Today I have the immense pleasure of being a host on the GRADUATION DAY Blog Tour presented by Rockstar Book Tour. I am a huge fan of this series that is written by lovely Joelle Charbonneau and am sad to see it end but I am happy to interview her and share it with you. So, please sit back and enjoy my questions with Joelle and then stick around till the end of the post to enter the amazing giveaway. Good Luck!

INTERVIEW with Joelle Charbonneau

1) What can we expect from the third novel in the series, Graduation Day?

Well, I’m hoping you can expect some answers to the question that were raised throughout the series.  You’ll also see Cia decide if she is ready to step up and be a leader despite not having graduated from the University.  Cia will learn a whole lot more about The Testing, her friends and herself as she realizes the only way she can make the choices she faces is to hold her own ‘testing’ and learn who she can trust and who she must leave behind.

2) Although The Testing series has been compared to other Dystopian novels i.e. Divergent, The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. I feel that it has a different edge. What are you hoping that your readers can take from your series that sets it apart from others?

I truly hope that readers take away the idea that no test ever can tell you more than whether you got a good grade on that test.  Our current educational system has put so much focus on testing as the main measuring tool for a student’s potential that students have come to believe that they themselves are defined by their tests.  Test scores do not define the potential of a student.  They don’t define the quality of the education a student is receiving or how well students are prepared for the future.  Tests are a measure of a moment in time.  They don’t determine how successful anyone will become or what they are capable of.  I hope readers come away with the idea that each and every one of us can do anything we put our minds to if we are passionate enough to try.

3) Cia has been an amazing character to witness developing throughout the series. What will you miss most about her?

Her optimism.  No matter what has happened to shake her belief in her country and friends, Cia always sees the good in the world and the potential for it to be better.  I think she is like a lot of teens who graduate high school and go off to college believing that she can make a difference.  It’s that outlook – the faith that we as a people are filled with wonderful potential – that I’ll miss most.

4) I believe your series would make a great movie. Would you like to have your books visualized on the big screen and if so whom would you like to see cast in the lead roles?

Reading is such an amazing thing because despite the fact everyone reads the same words that are in a book, no one reads exactly the same story.  Each reader brings their own experience to the work and colors it with their own life history.   It’s the reason casting can be so tricky for Hollywood.  Even when they find an actor that matches the exact description the author gave for a character, people are certain the casting is totally wrong. 

It’s that unique take that everyone brings to the story, more than anything, that makes me hope Paramount will move the film from development to production.  I know what I intended to write when I told Cia’s story.  But the only way to see what story the reader saw it to see it on the big screen.  And if it does happen, I do have a few ideas for casting.  It would be wonderful if Cia was played by an unknown actress (although I know that studios don’t like taking that risk).  My student, Chessie Santoro, whose college admittance experience inspired The Testing series just graduated with her BFA in Musical Theater from Syracuse University and I’d love to see her get a shot at bringing Cia to life.  I’d also love to see Emma Watson take on the role of Stacia.  Everyone already thinks smart girl when they see Emma, and this would give her a chance to play a smart character who is very different from Hermione Granger.

5) While writing this series what was the most difficult thing to write and why?

When you’re writing, almost everything seems hard because there is no one who can actually help you with the act of writing.  It’s just you and the blank page and the fear that you won’t do justice to the story you want to tell.  But harder still, at least for me, are the moments where the story takes a turn and a character you have become attached to is put in a position where the only thing that makes sense in the story is for that character to die.  It sounds strange to say that because I’m the author and technically I get to decide who lives and dies on the page.  And yet, very often the death isn’t something I want to happen, it is something that has to happen to provide a necessary emotional or motivational moment for Cia.  Those moments always make me wish I could write with an outline.  At least, then I’d know they were coming in advance!  

6) The Testing series is amazing, filled with twists and turns and loads of tension filled scenes how did you relax and unwind while writing these novels?

Thank you for such an amazing compliment.  You just totally made my year.  And I will say that whether I am unwinding from writing intense scenes or from a day of chasing around my 6-year-old, you’ll typically find me watching Chopped (on Food Network) or a Chicago Sports Team while eating a huge bowl of popcorn.  Oh – and the popcorn is covered in salt and butter – because – well, just because!

7) What are the Pros and Cons of being a writer

Writing is both the most fun and most stressful job ever.  There is the wonderful aspect of being paid to tell stories for a living.  You also get to work at home and set your own hours.  However, because you work at home there are lots of things that get in the way of work – like laundry and six year olds who need to do homework or play games and eat snacks.  And while setting my own hours seems like a wonderful thing, it can be bad since I tend to be a workaholic.  I am terrible at taking a full day or two off from work.  And then, of course, writers always have to worry about whether you’ll get another contract after you finish the current one or if readers will stop wanting to read your stories.  Those are things you have to put out of your mind when you write otherwise the story takes backseat to those fears.  Writing is awesome and I am so lucky I get to do this for a living, but not everyone enjoys the high wire act it often feels like.

8) What books have you read that you can't stop thinking about?

What a wonderful question!  I love this.  Let’s see…there are several books that have stayed with me long after the final page is finished.  Often, I have to go back at least once every couple years and reread them.  The first is Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER.  I read it right after I graduated high school and will never forget the questions the book raised about individuality and the danger and joy that comes with being passionate about life.  I also find myself thinking a great deal about Stephen King’s THE STAND.  The opening sequence of events are among the scariest and most compelling pages I’ve ever read.  There are lots of news headlines that make me think back to that story.  Scary, but true!

9) Can you tell your fans what project(s) that you are working on now?

I’m currently revising a new young adult thriller that is set in a small town in Wisconsin.  It involves an elite social networking site that invites teens to say what they think they need and offers them a chance to get their desire.   Only there is a difference between a want and a need and students eventually learn that sometimes the price for what we want can sometimes be too high to pay.  The manuscript is currently titled N.E.E.D. and I am both excited and a little freaked as I explore the world of social media and how safe people feel sitting behind their computer screens when they think nothing they do on the Internet is truly real.

10) Where can fans find you?

The word fans is so funny.  I have such trouble thinking about having fans.  But I love hearing from readers.  My website is  I’m on twitter at @jcharbonneau.  You can check out my author page on Facebook and if you are curious and want to watch me learn a new social media platform you can find me on Instagram at JoelleJCharbonneau.  I’m still working on figuring out how to repost pictures.  We can all have a party when I do!

Title: GRADUATION DAY (The Testing #3)

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: June 17, 2014

Pages: 304

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!

About Joelle:

Ever 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.

Giveaway Details:

3 sets of the complete series along with a Graduation Day pen and a T-Shirt. US Only

1 T-Shirt US ONLY

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
6/9/2014- NightlyReadingReview
6/10/2014- The Book CellarGuest Post
6/11/2014- Curling Up With A Good BookReview
6/12/2014- FiktshunInterview
6/13/2014- Manga Maniac CaféReview

Week Two:
6/16/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy ReadsGuest Post
6/17/2014- K-booksReview
6/18/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview
6/19/2014- Parajunkee's ViewReview
6/20/2014- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post


  1. I have read Joelle's memorable novels and would this post was excellent. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. This is one of my favorite series! I can't wait to read Graduation Day and see how it all ends :D


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