't really get to know the country which I'm a part of. Thanks for the giveaway :)

  12. Awesome post—I love getting a behind the scenes look at a book's setting and the real places that inspired it. This has me itching to visit Chicago again, and I can't wait to read my copy of Plus One and get the fictional version of these spots. :-)

  13. Ahhhh~ This is so amazing. I'm so glad my imagination somehow gave justice so some parts of the story but seeing the pictures made it more incredible! Now I suddenly want to reread PLUS ONE while looking at these.

  14. Oh wow! These are beautiful, and really pushes me to get this book so that I'll have the visuals in my head.

  15. SO bookmarking this page to reference when I read the book! Thanks! I spent about five hours in Chicago once and thought it was a great city.

  16. Aw, I love this post. <3 And I loved Plus One so so much :D Thank you both for sharing. <3 :)

  17. Wow. Those caves are AMAZING! I want to go there immediately and take pictures:) That is also one gorgeous library, I wouldn't mind spending hours and hours (or forever) in there. This was such a great post, I love getting the visual inspirations behind a story, especially before I've read the book. I like having something to picture as I read!

  18. Really cool article. The picture are so amazing especially the picture with the bridge, beautiful. I am so excited for the book thank you for the giveaway!

  19. Such a wonderful post- a photographic look behind Plus One! There are so many really beautiful and cool looking sites in them too. Thanks for sharing with us :)

  20. Ooh, I absolutely LOVE seeing these pictures, especially as I've read the book already. It's nice to have an accurate image to set these characters in, though I'm especially glad to have seen that cave! (Umm, best scene in the book anyone?) ;) Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth!

  21. You put so much thought into this! The locations included are all so gorgeous, I'm going to have to bookmark the page so I have a better mental image of the book while I read! Thanks for sharing! :)

  22. This was an amazing post! Chicago is my absolute favorite city in the world, and so underutilized in books and movies. I love your pictures, of places I've been and places I haven't yet discovered. I've spent many hours in that gorgeous (and confusing) library. I can't wait to see them in print!

    Sarcasm & Lemons

  23. Thanks for the awesome giveaway! The pictures were amazing as well!

  24. So much fun to see pictures of her inspiration for the scenes in the book.


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