Category Archives: Author Q&A

Exclusive Q&A with The Walls Around Us author Nova Ren Suma: Part 3

The Walls Around Us_BotM_banner
Today, I’m excited to share part 2 of our exclusive interview with The Walls Around Us author Nova Ren Suma. If you missed it, here is part 1 and here is part 2.

nova ren sumaFavorite villain?

Maleficent, the storybook version. I remember being fascinated and terrified of her when I was a young girl.

Pen or pencil?

Black ink pen.

Favorite piece of clothing?

Writing sweater, striped.

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

“Fuck It and Whatever” by the Echo Friendly

Most recent vacation?

I haven’t been on a true vacation in years. But this past summer, I did a writing retreat with a friend in Florida. We wrote all day, got massages, ate grilled cheese sandwiches, and didn’t swim at all. It was glorious.

5 things that are always in your purse.

Strawberry gum, electronic access key to the Writers Room, loose change, an emergency pen.

 

Exclusive Q&A with The Walls Around Us author Nova Ren Suma: Part 2

The Walls Around Us_BotM_banner
Today, I’m excited to share part 2 of our exclusive interview with The Walls Around Us author Nova Ren Suma. If you missed it, here is part 1.

nova ren sumaThere’s a very unique balance to the real world and the supernatural in THE WALLS AROUND US. What were some of the challenges — and the pleasant surprises — of writing the story in this way?

The challenge for a story like this is that it is steeped in the real world but also needs to find a way to slip in the supernatural elements in the most believable way possible. So the big question is: How and when to first introduce the otherworldly twist? Or at least the initial hints, the breadcrumbs that will all make sense later? I spent a long time moving reveals and information and shocks around, trying to determine when to show my hand. My editor, Elise Howard at Algonquin, was instrumental in helping me come to terms with this. The best editors always help a writer rise to the challenges.

As for the pleasant surprises in balancing the real world and the supernatural, those can be found in the moment, on the page. I would be writing a scene that I had planned out and thought I knew what would happen and then, suddenly, out of the darkness would come this supernatural little twist that then ripples out and changes everything. I love when a scene surprises me like that.

walls around usWhat do you like about writing magic realism? When did you first discover magic realism?

I first really discovered magical realism in a seminar course in Latin American fiction in my MFA program, when I was twenty-two or twenty-three, so this was quite a number of years ago. Of course we read One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I loved so much I have since read it at least three more times, but the book from this course that most struck me, and that haunted me for years and was one of the inspirations for my first YA novel, Imaginary Girls, is Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. It’s about a man searching for his father in an actual ghost town, and it’s stunning and eye-opening and unsettling and beautiful. A book I will never forget.

I didn’t write magical realism right away, even though I loved reading it. I confined myself to writing stories set in the real world, with no otherworldly twists stepping in, until I started writing Imaginary Girls, inspired by Pedro Páramo but also by the surreal work of David Lynch, especially Twin Peaks. Now, with The Walls Around Us, I have embraced the idea that the worlds I am writing always have a door open to the unexpected and I should let in whatever wants in. It’s become an addiction. I don’t know if I could stop myself from slipping in something strange and surreal into my stories now.

Catch part 3 of our Q&A on Friday!

Exclusive Q&A with The Walls Around Us author Nova Ren Suma: Part 1

The Walls Around Us_BotM_banner
Today, I’m excited to share part 1 of our exclusive interview with The Walls Around Us author Nova Ren Suma. Thanks to Nova for taking the time to chat with us!

nova ren sumaThere are so many wonderful elements at work in THE WALLS AROUND US. Can you tell us what came first? How did the rest develop?

The Walls Around Us came in two pieces, and at first was two different projects. I wanted to write a ghost story set in a prison, and I thought that was one novel. And I wanted to write about “bad” girls who do “bad” things, and I had this vision of these ballerinas on the run after a murder, and that was another novel. I couldn’t decide which book to write next. There was a moment when these two ideas converged, when a character from one story overlapped into the other, and I realized it was one single book. Now I can’t see The Walls Around Us any other way. These two ideas were always meant to be melded together.

walls around usAmber and Violet both carry guilt — but in very different ways. Can you talk about the different ways these two characters approach their guilt? Was one character easier to write than another?

Violet is in complete and total denial. She would never see herself as guilty of a thing—all blame is shoved onto everyone else around her. And Amber carries guilt quietly, burying it deep inside her where not even she can can find it most days. I connect so much with Amber, and she was easier to write because I saw so much of myself in her. I connected with the way she gravitated toward the book cart in the prison, how books saved her, because in my own life books have saved me. Books were her escape, and her way of not thinking about her past and her lack of a future. I went in deep with Amber, and sometimes it was hard to climb out.

