Book Review and Author Interview: The Counting-Downers by A.J. Compton
Author: A.J. Compton
Publisher: A.J. Compton
Published: July 24, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
The stunningly poignant and life-affirming debut novel by A.J. Compton
Imagine if we could see how long everyone around us had left to live. But we weren’t allowed to know our own numbers…
Trying to make sense of life after the death of her beloved father, free spirit Matilda Evans meets Tristan Isaacs and discovers a marrow-deep connection with him.
No stranger to grief himself, lonely artist Tristan is in awe of Matilda’s fun and philosophical approach to life. With every second spent in her presence, he finds his views on life and loss changing, and begins to embrace the beauty of being alive.
As their friendship turns into something deeper, lessons are learned, memories are made, and legacies are created.
But with both of them knowing how long their soulmate has left in this lifetime, important questions have to be asked and tough decisions have to be made before time runs out.
The Counting-Downers is an inspiring story about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.
“For all the heartache, pain, and suffering. The grief and the torture. The hatred and depravity. The abuse and the isolation. For all the negativity and darkness this cruel world has to offer. Sometimes, just sometimes, the clouds part, the sun shines, and life reminds you why it’s good to be alive.”
What if you have the ability to see how long everyone around you had left to live? What are the things you will do in order to make someone’s life meaningful? What are you going to change to make someone happy and feel loved?
This book has brought me such a wonderful and life-changing journey. There is something magical and absolutely captivating about it. Every single word hits home and it just simply manipulates my emotions. I love the concept the author put into this book: the importance of TIME and how seeing the ticking clock above everyone’s head and realizing how much time they have left to live greatly affects your relationship with them.
I had a lot of realizations after reading this book. It was so enthralling! The flawless and poetic writing style of the author also made the book even more beautiful.
I also found myself strongly connected with the main characters– Matilda Evans and Tristan Isaac. Their first meeting and the way their relationship progressed– from friendship to romance, were unforgettable.
There were also a lot of quotable lines in this book that touched me deeply. I could highlight everything!
I definitely recommend this book if you’re into stories with real emotional depth. This book is one that you can easily become invested in.
P.S. Isn’t the cover so beautiful? 🙂
Rating: 5 Stars
(A digital Advance Reading Copy was provided by the author A.J. Compton in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating and review) 🙂
Hi, AJ! It’s great to have you here! Firstly, when did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
Hi Pearl, thanks for having me! I’ve always wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Whether it was writing stories when I was a kid or angsty poems when I was a teenager, writing has always been my favourite method of expression.
Over the years I’ve started so many different manuscripts because stories will just pop into my head, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I decided to get serious about my dream of being a professional writer and actually finish one of those manuscripts!
Wow, I’m so happy that you finally realized your dream! Besides writing, what do you love to do in your free time?
I’m a voracious reader, usually reading a book a day, so that takes up a lot of my time! It also makes me pretty anti-social but it’s when I’m happiest. I love to travel, if I could I would just travel the world and write books. I also love photography, which is a huge passion of mine. Living in London makes it easy as there’s so much inspiration all around and it’s great for people-watching. Even in my free time, I’m usually doing things that give me writing material for future stories.
We just have so much in common! Though I seriously don’t have the amazing writing skills like you have. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
It makes me sound crazy, but I love when my characters ‘speak’ to me. I don’t tend to write with a rigid structure in mind, I leave a lot of room for flexibility and for my characters to tell their story the way they want it told and for it to develop and change. Often what I think will happen at the start of writing is not what actually happens, so I go on a journey too. I love being surprised.
Some days you struggle to write much because your characters just aren’t ‘speaking’ to you, and then all of a sudden, they won’t shut up! Those moments are great because you feel really connected to them and the story and it all just flows. When you see it all taking shape and coming together is really exciting.
As an indie author, what have been the best and worst things about the self-publishing process?
This has been such a crazy journey so far but overall I’m really loving it. The best things are that I have a lot of freedom over my writing and career that many traditional published authors don’t have. I can set my own deadlines and storylines, for example. I can write the books I want to write, and release them when I want. I was really active in designing my cover and the formatting of the book, which I wouldn’t have been able to if I wasn’t indie. I’m also able to connect with a lot of readers and bloggers in a really natural way.
The worst thing is that I’m not only doing the job of an author, but of a publisher too. Like they say, writing is an art, publishing is a business. There is so much admin involved that often takes me away from writing and that a traditional publisher would be taking care of. It’s very time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming, but the positives far outweigh any negatives. It gives me a good excuse to use my entrepreneurial skills.
But the initial success you’re having now is remarkable, and that’s a good start! Can you tell us a little about The Counting-Downers? What prompted you to write such a unique book as this?
The Counting-Downers is about the idea of what it would be like if we were able to see how long everyone around us had left to live, but we weren’t able to know our own numbers. At the heart of the story is the love story between two characters called Matilda and Tristan, and how they feel about falling in love with each other knowing how long their soulmate has left to live but not long how they have themselves. It’s about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.
The unique idea came out of a really troubling personal experience, actually. I was at a work dinner when an elderly member of the team choked on his food and eventually died at the restaurant where we were eating. Until that point, I’d never had anyone die in front of me, and it was such a shock that we all went from happy to horrified in a split second without any warning.
And it got me thinking about what would have been done differently if there was some way we could see that he didn’t have much time left, whether his wife would have let him leave the house that night knowing it would be the last time she’d see him etc. It had such a huge impact on me and my outlook on life, and as usual I turned to my writing to help me process it all and my feelings about it. The end result was The Counting-Downers. The fact that it is grounded in a real-life event means it has a special place in my heart.
I really love it, so as the main characters! Were any parts of Matilda and Tristan’s story inspired by real life events? Or real life people?
As I mentioned above, the idea for the whole book came from a real life event. In terms of other aspects of the story, Matilda’s insanely close relationship with her dad is inspired by the close connection I have with my own mother. It’s not the same as theirs, but she’s been so important in shaping who I am, so I understand that connection and how it affects everything you do. Like I said before, I’m also a huge people-watcher so bits of all my characters have elements of real life people, but no-one is based on a specific person.
What is the hardest emotion for you to convey?
This is a great question! I’d probably have to say that feeling when you can’t put something into words is hardest to convey for the obvious reason! You know when you just feel an immediate connection to someone and you can’t put your finger on why, or you just know something isn’t right because you sense it, but it’s hard to explain or articulate. If the words are out of your grasp as a person, they’re usually out of your grasp as a writer. Things like ‘boredom’ or ‘confusion’ are also quite difficult to describe in an interesting way. The traditional, extreme emotions like happiness, sadness, or anger, are much easier and fun. We’ve all felt them at some point so it’s easy to put yourself in that mind set and there’s lots of words to choose from.
What are your future plans and what are you working on at the moment?
My future plans are to keep writing! Now I’ve actually completed a manuscript, I’ve got the writing bug even worse. I’d love to be able to do this as a full-time career. And I currently have two works-in-progress that I can’t say too much about, but I’m really enjoying writing so far. They’re both very different to The Counting-Downers and different to each other so I can’t wait to see what people think.
That is so exciting, AJ! Will surely keep an eye on your upcoming books. Thank you for your time to drop here in my blog. Good luck on your future projects!
A.J. Compton is a 23 year-old Londoner, professional dreamer, and full time over-thinker. She is the author of The Counting-Downers and a dozen other half-finished manuscripts that will hopefully see the light of day soon.
A University of Cambridge graduate, A.J. is currently in a polygamous relationship with an embarrassing number of fictional book boyfriends.
She loves people-watching and exploring her observations in her writing.
She really hates writing about herself in the third person.