2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 7

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Welcome back to the seventh 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!

 

6930476Meredith McCardle, author of The Eighth Guardian

 

Meredith McCardle is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. Her debut, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, will be published by Skyscape/Amazon Children’s in Spring 2014. Visit her website HERE.

Can you tell us about your debut, The Eighth Guardian, in 15 words or less?
A girl joins a secret, time-traveling government agency that is keeping dangerous and deadly secrets.
Why Science Fiction?
Well, if I’m being honest, the science fiction elements of this story came about completely by accident. My original idea for this story was about a girl who uncovers secrets at a top secret CIA training school, but the whole thing was just very ho-hum/been-done-a-million-times-already, so I knew it needed more. The time travel idea hit me out of nowhere one day when I was in the car, and I took it and ran.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Hands-down, it’s the scene where Iris goes back in time to try to stop a museum burglary. I loved writing that.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
I can’t really answer this without getting very spoilerish, so I’ll just say Texas, which is still a scene in the book. The original scene had a much, 17357347much different outcome, but a critique partner suggested I change it to what it is now. I hemmed and hawed and whined and wailed (a lot), but in the end, she was right.
How many books will be in the Annum Guard series?
At least two, but I’m hoping for more!
Are you currently working on anything else?
I have a few things I’m writing while revising Annum Guard 2 for my editor. One is a multi-POV, middle eastern-inspired fantasy, and the other is an historical ghost story.
Did any music inspire you while writing The Eighth Guardian?
Oh, yes. The entire book was inspired by the title of a song by electronic band Autechre called “Iris Was a Pupil.” I was obsessed with that title: Who is Iris? What is she a pupil of? Why is she no longer a pupil? This book wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t been listening to the radio one day and if that song hadn’t come on at that precise moment. And then THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN has two songs that serve as sort of theme-songs. “33 Degree” by Thievery Corporation, which I listened to on repeat in the early drafting stages, and “Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine, which didn’t come out until after I was on submission but which captured the mood and vibe of the book perfectly.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
That’s too hard to answer! All of them! But I will say I’m really, really looking forward to the debuts of my fellow Skyscape authors. GILDED by Christina Farley, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE by Lori M. Lee, and KILLING RUBY ROSE by Jessie Humphries. These books are going to be epic.
The Eighth Guardian:
Amanda Obermann. Code name Iris.It’s Testing Day. The day that comes without warning, the day when all juniors and seniors at The Peel Academy undergo a series of intense physical and psychological tests to see if they’re ready to graduate and become government operatives. Amanda and her boyfriend Abe are top students, and they’ve just endured thirty-six hours of testing. But they’re juniors and don’t expect to graduate. That’ll happen next year, when they plan to join the CIA—together.But when the graduates are announced, the results are shocking. Amanda has been chosen—the first junior in decades. And she receives the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a secret government organization called the Annum Guard and travel through time to change the course of history. But in order to become the Eighth Guardian in this exclusive group, Amanda must say good-bye to everything—her name, her family, and even Abe—forever.Who is really behind the Annum Guard? And can she trust them with her life?