What sort of research went into writing THE WALLS AROUND US? Did anything you learn surprise you?

The scenes from the ballet school were taken from my own memories of studying ballet (and jazz and modern and a little tap) from when I was six years old until I was sixteen, though I should assure everyone not to worry: No one got murdered. But the scenes inside the juvenile detention center came partly from research as well as from my imagination. I learned about the prison system from documentaries, letters from prison, and other research, but there came a time when I had to separate myself from fact and statistics and the reality of the prison industrial complex in this country. I had to imagine the walls of the Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center for myself, and what it would be like to be confined in them at the young age of thirteen or fourteen or fifteen. I was taken off-guard at how easily I could put myself there. I wasn’t as separate from this at all. That surprised me.

Thanks again, Nova. Be sure to tune in on Wednesday for part 2 of our Q&A.

Exclusive Cover Reveal & Interview: The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

cover stories banner
Today, I’m excited to be hosting the exclusive cover reveal for The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth, plus we’ve got a Q&A with Jenn to talk about her highly anticipated new book! But first, here’s more about The Killing Jar:

“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, know as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malign lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

Sounds amazing right? Well, wait until you see the GORGEOUS cover:

KJ_CVR_FINAL copy
Stunning, isn’t it? And wait until you hear the VERY cool story behind it — so keep reading for our exclusive Q&A with Jenn:

Jenn BosworthWhy don’t you start by telling us a bit about THE KILLING JAR. What can readers expect?

Hippie horror, a mysterious commune, monstrous moths, and, well, a good bit of killing. There’s a reason it’s called THE KILLING JAR, after all.

The idea for TKJ didn’t come to me as an “idea” the way my stories usually do. I just sat down one day and started writing about a girl named Kenna Marsden, who sneaks in after curfew and finds that her mom and younger sister have been attacked and mortally wounded, and the man who tried to kill them is still in the house.

What does that story opening have to do with communes and hippies and moths that feed on blood? I guess you’ll have to read it and find out!

What was the original “spark” that got you started writing THE KILLING JAR?

It was a collision of two disparate elements: my love of a good horror story, and my infatuation with hippie communes. The idea of them, anyway.

THE KILLING JAR takes place on a mysterious hippie commune in Oregon. I wanted to write a book with an element of wish fulfillment, and I’ve always wanted to form my own commune. I have this idyllic version of it in my head. It would be like a Free People ad come to life, all flowing dresses and gypsy jewelry and adorable goats. I don’t know if I’ll ever start my own commune, but I’m impatient so I decided to write about one. I did visit a commune in Oregon when I was doing research for TKJ. Alas, it was quite creepy. All of the people on it looked a little too Deliverance for my taste. But the goats were cute!

Your cover is gorgeous! It’s unusual for authors to have much of a say in their cover design — but you have a pretty unique story with THE KILLING JAR. Tell us about it!

I always ask my husband, Ryan, to design a temporary book cover for whatever I’m working on, just so it feels more real when I’m in the muck. He came up with something really beautiful and eerie, which I’ve had up on Goodreads as a temp cover for a while now. The cover designer at FSG loved what he did, and so she went in and improved on it and made it even better! This doesn’t happen often, so I feel fortunate to have gotten a hand in the design.

What do you hope the cover conveys to readers?

The thing about this book is that it’s a horror novel, but it’s not what people typically think of when they think of horror, so I don’t want it to look like it belongs firmly in any one genre. I’ll be honest. It’s a weird book, and I have no idea how people will react to it. But I do hope the cover design gives people a sense of menace and dark beauty to prime their mood for what lies beyond the book jacket.

struckFor fans of your first book, STRUCK, what do you think will appeal to them in THE KILLING JAR?

I felt like I shot myself in the foot a bit with STRUCK, which dealt with apocalyptic stakes. For my follow-up, I was paralyzed by the conundrum I’d created for myself: how do you top the end of the world? The answer is, you don’t. Or I couldn’t. So, for TKJ, I decided to scale way back, but still deal with some of the same themes I dealt with in STRUCK: fanatical belief and brainwashing, balancing one’s personal capacity for darkness and light, and the way addiction helps us hide from aspects of ourselves we don’t want to deal with.

Speaking of your first book … any word on a sequel? (Goodreads is teasing us with a “2016 placeholder” release date.)

