Interview: Shattered Blue (The Light Trilogy, #1) by Lauren Bird Horowitz

AUTHOR Q&A FROM LAUREN BIRD HOROWTIZ

259536031. How did the story come to you?

I always like to say that Noa’s adventures sort of burst out of me at a time I really needed them. I was in the process of some serious adult-ing—buying my first home—and I was incredibly stressed out over both tiny escrow-esque details and Larger Metaphorical Profundities Concerning Adulthood. In stressful times, I usually turn to my poetry as a way to take in what is making me anxious and rework it into something artistic and… Light. I suddenly flashed on the idea of a heroine who, like myself, relied on her poetry to process the world and its trials—and I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if she then discovered that the world was, in reality, just as magical as what she’d imagined in those poems? And so Noa was born, along with the mythology of Aurora, and it all kind of started embroidering itself from there.

2. What made you decide to sit down and write it?

I absolutely love to write. It’s more than a passion—it’s almost an addiction, in the most incredible, soul-cleansing way. If I miss a day of writing, I feel physically out of balance and emotionally anxious! So it was less a matter of deciding to sit down and write—because I am always sitting down to write something— and more that I suddenly felt the need to burrow into an entire world of my own imagination. My outside world was so Adult and Responsible; I just wanted to live inside my crazy metaphoric head as much as I could!

3. Did you do anything to prepare for writing sessions? Have any sort of pre-writing ritual?

I don’t have a ritual, per se, more of a routine—I write every morning, then I go out into the world with my rescue pup Ninja and a little janky voice memo recorder, where I record writing thoughts and edits I think of while I’m adventuring, and then I come home and do a shorter writing session in the evening. I like to say that I am a big fan of writing while not actually writing—you’d be amazed at how much plot organization, revision, and composition actually takes place in my voice memos. The many twists and turns of Shattered Blue could not have been so intricate without so many hours on the beaches of Kauai, playing Frisbee with Ninja and looking like I was talking to myself like a crazy person!

4. What was the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part of this particular project was probably meeting the word count desired by the publisher. The first draft of this Shattered Blue installment was 630 pages something like 200,000 words—and I had to cut it to under 80,000 words! I had to sacrifice a lot of scenes I really loved, and fight hard for some ‘non-essential’ things that I couldn’t bear to lose too!


Want to learn more about Shattered Blue? Then head over here to check out my promotional post or click here to read my review.


5. Any suggestions to wannabe authors and writers?

Develop a thick, thick skin, but keep a very vulnerable spirit. You need an open, raw, fragile spirit in order to write authentically, to talk about things that will resonate with others in a meaningful way. But you need the toughest armor imaginable to try to bring those words to publication—it is a process fraught with rejection, criticism, and endless stretches of nothing but ‘no.’ You have to be your work’s best ambassador—believe in it when no one else does, fight for it when no one else will, and never, ever give up.

6. Were any of the characters based on real life people?

Of course! I think all writers pull from their own lives in order to make their characters relatable, real, and relevant to their own journeys. Even if the genre is fantasy and the characters have special, extra-human abilities, they only become beloved by readers if they feel kindred. Olivia, for example, is very closely based on my real-life BFF Janet Kim, and Miles is an amalgamation of a group of eight guys I roomed with in college (and each of whom I adore!).

7. How much is Noa like you?

So much! She is me in high school, no question. She processes the world the same way; she’s a secret writer learning to share her words; she struggles with trying to both love her family and find a way to separate from them into a world of her own. It’s interesting to continue to write her as the series goes deeper and deeper into the fantastical and magical, because her experiences begin to diverge so much more from my real history. It’s like putting yourself into a fantasy movie and then getting to see what happens!

8. Do you absolutely love some characters and hate others?

I definitely love all my characters. Well, maybe except Ms. Jaycee (sorry unnamed folks she is based on, that’s addressing a very personal wound). With the exception of Ms. Jaycee, I really do try to make all of my characters sympathetic and relatable. Even the most villainous, like Darius, need to have understandable struggles at their core, which they twisted themselves to try to survive. It has always been very important to me to never, ever write an out-and-out villain. It’s also not realistic. Evil is much too nuanced, hidden, and complicated for that.

