2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 6

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Welcome back to the sixth episode of the 2014 Debut Author Intros! Every weekend in December we will be featuring some of the most anticipated authors of 2014. Take a look below at todays authors!

 

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Mary McCoy, author of Dead to Me

Mary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles’s notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her debut novel, Dead To Me, is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of 1940s Hollywood.

 

Can you tell us about your debut, Dead to Me?, in 15 words or less?
Murder, lost sisters, buried secrets, and shady starlets in 1948 Los Angeles.
What genre would you catagorize Dead to Me as?
It’s a YA historical mystery.
When can we expect to see a cover?
No word on that yet, but it’s Disney-Hyperion so I’m sure it will be gorgeous.
What was your favorite scene to write?
There’s a character with a very compelling backstory and a scene where she finally gets to share it. I wrote the whole thing longhand in a single sitting, and I don’t think I took a single breath while I did it.
Is this a standalone or will there be a sequel?
Dead To Me kind of straddles the fence between hard-boiled and noir, and according to the genre rules, hard-boiled stories can have sequels and noir can’t. The characters in Dead To Me could go on to have more adventures and solve more mysteries, but probably won’t. Their story ends exactly where I want it to.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes, and it’s totally different than Dead To Me. All I can really say about it right now is that it’s set at a summer camp that would be shut down in five minutes flat if only the proper authorities could find it.
What was your first reaction when you learned you were being published by Disney Hyperion?
I was sitting in a filthy stairwell in a black dress when I got the news, so I do remember thinking, “Disney author goes through rest of day with dust-covered ass, doesn’t care.”
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
I’m a YA librarian, so I’m psyched to get all of them for my library system. However, one I’m really excited to read myself is The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, which involves mysteries, corruption, poetry, reality tv, a brave little gerbil, and sounds like everything I want to be a part of.
Dead to Me:
In 1944, Alice’s sister, Annie, stormed out of the house and disappeared into the streets of Los Angeles, abandoning a promising acting career – and Alice. Four years later, Annie turns up in MacArthur Park, beaten into a coma and carrying nothing but a photograph with Alice’s name and phone number scrawled on the back.Alice vows to find Annie’s attacker, but to do that she’ll have to retrace her sister’s steps. The investigation will lead her into a world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets – and onto the trail of a young runaway who witnessed a terrible crime. What she knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars. But only if Alice can find her first.
7142407Whitney A. Miller, author of The Violet Hour
Whitney A. Miller lives in San Francisco with her husband and a struggling houseplant. She’s summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden the Trans-Siberian rails, bicycled through Vietnam, done the splits on the Great Wall of China, and evaded the boat police in Venice, but her best international adventures take place on the page! Visit her website HERE.

Can you tell us about your 2014 debut, The Violet Hour, in 15 words or less?

Harlow Wintergreen is plagued by a sinister voice and bloody visions that start coming true.

I love that you included diversity in this YA book. Normally we see a lot of white MC’s, but this book actually takes place in Asia. Why did you decide to go that route?

I set the book in Asia because I travel there a lot and find it endlessly intriguing. The lush, enigmatic locales featured in THE VIOLET HOUR –  Harajuku Street in Tokyo, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, just to name a few – provided the perfect backdrop for this psychological horror story. As for Harlow, she entered my imagination as this transcendently beautiful girl with Asian features, luminous green eyes, and a mysterious provenance that will only be revealed by reading the book!

What was your favorite scene to write?

Tough question. I think my favorite to write was a scene with Harlow and her unrequited love, Adam. It takes place on this really cool section of the Great Wall of China – I’m pretty sure there’s no better place to share a stolen kiss than atop one of the seven wonders of the world. The scene I absolutely can’t wait for everyone to read is the last one in the book…I think it’s a surprise that readers won’t see coming!

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

Anything involving Harlow’s extremely clever, endlessly adorable best friend Dora. I had to kill some of the darlings that came out of her mouth, but don’t worry…plenty survived the massacre!

Is this a standalone or a series?

This is a two-book series – I’m working on the sequel right now and it’s shaping up to be a nail-biting race around the world. St. 18085695Petersburg! Paris! London! Oh, my!

If you could cast anyone to play some of the main characters, who would you choose?

Oooh! Answering this question is a guilty pleasure. Here’s my roster:

Harlow Wintergreen, our fearless heroine. I always imagined her looking something like Kristin Kreuk. I mean, KK is like thirty, and playing a teen when you’re thirty only works if you’re Luke Perry on 90210. So she would be played by KK in a world where time travel is not off the table.

Adam Fitz, our tortured and tattooed loverboy. Played by this nameless gentleman from THE VIOLET HOUR Pinterest board.

Dora Elber, everybody’s favorite sidekick. Step right up, Mae Whitman!