Well . . . I hate to break it to STRUCK fans, but there is actually no sequel in the works. Some hopeful person posted about a sequel on Goodreads, and then I fanned the flames a little bit by giving it a title, since STRUCK 2 wasn’t very interesting. But a lot of people have added AFTERSHOCK to their to-read lists, so now I’m considering writing a prequel novella. I’ll have to get permission from the powers that be first. Stay tuned!

And finally … some flash questions!

Favorite villain?

Randall Flagg from Stephen King’s The Stand (aka Walter o’Dim, the Walkin’ Dude, the Dark Man, the Hardcase, the Man in Black, etc . . .) He has many names and many faces, all of them delightfully bad!

Pen or pencil?

Pen! I have no problem with commitment.

Favorite piece of clothing?

Black, rock n’ roll bell bottoms. I’m not sure they fit me anymore, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

“I Love You, Honeybear” by Father John Misty. The whole album is stuck in my head.

Most recent vacation?

New Zealand. But that was a year ago, so I guess it’s time for another vacation, right?

5 things that are always in your purse?

Aside from my wallet and phone: A cyborg pen, my emergency asthma inhaler, rings that I’ve taken off so I can type, rum balls chapstick, and hard candy, preferably butterscotch flavored.

Look for The Killing Jar in stores in January 2016. Here’s a little bit more about Jenn & how you can connect with her online:

Jennifer Bosworth grew up in a small town where there was nothing to do but read and get into trouble. She did plenty of both, which led her to a career writing about people who get into trouble. Jennifer and her husband recently escaped from Los Angeles and are now hiding out in Portland, Oregon with a couple of long-legged dogs. In her spare time she can be found watching horror movies and dreaming of starting her own hippie commune, where there will be many goats. Learn more about her on her website or just Google her and see what happens.

Connect with Jenn: Facebook | Twitter

Exclusive Blog Tour Q&A + Contest: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Cemetery Boys Blog Tour Banner
Today, we are delighted to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer, the author’s FIRST standalone novel. We’ve got an exclusive Q&A with Heather about the book, plus your chance to win a copy — so be sure to keep reading for all the details!

cemetery boysFor readers unfamiliar with THE CEMETERY BOYS, give us your 140-character “Twitter pitch” for the book.

I wanted to write a book that would scare me – what better subject than going home again to small town Michigan, where I’m from?

How did you come up with the myth of the Winged Ones? Were you inspired by anything?

I’ve always been fascinated by myths and monsters, by the power of belief, by what people in groups are willing to accept as reality. A painting hangs in my bedroom – “Heaven in Her Arms” by Alex Cherry (who can be found on DeviantArt & also did the cover of the book). It gave me a lot of inspiration.

Heather_BrewerStephen experiences a lot of frustration and anger moving to Spencer. Have you ever lived in such a small town? What inspired Spencer? 

Spencer is, down to the layout of the streets, based on the small town that I am originally from. His frustration was born from my frustration growing up there. All I wanted to do was escape – something Stephen can definitely relate to. Honestly, I feel like any teen will be able to relate to that feeling.

This is your first time writing a stand-alone novel! What were some of the unexpected challenges? What were some of the pleasant surprises? 

The biggest challenge for me was letting go at the end. Saying goodbye to my new friends and accepting that we had had our time together, and it was time to move on. On the other side of the coin, writing a stand-alone enabled me to move quickly into the next book and now I’m dealing with a new set of problems, a new group of people, and loving it. That book (the title is still a secret) will be out in 2016.

“The Twilight Zone” is mentioned both in the book and in your author’s note. Did any episodes of “The Twilight Zone” inspire this book, or any of your others? 

The Twilight Zone has always been a seed within me, sprouting into weird and scary things. I would not be who I am without the influence of two men: Rod Serling and Stephen King. Though this book wasn’t inspired directly by any specific episode of The Twilight Zone, I’m proud to say that Mr. Serling was walking the streets of Spencer with me every step of the way.

What’s you favorite “Twilight Zone” episode? (Mine is still “Talking Tina.”) 

Ahh, “The Living Doll” – great episode! I actually own a Talking Tina doll. She creeps my daughter out. I think it’s funny. But I’m weird like that.

I have SEVERAL favorites, for a variety of reasons, but for time purposes, I’ll just pick two: “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and “A Stop at Willoughby”.

FLASH QUESTIONS: 

Favorite villain? 

The Joker – I love a bad guy that can kill with a smile.

Pen or pencil? 

