Monday, October 03, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Rampart Guards by Wendy Terrien (Author Interview + Giveaway)


Hi guys! #CelebratingDebutantes2016 is coming to an end. We still have a lot of giveaways ongoing so don't miss out! Today I'm interviewing Wendy about her debut, The Rampart Guards. Stick around for the giveaway!


***

Could you tell us about the fantastical creatures in the book? What was the process and guidelines for selecting them?
W: I love talking about cryptids — creatures that may or may not exist, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Everyone’s heard of those two. But when I heard the word “chupacabra” on a television show (Bones), I didn’t know what that was and I had to investigate. With the power of Google I learned about the chupacabra, and the world of cryptids — and there are tons of creatures out there that qualify as cryptids. I loved the whole “what if they do exist” idea, and my story was born from there.

I wanted to use cryptids in my novel that were different than those we’re familiar with, so I dug deeper into my research. I searched websites, read summaries and personal accounts by people who’d experienced sightings, and I read books by cryptid experts, or cryptozoologists. I studied the characters of different cryptids, and I looked for particular qualities that I wanted for the roles they’d play in the book. Plus I wanted fun, and for me Skyfish are a lot of fun. Skyfish experts tell us they are flying around us all the time, even through us. They aren’t usually seen by the human eye, but can be caught on film, and you can see videos online of what are claimed to Skyfish. And hey — maybe they really do exist? The giant squid used to be classified as a cryptid, as did the mountain gorilla…

In a review, it was mentioned that you brought the world of cryptozoology into your novel. What kind of research did you do for your novel, up to what extent?
W: In addition to the research I mentioned above, I spent time reading about some of the leading cryptozoologists and reviewed their work. I wanted to understand how they approached their investigations, what kinds of tools they used or skills they needed, and how they were viewed by the rest of the scientific world. I also asked a friend of mine to beta read my novel. He’s a writer, an entomologist, and a cryptozoologist, so I knew he’d be able to give me both a fresh and authentic perspective on the story.

How did you find the balance between adventure, mystery and fantasy?
W: Honestly, I didn’t think about that piece too much. The story is character-driven, and I focused on that aspect. I think the adventure, mystery, and fantasy pieces naturally fell into place around it.

What was the most difficult part or scene to write? Why?
W: The first chapter. I mean, it’s the first chapter and that alone brings the challenge of grabbing your reader from the start and keeping them interested. Add on the fact that you’re introducing fantasy elements and having to do some world building without it getting too lecture-y, and the challenge is amplified. I discarded numerous “chapter ones” before the actual chapter one showed up for me. And even after I did get it in place, I rewrote that chapter more than any other part of the book. Which is saying something because I revised and revised and revised.

Did you encounter any difficulties with writing Middle Grade? How did you deal with it?
W: I was uncertain about what you can have characters say and do in Middle Grade. There’s plenty of guidance out there, with lists like “things you should never do in MG novels,” but you can also find articles and information that counter most of that “never” advice. It was frustrating. I finally decided on this as my guiding mantra: If kids do it in real life, I’m putting it in the book. Using swear words is an example of that. Kids use swear words. They might not say them in front of adults, but many kids do say them. Kids around the age of my protagonist and his friends (14) tend to use more of the “PG-rated” swear words, so I stayed within those boundaries.

The other challenge I had was how to qualify The Rampart Guards. Yes, if you follow some of those rules about what makes a book Middle Grade, like the age of the protagonist, my book qualifies as Middle Grade (he’s 13 when the book starts, turns 14 shortly thereafter). But there are some elements of the book that are a bit tougher, maybe a bit darker than would otherwise be in a Middle Grade novel. Because of that, I say The Rampart Guards is recommended for upper Middle Grade, and I officially categorized it Young Adult. It sits right on that line between the two.

Thank you for sharing, Wendy!


About the Author:

Wendy Terrien received her first library card at age two, and a few years later started writing her own stories. Her debut novel The Rampart Guards (February 2016) is a #1 regional best seller and was a Kirkus Indie Book of the Month in April 2016. The novel is the first in her intriguing urban fantasy series.