9. Is there a sequel to Shattered Blue and can you give us any special info about it? E.g. Title)

Shattered Blue is the first installment of the three part Light Trilogy, chronicling Noa’s adventures with the fae. Each book is named for one of the fae Colorlines in the novel, and I can reveal that while the first installment, Shattered Blue, was obviously the Blue Chapter, the next will be the Red Chapter.

– Lauren Bird Horowitz

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ABOUT LAUREN BIRD HOROWITZ

Lauren Bird Horowitz

Lauren – or ‘Bird’ as she is often known – is a screenwriter and novelist lucky enough to call both Los Angeles and Kauai home. Bird also counts herself lucky that writing exists as a profession—how else could she share the crazy, fantastic worlds in her head? Bird studied writing at Harvard University with novelist Jamaica Kincaid, where she won several prizes including the Edward Eager Memorial Prize for fiction. She’s a proud member of the Writers Guild of America.

Lauren believes strongly in dog rescue organizations, whom she has to thank for her beloved Ninja. Ninja was saved by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington DC. To find out more, please visit www.luckydoganimalrescure.org.

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Interview: Echoes of the Ascended series by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

AUTHOR Q&A FROM MARK GELINEAU AND JOE KING

Echoes of the Ascended Collage1. How was the ‘Echoes of the Ascended’ series born?

Joe: Echoes of the Ascended is really a collection of stories and ideas Mark and I have been kicking around for a long time now. In a way, it became the extension of thousands of “wouldn’t it be cool if” conversations we’ve had over the years.

Like, wouldn’t it be cool if we could do a crime noir story in a fantasy setting, and Best Left in the Shadows was born. And wouldn’t it be cool if we could also pull off an epic fantasy tale in the same world, and A Reaper of Stone was born. And wouldn’t it be cool if all the stories were connected in some way and we could create a tapestry of distinctly different stories to bring a grander, connected story to light? And well, you get the picture.

We’d been doing this for a while, until finally we had the day where we went: wouldn’t it be cool if we finally stopped just talking about it and got off our asses and actually did it?

And well, here we are.

2. What incited the creation of the world of Aedaron?

Joe: There has always been something powerful and compelling about myth and legend. How, in many, ways they were created by our ancestors to explain the unexplainable, and yet, there’s so much about them that mirror our own human nature and experience.

In its heart, Aedaron is built on the myth and legends of their first great heroes, the First Ascended. We start our stories a thousand years after their time, and exactly who they were and what they did have been largely forgotten. But those legends were real. And they were just regular people once too.

That idea was really the birth of the world and our main characters, our five orphans who are destined for greater things. Echoes of the Ascended is our window into a new generation of heroes and stories in the world of Aedaron.

3 .Was there anything you did before you sat down to write your novellas?

Mark: I like to have a lot of things set up before I sit down to write.  I usually have cast all the characters in my head.  I have these images collected, along with dozens and dozens of research and inspiration images.  These go into a digital notebook for reference.  I also really need music when I write, and I like it to be themed to what I am writing, or at least capture the right feeling.  Both A Reaper of Stone and the upcoming Broken Banners, (the two Elinor books) were written while listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine.

4. Why novellas and not novels?

Mark: We are both fathers, with full time jobs.  We took a look at our own reading habits in the last five years or so, and realized that we weren’t reading nearly as much as we used to, and it was very much a result of just how busy our lives were.  We wanted to tell the types of stories that we have always loved, but in a package that was more easily consumable in the time that people really have.  There is something really cool about a novella.  It has enough meat in it for you to really build some cool things, but because it is so short, it requires a level of pacing that serves to make it feel fast and exciting.

5. Is there anything you would recommend to aspiring writers/authors in writing high fantasy?

Joe: I have no idea if this works for other writers (or if it’s even working for us!), so take this with a healthy grain of salt.

But for us, the primary focus is to create a good story first, then use the world to better tell that story. Our first attempts were very world focused and those early drafts were very dense, slowly paced, brutal affairs for our beta readers (bless their pour souls!)

For us, when we focus on our characters and their stories first, we find the richness of the world comes out more organically. You don’t get it all at once like in the exposition heavy fantasy tomes of yore.

Instead, you get faster-paced stories where world information is revealed only as its important to the current story/scene, with the trust that you’ll get more details later, but only when you need it.

