Interview With Author Allison Saft

Author Interview

Meet Allison Saft.

Social media links:

Hi Allison!

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, Rae! Thank you so much for having me! I’m the author of Down Comes the Night, which is out in early 2021 with Wednesday Books. It’s a blend of YA fantasy and Gothic romance about two sworn enemies who must work together when a snowstorm traps them in a mysterious, crumbling estate. I’m inspired by real-world history and politics, vivid settings, and, honestly, anime. I was born in Philadelphia, but I’ve lived in Austin, New Orleans, and most recently, the California Bay Area. When I’m not writing, I’m usually hiking the redwoods, experimenting with new recipes, or practicing aerial silks.

The Interview.

Do you think your background in English Literature enhances or weakens your writing? Perhaps both?

When working within the conventions of a historical literary movement like the Gothic, I think a background in English Literature can be a huge boon! Gothic literature is more than just a flickering-candlelight aesthetic; understanding the economic and cultural factors that led to its popularity in the 19th century has been instrumental in telling a story that stays true to its roots while appealing to 21st-century readers.

I could see potential drawbacks to a literature background, too! When we treat novels as objects of study—as literary contraptions, as one professor of mine used to say—it can suck the joy out of them. Writing fiction, at least in the drafting stage, is a very emotional, intuitive, sometimes even spiritual practice for me; too much analysis can kill a project in its early stages. For what it’s worth, though, I think you can get roped into believing that all your academic friends will judge you if you write genre fic—or worse, young adult genre fic! But if you don’t respect what you’re working on, it won’t be any good. Besides, any friends who consider genre fic lesser aren’t worth listening to (and are missing out, honestly).

What kickstarted your writing journey and resulted in your debut, Down Comes the Night?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in some form or another (mostly fanfiction…), but what really kickstarted my writing journey was a mentorship program called Author Mentor Match. Deadlines always motivate me, so I planned to rewrite a trunked project during NaNoWriMo 2017 and submit it to AMM in March 2018. By late November, I finished my rewrite. I printed it out, read it through, and immediately threw it in the garbage. It was entirely soulless—the book I thought I was supposed to write rather than a book I really cared about.

I didn’t have any other ideas, so I moped for about a week. Then I thought, well, what do I have to lose? Why not write something fun? Something that would capture the magic writing once had when I was a teenager with no ambitions for my work beyond entertaining my friends. Something romantic and dramatic and full of all the tropes I loved. I finished a draft of Down Comes the Night in about six weeks. I ended up getting into AMM with it, and the guidance, support, and feedback from my mentor and peers were invaluable as I revised and queried the book. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and I still count on them today!   

Name two things about Gothic literature that fascinate you.

Its relationship to the past—how it, by turns, expresses a longing to return to an unrecoverable time and stages hauntings from that which refuses to be left behind.

Its (sometimes hilariously) intense fixation on the emotional experience of the protagonist.  

As a writer, what has been your biggest struggle when drafting, revising, and editing?

Drafting: I’m a fast drafter—meaning I like to hurtle through a skeletal “draft zero” before I double back and fill in the details. Finishing that draft zero means I’m usually pretty sure a plot works in execution, but it also means the book reads almost like a screenplay. In those really early drafts, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine how a project will come together thematically and emotionally.

Revising: Since I draft the way I do, my first revision pass is basically… actually writing the book! That’s the hardest part, although it’s the most rewarding. From there, it’s all about ironing out the details, large and small. Revising Down Comes the Night nearly killed me a few times. It has an element of mystery, and it was hard to get right. Planning out the reveals, streamlining the investigation, cutting unnecessary red herring characters, making sure everyone’s motives were clear… Tears were shed!   

Editing: The hardest thing about editing is learning to let go. I struggled with this during line edits for Down Comes the Night, and I’m struggling again during copyedits. I could tinker forever with line-level prose, but there comes a point when you have to cut yourself off and accept that you’ve done the best you can. That the book will just be different, not better, and you may do more harm than good if you start messing with things that don’t need messing with.

What makes the ideal monster?

I think a lot about “monster romances” and what makes them work. What does it mean for a character to be monstrous? What does it mean for a (physically) non-monstrous character to identify with the monster? To me, it’s notable that some of the most successful (in my opinion) monster romances are between human women who are marginalized in some way and monsters who are similarly, often wrongly, reviled. In Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, it’s significant that Miryem is Jewish—as significant as it is that her monstrous love interest, the Staryk King, rules over a fae-like people who are hated because they supposedly strike ruthless bargains and impoverish the kingdom in their endless quest for gold. It’s significant that the heroine of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a mute woman named Elisa Esposito in love with a creature stolen from a river in Brazil.

