Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Cindy Pon

I am excited to be back with my second author spotlight for The Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour. Today I am spotlighting Cindy Pon. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see my interview with Cindy.

And also check out my other author spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras for OTBF.

OTBF BANNER

The Ontario Teen Book Fest is on Saturday March 25th from 9 am to 5 pm at Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761. The Fest is UNTICKETED and is completely FREE. For more information visit The Ontario Teen Book Fest website: http://www.ontariotbf.org/

The event is sponsored by Once Upon A Time. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. Visit their website: http://www.shoponceuponatime.com/

Be sure to check out the rest of the Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour:

Blog Tour Schedule

March 15th:

Spotlight on Romina Russell – The Consummate Reader
Spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras – Book You Very Much

March 16th:

Spotlight on Catherine Linka – What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on BT Gottfred – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 17th:

Spotlight on Elana K Arnold – Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana – Starkiller Readers

March 18th:

Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Charlotte Huang – A Traveling Book 

March 19th:

Spotlight on KM Walton – Recently Acquired Obsessions
Spotlight on Jeff Garvin – Reading Over Sleeping 

March 20th:

Spotlight on Jessica Brody – A Reader’s Antidote
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana – Read Now Sleep Later

March 21st:

Spotlight on Ann Stampler – Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 22nd:

Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum – A Traveling Book
Spotlight on Cindy Pon – Book You Very Much

March 23rd:

Spotlight on Martina Boone – Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Mary Weber – What A Nerd Girl Says

March 24th:

Spotlight on Jessica Love – Nite Lite Books
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera – Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Robin Reul – Reading Over Sleeping

bio

INTERVIEW

  1. You have co-founded Diversity In YA and are part of the We Need Diverse Books advisory board? How did you get involved and why do you believe it is important to we have more diversity in YA books?

    I didn’t realize until AFTER I had written Silver Phoenix that it was the story I wish I could have read as a voracious teen reader. For as much as I read as a kid and young adult, I had never ever seen a character who looked like myself in any of the books I read. Books are meant to broaden worlds, make you see and feel and experience through another character’s eyes. I saw no reason, given how diverse our country is, for the lack of representation in the books that are published. Malinda Lo and I started Diversity in YA to promote awareness of inclusive books and authors from marginalized backgrounds. WNDB really came at a time when the dialogue was going strong, and they have created so many great programs like internship grants and The Walter award to help effect change in publishing.

  2. Your book Serpentine was inspired by Chinese mythology. How did you get into Chinese mythology and what about it inspired you to write Serpentine?

    It really started with my debut Silver Phoenix. I had just started to take classes in Chinese brush painting, and wanted to try and write my first novel. Fantasy was my favorite genre, and I realized I had never read a fantasy that wasn’t based in the west. Why shouldn’t there be a Chinese inspired fantasy? As for Serpentine, my focus in that was more personal and interpersonal relationships, with a strong focus on sister friendship.

  3. What was it about Young Adult that made you want to write in that genre?

    I actually fell into young adult quite by accident. I thought my debut Silver Phoenix was adult. But since then, I’ve come to realize that I love to focus on coming of age as well as sexual awakenings in my stories, which are upper YA, and exactly when much of both happens!

  4. When you’re first starting a book what comes first: character or plot?

    I wish I could answer this. It’s like a salad and can happen all at once, messy and mixed.

  5. What were some of your favorite authors growing up?

    Noel Streatfeild was one for certain and also Madeleine L’Engle.

  6. What are you working on now?

    Just wrapped up the final page proofs and edits for my first near-future thriller set in Taipei titled WANT. It’s out with Simon Pulse in June!

Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: E. Katherine Kottaras

I am so excited to be participating in The Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour. This year I will be spotlighting two author that will be attending OTBF this year: E. Katherine Kottaras and Cindy Pon. Today I will be spotlighting E. Katherine Kottaras, author of How To Be Brave and The Best Possible Answer. Scroll down the post for my interview with her.

OTBF BANNERThe Ontario Teen Book Fest is on Saturday March 25th from 9 am to 5 pm at Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761. The Fest is UNTICKETED and is completely FREE. For more information visit The Ontario Teen Book Fest website: http://www.ontariotbf.org/

The event is sponsored by Once Upon A Time. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. Visit their website: http://www.shoponceuponatime.com/

Be sure to check out the rest of the Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour:

Blog Tour Schedule

March 15th:

Spotlight on Romina Russell – The Consummate Reader
Spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras – Book You Very Much

March 16th:

Spotlight on Catherine Linka – What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on BT Gottfred – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 17th:

Spotlight on Elana K Arnold – Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana – Starkiller Readers

March 18th:

Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Charlotte Huang – A Traveling Book 

March 19th:

Spotlight on KM Walton – Recently Acquired Obsessions
Spotlight on Jeff Garvin – Reading Over Sleeping 

March 20th:

Spotlight on Jessica Brody – A Reader’s Antidote
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana – Read Now Sleep Later

March 21st:

Spotlight on Ann Stampler – Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 22nd:

Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum – A Traveling Book
Spotlight on Cindy Pon – Book You Very Much

March 23rd:

Spotlight on Martina Boone – Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Mary Weber – What A Nerd Girl Says

March 24th:

Spotlight on Jessica Love – Nite Lite Books
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera – Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Robin Reul – Reading Over Sleeping

Kathy-4-2

E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, and now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is an active member of NCTE and SCBWI, as well as a proud board member of the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California. Katherine is interested in the stories we tell, the stories we are given, and the ways we can redefine our worlds by discovering which stories are true.

She is the author of the YA contemporary novel, HOW TO BE BRAVE (2015) and the forthcoming THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER (2016), both from St. Martin’s Press/Griffin Teen.

To find out more about E. Katherine Kottaras visit her website: www.ekatwrites.com

INTERVIEW

  1. What were the inspiration behind your books How To Be Brave and The Best Possible Answer?

Many writers talk about books that are the “stories of their hearts.” My first book, HOW TO BE BRAVE, was most definitely that since it is told through the eyes of Georgia, a Greek-American teenager whose mother passes away. I am half-Greek, and my father died when I was seventeen, so much of the story, in terms of its exploration of grief and loss, identity and love, came directly from my heart and my life. HOW TO BE BRAVE is about a girl who has lived her life in fear and who sets out to try new things, despite her insecurities. Before her death, her mom commanded Georgia to live differently—to try everything at least once and to never be ruled by fear. Of course, there are many similarities between Georgia and me. Georgia also feels uncomfortable in her body that’s deemed “overweight” by society’s standards, and part of her storyline is that she finds confidence in her body, as it is – that losing weight does not equal being brave. This has been part of my storyline has well.