Or, at least, that’s what we hope is happening 🙂

6. What was the hardest part of writing your series and publishing it?

Mark: I think the hardest part came early on, but it remains.  It is the realization that to be an author requires way more than just being able to write a story.  Having to handle the cover design, the layout, the publishing, the marketing, and everything else that helps a book get out there.  I am incredibly fortunate to have Joe as a partner, as he has taken on the lion’s share of so much of this.

The pace we have set for ourselves is pretty gruelling.  A novella every month is pretty crazy.  Even as we continue to do it, it still seems pretty nuts.  But I love that we can have so many different types of adventures in Aedaron out there for people.

7. Who are your favourite characters and who were the hardest to write?

Mark: I think I am a little partial to Alys from Best Left in the Shadows.  The banter between her and Dax, the slang of her Lowside world.  I just love that.  Roan and Kay are the toughest for me, because they are younger, and Faith and Moonlight is a more YA style series.  It is a writing style where I am having to stretch quite a bit more.

8. Who were the authors that influenced your writing? Any recommendations?

Mark: I grew up loving the work of David Eddings.  He, more than I think anyone else, influenced me when I was younger.  There is just so much fun in the interaction of his characters.  With all the love for Young Adult lit now, I think Susan Cooper is really not talked about enough.  The Dark is Rising and the rest of her books are rich and wonderful.  Lately, I think Joe Abercrombie is just killing it.  His books are gripping.  Love his writing.

9. Are there any sneak peaks you can give us into the future novellas? E.g. titles, teasers, etc.

Definitely!

Broken Banners, A Reaper of Stone book 2, will be out Feb 15, 2016.

Skinshaper, Rend the Dark book 2, will be out Mar 15, 2016.

Civil Blood, Best Left in the Shadows book 2, will be out Apr 15, 2016.

We’re still working on Faith and Moonight book 2, but it comes out May 15, 2016

– Mark Gelineau and Joe King

A Reaper of Stone (Echoes of the Ascended, #1)(A Reaper of Stone, #1)

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Rend the Dark (Echoes of the Ascended, #2)(Rend the Dark, #1)

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Best Left in the Shadows (Echoes of the Ascended, #3)(Best Left in the Shadows, #1)

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Faith and Moonlight (Echoes of the Ascended, #4)(Faith and Moonlight, #1)

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ABOUT MARK GELINEAU AND JOE KING

Mark Gelineau

The defining moments in Mark Gelineau’s early life really trace back to two events. One was the discovery of an old cardboard box that had belonged to his grandfather. Inside that box was a collection of comic books, resplendent in their four color glory. Even though he had never met his grandfather, finding that box passed on a love of thrilling stories and daring adventure from one generation to another.

The second event was when his mother took him a to showing of Star Wars. For the entire duration of the movie, Mark sat with his mouth open and his small hands gripping the armrests. The better to pretend to fly the spaceships you see.

Since those early days, Mark has loved the stories of the imagination, the stories that transport a person from the world they know into new realities, distant domains, and realms of wonder. Even more than the stories themselves though, Mark discovered the sheer joy of sharing those stories. Taking them out of the cardboard box and into the hands of friends and family. This drove Mark first to education, where he could talk about the amazing stories out there in the world, and then eventually to writing, where he could try and write some of those stories for himself.

Gelineau and King is the extension of that joy. A place where Mark and his partner, Joe King, can take the stories they create out of the box and put them out there in the world.

Joe King

Joe King spent most of his childhood doing what he loved most – building things with his friends. He built friendships, stories, worlds, games, imagination, and everything in between.

After a brief career in software, for a while, he pretty much gave up on the idea of building anything. Five years later, the woman who would become his wife, rode in on a white horse and changed his life forever. Another five years, and two beautiful daughters later, Joe is building new unimaginable things.

Joe believes in the power of stories, dreams, family, friendship, and getting your ass kicked every once in a while.

More than anything, he wants to tell a good story, and, for him, Gelineau & King is the constant reminder that it’s never too late to start building the things you love.

Interview: Angels of Moirai (Angels of Moirai, #1) by Nicole Salmond

AUTHOR Q&A FROM NICOLE SALMONDAngels Of Moirai Book One

1. How was Angels of Moirai born?

I was really eager to write a book for Young Adults and started to think of some ideas that generally all fell around the “forbidden love” idea. Growing up I was notorious for going after guys who I wasn’t allowed to be with, so I drew from that a fair bit, along with Lila attending a private school.