However, I also think there are monsters who are purely reprehensible. Those that embody the ugliness in society or are clearly some cultural fear made flesh. I like them, too.

  • In terms of crumbly mansions, is there a real life mansion that you’ve visited or wanted to visit?

I’ve only ever been to the Newport mansions, which are stunning and ridiculous and the very opposite of crumbly. I’ve always wanted to see the real Allerdale Hall from Crimson Peak—but it turns out they built the entire set in the studio, which is wild to me!

What is the root of romance for you?

To me, a good romance has sizzling tension and also answers the question “why are these characters good for each other?” in a way that’s thematically satisfying.When I’m writing romance, I consider what the characters want and need individually—and how each character’s wants and needs both complement and complicate the other’s. I always try to write parallel character arcs for my romantic leads. Oftentimes, they both need the same thing; they’ve just developed different ways of coping with that lack and told themselves different stories about what exactly will make them happy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

While Down Comes the Night doesn’t come out until next year, there are some really exciting books coming out in 2020! I can tell you from experience that Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald and The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman are absolutely fantastic. Some of my most-anticipated reads are Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Barshardoust, The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson, and A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe.

Author Interview: Melissa Caruso

Author Interview

Meet Melissa Caruso.

Melissa Caruso Author Photo 2

Social media links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/melisscaru
Website: https://melissacaruso.net

The Interview.

 

Hi Melissa! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Sure! I’m the author of the Swords & Fire series from Orbit Books, including THE TETHERED MAGE (2017), THE DEFIANT HEIR (2018), and THE UNBOUND EMPIRE (2019). I’ve got a new book coming out in June 2020, THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, which is the first book of a new trilogy set in the same world as Swords & Fire, but with new characters and 150 years later.

My books tend to feature intrigue, magic, murder, betrayal, twisty plots, and explosions. THE TETHRED MAGE was shortlisted for a Gemmell Morningstar Award, and THE UNBOUND EMPIRE received a Kirkus Star.

As for me, in addition to being a fantasy writer, I’m a larper, tea drinker, mom, and all-around geek. I’m married to a video game designer and have two amazing daughters, and I live in Massachusetts with a wonderful old Labrador and assorted cats.

 

What are your top three favorite things to geek over?

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I’d say Fullmetal Alchemist (especially the manga by Hiromu Arakawa! MOST PERFECT MANGA EVER), larping, and writing craft. Birds come in a close fourth, but the rabbit hole of bird geekery goes very deep and I barely have my toes in it!

 

If you had to choose one of your books to live in, which would you pick?

Well, they all take place in the same world, so if we’re talking about the specific locations and events visited in the books…Hmm, I might have to say THE DEFIANT HEIR. There are some pretty good parties in that one, the outfits are fantastic, and I get to visit more places and meet more characters than in THE TETHERED MAGE (especially Kathe). THE UNBOUND EMPIRE is just too plain dangerous!

 

Did you ever create yourself, a family member, or a friend as a character in any of your story drafts?

I’ve never based a character directly on a real life person. Some of my family think La Contessa is based on my mom, but my mom is much nicer than La Contessa! There are certain aspects of real people I may have drawn on with certain characters—like I might think sometimes of someone’s voice or way of standing or general energy. And sometimes I think of which of my friends I’d cast as a particular character if I ever ran a larp based on my books! But for me each character is their own unique person, without a direct real life model.

 

How did you start your world building for the Swords & Fire trilogy?

In early drafts of THE TETHERED MAGE, it was a historical fantasy, based in an extremely alternate Venice. It kept getting more and more alternate, though, so it was a relief to revise it into an original world and to be free to really expand the worldbuilding! I thought a lot in doing my worldbuilding about how the magic in my world would have shaped history—how it would have affected who was in power, what conflicts arose, how it would have shaped the development of science. The history of the world and a lot of the core conflicts in the trilogy arose naturally from that thought process.

 

As a reader, what keeps you intrigued in a book?

I love books with well-crafted plot twists, great pacing, and really fun characters I’d want to hang out with (or love to hate, in the case of villains). And a cool magic system! I’m always extra excited when there’s some mystery or secret I can speculate about, or some source of tension that keeps me on the edge of my chair.

 

Are you a plotter or do you write as you go?