My second book, THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER, is equally the story of my heart. Viviana is a driven honors student and the daughter of a Russian-Jewish immigrant mom and an American engineer dad who have extremely high academic expectations for her. As a result of both these expectations and an exposing mistake Viviana made in sharing a nude photo with her boyfriend (who proceeded to send it to the entire school), Viviana suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks. She knows that she didn’t do anything wrong in sending the photo to him – she trusted and loved him at the time – but world still blames and shames her for it.

At her summer job, Viviana is finally able to escape the judgmental eyes of her school, but she soon becomes the odd vertex of a love triangle; her childhood best friend, Sammie, has a crush on the outgoing, college-aged lifeguard, Evan, but he seems to be more interested in Viviana. Against her better judgment, Viviana falls for him, thereby damaging yet another important relationship in her life and disappointing herself. Soon after, when her father finally returns from his mysterious six-month long business trip, Viviana discovers some deep, dark truths about him that force her to question all of her ideas about love and trust and the control she has over her life.

I am both first- and second- generation American (my father immigrated from Greece in 1952; my mother’s parents immigrated from Russia in 1913), so I am always interested in the unique pressures of being the child of immigrants, as I was, as many of my students are, and as Viviana is.

Furthermore, when I was in high school and college, I was in honors classes, including AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (the International Baccalaureate program). While some of the pressure to succeed came from my parents, much of it was simply part of the system. I continuously and secretly suffered from anxiety and paralyzing panic attacks through my twenties, both from the grief of losing my father and from the pressures of success. The thing is, I didn’t really know what was happening – that it was called GAD (general anxiety disorder) or panic attacks, or that it was something I should seek help for. In fact, I’d been told that if I ever sought psychological help via a therapist or group support, I should not use my own medical insurance for fear that my employers would find out that I was “unstable” and I might therefore lose my job. It took me many years to finally seek support and understand my own mind.

As a teacher at both the high school and community college levels, I’ve met many students who also feel the intense pressures of success, both from their families and from the mere need for financial survival, and who as a result, suffer from severe (and often secret) anxiety. I teach English where we focus on creative expression and the makings of an examined life, so students often want to share their inner lives with me, both in writing and in conversation, including their mental health. I remind them that I am not a psychologist or counselor, and I also direct them towards our free psychological services, but many students respond that their parents would – and I quote – “kill” them if they knew they had sought psychological help. Every time I hear this, my heart breaks. There is a stigma attached to the very real experience of GAD and panic attacks, as well as to psychological counseling. I wrote THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER for both myself when I was a teenager, and most certainly for my students and readers who are like my students, so that they can see their experience represented and also find that there does not have to be that stigma, that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of self-care and beautiful strength.

  1. You teach writing and literature at Pasadena City College. How do you balance teaching with your writing?

My writing informs my teaching, just as my teaching informs my writing. I couldn’t imagine not doing both; in fact, doing both is what provides the balance, as I am continually in a state of inquiry about the world outside the page, and that informs the world within the page.

Joan Didion said, “We write to discover what we think.” This speaks the core of my experience as a writer, and it’s a thought that I share with my students repeatedly. Whether I am teaching creative writing, literature, or composition, I want my students to begin from a place of inquiry. I want them to see writing as an exploration, a journey of discovery, a path towards knowledge.

I also think it’s important to be honest with my students when discussing how horribly frustrating that process can be. I tell them when I’m experiencing writer’s block; I show them my rejection letters; I let them know that I, too, cry sometimes when the words just will not come. I’ve always believed that my role as both a writer and a teacher is not to proselytize, that my role is to guide and to question. That being said, I do try to live by example, which to me means showing my own vulnerabilities as a human being who’s trying to figure it all out. I find that students appreciate hearing about these experiences, that when I share my own frustrations, they feel more comfortable sharing their own and thereby figuring out ways to deal with them and get their words on the page.

  1. When writing what comes first for you: character or plot?

Usually character, but I also need to know what their core problems are, which informs the movement of the plot. Give me a character with a strong voice but who’s found herself in the midst of a complicated situation where she must be tested in subtle ways – it’s not always life or death, dragons or horribly evil villains – it’s the quiet pressures that intrigue me, the barriers that we set up against ourselves. I love every day heroes, and I think it’s important that we explore these stories, not necessarily as brochures (I hate explicitly moralistic novels), but as more as questions about what it means to live a life of meaning. I hope that my readers will ask the same questions that my characters must ask of themselves: What is courage? What is truth? What is trust? What is strength? I like to say that there’s an invisible question mark at the end of How to Be Brave, and as for The Best Possible Answer, well, even when you think you’ve found it, it can only lead to more questions. And I love that.

  1. If your books How To Be Brave and The Best Possible Answer where made into movies who would you cast as the leads?

For Georgia in HOW TO BE BRAVE, I already DID cast her! We filmed an interactive trailer at http://howtobebravebook.com/opening%20main.html where you get to help Georgia choose how she’s going to be brave. Casting the actor for Georgia was so much fun. Her name is Elena Ross, and she was spunky and fun and just a little bit scared but totally willing to try anything, just as I’d imagined Georgia would be.

If I were to choose a well-known actor for Georgia, it would be Elizabeth Gillies, who plays Jade West on the Disney Channel’s Victorious. (I watch it with my daughter and love it!)

For Viviana in THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER, I would cast Ariel Winter from Modern Family.

  1. What were some of your favorite writers growing up?

Oh wow: SO many. I LOVED to read. When I was in high school, I loved Tim O’Brien, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Douglas Coupland, Sylvia Plath, J.D. Salinger, Ana Castillo, Margaret Atwood. I was always, always reading.