Most of my story ideas come from dreams, so little parts of Angels of Moirai did, but for the most part I really wanted to write a young adult novel and thought I’d start basic and work my way into it because it’s such a great genre.

2. What was the first thing you did before you sat down to write the novel? Do you have a pre-writing ritual?

For every book I have a notebook that I write ideas about and maybe quotes that come to me a random times – usually just before I go to sleep. I then map out a story/timeline on a whiteboard and go from there. Often the story I want to tell at the beginning changes over time as the characters develop – this keeps it interesting, as I feel like a reader sometimes who has no idea what will happen next!

3. What would you recommend to any aspiring writer/author?

Just get the words on paper. The first 30,000 words are the hardest. It’s all about building backgrounds, relationships and learning how to write and put it all together. I’ve always had the idea that when I sit down to right I have a goal, usually around 1000-2000 words. By doing small goals every day it doesn’t seem so daunting as appose to sitting down and hoping to writing a full 60,000 word novel!

4. What is the hardest thing about being and indie/self-pub author?

Getting your name out there! A few years back with my first two novels it was quite easy to get my novels in best seller lists as there just wasn’t the competition there is today. There are literally thousands of books added on Amazon everyday, so getting noticed out of them is hard!

5. Which characters were the most fun/interesting/hard to write? Why?

I loved writing Hayley. I have three sisters and we are all really quite crazy together so I enjoyed writing her the way I think my sisters and I were when we were younger.

6. How much is Lila like you and how much is she not? What are the differences?

The way she values family over materialistic things. I would much rather have my family with me and living in a tiny house then never seeing my parents. Family is so much more important than money, especially in the teenage years when there is so much crazy things happening in your life – you need your family to fall back on.

I know some people think she was a spoilt brat, but come on! Only seeing your parents for a few times year after year with them missing your birthdays, christmas, etc would be hard!

7. Can you tell us anything about the sequel to Angels of Moirai? E.g Title name? Teasers?

It will just be called Angels of Moirai (Book Two) and it will be quite different to the first book. Book one was really just setting the scene for Lila’s background and her relationship with her friends, family and James. Book Two will be exploring more of James’s word and there will be some heavy fight scenes, as well as an introduction of a new main character who has a dark background to tell. Oh, and a huge twist that I doubt anyone will see coming!

8. When can we expect for it to be released/published?

Good question! Great question! *speaking in third person* “Well, Nicole? Are you going to give yourself a kick up the bum and get writing?!” Haha!

Look, I am really hoping to getting it finished A.S.A.P! Unfortunately books take forever to write, but I’m aiming now for a March release. Hey, at least I’m not like George RR Martin – I could have you waiting for years if I liked!

9. Do you have any more stories hidden up your sleeve and what are your future writing plans?

I’ve got two ones that I would love to do. One is a time travel novel and the other is about aliens – crazy, I know! I honestly have loads of ideas though, it all depends on the story that grabs me!

– Nicole Salmond

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ABOUT NICOLE SALMOND

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Nicole Salmond is an Aussie who grew up on a farm in New South Wales but currently resides on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She is the mother of two gorgeous girls, Evelyn and Harper, and wife of a supportive husband – and childhood sweetheart – who understands that writing may sometimes consume every second of her thoughts! Oh, and a cute little staffy called Rusty.

Nicole also has a twin sister who is completely different to her, younger twin sister who are very similar and one older brother who has to deal with it all.

So far she has published four novels: Forever Yours, One Good Reason, Blackbird and Angels of Moirai. She is currently working on a sequel to Angels of Moirai. Nicole is not perfect; she is learning with every sentence typed and every correction made. It’s her passion and so long as she has a story to tell, she will write. Nicole also hops that they can be loved by many readers, and touch them in some way.

Nicole loves Nutella, the beach, sun, kids in the bed in the morning, slobbery kisses at night, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, books that consume me, movies, and generally anything romance related! Her life-long saying is: You gotta risk it to get the biscuit.

Interview: Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

AUTHOR Q&A FROM JESSIE ROSEN

DeadRinger

1. How did this story come to you?

The core idea for Dead Ringer was something my literary manager and I started discussing a long time ago. We were both obsessed with the massive twist in Gone Girl and wanted to play with the idea of that occurring inside a YA world. After a lot of brainstorming, the story developed. But, for the record, I said, “No way—this is too crazy!” for at least a few months before believing I could pull it off.

