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Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Happy Friday!

I’m super thrilled to have debut author Lisa Thompson here on the blog today to answer few questions about her middle-grade contemporary novel, The Goldfish Boy. This special book not only offers intriguing mystery but also a wonderful character that will stay to readers for a long time. Matthew Corbin is a special kid not because he suffers a mental health condition called OCD but because he is very brave and he has a big heart.

Following the interview with Lisa is her author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Goldfish Boy. And if you are in the United States or Canada and you’d like to win a signed hardcover copy of the book just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post for a chance to win.

Here’s my interview with Lisa. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Lisa Thompson

First off, congrats on The Goldfish Boy. Can you tell us a bit about your journey in writing and publishing the book? What were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?

Thank you! There was a lot of stopping, starting, rewriting the whole thing… giving up with the whole thing… starting all over again etc. I guess the actual writing of the first, main draft took about 12 months. Once I’d found the right agent it only took a fews weeks before I got a book deal. By far the greatest challenges for me were self-doubt. I thought I’d never get published so I put off trying… for years!! But shock news – you definitely won’t get published if you haven’t written a book!

There seems to be a growing trend to write about mental illness in fiction lately. Why do you think it has become an important theme in this genre of literature? And why did you decide to talk about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in particular?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write about mental health. The first bud of an idea was about a boy who was restricted to the ‘safety’ of his bedroom who witnesses something from his window. Around the same time I saw a documentary on TV about OCD and I was stunned at how debilitating it could be. I then found out a friend suffered with the condition and I met with a psychotherapist who is an expert in that field. I’ve been so pleased that The Goldfish Boy has been received so well by OCD sufferers, but I’m also glad it has subtly educated some readers who knew nothing about it.

Matthew is very effecting narrator. I just love the kid. Sometimes I wish I can do something for him. How did you get inside Matthew’s head to show the reader the mental turmoil he was experiencing? Is he a representation of someone you personally know or a byproduct of your imagination?

What a great question! I love him too! He’s completely from my imagination but I’m pretty sure there is a lot of me in there as well (although I don’t have OCD). We have the same sense of humour and I used lots of small memories from my childhood throughout the book – being sick in bed, my dad using a wallpaper steamer, the observations of a scorching, hot summers day etc. I think using your own memories but in a character’s point of view can be a good way to get inside their heads a little.

What kind of research you’ve done for the story and characters to be more authentic? Any surprises you encounter during digging?

As well as talking to friends with OCD and the psychotherapist, I read books and followed public forums on OCD websites for an insight in living with the condition. As for surprises, I really didn’t realise the many different ways OCD can manifest itself (from a fear of germs/obsessive cleanliness, to superstitions, intrusive thoughts, checking and ordering).

What message do you hope to send your readers who recognize themselves in the character of Matthew?

I’d hope that Matthew’s bravery in taking those first small steps to recovery would encourage someone in a similar position to do the same. You can tell that Matthew is scared and that he knows that recovery is not going to be easy, but he makes a start. Starting is the important bit. And the first place to start is by talking to someone.

What’s next for you after Goldfish Boy? Do you think you’ll stick with this type of genre or branch out into something else? Any future project we should look forward to?

I’m currently editing book 2 which is out next year. It’s another standalone novel which is rooted in contemporary fiction, but there is an element of fantasy about it. I’m really excited to see it on the shelves!

Thanks so much Lisa!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Thompson worked as a radio broadcast assistant, first for the BBC and then for an independent production company, making plays and comedy programs. During this time she got to make tea for a lot of famous people. She lives in the countryside in England with her family. The Goldfish Boy is her first novel.

 

Find Lisa

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Goldfish Boy
Author: Lisa Thompson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn’t been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac.

When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed hardback of The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

The Rules:

  • Open to US or Canada
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 28th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

3 Comments »

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Takedown by Corrie Wang (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I am interviewing new author Corrie Wang on the blog as part of Celebrating Debuntantes 2017 blog event. Corrie answers few questions about her debut novel, The Takedown, and about social medias and Internet.

Following the interview with Corrie is her author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Takedown. And for a chance to own a signed copy of the book and other fabulous swags, check the bottom of the post for the special giveaway and enter the rafflecopter form.

Here’s my interview with Corrie. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Corrie Wang

Congratulations on The Takedown! What has been the most surreal thing about seeing The Takedown as published story? What’s the best part and the oddest?

Thank you! Everything about seeing The Takedown published has been surreal!! But right at the top was the first time I signed copies for two younger readers. It was such a magical experience. Granted, I signed on the wrong page and wrote inappropriately long inscriptions, but we were giggling and high fiving and I could have lived in those five minutes forever.

And the best and oddest parts are one and the same.