Mercy Mayer, nemesis and covergirl. Totally Sky Ferreira.

Hayes Cantor. The boy who just might steal Harlow’s heart? Ansel Elgort. He’s 1000% adorbs plus I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of contractual requirement that if you make a YA book-to-movie adaptation, Ansel has to be in it.

Are you currently working on anything else?

Yes! The untitled sequel to THE VIOLET HOUR and a few other things I’m experimenting with outside the horror genre.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Oh, man. Another tough question – there are so many! It’s a tie between STITCHING SNOW by R.C. Lewis and THE ART OF LAINEY by Paula Stokes.

 

 The Violet Hour:

The voice inside me is breaking free. I can’t stop it.

Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life.

As the daughter of VisionCrest’s patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. She must be considered a paragon of integrity by the other Ministry teens and a future leader in the eyes of the world.

Yet despite the constant scrutiny, Harlow is keeping a dark and dangerous secret. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control…

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18085695-the-violet-hour?ac=1

 

 

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Liz de Jager, author of Banished

Moved to the UK in 2000 with my husband. We now live in Kent with our dog Sparrow. I ran My Favourite Books Blog – a book review site – until the end of 2012 when we decided to shut it for our own sanity.

My bookdeal was announced in March 2013 and the first book THE BLACKHART LEGACY: BOOK 1: BANISHED is due out in Spring 2014 from Tor UK, an imprint of Pan Macmillan. Visit her website HERE.

 Can you tell us about your debut, BANISHED, in 15 words or less?
BANISHED: Save the prince; save the world. Maybe steal kiss, all in a day’s job.

How many books will be in the Blackhart Legacy series?
It’s a trilogy.

What was your favorite scene to write?
The kissing scene! It was so exciting and so thrilling and scary. I had to of course do lots of research and read kissing scenes.  It’s a tough job.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Actually, even before my agent and I sold the book I did an intensive edit with her and we both agreed that I had to edit out an entire character.  He was just too strong and really needed his own book (one day maybe) so it entailed me going through the book looking for any mention of him and changing things to suit the new storyline and tidy things up.  I think I lost about ten thousand words and then had to put it back in again.  Crazy.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Book 2 – Vowed – and it’s due to be released (if I manage to keep my tight schedules) in November 2014.

What is one of your favorite quotes from Banished?
This is pretty near the beginning of the book, around page 47 or so.  Kit’s just stormed a group of goblin redcaps and kicked their butts.

‘I’m Kit Blackhart,’ I say, catching my breath and in a smooth move flick the blood off my sword and slide it home. I do it with far more style than I’ve ever done it before and I feel a bit swaggery. ‘Nice fighting.’

His eyes are very dark in the flickering light of the dying torches the redcaps have dumped. I see him swallow against a dry throat, but 17617648then he draws himself up and executes a perfect courtly bow as if we’re meeting at a royal ball, in a glittering room with perfumed courtiers, and as I’m dressed in an exquisite gown, rather than ratty jeans covered in redcap blood and bits.

‘A pleasure to meet you, Miss Blackhart. Prince Thorn, the seventh son of the House of Alba, at your service.’ His voice is pleasant and deep and his accent is a bit foreign. A neat package, until he tries to smile and his eyes roll back in his head and I have to catch him before he hits the ground.

I’m a tall girl, and strong, but I know it’s going to be hellish to try and get him back to the Manor before dawn.

😀

 You live in England! I’m so jealous!!! Where would you recommend someone go eat if they were to visit Kent?
I live in Kent! It is the prettiest county, for sure.  We have stunning forests and the coast.  I’d recommend you visit the town of Whitstable when they have their Oyster Festival in July.  It is a foodie paradise – and it’s not just seafood but LOADS of food, fresh fruits and quirky crafts. And even when it’s not sunny, it’s got loads of really great restaurants and eateries.  Our favourite is Tea and Time on the High Street.  They do amazing breakfasts.  You basically don’t need to eat for the rest of the day!

What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I’ve SERIOUSLY fallen for Rainbow Rowell and read Fangirl and am smitten.  When I grow up I want to be one of her characters.

 What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited about Elissa Sussman’s Stray – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17617617-stray – I mean, it sounds great – Handmade’s Tale and Grimm? Sign. Me. Up!

 

Banished:

Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17617648-banished?ac=1

 

399493Christine Kohler, author of No Surrender Soldier

author of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER, Jan. 18, 2014, Merit Press. Kohler is a former journalist and teacher. Visit her website HERE.