2. Is DEAD RINGER based on a true story?

The novel is based on true towns, some true people, a lot of researched facts (like hacking, police investigation, and even some scientific stuff), but the main concept is purely fiction. That said, I would love to know if something like the Dead Ringer reveal has actually happened in real life! Once you’ve finished reading, please let me know what you know.


Want to know more? Read a guest blog post here about the bits that are fiction vs. reality and here for which real-life boys inspired my main character, Charlie Sanders!


3. Did you do anything to prepare for writing sessions? Have any sort of pre-writing ritual?

I have endless pre-writing rituals. First I outline like mad using notecards, Excel sheets, and a lot of Post-its on my fridge! That’s all done before I start drafting. Then when I’m actually writing every morning (another ritual), I spend about 30 minutes each night prepping what I’m going to tackle the next day. I made a bulleted list of how the next scene will unfold so I’ve already done the hard thinking before I hit that terrifying blank white page the next day!

 4. Some authors write in coffee shops, others in their beds… What surrounds you when you write?

I tend to write in coffee shops, and almost all of Dead Ringer was written in a gorgeous little spot in Los Angeles called Zinque. I need to leave my house so I’m not distracted by my puppy…or all the things I want to clean. But anywhere I write needs to be light, bright, and cozy. Zinque has a “garden room” with floor-to-ceiling windows that let the sunshine in and really plush couches so I feel like I’m in the living room of my ideal house.

5. What drew you to write YA? Why not an adult mystery thriller

Two things drew me to writing a YA thriller. First, I felt like the YA world was missing mystery thrillers like a Gone Girl or Girl On A Train. But mostly I wanted to challenge myself to write in a high school tone and voice. I’ve worked in an adult voice for my entire career, so this felt like a great opportunity to branch out.

6. Was the transition from blogger to author natural for you?

No! It took so much hard work (and convincing on the part of my managers and husband) to tackle this project. I was sure that I couldn’t do it: the length, the tone, the heavy plotting. I read a lot of YA and adult novels before launching into Dead Ringer, and I read even more books on the craft of writing a novel or sticking to any long writing project. To that end I highly recommend Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird and Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

 7. Which character in DEAD RINGER was the most difficult to write? The most fun?

The most difficult was definitely Laura. One part of that is because I wanted her to be strong but still sweet, and the second part is because of all the events that unfold around her (sorry, not telling). The most fun was definitely Sasha. She is the curious, obsessive side of myself that felt easy to tap into as I wrote.

To be clear, I am not a genius hacker.

 8. What are your three favorite or most memorable books?

I think favorite and most memorable are the same for me. They are:

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. My favorite book as a child and one I still reread today. It’s such a fun journey with such clear characters. I love it more every time.

The Secret History by Donna Tart. A master class in mystery. I thought about this book a lot when writing Dead Ringer because I wanted to match the incredible suspense it achieves.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. To me, it’s the most epic love story of all time, perfectly told. I read it overnight in eight hours straight in high school. I always think of Elisabeth and Darcy when I’m crafting lovebirds. I love their yin/yang dynamic.

 9. Everyone’s wondering: Will DEAD RINGER have a sequel?

Here’s hoping! I originally conceived the story as a trilogy, so the plan for books two and three are already laid out! Will enough people love book one to make two and three come true?? That’s where you readers come in 😉 Fingers crossed.

– Jessie Rosen

Read DEAD RINGER today and find out just why it needs that sequel! Available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or direct from the Full Fathom Five Digital store (direct purchases give Jessie more royalties!).

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ABOUT JESSIE ROSEN

RosenLaughing

Jessie Rosen is a writer, producer, and performer. She grew up in New Jersey, attended Boston College in Massachusetts, and began her writing career in New York. Her live storytelling series Sunday Night Sex Talk has received national attention. She was named one of “The 25 Best Bloggers, 2013 Edition” by TIME magazine for her blog 20-Nothings, which was also named in “The 100 Best Websites for Women” and “The Top 10 Best Websites for Millennial Women” in 2013 by Forbes.

Rosen is the oldest of four girls, which gives her a special window into the minds of teenagers. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she’s working on film and television projects, as well as her next novel.

Visit her website, http://20-nothings.com.