When I lived in NYC and was a writer but not yet an author, I attended lots of YA panel discussions and book events. After the panels were over all the authors would go off into this little room and I wanted into that room SO bad. What were they talking about? What writerly gossip were they hearing that I couldn’t? Were there snacks?

The first time I stepped into the green room at YALL WEST this past April, it just felt so tingly and incredible and like holy cow, I made it here. And look! That’s an author I love… drinking coffee. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get used to it. That I’ll always be at author events or parties thinking A. This is so frickin’ cool. And B. Who let me in?

PS there are snacks. And they’re baller.

The Takedown deals with some sensitive themes such as slut shaming, and bad effect of Internet or social media. As a writer, do you feel a sense of responsibility in putting this into the story? If so, how do you deal with this?

I think slut shaming and dealing with unwanted male attention is such a common issue for teens, and women in general, that it should naturally be showing up in more stories. I didn’t go into The Takedown wanting to write an “issue book” – where characters encounter or deal with * blank * issue and then need to persevere. I just wanted to write a page turning thriller with realistic characters.

I used to manage this massive nightclub on the Lower East Side in NYC. One weekend we hosted an after-prom party, and monitoring it as a GM, YA author, and mama bear was life changing. I write upper YA so this was exactly my audience, and my first thought was that we as authors were getting it SO wrong. The level of sexual, tech, and logistical savviness emanating from those kids was light years more advanced than what YA fiction (at that time) gave them credit for. My second thought was that for a party without alcohol there was SO MUCH VOMIT.

I love that Kyle talks about diva cups, and not wanting to be married until she’s at least 38, and using home electrolysis to get the hair off her toes. The conversations I have with my girlfriends about sex/life/career are so different than most of what I see reflected in standard media that this is the responsibility I feel. I want to write us out of these boy-centric, we’re either cast as nerds or skanks, good girls or mean girls, pigeonholes that we’ve been crammed into.

The Takedown shows how Internet can easily ruin’s someone’s life. As an author, what is your stand on this?

Ahh the internet. I use it. I Google the crap out of everything. I also wish it didn’t exist so I could go back to not clutching and swiping at this device that rarely leaves my hand throughout the day. Do I see how it is wonderful and begets important social movements not to mention connects us with peeps round the world we might otherwise not know?

Absolutely.

Do I see how it equally makes us armchair activists who no longer see their friends in real life?

Same.

Do I think we can be crushed by one poorly worded or ignorant tweet?

One hundred percent.

Do I also think at some point someone will do a major hack and we’ll all be forced to survive without our timewasting crutches?

Any day now.

What were some of the pleasant surprises you experienced from using social media as an author?

Early on, unbeknownst to me, my editor gave Sara Shepard an ARC of the book and she tweeted at me that she was reading and loving it. It was totally out of the blue and launched a fantastic friendship. I still sometimes fangirl when we’re email back and forth thinking: I’m writing to m*therf*cking SARA SHEPARD!! (And now I’ve made that weird).

And honestly, even more than social media, EMAIL has been the biggest treat of my debut year. Before the book launched a few authors wrote to tell me how much they liked the novel and I’ve struck up some really wonderful friendships. Britta Lundin’s Ship It is coming out with Disney FreeForm in 2018 and she will be a FFFL (Fast Friend For Life, y’all). Follow this girl now, ’cause there will be a line around the block to connect with her once Ship It hits shelves.

And on a not name dropping note, I love, love, LOVE the bookstagram shots that readers have been posting. I own a food truck in Charleston, SC. A typical day involves sweating my butt off in a tiny trailer slinging rice bowls. But then ding! Someone in Pennsylvania tags me with a gorgeous shot of my novel. I adore it that my little book is having its own wild life while I’m, like, washing rice.

Do you have a favourite scene to write in The Takedown? What scene are you most proud of, and why?

I’ve read The Takedown countless times by now, and the final scene with Kyle and her mom still makes me tear up. I’m very close with my mama, so mother daughter relationships get me, period. But family is TRICKY. Kyle and her mom used to be very close, but as she’s grown up they’ve sorta stopped liking as much. So I loved writing that penultimate chapter where they let the years of grudges and slights slip away for a few minutes, and Kyle’s mama reaffirms that even though she might not always like Kyle, she loves her more than anything and always, always will. It was important to me that the book wrapped there for Kyle. Not with the boy. Not with the friends. But with her mom. Of all Kyle’s relationships, that’s the one that will develop and change, strengthen and become more complex, and also carry through for the rest of her life.

If one of your characters could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be? What would be the first line?

Mac would probably write it, and the title would be Flakita en un gran mundo.

First sentence, Once there was, like, a girl who thought she could change the world by writing op eds to her local newspaper.

Or Sharma would write it and the title would be: Corrie

First sentence: Girl went to high school, #graduated, #thankgoodnessthatsover.

Where do you see your writing will go after The Takedown? Do you think you’ll stick writing for young adult or branch out into something else?