A bit of both, but leaning toward plotter! I always have an outline and many pages of notes where I figure things out in advance, but I also inevitably diverge from that outline as I get a better understanding of the story as I write it. I tend to update my outline as I go to reflect my new direction, and I don’t feel like I need to have EVERY SINGLE THING figured out before I write. So I guess a flexible plotter!

 

What was the hardest scene you ever had to work on?

The hardest scene emotionally for me to write was this one about halfway through THE UNBOUND EMPIRE where Amalia has to walk away from a certain situation, with heartbreaking consequences. I knew what was happening in that scene, and what would happen after it, and it broke my heart to write it.

The hardest scenes for me in terms of sheer bang-my-head-against-the-wall factor are always transitions! Getting my characters from one location to another (or passing time) without it feeling clunky or grinding the story’s momentum to a halt is like trying to push my face through the holes of a cheese grater, I swear.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?

I’m really excited about my new trilogy, Rooks and Ruin, which begins with THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, out this June! It’s about a young woman with deadly, broken magic who lives in a rambling, magical castle with an ancient secret at its heart, locked behind a forbidden door. And about what happens when she makes one terrible mistake that could change her world forever.

It’s got all new characters and takes the worldbuilding in a new direction, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

 

Thank you Melissa for joining us today!

THE OBSIDIAN TOWER coming soon!

Author Interview: Loriel Ryon

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Loriel Ryon.

Hi Loriel! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Loriel Ryon.pngLORIEL RYON has long held a passion for science and books. During her childhood she was often found with her nose in a book, even at the dinner table. Now a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction, she finds that her stories are often influenced by these two interests, as well as her upbringing in a bicultural family. Loriel is a registered nurse who holds bachelors degrees in both nursing and biology. She currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and her two daughters who also share her love of reading. Her debut middle grade novel INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS will be published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in Spring 2020.

Social media links.
Twitter: @lorielryon
Website: http://www.Lorielryon.com

 

The Interview.

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since announcing your book’s publication acceptance?
That nothing much has changed. Haha. I’m a mom who is mostly home with the kids wiping noses and doing laundry. I also work as a registered nurse part time. It still doesn’t quite feel real, like I may wake up and realize it was all a dream. Publishing is slow and seems to happen in spurts. So it’s a lot of silence and waiting and then a flurry of activity and deadlines. During those flurries there is excitement and drama, but during the waiting periods, there is only one thing to do. Write something new and put another load of laundry in the washer.

What do you think is the hardest part of the process from writing to revising to final edits?
For me the hardest part is deciding when to cut something that started out as an important framework to get me through the drafting process, but isn’t really serving the overall story anymore. I hate to say goodbye to something I spent so much time researching and working on. My gut tells me it served its purpose and needs to go, but it’s hard to delete all that work. This is why betas, critique partners, agents and editors are so important to help me see what isn’t working. They can give me the permission I need to let things go.

Does your writing style, and or routine, change depending what age you are writing for?
I can answer this two ways. First, my writing routine hasn’t changed in a long time. I haven’t been consistent at getting up early or staying up late to write. I’m really good at writing during the middle of the day. (Ha! That’s my best time of day!) But it probably will have to change soon. My youngest will probably give up her nap soon and that is when I write, so I’m going to have to find a new routine when that happens. In terms of the age I write for, I’ve also dabbled with some picture books and Young Adult, but right now, I find I keep returning to the upper Middle Grade age range. That was such a formative time in my life and I would have loved books that would tackle tough issues head on with love and compassion. All of my protagonists tend to be of this age range right now.

Depict your debut, Into the Tall, Tall Grass into 10 words – go!
*Ok, ten words is very hard, so I’m not counting the filler words! 🙂
Girl embarks on magical journey through the desert to save her dying grandmother.

If you could add any magical element into your daily life, what would you pick?
Teleporting. Loading up my kids day after day in their car seats is exhausting and repetitive. It would be so nice to not have to do that, and end up where we need to be. Also, it would be better for the environment and let’s be honest, we all need to do more for our planet.

Is there any particular scene or character in Into the Tall, Tall Grass that energized or exhausted you?
I love all my characters, but Yolanda’s sister Sonja was especially fun to write. She is fierce and daring and seems so confident, but she also has her own insecurities and issues she’s grappling with that her sister (and the reader) isn’t fully aware of at first. I love her passion for the outdoors and her loving nature.

If you could warn your younger writing self about one thing, what would it be?