Inspired by an episode of Bones that suspected a killer to be a fabled chupacabra, Wendy was fascinated and dove into research about cryptozoology--the study of animals that may or may not exist, or cryptids. Pouring over stories, videos and photographs of creatures others had seen all over the world, Wendy developed her own story to share with middle grade, young adult and grown-up readers.

Wendy graduated from the University of Utah and transplanted to Colorado where she completed her MBA at the University of Denver. Having applied her marketing expertise to the financial and network security industries, it wasn’t until a career coach stepped in that she fully immersed herself in her passion for writing. Wendy began attending writers conferences, workshops and retreats.

She regularly participates in two critique groups, and is the Secretary of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and a member of Pikes Peak Writers. In 2014, she was a finalist in the San Francisco Writer’s Contest, and is a founding member of Wicked Ink Books. Wendy released a novella in the award-winning Wicked Ink Books anthology, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time.

Wendy lives in Colorado with her husband, Kevin, and their three dogs: Maggie, Shea, and Boon. All three of her dogs are rescues, and Wendy is passionate about promoting shelter adoptions. If you’re in Colorado, you may even be able to spot her by her “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plates.

Find Wendy: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Facebook


Book Description:

Hardcover, 270 pages
Published February 29th 2016 by Camashea Press

After his mom disappears, Jason Lex and his family move to a small town where he has no friends, no fun, no life. Things get worse when he’s chased by weird flying creatures that only he can see---Jason thinks he’s losing it.

But when Jason discovers new information about his family, he’s stunned to learn that creatures like Skyfish, Kappa, and the Mongolian Death Worm aren’t just stories on the Internet---they’re real and they live unseen alongside the human race. Many of these creatures naturally emit energy capable of incinerating humans. An invisible shield keeps these creatures hidden and protects the human race from their threatening force, but someone, or some thing, is trying to destroy it.

Unsure who he can trust, Jason is drawn into the fight to save the people closest to him, and he finds help in surprising places. Confronted with loss, uncertainty, and a devastating betrayal, Jason must make a gut-wrenching decision:

Who lives, and who dies.

Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Copy of The Rampart Guards
Scope: US and CA


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Timekeeper by Tara Sim (Author Interview + Giveaway)


Hi guys! #CelebratingDebutantes2016 is coming to an end. We still have a lot of giveaways ongoing so don't miss out! Today I'm interviewing Tara about her steampunk debut, Timekeeper. Stick around for the international giveaway!


***

Could you explain the concept behind the clock towers controlling the flow of time? I was looking for a new story idea when I got inspired by clock towers; specifically, my Big Ben keychain. I love magic and fantasy, so I wondered how I could make something like clock towers magical. Naturally, time magic came from that. I then had to figure out how that time magic would work, and realized that every city, town, and village would need its own clock tower in order to run. Each tower controls a certain amount of land, and if something ever happens to the tower, something would then happen to the time connected to it—and the land it controls. That’s why there are clock mechanics around to keep these towers, and therefore time, functional.

What was your process for the world building? It was a surprisingly long process, actually. When I wrote the first draft, I only had a kernel of the world. Then, over multiple drafts, I added more and more layers from various sources. I had my Victorian layers (the historical aspect) and the fantasy/steampunk layers (the clock towers/Mechanics Union), as well as mythology for the time magic origins. I figured out more and more with every draft, so it was like slowly unwrapping something and finding the finished product underneath.

What was your favorite scene from the book? My favorite scene is kind of a spoiler, oops. But I will say it’s the scene where Danny finds out something surprising regarding his new, strange apprentice.

The book seems to be studded with quotable quotes that are beautiful and poetic. Could you tell us about your writing style? Thank you! When I first wrote Timekeeper, I actually had quite a different style than what I have now—which makes sense, considering this was three years ago. So in the later drafts, I tried to incorporate more of my current style into the words. People usually describe books as being either “commercial” or “literary,” and while Timekeeper is definitely more commercial, I try to hit that middle spot between the two. Just enough pretty description to balance out the action.

Was the story steampunk right from the start? What are the differences between the original and final version of the story? The story was steampunk from the start, since I knew the clock towers and Victorian era created a certain aesthetic that matched steampunk quite well. I would argue, though, that it’s more fantasy than it is steampunk, but I did purposefully use that aesthetic in Timekeeper and built the world around it. The differences between the original and final version are...well, just about everything, to be honest! The only things that have really stayed the same are the original concept of the towers, the setting, and the ending. Everything else has been molded and tempered and shaped in new ways.