Oh I definitely have more YA stories to tell. I’m currently polishing up a draft that’s a little further forward in time than The Takedown and explores gender and relationships but with lots of bad assery. It’s gonna be the bomb! (FYI people don’t say that anymore, Corrie). But it will be. After that, I have a middle grade that I’ve been fast and furiously jotting down between revisions and drafts and early food truck mornings. I CANNOT WAIT for y’all to get your hands on it. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. So yes, lots, lots more to come.

Thanks so much Corrie!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Corrie Wang is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. ​

She currently lives in Charleston, where she and her husband Shuai Wang own and operate Short Grain food truck— named one of Bon Appetit magazine’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants 2016 and a 2017 semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel.​

And fyi it’s pronounced Wong y’all.”

Find Corrie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Takedown
Author: Corrie Wang
Publisher: Freeform
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo | IndieBound | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of The Takedown by Corrie Wang
  • Temporary tattoos and
  • a few “fck them small betches” Takedown bracelets
     

The Rules:

  • Open US
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 14th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

2 Comments »

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by new author Allison K. Hymas to answer few questions about her debut middle grade novel, Under Locker and Key. This book is like mission impossible for middle grade readers.  It’s fun, clever and captivating story for everyone to enjoy.

Following the interview with Allison is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Under Locker and Key.

Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom and enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win fabulous prizes from Allison.

Here’s my interview with Allison. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Allison Hymas

Can you tell us a bit about your journey with Under Locker and Key? Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you write? And how was the publication process goes for you?

Under Locker and Key had a strange process for me, since it was a book that I didn’t take seriously for a long time. I first started it as part of an assignment for a college class on writing for children and adolescents. I had to develop a middle grade character, and that’s when I first met Jeremy. I liked him so much I wrote a short story about him, and I liked that story so much (and other people did too) that I turned that short story into a novel.

I worked on Under Locker and Key in my spare time as a backburner project when my other writing projects got too hard or I just needed a break. It was fun and easy for me to write; it fit my voice and style well. But I didn’t think it would go anywhere. Then, one of my teachers encouraged me to workshop it in his class, and that’s when I started to think that maybe I could publish this silly, fun story I’d just worked on for fun.

So I entered the book into a state-wide writing contest. I lost. In response, I queried agents like crazy out of determination and a little bit of spite. A couple agents responded, I chose the one I liked best, and she helped me find a publisher. It’s still strange, but not unwelcome, that the silly book I wrote but didn’t expect to publish ended up becoming my debut novel.

Why middle-grade? Do you think it is easier to write for younger audience than YA and adults?

Under Locker and Key was the first MG novel I’ve even drafted. As for why middle grade, I’m still not sure why I enjoy writing it so much. I suppose I like the fun I can have with this age group. Middle schoolers are at the beginning of a transition; they’re not yet teens, but they’re not elementary school children either. They’re losing their childhood identity and gaining a new one, which means that some, like Jeremy, can try to invent themselves as whatever they want. That means I can write adventures with heroes and villains as the kids try to decide who they’re going to be but don’t yet have the self-consciousness of teens about how that’s all going to work for them.

I don’t know if it’s easier to write for a younger audience, but I know it works well for me. I like humor and adventure, and Jeremy’s, a middle grade voice, comes easily to me.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing Under Locker and Key? Are there any fun things you discover during your research?

I’ve learned a lot about how to break the law while writing about Jeremy’s adventures. I have not picked a real lock (yet) or cracked the combination on a locker (yet), but I know how to do all these things in theory. I learned is that it’s not much like the movies. Picking locks takes a long time, and figuring out a locker combination takes quite a bit of patience and luck. You can climb through an air duct but they’re cramped, dark, and dirty. I’ve also been learning a lot about real-life hacking for later books.

However, my favorite thing that I’ve learned is how to lie convincingly and how to recognize a liar. Too much eye contact or not enough eye contact, touching the nose and near the mouth…clues like those. I can actually use this research in my life!

Do you have a favourite scene to write? And what scene are you most proud of, and why?

My favorite scene to write was the climax. I won’t give spoilers here, but I loved the way the story came together at the end in a nice, dare-I-say-clever solution.

But the scene I’m proudest of is the scene in the band room, when Jeremy is hiding from Becca. Some writers have to push their characters into trouble. Not me—Jeremy gets himself in trouble and I go crazy trying to figure out how to haul him out of the fire yet again. This scene gave me so much grief because I couldn’t figure out how to realistically resolve it for the longest time, but in the end, it worked out and because it was tricky, it turned out better than I expected with more suspense.

If Jeremy could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your younger years, what would the title of that book be and what would be the first line?