901057Mary Crockett, author of Dream Boy (co-authored by Madelyn Rosenberg)
Mary Crockett’s debut young adult novel DREAM BOY is about the aftermath of dreams and the desire to figure out how you fit into the puzzle of your own life. It’s also about cute guys, epic kisses, and the mystical power of a really awesome pair of shoes. A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model. In her other life, she’s an award-winning poet, professional eavesdropper, and the person who wipes runny noses. If you tweet at her, chances are she will tweet back.
Can you tell us about your debut, DREAM BOY, in 15 words or less?
Annabelle’s a big dreamer — but she never expected her dreamboy to appear at her door.
When can we expect a cover reveal?
Dream Boy is due out July 1, so I’m thinking February-ish. (Sooner, if we’re lucky. The current version of the cover is seriously gorgeous, so it’s kind of painful to hold it back.)
What genre is Dream Boy?
Contemporary fantasy. A bit of magical realism. Some romance, some horror. A ton of humor. It’s pretty much a mixed bag of awesomeness. (That’s my sparkly way of covering up for the fact that Dream Boy doesn’t neatly fit into a single genre.)
What was it like cowriting this book with Madelyn Rosenberg?
An absolute blast! Madelyn is one of my all-time favorite people. She has a rabid sense of humor and a keen knack for honing in on the right 18478539word. I can’t tell you the number of times I compulsively chortled at something she wrote. (Yeah, I don’t have a very elegant laugh.)
The writing process is a sort of literary version of tag-team wrestling (which I watched way too much of as a kid). I might stop writing in the middle of a scene–sometimes in the middle of a sentence–and tag Madelyn. She’ll tussle with what came before, making additions and edits, and then pound out a few paragraphs or a few pages, and then tag me back. 
I love how Madelyn would take some random detail I’d tossed into a previous scene and bring it back with a zing. Very cool to be part of that sort of exchange!
What was your favorite scene to write?
I had a lot of fun writing the kissing scene with Annabelle and a boy who at this point shall remain nameless. I’d been waiting for it so long—and I really love these characters—so I had a LOT to say about that kiss!
I also loved writing the scenes with Annabelle’s friends. In my other life, I write poetry, which generally focuses on a single, lonely voice “sound[ing its] barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world” (to steal a line from the great granddad of all American poets, Walt Whitman). So listening to a multitude of voices as I wrote was a wild experience for me. Newsflash for poets: dialog is fun!
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
The first draft of Dream Boy began with Annabelle attending a cousin’s wedding with her best friend Will. We pretty much axed that entire chapter in edits. It was a good decision, as it didn’t quite gel with the story arc, but it was painful to cut. There were so many fun, quirky little wedding details—cheese molded into the shape of doves and random guys with hair glitter. But alas, I will have to save my cheese molds and random guys for some other wedding.
What authors do you look up to?
If you’re talking contemporary YA writers, I have great respect for the works of Cornelia Funke, Lois Lowry, Patrick Ness, Kristin Cashore, and (does it even need to be said?) J.K. Rowling.
If you’re talking literary fiction, I love Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien, Geraldine Brooks, Cormac McCarthy. And a bit father back, Flannery O’Connor. John Kennedy Toole. God help me… Faulkner.
In poetry, I adore Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Wisława Szymborska.
I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. (I feel like I should have a bumper sticker that says “I loved Austen when Austen wasn’t cool.” But Austen was pretty much always cool.)
Dickens too. The Brontës. George Eliot. Elizabeth Gaskell. Thomas Hardy. Anyone whose work has been turned into costume drama by the BBC.
And if you want to go way, way back (like to the birth of the novel) I have big love for Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji. That is crazy good stuff.
Is this a standalone or a series?
Dream Boy is a complete book with a beginning, middle, and end. But both Madelyn and I feel we’re not quite done with these characters. I adore Annabelle and her gang of misfits. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to explore her world more fully.
Are you currently working on anything else?
I currently have four young adult manuscripts that are in early stages of development. Everything from weird futuristic satire to gritty realism. I also just completed drafts of a handful of picture books and a seriously whacky mid-grade novel.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
There are so many amazing books that I can’t wait to get my hands on! First, I want to give a shout out to all the stellar writers in The BookYArd, a new debut group that will be launching a blog soon. (If you don’t believe me, take a look at our author’s page. We’re still under construction, but here’s a sneak peek: http://bookyardwriters.wordpress.com/about/ )
In addition to the debuts of all my fellow BookYArdiagans, I am eager to read Corinne Duyvis’s OtherBound, a story about a boy who is inexplicably connected to a girl from another world. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of mental connection and I can’t wait to see how OtherBound tackles that idea.
I’m also interested in Lisa Colozza Cocca’s Providence, a novel about a runaway teen who finds an abandoned baby in a train car. I love Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, which featured a similar incident, and I’m interested to see how Providence plays out.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just mention one more: Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is about a teen diagnosed with leukemia. Thinking she only has a few months to live, she sets to settling scores. When she goes into remission, she has to face the consequences of what she’s done. Great premise, right?
Dream Boy:
Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

Author-Photo-1024x682Robin Herrera, author of Hope Is a Ferris Wheel
Yes! Use this one, please, and let me know if it’s too long:

Robin Herrera is an aspiring Cat Lady living in Portland, OR with her fiancé and one very mean (but precious) cat. She received her BA from Mills College and her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not chasing cats, she can be found at her desk at Oni Press, where she works as an admin assistant, or at the library, where she severely abuses the hold system. Her debut middle grade novel, HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL, will be published by Amulet books in March 2014. In the mean time, you can visit her online at robinherrera.com.

