Category Archives: Author Q&A

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

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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:

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Blog Tour Interview & Contest: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

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Today, we’re pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Be sure to read all the way through for a great contest — but first we’ve got an exclusive Q&A with Melinda!

DaughterFrom the description, it sounds like THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER has a lot of excellent fairy tale-like qualities. Where there any fairy tales or stories that inspired the book? How did the story evolve?

Yes! Little Red Riding hood, Sleeping Beauty and the Pied Piper of Hamelin particularly influenced The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I love fairy tales, I’ve always been drawn to them – especially the oldest, darkest ones. Initially I saw The Sin Eater’s Daughter as a kind of re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, with the castle replacing the forest, and the queen replacing the wolf. But as the world expanded, that motif started to be lost in favour of my own inventions, like the religion and the Telling. The other aspects came because I realized I wanted my world to have its own fairytales – stories are the way people make sense of the world around them, the basis for morals and beliefs, and so I thought about my favourites and what the core messages in them were After a lot of playing around, I pulled out the parts I thought were creepiest and began to build my own stories around those. I find it fascinating that pretty much every culture in the world has their own fairytales and that they are surprisingly similar, despite the geographical distance. To me that shows how fundamental the fears and hopes of humans are, and I wanted to bring that out in my world.

With fantasy, you get to create your own world and your own settings. What inspired the setting for THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER?

A lot of the ideas came from my two big loves, medieval history and travel. I knew it would be set in a pseudo-medieval time because I love that era, everything about it appeals to me, the hold religion had over the people, the way a ruler’s word was absolute law, the injustice, the customs, the beliefs, the food. I couldn’t explain why, but that time period has such an allure, and I wanted very much for that to be the base of The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Other elements were pulled in from my travels, particularly to Eastern Europe. There’s such a density of superstition and mythology and folklore, still in parts there today, and as I said above, fairytales have always called to me. So really it was a case of me creating a story I wanted to read!

The UK and US covers for THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER are very similar, but they do have some differences. Do you prefer one over the other? What do you like about the two covers?

I cried like a child when I saw my UK one because I never ever thought I’d get that lucky. I thought I’d used all of my luck up getting an agent and then signing with Scholastic, so seeing the amazing, powerful cover Jamie Gregory had created sent me over the edge. It was largely the same reaction to the US one. I love them both, I couldn’t pick a favourite – it would be like trying to pick a favourite child. I just think it’s the most incredible thing that I have two covers!

Twylla is cursed with a deadly power that leaves her very isolated. What “super power” do you think she’d rather possess?

I think she’d want flight. For her, the concept of being free seems so far away, so unlikely that I think if she was given the chance to change it, she would. I think she’d love to be able to fly, and just takes to the skies when things got too much.

For readers unsure whether they want to read THE SIN-EATER’S DAUGHTER, give us your 140-character “Twitter” pitch!

Twylla is, and has always been, an agent of death. Both feted and hated, she’s painfully lonely. Until her new guard tries to befriend her…

In the kingdom of Lormere Twylla is, and always has been, an agent of death.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite decade?

1482-1485

Must-have writing snack?

Cadbury Twirl

Favorite Disney movie?

Mulan

The beach or the mountains?

Beach

Song that can always get you dancing?

“500 Miles (I Would Walk)”

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

Pillows, quilt, red furry throw, computer, me.

about the book

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Available February 24th. Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

about the author

MelindaMelinda Salisbury lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England. As a child she genuinely thought Roald Dahl’s Matilda was her biography, in part helped by her grandfather often mistakenly calling her Matilda, and the local library having a pretty cavalier attitude to the books she borrowed. Sadly she never manifested telekinetic powers. She likes to travel, and have adventures. She also likes medieval castles, non-medieval aquariums, Richard III, and all things Scandinavian. The Sin Eater’s Daughter is her first novel, and will be published by Scholastic in 2015. She is represented by the amazing Claire Wilson at Rogers, Coleridge and White.

She tweets. A lot.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest

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Enter to win one of 5 finished copies of THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER. US Only.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to get started.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

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Week Two:

Exclusive Q&A with I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios – Part 3

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Today, we conclude our three-part exclusive interview with I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios. Catch part 1 here if you missed it, and part 2 here. Meanwhile, here is part 3 … FLASH QUESTIONS!

heather demetriosFavorite decade?

1920’s

Must-have writing snack?

Chocolate

Favorite Disney movie?

Beauty and the Beast

i'll meet you there cover HRThe beach or the mountains?

The beach

Song that can always get you dancing?

Ok, right now, I’m not gonna lie: “Talk Dirty To Me.” It’s that Arabic beat that gets me every time and the lyrics crack me up!

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

  1. a notebook my best friend bought me that has the words “bright ideas” written on the cover
  2. Amber Smoke room spray by Paddywax (gets me into the jinn world for my Dark Caravan series)
  3. a jinni bottle I bought at a souk in Morocco
  4. a cigar box I bought in a voodoo shop in New Orleans, filled with story ideas written on index cards
  5. a book of Mary Oliver poetry

Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by R.S. Mellette: Official Blog Tour Q&A + Contest

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Today, we are excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by R.S. Mellette — a magical story perfect for both middle grade and YA readers. We’ve got an exclusive interview with the author, plus a great contest. So be sure to keep reading for all the details!

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Billy Bobble Version 4What inspired you to bring together science and magic for this story?

A big part of that was walking through the Science-Fiction section of bookstores and seeing all of the vampires, werewolves, witches & wizards. Those are all fun, and I love them as much as the next reader, but they aren’t science-fiction. At the time I was shopping around a manuscript called “My Adventures With Hannah In Space” and a sci-fi element of that story, with just a little tweaking, would create scientific magic. Some of the editors looking at Hannah couldn’t wrap their heads around it not being set on earth, and none of the characters being human, (I guess they’ve never seen Star Wars!), so in mashing several other ideas up in my head, I came up with Billy, Suzy, and a quantum mechanical magic wand.

The book description states, “E = mc2 is no longer the most powerful force in the universe. Your wand is.” What do YOU think is the most powerful force in the universe?

That depends on how you define power, doesn’t it? A young girl’s pout can turn an adult’s resolve into nothing. A single vote, when joined with millions of others, can change the world. If you want to blow things up, or boil water, E=mc2 is as powerful as you’re going to get. If you want a My Little Pony for Christmas, go with the pout.

Love, of course, is the most powerful force in the Universe. It’s what makes the pout work. It’s what unites voters – unless the politicians use the flipside of Love, Hate. Love makes us do great, and sometimes horrible, things. That’s the paradox of Power. It is soulless, but having it can test the soul within you.

You’ve worked a lot in film, TV and theater. How did your experience in these areas help you while writing BILLY BOBBLE?

In my blogs, From the Write Angle and for the Dances With Films Festival, I talk a lot about Artistic Cross Training. Any artist can learn a ton about one discipline by working in another.

When an actor trains in a university for theatre, they are really studying writers. If you hang around enough, you’ll hear an actor say, “I’ve done Simon. I love his dialogue, you don’t even have to memorize, it just comes naturally.” Or, “Mamet is a trip. Sometimes the audience laughs, sometimes they get pissed.” Or something about Moliere, Sorkin, Shakespeare, Pinter, etc. Those writers become a tangible experience to an actor who has embodied the characters they wrote down.

The other great thing about theatre is the immediacy of lessons learned. You say a line that is supposed to be funny, and you hear crickets, you learn very quickly. If you get stuck in a scene where the character’s objectives are not clear, or their obstacles are not big enough, you instantly feel the audience shift in their seats. I remember talking to an old-school Hollywood producer about doing Shakespeare in the Philip Morris Tobacco plant as part of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. I was saying that, waiting to go on for my scenes, I’d hear the audience cough and I knew we were in trouble. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand that: 1) a bored audience will often cough a lot, (The joke being that people who made cigarettes for a living ALWAYS cough) and 2) a slow scene will affect the scene that follows it. In movies, each scene is a separate piece. It was a revelation to him that a problem in one scene might really be the result of a problem in the scene before it.

Film and television have taught me the importance of the little details. If a scene feels slow in a movie, an editor might tighten it up by simply making sure each cut comes on motion. This could possibly only cut a few seconds from the whole scene, but make it feel shorter by half. There is also so much that goes into recreating for the camera and the microphone what we take for granted in reality. If the tiniest little sound is missing, everything falls flat. Film and TV are an exercise in the mastery of deception. Some call them the invisible art, since when it’s done right, the audience will not notice. The pace and flow of a novel should be like that. While we artists are obsessed with “voice,” the reader should only feel it without knowing what makes them like it.

How do you think people could bring a little more “magic” into the world?

I think if we all stay in the moment and don’t sweat the small stuff we can appreciate the magic that is already there. Right now the Santa Ana Winds are blowing outside so it’s a T-shirt weather day in January. I’m choosing to enjoy the swaying trees outside my window, and not the jackhammer that’s pounding away on my neighbor’s hardscape backyard. If you’re protesting in Ferguson Missouri or waiting for your first child to be born, live in those moments. They are beautiful. If you are in pain for one reason or another, there is even joy there. Life is pain, as they say. I think, we can all illuminate these little magic moments in the space that’s around us… well, there are a lot of us. We take up a lot of space. Imagine how great it would be to find magic around everyone in every moment.

What do you hope readers take away most from BILLY BOBBLE?

I just hope they have fun. Sure, there are a lot of themes and some doctoral student could certainly write a thesis on aspects of the book, and that’s great. But, mostly, I want the reader to think they got $20’s worth of entertainment from a $3.49 download.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite decade?

The next one – though, the 1970’s were fun.

Must-have writing snack?

Do drinks count? One shot of Tuaca, sipped slowly. I don’t always have that, but it’s nice when I do. Anything chocolate.

Favorite Disney movie?

Off the top of my head, the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I love a good swash & buckle and the sword fights in that are some of the best in cinema.

The beach or the mountains?

I live in LA, we have both! But, I like the beach.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Moondance or just about anything from Bill Withers.

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

  1. An empty can of Cherry Coke Zero (I’m surprised there’s just one).
  2. A remote thermometer for my grill that reads 171 degrees. (I’ve got a turkey on the rotisserie).
  3. A program from Stan Lee’s Comikaze Con.
  4. 2 Smoke detectors (I am trying to figure out which one is beeping).
  5. The first draft of the second book in the series, Billy Bobble and the Witch Hunt, on page 142 with “fix” written next to the first paragraph.That last one reminds me… back to work!

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And now here’s your chance to win some great prizes!

1st Prize- *signed* copy of Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand
2nd Prize- Season two of Xena: Warrior Princess

Open to US only. Contest ends 2/25/15

Enter to win by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

about the book“E = mc2 is no longer the most powerful force in the universe. Your wand is.”

Twelve-year-old Billy and his best friend Suzy Quinofski didn’t mean to change the universe. Billy, a quantum physics prodigy, just wanted to find a way to help his hoarding, schizophrenic mother – and maybe impress a coven of older girls in high school. Suzy, his intellectual equal, wanted to help her friend and cling to her last remnant of childhood, a belief in magic. Together they made Billy a real, working, magic wand, and opened a door to the Quantum World where thoughts create reality, and all things – good and bad – are possible.

Amazon | Goodreads

about the authorR.S. Mellette has written, directed, designed and acted in theatre, film, television, and publishing for over 30 years. His credits in various jobs include XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS, BLUE CRUSH, and his own JACKS OR BETTER, which won Dances With Films Best Screenplay award in 2000. He has been working with the festival ever since.

His novel, Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand, released in December 2014 from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. For novelists, Mellette blogs for From The Write Angle. For filmmakers, he writes for Dances With Films.

Also find him on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

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Be sure to check out the whole blog tour here for more great content & chances to win!