Oh, my. That’s a scary thought. I was pretty energetic and got into some trouble as a young child, but by the time I was Jeremy’s age I had mellowed out and was the shy, quiet girl in class who liked to read and write. I suppose the title would be something like Born to Be Mild and the first line would be, “See that girl reading over there? She has some stories to tell, some of them true.”

Are you working on other stories as of the moment? Could you tell us about it?

I’m working on a couple other stories. One is a sequel to Under Locker and Key, and the other is a YA science fiction about a boy who goes into other people’s dreams and learns that a girl in his town is in danger.

Thank you!

Thanks so much Allison!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a middle schooler, Allison K. Hymas was a law-abiding citizen (except for the occasional offense of reading under her desk when she should have been listening). She now holds an MFA from Brigham Young University and currently lives in Utah. Under Locker and Key is her first novel. Allison is hard at work writing Jeremy Wilderson’s further adventures.

Find Allison

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Under Locker and Key
Author: Allison K. Hymas
Publisher: Alladin
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Eleven-year-old Jeremy Wilderson teams up with his rival crime fighter to stop the stealing spree that’s wreaking havoc on Scottsville Middle School.

Jeremy Wilderson is not a thief. In fact, he is his middle school’s one and only retrieval specialist. Confiscated cell phones, stolen lunch money—he’ll discretely retrieve it before the last bell rings. Business is good, and if it weren’t for the meddling of preteen private investigator Becca Mills, he’d be happier than a gym teacher on dodgeball day.

But a new job shatters his comfortable lifestyle. Now, thanks to Jeremy, the master key to the schools’ lockers is in the hands of an aspiring crime kingpin who doesn’t exactly have Jeremy’s strong moral character. Soon not even combination locks can protect the students’ textbooks and jackets. Retrieving the key is too big a job for one crime fighter, and only one person wants the key returned as much as Jeremy does: Becca Mills.

Lockers are being robbed, the teachers are looking for the culprit, and the only person Jeremy can turn to is the girl who most wants to see him in the principal’s office. Will Jeremy be able to trust Becca enough to get the key back in the right hands? Or could he end up in detention until the end of high school instead?

Book Links

Book Page | Amazon | B&N | BAM | IndieBound | Goodreads

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed copy of Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas
  • Under Locker and Key Bookmark
  • Retrieval Specialist” pair of sunglasses 

The Rules:

  • Open International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 12th, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

5 Comments »

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016

If you are a follower of this blog, you know how much I love good mystery reads and stories with whoduntin themes. I enjoy formulating guesses or making calculated assumptions while reading. That’s why I’m super thrilled to have author Sarah Jude here on the blog today as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2016 event to feature her upcoming YA murder-mystery novel, The May Queen Murders. The title alone excite me and when I read the synopsis from goodreads, I know right away that I have to read the book. So when Sarah agreed to join our event I’m so excited to have her on board. I had so much fun asking Sarah few questions during the interview which I hope will push you to add the book to your TBR pile.

To know more about this upcoming release and Sarah Jude, check the author’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview, as well as links where to find Sarah and where to pre-order copies of The May Queen Murders.

And don’t forget to check the fabulouse giveaway at the bottom of this feature for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of the book and swags pack. Also, watch out for my review near the publication date.

Interview with Sarah Jude

Not every author grew up considering themselves as a writer. When and how did you discover your inner muse? Did you know what sort of stories you wanted to tell or did you just sort of feel your way? How did the inspiration for May Queen Murders come?

I was quite young, in elementary school, and even before I could read or write, I had pretty epic stories to go along with my toys. I got very sick during the summer when I was sick and spent several months in the dark because I couldn’t tolerate light. All I had then was the stories in my head. When I was thirteen, I wrote my first novel. It was terrible YA, but it also sealed for me that I wanted to be a YA author.

The inspiration for THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS is certainly rooted in the close female friendships I had as a teenager as well as coping with grief when I was quite young. Plus, the area of Missouri where I live is rich with story possibilities. It all kind of merged together as this Franken-story back in 2012, and after a few false starts, Ivy’s story revealed itself rather quickly.

Suppose you met someone in the elevator and had only 30 seconds to describe your novel, May Queen Murders. What would you say?

Two girls find love and loss in a cross of “The Wicker Man” and “Winter’s Bone.”

May Queen Murders is an intricate novel with all its mysteries and secrets. How much of a challenge was it to write the book? How did you figure out all the details for the plot or when to insert the big reveals (yes, plural, I’ve heard lots of things happened in the story)?

It was a pretty intense process. Piecing together together the mystery of the May Queen’s murder twenty-five years before the present day had to come first and then figure out what effect that history played in Ivy’s view of her commune and the situations she invests herself in. There is a lot going on, but I don’t think it’s overly complicated. Everything is connected because I personally believe that events in our family history certainly have their bearing on how we experience life even a generation or two later. As far as when to reveal the various secrets, I had them all at certain intervals, and my editor came in and guided me in the pacing. It’s a slow burn of the book that ramps up higher and higher as it moves toward the end.

