Posts by Nikki
Back in June, I picked up a copy of Debut Author Jennifer Rush’s novel, ALTERED, while I was at Book Expo America. Without knowing anything about the book or Jennifer herself, I began reading. I wasn’t too far into the story when I realized with absolutely excitement that I’d discovered the next big thing. Our five star review of ALTERED appeared on the blog in July, and Jennifer’s giveaway of an Advanced Reading Copy of the book which appeared in the same month absolutely exploded.
Jennifer is our featured Author for our Book of the Month for January, and we’re stoked to have her here.
Altered is your debut novel. Before you were officially a writer, what was your day job?
This answer is going to be dreadfully boring. I was a bank teller for a little over four years at a local community bank. It was a good job to have for the area I live in and my co-workers were AWESOME. But counting other people’s money? No thanks!
Altered is a very well thought out and detailed plot. What were you doing when you thought it up?
I get this question a lot and I wish I had a good answer for it. I honestly don’t remember writing much of the first half of Altered. It came out of nowhere, and consumed me for several weeks. I think it perhaps came from an old idea I’d had, where a girl found a vampire locked in a high-tech cell in her basement, and later found out he was part of a government experiment. We all know how flooded the vampire market is, so I have to wonder if I filed that idea in the back of my mind and it some how morphed into Altered later on.
What I do know is that, in its earliest draft, Altered was a story about a boy and a girl who loved each other so much, they’d do anything for each other. A lot of the twisted plot elements came in later drafts!
How long did it take you to write Altered?
Six or seven weeks.
Do you have any quirks or habits to help you through the writing process?
I need a clean space to write. I like my desk to be free of clutter, though anyone who’s seen my office walls would beg to differ. I like lots of pictures and things and inspirational quotes on the walls that surround me, but my desk must be clean. I generally like something yummy to drink while working too!
Sam is Anna’s love interest and he also takes on the role of the group’s leader. Does this mean he’s your favorite of the boys? (If not, who is)
This is a hard question! I love all the boys, but I DO have a favorite. I love Sam. I ADORE SAM. But he’s not my top pick. Nick is. I generally go for the bad boys in YA fiction, and Nick fits that description well. But he has such a complicated, messy past, and I loved exploring how that made him today. Even with his memories wiped, he’s still messed up. It’s interesting to me how much of who we are, will always be a part of us, no matter what happens.
Sometimes, writers say their characters just write themselves. If you could change one thing that Sam did in Altered, what would it be and why?
Ummm…take his shirt off more? Kidding! Kidding! Sort of.
I don’t want to spoil too much for those who haven’t read, but there is a pivotal scene between Sam and Anna where her heart breaks at something he says to her. So I wish he would have asked for her help. For those who have read, I think you’ll know what I mean by that. Then again, if he HAD asked for her help, Altered would be a much different story.
If you could date any of the four boys, which would it be, and why?
Oh Lord, another hard one! Let’s see…I think Nick would be fun, and intense. But it would also be messy. And there would probably be a lot of crying involved. Now, if we’re talking true, forever love, someone I’d want to marry, it’d be Trev. He’s loyal, he’s thoughtful, and caring, and he reads people really well. That’s the kind of husband I’d want (actually, it’s the kind of husband I DO have, though he’s not always thoughtful when it comes to sharing the TV remote, or giving me the last fudgecicle).
I noticed on your blog you seem to be ‘casting’ your characters. It looks like you chose Henry Cavill as Sam (and I concur!). Who could you see playing Anna?
I’ve had a terrible time finding someone who represents Anna well. I think Brittany Robertson looks like Anna sometimes, depending on how her hair and make-up is done. But even then, she’s not a perfect match. I picture Anna a bit softer in the face, and a tiny bit taller. Also Brittany is maybe a tad bit skinnier than Anna.
How did you choose your character’s names?
Baby name websites! There wasn’t much rhyme or reason to what I picked, though once I found the names, I knew they fit.
Your blog professes your love of pens. What other quirky obsessions do you have?
I love houseplants. I have such good luck with leafy, regular houseplants, but succulents, which are supposed to be the easiest to care for? I kill them. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I’m also a sucker for any other kind of office supply. Sticky notes. Folders. Paperclips.
What’s your fave book? (If you have one …)
Oh yes, I have many. I’ll name my top three. I fell in love with Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night as a teenager, and though I rarely re-read books, I try to re-read that one every couple of years. I also love, love, love Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. Talk about an amazingly genuine, super hot love interest. If you haven’t read it, you should! And lastly, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. Amazing detail and world building. A fantastic cast of characters. And one dark, sexy love interest (or maybe villain? you have to read to find out!).
As a new writer, what advice would you give to people out there that are trying to catch a break?
It will feel like you’ll never break into the market. Like you’ll never sign with an agent. Or you’ll never get a book deal. I was in that same position in 2009, early 2010. I have been there, and let me tell you that it WILL happen if you keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t write something just because you think it will sell. Write what keeps you up at night. Write what makes you daydream at your desk, when you should be doing day job things like answering phones and filing papers. Write what feels like your own private love affair. That’s the book that will get you an agent, or a book deal. Just like in real life, if you find yourself wondering if you’ve found your soul mate, you probably haven’t. You won’t need to wonder once you’ve found him or her, you’ll know it when you feel it.
Amy Martin wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of ten and gave it to her fourth grade teacher, who hopefully lost it in her house somewhere and didn’t share it with anyone else. Not counting that early experiment in self-publishing, In Your Dreams is Amy Martin’s first Young Adult novel.
