Author Interview: Jessika Fleck

Author Interview

Meet Jessika Fleck.


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:


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 Marie Marquardt and her project #ReadForChange

Author Interview

Meet Marie Marquardt.

I am an author of young adult novels, a college professor, and an immigration advocate.

How are these all connected? After many years as a researcher, service provider, and – most importantly – friend with immigrants to Georgia, I felt frustrated. I often spoke to groups about our broken immigration system and the need for immigration reform. And I realized something: people begin to care when they meet and get to know someone who is living inside this broken system. It’s been my great honor to have such relationships over decades.

So, I began writing fictional (but very real) stories based on my experiences. My novels bring readers into intimate contact with messy, complicated, political situations. I believe that, through story, we can connect to other people in a deep, meaningful way – which can be a powerful tool against the hate, fear, and misunderstanding that plague our society.

And now, the formal bits: I am a Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. In addition to DREAM THINGS TRUE, THE RADIUS OF US, and FLIGHT SEASON (available 2/20/18) I have co-authored two non-fiction books and written several articles on immigration. I have been interviewed about immigration on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Voice of America, NBC, and BBC America, among other media outlets. I am honored to be the chair of El Refugio, a Georgia non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families.

I live in Decatur, Georgia with my spouse, four children, a dog, and a bearded dragon.

For more information, visit:

Twitter: @MarieFMarquardt

Facebook: @mariemarquardtauthor

Instagram: @marie_marquardt

Onto the interview!

2018 has just begun and #ReadForChange is in the works. What is the one thing you hope this project achieves as the year continues and later ends?My goal for the project is simple: to celebrate great stories that bring readers into intimate contact with issues that matter now. I hope #ReadForChange will encourage people who love these stories to dig in deep, explore the social issues that animated authors to write them, and then get to work (stay at work!) building a better world.

How can the book community, such as bloggers and bookstagrammers, get involved with and support #ReadForChange?

Thanks for asking! I’d love for bloggers and bookstagrammers to spread the word about the monthly feature and giveaway through their networks. I’m also hoping booklovers will pick up the hashtag to talk about other great books – fiction and non-fiction – that tackle the social issue at the heart of each month’s feature.  There are so many great novels out there. The hardest parts of this plan sticking to only one a month! I really hope that the monthly feature will be a conversation starter, not a one-time event.

Tell us about the story behind the creation of Read For Change and the birth of the hashtag.

Here’s my super-honest answer:  YA authors are expected be out there on social media, and I get that.  But I have trouble engaging authentically, in a way that feels natural to me. One day, I was brainstorming with a couple of other authors, and we were talking about who we want to be in that space.  It hit me that I want to be part of a community of authors, bloggers, and readers who feel deeply and think deeply about what needs to change in our society. And, voila! #ReadForChange! I was so thrilled when the wonderful people at Teen Librarian Toolbox steeped in to partner with me. They’ve really motivated me!

Did a specific event or circumstance ultimately help you make the final decision to tackle this inspiring project?

My first novel came out in September 2015. It was inspired by a couple of decades of work and friendship with undocumented immigrants in the South, and by my heart’s enormous desire to promote fair and just immigration reform. I felt some pushback – shouldn’t I be writing fiction for fiction’s sake? This baffled me. I’ll never forget one of my first events as a YA author, when a fellow panelist dismissed “issue books” as somehow inauthentic, not worthy, not real literature. What books, I wondered, are NOT issue books? But I kept my mouth shut.

When my second novel came out — just days before the inauguration of our current president – I decided to never apologize for what motivates me to write: a deep desire to see change in the world. I also decided to seek other authors who share that same burning desire, and promote their stories as a way to build community and work together for a better world.

Why do you feel authors are now writing novels that speak to the heart of today’s issues and problems vs. a few years ago when those stories may not have been readily accepted? What changed in the writing trend?

So much has changed since November 2016. I think many of us – including many in the publishing industry – have woken up and realized that we need to use our voices (We need to make use of everything we have!) to draw attention to injustice and to seek a more just and inclusive society.  Novels have always been a part of that project, because they are uniquely capable of building empathy and shared understanding. What’s changed is our willingness to openly claim that right and responsibility as authors, agents, publishers, and booksellers.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when, for 2017 YallWest, I was asked to be on a panel called “Writing the Resistance”. Sitting at that table, between fabulous writers who are committed to justice, and talking about how the desire for change motivates us, I felt like I had come home. I hope #ReadForChange will open this ‘home’ to many more people!

Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today about the upcoming #ReadForChange launch?

Tomorrow’s the day! You can find it on Teen Librarian Toolbox, or — if you want the first issue to come directly to your e-mail inbox — you can sign up for the newsletter here.

Thank you Marie for sharing #ReadForChange with us!

Marie’s book, Flight Season, is coming out 2/20! Check out her website for more details!

The Phantom of New York Blog Tour + Interview

Author Interview, Blog Tour
The Phantom of New York, volume 1 – Peter and the Crown
by A.L. Janney
Genre: MG/YA Adventure
Release Date: December 2017


‘This is a story about vigilantes and magic.