Can you tell us about your debut, Hope Is a Ferris Wheel, in 15 words or less?
A girl named Star Mackie who lives in a trailer park. Plus, Emily Dickinson!
Why did you decide to write MG instead of YA?
I actually write a lot of YA, but working in elementary after-school programs for six years gave me too much middle grade fodder. Hope Is a Ferris Wheel was also the first novel I’d ever completed, so it was what I sent to my agent, Sara Crowe. I’m currently working on a YA novel, though.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I call it the Hot Dog Scene. It’s chapter five in the book, and it was the first scene I ever envisioned, a scene that I think encompasses one of the themes of the novel really well. As I went through different drafts, I rewrote the scene over and over, but it always stayed pretty much in the same place. And even when I had to revise it, I always enjoyed coming up with different ideas for it.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Good question! There were a couple of chapters in the first draft, toward the end of the novel, where Star and her family have to take a18405519 trip to the ER because of an accident. They spend some time in the waiting room, and then a big secret is revealed. I loved those chapters, but realized they took up too much real estate. I could get the point – and the secret – across using a lot fewer words. It was sad to see it go, though!
Will Hope Is a Ferris Wheel become a series or is it a standalone?
Funny you should ask. Star, the main character of this novel, was actually a minor character in a companion novel to a novel I was working on during my first two years of college. Did that make sense? So Star is actually part of a much larger story, but her story is a standalone.
What authors do you look up to?
So many! Louis Sachar and Christopher Paul Curtis for making humor seem so effortless. Rebecca Stead for her characterization. Linda Urban for her prose. And Jaclyn Moriarty for all of the above! Plus, all the amazing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts. They’re not only brilliant writers, but brilliant teachers as well.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I’ve read a lot of good books this year, but two stand out. Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park achieved the rarest of things – it made me laugh and it made me cry. And after reading Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson, I knew it would be one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. So amazing.
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
Too tough! I’m excited to read all the 2014 debuts, but the more I hear about Corinne Duyvis’s Otherbound, the more intrigued I am by it. It helps that she’s also being published through Amulet, so I hear quite a bit!
Hope Is a Ferris Wheel:
Ten-year-old Star Mackie lives in a trailer park with her flaky mom and her melancholy older sister, Winter, whom Star idolizes. Moving to a new town has made it difficult for Star to make friends, when her classmates tease her because of where she lives and because of her layered blue hair. But when Star starts a poetry club, she develops a love of Emily Dickinson and, through Dickinson’s poetry, learns some important lessons about herself and comes to terms with her hopes for the future.
With an unforgettable voice with a lot of heart, Hope Is a Ferris Wheel is the story of a young girl who learns to accept her family and herself while trying to make sense of the world around her.
profileMichelle Schusterman, author of I Heart Band
Michelle Schusterman is a former band director and forever band geek, dating back to when she first picked up a pair of drumsticks in the sixth grade. Now Michelle writes books, screenplays, and music. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist).
Can you tell us about your debut, I Heart Band, in 15 words or less?
Holly needs to figure out competition is great for band, but not for friendships.

Why did you decide to write middle grade?
I’ve always read a mix of children’s and adult novels, but the ones that have stuck with me the most throughout my life–the ones I want to reread over and over–are middle grade.
What was your favorite scene to write?
There’s a scene where band rehearsal turns to chaos when a candy-addicted saxophone player with less-than-desirable instrument cleaning habits discovers ants crawling around inside her sax. So much fun to write! And based on a true story. 🙂
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
I didn’t actually have to edit anything out–but there was one scene I had to expand that was difficult. Mostly because it involved 9780448456836_IHB_1Heart_CV_front (1)putting Holly in a seriously embarrassing situation that made me cringe!
Is this going to be a series?
Yes! Actually, book two (Friends, Fugues, and Fortune Cookies) releases on January 9th along with book one! Book three (Sleepovers, Solos, and Sheet Music) comes out May 15th, and book four (Crushes, Codas, and Corsages) is out in the fall.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yup! I have a middle grade paranormal trilogy coming out with Grosset/Penguin in the summer of 2015, about a girl who blogs her way around the world’s spookiest locations as she follows her father, host of a ghost-hunting TV show, only to receive ominous warnings and discover that the show has a sinister and mysterious past that threatens them all.
 