Pen. Specifically a Pilot G-2.

Favorite piece of clothing? 

At the moment? My skull-crushing boots (aka my stompy boots). Knee-high boots that look very punk-military.

Song you can’t get out of your head right now? 

I’ve really been grooving on “The Ghost of You” by My Chemical Romance lately.

Most recent vacation?

Most recently, I went on a Disney cruise to the Caribbean with my family. You might not guess it by looking at me, but I am a HUGE Disney nerd.

5 things that are always in your purse? 

I never carry a purse. I do on occasion carry Gargy, my gargoyle companion, on my back. When he’s with me, I always have my phone, my ID/debit card, a Sharpie, and earbuds. Oh, and the souls of children. (Kidding! Kinda…)

Thanks for stopping by, Heather!

about the book

When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.

about the authorHeather Brewer grew up on a diet of Twilight Zone and books by Stephen King. She chased them down with every drop of horror she could find—in books, movie theaters, on television. The most delicious parts of her banquet, however, she found lurking in the shadowed corners of her dark imagination. When she’s not writing books, she’s skittering down your wall and lurking underneath your bed. Heather doesn’t believe in happy endings . . . unless they involve blood. She lives in Missouri with her husband and two children.

TwitterFacebookWebsiteGoodreads

contest2
Enter to win a copy of The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer. You can earn more chances to win by visiting EVERY stop on the blog tour!

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form here!

Blog Tour Author Interview: Blue Birds author Caroline Starr Rose

author q-and-a banner
Today, we’re hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose, a novel in verse about the unlikely friendship between a young girl in the Roanoke tribe and an English girl, freshly arrived to settle the New World in 1587. We’re delighted to have Caroline here to chat with us about the book. Thanks for stopping by, Caroline!

blue birdsCommunication is an important part of BLUE BIRDS. In many ways, communication has changed drastically over the years — especially with today’s technology — but in a lot of ways, it has stayed the same. What are some of the common threads between communication now and in 1587?

I think face-to-face communication will always been the most effective and perhaps the most meaningful. Tone and expression are a huge part of the communication process. While tone can be read on paper and sometimes the screen (“sometimes” because email and texts are so quick  we can miss or leave out context), facial expressions are only part of face-to-face encounters.

In BLUE BIRDS, Alis and Kimi speak different languages, so body language is a very important part of their communication.

caroline starr roseBLUE BIRDS is written in verse. What made you decide to go in this direction, rather than with traditional prose? How do you think it enhances the story?

As strange as it sounds, verse has become my default. I find it a really in-the-moment way to write historical fiction. It’s immediate, spare, and lets us into a character’s inner life very quickly.

For this book in particular, verse also became a wonderful way to tell a story in two voices. Readers move quickly from Kimi to Alis and back again. And when the girls share a poem, I was able through line and stanza placement to “speak” their story visually, adding one more layer of communication. Verse is magical that way!

Despite their many differences, what are some things that Alis and Kimi have in common? What do you think strengthens their bond?

Both girls are curious and lonely. Both have lost family members and have uncles they are missing in some way. Kimi satisfies Alis’s need to understand her surroundings. Alis brings back the joy Kimi’s lost since her sister died.

In your research for BLUE BIRDS, were you surprised by anything you learned? How did that influence the final book?

So much surprised me. The things that happened those five summer weeks in 1587 and later when Governor John White returned to Roanoke in 1590, they seem impossible, like some sort of Greek tragedy. It was important the confusion, fear, heartache, and downright strangeness feel present in the story. I hope I’ve accomplished that.

As a history teacher and an author, do you have a favorite period of time to read about and study?

I love anything that feels personal, where I can learn about individual lives. I just finished WOLF HALL, a novel about Henry VIII. After watching the recent “Marco Polo” Netflix series, I’m dying to finally crack open a gorgeous copy of THE BOOK OF MARCO POLO, THE VENETIAN that once belonged to my grandmother.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite villain? 

I don’t know. Prince Humperdinck?

Pen or pencil?

A pencil for drafting picture books. A pen for crosswords. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.

Favorite piece of clothing?

My red coat.

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

Blondie’s “The Tide is High”

Most recent vacation?

A summer road trip to Texas and Louisiana.

5 things that are always in your purse

Chapstick, driver’s license, credit card, spare key. That’s pretty much it.