A native of St. Charles, MO, Amy currently lives in Lexington, KY with her husband and a ferocious attack tabby named Cleo. When not writing or reading, she can usually be found watching sports, drinking coffee, or indulging her crippling Twitter habit (and, sometimes, doing all three at once).
We’ve added a new feature to our Book of the Month and Indie Author of the Month slots. Going forward, you’re going to be treated to a personal blog post from the main character of each slot. So stop by and see what your characters are up to! We’re excited to debut this feature with a little note from the fabulous Jim Morgan from this month’s Indie Book of the Month, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves by James Matlack Raney.
8th of October
I can hardly wait for tomorrow! Finally my father will be home from sea! I just know he’s going to be so pleased with how grown up I’ve become. In fact, I see no reason that he wouldn’t think me ready to become Lord Morgan immediately. Or maybe another title in the meantime, like a Duke? Or perhaps he could just have me knighted? After all, I know everything I need to become a Lord (no matter what Phineus says!) Which is another point I shall have to bring up to my father. How is it that such a tired old stinker like Phineus became the Morgan family tutor? He’s such an impossible bore! Aunt Margarita is giving me my real education anyway. Just last night we were eating chocolates and talking about how out of date most of the members of court are these days. They aren’t even wearing the newest shoes from Austria! Honestly, it’s sad. Well, tomorrow can’t come soon enough. I plan to be sitting on my horse, Destroyer, when father arrives. If that doesn’t impress him I don’t know what will.
9th of October
I’m so furious I can barely write these words! My father has been back one day, just one, and he’s banished me to my room. Me! The future Lord Morgan sent to his room like a common boy. And without any supper! This is barbaric! Alright, so there was a small incident with the horse, the gardener, and the party decorations, but how could that possibly be my fault? I’m sure somehow Phineus set me up for this. He’s always been saying that things were going to change when my father got home and I just know that he planned for all this to happen. He and all of the servants were in on it together! And the way they made me look like some sort of villain in front of my father. Me? I only sacked the servants who deserved it! But then came the worst part. I overheard my father talking to Aunt Margarita, and apparently on his latest voyage my father found a treasure – a treasure he planned to keep a secret from even me! His own son! A treasure Aunt Margarita said would rival that of the King of England. Well, this simply won’t do. I’m going down to my father’s study right now and I’m going to find out about this secret treasure. Besides, when I become Lord Morgan any treasure that’s my father’s will become mine anyway!
James Matlack Raney is our Indie Author of the Month here at yaReads. In keeping with his line of work, he chose to spotlight another independently published young adult author, Cassandra Marshall.
Some reads are just meant for vacations or travelling: fast paced, straight-to-the-action tales that whip readers along from beat to beat just as quickly as the readers themselves are taken from airport to airport, city to city, or hotel to beach, book (or e-reader!) in hand. The Stars Fell Sideways by Cassandra Marshall is just such a read, a story that looks to transport a reader from her own life to distant lands on a wild adventure.
The Stars Fell Sideways actually pulls this trick off twice, as we meet our hero, Alison Arroway, a teen stunt double from a family of stunt doubles, who fills in regularly for Pomegranate “Pom” Posy, one of America’s hottest teen movie stars. This in itself is a fascinating world in which to be dropped, full of sycophants, fans, commercial shoots, limos, and even teen heartthrob, Erik (#3 on People’s Hottest Stars under 25 no less.) But for Alison, whose face is never seen on camera and whose deeds are always credited to Pom, life in this world is just short of glamorous; on the fringes of a dream life, close enough to be near fame and fortune (and especially boys like Erik) but not quite as close as Alison would hope.
Whisked away to a film shoot in Portugal with Pom and Erik, Alison is thrilled to be invited on an evening Yacht trip with the two stars. But in an unexpected and violent storm that tears the yacht apart on the open seas, Alison is plunged into a world even more bizarre and dangerous than stunt work in Hollywood: the lost city of Atlantis.
It is here that Ms. Marshall adds a nice twist to the Atlantean myth. As opposed to the traditional, ivory-white towers and pseudo-Greek/Roman influences, this Atlantis has reached a Victorian-era, Steampunk period, full of hydro and wind-powered electricity, locomotive conveyances, top hats, and corsets. And of course, Alison and her friends also find themselves in the middle of a power struggle between two authorities bent on control of Atlantis’s future, and on a race in search of a lost piece of Atlantean knowledge called the Book of Blue, which, according to legend, can unlock the secret to an event that will cause the “stars to fall sideways” and return Atlantis to the glorious peak of it’s civilization.
The adventure beats flow fast and furious in this book, with Alison meeting new allies (including the sweet Betsy and a young Atlantean looker named Corben) and also creepy villains, all the while discovering Jules Vernesque technologies and even undertaking some Lora Croft-like explorations beneath the caverns of Atlantis, where ancient drawings and great machines lay dormant, awaiting the fulfillment of their long-forgotten purposes. But above all else, what may stand out sharpest to the intended audience are Alison’s heated moments with both Erik and Corben, which will probably get young readers’ pulses racing pretty quickly.
This is not a story with the most intricately laid plot or tedious character profiles. It is a blisteringly paced romp loaded end to end with escapes, falls, discoveries, flirtations, romance, derring-do, and a satisfyingly epic conclusion that indeed sees the stars fall sideways. So if you have a vacation or trip upcoming, and you’re looking to escape for a few hours on a wild ride (or perhaps just to add a little teen-romance or some Steampunk-light to your reading list) The Stars Fell Sideways may be just what you’re looking for.
At last, the long wait is over! The first official trailer for the upcoming Beautiful Creatures film is here.
The film is scheduled for release in 2013We can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or take to twitter and tell us what you think.