The books you read have gone through a MILLION revisions before they get published. Ok, maybe not a million, but a lot. Don’t compare your first draft to the published final product. I am still learning how the publishing and editing process works as this is my first time through it and I had NO IDEA how much work goes into making this happen. Just keep revising. With each revision the story gets stronger and clearer. And better.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. I lacked the confidence to even start writing until I was older and I wish I would have started younger. It sounds silly now, but I was terrified someone might actually read what I wrote! It’s a waste of time to not try to pursue something you enjoy because you are afraid. Just jump on in. If you fail, at least you’ll never regret trying.

Thank you Loriel for stopping by today!

Into the Tall, Tall Grass is available now!

Author Interview: Hayley Chow.

Author Interview

Meet Hayley Chow.

Social Media Links:

https://www.instagram.com/hayleyreesechow/

https://hayleyreesechow.com/

The Interview.

Hi Hayley! 

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hayley Reese Chow has short and flash fiction featured or upcoming in Lite Lit One, The Drabble, Bewildering Stories, Teleport Magazine, and Rogue Blades Entertainment’s omnibus, AS YOU WISH!

Until recently though, she’s mostly done a lot of things that have nothing at all to do with writing. Her hat collection includes mother, wife, engineer, USAF veteran, reservist, four-time All American fencer, 100 mile ultramarathoner, triathlete, world traveler, voracious reader, and super nerd. Hayley currently lives in Florida with two small wild boys, her long-suffering husband, and her miniature ragehound.

But at night, when the house is still, she writes.


I adore your site tagline of “Telling stories fished from the dreamcatcher.” How did you come up with it? Do you have a dreamcatcher?

My writing tends toward the speculative and fantastical, so I really like the idea of dreams being a potential source of inspiration. When I was a young kid, I used to have really horrible nightmares, so my mom got me a beautiful dreamcatcher. I think I was a little afraid of it. For some reason, I’ve always thought they were a bit eerie, like some kind of sandman spider crawled through it while you slept. I became convinced that the dreamcatcher actually made the nightmares worse, so it disappeared back into my mother’s nest of treasures. The nightmares are gone, but I still have extremely vivid dreams (zombies, time-travel, magic… you name it), often in the third-person. They’re not always writing material, but they are always interesting.

Out of your published works, which story gave you the most backlash while going through the process: from writing to revising to final edits?

I think I had the most trouble with my first foray into dark humor in my short story, “Wild Demand.” The plot came to me right away, but I struggled to get the tone right in the first few drafts. Walking the tightrope between amusing and disturbing turned out to be a little tougher than I first imagined. Then, even after it was finished, I wasn’t sure what genre to call it. I usually write fantasy or science-fiction, so trying to classify a “not-quite” contemporary short story was difficult for me. I write for me and think about publishing later, so stuffing the story into a genre box to pitch at someone can be a little awkward sometimes.

What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?

I did give the traditional route my best shot. I queried agents and got a handful of full requests that were inevitably followed by a long wait and then the standard feedback that it was “good but just not quite right for them” or something similar. Then, I got connected with the writing community and realized how many great indie books there are out there. I started investigating self-publishing, got some tips from other indie authors, and decided to go for it. This book has been a work-in-progress for a long time, so it was extraordinarily freeing to have some closure in sight. Now, that I have a handle on the process, I think I will be much quicker to move to self-publishing rather than spend valuable writing time in the query trenches.

As a follow up to the previous question: What would be one thing you’d stress of importance to other writers considering this route too?

Research everything! The amount of resources out there for indie authors is tremendous—from editing, to formatting, to marketing—there are so many options and a lot of steps in the process (so try to plan ahead if you can.) The writing community on Twitter and Instagram can also be a great source for information and encouragement. Through tips from other indie authors, I discovered Amazon KDP and the Reedsy blog, which have both been tremendously helpful. Self-publishing is definitely a journey that takes a lot of time and energy, but a very fulfilling one.

YA vs. Middle Grade: What are some challenges you face when switching between age groups while writing?

At 12-years-old, somewhere in between MG and YA, I fell in love with reading. So, I often feel stuck between the no man’s land of lower YA and upper MG. I think the struggle begins with the decision if the story will be YA or MG. Which, thus far, has depended on whether the journey’s end takes them to independence or brings them back to their family. From there, I really have to work to keep the darkness under control in a middle-grade and maintain a more simplistic sentence structure, since I think my natural voice is a bit more appropriate for YA. Either way, I love getting to know a world with a young main character that still has so much room for growth and change. I’ll never grow up!