  1. What is a typical writing day for you?

I don’t really have a typical writing day. I steal time. Sometimes I write only at night, after my daughter goes to sleep. Sometimes I am awake before dawn. Sometimes I write on my Notes app on my phone while my daughter is in voice lessons. I often use holidays and breaks to dive into my writing, during which I can spend weeks or months writing every day. And I love those times. I am able to immerse myself in the world of my story and fully commit to the experience of being a writer.

  1. What was it about Young Adult that made you want to write for that genre?

I started writing YA because I was a YA fan! I was teaching high school, and my students were introducing me to authors like Sherman Alexie, John Green, Suzanne Collins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and more. I think that the reason why so many adults (and of course, teens!) love to read YA is because the novels usually focus on a moment of intense change, and though we’ve been sold the story that once we hit a certain point, we are “adults,” the truth is we are continuously facing intense moments of change and growth throughout our lives. I think that YA novels are a way for readers of all ages to reflect on those experiences.

  1. So far you have written contemporary YA. Is there another genre you would want to write? Would you ever consider writing adult books?

Yes, and yes! I am currently working on a middle grade historical set in Ancient Greece, sort of a HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON with a female lead. And I may one day be interested in writing books for adults! Right now I love writing for teens, but anything’s possible!

  1. What are you working on next?

My third YA contemporary is complete and it just went out on submission to publishers, and now I’m working on the middle grade and brainstorming some other YA contemporaries.

Thank you so much for having me!

Audrey Carlan Interview

I discovered Audrey Carlan’s Calendar Girl series a while ago and have been introduced to her brand new series, Lotus House. I was lucky enough to have been able to meet Audrey at last years RT Convention in Las Vegas. So I was so excited when I got the chance to interview her. Scroll below to read the interview with Audrey.

img_5785

with Audrey Carlan at RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas, 2016

Also check out the Release Blitz for Divine Desire and Resisting Roots

  1. Your Calendar Girl series is being called the “next Fifty Shades of Grey”. What is it like to have your books compared to such a global phenomenon?

It is such an honor. I haven’t made it a secret that 50 Shades of Grey and EL James the woman inspired me to take the plunge and pen my first novel. So for me to be compared anywhere near the amazing series or the author is such a gift.

  1. Where did the idea for Calendar Girl come from?

Honestly, I just wanted a break from the emotional trilogy I had just completed. I wanted to write a fun and sassy girl that women everywhere could connect to.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for your Lotus House series?

It’s based on the chakral system and the art of yoga. During my studying to become a Registered Yoga Teacher, we spent a lot of time studying the chakras and how they affect our lives. While in class, I would pen notes about characters experiencing things. I’m always inspired by life being lived around me. I spent 18 months in training so it was a natural progression for the art to bleed into my writing.

  1. The Lotus House series revolves around a yoga studio. Do you yourself practice yoga?

Yes, absolutely. I actually taught weekly up until recently when I suffered a yoga related injury. Lesson learned…focus all of your attention on the act when attempting advanced poses unassisted. <grin> I’ve mostly healed now and am starting the practice once more.

  1. What is your writing process?

Just give me a quiet room that doesn’t have my two boys interrupting me every five seconds and the magic will happen! I’m not a plotter by nature so I just sit down and start writing whatever attracts my muse.

  1. What comes first: the story or the character?

Really interesting question and not an easy one for me to answer because I’m usually hit with one or the other, and sometimes if I’m lucky, both at the same time! The story and the characters though both evolve as I sit down and write. It’s an organic natural process for me that I can’t force. It just has to happen.

  1. What writers have inspired your own writing?

So many! Initially it was EL James. Then once I read 50 Shades twice through back to back, I read Sylvia Day’s Crossfire. After that I was introduced to my favorite author Kristen Ashley’s work. I’d love to say my own style is a cross between Sylvia Day’s heat level, Kristen Ashley’s casual chill writing style, EL James depth of plot, and maybe some funk from Christina Lauren. Really though, I don’t usually compare myself to other authors because we’re all such unique voices.

  1. You’re a working mom. How do you balance your writing with raising your kids?

It’s not easy. For any working mother, you have to find ways to be present for your children, take care of their needs, your husbands needs, and your own. For an author, we have to also be available to our fans, publishing houses, colleagues (other authors), as well as carve out writing and marketing our books time. I think every week is different. Some weeks I get a lot of writing done, others it’s a wash. Usually I write when the kids are at school or when they’ve completed their homework and are just chilling out playing videogames or watching a show.

  1. What is a typical day like for you?

Oh my God. I’m so boring! I get up at 6:30, get the kids up, fed, lunches, and ready for school. Then I drive them to school and walk them into their class. I go home, eat breakfast and usually do my social media for a couple hours. Then I go back to the school to pick up my Kindergartener, make him lunch and then write or complete interviews, packages, or whatever else my team tells me I need to do. Then I’m off to the school again to pick up my 4th grader, come home and spend two hours doing homework with both of them, then respond to email maybe write if I’m lucky for an hour or two before making dinner, doing dishes, getting the boys bathed and the off to bed. Then I may write or read, spend time with my hubby until around 11 or 12 before I hit the hay. See, BORING! Bet you wished you didn’t ask!

  1. What are you reading right now?

I’m hooked on Suzanne Wright’s paranormal shifter series right now. I’m on book 5 of the Phoenix pack. I watched a couple episodes of that show Bitten. TV is not a normal thing for me so when I watch something like that and get intrigued, I go search out books in that genre versus continuing to watch the shows. My imagination is far better than TV so I’d rather read than watch.

  1. What are you working on next?

Right now I’m trying to complete the fifth and final book in the Trinity Series called FATE which comes out in April 2017. Then I will be back to writing the Book 4 of the Lotus House Series.

Elizabeth Cobbs Interview

With Hamilton becoming a national phenomenon the ten dollar founding father Alexander Hamilton has been put back in the spotlight. I myself have listened to the original cast recording multiple times (and have unsuccessfully tried to follow along with Lafayette’s insanely fast rap). So when I discovered Elizabeth Cobbs newest book The Hamilton Affair in the bookstore I immediately picked it up. I was able to get the author Elizabeth Cobbs to answer a few questions on Hamilton, history, and writing historical fiction. Be sure to scroll down for my interview with Elizabeth.

static1-squarespace-1

Synopsis

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of iconic characters such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette,The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from tremulous beginning to bittersweet ending—his at a dueling ground on the shores of the Hudson River, hers more than half a century later after a brave, successful life.