You’ve mixed variety of things in May Queen Murders; gothic atmosphere, mental illness, trauma, sexuality, religion and others. Is that intentional or a byproduct of the writing process? How did you managed to include all those without making them overwhelming?

It’s never intentional, but because these things are important to me, they automatically tend to be themes in my writing. Many people experience all of these things and they create a whole person. It’s an internal layer that you live with daily, and at times, some aspects are more present than others but they’re all there. It’s just a matter of what is in the forefront. It seems natural to create characters who have a rich internal life as well. Granted, the Gothic atmosphere is just how I write, but even that stems from my childhood with my late mother who loved the Gothic and murder mysteries.

How was living by the woods in Missouri affected your writing? How true are you to the settings of your book?

Well, I can definitely say that it’s played its part. There are some very remote areas not all that far from where I live. There are woods as part of a nature conservation area in my backyard, but it doesn’t take very long before you’re driving along the foothills in the Ozarks and wondering what on earth is really going on in these tiny farming communities surrounded by woods. You pass through these quaint towns with antiques and wineries, then the trailer parks, and then…there’s nothing but farmland or woods. I go on writing retreats at a turn-of-the-20th-Century farm with some of my local friends, and I got horrendously lost while driving Zac Brewer and Heather Reid. It was foggy and the road literally disappeared as a song with banjos came on my radio. Initially, it was kind of funny, but then the more we tried to find our way out, the more lost we became until our phones went dead . . . We made it but it was a really unnerving experience. Missouri is a much prettier state than a lot of people imagine, but it’s not without its problems–drug trafficking and meth and poverty are huge issues both in the rural and urban areas. It’s challenging and unique, I think, to this part of the Midwest.

Which authors, mystery or otherwise, have inspired you?

Undoubtedly, I am inspired by my critique partners. Hillary Monahan (MARY: THE SUMMONING) has taught me a lot about the economy of words whereas Heather Reid (PRETTY DARK NOTHING) teaches me about world building and Cole Gibsen (LIFE UNAWARE) shows me how to give stories heart. Other YA authors whose work I will ALWAYS reach for include April Tucholke, Cat Winters, Kate Karyus Quinn, and Dawn Kurtagich. Outside of the YA world, I read a lot of Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, and Neil Gaiman.

Where do you see your writing going after the release of May Queen Murders? Do you think you’ll stick writing murder mystery or branch out into something else?

It’s a hard question. I will always write books that have an element of grief in them, whether from a murder or other events, because it’s been a huge part of my life. I lost both of my parents at a young age and have lost too many friends to tragic circumstances. Also, a person doesn’t have to die for you to grieve them. Each story peels back another layer in coping with those losses. My head naturally goes to the dark and mysterious, so I can pretty much guarantee that anything I write will have that undertone of something nefarious going on behind closed doors.

Thank you so much Sarah for stopping by today and for taking the time to answer all my questions above. Looking forward to the released of The May Queen Murders.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Jude AuthorSarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath when passing a graveyard. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and folklore. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and two dogs. When she’s not writing, she can be found volunteering at a stable for disabled riders.

Find Sarah

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

The May Queen MurdersBook Details:

Title: The May Queen Murders
Author: Sarah Jude
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Reader
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

Book Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • swag pack (bookmarks, pins, a handmade floral crown, & an ivy leaf necklace) and
  • signed hardback of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS once it is published in May

 

May Queen Murders giveaway prizes

The Rules:

  • Open to US addresses only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends April 18, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post!

celebrating debutantes 2016 collage

 

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Celebrating Debutantes 2016: My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016

I’m crazy excited to have author Robin Reul today on the blog for a short interview about her upcoming debut novel, My Kind of Crazy.  This coming of age novel is a perfect combination of fun and drama that will surely makes readers laugh as well as tug some strings of emotions. So if you like reading fun contemporary with some twist don’t forget to add My Kind of Crazy on your TBR pile when it hit shelves this April 05, 2016.

Following my interview are more information about Robin along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book descriptions and where to pre-order copies. So be sure to check those all out, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a finished copy of My Kind of Crazy from the publisher.

Interview with Robin Reul

My Kind of Crazy is your debut novel, what pushed you to pursue writing as a career? How did the inspiration for My Kind of Crazy come?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was very young. As a kid, while others were out riding bikes and hanging out at the beach with friends, I was in my room writing novels and short stories on my Smith Corona electric typewriter. I even pursued it briefly as a major in college, but the fear of rejection led me to switch gears and pursue film instead. My father was a film producer, and I had grown up on film sets, so it felt like a very natural career path. Working in film development, I learned a lot about story structure and dialogue, and ultimately went through the Screenwriting Certificate Program at UCLA. I kept dabbling with writing from that point on, but the opportunity to pursue that dream full-time did not arrive until much later in my life.