 

Can you tell us about your debut, NO SURRENDER SOLDIER, in 15 words or less?
Premise:
Guam, 1972 — A 15-year-old Chamorro boy, Kiko, discovers his mother was raped by a Japanese soldier during WWII. Will he take revenge on a soldier hiding in the jungle behind Kiko’s house?
What genre is No Surrender Soldier? Historical fiction
What was your favorite scene to write? A ghost chapter
What was the hardest scene to edit out? A Stations of the Cross chapter
Is this a standalone or a series? Stand-alone
Are you currently working on anything else? A YA contemporary novel GRIDIRON GIRLS about hazing and harassment; it’s 17925536completed
What was your favorite quote from No Surrender Soldier?
…I wanted to believe that “Little Turtle” was my grandfather’s way of saying I was steady, strong like the turtle. He would say the turtle that birthed Guam spit me out onto the beach. Then, in his tough-guy way, Tatan would say, “You no taste good,” and laugh his fool head off.
Come to think of it, maybe Tatan was crazy before old age robbed is memory.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Besides my own? BIG FAT DISASTER by Beth Fehlbaum, March, Merit Press; I read it in copy editing stage and cried all through it.
No Surrender Soldier:
A young man, an old soldier , and a terrible injustice. Should the punishment be death?Growing up on Guam in 1972, fifteen-year-old Kiko is beset by worries: He’s never kissed a girl, and he thinks it’s possible he never will. The popular guys get all the attention, but the worst part is that Kiko has serious problems at home. His older brother is missing in Vietnam; his grandfather is losing it to dementia; he just learned that his mother was raped in World War II by a Japanese soldier. It all comes together when he discovers an old man, a Japanese soldier, hiding in the jungle behind his house. It’s not the same man who raped his mother, but, in his rage, Kiko cares only about protecting his family and avenging his mom – no matter what it takes. And so, a shy, peaceable boy begins to plan a murder. But how far will Kiko go to prove to himself that he’s a man ? Based on a historical incident, No Surrender Soldier is the story of a boy grappling with ancient questions of courage and manhood before he can move on.
unnamedVeronica Bartles, author of Twelve Steps
As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.   When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.

Can you tell us about your book, TWELVE STEPS, in 15 words or less?

Andi creates a 12-step program to get the guy and outshine her perfect older sister.

 

 

Why contemporary?

I enjoy reading most genres of fiction, from contemporary to sci-fi, to fantasy, but contemporary is my favorite. I like losing myself in a world that’s familiar and real, where I can imagine all kinds of what-ifs.

 

 

What was your favorite scene to write?

Hands down, the charity clothing drive scene. It wasn’t in my original outline, but as I started writing, the words just flowed together and theunnamed scene appeared on the pages of my story notebook. And I laughed and giggled through the entire scene.

 

This is the scene where I truly fell in love with Andi.

 

 

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

Originally, I had an entire sub-plot about the big winter formal dance, where Andi’s older sister Laina is nominated for (and wins) Snow Queen, even though Andi wanted to be the first junior ever to win the coveted crown. I really wanted this minor storyline to highlight the love/hate relationship between the sisters, and it was like pulling off a limb when I had to cut it. But ultimately, it didn’t fit within the story arc of this novel. It became just a part of the pages and pages of backstory that shaped the story without making it onto the pages of the actual manuscript.

 

Who knows? Maybe the deleted winter dance story will grow into a prequel novella at some point. 😉

 

 

Will this be a standalone or will there be a sequel/companion novel?

Ironically, TWELVE STEPS is actually a companion novel to my first (unpublished) novel. I wrote the older sister’s story first, and I had lots of very positive feedback on the manuscript, but I was scared to death of the query process, and so by the time I reached 21 rejections (over the course of more than 2 years – sending one or two queries at a time), I gave up on that novel and wrote TWELVE STEPS “just for me,” as a way to say goodbye to these characters I still loved like crazy. Luckily, I have some amazingly supportive critique partners who convinced me to try querying this manuscript, and who wouldn’t let me give up, even when I got some rejections.

 

Eventually, I’d love to come back to that first novel. I still love the story there. I identify more with Laina (Andi’s older sister) than any other character in the TWELVE STEPS cast, and I’d love to have her story published one day as a companion novel to TWELVE STEPS. But for now, there are no concrete plans on that.

 

 

What else are you working on?

I recently snagged my super-agent, Jessica Sinsheimer, with my middle grade contemporary (with a touch of magical realism) novel, LETTERS FROM HEAVEN.