Hamilton was a bastard son, raised on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. He went to America to pursue his education. Along the way he became one of the American Revolution’s most dashing—and unlikely—heroes. Adored by Washington, hated by Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the American Revolution.

She was the well-to-do daughter of one of New York’s most exalted families—feisty, adventurous, and loyal to a fault. When she met Alexander, she fell head over heels. She pursued him despite his illegitimacy, and loved him despite his infidelity. In 1816 (two centuries ago), she shamed Congress into supporting his seven orphaned children. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton started New York’s first orphanage. The only “founding mother” to truly embrace public service, she raised 160 children in addition to her own.
With its flawless writing, brilliantly drawn characters, and epic scope, The Hamilton Affair will take its place among the greatest novels of American history.

About The Author

static1-squarespace

Award-winning historian Elizabeth Cobbs brings fresh, unexpected perspectives to our understanding of the past and present. Building upon worldwide research and extraordinary life experiences, Elizabeth writes fiction and non-fiction that is both scholarly and witty. Her path-breaking books and articles reveal a world that is as intriguing and surprising as it is real.

Elizabeth earned her Ph.D. in American history at Stanford University. She now holds the Melbern Glasscock Chair at Texas A&M University and a Research Fellowship at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Her books have won four literary prizes, two for American history and two for fiction. Elizabeth has been a Fulbright scholar in Ireland and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. She has served on the Historical Advisory Committee of the U.S. State Department and on the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in History.

Be Sure to Follow Elizabeth:

Website: http://elizabethcobbs.com/about

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethCobbsAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Elizabeth_Cobbs

Interview

  1. Tell us about your latest book The Hamilton Affair?

In The Hamilton Affair I try to capture the inner lives of Alexander Hamilton and his spirited wife Eliza Schuyler. What was it like to live through the heady, frightening, thrilling, joyful, and tragic years of the American Revolution and early republic? How did their love survive despite all that life could throw at them, including infidelity and murder?

  1. What was it about Alexander and Eliza Hamilton that made you want to write their story?

As a historian, I had been trained to think of Hamilton as a preening, scheming monarchist committed to defending the privileged and wealthy. I thought it might be fun to write a novel about an intriguing political villain. Then I found a tender lover and passionate patriot instead of the cold elitist I expected—and I knew I had to tell Alexander’s tale! He introduced me to Eliza, a woman who had ducked out of history’s spotlight but deserved to be remembered as one of our most dedicated Founding Mothers. I vowed not to rest until others knew her surprising story, too.

  1. Did you visit any of the places mentioned in the book? If so what was your favorite place to visit?

Yes! I visited Alexander’s Caribbean birthplace on Nevis and boyhood town of Christiansted on St. Croix. I visited Eliza’s childhood homes in Albany and Saratoga. I traveled to Washington’s Crossing in Pennsylvania, where he forded the Delaware with the Continental Army on Christmas Eve in 1776, and to Valley Forge, where the revolutionary army hunkered down against the brutal winter of 1778. I scouted colonial Philadelphia, where he served as first Treasury Secretary and met seductive Maria Reynolds. I visited the home in Manhattan that Alexander built for Eliza and their eight children (now a National Park), and in which she raised their family after his death.

My favorite places? The saddest place for me was the grave of Alexander’s mother on St. Croix and the dark prison into which she was thrown for fleeing her abusive husband. The place that made me smile was Eliza’s home in Albany, where she and Alexander pledged their vows and conceived their first child in December 1780.

  1. There is a renewed interest in Alexander Hamilton thanks to the hit musical Hamilton. Have you seen or listened to Hamilton? If so what do you think of it?

I’ve not yet seen the musical, but could sing along if given the opportunity! The music and script are brilliant. Lin-Manuel Miranda changed a few key facts about Eliza’s sister Angelica for dramatic effect, but he’s done a great service by breathing new life into this amazing era from which we can learn so much about love, sacrifice, idealism, and loyalty.

  1. When writing historical fiction how do you decide what to leave in, take out or embellish?

Tough question. Short answer? It depends. I have no particular formula, except that I never alter a known fact. It’s against my training as a professional historian. I embellish quite a bit, but in ways consistent with the facts. I think of crafting a story as being similar to putting together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle of Alexander’s life has a hundred extra pieces, including lies that were told about him. Half the pieces of Eliza’s story are missing, so I paint new details to fill the gaps and show the richness of their time together.

  1. As a historian how important is it for you to remain historically accurate?

I consider it a duty to portray individuals in ways they and their contemporaries would recognize as true. That said, I write from a particular point of view. My chapters alternate between Eliza’s and Alexander’s perspective. Naturally enough, the Hamiltons developed a negative view of men like Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson with which those men and their admirers would disagree. But that’s an unavoidable result of seeing the world through Eliza’s and Alexander’s eyes.

  1. The Hamilton Affair is about Alexander and Eliza Hamilton while your other book Broken Promises is about Charles Francis Adams. Are there any other historical figures you want to write about?

Wanted: Fascinating women and men. At the moment, I’m toying with the Marquis de Lafayette and his wife Adrienne. Her grandmother, mother, and sister were all guillotined—and she used an American passport to save her husband’s life. Other characters I find intriguing are the wives of Andrew Jackson and Simon Bolívar. Send me your suggestions!

  1. If someone wants to learn more about Eliza and Alexander Hamilton after reading The Hamilton Affair what recourses (books, websites, ect.) would you recommend?

The books of Ron Chernow and Joseph Ellis are wonderful. Both writers are winners of the Pulitzer Prize for good reason. Chernow’s biography, Hamilton, is the most comprehensive. Ellis’s Founding Brothers is shorter and weaves together the tales of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and others—placing Hamilton in the rich, murky soup that was the Revolution.

  1. What are you working on now?

My next book is The Hello Girls, America’s First Women Soldiers. During World War I, the army drafted 2.8 million American men. For the first time in U.S. history, at General John Pershing’s urging, a handful of women volunteered as well. They alone had the qualifications to operate the most advanced communications technology of the day: the telephone switchboard.

