Category Archives: Author Q&A

Blog Tour Q&A + Contest: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

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Today, we are so pleased to be hosting the first stop on the official blog tour for The Walled City by Ryan Graudin — a thrilling story based on a REAL walled city, and the crime that thrived there. The book is a fantastic read, made all the more compelling when you learn that it’s based on something that really existed.

We talk to Ryan about the real-life inspiration and more in our exclusive Q&A below. Then keep reading for more about The Walled City and your chance to win a copy of the book & other cool prizes!

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walledcity_final coverTHE WALLED CITY is set in this very dangerous labyrinth, where teens are forced to run drugs or sell themselves into prostitution. Tell us about the real-life Walled City that inspired your book’s setting?

The Kowloon Walled City was a neighborhood in 1980s Hong Kong that housed over 33,000 people in its 6.5 acre borders. The buildings were so thickly stacked that the sunlight couldn’t reach the streets. The passageways through the city were a labyrinth of tunnels. There was always water leaking down the building’s walls since there was no proper drainage. Conflicts between Britain and China ensured that police had no jurisdiction there, so anyone who wanted to do anything illegal flocked to the Kowloon Walled City. Dentists who were licensed to practice in China but couldn’t work in Hong Kong set up shop there. Dozens of manufacturers set up factories there to escape taxation and quality control. The place was crammed with noodle-makers, steel factories, seafood restaurants…. Anything and everything. The Triad maintained a large presence there, which accounted for much of the drugs and brothels.

What came first: the Walled City, or the characters?

The Walled City came first! I learned about it back in 2011 when I met a woman named Jackie Pullinger, who worked in the Kowloon Walled City for over twenty years before it was torn down in the early 90s. As I listened to her talk about the neighborhood I was amazed that such a place existed, much less that I’d never heard of it before! I went home and fell into a rabbit-hole of research: watching documentaries about the city, reading biographies of people who lived there. The more I found out the more I wanted to know. As I researched I started to imagine the different people who lived there, and the stories they might tell. Thus Jin Ling, Mei Yee and Dai all came into being.

ryan graudinYou’ve done lots of traveling. Did you travel at all to the Kowloon Walled City Park, or to Hong Kong, while writing THE WALLED CITY? Have any other real-world locations inspired this book?

Traveling is one of my passions, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do a good deal of it. My husband and I did go to Hong Kong and visit the Kowloon Walled City Park in January (it was at the very tail end of the book writing process). The park was so fascinating! They have a museum there dedicated to teaching visitors about the former lawless neighborhood. They also have some of the original cannons and the remains of the Old South Gate (both of which make an appearance in the novel).

Other travels helped inspire this novel as well. In 2007 I spent six weeks living and working in the slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Meeting the children there and seeing what they did to survive had a huge influence on Jin Ling’s storyline. I probably would never even have had the courage to attempt Mei Yee’s brothel storyline if I hadn’t spent several weeks in El Alto, Bolivia with my sister-in-law, who works with a non-profit that provides women in the red light district with health classes, child care and the opportunity to leave prostitution through microbusinesses. Setting the book in Asia was also a very daunting task, which I probably wouldn’t have tried to tackle if I hadn’t lived in South Korea for a year. (Chinese culture and Korean culture are, of course, very different, but spending time in Korea gave me the courage I needed to research Chinese culture thoroughly.)

You have a lot of very cinematic music on the playlist for THE WALLED CITY on your website. Do you listen to music while you write? While you brainstorm? How does music influence your writing?

Music is a must for me. I almost never write without it. (It’s been that way for me as long as I can remember. I used to do all my homework with my headphones on.) I create different playlists for each of my novels. The songs I pick usually reflect the mood of the novel in some way, as listening to them helps put me in the mood I’m trying to create on the page. For THE WALLED CITY I actually created three separate playlists, one for each character.

A lot of Jin Ling’s songs were frantic and fast, suited to her chase scenes and choppy voice. (“Mombasa” by Hans Zimmer from the Inception Soundtrack, “Love is Gonna Save Us” by Benny Benassi, “Kodo – Inside the Sun Remix” by Yoshida Brothers.) Mei Yee’s tracks were much slower. Soft and full of longing. (“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Emily Browning, “Any Other Name” by Thomas Newman.) Dai’s songs were a little more lyrical and desperate. (“Some Nights” by Fun. , “Pompeii” by Bastille, “Idioteque” by Radiohead.) Other albums, like Zack Hemsey’s The Way, held an overarching feel for the story and made it onto all three characters’ playlists!