As for the inspiration for My Kind Of Crazy, I had a story I’d long carried in my heart about grief and loss and friendships that can help carry you when you cannot carry yourself. I just never knew how to tell it. I was actually working on an entirely different project when all of a sudden Hank’s character came into my head and the first chapter spilled out. Although the actual incidents and details are completely different, the essence of their connection is the same: two young people seeing the spark of light in the depth of each other’s darkness, which in turn allows that spark the chance to take hold and grow. Those kinds of connections when you are a teen are really powerful, and can change one’s life. I know it did mine and I wanted to pay that forward somehow. It found its voice in Hank and Peyton and their story.

How was the writing experience? How did you go about putting yourself in the mindset of Hank considering you are not a boy nor a teenager like him?

Oddly enough, I am much more comfortable writing as a boy. I think writing as a teen boy is no different than writing any other sort of character whose life experience is not directly your own. For example, I am not a pyromaniac, nor have I ever dealt with severe emotional or physical abuse or the death of a parent, but that does not mean that I cannot tap into pain or rejection or loss. There are certain universal truths that we all experience as humans – the difference may be in how a guy vs. a girl may react to a situation. It’s about researching your character, putting yourself in his/her skin, and tuning in to his/her voice.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating Hank?

It wasn’t until the book was finished and I went back and really sat with it that I realized how much Hank is really so much like me. They say the first few books you write, your characters, particularly your main one, are a direct reflection of yourself, and in this case, that was incredibly true. His voice came very naturally to me as a result, although he is far more optimistic and hopeful than I ever was at his age. In a way, writing him was a chance to rewrite my own history. I’ve also found that readers really respond to Hank and relate to him, and that’s the coolest feeling ever. He’s as real and personal to readers as he is to my heart, and there’s something unexpected and wondrous in that.

If Hank could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be and what would be the first line?

Oh my . . . I was a pretty miserable teen so it would probably be called something like “Perpetual Bad Hair Day” and the first line would be “There are exactly a hundred and thirty two days, fourteen hours, thirteen minutes and twelve seconds left of high school, not that I’m counting.”

If readers could take away one thing from having read My Kind of Crazy what would you hope it would be?

Never underestimate the impact you may have on someone else’s life, and never let anyone else determine your self-worth.

I am a fan of young adult fictions. As an author, what draws you to the YA genre and why contemporary?

I love stories that take place in the here and now with characters I can relate to. As a teen, I was always seeking to feel like someone understood what I was going through, and the right book at the right time that taps into whatever your personal issue is and helps you find your path can be life-changing. I like to see myself on the pages because for me that’s what makes the story feel honest and authentic. Those teen years are such an interesting time of life because you’re sort of “on the verge” of everything, and that in turn can be exciting and terrifying all at once. Those heightened emotions make for great stories, because characters that age are testing their boundaries, experiencing emotions for the first time, and tasting independence.

Do you have any plans on writing books for non-YA audience? What genre do you think you’ll focus on and why?

While I will always have a soft spot for YA, I would love to move towards writing adult fiction one day as well. I think there are definitely different experiences we have that we can better understand fully at different points in our lives, and some of those stories work better set in an adult landscape.

Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you in the near future?

I am currently at work on a new project, as I have another book that will be coming out with Sourcebooks, but I can’t really say much about it yet beyond that it will be another stand alone contemporary YA with humor and heart. 🙂

Thank you so much Robin for stopping by today and for taking the time to answer all my questions above. Looking forward to the released of My Kind of Crazy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Robin Reul

Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel.

Find Robin

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

My Kind of CrazyBook Details:

Title: My Kind of Crazy
Author: Robin Reul
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback, eBook

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Book Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • One finished copy of My Kind of Crazy

The Rules:

  • Open to US and Canada addresses only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends April 6, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the publisher

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post!

celebrating debutantes 2016 collage

 

6 Comments »

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce (Author & Character Interview + Giveaway)

Celebrating Debutantes 2016

Flirting with Fame will be out in few days and I’m so excited for everyone to get their hands on a copy of this charming novel by Samantha Joyce. I absolutely adore this book. The story is sweet, heartwarming, and so much fun. I had a blast reading it.

I’m also thrilled to be able to share an interview not only with the creator of Flirting with Fame but also with one of the characters, Gavin whom I am swooning the whole time I am reading the book. So if you’d like to know what Samantha had to say about her upcoming debut novel and her experiences or just want to meet Gavin before the release of Flirting with Fame, be sure to read the interviews.

Also follows after the interviews below are Samantha Joyce bio, Flirting with Flame’s details and of course a giveaway. Enjoy reading!

Interview with Samantha Joyce

Flirting with Fame is your debut novel, what led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life? How did the inspiration for Flirting with Fame come?

I’ve been writing pretty much since I can remember, but it used to be short stories and poems. I never saw myself as having the attention span or a cohesive enough idea to be able to write an entire book. Then, one day a few years ago, I just sat down and started fleshing out an idea. Soon, I had a whole book. But it was terrible and full of every mistake first time writers make (like telling over showing). It is trunked for good. However, once that was out of the way, I realized I could write a whole book and I started another one. Flirting with Fame is my third full novel, and the first one to be published.

The idea started to form when I auditioned for Cyrano De Bergerac. The audition went terribly (I forgot my monologue, and I rightly did not get the part), but I started tinkering with writing a modern re-telling of that story. Then I read an article about authors and pen names. This sparked an idea about using both a pen name and a fake photo, and I wondered what might drive a person to that extreme. That’s when Elise showed up. The rest of the book took off from there.

Your protagonist, Elise is an extra-ordinary character, how was the writing experience from her perspective? How did you go about putting yourself in the mindset of Elise considering her condition?

I did a lot of research, I visited Deaf forums, I studied some ASL, and I had my critique partner’s roommate (who is Deaf herself) let me know if there were inconsistencies. I even walked around my city with earplugs in to try and experience the world from Elise’s perspective. I did take some liberties for the sake of the story (the ASL is not written with the usual grammar that would be used, and Elise fares quite well with lip-reading), but I really did not want this story to be about Elise being deaf. That was just a part of her. That required some liberties on my part, and I know I have probably made some mistakes along the way, despite all my research. I do hope that, no matter what, I have created a character in Elise people can root for, despite both her (and my) flaws.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating Elise?

How quick we are to assume anything about anyone. When I wandered around with earplugs in, I had a woman get quite angry at me because I didn’t hear her asking me for what I think were directions. When I shook my head that I couldn’t hear her, she stalked off in a huff. And it just got me thinking about how, if something isn’t obvious, we just assume things about people. We don’t know who might be struggling with something we might not be able to see right away.

I was also surprised how much of my own issues I had to push through when writing Elise. Like her, I get pretty anxious in social situations. I’ve dealt with my fair share of bullying and teasing. And I’ve wanted to retreat into my own private space. Helping Elise come out of her shell, helped me do the same, to a certain extent.

Flirting with Fame is a fun and swoon read, how did you managed to combined the two without making it too unrealistic? How much fun did you have writing Elise’s story?

Thank you! I had so much fun writing it! I tried hard to establish a connection between Gavin and Elise early on. Even when he hasn’t appeared in the book yet, she’s already been harboring feelings for him. I mean, he’s her celeb crush! And when they start to figure out the things they have in common, their connection only deepens.

As someone who stalks red carpets and comicons, I’ve had my fair share of meets with some of my favorite celeb crushes, so that was great research! Gavin’s kindness came from those experiences. Because I have been pleasantly surprised by how humble and kind some of the celebs I’ve met are (and they are even hotter in person)!

If Elise could write a novel about you, how do you think will the story goes and what would be the title of that book?

Oh gosh! It would probably be a combo of her story and her best friend, Jin’s story. I’m shy, but I also love to be on stage (it’s weird, I know). But right before an audition or performance, I get pretty nervous. All of my Elise-type fears kick in, and I want to run away. Due to that, she’d probably call it “Stage Fright”.

Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you in the near future?

I just finished drafting book two in this series, which I’m really excited about! I’m not allowed to say much, but I can tell you this one is a bit more adult and it will give us a different perspective of Veronica. We’ll be able to learn what makes her tick, and why she does the things she does. And it was SO much fun to write from her perspective.

Character Interview with Gavin of Flirting with Fame

Hi Gavin! *deep breath* sorry but can I just stare you while I try to compose myself? I just can’t believe you agree with this interview. *deep breath* . Well, first question, how’s the filming of Viking Moon series? What preparation did you do to be in Dag’s character?

Hey! You okay? Just breathe. We’re all good. And I’m happy to be here! Anything for a fan.

Filming is going awesome. At first, when they told me we’d be filming in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, I thought I was gonna hate it. I’m used the bustle of Hollywood, and I was pretty sure I was going to get bored real fast. But Fernbrooke has quickly become one of my favorite places.

Playing Dag is fun, but a challenge both physically and mentally. He has been through a lot, and the woman he loves, he can’t really have. Their families have been feuding forever. It doesn’t help Thora’s brothers are dicks and keep trying to kill him for loving their sister. The dude just cannot catch a break.

To prepare physically, I spent long hours at the gym and worked with a weapons master who showed me how to fight with a sword and axe. To get into Dag’s head, I mostly just read the scripts they sent. I’d heard of the novels and Aubrey Lynch (who hasn’t?), and I knew they had a devoted fan base. But I didn’t want to spoil Dag’s fate for myself. I feel like knowing what happens to him in the future might taint my performance now. That being said, I’ve kinda been itching to read the books, and I may have already started them…

If you had to describe the day you first met Elise at the production set of Viking Moon using a song, what song will it be and why?