The majority were younger than 25. Some fudged their birthdates to qualify and one snuck in at age 16. They came from every corner of the U.S. and some across the Canadian border. There isn’t a spunkier, more determined group of women in all history. Like many of the infantry “Doughboys” who volunteered in 1917, they burned with pity for France and Belgium, invaded by an implacable enemy. They were also supremely conscious of bearing their nation’s trust as its first women soldiers. When General John Pershing inspected their columns on parade grounds across France, standing in their blue uniform skirts alongside men—or they connected a telephone call from an artillery officer to a unit awaiting orders to fire—the women felt what one called “an awful responsibility.” They also took satisfaction in meeting it, supremely conscious of paving a path for other women to serve their country.

The Hello Girls, America’s First Women Soldiers hits the stands next April. Read how they rescued army communications, helped win the war, and earned the vote for women!

Shawntelle Madison Interview + Giveaway

In honor of the release of Bound to You by Shawntelle Madison, the first book in her In Your Service series, I am excited to share my interview with Shawntelle. Along with the interview I will be holding a giveaway of a eBook of Bound to You as well as some cool swag. Scroll down for the interview and the giveaway.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: At Your Service

*Synopsis*

Through grace, talent, and hard work, personal concierge Sophie Ashton has turned international corporate warfare into an art. But when she meets her new client, a suave CEO who radiates masculine heat, she knows this is no ordinary job. Given her painful past, Sophie tries to keep her professional relationships exactly that: professional. But Xavier Quinn is a man who knows how to get what he wants, and soon Sophie is tempted into his wicked dance of seduction.
Xavier needs Sophie’s charm and finesse to land a coveted contract with a Japanese tech mogul, yet he’s even more intrigued by the woman in front of him. He can tell that Sophie has a darkly sensual nature, that she’s been hurt before, that the passion inside of her is struggling to break free. Xavier is used to taking risks in work and in life, but the stakes have never been higher. Because the game he plays with Sophie will bind them together—or destroy them both.

*About the Author*Shawntelle Madison is a web developer who loves to weave words as well as code. She’d never admit it, but if asked she’d say she covets and collects source code. After losing her first summer job detassling corn, Shawntelle performed various jobs—from fast-food clerk to grunt programmer to university webmaster. Writing eccentric characters is her most favorite job of them all. On any particular day when she’s not surgically attached to her computer, she can be found watching cheesy horror movies or the latest action-packed anime. She lives in Missouri with her husband and children.

Be sure to follow Shawntelle:

Interview

  1. Tell us about your new novel Bound to You.9781101883198

Bound to You is about a concierge in Boston, MA who is given the task of helping a hot tech company owner secure
the deal of a lifetime. Sophie Ashton works day-to-day helping her exclusive clients, but she’s never had a client like Xavier Quinn. He’s a hard man to work with, but over time she falls for him and considers opening her broken heart to someone new. This novel is the first book in the At Your Service series and I’m excited since this book is my first full-length contemporary romance.

  1. What was the inspiration for the At Your Service series?

That’s a fun story. I was brainstorming with one of author pals and she mentioned concierge companies that cater to the uber rich. Now I love a man in a suit. Add in a concierge trained to please the most finicky client and you’ve got a fascinating boss/employee story waiting to happen. The two are all about business, but when feelings and sexual tension enter into the mix, things get complicated real fast.

51mcdrh8cdl-_ou01_ac_ul320_sr210320_

  1.   You’ve written Contemporary Romance, Horror, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy and Young Adult. What has been your favorite genre to write? Are there any other genres that you would want to write?

Hands down my favorite genre to write is urban fantasy. A close second would be paranormal romance. I’d love to explore other genres such as thrillers someday.

  1.   What is your writing process like?

In the beginning, I thought I could just come up with an idea and write anything, but I learned the hard way that that isn’t my process. Go figure! I learned over time that I’m a “plotser.” Meaning I write by the seat of my pants and I also plot out my book.  (I guess I do a bit of both… Heh.) I come up with a general idea about the characters I want to write and what issues they are facing. Once I have this foundation I can start writing. Of course a story is never perfect once you have that first draft. After I’ve finished a story I go through several drafts to get the story the way I want it. Sometimes this takes weeks and sometimes this takes months.

  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing when I was in middle school. I still have the folder full of those horrible stories, but they make me smile. I had no idea I could be a writer. I had no idea that all those scenes swimming around in my head could become a story.

I knew I wanted to do this in a professional capacity when I met my crit partner, author Sarah Jude, back in 2008. Before then I’d gone to grad school, did the 9-5 thing, and had kids. After I finished my first full-length book in 2008 I truly felt like a writer versus someone who considered themselves a dreamer.

  1. What are some of your favorite books/authors?

I have so many. Where can I start? The author I aspire to be someday is Octavia Butler. I read her sci-fi books in high school and they are amazing. I love Patricia Briggs and Marjorie M. Liu. The last book I gobbled up like a mad woman was The Martian. It was a nerdgasm. I’ll pretty much read anything if the author hooks me. Not just sci-fi/fantasy. I also love to read new adult romances by Jessica Scott, Elle Kennedy, and Kristin Callahan. I could keep going all day… How much time do you have?

  1. If you where not a writer what would you be doing?

When I’m not writing I’m actually a web developer. I’ve been a developer for over ten years now. When you press a button on a website, I’m one of the people who writes the code for what happens after you push the button.

  1. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a proposal for my publisher as well as the second book in my YA sci-fi series and an urban fantasy series I’ve waited a long time to write.  

Giveaway

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan Review + Interview

I am so excited to be reviewing The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Not only am I reviewing the book but both Heather and Jessica were sweet enough to answer a few questions. Be sure to check out my interview with them at the end of my review. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAINS SPOILERS.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan Review

Summery: Inspired by Kate Middleton and Prince William. American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Review: Having watched William and Kate’s relationship from their St. Andrew days this story was very appealing to me. What was so fun was noting all the details and events that were taken from real life.
One of the best parts of this book was that, although it was inspired by William and Kate, the characters of Bex and Nick (as well as the other characters) where very much their own characters and not just caricatures of their real-live counterparts. Along with exploring how Bex’s relationship with Nick changes her the book also explores how her relationship with Nick effects her friends and family. While I didn’t particularly like Bex’s twin sister, Lacey, I like how Cocks and Morgan showed how their relationship changed and how Lacey was effected by Bex’s new relationship.
I loved how every chapter seemed to end in a little cliffhanger that just made me want to continue reading. At one point I had to put the book down because I was afraid I would finish it too soon and I didn’t want it to end.

Best Feature:
Freddie. Let’s be honest, who read The Royal We and didn’t love Prince Freddie? Since reading Outlander I have developed a love for good looking British red heads (Jamie Fraser) and Freddie is no exception. Freddie was charming and adorable and there was a big part of me that actually wanted Bex to end up with Freddie at the end.
 
Worst Feature: Lacey. As I said before I didn’t really like Lacey. While I think Cocks and Morgan tried to make her sympathetic I just found her to be obnoxious and selfish. While she somewhat redeems herself at the end it was a “too little, too late” type of situation for me to really like her.
 
Overview: I absolutely loved this book. While inspired by the real life story of Prince William and Kate Middleton the characters were well fleshed and drawn out and very much their own. Each chapter ended in a way that made you want to keep reading. Aside from Bex and Nick my favorite character had to be Nick’s brother Freddie. Now I am just crossing my fingers for a sequel.

Interview with Heather & Jessica

1. You guys started your website Go Fug Yourself back in 2004. How did the idea for that come about?
JESSICA: It was really all started as a joke, actually. Heather and I had gone to the mall one day, and we were highly over-caffeinated, and we just started riffing on how bad all the posters and ads happened to be — that maybe fugly was the hot new trend, the new pretty — and basically started the blog to amuse ourselves. We never thought it would ever be read by anyone other than our friends!
HEATHER: At the time, starting a whole blog based on one kernel of a joke wasn’t so far off the norm. You know how today, people start comedy Twitter accounts for, say, Angelina Jolie’s Leg, or whatever? Back in the olden days of 2004, people did stuff like that with websites.

2. How did you go from writing for GFY to writing books?
JESSICA: Well, we wrote a book that was based on GFY way back in 2008, and a lot of editors we worked with when we were selling that book mentioned to us that, while that project wasn’t for them, they’d be interested to see anything we did that was fiction.
HEATHER: We jumped at the chance. Writing books, to me, always sounded like this amazing thing that OTHER people did. It never occurred to me that I might have a book in me anywhere — it sounded so hard — so the faith in us from editors was just the shove I needed to stop and think, “Well, why can’t we do it? Maybe we can!” I’m not sure I’d ever have had the guts without Jessica as my writing partner, though. We were each other’s support system as we navigated everything new and scary about putting this kind of work out into the world.

3. What is the writing process like? Do you write different sections of the book separately or together?
JESSICA: Basically, we write a really, really detailed outline together — when you’re writing with another person, you have to make sure you’re on the same page, no pun intended — and then we trade off. One of us will write a chunk, then email it to the other person, who will edit that chunk before adding the next several pages to the story. And we trade the manuscript back and forth like that.
HEATHER: Particularly for The Royal We, both of us needed to be fluent in the voices of all the characters. We both needed to be able to write without constantly stopping and leaving blanks for the other person to fill in — it would have made for a much choppier draft, and we were on a tight deadline for a long book, so we didn’t need to put up any extra speed bumps. Besides, we never wanted to assign ownership of parts of the book to each other. Both our names are on it, and so we wanted it to be a totally melded product of the two of us. And it is. I am sure there are writing pairs who can split up characters or work out the whole process in a different way, and I’m not saying any of those other approaches are wrong, or detrimental, at ALL. It depends on who you are and what you’re writing, and given those factors, this was what made sense to us.
4. What is a typical working day like for you?
JESSICA: It really depends on what we’ve got on our plates — if we’re working on a book, or on a freelance article, often we try to set posts for Go Fug Yourself the night before so that we can work on whatever other writing projects we’ve got happening during the day. We also often have interviews or meetings or business calls during the day. So every day is different, but they always involve a lot of typing.
HEATHER: Taking a break from typing one thing basically just involves typing something else for a while. It’s extremely easy to forget to get up and move around. I bought a standing desk recently because we spent the year of The Royal We glued to our chairs.