Thank you for sharing, Tara!


About the Author:

Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper (Sky Pony Press, November 2016) and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website at tarasim.com.

Find Tara: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Pinterest | Facebook


Book Description:

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2016 by Sky Pony Press

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Pre-order of Timekeeper
Scope: International!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (Author Interview + Giveaway)


Hi guys! #CelebratingDebutantes2016 is coming to an end. We still have a lot of giveaways ongoing so don't miss out! Today I'm interviewing Caleb about Last Seen Leaving. Stick around for the giveaway!


***

Can you tell us about your writing style?In writing LAST SEEN LEAVING, I really wanted to create a main character whose voice would be recognizable and relatable to teenagers. Writing a contemporary teen in the first person meant I could make the narrative relaxed and conversational when it felt appropriate, which was great. It was important to me that the tension keep building throughout (it IS a thriller!) but that it also be balanced out with plenty of humor, so I tried to keep those objectives in mind throughout.

Do you have a writing ritual? Could you tell us about it?I don't have any rituals, per se, although I do tend to wait until later in the day to get started. I do a lot of plotting and problem-solving in my head when I exercise, so I prefer to work out before sitting down to do any writing. Sometimes I listen to a white noise app while I work, and always, always, always I need to have something caffeinated to drink, but that's about it!

You travel a lot. How does this contribute to your writing, in any way? Do you also write while traveling?I love to travel, and the past five years (in particular) have been filled with some really amazing adventures. I've seen places that have been on my bucket list forever (Rome, Monaco, Iceland), and visited ones I knew almost nothing about prior to getting there (Slovenia, the Faroe Islands). I find that I don't generally have the energy to write while I'm traveling, but every trip I go on provides inspiration; every new place I see becomes a possible backdrop for a new story idea.

You mixed the elements of mystery - missing girlfriend - and exploring sexuality. The former tends to lead to a fast-paced chapters, rendering readers palpitating while the latter tends to be (based on my experience as a reader) a luscious contemporary that savors and examines every moment. How did you write the novel and mix these two? How did you find the balance? This is a really interesting question! I definitely like for my thrillers to move quickly; but when digging into a topic as personal as a character's struggle with their sexuality, there also needs to be space for readers to slow down and appreciate the significance of what that character is going through. In the abstract, they might seem like objectives that shouldn't work together, but I have found (both as a reader and a writer) that the introspective personal beats allow readers a chance to breathe in between the big cliffhangers of a good suspense novel -- and that using one mood as a counterpoint to the other can greatly enhance both.

A lot of people commented on Flynn's voice. It seemed to me that while he is struggling with his sexuality, and while he suspected that he might be gay, he was also very much in love with January. He was in between of some sort. How did you establish his voice, to further cement his situation as "in struggle"? A lot of gay and lesbian teenagers who struggle with self-acceptance have relationships with someone of the opposite sex before they're ready to come out. It's a topic that most LGBT youth can relate to, I think, and one that I had a lot to say about. It was very important to me that readers understand that Flynn's relationship with January was not all "fake" or one-sided -- that he truly cared about her very much. I tried to bear that in mind throughout the crafting of the narrative, and to make it clear how deeply Flynn valued his friendship with her, regardless of anything else, and that his affection for her is part of what drives him to search for her when she goes missing.

Did you struggle with any scene or part in specific? How did you handle it? This is a hard question to answer without getting into spoilers, but I'll give it a try! There's a scene where Flynn finds himself alone with January's parents right after they've received some shocking news; this scene was probably the hardest to write, because I had three characters reacting very strongly -- yet very differently -- to the same set of circumstances at the same time. Choreographing these reactions, trying to balance them against each other and keep them real, was tricky. In the end, I essentially had to write the scene three times, once from each character's POV, and then integrate them.

Thank you for sharing, Caleb!


About the Author:

Caleb Roehrig is a writer and television producer originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. A former actor, Roehrig has experience on both sides of the camera, with a résumé that includes appearances on film and TV—as well as seven years in the stranger-than-fiction salt mines of reality television. In the name of earning a paycheck, he has: hung around a frozen cornfield in his underwear, partied with an actual rock-star, chatted with a scandal-plagued politician, and been menaced by a disgruntled ostrich.