Hmmm…are there any songs about watching a pretty girl get smacked in the face with a boat? Cause if so, I choose that one.

But seriously, as I’ve gotten to know her, that song “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars seems to make a lot more sense to me…

How do you deal with fame? What advice will you give Elise about it?

Honestly, I try not to pay too much attention to the tabloids or paparazzi. Fame is such a weird thing. Reporters like to build you up so they can tear you down. My advice to anyone who has to deal with it is to stay close to your family and friends. They’re the ones who will remind you that you’re not a God to be worshiped. They’ll point out your mistakes and challenge you, and they’ll keep you grounded in reality.

If we could snoop in one of your place, what books would we find on your bookshelf besides Viking Moon series?

You’ll find every book Duncan Creed has written. And probably about five copies of my favorite book by him, Carnivore’s Teeth. I’ve re-read it so many times, and I always end up buying new copies when I travel to read on airplanes. You’d think by now I’d remember to actually bring one with me, but I always forget.

Did you know he’s a professor at Fernbrooke U now? I need to make my way there to meet him…

And one last thing, can I get a hug? 🙂

Of course! Get over here!

Thank you both Samantha and Gavin for stopping by today and for taking time to answer all my questions above. Looking forward to the released of FLIRTING WITH FAME in few days. I’m sure Gavin will get more followers once readers finally meet him in Flirting with Flame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Samantha JoyceSamantha has wanted to be an author since she picked up her first book and realized authors get to create new worlds with just a pen and paper (or laptop, if you will). She loves to write about romance because, as someone who married her high school sweetheart, she absolutely believes in true love. She also loves making people laugh and feels love and laughter go hand in hand. If she can make someone both swoon and giggle with her words, she considers that a success. When not writing or at her day job, Samantha can be found either singing and dancing on stage in local musicals, or at home watching geeky television shows with her husband and their pet rabbit. Samantha is represented by Kathleen Rushall from Andrea Brown Literary Agency Inc.

Find Samantha

Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramGoodreads


 ABOUT THE BOOK

Flirting with FameBook Details:

Title: Flirting with Fame
Author: Samantha Joyce
Publisher: Pocket Star / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Format: eBooks, Audio

Elise Jameson is the secret author behind the bestselling, cult hit Viking Moon series. But when a stranger poses as Elise, the painfully shy, deaf nineteen-year-old starts to see how much she’s missing. Can she really hide in the shadows forever? This clever, coming-of-age debut is for anyone who has ever felt unsure in their own skin.

After a freak childhood accident leaves her deaf and physically scarred, nineteen-year-old Elise Jameson retreats into a world of vibrant characters she creates on her laptop. She is shocked when her coping mechanism turns into a career as a phenomenal bestselling novelist. Fans are obsessed with Elise’s Viking Moon series and its author—a striking girl with zero resemblance to Elise who appears on the back covers. Elise sent the randomly Googled photo to her editor following a minor panic attack. Now, horrified to learn she is expected on set of the television pilot based on her novels, Elise tracks down her anonymous stand-in. To Elise’s surprise, Veronica Wilde has been taking credit for Viking Moon for years. She eagerly agrees to keep up the charade if Elise will pose as her assistant.

It’s hard for Elise to watch a stranger take credit for her work and get all the perks she desires, including admiration from the show’s heartthrob star. Edged onto the sidelines of her own life, Elise reconsiders her choice to stay anonymous. Is she ready to come to terms with her true identity—and with the long-buried secrets that could cost her her career, her fans, and the few precious friendships she’s made?

Book Links:

AmazonBook Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

EARLY BOOK BUZZ:

“…heartwarming. This debut is a sweet, funny, and romantic coming-of-age story.”
– The Library Journal Review

“A charming story of learning to embrace and love those things about ourselves that set us apart from others. I don’t think I stopped smiling once throughout Elise’s journey except during the moments that squeezed painfully at my chest.”
– Molly McAdams, New York Times bestselling author of To the Stars

“With a sprinkle of book fandom and dash of yummy romance, Flirting with Fame is the perfect story for every book lover.”
– USA Today bestselling author, Tiffany King

“A sweet and poignant story about finding yourself and falling in love along the way, Flirting with Fame will steal your heart.”
-Chanel Cleeton, author of Flirting with Scandal

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Flirting with Fame swags pack (Flirting With Fame Notebook, signed bookmark with charm, and magnet)

Flirting with Fame Swag Pack

The Rules:

  • Open to US /Canada only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends March 17, 2016
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post!

celebrating debutantes 2016 collage
5 Comments »