5. Tell us a little bit about what the research process for The Royal Wewas like?
JESSICA: Sure! We did a lot of research, because we wanted the book to feel authentic. That’s not to say we didn’t make any errors — I’m sure we did, as the only people who really know what it’s like to be on the inside of the royal family aren’t writing books about it! But we wanted to make sure we got as many of the logistics correct as possible. To that end, we read a lot of books — biographies, both authorized and otherwise; history books; a LOT of books about etiquette and about the various palaces in which we’d set the book.
HEATHER: We also took a trip to England in January of 2014, right when we were writing the first section, so that the locations and the feeling of the place would invigorate us. We didn’t want to write scenes in Oxford without walking the streets ourselves. I wanted Jessica to see Windsor — and frankly, I needed to clap eyes on it again myself. I grew up in England so a lot of these are places I’ve been several times, but I needed to see them again with a writer’s eye. And the Buckingham Palace tour is offered only on a very limited basis, so we knew we had to take that. When writing a book like this, we felt the reader would want the experience of being inside Buckingham Palace, and to us that had to come from as authentic a place as possible. We felt strongly that we couldn’t entirely make that up. Also, the tour ended with Champagne, so obviously.
6. What was the most interesting/surprising thing you learned about William and Kate during your research?
JESSICA: I don’t know that I learned anything that surprising about William or Kate, because we weren’t really researching THEM. Although the book is obviously based on them, it’s only them in the loosest sense — we use a lot of the signposts of their relationship (meeting in college, the lengthy courtship, a break-up), but beyond that, almost everything that happens in the book is fictional. Most of our research was about logistics and location.
HEATHER: For me, the surprises were just in reading the biographies for inspiration, and realizing that I sympathize a lot more with Charles than most people do. Which isn’t to say I don’t think Diana was evil; just that I think she was deified and Charlies villified, when I think the truth is that both of them were equally accountable to the mistakes that were made, and that they were two people ill-suited to be wed and ill-equipped to handle each other. I found digging into a lot of that very illuminating.
7. There were some loose ends and uncertainties at the end of The Royal We. Could there be a sequel in the future? 
JESSICA: Maybe! We’d love to write more about these characters — the honest truth of the matter is that this particular book needs to do well enough that our publisher would ALSO love us to write more about them.
HEATHER: I’ve always said we’ll only do it if we have the right story — we’d never do it just for the sake of it..
8. Was there any point in writing the book that you doubted the ending you chose?
HEATHER: We took great pains to use the first part to sell people on Bex and Nick as a romance between two people who fell in love, circumstances be damned. And then with the rest of the book, we took pains to show that sometimes love might not be enough. Sometimes, life gets in the way; sometimes, there is too much collateral damage. We feel strongly that we landed in the right spot at the end, but we love hearing whether people agree with that! It’s certainly open for debate.
9. Would you rather be Kate or Pippa?
JESSICA: I think they both have a bit of a tough path, actually — and this is something we explore in the book, that in a way Lacey (who is our heroine Bex’s sister) is collateral damage of Bex’s highly publicized relationship with Nick. On one hand, Pippa isn’t scrutinized as closely as Kate is, but on the other, she IS scrutinized and with none of the benefits. I think I would rather be Kate, simply because it appears (and I hope it is true) that Kate has a happy marriage and two healthy children, and a job of sorts that seems fulfilling.
HEATHER: I would probably also choose to be Kate, because I think the spotlight that’s on Pippa is much harsher and less forgiving. As much as we all know Kate would be endlessly mocked for breaking a heel or limping from a blister or whatever during a public engagement, many people would sympathize with her struggling with something so human. But for whatever reason, I don’t think people consider how weird it must be to be Pippa, and what a toll it’s taken on her to be the moth flapping around next to the flame. The headlines about Kate, I feel like I could brush off if I were her, but the ones about Pippa often seem a bit meaner and in her shoes I think my skin would be thinner. Even if her shoes, on balance, are probably cuter.
10. If you has the choice between Prince William or Prince Harry who would you choose?
JESSICA: Well, if they both were single, I would choose William. As fun as Harry obviously is, William seems more likely to call you the next day.
HEATHER: William. The older you get, the more you realize that reliability is pretty freaking sexy.

JESSICA: Aha! That IS a spoiler.

Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Mary McCoy

ONTARIO TBF GRAPHIC.png

This year I am excited to be participating in the Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour. I am especially excited to be spotlighting YA author Mary McCoy. Her debut novel, Dead to Me was one of my favorite books that I read last year.

The Ontario Teen Book Fest is an amazing event and I am so happy to be participating in the blog tour for it. I attended last year and had an absolute blast. It is a FREE UNTICKETED event featuring multiple bestselling Young Adult authors.

Scroll down for my Spotlight and Interview with Mary as well as a giveaway for a poster signed by all of the attending authors.

When: Saturday March 12th, 9 am to 5pm

Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

The Ontario Teen Book Fest Website: http://www.ontariotbf.org/

The event is sponsored by Once Upon A Time. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well.

Their website: http://www.mrsnelsons.com/

*Blog Tour Schedule*

February 22nd – Spotlight on Andrew Smith – What A Nerd Girl Says

February 23rd – Spotlight on Alexandra Monir – The Consummate Reader

February 24th – Spotlight on April Tucholke – Adventures of a Book Junkie

February 25th – Spotlight on Alexis Bass – A Traveling Book

February 26th – Spotlight on Marissa Meyer – Read Now Sleep Later

February 27th – Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana – Movies, Shows and Books

February 28th – Spotlight on Robin Reul – Recently Acquired Obsessions

February 29th – Spotlight on Katherine Kottaras – iFandoms Collide

March 1st – Spotlight on Stephanie Diaz – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 2nd – Spotlight on Virginia Boecker – The Reader’s Antidote

March 3rd – Spotlight on Mary McCoy – Book You Very Much

March 4th – Spotlight on Brad Gottfred – Seeking Bazinga

March 5th – Spotlight on Michelle Levy – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 6th – Spotlight on Elana K Arnold – Read Now Sleep Later

March 7th – Spotlight on Kristin Halbrook – What A Nerd Girl Says

March 8th – Spotlight on Jessica Brody – The Windy Pages

March 9th – Spotlight on Nicole Maggi – Nite Lite Book Reviews

March 10th – Spotlight on Jay Asher – A Bookish Escape

*Spotlight on Mary McCoy*

marymccoypic

Mary McCoy is a writer and a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles’s notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son. Her debut novel, Dead to Me, is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of 1940s Hollywood.

For more information visit Mary’s website here

deadtome_final

LA Confidential for the YA audience. This alluring noir YA mystery with a Golden Age Hollywood backdrop will keep you guessing until the last page.

“Don’t believe anything they say.”
Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.
When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking
Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of past.

*INTERVIEW*

Q: What was the inspiration for your debut novel Dead to Me?

When I moved to LA ten years ago, I got really into film noir and old detective novels. I really wanted to pay an homage to those kinds of stories, but I also wanted to write something where the female characters were up front and center, instead of being relegated to femme fatales and victims.

Q: You have been a contributor to One Bunker Hill and 1947project where you have written about “Los Angeles’s notorious past”. What is it about LA in the 1940s that made you want to write about it?

Murder and mayhem and corruption, oh my! My book is set in 1948, which is the year after the Black Dahlia murder. It’s also set around the time of a few other notorious LA crimes that I’ve done a lot of reading and writing about: the Lila Leeds drug bust, the disappearance of Jean Spangler, Brenda Allen’s prostitution ring and the corrupt LAPD vice squad. The list goes on and on.

Q: Are there any other time periods/places you would like to write about?

I’ll never say never, but so far, I haven’t gotten a bee in my bonnet to write another historical novel. My next project is set at a summer camp!

Q: What was your research process for Dead to Me like? Did you visit any of the places you talked about in the book?

I’m a librarian, so of course, I was obsessed with getting every last fact right. I even found a public transit map of Los Angeles from the 1940s and made sure that Alice’s adventures around town on the Red Car were accurate.

I visited almost every spot I wrote about for the book, and most of the characters’ homes are based on actual places. Of course, my favorite place to do “research” was the time I went to Musso & Frank Grill for steak and a stake-out of the kitchen.

Q: What is your writing process like?

A mixture of diligent slogging and fevered wind sprints. The most important thing for me is sitting down as often as possible to write, whether I’m feeling inspired or not and simply doing the work.

Q: What were some of your favorite writers growing up?

I loved Roald Dahl, Lois Lowry, Ellen Raskin, and Louise Fitzhugh. Sophie, Anastasia Krupnik, Turtle Wexler, and Harriet M. Welsh were my role models and heroes when I was growing up, and it’s probably because I loved them so much that I decided to write books myself.

Q: For anyone who liked Dead to Me what are some places in Los Angeles that you think they would like to visit?

Okay, here’s an LA history nerd itinerary for you:

Start off by admiring the architecture at Union Station and the Terminal Annex Post Office, then take the Red Line to the Pershing Square stop. Hop off, grab a burrito at Grand Central Market and check out the Bradbury Building which is, for my money, the most beautiful sight in Los Angeles, then follow it up by skulking around the halls at the Biltmore Hotel and check out the zodiac chandelier in the 2nd floor Rotunda at the Central Library.

Some of my other favorite historical places are The Last Bookstore, Musso & Frank Grill, the HMS Bounty, the Egyptian Theater, the El Rey, Canter’s Deli, Langer’s Deli, and the Silent Movie Theater.

I think there are at least five places you can get pastrami on my LA history nerd itinerary.

Q: Can you tell us what you are working on now?

My next book is called CAMP SO AND SO, and it will be published by Carolrhoda Lab in spring 2017. It’s set at a summer camp where each cabin of characters finds themselves trapped into acting out a warped version of a classic camp story. In order to make it out in one piece, they have to figure out who’s pulling the strings and how to take control of their own stories again.
It’s fun and weird and metafictional, and I can’t wait for people to read it!

*Giveaway*

Enter for a chance to win a poster signed by all the authors attending OTBF. The contest is NOT International (US only) and will run from February 22-March 13th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Richelle Mead Interview

Back in April I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Richelle Mead at Yallwest. I have finally transcribed the entire interview for you here. You can also watch the full interview at the bottom of this post.

Q: Tell us about your writing process?

A: For me my writing process has to be very scheduled because I have kids. Before I had kids I could just be like “I’m just gonna write at 2am and it’s cool”. When you have kids you gotta treat it very much like a job. My time is when they are in daycare and preschool so I can write from 9am to 4pm and if I don’t put in those hours they don’t get put in and it’s a good system for anyone trying to break into writing as well if your having trouble doing it. Set aside that time and just say from this time to this time I am writing no matter what.

Q: How far in advance do you plan a series?

A: When I sit down to write the first page of the first book I have to know how the last book is going to end and I usually how each book along the way what its big ending is going to be. That isn’t to say I have every detail planned out along the way. A lot of things do pop up. But the overall structure and the main plot arcs I do have to know. I think it makes for a better story.

Q: What is your inspiration for writing?

A: I think I have just alway been a lover of stories and I find most writers are like that. They love stories and you eventually you just want to write your own and from a very young age I was like that. I would love to read books and then I just wanted to write them.

Q: What writers would you say influenced your writing the most?

A: I really loved Lucy Maude Montgomery who wrote Anne of Green Gables. Whenever people are like “oh strong female heroine, what a new concept?” it’s really not. Even something like that you wouldn’t think Anne of Green Gables but she is strong and strong willed. And I always had, just in the back of my head, this is how girls are and this is how they should be. Another influence was Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman who wrote this Sword and Sorcery series called Dragonlance back in the 80s. Everyone who hate my cliffhangers has them to blame. Because I remember being dumfounded I read the second book in the trilogy and a main character died and someone else was kidnapped and I was like “wait this isn’t how books end”. It drove me crazy and I needed to read the third one and so now I do that in my books.

Q: How much of yourself (if at all) do you put into your characters?

A: I am all my characters and I am not. There is no character that you can say “that is totally Richelle Mead transported into a book”. Nobody’s like that but there is glimmers of me in all of them as their creator, there can’t help but be. Now that doesn’t mean to say “ow that murderous villain” like that my secret thing but their personality quirks. It’s such a mix of things. It’s a mix of me and things I see in the world and you just synthesize it into the book.

Q: You have said the idea for the three vampire races: dhampir, miroi, and strigoi, came from Romanian folklore. Where did the idea of the alchemists come from?

A: It was partially a suggestion from my friend. I had told him I need a secret society to work into this world and he was like “what about the alchemist?” and strictly speaking the alchemist of history really don’t do what mine do but it kind of gave me a springboard and I have really changed them quite a bit so I am not sure how much resemblance between mine. But that was where it came from I just wanted this kind of Men In Black kind of group to be active in the vampire world.

Q: Unfortunately the second book in the Vampire Academy series,Frostbite, was not turned into a movie. Which actor would be your #1 pick for Adrian Ivashkov?

A: I have always tried to keep my head clear of that. I rarely talk about dream casting. I find it’s easier to be open minded because then when things are cast you aren’t upset. I mean people get vicious on the internet, they get suicidal on the internet. They are like “I can’t believe my dream actor wasn’t cast” and I just want to stear away from that and just what come is what comes.

Q: Adrian or Dimitri?

A: I can’t pick. I am asked that all the time and I have never answered anyone

Q: Are you working on any other books right now? What can we look forward to?

A: My next is going to be Soundless which is a stand alone book. It comes out November 10th. It’s a high fantasy based on ancient Chinese history, it’s inspired by that. It takes place in this remote mountain village where people haven’t been able to hear for generations. There is a teenage girl, she is an artist and that makes her a very important person when you can’t hear because they are very visual. She wakes up one morning and she has her hearing back and no one has had this for years. She doesn’t even know how to describe what she’s experiencing and so she goes on this quest to try to figure out what is happening to her and her village. She is accompanied by a young man she used to be involved with so there are some issues.

You can watch the whole interview here: