Category Archives: Author Q&A

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:

Week One:

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!

Exclusive Q&A with I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios – Part 2

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Today, we continue our three-part exclusive interview with I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios. Catch part 1 here if you missed it, and catch part 3 on Friday. Meanwhile, here is part 2:

heather demetriosThe setting for I’LL MEET YOU THERE feels a lot like a very quiet, third main character in the book. You have Skylar, you have Josh … and then you have this tiny, dusty town in California’s Central Valley. I’ve driven through plenty of towns like this, and always wondered what kind of people lived there. Tell us about how you settled on this location for the story.

I’m from Los Angeles, but when I went into eighth grade, my mom remarried and we moved to Clovis, CA, which is a suburb of Fresno. Ever since I was thirteen I’ve driven up and down the 99 between LA and Fresno, watching the unchanging scenery out my window. I honestly can’t remember how or why I got the idea to write a story about one of those motels, but as soon as I did, I knew it had to be set in Central CA. In retrospect, I think it’s because, like Sky, I’ve really had to wrestle with growing up in a place that I never felt I’d belonged in. I spent my formative years in the Central Valley and, to be honest, I was dying to get out. I felt so trapped there and, like Sky, longed for the big city and art and culture. By the time I finished this book, I began to accept and appreciate how the places we inhabit leave their mark on us.

i'll meet you there cover HRWe’ve talked a lot about the soldier side of I’LL MEET YOU THERE, but Skylar has her own very real struggles, that I’m sure plenty of readers can relate to. How did Skylar develop as a character?

Skylar is the most autobiographical character I’ve ever written. While her specific struggles are sometimes different from my own and this period of her life far more dramatic than any given period of mine, the feel of Sky’s experiences, how she relates to the world, how she grapples with the fear of losing hold of her dreams—this is all very true to me. The summer before I went to college, I kept expecting the rug to be pulled out from under me. I’d worked so hard to get out of a bad home situation (I lived with my best friends that summer, the very best summer of my life) and to get into the school of my dreams, ready to study theater. And yet…I just kept waiting. It all seemed too good to be true. Luckily for me, I got out.

It was also really important to me to explore poverty. In YA, when we see poverty, it’s usually very urban. A lot of YA characters may have troubled home lives, but the kids usually seem relatively well fed and cared for. This isn’t the case for all teens. I wanted to write about kids outside the picket fence. I was never as poor as Sky, but there were some seriously lean times. We were on food stamps for a short time and got free school lunches, stuff like that. I will never forget the shame, the desire to hide the situation from my peers. I only had one friend who really understood what it was like to eat lots of pasta and potatoes not because of carb addiction but because those were the cheapest things you could buy and they filled you up. I also lost my grandfather in the middle of writing this book and this definitely impacted Sky’s grief over her father. For most of my life, my grandpa had been my major father figure and that was a really hard loss. It definitely connected me to Sky’s grief. Sky’s friendships with Chris and Dylan are my homage to my best friends, Sarah and Missy, who held me together when I couldn’t do it on my own. Marge was an important part of Sky’s journey, too, because there were several really special adults who stepped up when I was in high school and were there for me when my parents couldn’t be. I’ll be forever grateful to them. To me, the adults who look out for kids that aren’t even theirs, they’re the most beautiful people in the world.

While there is so much of me in this book, Sky is really her own person. She’s the kind of girl I wish I could have been in the face of my challenges. She has more compassion and empathy in her little pinkie than I do. She taught me how to weather life’s storms with dignity.

Skylar is an artist, and is always making collages — or describing things in terms of a collage. Describe your own life for us, in terms of a collage.

(FYI, I purposely wrote this down in a scattered, collage-like way)

This is brilliant! My life is:

DreamWorkDreamWorkWorkHopeDream

New York City, I’d make out with you if I could

Jostling subway cars speeding under the center of the universe

Gorgeous architecture like oxygen

Sleeping in Saharan sand, asalaam alaikum

Reading, reading, reading

Making wishes, crossing fingers

Hot coffee in cool cafes

Words in my heart, spilling out of my skin, falling through tapping keys

Secret heart on paper sleeves

Early morning kisses from nine to five husband

Coffee and coffee and coffee (did I mention coffee??)

Long walks with my Shadow, tail wagging, leash pulling

Passport in hand, this town ain’t big enough for the both of us

Music, filling me up, I dance in my head and when no one’s looking

A happy dance when I meet those deadlines

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world

And: there is a field

I’ll meet you there.

Thanks, Heather! Catch part 3 of our Q&A on Friday.

Exclusive Q&A with I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios – Part 1

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Today, we kick off our three-part exclusive interview with I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios. Tune in for part 2 on Wednesday and part 3 on Friday. Meanwhile, here is part 1:

heather demetriosWhose story came first in I’LL MEET YOU THERE: Skylar or Josh? How did the other story evolve?

I love this question because it’s part of why this book is so special to me. It was originally Sky’s story—a crazy story about a girl who works in a motel in a tiny roadside town (still true) who ends up sheltering a Lindsay Lohan kind of celebrity girl on the run (um…not true anymore). Ha! Josh was just a small character in a party scene (this is now the first scene in IMYT). I brought the chapter to my writer’s group and they basically pointed to him and said, Hello, this guy is who you need to be focusing on and also can they kiss each other, please?! And, of course, Josh was important, but I needed help seeing that. I was just using him as a set piece, to show how sad this town was. In reality, my subconscious was bringing up something that really matters to me—PTSD, vets returning from Afghanistan, and the toll of the war on the young men and women who serve, particularly in the Marines. The more I worked on the book, the more I realized how hard my inner voice was trying to be heard when I wrote that chapter. Thank God for my writer friends!

i'll meet you there cover HRIf you don’t mind, tell us a little about your personal experience with PSTD and how that impacted your writing of I’LL MEET YOU THERE.

Before the book went to print, I asked my dad for permission to talk about all this, because it’s very personal. He said, “whatever sells your book, baby.” That is SO my dad, by the way. In all seriousness, I didn’t realize the impact of PTSD on my family and on my life until I started working on IMYT. I didn’t even realize how very much I cared about veterans and what’s happening to the service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan until I met Josh, the Marine in my book. My dad was in the Gulf War and for twenty years he’s been struggling with PTSD. Back then, people weren’t talking about PTSD, especially in the Marines. For readers who aren’t familiar with the Marines, all I can say is that it’s a very intense culture. I have a deep love for the Marines because both of my parents and my grandfather were Marines (I dedicated the book to all three of them), but there is a lot of stuff that goes on in their training that is excellent for battle zones but not so great for the home front. A Marine I spoke to who suffers from PTSD told me that Marines are essentially registered lethal weapons and that when their combat switch gets flipped on, well, it’s on. I’ve seen it happen myself and, frankly, it’s terrifying. If I were the Taliban, I’d be scared shitless.

The thing about PTSD is that it can manifest in countless ways and there are any number of triggers. One sound can result in a violent episode. Paranoia is a major issue, as is depression and suicidal thoughts. Josh exhibits PTSD in a number of ways in the book. For example, he mentions feeling uncomfortable at a party that takes place in a field because it’s too exposed. Or he has nightmares and struggles with not reacting to certain sounds.

In my family, the biggest way PTSD reared its ugly head was alcohol and drug addiction. I think that’s why for so long I didn’t realize my dad had PTSD. I just thought he was your run of the mill addict. Now I know better and it’s helped me to understand a lot of what went down in my childhood. I love my dad. And I’m proud of the steps he’s taken to wrestle his monsters to the ground. But it’s a long, hard road that veterans and their families walk down for the whole of their lives.

What research went into writing I’LL MEET YOU THERE? Did you learn anything unexpected or surprising?

I did tons and tons of research. It was really important to me that I got things right because to do otherwise would have dishonored the very people whose lives I was trying to shed light on. I began with talking to my dad, of course, and other family members. I’m really lucky in that I come from a big military family. My aunt, for example, was a Family Readiness Officer (civilian) for both the Marines and Army. This means she was able to give me a lot of firsthand information on what happens when a Marine or Soldier gets hurt and what steps are taken when they come home. I also reached out to a lot of Soldiers and Marines who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. I mention them in the acknowledgements. And I did tons of reading. I loved David Finkel’s reporting, especially in Thank You For Your Service, as well as all of NPR’s journalism about veterans’ issues and our modern wars, most notably their series on the Dark Horse Battalion. They were a Marine regiment that lost tons of guys in a really short amount of time. I also had to do a lot of research on prosthetics and amputee life, specifically how to removed and put on a prosthesis and, um…what do about it when you have sex. Oh my god, that was some really blush-inducing research!

There were two major things that surprised me the most in my research. The first was how much more I learned about my family and, by extension, myself, as a result of really facing the whole PTSD/military thing head on. I was writing a fictional love story, but in the process, I began to understand why my parents are the way they are and where some of my fascination with military culture comes from. The other thing was how poetic the Marines and Soldiers I spoke to were in their descriptions of their service and of the landscape of Afghanistan itself. There is so much quiet dignity in the lives of people that serve in the military and as civilians we have so few opportunities to see that. It was a real honor to be entrusted with such personal recollections.

Thanks for stopping by, Heather!

Falling Kingdoms Contest + Q&A with Morgan Rhodes

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Today, we’ve got an exciting giveaway for you to celebrate the release of Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes, the third book in the Falling Kingdoms series. But before we get to the AWESOME giveaway, here’s an exclusive Q&A with Morgan:

Photo credit: ShanonFujioka

Photo credit: ShanonFujioka

In the FALLING KINGDOM series, magic has been forgotten. Do you think magic has been forgotten in our world? Do you ever see signs of “magic” in your own life?

This is such a good question! I have always considered myself to be a non-believer in all of the supernatural – ghosts, psychics, etc. However, there was one moment I was reading a book and realized that it had utterly swept me away to another world. I swear, it literally felt like magic in that moment. So, that’s what books are, I think –the closest thing we have to real magic in this world. And the combination of the writer’s and the reader’s imagination combine to create that wonderful magic!

Gathering DarknessThe FALLING KINGDOMS series has been your first foray into writing high fantasy. What have been the biggest challenges? The biggest rewards?

Earlier in my writing career, I never had an urge to delve into high fantasy or historical writing since I knew it would require a ton of research. Perhaps I was just lazy! Now, I’m not writing a historical text with my series, but things need to be at a level that doesn’t pull readers out of the story. Just touches here and there help. I’m okay with a touch of anachronism when it comes to dialogue, since modern day readers are reading these books and too much Old English – well, it wouldn’t be accurate, since FK is a fantasy not in our world, and I would never enjoy reading a book with that kind of dialogue. I write what I’d like to read. But, yes, research and making sure all of that flows is the biggest challenge – as well as keeping multiple viewpoints straight. That’s a lot of subplots to wrangle! LOL! But this challenge has come with some incredible rewards, mostly in the form of readers who tell me on Facebook and Twitter how much they love the series. That is seriously priceless to me.

GatheringDarkness_SocialQuotes_LuciaWhat’s one thing you think will surprise readers about GATHERING DARKNESS?

One thing that will surprise readers about Gathering Darkness is that I’m not going to make readers wait until book six in order to get some answers and see some progress in my character’s goals. To say STUFF HAPPENS in Gathering Darkness would be an understatement! :) Plus, there is a kiss near the end that I hope will make (most) readers quite happy!

Tell us a little about A BOOK OF SPIRITS & THIEVES! How does it relate to the FALLING KINGDOM series, and will new readers be able to follow along if they haven’t read FALLING KINGDOM?

I like to call ABOSAT a companion trilogy, rather than a spin-off trilogy. It is absolutely 100% accessible to someone who hasn’t read any of Falling Kingdoms. However, if you’ve also read FK, then ABOSAT is chock-full of Easter Eggs when it comes to piecing together the mythology about the goddesses, the original sorceress, and how Mytica became three separate cursed kingdoms.

A third of the book is spent in “ancient” Mytica, and two-thirds take place here in our world, where there is a secret society after an unreadable book full of magic that’s connected to another world (gee, what world could that possibly be??), and the two sisters who discover the book and its many mysteries.

You’re so much fun to follow on Tumblr! Can you share your favorite GIF with us?

LOL! Thank you! I do love me some Tumblr. There are so many gifs that I enjoy as I scroll through other people’s posts I can’t possibly post one. But since I love Supernatural I’ll share this one. It made me laugh so hard, since it’s the moment in the Supernatural 200th Episode Show when Dean is told about “Destiel.” That look is absolutely priceless! :)

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Thanks for stopping by, Morgan!!!

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One winner will receive the following prize pack:

  • Falling Kingdoms postcard set,
  • Falling Kingdoms tshirt,
  • plus copies of Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring and Gathering Darkness.

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Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for the amazing prize pack. The contest is open to U.S. addresses only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Tuesday, December 16th.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here!

about the bookGATHERING DARKNESS
Book 3 in The Falling Kingdoms series
by Morgan Rhodes
In stores December 9th

The seeds of revolution have been sown…but in Mytica the lust for power reigns supreme.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo slays with sweetness—and a secret that might control Lucia’s magic—as she and vengeful Jonas lead the hunt for the all-powerful Kindred.

THE KRAESHIANS join the fray. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the vast kingdom across the Silver Sea, prove to be just as ruthless as they are charming as they manipulate their way to victory.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally, in the flesh, with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

And which side will Prince Magnus choose, now that he’s been betrayed by everyone he’s ever loved?

Read a sneak peek of Gathering Darkness here!

Falling Kingdoms AllCovers

SERIES OVERVIEW:

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed…and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even love.

In AURANOS, privileged Princess Cleo is forced to confront violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse.

In LIMEROS, the king’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying family secret about her birth that will change everything.

In PAELSIA, rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Witches, if four, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Morgan Rhodes is the New York Times bestselling author of the FALLING KINGDOMS series. As a child, she always wanted to be a princess—the kind that knows how to wield a sharp sword to help save both kingdoms and princes from fire-breathing dragons and dark wizards. Instead, she became a writer, which is just as good and much less dangerous. Along with writing, Morgan enjoys photography, travel, and reality TV, and is an extremely picky yet voracious reader of all kinds of books.

LEARN MORE:

 

Exclusive interview with King Dork Approximately author Frank Portman

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Recently, King Dork Approximately author Frank Portman came through Portland as part of a pre-publication tour. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Frank after his event to chat about the upcoming sequel to King Dork, the “Catcher Cult,” writing music, and more. Check out my exclusive interview here, and keep scrolling for more information about King Dork Approximately, in stores December 9th.

king dork approximatelyFrom Frank Portman comes the long-awaited sequel to the beloved cult classic King Dork, of which John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, said, “Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, King Dork will rock your world.”
Aside from the stitches and the head wound, Tom Henderson is the same old King Dork. He’s still trying to work out who to blame for the new scar on his forehead, the memory loss, and his father’s mysterious death. But illicit female hospital visitations, The Catcher in the Rye, and the Hillmont High sex-pocalypse have made him a new man.
What doesn’t make you stronger can kill you, though, and tenth grade, act two, promises to be a killer. Tom’s down one bloodstained army coat, one Little Big Tom, and two secret semi-imaginary girlfriends. Now his most deeply held beliefs about alphabetical-order friendship, recycling, school spirit, girls, rock and roll, the stitching on jeans, the Catcher Code, and the structure of the universe are about to explode in his face. If only a female robot’s notes could solve the world’s problems, he’d have a chance. But how likely is that?
King Dork Approximately–it feels like the first time. Like the very first time.

Look for our review of King Dork Approximately tomorrow!

Court by Cat Patrick: Q&A + Contest

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Today, we’ve got a really cool featured book to share with you — Court by Cat Patrick, a really original novel about a hidden monarchy within the United States!

court_150[2]Here’s more:

For more than 300 years, a secret monarchy has survived and thrived within the borders of the US, hiding in plain sight as the state known as Wyoming. But when the king is shot and his seventeen-year-old son, Haakon McHale, is told he will take the throne, becoming the eleventh ruler of the Kingdom of Eurus, the community that’s survived for centuries is pushed to the limit. Told through four perspectives, Court transplants us to a world that looks like ours, but isn’t. Gwendolyn Rose, daughter of the Duke of Coal, is grudgingly betrothed to Haakon — and just wants a way out. Alexander Oxendine, son of the Duke of Wind and Haakon’s lifelong best friend, already grapples with internal struggles when he’s assigned to guard Haakon after the king dies. And commoner Mary Doyle finds whispers in the woods that may solve — or destroy — everything, depending on your bloodline.

Money. Love. Power. Community. What’s your motivation?

Order Court here!

And now, here’s a quick Q&A with Cat Patrick:

cat patrick picIs this a start of a series?

I hope to write at least one more book, yes.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

I do: I definitely pick up books in the store or library with covers that appeal to me. With the male lead in Court, I felt it was really important not to do the typical girl-on-the-cover thing that happens in a lot of YA books today.

Advice for aspiring authors

From one of my six-year-old daughters: “Think of something that happened to you. Touch and tell across pages. Write a quick sketch so you don’t forget. Then write the words.”

I’m not kidding. She just said that.

For me, I think the most important thing is to just do it. I hear from people all the time: “I want to publish a book.” And they haven’t written the book yet. Also, unlike my kiddo, I purposely don’t write down book ideas—or sketch them. If I forget them before it’s time to write then you’ll forget them before it’s time to read.

If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

Forgetting that I have a wild imagination and am now dreaming up scenarios where I get permanently stuck in someone else’s body, I’d choose someone with a very different life from mine for a new perspective, like Coco Chanel or the head of NASA or a plumber.

Favorite holiday?

Halloween. I love dressing up and fall is my favorite time of year.

About Cat Patrick:

Raised in a house that was struck by lightning–twice–Cat Patrick is the author of young adult books ForgottenRevived, and The Originals, and the co-author of Just Like Fate.

As a child, Cat could be found making up stories like her first book, Dolly the Purple Spotted Dolphin; growing corn in the backyard; or performing with a traveling sign-language troupe. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree from Boston University, and worked in public relations for fifteen years. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband and twin daughters, and is on Twitter @seecatwrite, or Facebook at authorcatpatrick.

Cat once…

  • Interrupted Warren Beatty’s lunch to snap a picture with him.
    • Appeared on a game show, but not as a competitor.
    • Climbed a 50 foot tower and rappelled back down. (At least she thinks it was 50 feet.)
    • Met Muhammad Ali.
    • Was on the high school golf team.
    • Got a tattoo.
    • Was pooped on by a dolphin.
    • Performed a high kick routine to Personal Jesus.
    • Interviewed Carmen Electra.
    • Worked as a “concessionist” at a movie theater.
    • Met the guy who created Sonic the Hedgehog.

Cat likes… Crunchy snacks, decaf nonfat lattes, mint chip ice cream, Alan Rickman, zombies from afar, traveling, reading, easy hikes, challenging plotlines, stargazing, silly hats, and boots.

Cat dislikes… Talking on the phone, socks with holes, zombies close up, the flu, mean people, touching ice, copyedits, flying, spiders, squeaky windshield wipers, black licorice, and salmon.

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Enter to win one of two sets of signed copies of ALL of Cat’s previous books (4 in all)!

Fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE to get started.

Exclusive Q&A with A Thousand Pieces of You Author Claudia Gray: Part 1

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Today, we’ve got part 1 our exclusive Q&A with A Thousand Pieces of You author Claudia Gray. Thanks for taking the to chat with us, Claudia. Readers – catch part 2 of this interview on Wednesday, with part 3 to follow on Friday.

AThousandPieces_hc_cYou’ve called ATPOY the “book of your heart.” What makes this one so special to you?

It’s hard to articulate exactly why — there’s not a quantifiable reason, mostly — but all I can say is that these characters became so beloved to me, so quickly, and their emotions felt so real from the very start. While I love playing with the concept of alternate dimensions (and now have some trouble understanding why I didn’t do this earlier), that concept doesn’t really explain why this book matters so much to me. It’s more that Marguerite, Theo, Henry, Sophie, Josie and Paul mean so much to me, and A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU is their story.

Claudia GrayYour other books have been pretty firmly rooted in the world of supernatural – but ATPOY dives head-first into science fiction. Did the switch in genres change anything about the way you approached working on the book?

Switching from paranormal to scifi didn’t feel like that much of a leap, to be honest; I’ve always been fans of both genres, and I think I’m not alone in that — most people who like one probably like the other, to some degree. When I was a little kid, I would read books about Dracula and watch movies about UFOs, and the differences between them didn’t seem to be nearly as important as the fact that they were both much, much more interesting than real life.

That said, the switch did influence how I worked when writing A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU. With magic and the paranormal, you have a big more “wiggle room” — if you need magic not to operate in a certain way at a certain time, or there’s some way for vampires to do this but not that, well, then, you simply design the mythos to work in that way. You can write in exceptions to every rule, if you need to. (Of course, you have to have some consistency, some hard limits — but still, it’s flexible.) With science fiction, principles have to be much more consistent and inflexible. The Firebird is a totally imaginary device, but I had to work out exactly how it would operate, all the things it could and could not do. That was probably the single hardest part of writing the book, honestly. And once those principles were in place, they couldn’t budge. Science fiction is a little more demanding in that way.

The question of love becomes much, MUCH more complicated in the worlds of ATPOY – and the underlying question really comes down to whether we are, ultimately, the same person in every universe, regardless of the different decisions we make, or the different situations we find ourselves in. What do you believe? And can we expect Marguerite and the other characters to explore this more in the next book in the FIREBIRD series?

I believe there is something essential that remains the same throughout all the universes — and yet each world’s version of an individual will also have something unique to them, some experience or thought or emotion that is theirs alone. When you fall in love with someone, are you falling in love with what’s unique to the world you share, or with that essential, deepest self? That answer is going to be different in different situations, and it is definitely something Marguerite and the other characters explore in even more depth in the future books of the series.

Thanks again for stopping by, Claudia!

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: