Author Interview: Jessika Fleck

Author Interview

Meet Jessika Fleck.

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The Interview.

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

Jessika Fleck is a writer, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Jessika has lived all over the U.S. from Hawaii to Vermont, but currently calls Illinois home. She resides there with her sociology professor husband and two daughters where she’s learning to appreciate the beauty in cornfields and terrifyingly large cicadas. Jessika writes both young adult and middle grade fiction and her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. Her debut YA fantasy, The Castaways, is currently available as is Beware the Night. Both have received noteworthy praise. Her next book, Defy the Sun, will release March 10, 2020.

Social media links:
Website: https://www.jessikafleck.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessikafleck
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessikaFleck/
Insta: https://www.instagram.com/jessikafleckwriter/

 

Inspired by your coffee, knitting, and writing bio introduction: Do you ever find yourself knitting to solve writer’s block or just mull over a trickier plot or character issue?
No… That’s what the coffee is for. My knitting time is my ‘turn off my brain’ time. It’s when I completely zone out (but not enough I’ll mess up (hopefully)) and have some music or a crafty competition show on in the background (I recently discovered Skin Wars—it’s so good!). I will say, that it’s because I take these moments of zombie-like dead-headedness that I’m then able to go back to a particularly challenging writing moment refreshed and with renewed motivation. So, in a way, I guess knitting does help solve my writing woes.
A vintage typewriter? Epic. Do you use it to write your manuscripts now or just occasional snippets? Oh! Where did the first vintage typewriter come from?
Thank you! I actually have 5! :ducks: I don’t type my manuscripts on them. If I tried, I might go mad because, well, ALL of the reasons. I do love the tap-tap of typewriter keys though and if I’m writing without background music, I have an app that will add the sound to my keyboard. My first vintage typewriter was gifted to me from my mother-in-law. It’s a monster. She actually lugged it around college with her! It’s robin egg blue and I adore it.
What drew you to fantastical, dark, and realism writing?
That’s a hard one. I suppose it’s simply the result of the types of stories that come to me. I do tend to lean toward the quirky and dark when reading or watching movies as well, so it makes sense.
Were there any YA manuscripts that spoke to the MG level instead? Or vice versa.
Not really. When I begin drafting a story I know who the intended audience will be and I definitely tailor the book for that genre. There were a few aspects of Beware the Night that my editor felt made Veda seem too young for YA so those were re-crafted. For instance, originally, Veda had a pet ferret whom was more a side-kick. That poor guy was axed fairly early on.
What is your favorite novel item that you have collected so far?
Most definitely my hourglasses. I’ve acquired quite the eclectic collection—each one is unique and I love them. Second would be my vintage, illustrated copy of Jane Eyre.
For The Castaways, why corn mazes? Did you end up visiting different ones for inspiration?
They’re so creepy aren’t they? But also enchanting in their own right. I did visit a couple for inspiration and actually came up with the idea for The Castaways while walking through a corn maze on an October visit to a pumpkin patch.
For Beware the Night, why sacrifices?
No deep or particular reason other than it felt right with the story and within the setting and was always a part of the narrative for me.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever researched for a manuscript?
Hmm… Probably witch spells. :big grin:
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Just that I’m so thrilled you had me here at A New Look for Books, Rae! Also, thanks so much to anyone who has or plans to read my books. It’s truly an honor to have these stories I’ve written out in the world.

 

Thanks Jessika for stopping by Bookish Looks!

 

Meet Author Heather Kassner

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Heather Kassner.

 

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Welcome Heather! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself

Heather Kassner loves thunderstorms, hummingbirds, and books. She lives with her husband in Arizona, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the rain, photographing hummingbirds, and reading and writing strange little stories. Her debut novel, The Bone Garden, will be published August 6, 2019 by Holt/Macmillan.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherKassner
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather1ee/
Website: http://www.heatherkassner.com/
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2NXFgHk

 

The Interview.

The Bone Garden gives me the shivers from the title to the summary! How did you pick this particular title? How important are titles to you – meaning do you need to pick one before or after you start writing?

Shivers? Perfect! Titles are important to me, but unfortunately, settling on just the right one is hard! While writing, I had a working title, but not one that I liked. The title for THE BONE GARDEN only came to me after the book was finished and I was polishing it for querying. I added a line of dialogue with this phrase and finally found my title! It was such a relief.

 

You play with darker aspects of magic, dealing with odd creatures and creations and all the rules that go with it. What setup do you have for the magic system for The Bone Garden?

Miss Vesper made Irréelle from dust and bone and dark imaginings, so at its most basic, this magic system is one of creation. However, Irréelle’s biggest fear is that she’s not real, not in the same way as other children. One of the things Irréelle sets out to do is to understand this magic. So, while I can’t go into much detail about the system without spoiling what Irréelle finds, I can say that the reader learns more about it as she does. And there are some very unexpected (and creepy) discoveries!

 

Did you ever find yourself struggling with your main character Irréelle in a sense she didn’t quite fit in a particular place or scene as she came to life?

Irréelle is a sweet crooked-boned girl who feels as if she belongs nowhere. Fitting in is one of her greatest challenges. So, to some degree, she had to fight her way into every scene. But in the sense that I struggled with writing her, she was not the one who gave me the most trouble. It was another character entirely who initially entered the book too late and needed an earlier introduction, which I tackled during revisions.

 

How did imagination give birth to The Bone Garden from its infancy to the final manuscript to publication?

Before I knew anything else, I knew the very first line of THE BONE GARDEN, which has remained unchanged through revisions.“She descended into the basement, tasked with collecting the bones.”

I imagined the whole story around this one sentence, starting with questions as simple as: Who is she? Who tasked her with this chore? And what are the bones for? It was so fun thinking of all the possibilities, and I let my imagination run wild, sitting there with my eyes shut, envisioning this girl, and the house she lived in, and the bone garden itself. As I began drafting, I tried to keep those initial visions in mind and transfer them to the page.

During revisions, I needed to add some tricky scenes, and while I knew that this one thing needed to happen, I didn’t know exactly how to make it happen. Again, the thing that finally sparked my imagination was visualizing everything before I even attempted to write a word.

 

As a middle grade novel, did you have to remove scenes at any point that perhaps were too intense for a younger reader? For that matter, what called you to write for the middle grade level?

There are definitely dark moments in THE BONE GARDEN, both what Irréelle experiences emotionally and what she encounters magically. However, no, I didn’t remove any of those scenes. In fact, when working on revisions with my editor, the book twisted even darker. My hope is that younger readers will embrace the darkness, much as Irréelle does, and through it, find what makes them shine brightest.

As for what drew me to middle grade, it was this feeling of possibility. I wanted to see the world as I did when I was younger. I was so excited to write something fun. Something hopeful. And also, something a little strange and creepy. And I just hope readers enjoy the story!

 

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

Maybe this goes along with your question about imagination, but music always inspires my writing too. My husband is a musician and he wrote a little something for me for THE BONE GARDEN that fits the mood so perfectly (and means so much to me).

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

Thank you! It was so fun. 🙂

 

 

The Bone Garden is out August 2019!

Celebrate by pre-ordering this spooky MG tale!

Guest Review: Escape From Samsara

Book Reviews, Guest reviewer, Misc.
***Disclaimer: I received this book in an exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

escape from samsara

ESCAPE FROM SAMSARA

Guest Reviewer: Adriana

 

While I found this book an interesting read as an American it was a bit confusing to me with the British English terminology. The main male character seems to be in an older age range which was a new twist I have yet to encounter. There is a mystery to solve and he is the character chosen to handle the task. Both his father and sister have gone missing. He still has his mother which in her own right is quite a character as well. During his mission to find his missing family members he encounters even more odd occurrences then I truly expected the story itself had a lot of interesting twists to this, however I did find it a little more than confusing trying to figure out certain aspects of the story line not only due to being an American English reader but there was a number of grammatical errors.

Reviewing the cover of the book it’s nicely done, however I would have chosen a bit of a different cover image. The free copy I received has no influence on my review itself.  The reason I gave the book a 3.5 star review was due to the above for mentioned issues that I personally took into consideration.

I would still recommend this book to other reader’s cause I did find it comical even though I had my issues it is still a great read for those who like comedy and a bizarre fantasy twist added to the mix! I feel in my personal opinion that the author could have more successful endeavors if he focused on making a series out of it where one aspect could have been the  portion of what was supposed to be today’s society.

Then he could have made a second book out of the time traveling portal and branched that into many series of novellas due to the nature of the portals abilities itself.

The  reason why I suggest that as a change for the author to consider is I do see great potential there, however it was hard for me to enjoy the book itself fully due to what I am calling a ping pong effect. The bouncing between this era, and all the odd story twists makes you have to try to figure out what is even happening while you are in the middle of the story or paragraph even. I would also recommend some more editing being performed on the context of the pages since some of the errors I commonly found were simple misspellings. I hope that this review  doesn’t come across to harsh I just would like to read more from

This author and as I stated if the book or books are reworked a little bit adjustment wise I think it would vastly improve the enjoyability factor for all reader’s. This being said I did enjoy the book itself it had some odd comical aspects and the author for me truly put his own unique touch on how a mystery can be told.

 

RATING : 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

 

Want more info? Visit Nicky Blue’s website here.

 

In Her Skin Tour + Official Book Playlist

Blog Tour

In Her Skin

by Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: April 17, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
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Synopsis:
A dark, suspenseful young adult novel about crime, identity, and two girls with everything to lose.Fifteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain takes on her biggest heist yet—impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and she hopes to cash in on a little safety, some security. She finds her opportunity with the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family tied to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi’s identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. When hidden crimes come to the surface and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold on to an illusion of safety or escape the danger around her before it’s too late. In Her Skin is Kim Savage at her most suspenseful yet.

Official Book Playlist

The Perfect Playlist for IN HER SKIN
Becoming Vivienne Weir gives Jo everything she wants, including a safe haven from the streets. But inside Vivienne Weir’s skin might be the most dangerous place of all. This is my soundtrack to her journey.
1. Jealous by Labyrinth is the perfect song for when Jo first spots Temple at the Boston Public Library. Jo can’t get close to her, but she wants to: in fact, Temple is her original mark. The lyrics—I’m jealous of the rain/I’m jealous of the wind/That ripples through your clothes/It’s closer than your shadow—set the tone as she rubs her thumb over Temple’s school ID and considers how to become her.
2. Good Lifeby One Republic. Life with the Lovecrafts is like a buffet, Jo thinks: so many things to choose from, and she wants to gobble it all. Between shopping trips to Newbury Street, fancy hotel restaurants, and gifts from Tiffany, this has gotta be the good life.
3. Celebrity Skinby Hole. The anger. The attitude. The grungy aesthetic. But mostly because:
You better watch out/Oh, what you wish for/It better be worth it/So much to die for
Yup.
4. Perfect Placesby Lorde could have been written about the warehouse party that Temple and Jo sneak into. It’s just another graceless night for Temple; for Jo, it’s a turning point in her feelings toward her new sister.”
5. Criminal by Fiona Apple. Jo’s been careless with a delicate man—Wolf—whom she abandoned, and who happens to be her one true love. Ouch.
6. On My Own by Lea Salonga. In the novel, this song (from Les Miserables) is performed at the opera house. It reminds Jo of nights walking the city with Wolf, and she has to steel herself from showing her new family that she’s dying inside.
7. Just Like A Pill by Pink. Jo starts to suspect that Temple may not be good for her health. Just like a pill.
8. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash. The Lovecrafts’ lifestyle isn’t the only draw. The real reason for staying is Temple, and with her, it’s always tease, tease, tease.
9. You Don’t Own Me by Dusty Springfield. Nuff said.
10. Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift. Every. Line. In. This. Song. In case you need a reminder (you don’t):
I don’t like your little games
Don’t like your tilted stage
The role you made me play
Of the fool, no, I don’t like you
I don’t like your perfect crime
How you laugh when you lie
You said the gun was mine
Isn’t cool, no, I don’t like you
And oh, what Jo does.
11. In the End by Linkin Park. This song is pure angst and regret. I don’t buy that Jo regrets one minute of her time as Vivienne Weir, but she does get far. And she definitely has to fall to lose it all.
Happy reading, and listening!

About the Author + Social Media Links

KIM SAVAGE is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods, Beautiful Broken Girls (named by Kirkus as one of the 10 Best YA of 2017), and In Her Skin (releasing March 27, 2018), all with Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey, and have been optioned for TV. Kim presents at conferences and book festivals nationwide; has been featured on NPR, Herald Radio, and on local cable stations; and she reads from her novels at bookstores across the country. A former reporter with a Master degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim’s stories are based in and around Boston. She lives with her family near Boston, not far from the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn’t.

Tour Schedule

Find the official tour schedule here.

 

Giveaway info below!

 

  • 1 finished copy of the book
  • US Only!
  • To enter, click here!

 

Tour Partnership With

FFBC

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Of Bells and Thorns Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal, Misc.
Of Bells and Thorns (The Rose Master #2)
Genre: YA Gothic
Release Date: November 28th 2017
REUTS Publications, LLC
Readers fell in love with Anne Tinning, a maid in 19th century London, and Lord Grey, the master of a haunted manor. THE ROSE MASTER sequel continues their journey in another hauntingly beautiful tale.
Blurb coming soon.
Previous book in the series (click on image for Goodreads link):
Summary:
The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it.

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.
“In this Gothic fantasy, Cano evokes both Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre while creating something new and strange. Cano does a beautiful job of setting mood and atmosphere, and her characters dance around one another with relentless industry and brooding allure, fighting their inevitable attraction. This is a strong, satisfying effort.” ~Publishers Weekly on THE ROSE MASTER
About the Author
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Of the Web.
Author Links:



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