 

Three days into the new school year, thirteen-year-old Missy Tuttle’s mom dies. Now, Missy’s teachers treat her like a broken porcelain doll, Dad’s already dating again, and her older brother spends all his time on the basketball court. Her two younger sisters expect Missy to fill the hole Mom left behind, and her best friends have gone AWOL. It’s too much for one girl to handle alone.
Mom always planned ahead for everything, so when letters full of advice from Mom start popping up in unexpected places, Missy’s hardly surprised. But as time passes and the letters not only keep coming, but get more specific, Missy starts to wonder if she’s actually receiving letters from heaven.
But if Mom can communicate from beyond the grave, she shouldn’t be wasting her time telling Missy to keep her chin up. She should do something real to keep Missy’s family together. As Missy’s anger spirals into a deep depression, she’s tempted to give up on everything. Only when she starts responding to Mom with letters of her own does Missy gain the courage to accept the changes in her life and heal her family.

 

 

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Other than my own? 😉

 

I’m really excited for Brenda Drake’s LIBRARY JUMPERS. A group of Sentinels who jump through the pages of a book to travel from library to library all over the world? Yes, please! I actually got to read an early draft of this novel a little over a year ago, and it was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to read the finished, polished book!

 

12 Steps:

Second born does not mean second best.

Sixteen-year-old Andi could be better than her sister, Laina, if people only gave her a chance. But when Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with her sister, she decides to stop waiting. The only chances she’ll get are those she takes for herself.

Andi devises a twelve step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and make it her own. Step one: admit she’s powerless over her perfect sister and her life really, really sucks. Step four: make a list of her good qualities, even if all she’s got going for her is really good hair. Step seven: demand attention for more than just her shortcomings. But auditioning for Cinderella lands her the part of the overlooked stepsister, a role she knows all too well. A stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster. And turning her floundering biology grade into an A lands her butt in the principal’s office, even though she was definitely not cheating.

As Andi works through her twelve step program, she realizes the Prince isn’t as charming as she thought. And when Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

 

7055613Rin Chupeco, author of The Girl from the Well

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

Her work, The Girl from the Well, is a YA psychological horror novel due out in Fall 2014, pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”. She is represented by Nicole LaBombard and Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency.

 

Can you tell us about your debut, The Girl from the Well, in 15 words or less?
– Vengeful spirit discovers that after a strange boy moves into town, so had something else.
When can we expect a cover reveal?
– I’ve seen my book cover (creepy in a very subtle way) but there’s no set date for the final version yet. Do expect a reveal  early next year, though!
Why horror? Can we expect to jump a lot in this one? Is it more jumpy or more gory?
– I love jumpy. I like to write things that make readers feel there’s something else in the room with them. There is something frighteningly appealing about trying to draw out scenes that not only exploit people’s personal fears, but also to assure them that there is nothing they can do about it. That said, I prefer psychological horror over gory, and the Japanese version of the Grudge / Ju-on stands as one of my favorite films of all time. It’s not about the descriptions of blood and entrails for me – it’s all about seeking safety underneath a blanket, only to discover there’s a face under that blanket with you.
What was your favorite scene to write?
– The first chapter, hands down. I had no outline in hand, no synopsis, and no idea whether or not I was even going to finish it, much less the rest of the book. My concept of my protagonist was still a very hazy idea then. I needed her to be both a terrible and yet sympathetic character, and I wasn’t sure it could be done.
She came out beautifully. She’s the vengeful, horrifying spirit I needed her to be, and at first that was all I wanted – until she did something rather profound near the end of the chapter, something I didn’t plan out beforehand, and I loved her as soon as she did it. It was the easiest chapter I’d ever written.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
– My male protagonist, Tark, started first-draft life as an adorable eight year old boy. As the story progressed, I began to realize that he didn’t quite fit into the kind of book I had in mind, and that he had to change. I aged him by several years, painted him in that more cynical shade of bitter, and felt sad about the innocent kid we both had to leave behind. There’s still a little bit of that boy in final-draft Tark, if you look hard enough.
Is this a standalone or a series?
– I haven’t discussed a second book with my editor yet, though I’d like for this to be a duology rather than as a standalone. Things can change over the next year, though, so nothing is set in stone yet.
What are you currently working on?
– A second book that may or may not be a companion piece to THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, depending on how well it will be received by the Powers that Be (see also: editor). I’m also dabbling in a YA fantasy series that’s a fairy tale retelling and not a fairy tale retelling at the same time. (At this point, it’s hard to explain without giving more away). Just to further that contradiction, I think horror and humor are two of my strongest points. My debut has a lot of the former, but this one has a lot of action, an ensemble cast, and a good dose of the latter.
What authors do you look up to?
– I’ve repeated enough times in other places that Neil Gaiman is the main reason I took that big step from writer-wannabe to actual-writer. I was weaned on David and Leah Eddings growing up, and Stephen King was the first ‘adult’ writer I’d ever read (pillaged parents’ King collection at six years old, much to their’ horror). I also love anything Mindy Kaling has ever said or written or breathed in.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
– I devoured Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett in under a day – rather at the same time as Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I adore (I may possibly be biased, however).
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
– I belong to both the OneFourKidLit and the BookYArd writers’ groups, so I know a lot of books to look forward to. I’m particularly eager to get my hands on Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz (who doesn’t like a pirate’s retelling of the Peter Pan tales?), All Four Stars by Tara Dairman (I have a soft spot for Anthony Bourdain-esque adventures and Gordon Ramsay-ish mayhem), No Surrender Soldier by Christine Kohler (the history she explores bears rather touching similarities to my own country’s history), and Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose (I can never say no to Arthurian steampunk.)
The Girl from the Well:
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gently, as your poet encourages, into the good night.A dead girl walks the streets.She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

