Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Waiting Sky: author interview + GIVEAWAY!

Tornados – deadly, heartbreaking, and yet hauntingly beautiful. This summer I was at an event with author Lara Zielin where she told us about the tornado chase that inspired her latest book, The Waiting Sky. After hearing her account, I knew I had to read the book! It was amazing, and so is Lara’s offer (plus three other opportunities) at the end of this post!!

Here's the cover copy from The Waiting Sky:

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister, fleeing a troubled relationship with her alcoholic mom, spends a summer in the plains chasing — of all things — tornados. Somehow the chaos of tornados seems a lot more manageable than her very messy life back home. But, whether Jane returns home to a life of caring for her mother, or whether she strikes out in a different direction becomes the big question. And everyone — her brother, her best friend, and especially the handsome Max — has an opinion on what Jane should do.
But when her mother shows up in Tornado Alley drunk, insisting she come home, Jane fears she may have run out of options. The thought of a new life feels very far away, but not as far away as the last tornado Jane may ever chase, putting not only her life in danger, but the lives of the very people who may care about her most.

Lara was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us:

Please tell us a little about your everyday life.
It’s super exciting! I put on a cape and fly around, and then I fight
zombies using nothing but old bedposts. Then I eat cheese and
crackers. Okay, everything I just wrote is a lie – except for the
cheese and crackers part. I LOVE cheese and crackers.

The truth is, I have a full-time day job. So I do that, which is fun,
and then I go home and spend time with my husband, dogs, books, and
manuscripts. It’s a good, good life.

Tell us about the tornado chase that you took. Was it what you
expected? Any close encounters? And how did it inspire The Waiting

In 2004, I went on a tornado chase all across tornado alley. It was
like those tours where you pay to go see whales in the ocean, only we
were paying to get up close to crazy weather! I didn't see any
tornadoes, but I saw some funnel clouds and some seriously bad storms.

One of the most surprising things about the tornado chase I was on was
that there was also lots of time on the road to just think, and more
than the bad weather, that’s where a lot of where my inspiration for
The Waiting Sky came from. Because here we were, expecting constant
adrenaline rushes, and instead what we got was hours and hours trapped
in a van with strangers, driving miles and miles. My main character,
Jane, has a similar situation in the book. She leaves a chaotic
situation at her home in Minnesota, and expects to find more chaos in
Tornado Alley, but instead she just has tons and tons of time to think
about how she might be able to change her life.

Besides your main character, who is your favorite character in The
Waiting Sky
and why?

I love Ethan, Jane’s brother. First, I pictured him being waaaaay
cute! And secondly, he wants so badly to do the right thing for
himself and his sister, but he really struggles. Sometimes doing the
right thing is really hard. Sometimes it hurts people. Ethan
intellectually realizes this, but it’s still very challenging for him.

Do you have a favorite scene in The Waiting Sky?
I’m a sucker for a romantic moment, so I love it when Jane and her new
love interest, Max, climb into the unfinished barn at night. I’m not
going to say exactly whether any kissing happens, but, um … okay,

Did you always know how The Waiting Sky would end, or did it change as you wrote it?
I don’t always know how my novels will end when I start them. So, I
just wrote the ending as it came to me!

You did a terrific job with the tension of the flashbacks...were they
a part of your first draft or did you add them in a later draft?

They were always part of the story, because everything takes place in
Tornado Alley and we have to get a sense of what Jane’s running from.
But omg, my editor helped me make them sooooo much better!

Is there anything you can tell us about how your cover was designed?

The amazing design fairies at Putnam emailed me and were like, “Look!
We threw glitter on some paper and this happened!” and I was like,
“Zomg, I freaking LOVE it!”

Which, okay, that’s not how it went down. But I’m not a designer so I
don’t know the first thing about how these amazing people do this kind
of amazing work. It’s just … well, amazing.

Can you tell us a little about the path to publication of your first
book, Donut Days?

Donut Days was a mess for so long! A big, fat, hot mess. It started
out as chick-lit, which sort of went by the wayside as a genre while I
was writing it. So then I turned it into YA, but the book still wasn’t
very good. With the help of some writing conferences and some writerly
friends, I was able to edit it to a place that an agent accepted it.
But it took a long time. From the time I started the novel to the time
I held the published book in my hands, it was eight years!