About prophecy and hope.
About a boy and his hotel.
When twelve-year-old Peter Constantine wakes up in the Crown Hotel with a new identity, life is over as he knows it. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing…
A dangerous man Peter only knows as “The Client” is after his family, so they’ve relocated to New York City. With help from unlikely friends living at the glamorous hotel, including the ghost on the tenth floor, Peter’s new life begins. Soon, however, he learns of a plot to destroy his new home, a plot only the Phantom can foil.
Peter and the Crown is the first book in the Phantom of New York series, an adventure for readers aged ten and up. If you like smart, funny characters and “can’t put it down” escapades, then you’ll love Alan Janney’s Phantom of New York series.’

On sale for only $0.99 this week!

Buy Links:Amazon | Audible


Interview with A.L. Janney

Rae:     Peter and the Crown, volume one of Phantom, is about a boy moving to New York City and finding destiny awaits.

Janney:    Yes, well phrased.

Rae:      There is an old prophecy and it’s about Peter, but he doesn’t know it yet. I think perhaps what I liked the most about the book is the Crown Hotel.

Janney:    Good! The Crown is a magnificent and magical place, and I’m proud of it.

Rae:     I want to live there. I love the map of the hotel.

Janney:    Yeah the artist, Anne Pierson, is great, isn’t she.

Rae:     Is the Crown based on anything?

Janney:    The Plaza, in NYC. It’s in a similar location, with a similar feel, and similar appearance. The Plaza is a beautiful and storied place, and so is the Crown.

Rae:     It’s so fun that Peter hardly ever has to venture outside.

Janney:    I learned something from Jerry Seinfeld. I’ve learned a lot from him, actually. He says that people like returning to a place. One reason they watched his show is because they wanted to go back to the apartment with Jerry and George and the rest. It’s comfortable and familiar and we liked ‘living’ in it.

Rae:     I feel that way about the Crown.

Janney:    Good! You felt that way about Howarts too, I’m assuming.

Rae:      Definitely.

Janney:    Older readers felt that way about Cheers, and Friends, the television shows. We want to live in Narnia and Redwall, and in the Shire and Rivendell. Andy’s room, from Toy Story. We return to a place we love, and that’s why we kept buying Potter books, or at least one of the reasons. We want to go back to Hogwarts. Do you remember the final book? Harry spends the first half or more of Deathly Hallows outside of Hogwarts, on a rambling quest. I skimmed through. Hurry up and get me back inside the castle.

Rae:     So the setting is just as important as the character.

Janney:    Possibly. My favorite character in the Star Wars movies might be the Millennium Falcon. There’s a reason the movie trailers always show the cockpit—we love it. I grew up on board the Falcon, so to speak. The new movies keep taking me back there.

Rae:    What makes the Crown Hotel so special?

Janney:    First of all, Peter feels like it’s alive. As though it can communicate with him. It’s a self-contained world full of wonder and magic and surprises. It has villains, a princess, safety, danger, history, prophecy, all of it. I want readers to feel a warm glow when they find themselves inside the Crown. Take a deep breath. All is well. You’re home.


About the Author
Winner of the 2016 National Indie Excellence Award!
You work hard.
I write adventures.
Let me entertain you.
My favorite adventurers: Ender, Frodo and Sam, Rand, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, Katniss, Spenser, Peter and Alicia and Amy (from The Passage), Jack Ryan, Dirk Pitt, and many others, including my two sons and my super hot wife.
Author Links:
Tour schedule can be found here.
Giveaway link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Partnership With:
YA Bound Book Tours
YA Bound Tour Button

Introducing Dave Connis

Author Interview

Meet Dave Connis.

Dave Connis.jpg

I write words you can sing and words you can read. I live in Chattanooga, TN with my wife, son, and a dog that barks at non-existent threats.

When I’m not writing YA or MG, I’m probably working really strange part-time jobs, and doing other things that actually give my family the ability to eat food. I’m a member of the Jedi Counsel, and I have a propensity to daydream when ever I attempt to be an adult.

Social media links:
Onto the interview!
Do you have a go to song or playlist when you want to write but need to set the writing mood? 
I actually haven’t been writing with music lately! But eventually I’ll go back to turning on Dustin O’Halloran and just playing through all of his music. He’s my go to writing music.
What was the easiest and hardest concepts to write when dealing with the reality of addiction and porn in a YA novel setting/plot?
Easiest was the depth of feelings and rawness that comes with addiction and being in such a broken state. I didn’t stutter over the emotional side of the book at all. The hardest part was not being gratuitous, about having it still be connectable and not too down a dark hallway that most people wouldn’t be willing to follow it. Porn isn’t a very easy topic, anyway. At least, when you’re asking questions about it and what it does. So I had to fight really hard to lay it out in an approachable way.
What is your real life definition of “fine”?
This meme.
Inline image 1
Songs or story, what came first when you began your writing journey?
I’ve actually been writing songs since I was six. My first one was called, “My Hart” and was about escalators and Jesus. I wrote my first little story when I was seven or eight. It was about jetski racers because I was obsessed with the N64 game Wave Race.
Were there any stereotypes or stigmas in The Temptation of Adam that you wanted to tackle but ultimately didn’t make it into the finished novel?
the main theme in a way that wasn’t necessary.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or say?
Watch Master of Non by Iziz Ansari.
Read H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
Listen to the podcast Good Christian Fun
Thanks for the interview Dave!
Have you read THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM yet? If not, get your copy today!