How did you go about creating your website – research, asking other writers?

I avoided making a website for a long time, but after I decided to self-publish, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I asked for tips from other writers on social media, consulted with the almighty google, and checked out other author websites to get a general feel for what I needed. There was a bit of a learning curve, but wordpress has a simplistic visual block editor that’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. I utilize a minimalistic design, but it works well as a place to highlight the links to my published work and some snippets of my writing. Ultimately, it wasn’t as hard as I feared and I’d totally recommend it for anyone looking to augment their online platform. Lessons learned: Everything is learnable, so google everything.

Real life vs. Writing: What is your daily writing routine?

I’m a full-time engineer with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so I basically get 2 hours to myself after they go to bed. I get a cup of hot honey-water (my cheap, lazy version of tea), settle onto the couch (or sometimes a tiny elmo armchair) and then the night can go one of two ways. If I’m on a drafting binge, I jump straight into the story and knock out a couple thousand words. But if I’m revising, editing, querying, formatting, marketing or working on some other non-writing task, I have to settle for a one word writing prompt on social-media—very short stories on twitter and haikus are my favorites. I wish I had more time to spend writing, but in the end, my family and my day job will always come first. Still, I feel lucky to have a creative outlet I feel so passionately about.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

Well, I am releasing my debut novel on 1 March 2020! *Insert fanfare here* Odriel’s Heirs is a YA Fantasy starring a demon necromancer, a handsome shadow-twister, and a bullied fire-wielder with rage issues. If you want to take a peek, the first chapter is here: https://hayleyreesechow.com/odriels-heirs/ and I’d love to hear what you think.

And as much as I love writing, I actually love reading more. So, if you ever want to connect and talk about anything that has to do with books, please feel free to reach out on Instagram or Twitter @hayleyreesechow.

Be sure to follow Hayley for updates!

Her debut, Odriel’s Heirs, is coming soon!

Author Inteview: Danielle K. Roux

Author Interview

Meet Danielle K. Roux.

Roux.png

Social media links
Twitter: @DKRoux
Instagram: @DanielleKRoux
Facebook: @DanielleKRoux
Website (which I always forget about): http://www.dkroux.com

The Interview.

Hi Danielle!
Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in San Francisco with my wife and two orange cats. I write weird queer fantasy, drink coffee, and build houses on the Sims. I like true crime and dark fantasy, but I also like fluffy weird books that have a lot of heart. I teach and tutor kiddos with dyslexia so I can spread the joy of reading to them (we always read The Lightening Thief). I have purple hair right now, but I’m probably going to chop it all off soon.

What is your favorite part of writing? The freedom? The characters? The setting?
I like creating characters who get to experience things I’ve experienced so that I feel less alone. Usually there’s several layers of twisted nonsense between my experience and the characters – like they’re having panic attacks while solving riddles in a ruined city, not while trying to find parking at Trader Joe’s. I also enjoy populating a sort of serious fantasy world with people who just want to watch old movies and complain about the lack of eggs, the contrast is fun.
Top three favorite characteristics to give a MC; to give a secondary character.
MC – Quick wit, crippling self-doubt, cool eyes
Secondary – Sarcasm, empathy, cool eyes
Favorite genre to write for?
Fantasy! I’ve been doing sort of mash-up urban fantasy/magical realism/mystery and write now I’m working on a space fantasy. Always gay, but that’s not a genre, that’s just inherently imbued in my writing.
For 2020, do you have any trips planned for writing inspiration?
I’m going to Orlando in February, I’ve not been in like twenty-something years! I’m excited to go to Harry Potter World and pretend I’m at Hogwarts or fight dementors or whatever one does there. I’m also going to BookCon in May which is super inspiring because I’ll get to meet all the cool writers who support me!
If you could co-write with any other author, who would it be?
My BookCon 2019 roomie and author of The Halves of Us Trilogy, Sydney Page Richardson! I think we need to re-write the Babysitter’s Club books but make them spooky and gay.
Plotter? Panster? Both?
I am such a pantser, it’s not even funny. I try to plan out some things, but I ignore them, and just write what I want while drafting. It helps to have editors come back and be like “this makes literally no sense”. Sometimes it really doesn’t, and I can’t even pretend that I wanted it to make sense. I like confusing, twisty, twining things, and I like to push boundaries between realities but sometimes it’s a bit much.
What has been your greatest author experience so far?
Meeting so many amazing writers, I feel like I have a lot in common with way more people than I ever thought. Also, seeing my novel featured on Tor.com as an upcoming fantasy release was incredibly thrilling. There’s been another thing, but it’s still a secret and I’m not sure it will work because reasons but I’m hopeful.
What do you have planned for the new year?
Finishing up my gay space pirate WIP, starting the draft of book 3 of This Will Kill That, editing book 2, going to BookCon. I also have a short story in an anthology, it’s a ghost story which will be coming soon. There’s also the secret project which might not be a secret anymore by the time this interview posts, so, that.
And I plan on reading a lot of books and drinking a lot more tea.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more weirdness.