Do you plan to branch out to YA or are you going to stay with MG?
Middle grade forever! Honestly, I love reading YA but I don’t think it’s within my natural voice to write it. Although I certainly wouldn’t rule it out entirely.
What authors do you look up to?
Rebecca Stead, David Levithan, A.S. King, J.K. Rowling, Phillip Pullman.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
Well, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series for the first time since book 7 came out…so, you know. It’s pretty good. 😉 But for something more recent, I read Caroline Carlson’s MG debut MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT, about a girl who skips out on finishing school to become a pirate, and it was absolutely wonderful.
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
Oh, no fair! There’s so many. Well, I was lucky enough to score an ARC of WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE by Rebecca Behrens (out in February) and it was ah-mazing. Fictional first daughter Audrey finds Alice Roosevelt’s journal hidden in the White House and starts asking herself “What Would Alice Do?” And well, Alice was a bit of a wild child, so the results are pretty much as hilarious as you’d think.
 I Heart Band:
Holly Mead’s first day of 7th grade isn’t going as planned. Her brother ruins her carefully-chosen outfit, she’s almost late, and her new band director has some surprisingly strict rules. Worst of all, it seems like her best friend, Julia, has replaced her. Natasha is new at Millican Middle School, but she and Julia bonded at band camp over the summer. Natasha is pretty, smart, and as good at French horn as Holly – maybe even better.Holly is determined to get first chair, but Natasha is turning out to be some pretty stiff competition – and not just in band. As Natasha and Julia get closer, Holly feels like she and her best friend are drifting further apart. Things only get worse when Holly fails her first science quiz. If she can’t pass, she won’t be able to participate in band, thanks to the new director’s “no pass no play” rule. That means no band party – and no opportunity to get to know a certain good-looking trumpet player named Aaron Cook a little better!The harder Holly tries in band and with Julia, the worse everything seems to get. Maybe being second best in band isn’t the end of the world, but when it comes to best friends, Holly just has to be first. Band might be a competition, but friendship isn’t – and Holly needs to figure it out before she loses Julia for good.I HEART BAND is the first in a 4-book Middle Grade series by debut author Michelle Schusterman.

6938691Laura Wettersten, author of My Faire Lady
Laura Wettersten lives in Ohio with her wonderful husband and their two neurotic dogs. She has degrees in both music education and library science, and when she’s not writing or teaching she enjoys directing middle school musicals, dancing awkwardly around her kitchen, and watching WIPEOUT and 30 ROCK reruns. Her debut novel, MY FAIRE LADY, releases from Simon & Schuster BFYR in 2014.

Can you tell us about your debut, My Faire Lady, in 15 words or less?

Hot knights. A hilarious whip cracker. A mischievous best friend. Romantic bonfires. Lots of kissing.

Why contemporary?

It’s what comes out of me naturally. I’ve tried my hand at fantasy and historical, but it’s never quite the fit I find with contemporary.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My character Ro is a face painter at the Renaissance Faire, and because of that she’s constantly around children. The scenes with the17375024 kids were my favorites because the kids always lent themselves to hilarious and sweet, touching moments.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

There was a totally superfluous scene in the first draft that featured a character that I eventually cut. He was singing Lady GaGa drunkenly in a Swedish accent. Cutting it was the right thing to do, but man, the idea of it still gets me giggling.

Is My Faire Lady a standalone or a series?

It is a standalone, though I have thoughts on what would happen in a sequel and I’m dying to tell what happens in Ro’s future.

Are you currently working on anything else?

I am! I actually have two WIPs at the moment: a contemporary, LGBT re-telling of Cinderella called SOMETIME AROUND MIDNIGHT, and a ghost story of sorts (too long to explain plus I don’t want to give anything away) called THE IN BETWEEN.

What is your favorite quote from My Faire Lady?

“Happy accidents are my favorite kind of accidents.”

What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

The OneFour Kid Lit group has so many awesome books coming out, it’s hard to choose, but I have to say that Dahlia Adler’s BEHIND THE SCENES is probably the one at the top of the pile. Stars, tabloids, secrets! What more can you ask for?

 

My Faire Lady:

 

Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.

As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.

Trading in the internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future?

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17375024-my-faire-lady?ac=1

 

7177790Ryan Gebhart, author of There Will Be Bears

Ryan Gebhart was born and raised in Maumee, Ohio and graduated with a master’s degree in Spanish from Ohio University. Having held twenty-one jobs in his life, he can do lots of things, from wiring a house to painting portraits to quartering large game to making a fierce smoothie. There Will Be Bears was inspired by a hunting gig in western Wyoming. Ryan Gebhart lives in Ohio.

1) Can you tell us about your debut, There Will Be Bears, in 15 words or less?

A thirteen year-old confronts losing his best friend, his grandfather’s failing health, and a bear.

2) Why did you decide to write middle grade?
Although Stephen King’s The Body (which you may know as the movie Stand By Me) isn’t technically middle grade, it’s still one of the greatest coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read. And that’s what I love—stories where people not previously familiar with adult issues are suddenly confronted with things out of their age range. If I could write a story that’s even half as genuine as The Body, I’d be a happy author.