Here’s more about Blue Birds (in stores now):

 It’s 1587 and twelve-year-old Alis has made the long journey with her parents from England to help settle the New World, the land christened Virginia in honor of the Queen. And Alis couldn’t be happier. While the streets of London were crowded and dirty, this new land, with its trees and birds and sky, calls to Alis. Here she feels free. But the land, the island Roanoke, is also inhabited by the Roanoke tribe and tensions between them and the English are running high, soon turning deadly.

Amid the strife, Alis meets and befriends Kimi, a Roanoke girl about her age. Though the two don’t even speak the same language, these girls form a special bond as close as sisters, willing to risk everything for the other. Finally, Alis must make an impossible choice when her family resolves to leave the island and bloodshed behind.

A beautiful, tender story of friendship and the meaning of family, Caroline Starr Rose delivers another historical gem.

Exclusive Q&A with My Secret Guide to Paris author Lisa Schroeder: Part 3

Secret Guide_MarchBotM_banner
Today, we conclude our exclusive three-part Q&A with My Secret Guide to Paris author Lisa Schroeder. If you missed it, catch part 1 here and part 2 here.

lisa schroeder2Favorite villain?

Wicked Witch of the East in the Wizard of Oz

Pen or pencil?

Pen

Favorite piece of clothing?

My Anthropologie cardigans that tie in the back. So cute and comfy, I wish I had 20 of them.

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

“Bright” by Echosmith

Most recent vacation?

Disney World!

5 things that are always in your purse?

Notebook, pen, chapstick, lipstick, library card

Thanks, Lisa!

Exclusive Q&A with My Secret Guide to Paris author Lisa Schroeder: Part 2

Secret Guide_MarchBotM_banner
Today, we continue our exclusive three-part Q&A with My Secret Guide to Paris author Lisa Schroeder. If you missed it, catch part 1 here.

lisa schroederSay you were going to give someone the “Secret Guide” treatment for Portland, OR. What places would you include?

Ooh, that would be fun! Powell’s Books, VooDoo Doughnuts, the Grilled Cheese Bus, the Rose Garden, the Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishop’s Close (a tucked away little gem), Kyra’s Bake Shop, and Pittock Mansion. Don’t you like how three of the places are food-related? And that’s me being restrained!

secret guide to paris alt coverDo you have any thoughts on future adventures for Nora? Or do you feel as if her story is done?

Nora’s adventures are probably done, but I am hoping there may be other stories that involve a fun adventure around a big city. London, perhaps? Stay tuned!

What are your favorite French treats to enjoy?

I don’t know – I haven’t had many. I’ve tried macarons from a couple of different places in Portland. One batch was good, the other batch, not so much. I have a friend who went to Paris last August with her family, and she said their rental was near a bakery, and every morning they went and got fresh croissants, and they were the best they’d ever had. I think if I went to Paris, I would just spend the entire time eating my way around the city.

Tune in for part 3 of our Q&A on Friday!

EXCLUSIVE: Meet debut YA novelist Brie Spangler

authors
Today, I am SO thrilled to share an exclusive interview with upcoming debut YA novelist Brie Spangler. Brie has previously written & illustrated two adorable picture books, Peg Leg Peke and The Grumpy Dump Truck — but Yesterday, Publisher’s Marketplace announced the sale of her first YA novel, Beast, being published in Fall 2016 by Knopf:

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in which the tallest, hairiest boy in town meets and falls for his dream girl, who also happens to be transgender.

Brie is not only my best friend, but she was the maid of honor at my wedding!

Brie is not only my best friend, but she was the maid of honor at my wedding!

Brie also happens to be my best friend in the whole world, and I could not be more thrilled for her book to be making its way out into the world. I’ve read a lot of Brie’s writing — including entire books that may never see the light of day, but probably should IMHO — and a few drafts of Beast. I can’t wait to see what the final version looks like, but even the earliest versions were just so excellent. I honestly can’t wait for you guys to read it!

But since we have over a YEAR to wait, I thought I’d at least give you all a chance to get to know Brie and her debut YA novel Beast a little bit better:

Tell us a little about the premise for BEAST, and how the idea originated.

It’s a new take on Beauty and the Beast that I originally starting tapping out in 2010. The more I wrote, the more enamored I got with this weird kid for whom everything —his ugly face, his enormous body, his epic amount of body hair— is terrible. Except his brain. That’s pretty much the only thing he’s proud of. Then along comes this girl who’s as smart and funny as they come and he falls for her and falls hard. The fact that Jamie is trans is a part of her but not everything that makes her who she is. I don’t really know how the idea originated other than these two characters were great fun to write.

peg leg pekeYou’ve written and illustrated some super cute and charming children’s picture books before. What prompted the move to YA? What have been some of the new challenges you faced writing YA versus picture books? What are some of the perks?

First of all, thank you! I’m very proud of my picture books and I look forward to making more someday. It’s comforting to take an idea and create the words and pictures, something I enjoy. I went to school for art and never in a million years did I think I had the capacity to write an actual novel, until I tried. And then I fell in love. My first YA novel (which is buried in a drawer and will be forever, haha) was almost 200K words because I couldn’t stop writing. It was like I found this inner rage to WRITE I never knew I had. What I love about YA is the excitement. I had a crazy first love that made no sense and knocked me on my butt. Those years are some of my favorites from growing up, even though it ended terribly and I cried forever. But that’s the heart of being a teenager. And I realize I used the word love multiple times because that’s it in a nutshell. I love it. I love reading and writing YA, guilty as charged.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know BEAST went through some big changes after you started working with your agent, Mackenzie Brady. What was the revision process like working with Mackenzie?

AWESOME. That’s my one word sum up right there, working with Mackenzie is seriously great. My initial submission was different from the one set to be published, but she saw the bones and sensed where the heart of the real story lay. (Or is it lied? I’m playing the art school card when it comes to grammar.) I love to work hard and she’s fantastic to work with, great listener, wonderful idea smith, and supportive partner in crime.

I love that BEAST is inspired by such a classic fairy tale. What is it about fairy tales, do you think, that makes them still so relevant today?

They’re timeless and just as we people-humans seem to fall in love one generation after another, these tales light endless fires for centuries on end and just so I don’t end this sentence with a prepositional phrase: I like cats. Fluffy ones.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite villain?

Gah! So many. I wouldn’t mind being locked up in an Asgard prison with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki though. Wink face.

Must-have writing snack?

COFFEE.

Favorite Disney movie?

Emperor’s New Groove, j’adore Kronk and Yzma.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

Favorite member of the Avengers?

I have to choose? You’re so mean! Hmmm… Based on my character Dylan’s physique I should say The HULK, but I’ll say Spiderman.

HOWBAD5 things currently on your desk or in your writing space.

My scale model of a 1968 El Camino, postcards from all my amazing illustrator friends, a rock my mom gave me with the word IMAGINE carved into it, loads of scattered notes and scraps of thoughts, and the message I wrote to myself on post-its when my kid was a baby and writing was the hardest thing in the world after a long day of crying and hot poop. And yes, my computer sits on a box covered in Care Bear stickers because without it, I get hunchy.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Brie! And guys … be sure to put Beast on your “want to read” lists right away. You do NOT want to miss this fantastic story!!!

Connect with Brie now on Twitter and Facebook, plus check out her website here.

Exclusive Q&A with My Secret Guide to Paris author Lisa Schroeder: Part 1

Secret Guide_MarchBotM_banner
Today, we kick off our exclusive three-part Q&A with My Secret Guide to Paris author Lisa Schroeder. We know Lisa is super busy these days, so we’re happy she took the time to chat with us. Thanks, Lisa!

secret guide to paris alt coverWhat was the first idea that inspired SECRET GUIDE?

Stephanie Perkins did really well with her book set in France, and I thought, why not do something for the younger crowd? Paris is one of those places that a lot of people dream of visiting, and I know it’s something lots of girls are enamored with. As I thought about what to do, I kept coming back to the idea of some kind of treasure hunt around the city – a girl looking for something based on clues. It took a while to figure out how it would all work, but eventually, after quite a few revisions, it all came together.

lisa schroeder2What sort of research did you do while writing SECRET GUIDE? Any “business trips” to Paris?

I wish I could say I’ve been to Paris, but I actually haven’t been. Hopefully someday!! Google Earth is an author’s best friend, and I used it a lot while writing this book. I also read books set in Paris and read lots of “interesting places” type of articles on the web.

Mother-daughter relationships are a big part of SECRET GUIDE. How does your family influence your writing?

I’m not sure I really think about my family much when I’m writing, but I’m sure my experiences growing up do seep into my books sometimes. The middle-grade years are often when kids are realizing they can and do have opinions and ideas different from their parents, and it can be difficult sometimes trying to figure out how to navigate all of that. Some kids keep their opinions to themselves while others are more vocal about it. And similarly, some parents are better than others about letting their kids know it’s all right to think or feel differently from them on an issue. I’ve now written eight books for the middle-grade crowd, and I hope with each one there are different family dynamics represented.

Tune in for part 2 of our Q&A on Wednesday!