Find Caleb: Twitter | Goodreads | Website |


Book Description:

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Copy of Last Seen Leaving
Scope: US!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson (Author Interview + Giveaway)


Hi guys! #CelebratingDebutantes2016 is coming to an end. We still have a lot of giveaways ongoing so don't miss out! Today I'm interviewing Abigail Johnson about her writing and debut. Stick around for the international giveaway!


***

What was your inspiration for If I Fix You? The only inspiration came from a scene that I saw in my head of a girl sitting up on her roof talking to the boy next door. Neither one wanted to go inside their respective houses and I started asking myself why. Then I needed to know what would happen when the girl got off her roof :)

Contemporary stories tend to be harder to write, based on what I have heard because you need to write about a series of events that can happen in real life but that is at the same time extraordinary. Did you encounter difficulties in writing If I Fix You? Yes and no. In my experience, contemporary is easier because it requires less research and worldbuilding, but it's harder because contemporary is based on real life, so I often feel more vulnerable writing it. The contemporary issues in If I Fix You aren't based on my personal experiences, but they are closer my reality then say, The Hunger Games.

What was the hardest part/scene to write? There were a lot of challenging scenes to write, but they were also extremely rewarding. One of my favorites was the big confrontation section between my protagonist, Jill, and her mom after her mom shows up after leaving months prior. There were a lot of heated words and high emotions involved, which were tricky to tap into since Jill's experience is so far removed from my own, but I'm really happy with how it turned out and I hope readers are too!

Did you watch specific movies or listen to songs that put you in writing mode for the book? Oh yeah :) I have a full If I Fix You playlist on my website including the big inspiration song, Fix You by Coldplay. As for movies/TV I watched a lot of Veronica Mars because the close father/daughter relationship in my book is so important and I seriously love Veronica and Keith Mars. I also went back to a couple older movies that I loved when I was younger, Man In The Moon and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, both of which have romantic night swimming scenes that helped inspire the one in my book.

Could you share with us your journey to publication. How long did you work on your debut until you got an agent? It was very long in some respects and very quick in others. I spent close to six years, off and on, working on If I Fix You, then I queried for over a year, revising and making the book stronger as I received feedback. It was almost this exact time last year when I signed with my amazing agent, Kim Lionetti from BookEnds Literary Agency. We went on submission right away and sold by book in the first round of submission, and now my book is coming out in less than a month!

Thank you for sharing, Abby!


About the Author:

Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and publishing her first novel. Visit Abigail online at and follow her on Twitter, .

Find Abigail: Twitter | Goodreads | Website |


Book Description:

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: October 25th 2016 by Harlequin Teen

Readers of Sarah Dessen, Cammie McGovern and Morgan Matson will adore this thought-provoking, complex and romantic contemporary novel from debut author Abigail Johnson, about finding the strength to put yourself back together when everything you know has fallen apart.

When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out—with a sticky note as a goodbye—only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.

Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things—cars, relationships, romances, people—is all broken up. Used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even talk.

With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars—on the inside and out—that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. But over one long, hot Arizona summer, she realizes she can’t fix anyone’s life until she fixes her own. And she knows just where to start . . .

Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Final Copy of If I Fix You
Scope: International!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen (Movie Cast + Giveaway)


Hi guys! Happy weekend! Today for #CelebratingDebutantes2016 we are featuring Becky Allen's movie cast for Bound by Blood and Sand. I am so looking forward to this particular debut!


***

When I started writing BBB&S ages ago, I didn't have any actors in mind for the characters. In fact, I didn't have much of a sense of what the characters would look like at all -- that tends to be one of the last pieces that comes to me, and they all shifted and changed through the years and through the drafts. So coming up with a cast list for BBB&S ranged from surprisingly easy -- hey, sometimes helpful images just show up on twitter! -- to really, really hard.



Jae and Tal

These are the ones that showed up on twitter: a recent photoshoot of Willow and Jaden Smith. The Smiths aren't twins, but we can hand wave that, right?



Elan

Elan was by far and away the hardest, and I admit, I wanted to find someone perfect for my male lead. It took a lot of googling to find an actor with the right description, in the right age range, and who is, frankly, dreamy enough.

Google images eventually led me to this headshot, thankfully, though it took even more searching to make sure I had the right actor associated with it! He's a recent grad named Kaiso Hill and I hope he has a bright future because, well, see afore mentioned comment on dreaminess.



Lady Shirrad

Shirrad was definitely the easiest of the characters for me to cast -- last year, when this gorgeous picture of Zendaya hit the internet, I actually said, "Oh. Yeah, that's just Shirrad in a white dress."



Lord Elthis

And finally, every story needs a villain, and in BBB&S, it's Elthis Danardae -- Elan's father. Honestly, the hardest part here was finding a photo of Sendhil Ramamurthy where he wasn't smiling and looking too friendly!

So there you have it -- what do you think?

Thank you for sharing, Becky! I myself have not read a copy of BBB&S but based on the description of Elan, I think my celebrity crush below might fit the description:






About the Author:

Becky Allen grew up in a tiny town outside Ithaca, New York, and graduated from Brandeis University with a major in American studies and a minor in journalism. She is the website director of TheBody.com, an online HIV resource, and loves New York, brunch, and feminism. Becky lives in New York City.

Find Becky: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram



Book Description:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2016 by Delacorte Press

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the realm’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Copy of Bound by Blood and Sand
Scope: US!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Author Interview + Giveaway)


Hi guys! For today, I interviewed the author of one of my most anticipated releases for 2016. If you've noticed the books that I review and feature, you would know that I'm a fantasy enthusiast. And like many people out there, I am so excited for A Shadow Bright and Burning!


***

Could you tell us about your writing style and writing process? I’m halfway between a plotter and a pantser. Before I start a book, I need to know a few things: the characters’ basic wants, the catalyst for the plot, the choice the protagonist makes at the end of the first act, the midpoint (where things change), the darkest moment, and the climax. I also have to have an idea of exactly how the book ends, even if I change it later. But after I have those things lined up, I generally just get started. Anytime I’ve tried to rigorously outline a book, things change drastically and I end up in a difficult place. I’m going to have to outline more for my third book in my current Kingdom on Fire series, but that’s at least a little different. At that point, I know the characters so well.

Could you tell us about your world building process? Most of my story ideas come from a single image. For ASBAB, it was a girl in Victorian dress shooting fire from her hands. That picture made me ask a lot of questions, like ‘What time in the Victorian era was this? If she has magic, is it out in the open or hidden? Why? Are they at war? Is it a magical war? Who are they fighting? What type of magical creature is she?’ and so on. For me, world building sort of flows organically out of the initial inspiration.

Could you tell us about Henrietta? How did you first conceive the idea of her? Has she always been a sorcerer in your head? From the moment I got the idea, I knew Henrietta was going to be a magical person. At first, I really thought she was simply a sorcerer. However, when I realized I needed more magical races, and that magicians were even wackier and more out there than sorcerers, I wanted to put her into that category. My books are not message books at all, but I thought it would be a good way to touch on the rigid class structures in Victorian England. I wanted to have a girl who was of a lower magical class, and watch how she navigates the upper crust of magical society.

How do you mold/create your boys for the novel? In a review, the boys have a Jane Austen-esque quality. Why is this? What I love about writing first person is that you can have an unreliable narrator. Henrietta isn’t a full-on untrustworthy narrator, but she has her own biases. I deliberately made it so that each of the three boys in ASBAB could slot into neat, archetypal boxes. You’ve got the rogue, the brooding one, the sweet one. As the series progresses, my hope is that Henrietta—and the audience—comes to see that the boys are more than their initial impression would give. As for Austen-esque, first of all, thank you! Second, I love me some banter, and Austen’s banter was often excellent. It’s a good source of inspiration!

What was the most difficult scene to write? Why? Without spoiling things, there’s a scene towards the end where Henrietta’s expectations are thrown off course. It was heartwrenching to write a moment where her trust is so thoroughly shattered.

If you could change a scene in the novel, what would it be and why? I don’t think I’d change anything per se, though I think I’d have added another make out. Those are always fun.

Thank you for sharing, Jessica!


About the Author:


JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

Find Jessica: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Pinterest


Book Description:

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?


Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Final Hardcover of A Shadow Bright and Burning
Scope: US!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West (Author Interview + Giveaway)


Hi guys! For today, I interviewed the author of one of my most anticipated releases for 2016. If you've noticed the books that I review and feature, you would know that I'm a fantasy enthusiast and I adore retellings. And like many people out there, I am so excited for Kingdom of Ash and Briars!


***

What or who inspired you to write Kingdom of Ash and Briars? Robin McKinley was one of my favorite authors growing up. Several of her fantasies are fairy tale retellings, which made me want to write retellings of my own. But it didn’t really occur to me to write a novel or try to get published until I was in college learning a little more about the industry. Then I studied abroad in France for a semester and the evocative setting led to writing the opening scene of KINGDOM OF ASH AND BRIARS, which featured a young woman in captivity being dragged through a mysterious, snowy wood toward her probable death. I didn’t know where the story was going yet.

But one day I was sitting in French grammar class staring out into space. My parents had sent a care package full of goodies to France, including a pack of Disney princess pencils. I noticed Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella standing together on my pencil and something just clicked! I could combine the stories of the two princesses into an overarching plot of politics, war, and magic, with the girl from the snowy woods at its center.

Could you tell us a bit about your writing style? For novels, I really love writing in the first person. Third person can feel once removed from the story whereas first is so intimate. Even though it’s a challenge to portray every facet of a plot in the first person, I don’t shift to multiple POVs. I definitely feel a sense of loyalty to the first narrator who shows up in a book. That being said, I think some books do multiple POVs well enough that I don’t even really notice! And I’m sure I’ll use third person at some point in the future, but it hasn’t felt right for my more recent projects.

I have a deep appreciation for figurative language and flowery adjectives. I grew up reading dense fantasy and tried to mimic it in my writing, but when you’re 11 years old that translates to being overly-wordy and pretentious! This book, which was the first one I’d ever written, challenged me to tame my wordiness and learn to be concise without expunging the flowering language that makes writing fun.

What kind of research did you do for your debut? I’m not crazy about research, which is part of why I love making up new worlds with new places and rules. My fear when it comes to research-heavy projects is that I’ll miss some important detail of a time period or place or culture and then the whole thing will feel inauthentic or insulting. But even fantasy requires a little bit of research. For me it was about plants, foods and clothing you might find in a western European-esque setting.

Could you tell us about the story world and the process of world building? Of course! This world started with a single setting. The beginning of Bristal’s story just kind of popped out of the mystical, wintry forest. But once I had the idea for the premise, I started building the world to service the plot. I knew I needed multiple kingdoms so that the two fairy tales with their various princes and princesses could have room to play out on their own stages with some political friction existing between. I also wanted to capture the feeling that the realm of Nissera (made up of three kingdoms: Calgoran, Volarre, and Yorth) was on the verge of a sort of medieval modernization in some areas, like in the royal cities - whereas other areas feel isolated, ancient and full of old-world magic. One way this is reflected is in the names of the characters. Those born in or around the royal cities have more common names like Anthony, Charles, Elinor, and Rosamund. The elicromancers and people who live in isolated villages out to the west have older naming traditions, e.g., Bristal, Brack, and Tamarice.

What is your favorite part to write in the story? I loved writing any part where magic plays a powerful role. Whether it’s this mysterious, ancient force or sparkly fairy magic, I enjoy giving it the power to be its own character in the story. But I also love writing romantic scenes where the tension that’s been building up finally breaks in the form of a confession or a kiss.

Thank you for sharing, Hannah!


About the Author:


Hannah West has swooned over fantasy and fairy tales since before she wrote her first story about a runaway princess living on top of a flagpole with two loaves of bread. Kingdom of Ash and Briars is her first novel, which she began as a college junior while studying abroad in Orléans, France. She freelance writes for Modernize.com about renewable energy and sustainable living. She lives in Rockwall, Texas, with her husband, Vince, and Robb, their rambunctious blue heeler.

Find Hannah: Twitter | Instagram | Website | Pinterest


Book Description:

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 15th 2016 by Holiday House, Inc.

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two - now three - after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince's band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

Amazon

Giveaway

What's up for grabs: Final Hardcover of Kingdom of Ash and Briars + signed bookmarks
Scope: US!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!