 

Also, my voice simply lends itself more to the MG and YA audience.

3) What was your favorite scene to write?

The opening chapter is pretty great. Tyson drinks a liter of prune juice with his gramps, and there’s only one toilet in the house.

4) What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I’ve been fortunate that my agent and editor have both strongly backed my vision for the book, so the majority of my favorite scenes18209406 have remained intact. However, due to some copyright issues, I had to remove a scene where Tyson sings a Taylor Swift song, but changes random words to “pizza”. It’s pretty hilarious, but not worth the money they asked for the rights.

5) Is this going to be a series?

Nope. Standalone. I had a hard enough time managing all the elements of a standalone novel, such as characterization, plotting, and voice. I’m definitely not seasoned enough to juggle all that’s required for a series yet, but it is one of my long-term goals. However, it would be for a different project.

6) Are you currently working on anything else?
My WIP is a contemporary YA with some spec fic elements. My main character is dealing with the pain and confusion of first love, all while the world is coming to terms with the realization that we’re not alone in the universe.

7) Do you plan to branch out to YA or are you going to stay with MG?

I definitely would love to do both. The main character in my WIP is seventeen, and the story has grown-up themes, such as finding our place in the world—and also the universe—while discovering what true love means to him.

8) What authors do you look up to?

Stephen King and Michael Crichton, hands down. I love what King can do with tension, whether it’s a horror or contemporary story, and I love how bold and original Crichton is with his story concepts.

9) What is the best book you’ve read recently?

The best recent YA book would be Winger by Andrew Smith. Excellent voice and characterization, with a main character that is very relatable and a gut-wrenching ending.

10) What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

Caminar by Skila Brown, a fellow Candlewick debut author. From what I’ve heard, it’s about a young Guatemalan boy confronted with his country’s brutal civil war. I received my graduate degree in Spanish and visited Guatemala twice, so this is a topic I’m familiar with.

 

There Will Be Bears:

 

Tyson is determined to hunt an elk — even if it means sneaking his grandpa out of a nursing home — in a debut novel sparked with dry wit and wilderness adventure. 

Thirteen-year-old Tyson loves hanging out with his roughneck Grandpa Gene, who’s a lot more fun than Tyson’s ex–best friend, Brighton. These days, Bright just wants to be seen with the cool jocks who make fun of Tyson’s Taylor Swift obsession and dorky ways. So when Grandpa Gene has to move to a nursing home that can manage his kidney disease, Tyson feels like he’s losing his only friend. Not only that, but Tyson was counting on Grandpa Gene to take him on his first big hunt. So in defiance of Mom and Dad’s strict orders, and despite reports of a scary, stalking, man-eating grizzly named Sandy, the two sneak off to the Grand Tetons. Yes, there will be action, like shooting and dressing a six-hundred-pound elk. Is Tyson tough enough? There will be heart-pounding suspense: is Grandpa Gene too sick to handle the hunt, miles away from help? And, oh yes, there willbe bears. . .

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18209406-there-will-be-bears?ac=1

 

6980149Stefanie Gaither, author of Falls the Shadow

I turn caffeine into books!

I’m repped by Sara Megibow of Nelson literary. My debut, FALLS THE SHADOW, is being published by Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers, which I think is pretty fantastic. It’s a story filled with clones, sibling love (and loathing), murder, cool cars, and swoon-worthy boys. I’m pretty sure you want to read it.

I’ll give you chocolate if you do.

Okay, no, I won’t actually–but you can eat your own chocolate while you read it, and that’s kind of the same thing, so. Yeah.


Can you tell us about your debut, Falls the Shadow, in 15 words or less?

16-year-old Cate must decide what she believes when her sister’s clone is accused of murder.

 

When can we expect a cover reveal?

Soon! Either in December or early January (yay!)

 

What was your favorite scene to write?

Ooh, that’s tough; probably all of the ones that included Cate’s clone-sister, Violet. Violet was such a fun, unpredictable character to write; I loved figuring out what makes her tick, and then how to bring her—and her rather volatile relationship with Cate— to life on the page.

 

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I didn’t really edit much out! Most of my edits were actually adding stuff in, elaborating and building on what was already there, so…there’s my cop-out answer, hehe.

 

Is this a standalone or a series?

Standalone, but I do have working ideas for related books that may or may not see the light of day. FALLS is a complete story by itself, though.

 

What was your favorite quote from Falls the Shadow?

Hm, I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but I am fond of the first line, which hasn’t changed through any of the revisions I’ve done—and as an added bonus, it’s spoiler-free:

 

“I took some of the flowers from my sister’s funeral, because I thought her replacement might like them as a welcome-to-the-family present.”

 

Are you currently working on anything else?

Always! Right now, I’m working on a YA High Fantasy that’s set in an underwater kingdom–lots of inspiration from all sorts of aquatic-related mythologies of the world. I’m in the final tweaking stages now and I’m super excited about it!

 

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Waaay too many. For starters, I’m a member of the Class of 2k14 as well as the soon-to-be-launched BookYArd Debut Authors Group, and the ladies in these groups have some AMAZING sounding books that I can’t wait to get my hands on!

 

Falls the Shadow:

 

When Cate Benson was twelve, her sister died.

Two hours after the funeral, they picked up Violet’s replacement, and it was like nothing had ever happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to grant their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth. So this new Violet has the same smile. The same laugh. That same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

Or at least, that’s what the paparazzi and crazy anti-cloning protesters want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that, though. She’s used to standing up for her sister too, and she’s determined to prove her innocence now—at whatever the cost. But the deeper she digs for the truth, the further Cate’s carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, unveiling a world filled with copies and lies, where nothing and no one—not even her sister— is completely what they seem.

In a pulse pounding debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together?

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17559487-falls-the-shadow?ac=1

 

 

6894558Rebecca Behrens, author of When Audrey Met Alice

I’m an author and production editor. I love reading good books, drinking coffee, running in Central Park, and eating doughnuts (not necessarily all at the same time). I’m represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary.
My MG novel WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE will debut from Sourcebooks in 2014!
In the meantime, you can visit me online at www.rebeccabehrens.com

 

Can you tell us about your debut, When Audrey Met Alice, in 15 words or less?

Tween First Daughter finds Alice Roosevelt’s long-lost diary and is inspired to recreate her hijinks.

 

Why did you decide to write middle grade?

I’m not sure it was a decision to write middle grade so much as the voice I started writing clearly was a MG one. But middle grade is definitely my favorite category to write, and one I love to read. MG stories take place at that age of discovery, when kids are starting to uncover so much about themselves and the world around them—it’s such a rich age for storytelling!

 

What was your favorite scene to write?

I don’t want to give too much away, but the main character of my book, Audrey, sneaks a certain someone into the White House—and it doesn’t17814086 turn out quite as she expected. The tension in that scene was very fun to write.

 

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

In early drafts, Audrey, inspired by Alice Roosevelt’s famous pet snake, Emily Spinach, decided to get an unconventional pet of her own. She “liberated” a lab rat from her father’s workplace and named it Emily Tofu. Unfortunately, this heist scene got cut. The book is better with that change, but I still miss that scene.

 

Are you planning to write in the YA genre or will you stick with MG?

I have written a YA manuscript, although that particular story is probably going to stay on my hard drive, permanently. I’d love to try another YA at some point.

 

Are you currently working on anything else?

I am! I have a couple other MG projects in various stages of revision, and some ideas for new stories to draft.

 

What authors do you look up to?

Tim Federle, who is absolutely hilarious and writes with such heart; Nikki Loftin, whose books are always unique, brave, and full of great voices; A.S. King, who writes powerful, beautiful, and true stories.

 

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

Jane Kelley’s The Desperate Adventures of Zeno & Alya is a really wonderful MG story about a girl, a bird, and the healing power of friendship. It’s told partly from the POV of the bird, an African gray parrot who is amazingly intelligent. Also, Alison Cherry’s Red is a witty, funny, and thoughtful YA, and I really enjoyed it.

 

What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

This is such a hard question to answer! I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so I have to say I’m looking forward to Gayle Rosengren’sWhat the Moon Said. I’ve also heard great things about Heidi Schulz’s Hook’s Revenge (as a huge fan of Peter Pan, she had me at Hook).

 

When Audrey Met Alice:

First Daughter Audrey Rhodes is convinced that living in the White House is like being permanently grounded. Except with better security. What good is having your own bowling alley if you don’t have anyone to play with?

After the Secret Service cancels the party she’d spent forever planning, Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless–until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. Alice was a White House wild child, and her diary tells all about her outrageous turn-of-the-century exploits, like shocking State visitors with her pet snake and racking up speeding tickets in her runabout. Audrey starts asking herself: What Would Alice Do? The former First Daughter’s outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun . . . and get her into more trouble than she can handle!

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17814086-when-audrey-met-alice?ac=1

 

NCP1hires_crop-195x300Natalie C Parker, author of Beware the Wild

Natalie C Parker grew up in a Navy family where having adventures was as common as reading fairy tales.

She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in English, then went on to earn her MA in Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Continuing her efforts as a lifelong scholar, she currently works on a project studying climate change at the University of Kansas where she eavesdrops on the conversations of brilliant scientists gathering fodder for future novels.

Though still baffled by having ended up in a landlocked state, she lives in Kansas with her partner in a house of monsters.

Can you tell us about your debut, Beware the Wild, in 15 words or less?
Small town Louisiana. Forgotten brother. Impostor sister. A swamp with an appetite and secrets.
What genre is Beware the Wild?
YA Southern Gothic.
What was your favorite scene to write?
The first scene was my favorite. I wrote and rewrote it a dozen times trying trying to find the best way for all these strange pieces to fit together and there’s nothing more satisfying than reading it aloud and hearing the entire room gasp at the end.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
All of them? I rewrote this novel once for my agent and once again for my editor. From scratch. Terrifying, obliterating, all-good-reason-defying scratch. Although the core story is still exactly the same as it was at the beginning, nearly every scene is different. I suppose that means I don’t find editing out specific scenes all that difficult.
It also means that I’ve cut so many, I can’t remember if I loved them or not. Poor dears.
Is Beware the Wild a standalone or a series?
A two-book series. However, I wanted each book to stand on its own, so book two will stay in Sticks, Louisiana but will have a different narrator. (Someone we meet in Beware the Wild, so keep your eyes sharp).
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes! Book two and another SF/F project I can’t say much about.
What is your favorite quote from Beware the Wild?
“It’s no secret ours is the meanest swamp in Louisiana.”
Can we expect you on Tea Time with Epic Reads in the near future?
I certainly hope so, but I’ll bring coffee.
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
Oh, this is tricky. I’ve read so many 2014 debuts already and I’m eager to see them all flying from the shelves. (I’m going to cheat on a question again). Of those I’ve read, I’m excited for Elle Cosimano’s NEARLY GONE (mystery with just a dash of magic), Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY (heart-wrenching contemporary), and Lindsay Smith’s SEKRET (Russian psychic spies).
Of those I have yet to read, I’m most looking forward to Bethany Hagen’s LANDRY PARK (gone with the nuclear wind — how can I not desire this?), and E.K. Johnston’s THE STORY OF OWN (high school dragonslayer in Canada).
Thanks so much for having me, YA Reads!
Beware the Wild:
Natalie C Parker’s BEWARE THE WILD, pitched as Twin Peaks meets The Village, in which a claustrophobic Louisiana town is dominated by its sinister, encroaching swamp, which swallows up a boy who is instantly forgotten by everyone except his sister, and replaced by a mysterious girl from the past who is intent on taking over his family and his life.

 

6893188Megan Whitmer, author of Between

Megan Whitmer lives in Kentucky with her husband and two daughters. She loves all things Southern, and has a soft spot for football, kissing scenes, and things that sparkle. Aside from her personal blog, she’s also a contributing blogger for www.YAmisfits.comwww.allthewritenotes.com, and www.herkentucky.com. When she’s not writing, Megan spends her time drinking absurd amounts of Cherry Coke Zero and wishing someone would pay her to tweet. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy called BETWEEN, will be published by Spencer Hill Press in July 2014.

 

Can you tell us about your debut book, BETWEEN, in 15 words or less?
Seventeen-year-old Charlie must enter the mystical world’s witness protection program to save magic from dying.

 

When can we expect a cover reveal for Between?

It’ll be revealed along with the jacket copy December 17 on Mundie Moms!

What was your favorite scene to write?
My two most favorite scenes would be too spoiler-y to share, so I’ll go with a scene where Charlie receives a gift. She hugs the beautiful boy who 17251354gives it to her and I swear that hug is way sexier than any kiss. (And I LOVE kissing scenes, so this is a really big deal.) I have a pretty big crush on that beautiful boy myself, so I was really thrilled she decided to hug him. I needed them to touch. It’s nice when my characters do what I want.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Lulu, a southern belle pixie with a serious sweet tooth, throws a cupcake party for Charlie’s birthday. There was some really delicious awkwardness between Charlie and her love interest, but there just wasn’t a place for it after I tightened up the plot in revisions.
Is this a standalone or will it become a series?
It’s the first of a trilogy.
What else are you working on?
I’m currently writing book two!
What was your first reaction when you found out that you were being published by Spencer Hill Press?
I was filled with gratitude, excitement, and disbelief. I called my closest friends and family immediately, and it all seemed very surreal. Sometimes, it still does. I have brief moments when it feels REAL, but for the most part I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that my book will be in stores.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Oh my goodness. Picking just one is actually physically painful. So many of my friends are debuting next year! I’m really excited about Kelsey Macke’s DAMSEL DISTRESSED. The album tie-in has never been done before and I’m so interested to see how it goes! Music heightens every experience for me, so I love the idea of a book coming with its own soundtrack.
Between:
Megan Whitmer’s BETWEEN, in which a teenage girl discovers she’s the key to saving a secret race of magical creatures from destruction, but helping them means sacrificing someone she loves, to Danielle Ellison at Spencer Hill Press, for publication in July 2014.
7044446Kelsey Macke, author of Damsel DistressedKelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.

Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.

This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.

DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

 

Can you tell us about your debut, Damsel Distressed, in 15 words or less?

Imogen: depressed. Mother: gone. Grant: gravity. Stepsister: cruel. Theatre: haven. Music: vital. Hope? Maybe.

When can we expect a cover reveal?

The cover concept was announced in the fall, but the top secret, final design of both the book cover and the companion album artwork (by the 17788889incomparable Jenny Zemanek) will be revealed in January!

What genre is Damsel Distressed?

Damsel Distressed is contemporary YA fiction.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There are two scenes that come to mind that I really, really love. One scene involves Imogen and an incredibly tempting safety pin. When I wrote it I couldn’t stop shivering with anxiety.

The second scene–and I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll again be intentionally vague–involves Imogen and another character near the end of the book. It was so important to me that this conversation come across juuuuuuust right because in real life we don’t have the benefit of editing everything we say into perfection. I wanted this scene to clearly show the reader exactly what makes Imogen so much stronger than she sees.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

Oh, my gosh. Editing and revising is so hard. I could never have been fully prepared. There were little darlings cut all along the way (and even a character that I loved dearly won’t be on the page), but I can say that Imogen’s best friend was, early on, obsessed with bad science fiction movies. I was pretty excited about including his favorite film “Mega Bat vs. Scorpio-Rat”, but that particular interest was left on the cutting room floor.

Is this a standalone or a series?

I suppose time will tell. I believe that there may be other stories in “this universe.” They almost certainly wouldn’t be sequels (or even prequels), but would instead be companion stories. And if not, I’ll be entirely pleased if Damsel Distressed ends up standing on its own. I love single novels.

What are you currently working on?

Truly, most of my time is spent in the recording studio working with my husband on the companion album for my book. Our band is called Wedding Day Rain, and the album is called Imogen Unlocked. It takes a ton of time to write a book and even more time to write/record/produce an album of songs that contribute to that story.

When I’m not working on music, I’m editing my weekly vlog series for writers. I think YouTube is easily my favorite place on the whole internet.

On the writing front, however, I finally have a large enough break in my edits to take a big bite out of my next project. I’m really excited about this story, but again (WHO KNEW I WAS THIS TIGHT LIPPED?) I’ll keep it mostly under wraps.

I can say that it will have a summery feel and a large cast of vibrant and diverse characters.

What authors do you look up to?

Well, as a YouTuber, I obviously look up to John Green. But aside from him, I’m also a huge Lauren Oliver fangirl, a rabid Rainbow Rowell lover, a Laini Taylor fanatic, and a Stephanie Perkins super fan.

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

I absolutely LOVED “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” by Jennifer E. Smith. It was poignant and swoony–my favorite.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

I’m dying to read Megan Whitmer’s BETWEEN (or should I say, the finished version. CAUSE I LOVE IT.) and also Dahlia Adler’s BEHIND THE SCENES.

Outside my own pub, I can’t wait for Stephanie Perkin’s ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, Jaye Robin Brown’s NO PLACE TO FALL, and PUSH GIRL by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill.

 

Damsel Distressed:

Kelsey Macke’s DAMSEL DISTRESSED, about 17-year-old Imogen Keegan and her struggle with obesity, self-harm, and the infuriatingly perfect stepsister who makes her want to drown herself in a vat of Nutella, with accompanying soundtrack of original songs written and performed by the author’s band, Wedding Day Rain, in an innovative mash-up of prose, technology, drawings, and music, to Danielle Ellison at Spencer Hill Contemporary, for October 2014, by Jessica Sinsheimer at The Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency (World).

 

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17788889-damsel-distressed?ac=1

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