THE WALLED CITY has three rules: run fast, trust no one, and always carry your knife. What would you say are “the three rules” of being a writer?

Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of what people think. Get Macfreedom and use it mercilessly when you’re procrastinating on the Internet.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Must-have writing snack?

Does black coffee count as a snack?

Favorite Disney movie?

Mulan!

The beach or the mountains?

Beach. I’m fortunate enough to live a short drive from one.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Gangnam Style by Psy. Or really any K-Pop.

Favorite Halloween candy?

Mallowpumpkins.

Starbucks beverage of choice?

Grande, non-fat, no water dirty Chai latte.

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Title: THE WALLED CITY
Author:
Ryan Graudin
Pub. Date: November 4, 2014
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

About Ryan:

Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at http://www.ryangraudin.com.

Her work is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr

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(1) Grand prize pack: It includes: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY, rice candy, a miniature lucky cat, a traditional Chinese paper cutout of a dragon, and a pamphlet from the real Walled City Park! US ONLY

(9) winners will receive: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY. US ONLY.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

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Blog Tour Schedule

Week One:

Week Two:

Blog Tour Q&A + Contest: Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson

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Today, I am so pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, featuring an exclusive Q&A with the author about his whimsical new middle grade series.

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pennyroyal academyI love the idea that a princess can be a hero. How did your definition of a princess, as we see in PENNYROYAL ACADEMY, come about?

Pennyroyal Academy began as an animated television series. In the early days, it was a pretty straightforward parody of “Disney princess culture.” The initial idea I had was that Cinderella and Princess Peach (of MarioKart) lived together as roommates, and then it became “What if all the princesses lived in the same place?” which then led to the idea of a military-style princess training academy. But as I started planning to write it as a book, I realized there might be a way to do the idea with a bit more substance. So I tried to strip away a lot of the parody elements and general silliness and create a more substantial world around the idea of a princess training academy. I focused in on Grimms’ Fairy Tales because they’re such dark, rich, substantive stories. I knew that if the girls in my book were going to train to become princesses, they would need an enemy to fight against. That led me to the idea that only a princess can defeat a witch. They are the last line of defense for the people of this world when the witches start rolling in. What I particularly liked about this as an overarching conflict was that it allowed me to create a world that joined all the Grimms’ tales together. Cinderella and Snow-White both live in the world of Pennyroyal Academy. Maybe not at the same time or in the same place, but the characters in my book have heard of and idolize these princesses of the past. Think of them as the George Patton and Douglas MacArthur of this world. Legendary military heroes, only in horse-drawn carriages instead of tanks.

MALarson_authorphotoYou’ve written a lot for children’s television, including Disney. Did your experience in children’s TV influence your work on PENNYROYAL ACADEMY? In what ways?

I never would have thought of the idea if not for my television writing. Before I moved to Los Angeles, I was writing dark, indie screenplays that no one would ever want to produce or probably even watch. When I moved out west, a friend of mine who I’ve known since kindergarten was an animator at Cartoon Network, and the show he was on needed writers. I wrote a couple of spec scripts and got the job. I’ve never been particularly picky about what age level or genre I write for, so animation writing, happily, became my job. And the best way to have longevity in a TV career is to create your own show. I was constantly trying to think of ideas to pitch, and Pennyroyal Academy was one of them. In more general terms, writing for children’s animation has been invaluable. You have to churn out so many scripts and concepts that you quickly learn to not be too precious about your ideas. And you deal with so many notes from so many different parties that you learn to accept rejection as just something that happens. A lot. It’s not personal, it’s just part of the day when you’re someone who comes up with stories. Some will work, some won’t.

Family was a theme that really stuck with me, reading PENNYROYAL ACADEMY—both the family you’re born with, and the family you make for yourself. What sort of impact did your family have on PENNYROYAL ACADEMY?

Even thought I’ve spent my career up until now writing for film and television, I always wanted to write books. My mom took my brother and I to the library all the time when we were kids. At first I would leave with a stack of Garfield books or whatever, but then on one visit I noticed a book with a picture of a rabbit on the front. It was Watership Down. I read that book over and over again, not even really understanding what it was about. I just knew it was magic. That was the switch flip that made me want to write books. My mom has done home daycare my entire life, so there were always dozens and dozens of books around the house, but it was those regular trips to the library that got me hooked. My dad was a radio DJ and a massive movie buff, so he was the driving force behind my love of cinema and music. To this day, Apocalypse Now is one of my top three films, and my dad showed that to me at a very young age. So his love of story also influenced me pretty heavily. I also have one brother who is just under two years older than me so needless to say, his interests were my interests. He introduced me to Stephen King when I was very young, and I became addicted to that sensation of being scared by a book. There’s a short story of his called “Graveyard Shift” that haunts me to this day. My brother also got me into Bunnicula and countless other more age-appropriate books. But you can see how vividly I connect stories to each member of my family.

We hear a lot about different fairy tales throughout PENNYROYAL ACADEMY. What were your favorite fairy tales growing up?

I have to admit, my exposure to fairy tales came primarily through Disney. I love most of the Disney fairy tales, actually. I think they get a bit of a bad rap these days. Sleeping Beauty is one of the most gorgeous things ever put on film, and The Little Mermaid will always be my favorite animated film. I didn’t sit down and read Grimms’ Fairy Tales until I started writing this book. And then I completely fell in love. Now I’ve read them all multiple times in multiple translations, and gotten into the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault and Oscar Wilde. There are little fairy tale Easter Eggs all throughout Pennyroyal Academy, most from fairly obscure Grimms’ stories. Everything from character names to scenes to subplots. I wanted the reader to be able to feel the fairy tales throughout the story, even if they aren’t familiar with the fairy tale itself.

I am hopeful that there will be a sequel to PENNYROYAL ACADEMY—it feels like we still have SO much to learn. Assuming there will be another book, what can readers expect?

I don’t want to say! I’m such a proponent of going in cold, knowing nothing. I guess I’ll say that there are even more Brothers Grimm elements in the second book, so fairy tale fans will have lots more Easter Egg hunting to do. And there might be giants. Maybe. We’ll see.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Song that can always get you dancing?

I loathe dancing. And yet “Groove is in the Heart” gets me every time.

Favorite Halloween candy?

Anything with peanut butter. In fact, hold the candy and just give me a jar.

Starbucks beverage of choice?

Boring. Venti Americano.

French fries or tater tots?

Tater tots are the one true prepared potato form.

Skill you wish you possessed?

Dancing.

Favorite member of the Avengers?

EMMA PEEL. I know that’s not what you meant, but there is no denying she is the greatest Avenger of all time.

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Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

Enlist today at PennyroyalAcademy.com!

Blog Tour Schedule:

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You can enter to win a Pennyroyal Academy Recruitment Kit by filling out the Rafflecopter form here!

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about the bookAnd here is more about Pennyroyal Academy, which is in stores now:

pennyroyal academyPennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academy masterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

about the authorM.A. Larson (www.malarson.com) is a film and television writer who lives with his wife, daughter, and two dogs in a canyon in California. Larson has written for Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney UK, Discovery Kids Channel, The Hub, and Nickelodeon. As a writer on the cult sensation “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, he has been a guest at “brony” fan conventions from Paris, France to Dallas, Texas. Pennyroyal Academy is his first novel.

Exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia: Part 3

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Today, we continue our three-part exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia. Check out part 1 here and part 2 here if you missed it. Today, it’s time for FLASH QUESTIONS!

kami garciaFavorite decade?

1980’s

Must-have writing snack? 

Baskin Robbins Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream & Diet Coke

Favorite Disney movie? 

The Rescuers 

The beach or the mountains? 

Beach

Song that can always get you dancing? 

September by Earth, Wind & Fire

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space)

Noise-canceling headphones, MacBook Air, Diet Coke with lots of ice, my photo inspiration wall & my Magneto helmet

Thanks again, Kami!

Exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia: Part 2

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Today, we continue our three-part exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia. Check out part 1 here if you missed it.

unmarkedWhat do you think would happen if Kennedy and the members of the Legion ever found themselves in the world of Gatlin?

I think the Legion members would be relieved to have Amma around for guidance. Alara’s protective wards can’t hold a candle to Amma’s. Can anyone’s? Priest could help Link pass biology and lots of his other classes, and Kennedy and Lena would definitely get along. On the other hand, I think sparks would fly between three strong personalities Ridley, Alara, and Elle.

kami garciaThere were so many delicious foods described in the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES books, and I remember in Novel Novice’s early days, you even shared a recipe for the Coca Cola Cake. Any tasty treats going to come out of the LEGION series?

Kennedy, Lukas, Jared, Alara, and Priest are on the run for most of UNBREAKABLE, so there isn’t a lot of time for cooking—though Lukas loves strawberry milkshakes, and 100 Grand is Kennedy’s favorite candy bar. I’d love to report that they spend more time cooking in UNMARKED, but the Legion series is heavier on music references than recipes.

So we know there’s one more book in the LEGION series ahead, and more in the DANGEROUS CREATURES series. What else are you working on? Can you tell us anything about your next solo project?

Right now, I’m working on proposals and sample chapters for two different ideas. It’s too soon to tell which one will become my next project. My agent, Jodi Reamer, will help me figure that part out. I’m also working on a short story for an anthology of original X-Files stories edited by Jonathan Maberry for IDW.

I am SO excited about Kami’s X-Files story, you guys!!! I was a HUGE X-Files fan in high school. Love that show!!!

Exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia: Part 1

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Today, we kick off part 1 of our three-part exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia. We know Kami is SUPER busy these days, so we really appreciate her taking the time to chat with us. Tune in for part 2 on Wednesday and part 3 on Friday!

kami garciaI know you’re a very superstitious person. Did any of your own superstitions influence parts of UNMARKED?

My superstitions influence everything I write, and they definitely found their way into Unbreakable and Unmarked. I have lots of superstitions about the evil eye and the power of a person’s eyes in general. Without giving anything away, I played with those superstitions in UNMARKED. Alara, a member of the Legion, is also incredibly superstitious, so her superstitions play into the story as well.

unmarkedUNBREAKABLE was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. What does that sort of recognition mean to you?

The Bram Stoker Award is the highest honor for horror and dark fantasy writing. As a girl who grew up reading Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, I was floored when UNBREAKABLE was put up for consideration in the Young Adult category. I never imagined the book would make it through another round of voting to become a nominee. Even though we weren’t nominated in the same category, it was a huge thrill to see my name on the same ballot with Stephen King’s. I’m also excited to be a guest of honor at the World Horror Convention in 2015 alongside Charlaine Harris.

One of the interesting questions that comes up in UNMARKED is family. How does your family influence your writing?

My mom’s family is from a small town in the South, which had a huge influence on my part in writing the Beautiful Creatures Novels. Both Margie and I borrowed stories and characters from our own families. The Sisters were based on my three great-great-great-aunts, and my mom actually rescued and raised baby squirrels. My family also influenced the Legion Series. I grew up in Maryland, outside of Washington, DC, and I attended middle school not far from Georgetown, where Kennedy lives with her mom in UNBREAKABLE. Though I love bringing my family into my stories, the one thing I’ll never do is name a character after someone in my family if I know that I’m going to kill them eventually (the character, not my family member).

Exclusive Q&A with Chasing Power author Sarah Beth Durst

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Today, I am so excited to share an exclusive interview with on of my all-time favorite authors — Sarah Beth Durst. Here latest YA novel, Chasing Power, is in stores TODAY and it’s pretty amazing. Like an Indiana Jones-style adventure, featuring teens with incredible supernatural powers. (See our review HERE!)

Thanks, Sarah, for stopping by today!

chasing powerEach of your books has such a unique premise, and they are all so different. You usually have a wonderful origin story for how each idea was born. What sparked the idea for CHASING POWER?

Thanks! And I love the word “sparked,” because that’s exactly how I think of ideas, as sparks that blaze together to make a full story. You don’t have to have a lightning-strike moment to write a novel. It can be a tiny spark first, before it burns bright.

When I was in elementary school, I found a book in the Scholastic Book Fair (a.k.a. the best day of the year) called THE GIRL WITH SILVER EYES by Willo Davis Roberts. Ever since that moment, I’ve loved the idea of telekinesis. And that love gave birth to the spark that became CHASING POWER.

In other words, I wrote this book because I wanted to write about a girl with telekinesis.

But I didn’t want my girl to have Jean-Grey-like powers, able to throw planes and cars around with her mind. I wanted Kayla’s power to be limited — she can only move things as heavy as a credit card — but she’s clever. What could a clever character do with a minor power?

And that was what made CHASING POWER so much fun to write — Kayla was fun because her power was limited… but her imagination wasn’t.

sarah beth durstCHASING POWER takes readers all over the globe. Did you research any of the places your characters travel to?

Yes, I love research! In CHASING POWER, Kayla meets Daniel, a boy who can teleport, and together they travel the world. I specifically chose places that captured my imagination. Several were actually inspired by National Geographic articles that stuck with me, thus justifying my hoarding of several years’ worth of issues.

There are many kinds of magic and magical powers mentioned in CHASING POWER. What magical skill do you wish you possessed?

I wish I had the magical skill to stop pain. Stopping death would be problematic, I get that, but it would be nice to eliminate pain. Except for the ouch-don’t-touch-that-hot-stove kind of pain. But unnecessary pain and overwhelming grief — I’d like to be able to ease that.

indiana jonesCHASING POWER has a very distinct Indiana Jones-style flair to its adventure. What do you think the world’s favorite archeologist would do if he ever met Kayla and Daniel?

He’d recruit them. Daniel is the most useful getaway vehicle ever, and Kayla (with her loose grasp on the concept of personal property) would be a fabulous sidekick for a treasure hunter.

Despite their many differences, what do you think is one thing ALL of your books have in common?

Magic. All my books have something impossible at their heart. I believe that one of the most wonderful things that a book can do is let you touch something beyond reality. Each also has adventure, romance, and humor — just mixed in different amounts.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite Halloween candy?

Three Musketeers. Lifelong favorite.

Starbucks beverage of choice?

Actually really love their breakfast sandwiches, specifically the one with Gouda and bacon.

French fries or tater tots?

French fries.

Skill you wish you possessed?

I wish I could remember everything I ever learned. Instead, I suspect that a whole bunch of useful knowledge was displaced by 80s song lyrics.

Can’t miss TV show?

So You Think You Can Dance.

Favorite member of the Avengers?

Probably Iron Man, because Robert Downey Jr. plays him so perfectly in the movies. Also he’s the most useful character in the Lego Marvel Super Heroes video game, especially if you pick Mark 42 or Heartbreaker. (I love all the Lego video games.)

Ahh, my husband loves the Lego Marvel Super Heroes video game! (It was my birthday present to him this year.) Thanks again for stopping by, Sarah.

And remember – Chasing Power is in stores now! Here’s more about the book:

Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive.

Q&A with Sublime authors Christina Lauren – Part 3

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Today, we conclude our 3-part Q&A with Sublime authors Christina Lauren with a round of flash questions! If you missed it, catch part 1 here and part 2 here.

(Lauren on the left, Christina on the right!)

(Lauren on the left, Christina on the right!)

Favorite decade?

Christina: Now

Lo: The current one

Must-have writing snack?

Christina: Sour patch kids

Lo: There isn’t any must have, actually, but I like having coffee when I start in the morning.

Favorite Disney movie?

Christina: Sleeping Beauty

Lo: Tangled

sublimeThe beach or the mountains?

Christina: Beach

Lo: Mountains

Song that can always get you dancing?

Christina: Always changing, right now LoveStoned

Lo: Same—always changing, but right now R U Mine by Arctic Monkeys

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible

Christina: coffee, iPhone, notebook, copy of Sublime, bracelet a reader gave us

Lo: coffee, iPhone, pen, bowl that holds my random stuff, Post-It notes, iPhone cord. Phone not pictured because . . . took the picture with my phone. Had to turn off my monitors b/c they were so bright but yeah, I’m writing all day all night right now.

christina lauren desk

 

Tune in for part 3 of our Q&A tomorrow!

Q&A with Sublime authors Christina Lauren – Part 2

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Today, we bring you part 2 of our 3-part Q&A with Sublime authors Christina Lauren. If you missed it, catch part 1 here.

sublimeDo you feel good with where you’ve left Colin and Lucy’s story, or do you foresee a sequel in the future?

It’s an interesting question, whether we feel good about it. It’s the ending that we kept coming back to. We’ve talked a lot about doing a sequel, and we know how it would play out. If there was interest there on the reader end, then sure. But it could also be something we just play with a bit in out-takes on our site, to get out of our system and show the readers how it all works after the book ends.

(Lauren on the left, Christina on the right!)

(Lauren on the left, Christina on the right!)

I’m always curious about writing teams. What system have you two worked out for writing together? (Especially given how far away you live!) 

We’ve been really lucky this year with all the travel. Thirty one cities, several countries, and we see each other all the time. It makes the outlining process really easy now, because we always do that in person. But it has made the actual drafting process harder because it’s nearly impossible for us to write while we’re on the road. So, generally we outline together, split the book up into who is writing what (sometimes it’s by POV, male versus female) and sometimes it’s just by the kind of scene (for example, Christina is really great at building a setting, and visual description; Lo is great at the emotionally intense scenes), and then we write. We write in shared documents so we can always see what the other did, and of course we talk or Skype all day long, so it’s almost like we’re in the same house, just different rooms.

 

Tune in for part 3 of our Q&A tomorrow!

Q&A with Sublime authors Christina Lauren – Part 1

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Today, we bring you part 1 of our 3-part Q&A with Sublime authors Christina Lauren. Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

(Lauren on the left, Christina on the right!)

(Lauren on the left, Christina on the right!)

You guys have written several adult novels together already. What was it like switching gears for your first YA? 

Actually, Sublime was a book we wrote before any of the adult books happened! We wrote it back in late 2011-early 2012 when our first YA (the book with which we signed our agent, Holly Root) was out on submission to editors. That first book went out to a small handful of editors and they enjoyed it, but passed ultimately because it had a lot of mythology, and YA was at the tail end of a trend back in 2012 (the Rick Riordan juggernaut aside). Holly felt that Sublime had better commercial potential, and so we almost immediately went out with that book instead. We had a revise and resubmit offer from Zareen Jaffery at S&S BFYR that we decided to go with. Only a couple weeks later, Beautiful Bastard went out to editors and essentially sold in a matter of hours. It’s simply a difference in the two genres’ publication cycles that had seven adult books out before Sublime was released.

We can say, though, that after writing a couple of the adult books, it was really nice to come back to revise Sublime for Zareen. Different voice, different speed. We think it’s good for writers to stretch all those muscles sometimes. It takes a different kind of creativity to write ghosty spookiness than it does to write sexy adult. It’s great that we can do both.

sublimeYour adult books are also contemporary, and SUBLIME is a supernatural story. Was there anything different about your approach with this genre? 

The adult books are meant to be fun to read—a way to relax and unwind. They’re not meant to be deep or world-altering. Perhaps relatedly, they’re fun to write; we make ourselves laugh and we act like piglets and it’s sort of unreal that we get paid to do it.

Sublime was such a different experience because we felt so tenderly about it. We were earnest and kind of bare here. Being able to go overboard with atmosphere was a blast. Dialing up the tension but having to keep things vague was also a blast. But it’s a darker book, and that was sometimes hard because we generally are pretty goofy people. While writing, we felt a little like we were in the caboose of a train that was hell bent on following a certain path. We told the story that felt the most genuine to us, and it took a lot more out of us. Also? Paranormal is hard. You create the rules—which is fun—but then you have to stick to them—which sometimes sucks. But in the end, it was a wild ride.

Colin and Lucy have a captivating romance. What do you think makes their love story so powerful? 

We may be too close to the story to be able to answer this very articulately. This project is a labor of love that has spanned nearly 4 years, and these characters have been in our lives for so long that they’ve begun to feel real, and have depth outside of the pages.

It may be because there’s that yearning there—when we’re teens we feel everything so intensely, and we are also at a point where we enjoy touching (honesty time). Putting those things together creates a sort of blissful torture. It’s the same thing that’s been explored in countless books: I want to touch you, but I can’t. What we wanted to do is flip the trope on its head: what if the boy was the one doing crazy things to try to obtain the girl? Colin is a gentle soul—despite his wild, rugged nature—and that may contribute to the power of the love story: you watch him on this spiral and know there isn’t anything you can do to stop it, really, because he was sort of fated to head there.

Tune in for part 2 of our Q&A tomorrow!

Q&A with The Young Elites author Marie Lu

author q-and-a banner
Today, I am so pleased to share a recent interview I did, along with a handful of other bloggers, with Legend series author Marie Lu, about her new book, The Young Elites. Check out our question for Marie, and some other highlights from our chat below, then keep reading to learn more about the book!

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young elitesNovel Novice: Part of what I thought made The Young Elites really fun to read was the fact that Adelina is not really the traditional likeable main character, but just the fact that she’s definitely her own person and she’s a very distinct character.

And so, I love that she’s very well-formed as a character despite her less desirable characteristics. So, I was wondering, what about that kind of nontraditional main character made her fun and/or challenging to write about?  

Marie Lu: Thank you. I’m so glad and really relieved to hear you say that.

Photo credit: Paul Gregory

Photo credit: Paul Gregory

Adelina was by far the hardest character I’ve ever had to write. It’s difficult for all the reasons that I mentioned already, but it was also kind of fun and liberating, I guess, to write about somebody who just–she just doesn’t care sometimes. She just doesn’t care that she’s really angry at the world and she feels very entitled to that.

And I feel there’s something kind of empowering about letting yourself be bad. I guess it’s why we want villains so much. I mean, I love, you know, Loki and Magneto. You can kind of feel for them in a way. Like Loki, he kills lots of people, but he loves his mama and, you know, he’s had some feuds with his brother. And I think it’s fun to kind of imagine that space, because I think we all have issues in our lives.

And we all have that moment sometimes where you’re stuck in traffic and someone cuts you off, and you’re just like, “I just want to kill you right now. I just want, like, some force to come eat your car.” And then, I thought, you know, what if I create a character who actually acted out some of that stuff? And then, afterwards she’s like, “Oh, shit, I actually did this horrible thing that I wanted to do at the time, but now I kind of regret it.”

And it’s fascinating and kind of an unsettling way to write some of that stuff, because she feels powerful when she thinks that and does those things, but then afterwards she never feels great about it. So, it’s kind of like don’t always act out your demons–your inner demons kind of thing.

Perpetual Page Turner: What was one of the most difficult parts of writing your own world and the rules to that world?

Marie Lu: It was a completely different experience from writing Legend. It’s hard making up all of your own thinking. You kind of have to base some of it off of real life, so I don’t think anything can be completely my own. For The Young Elites, I did a lot of reading about Renaissance Italy and Renaissance Venice and what life was like back then, and what people ate and how they dressed.

The Compulsive Reader: I was just kind of fascinated by the idea of The Young Elites being an origin story of a villain, which is something that I didn’t actually know as I was reading the book … And so, I was just wondering, did the trajectory of Adelina’s story sort of differ from your previous writing, knowing that you were writing the villainess, and how does that, if it does, differ from any of your previous books?

Marie Lu: It’s totally different. It was really, really hard to get into that mind space, and it’s still very hard for me. I’m working on book two right now.

[When I started writing The Young Elites], it actually starred Raffaele instead of Adelina, and Raffaele was a totally different character too. He was very, very bland, just sort of like your every-boy, and he was going to university and he thought he was a Young Elite.

It just–it was a very, very sort of bland story. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it, but I knew I wanted to write something about these types of people. So, I gave the first hundred pages to my agent, and she was like, “Well, who is this side character over here? She’s kind of interesting.”

And Adelina was a side character who is total evil. And after my agent said that, that was when I was like, “Hmm, I never thought about writing it from her point of view, but that might be an interesting exercise.”

And it was totally different from Legend, because Day and June, they live in a really dark world, but they’re inherently good people at heart. They have good families who treated them right, and I feel like that really made them who they are as people when they grew up.

And Adelina is totally different. Her family is twisted and terrible, and that rubbed off on her a lot. And it was kind of disturbing to have to get into that headspace, because I didn’t experience any of that. And to be able to try to figure out a way to make this person do horrible things but also not make her totally unlikeable so that you’re like, “God, I just want this character to die already” was a bit of a challenge too.

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THE YOUNG ELITES
by Marie Lu
In stores October 7

Some hate us, think us outlaws to hang at the gallows.
Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake.
Some worship us, think us children of the gods.
But all know us.

young elitesABOUT THE BOOK:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Visit the Official Website and read an excerpt here.

Pre-Order The Young Elites:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling Legend series. She spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Learn More at her Official Website