unnamed (2)Emily Kate Johnston, author of The Story of Owen
The cool things about Emily Kate Johnston are that she is a forensic archaeologist, she has lived on four continents, she decorates cupcakes in her spare time, she adores the Oxford comma, and she loves to make up stories.The less cool things about Kate are that she’s from a small town in southwestern Ontario, she spends a lot of time crying over books in random coffee shops, and she can’t play as may musical instruments as she wishes she could. Visit her online at ekjohnston.ca.
Can you tell us about your debut, The Story of Owen, in 15 words or less?
Canada. Dragons. Music. Lies. Family. Small towns. Carbon emissions. Terrible cars. Good friends. And Stories.
What made you want to write about dragons?
 I realized I had never written anything with a dragon in it, and that seemed a bit weird. Then I settumblr_inline_mwl6rz95lV1r51ne6 out to make my dragons as different as possible from everyone else’s, and the rest just fell into place.
What was your favorite scene to write?
There’s a bit towards the end where Owen and Siobhan are sitting in the car waiting for [spoilers], and, um, something cool happens? That scene was my favourite. Also, I very much enjoyed destroying Michigan. 😉
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
 I didn’t actually edit out any scenes! I added a bunch of them, and moved some things around, but nothing got cut.
What is your favorite quote from The Story of Owen?
“Needless to say, when it was announced that Lottie Thorskard was moving to town permanently, it was like freaking Mardi Gras.”
Is this a series or a standalone?
There is a second book, out in 2015.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes. Yes I am. /cryptic
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
Natalie Parker read the first chapter of her BEWARE THE WILD out loud to a bunch of us during the summer, and believe me when I tell you, YOU ALSO WANT THAT BOOK.
The Story of Owen:
Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible oddsarmed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!
6456912Heather Demetrios, author of Something Real 
Heather Demetrios, originally from Los Angeles, now lives in Brooklyn and various imaginary locales. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award for her debut YA novel about reality TV stardom, SOMETHING REAL (Macmillan/Henry Holt), and is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN fantasy trilogy from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray), both out in 2014. She is currently working on her second novel for Macmillan, a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. When she’s not hanging out with her characters, Heather is working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts
Can you tell us about your debut, Something Real, in 15 words or less?
Bonnie™ Baker  is trying like hell to get off her family’s reality TV show. 
What was your favorite scene to write?
I loved writing a scene near the end of the book where Bonnie™ and her brother, Benton™, do something drastic to try to let the world know how much they don’t want to be on their family’s reality TV show, Baker’s Dozen. I also had a blast writing all the interpolations (tabloid magazine articles, Twitter feeds, and scripts). And..the romance scenes, natch. Oh, man, that’s more than one,15789443 isn’t it?
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
I actually got lucky with this particular book because I didn’t have to cut any scenes I loved. I think maybe the most difficult cut was the ending I had for my first few drafts. I don’t want to spoil it, but my original ending wasn’t honest enough and so my agent, Brenda Bowen, encouraged me to go back in and make it right. She has great instincts and I’m so glad I took her advice – I’m really happy with the novel’s resolution. 
You have another book releasing in the Fall, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, can you tell us a bit about that?
I am SO EXCITED about this book!! It’s the first in a trilogy (the DARK CARAVAN CYCLE) and follows, Nalia, a jinni who’s been trafficked to Earth and sold by a slave trader to a cruel (but devastatingly handsome, of course) master. It has wishes, magic, fast cars, romance and is set in Los Angeles. I think it’s really unique in the modern fantasy genre – no vampires, faeries, or werewolves here! 
Are you currently working on anything else?
Oh, am I! On top of working on Book 2 of the Dark Caravan Cycle (coming out from HarperCollins Fall 2015), I have a second YA realism coming out from Macmillan in Feb 2015, which is a love story about about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. I really love the heck out of that book – it’s very close to my heart. And, finally, I’m working on two other projects – I’d tell you about them, but then I’d have to kill you.
What authors do you look up to?
So many! I’m currently pursuing my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and everyone on that faculty is a writer I look up to. In addition to them, I really love e. lockhart, John Green, Laini Taylor, and M.T. Anderson…among so many others. For me, writers with VOICE are the ones I really fall for. 
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I absolutely adored The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s a gorgeously written, exquisitely imagined adult fantasy. For YA, I fell head over heels for Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
There are so many fantastic authors debuting in 2014 and it kills me that I don’t have time to read all of them. I’m pretty excited about NIL by Lynn Matson. We have the same editor at Macmillan and it’s been fun geeking out over our debuts together. Her book seems like LORD OF THE FLIES meets HUNGER GAMES. I’m also ridiculously excited about Lindsay Smith’s SEKRET. 
Something Real:
Winner of the 2012 PEN New England Discovery Award!There’s nothing real about reality TV.Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.
4351137Patrick Samphire, author of Secrets of the Dragon Tomb
Dinosaur hunter. Accidental archeologist. Armchair adventurer. Some of these things may not be true about Patrick Samphire. What istrue is that Patrick is the author of extremely exciting and occasionally funny books for middle grade readers, and of more serious and magical short stories for adults and young adults. You can find out more about him and his writing at www.patricksamphire.com
Can you tell us about your debut, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, in 15 words or less?
It’s a thrilling Martian adventure, full of fantastic inventions, deadly danger, and strange creatures.
Why did you decide to write middle grade?
The thing about middle grade is that the readers are simply more awesome than other readers. They really are. If you write for adults (and I’ve written quite a lot of short stories for adults), you don’t have the same freedom to be silly or over-the-top, and you don’t get to throw around such fun, cool ideas, because the readers are more cynical and jaded. I’ve never met a middle grade reader who was sneering or cynical.
Middle grade readers demand great books, and you can never cheat them or fool them, but once they find a great book, they’ll love it. That’s the 16172967audience I love writing for, and they’re the kind of books I love reading.
(YA readers are fantastic too, but they tend to be cooler, and, really, I’ve never been even slightly cool…)
What was your favorite scene to write?
Without giving too much away, it’s a scene where my characters are trapped in a crashing airship, high above the Martian wilderness, being chased by deadly mechanical crabs. It was a complete blast to write. Basically, I got to throw everything into it. Even pterodactyls. How could that not be fun?
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Man, I hate cutting stuff, but I had a lot to cut. I mean, really a lot. The first draft came in at something like 100,000 words, which is way, way too long for middle grade, so I got pretty ruthless and hard-hearted with my stuff. In the end, though, there were a couple of scenes where my characters were basically sitting around bantering. They had to go, because they didn’t really progress the book, but I so loved those scenes, it was heartbreaking. In fact, I’m feeling all sad now that you’re making think about it. Time to go and eat some chocolate.
Is this going to be a series?
Yes, definitely. There are certainly going to be two books, because my publisher has already contracted me for two, but I’ve got at least five books sketched out very loosely. Whether they all see the light of day, well, we’ll just have to hope… 🙂
Are you currently working on anything else?
Right now I’ve finishing up the sequel to Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, which might or might not be called The Emperor of Mars. As soon as that’s out of the way, I’m going to be writing another middle grade, this time set in 1930s England. It’s about three schoolgirl detectives, wizards, and a country house party. Think Agatha Christie meets JK Rowling and PG Wodehouse. Or something like that. Who knows. It might turn into something completely different by the end.
Do you plan to branch out to YA or are you going to stay with MG?
My books are at the upper end of middle grade, and I’ve actually written a couple of YA short stories (Crab Apple and At the Gates, which you can find through my website), so it’s certainly possible that I’ll branch out into YA. Really, it’s about having the right idea. Some ideas are definitely MG and some are definitely YA. I have some vague YA ideas knocking about, but they’re not ready for writing just yet.
What authors do you look up to?
So many! If I had to pick just a handful, I’d go for Rick Riordan, Sarwat Chadda, David Almond, Jonathan Stroud and JK Rowling in children’s fiction. In adult fiction, George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and Steven Erikson. Pretty much all of them fantasy writers, now that I come to think of it. (Fantasy rules, right? Right?) Oh yeah, and I am horribly grateful to Steven Cole, who writes the Astrosaurs books for younger children, because he’s written books that my older son loves but which are good enough for me to read out loud over and over again without tearing my hair out.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud. Undoubtedly his best book, and completely wonderful. I’m a fan.
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
This is cruel! I have so many 2014 books on my list. In fact, I just can’t narrow it down to one. I’m going to go for two: The Lost Planet, by Rachel Searles and The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, by Lauren Magaziner. They both sound awesome. But then so do a dozen others.
Secrets of the Dragon Tomb:
Mars in 1816 is a world of high Society, deadly danger, and strange clockwork machines. Pterodactyls glide through the sky, automatic servants hand out sandwiches at elegant garden parties, and in the north, the great dragon tombs hide marvels of Ancient Martian technology.Fourteen-year-old Edward Sullivan has always dreamed of becoming a spy like the ones he reads of in his favorite magazine, Thrilling Martian Tales. Instead, he spends his days keeping his eccentric family from complete disaster … that is, until the villainous archeologist, Sir Titus Dane, kidnaps Edward’s parents as part of a scheme to loot an undiscovered dragon tomb.Edward sets off in pursuit across the Martian wilderness. With him are his brilliant and outrageous little sister, Putty, his impossibly starchy older sister, Olivia, and his secretive cousin, Freddie. Together they must evade Sir Titus’s minions, battle mechanical nasties, and escape deadly Martian hunting machines. If they can’t, they will never uncover the secrets of the dragon tomb and rescue Edward’s family.
7071439Dahlia Adler, author of Behind the Scenes
Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a blogger at The Daily Dahlia and YA Misfits. Her debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, releases from Spencer Hill Contemporary in 2014. She is represented by Lana Popovic at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.
Can you tell us about your book, BEHIND THE SCENES, in 15 words or less?
Hollywood romance about reality in a world of make-believe and making your own happy ending!
What genre is Behind the Scenes?
Contemporary YA Romance
What was your favorite scene to write?
I’m all about kissing scenes, especially when there’s a little bit of an emotional battle to get to the good part, so I’d have to go with Ally and Liam’s first kiss!
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Actually, not a single scene was edited out of BEHIND THE SCENES. In fact, 20K was added between the end of the first draft and line edits. That always seems to be how my revisions go!
Is this going to be a standalone or will it be a series?
It’s hopefully going to have a companion, but it definitely reads like a standalone.
Are you currently working on anything else?
I just wrote the first 50K of the companion to BEHIND THE SCENES during NaNoWriMo, so I’m hoping to finish that in the next couple of months, and I’m also finishing up the first draft of a Contemporary New Adult standalone, which has been a lot of fun to write.
What is the last book that you read and loved?
HOW TO LOVE by Katie Contugno. I thought it was a great, realistic exploration of the different kinds of love relationships out there and the unnamed (1)needs and expectations we have from them.
What couple do you ship from a different book?
Pretty much every couple Melina Marchetta has ever written; if I had to pick one, I’d say Taylor and Jonah, simply because JELLICOE ROAD is my favorite book of hers. I think she just writes marvelously deep and complex relationships that show so much mutual respect of the other’s intelligence and fire. 
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to? 

So, so, so many! But the one I’ve really been dying for since before I even sold my book is POINTE by Brandy Colbert. Sometimes, you just get this feeling about a book, that it’s going to dig under your skin, and I definitely get it from her debut. Doesn’t hurt that it’s been blurbed by two of my all-time favorite YA authors, Courtney Summers and Nina LaCour, either! Just thinking about it makes my palms and wallet itchy!

Behind the Scenes:
High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
7043852Sarah Bromley, author of A Murder of Magpies
Sarah Bromley drinks too much coffee, likes her music loud and off-key, and has loved spooky things since she first saw “An American Werewolf in London” when she was five years old. She currently lives in the St. Louis area with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-heroic-husband, three children, and two petulant pugs. You can find her on Twitter and at her blog. Her adult works are under the name Sarah John Bromley. She is represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.Things Sarah Likes:Indie rock, 90s alternative music, strong coffee loaded with creamer, haunted houses, the books of Daphne du Maurier, the laughter of her kids, her garden, and thunderstorms.

Things Sarah Loathes:

When computers malfunction and walking past mirrors (or any reflective surface) at night.

Can you tell us about your book, A Murder of Magpies, in 15 words or less?

Southern Gothic sensibility set in the brutally cold north with secrets and the supernatural.

 

How on earth did you come up with that title?

Well, truthfully, there are some magpies and a murder, but it’s also a title that is dark and mysterious and I hope that gives some sense of the book’s tone.

 

What was your favorite scene to write?

I wrote this book back in 2008, and so much of it flew out in a flurry of words. But there is one scene that I remember writing and yelling at the characters as I was writing because I didn’t want them fighting. But they needed to. It involves a snowstorm, a barn, and realizing that nothing is what it seemed to be.

 

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

There wasn’t much edited out. Much more was fleshed out, but one of the hardest things was reinterpreting one of the characters.

 

When can readers expect a cover reveal?

I’m not sure! I know my publisher is hard at work on the cover, and we are working on plans for an awesome cover reveal. One thing I love about my publisher is they work really hard to make sure their covers stand out and the authors love them.

 

Will this be a standalone or will there be a sequel/companion novel?

A MURDER OF MAGPIES is the first in a three book series.

 

What else are you working on?

I have a Southern Gothic horror/thriller that I am writing as well as the follow up to A MURDER OF MAGPIES. After that, I’d like to either work on my “Northern Gothic” horror that’s halfway done or another Southern Gothic horror.

 

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

As one of the YA Scream Queens and BookYArd authors, I’m extremely excited for my bloggers’ debuts, but I’m ridiculously thrilled for my good friend and critique partner Hillary Monahan’s debut MARY: THE SUMMONING to hit the shelves in the fall. I’ve read it. It’ll scare your socks off!

 

A Murder of Magpies:

Winter in Black Orchard, Wisconsin, is long and dark, and sixteen-year-old empath Vayda Silver prays the snow will keep the truth buried. In spite of a family history of secrets and murder, Vayda somehow trusts Ward Ravenscroft, who claims to not scare easily. But he doesn’t know what her powers are doing to him. Yet.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17787411-a-murder-of-magpies?ac=1

 

 

6549281Bethany Neal, author of My Last Kiss

I write YA novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing! I am obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, pickles, dessert, predestined love, not growing up, sour gummy candies, and fictional boys who play guitar.

You can find me locked in my writertorium for insane amounts of time. But, hey, insanity is fun! My debut novel MY LAST KISS will be published by FSG Books for Young Readers June 2014.

 

Can you tell us about your debut, MY LAST KISS, in 15 words or less? 
Cassidy’s a ghost(ish) who can’t remember how she died, but knows someone she trusted’s responsible.
What was your favorite scene to write? 

There’s a scene toward the middle of the book (chapter 13) where Cassidy and her boyfriend Ethan share an unexpected slow dance that Iabsolutely love because it is so perfectly bittersweet. She’s just regained an important piece of her memory from the week that she died, but it also poses a massive complication in their relationship so she doesn’t want to tell him about it. Scenes like that where there is so much going on beneath the surface are always fun to write.  


I also loved writing the last scene even though it was an emotional thrasherI think I reread it out loud for about an hour straight just because I 18465608couldn’t bear losing that moment.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?

The first, first draft that nobody but me got to read included a ghostly, shall we say, bedroom scene that I ended up cutting. It was a tough decision because I wanted my main character to be able to experience that moment of connection to the living world through the boy she loved, but it didn’t work for the story as a whole. I still feel bad about being a bedroom buzz kill for my girl Cassidy.

Why contemporary?
Well, I sort of cheated by having Cassidy wake up dead in chapter 1! But I write what I read, and I enjoy reading contemporary YA that dances the line between possible and impossible. 
On one hand, Cassidy’s story is very grounded in reality–especially teenage reality. On the other hand, she’s dead but miraculously still existing in our world. I think contemporary fiction gives us that opportunity to explore and experience problems or mistakes we might make in “real” life just on an exaggerated scale. Plus, the hard stuff in life becomes easier to bear if we allow ourselves to imagine that second chances, like the one Cassidy gets, exist, even in death. 
If you could cast any of your characters, who would you choose?

The most important casting decision is, of course, the cute boy. I found the actor for Cassidy’s boyfriend Ethan, while watching Pretty Little Liars of all things! His name is Cody Christian and he plays Aria’s brother Mike on the show. The only thing is his eyes aren’t Ethan’s dreamy shade of deep umber, but the rest is there. Here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure…

CodyChristian
For Cassidy, I’d have to go with Gabriella Wilde. She’d need to dye her hair auburn, but after watching her performance as Sue in the revamp of Carrie (which is a must-see if you haven’t treated yourself yet!) she has that blend of dancer elegance and inner strength an actress would need to portray an amnesiac ghost.
GabriellaWilde
The other swoony morsel to look forward to in My Last Kiss is Cassidy’s childhood friend Caleb. I can’t resist casting Austin Butler fromThe Carrie DiariesYou’re welcome for that visual while you’re reading. 
AustinButler
What is one of your favorite quotes from My Last Kiss?

There’s a line at the beginning of chapter 9 that I am seriously considering tattooing on my person. The full line is “I’d lay wide awake next to him for all of ever” but it’s the “for all of ever” bit that simply melts me. 

Is this a standalone or a series?

My Last Kiss is a standalone. I think Cassidy’s story has definitely been told to completion. Although the ending of the book is up for interpretation…

Are you currently working on anything else? Right now I’m having a blast writing a deliciously dark novel. It’s YA and full ofgoosebump-worthy mysteries and thrills…and of course kissing! I hope you’ll all get to read it in the near future.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to? Oh man, that’s a toughy. I’m in such fabulous company. I’m really excited to readLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira. I also just read about Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington and it sounds like the dark-and-stormy-night kind of read I won’t be able to put down. 

 

My Last Kiss:

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18465608-my-last-kiss

 

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