 

Thank you Danielle for stopping by.

 

 

Check out any of Danielle’s social media links for more information!

Author Interview: Lori M. Lee

Author Interview

Meet Lori M. Lee.

lori-2019-web.jpg

Social Media Links:
Website: https://lorimlee.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoriMLee
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lorimlee82/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoriMLee/

The Interview.

 

Hi Lori!

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! I’m the author of multiple SFF books and speculative short fiction. I’m also enamored with unicorns, enjoy marathoning TV shows, and daydreaming about magic, manipulation, and family.

 

Out of all the novels you’ve written, what was the most challenging to complete?

Definitely the sequel to Forest of Souls, which I’m still writing. I spent a number of years working on FoS, and while I had an idea for the sequel, so much changed through the revision process that I had to scrap everything and start from scratch. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that no amount of stress eating will make my brain work any faster in terms of chipping away at the block of a new story to reveal the shape of the plot beneath.

 

What are your thoughts on covers? Yours are gorgeous!

Thank you! Everyone says to not judge a book by its cover, and in theory, that’s excellent advice. But in practice, it’s almost impossible not to. A cover has the not inconsiderable responsibility of convincing a reader to pick up a book (or click on it) and read the summary. It’s so important to get right, and I’ve been extremely blessed to get some amazing covers!

 

Are you then guilty of buying a book (or not) based on the cover itself?

I’ve definitely purchased books based on their cover haha. I’ve also held onto books I had no intention of reading simply because I loved their covers so much. In all other aspects of my life, I’m super practical, but I have a weakness for books!

 

Tell us about your publishing experience – the good, the bad, the beautiful.

The good: I’m fortunate in that I found an agent I love and who I work well with on my first try. So many authors have had to switch agents for various reasons, but I’ve been with Suzie for 8 years, and I couldn’t be happier.

The bad: I’ve definitely gone down some pretty dismal paths (mentally) the last few years, and there were times I wanted to quit writing altogether. But the thing is—if I’m not writing, then I don’t really know who I am. Some authors will tell you that’s unhealthy, haha, and maybe it is, but so much of who I am is tied up with my love for writing, and that’s okay with me.

The beautiful: Because I’ve been around since before the We Need Diverse Books movement, I’ve had the distinct privilege of being able to witness the publishing industry and the book community evolve into a more inclusive, more welcoming place for marginalized books and writers, and it’s been truly wonderful. There’s still a long ways to go, but where we are now compared to where we were back in 2010 when I first began querying gives me a lot of hope for the future of publishing.

 

This June, “Forest of Souls” is released: what inspired the story?

It was a bunch of different things coming together, like how the different Power Ranger zords come together to form Megazord XD But primarily, I wanted to write an epic fantasy, because I hadn’t done that since I was a teenager, and fantasy is my first and fiercest love. Then I wanted it to be about two girls who remained friends throughout the entire book, mostly in furious reaction to a string of books I’d read where the best friends shunned each other for 90% of the book before reconciling at the end. I guess I spite write? lol.

 

What really spoke to you – from favorite or least favorite character trait, a moment in the story, etc – about your main character Sirscha in “Forest of Souls”?

Sirscha’s greatest fear is to be insignificant, or invisible, so she spends a lot of energy and time trying to prove herself. She’s constantly seeking this external validation that I think others will relate to, and I definitely relate to that as well because I wrote in her some of my own insecurities as a teenager.

 

What was it like receiving (or seeing) your first fanart or fan letter?

Getting reader emails is THE BEST THING EVER. Also, I completely freaked out the first time someone created fanart for my characters. I spent a lot of time in various fandoms, writing fanfiction and drawing fanart for beloved series, so it means so much when someone cares enough to do the same for my books. That was a really special time in my writing life, and one of my biggest writing goals is to someday publish a book that will spawn a fandom XD

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

If you’re a fan of preorder goodies, keep an eye out for more news on that front soon 😀