What’s next for you?

I am working on a book about a girl who suffers from panic attacks.
It’s called The Sum of Small Things. I hope it will be out in early
2014! Yay!!

If you would like a chance to win a (hardcover!) signed copy of The Waiting Sky (courtesy of Lara!), just leave your e-mail address in the comments section of this post. It’s not required for entry, but we’d also love to hear about what inspired you to write your latest novel! The giveaway (for U.S. residents) is open until Friday, October 12, 2012 at midnight eastern time.

In other giveaway news, you still have until Friday to enter last week’s YAFusion giveaway, Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff. To enter, please leave a comment under last week’s post.

Also, there are giveaways for my own book, What She Left Behind at YA Book Queen (ends Tuesday!) and at Goodreads (ends October 20).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reading for Resilience and Empathy, plus a GIVEAWAY of GETTING SOMEWHERE

I've been thinking about the intersection of my writing and social work careers. As a therapist, I always encouraged kids to journal, and when working with young children, I used play therapy often consisting of acting out stories. I wrote assessment reports chronicling people's lives. Fellow social worker/author Kristen Simmons told me that one of her professors said social work is in everything you do.

My stories tend to venture into realistic dark places, some would say too much, and I've wondered if my social work background has desensitized me. Not that it's made me cold or unfeeling, but that bad things no longer shock me, I've seen them happen again and again.  But I've also witnessed many triumphs.

This summer, a tragedy struck close to home. My ten-year-old daughter's classmate died suddenly and unexpectedly from a health condition - a wonderful little boy who had sat next to her in classes for 3 years. A joyous, talented, friendly boy who smiled and greeted and conversed with everyone - kids and grown-ups alike. The funeral home was filled with his pictures, drawings, and half-filled notebooks, symbolic of his young life cut way too short, and a poignant display of how he touched so many of us in those years. My daughter and I cried and shared memory after memory for days and weeks afterwards. His absence at the start of the school year brought a fresh round of tears, as well as plans for how to honor his memory.

Her classmate's death also intensified my daughter's fears and worries about other friends. The friend who lost an eye to retinoblastoma and the friend battling leukemia, currently awaiting a bone marrow transplant. It made her afraid that some hidden unknown disease could be lurking inside her as well. I never had to deal with death so directly as a child, and the first funerals I attended were for grandparents. But we all know someone who lost a parent, sibling, or friend during their childhood, and maybe you were the one who experienced this loss.

It's natural that as writers we are drawn to exploring these themes in our writing. And as readers, these stories give us a way to safely experience the grief and loss that we'll all confront some day. Still, the urge to protect my daughter is strong. The parents die in that book, the girl is abused, it's too scary, it's too sad. I've hesitated and occasionally objected to her reading certain books because the content was too mature for her. But mostly, I've trusted her to decide for herself. She has read books about a boy with autism and a girl with cerebral palsy. She's read books about families in Afghanistan and slaves during the Revolutionary War. She's read books about war and peace, wealth and poverty, magic and mystery. She's read books about love and hate, friendship and bullying. She's read books about grief and loss, holding on and letting go.

YA Fusion blog partner/author/teacher Bethany Griffin often talks about how reading builds empathy.
 "Readers are better people/citizens. Readers empathize. Empathetic people have the ability to stop and think ‘how would that feel to me’ before they act, therefore, a reader should be less likely to bully or harass someone who is different from them." (From an interview at the Novel Novice blog.)

It naturally follows that reading also builds resilience. If you experience challenging situations in books, you can better cope with challenging situations in your life. Stories are empowering. Stories expand your worldview.  If you haven't read Sherman Alexie's eloquent response to critics of YA literature's dark side, Why the Best Kids Books are Written in Blood, go here. "I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters."

At the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles this summer, Gary Schmidt spoke about children's writers having a responsibility. "Write the stories that give your readers more to be a human being with." This resonated strongly with me. Yes, there is a place for books that are purely entertaining, but for me, the best stories are also enlightening and empowering.  Books that ask big questions, books that touch a nerve, books that speak to the core of humanity in each of us. Books to build empathy and resilience. Do you have a book to recommend? My list is long, but I'll share a recent debut with you.

Beth Neff is the author of Getting Somewhere (Viking/Penguin, 2012) and the creator of a youth writing program called SEE (Sustainability, Empathy, and Empowerment). She's the best one to explain her program and philosophy, so please check out her website.

Getting Somewhere.  Four girls: dealer, junkie, recluse, thief

Sarah, Jenna, Lauren, and Cassie may look like ordinary girls, but they're not. They're delinquents whose lives collide when they're sent to an experimental juvenile detention program on a farm in the middle of nowhere. As the girls face up to the crimes they committed, three of them will heal the wounds of their pasts and discover strengths they never dreamed they had. And one, driven by a deep secret of her own, will seek to destroy everything they've all worked so hard for.

* I'd love to share my beautiful hardcover copy of Beth's novel, Getting SomewhereTo enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below by Friday, October 5th, and include your email so I can contact you if you win.  This giveaway is for YA Fusion followers with U.S. mailing addresses.

* Banned book week begins September 30th. Check out this wonderful video to get yourself fired up.

* Tomorrow, I'll be at the Literary Rambles blog for Tip Tuesday, sharing advice from editor extraordinaire, Patricia Lee Gauch.  Please stop by and learn why she thinks the "show-don't-tell" rule can cause trouble. 

Have a wonderful week,
Kristin Lenz

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Author Alan Gratz Shares His Wisdon--and a Prize!

Hey YA Fusioneers, today we are honored with a visit from award-winning YA and middle-grade author Alan Gratz.'s most recent YA book, STARFLEET ACADEMY: THE ASSASSINATION GAME, came out this summer, and to celebrate we’re doing a special signed “you choose the prize” giveaway.  But before we get to the prizes, let’s meet Alan.

Alan, thanks for taking the time to talk.  I was introduced to your work by Dial editor Liz Waniewski, who couldn’t say enough good things about your books, THE BROOKLYN NINE and SAMURAI SHORTSTOP.  Since then, you’ve added the middle-grade FANTASY BASEBALL to the lineup, but you’re not just a baseball man.  You also wrote two Shakespeare-inspired contemporary YA mysteries, and have just released a YA Starfleet Academy novel.  That’s quite a range of genres, which makes me wonder: Is there a typical inspirational moment or Step One for you?

I'm interested in quite a lot of things—often to the point of distraction, I'm afraid. It's a long-ingrained habit of looking for story ideas in everything and anything. Sometimes I begin with bare-bones, self-generated ideas, like, “What about a Shakespeare play re-written as a young adult detective novel?” Or, “What about a world where characters from famous children's books are all playing in a big baseball tournament?” Other times, I'm reading about something and see a story idea in that, like, “Baseball and samurai existed at the same time for a little while in Japan? I have to write about that!” Once I have that idea, I write it down. If it stays with me, if I can't shake it, I come back to it and I poke it and prod it. I do more research, or I spend more time thinking about it in the shower or on a drive, or talk incessantly about it with my family until they can't stand to hear it anymore. If an idea makes it to that stage, then I begin to actually build characters and a story.

I gather you’re a serious outliner.  Please tell us a little about what you write before you write.

I do outline, in great detail. It all began with Samurai Shortstop. In the two previous novels I had written—neither of which was ever published—I had begun with an idea, brainstormed a rough story, and then sat down to write it. I inevitably ran into land mines along the way—places in the story where I didn't know what happened next—and spent valuable writing time banging my head against the keyboard, trying to figure out what happened next. I muddled my way through those novels. Then I got the idea for Samurai Shortstop, and it wouldn't go away. I wanted to write it, but I had never written anything that involved historical research. I threw myself into the research, and when I was done, I had an inch-thick notebook with research notes. How was I going to turn this into a novel? How was I going to have all this information at my fingertips while I wrote? I'm no genius—I was never going to be able to hold all that information in my head at once. I wrote it down for a reason!

So I came up with the idea of outlining this novel chapter by chapter. This was a basic, “This happens, then this happens, then this happens” kind of outline. One longish paragraph per chapter, one chapter per page in a Word document. Then I went through my research notes, line by line, and every time I came across a note I knew would be useful to the story, I copied and pasted it into that outline, beneath the appropriate chapter blurb. If I ran into a note about how to write a death poem, I moved that to chapter one, where we hear one. A note about what kids ate for lunch? I moved that to the cafeteria scene in chapter seven, and so on. Then when I was ready to write, I opened my outline notebook to page one, and there in front of me was exactly what was supposed to happen in that chapter, and all the historical research notes I needed to make that one chapter come to life.

And then, suddenly, I also discovered I had cured my writer's block. Never again did I sit in front of the computer, trying to think of what happens next. Outlining for the historical research had forced me to put together the entire story before I wrote it. It was a revelation. As writers, I think we often try to do two complicated and very dissimilar things when we sit down to write: figure out WHAT to say, and HOW to say it. By separating those two processes I was able to do both better than ever. I had my breakthrough as a writer, and sold my first book. It won't surprise you to learn that I've followed that model ever since.

What works for me may not work for you, or anyone else. Writing is a very personal business. Some people crave that organization before they begin, others enjoy the sense of discovery, and for them, a first draft IS an outline, and the second draft is where the book really comes into its own. Ellen Raskin, who wrote the wonderful and cleverly-complicated middle grade mystery The Westing Game, was once asked if she had outlined the book in advance to keep up with all the clues and characters. Her response was something like, “God no—if I knew what was going to happen, I'd be too bored to write it.” Me, I'm a flip to the last chapter first to see how it ends kind of reader. She's not. All I'll say is that, if you find yourself abandoning manuscripts half-way through because you can't figure out how to get from point J to point M, give outlining a try. I love it.

Your first Horatio Wilkes mystery, the wonderfully titled, SOMETHING ROTTEN, has a Hamlet-inspired plot, but Denmark isn’t what or where it used to be.  What were some of the unexpected challenges of updating the story to the modern world and another continent?

The biggest challenge was trying to make the actions of the characters from the play believable in a modern setting. You know, if you look at classic works of fiction, we accept the things characters do in them without question, because that's the way Hamlet has always acted for four hundred years. But take those actions out of context, put them on a new, modern character, and sometimes they don't make any sense at all. Or don't work in a modern context. Case in point: the king's reaction to the play within the play in Hamlet. Hamlet suspects his uncle Claudius killed his father. He arranges for some traveling players to put on “The Murder of Gonzago,” which is about a man killing his brother to take his crown. Hamlet plans to watch Claudius's reaction when he sees it. “The play's the thing wherein we'll catch the conscience of the king,” he famously says. Claudius sees the play, gets up white-faced like he's seen a ghost, and runs from the room. Boom. Hamlet knows he has his man.

To update this, I had the idea that Hamilton, my Hamlet character, and his friend Horatio, my detective, go rent The Lion King to watch with the family. The Lion King has lots of Hamlet overtones, if you'll remember, with Mufasa's brother Scar killing him to take over the Pride. So the family watches The Lion King, Uncle Claude sees his own actions in those of Scar, and gets up, white-faced, and runs from the room.

I turned in this draft to my editor, Liz, and she told me this scene wasn't working. Why not? I wanted to know. “Because no real modern day killer is going to get freaked out over The Lion King,” she told me.

She was absolutely right. I had tried to put the actions and reactions of classic characters into a modern setting, and they didn't work. We accept King Claudius's reaction in Hamlet, because that's what King Claudius does. He's done the same thing for 400 years, in every performance. But put him in a modern day setting, and it doesn't fly. So I reworked that scene entirely, losing The Lion King gag altogether. To see how I managed to catch the “conscience of the king” in a more realistic, modern way, you'll just have to read the book. :-)

In the original play, Hamlet is a little self-absorbed for my taste—a problem you solve by retelling the story from Horatio’s point of view.  Please tell us about your version of the last man standing.

Yeah. Hamlet's a whiny wimp. I much preferred his friend Horatio, who was much more down to earth. I based their whole relationship on the famous Hamlet line: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Horatio's response to that would be, “No, there aren't.” That's the two characters in a nutshell, if you'll forgive the expression. Hamlet has his head in the clouds. Horatio has his feet squarely on the ground. If it had been Horatio's dad who'd been killed, he would have taken care of this business right away, no philosophizing, no debating, no dawdling. I wanted my main character to be take-charge.

For a certain part of the book, Horatio lets Hamilton run the show. Then, when Hamilton takes a pot-shot at Paul/Polonius, Horatio essentially says, “That's it. My turn.” From that point on, we still follow the events of Hamlet, but it's Horatio's book. He takes control and steers the plot.

I also based Horatio on Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, my favorite fictional detective. I love his acerbic wit and his dedication to a strict personal moral code. I gave Horatio both of those qualities, which seemed to fit really well with the Horatio character from the play.

As the title suggests, the second Horatio book, SOMETHING WICKED, is a twist on Macbeth.  There’s a strong Scottish influence in our part of the country, including our own Highland Games.  Did you toss a caber for research, or maybe hurl a haggis?

Ha. No. But I did visit a Scottish Highland Festival to do research. Since I already knew the character of Horatio from the first book, I got to walk around “in his shoes,” looking at things through his eyes. In particular, I viewed the Games with his wry attitude. I found a lot of things to poke fun at. :-) I also wanted to be respectful of the Games and the culture as well, and Horatio comes to have a lot of respect for the Scottish traditions on display at the festival. But at first, of course, he sees it with his sarcastic teenage eye.

At Scottish Highland Festivals, they often have genealogy tents to trace your Scottish heritage. I got the idea to see if Horatio had any Scottish blood in him, so I went up to one of the tables and told them my name was Horatio Wilkes. I was super nervous! I'm not a good casual liar, but I also didn't want to get into the fictional aspect of Horatio. I was deathly afraid someone was going to ask to see my driver's license—though why anyone would ask that, I have no idea. The lady behind the table cheerfully connected Wilkes to Wilkie, and then cross-referenced that Scots-Irish name to a list of Septs, which are families who swore fealty to larger clans. She ran her finger down a column, looked up, and told me, “Wilkie is a Sept of the Macduff clan.” If you know Macbeth at all, you'll understand at once why that was an incredibly wonderful coincidence. In Something Rotten, Horatio played the part of the Horatio character. I hadn't yet figured out how Horatio would fit into Macbeth, but right then and there, when she said that, I suddenly understood. From that moment on, I began to see Horatio as the Macduff character, and the story began to fall into place for me.

On a more serious note, Macbeth is a grizzly story.  Did you have a “should I/shouldn’t I” conversation with yourself about a YA version?

Not really. It's “anything goes” in YA today, and I felt that gave me the freedom to put in as much or as little violence as I wanted. I'm naturally uncomfortable with high levels of violence, so I knew I would have an internal sensor for that. Otherwise, I wanted to reflect how bloody and grizzly Macbeth really is. The word “blood” is used again and again in that play, and I made sure I used it a lot too.

Moving on to your newest release, congratulations on STARFLEET ACADEMY: THE ASSASSINATION GAME.  How does it feel to be part of the Star Trek franchise?  No pressure, right?

Right. :-) I'm a huge Trek fan, so this was very exciting for me. True story: about 17 years ago, back before we were married, my then-girlfriend Wendi pretended to be my literary agent so we could submit a Star Trek novel I had written to Pocket Books. We made up a letterhead for her “agency” and everything. Pocket Books didn't go for it and soon after I focused on writing books for young readers, but that submission officially represented my first real attempt to sell a novel.

Cut to a year and a half ago, when I learned that Simon Spotlight was publishing a series of young adult Star Trek novels set in the universe of the recent movie reboot. Trek? YA? That long-lost dream of writing a Star Trek novel wasn't looking so hopeless after all! I got on the phone with my agent, Barry, he got on the phone with the editor of the series at Simon Spotlight, and a month later I had a gig as Star Trek's newest author. I suppose you could say I've come full circle.

Your Trek book is part of the alternate-universe reboot of the original Star Trek.  The core characters were set decades ago, but their alternate-self youthful stories haven’t been told.  How much creative freedom did you have to develop the characters?

Not a ton, to be honest. Yes, there's much that hasn't been told about this point in these new characters' lives, but since they're still making movies with these characters in them, I can't go crazy and make up too much about them. Since the characters are still “in continuity,” so to speak, I have to use what I know about them, and not add too much more. One of my rules, for example, was that Kirk and Spock can never meet. They meet in the movie, at the end of their time at Starfleet Academy, so I can't even have them pass in the hallway without speaking. They could never share a scene together! That's tough, particularly when those two characters are really the core of the old Trek series.

At the same time, I got to introduce the character of Sulu to the YA series, and in doing so I explored his attitude and motivations at the Academy. I was given a lot of room to do that. I also expanded on the relationship between Spock and Uhura introduced in the movie, giving what I thought were really good reasons both of them would end up together.

Star Trek fans are obsessive in both their adoration and fact checking.  What was it like writing for that kind of audience? 

Yeah, that's tough. I was really nervous about that. I know a lot about Trek history, but I'm not a super-fan. There's another level of fan above me, the kind of fans who know the registry numbers for every ship and the names of all the tertiary characters and what all the technobabble means. I relied heavily on published Star Trek technical and historical guides, and I had someone at CBS/Paramount who knows his stuff, who helped edit for that stuff. Still, people on Trek forums have already begun to ask some nitpicky questions. It comes with the territory. Even the show writers get that kind of scrutiny from fans, and what they write is technically canon! But it looks like I got away with not making any egregious Trek errors.

And in keeping with the obsessive fan theme, what is Dragon-Con like?

My family and I go to DragonCon just about every year, and we have a blast. It's a massive geek-culture festival held in Atlanta every year over Labor Day weekend. If it's sci-fi, fantasy, comic book, animated, gaming, or strange/weird and has a fandom, it's represented at DragonCon. We've lately gotten really into costuming, working up grand creations for the Sunday night Masquerade competition. Last year, we won a prize for our renditions of Space Ghost, Brak, and Zorak. This year, I'm building a ten-foot tall Totoro, from the anime movie My Neighbor Totoro. It kind of dominates the whole downstairs right now.

I know the Starfleet book just came out, but can you tell us what’s next?

Next up is something about as different as you can get—a Holocaust narrative. Scholastic approached me to write a novel based on the true story of a man named Jack Gruener, who as a boy survived ten different Nazi concentration camps. He and his wife had written up a brief memoir of his time in the camps, and I took that and expanded it into a novel. The book is called Prisoner B-3087, and it comes out in March of 2013.

Thanks again to Alan for taking the time, and for sharing such great insights into his past and future work.  I hope you got as much out of his lessons as I did.  Be sure to visit his website at for more information, including author appearances and DragonCon pictures.
And now...
Here’s how the giveaway works.  I’ll pick one random winner from among the commenters to this post.  The winner gets to select one signed book from among the three Alan Gratz YA novels discussed here.  That’ s STARFLEET ACADEMY: THE ASSASSINATION GAME, SOMETHING ROTTEN, or SOMETHING WICKED—something for every taste, and remember, it’s signed!

Please comment below to be considered for the drawing. Extra points offered for posting about the contest on Facebook or Twitter (please include mention of this in your comment). Email MUST be included in the comment to be considered. Open to US and Canadian entries only - apologies. Contest closes at midnight EST on 9/22/12.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Interview with Jus Accardo

Congratulations to our very own Jus Accardo on her upcoming release, Toxic, the second novel in her Denazen series!! 

When a Six saved Kale’s life the night of Sumrun, she warned there would be consequences. A trade-off. Something taken for the life they gained. But Dez never imagined she’d lose the one thing she’d give anything to keep… And as if it’s not enough Dez finds her immunity to Kale fading, the Six brought in to help Kale learn to control his killer touch starts drooling on him the moment they meet. Worse than that? Jade can touch Kale. But bimbo Barbie is the least of Dez’s problems.
After Dez and Kale got away at Sumrun, her father lost not only his most powerful weapon but an important piece of the Supremacy project. Forced by Denazen to remedy the situation, he poisons Dez and offers her a choice—surrender to Denazen for the cure…or die. Determined to find a solution that doesn’t involve being bagged and tagged—or losing someone she loves—Dez keeps the poison a secret.  But when a rash of Denazen attacks hit a little too close to home, Dez is convinced there’s a traitor among them. Jade.
Sacrifices, broken promises, and secrets. Dez will have to lay it all on the line if there’s any hope of proving Jade’s guilt before they all end up Residents of Denazen. Or worse, dead…

1.    Toxic is book two in your Denazen series. It’s been nearly a year since your debut novel, Touch, was released. Can you tell us how your life has changed since then?

Not much, really. I get a little more email and I’m a little busier than I used to be… No real changes. I did have a TOUCH postcard on the dash of my car and a woman in the parking lot saw it and asked if I’d read the book telling me she loved it. That was pretty epic…

2.    Who’s your favorite secondary character in Toxic? And do you have a favorite line of paragraph?

I’ll always have a soft spot for Dax and Alex, and even though I know everyone loathes her, Jade was SO much fun to write.
As for lines, I don’t want to ruin it, but there’s one with Dez and Jade and it involves an M80… ;)

3.    Anything you’d like to share about book three or do you have any sneak peeks for us?

Book 3 is going to change everything… whistles innocently

4.    As those of us pursuing a writing career know, the road to publication is not an easy one. We’d love to hear a little about yours.

It’s not for the faint of heart. You need to go into it armed with a ton of support, a slick back, and a stubborn streak ten miles long. I was really lucky. I only queried one book before TOUCH and then happened to query the right person at the right time. You have to keep at it. Don’t let rejection discourage you. It only takes one person to pick you out of the slush and give you a killer home.

5.    What’s your latest book crush? And what’s next on your reading list?

I’m totally crushing on Kai from Wendy Higgins SWEET EVIL. As for what’s next, I’m not sure… My TBR pile kind of scares me. I’m thinking about getting a restraining order…


The contest for a signed copy of Kelly Creagh's Enshadowed has officially closed. We have notified the winner via e-mail.

Thanks to everyone who commented!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Book Birthday Enshadowed! Giveaway!

On August 28th, fellow YA Fusion blogger, Kelly Creagh's, second book in the Nevermore series, Enshadowed, was released. I am a lucky girl because I've read it and I will tell you that it is an amazing, hooking, and creepy read. There is one scene that still gives me shivers.

In celebration of it's release, the beautiful Ms. Creagh has joined us for a chat.

 What are you the most excited about in returning to Varen and Isobel's world?

Sharing some of the back story to shed light on things from book one and also foreshadow things to come in book three. Also, in Enshadowed, we get some glimpses of Varen’s past (and Poe’s) that are important in regards to the things yet to come.    

What is your favorite quote from Enshadowed?

Hm. Gwen has a lot of great one-liners, but I think my favorite line of dialogue is spoken by Isobel’s little brother, Danny. Isobel tells her brother there’s something she’s “gotta go do.”
 His response is: “Like, Luke Skywalker leaves Dagobah to save Han and Leia gotta do, or Dick Grayson stops being Robin to go to Bludhaven and become Nightwing gotta do?”

 How did you come up with this awesome title?

My editor is the brains behind the title. My first few picks were complete duds. I’m not the best title person but having to do titles for every chapter has really improved my skill in this area. “Enshadowed” was a word I found in a re-telling of The Fall of The House of Usher. Poe never used the word himself but it still fits great with the overall story.

 What is your favorite scene?

I surprised myself with what I did in Chapter 31. I think that is my favorite scene in Enshadowed. I hadn’t planned for certain things in that scene but the events ended up dictating much of the book’s initial revision.

Fun question time!

Favorite Music? 

I’ve been listening to a lot of Radio Head lately. They’ve been on my iPod quite a bit for the writing of the final book in the trilogy. I’m also a huge fan of My Chemical Romance.


Yes. I officially have more dogs than I do sense. I have three dogs now, Annabel, Jack and Holly. They’re such great company while I’m writing and so wonderful. If I ever need to distress, I just go play with the pups!

Favorite Color? 

Purple has been a favored color while I’ve been writing the Nevermore trilogy. I suspect it might change with my next project. I’m a big fan of ocean blue/green also.


I’m a professional bellydance performer and instructor. I also dig paranormal reality TV shows. I’m so hooked on them!

To celebrate, we are giving away a signed copy of Enshadowed! 

Please comment below to be considered for the drawing. Extra points offered for posting about the contest on Facebook or Twitter (please include mention of this in your comment). Email MUST be included in the comment to be considered. Open to US and Canadian entries only - apologies. Contest closes at midnight EST on 9/8/12.