Interview! With the Wonderful Diana Peterfreund

July 15, 2012 at 9:00 am (Interviews) (, , , , )

Everyone, we have a guest today! Please welcome the amazing Diana Peterfreund, author of the Secret Society novels, Ascendant, Rampant, and For Darkness Shows the Stars. I LOVED For Darkness Shows the Stars, so I was over the moon when Diana agreed to answer my questions. Be kind!

Okay, icebreaker question: favorite superhero?

I am partial to Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender. But if you mean traditional comic book superheroes, I think Storm.

Aaah, Toph! I think the greatest earthbender EVAR can safely be called a superhero, classical definition or no. Speaking of classics (okay yes, very bad segue): what was it about Persuasion that made you want to do a retelling?

It’s one of my favorite novels and I don’t think it necessarily gets the love of other Austen novels. I’ve always loved reunion romances, and this one is such a doozy. I hope I bring this marvelous story to a new audience.

It’s one of my favorites too, but how did planning a retelling change how you read the original?

I’m afraid I may have passed into the memorization phase with Persuasion at this point. :-) I do find now that I have a special appreciation for those bits of the story that I did not, for various reasons, incorporate into my retelling, just because I haven’t spent months and month analyzing them from every angle the way I have with the rest of the book (the most prominent example may be Mary Musgrove’s family life).

Obviously Astrid and Elliot have very different stories- was one more difficult to write than the other?

Every book and every character has her own difficulties. Elliot was a challenge to me because her shyness and silent self-possession, inherited from her Austen counterpart, was a very different type of character than I’ve ever written before. All my heroines have such different strengths. Amy’s weapon of choice is her smart mouth, Astrid’s is… well, ACTUAL weapons, and Elliot’s is her constancy and willpower.

What is an ideal day of writing like for you?

An uninterrupted one — rare enough with a toddler around! I still find it amazing how much my mood is lifted by getting a good chunk of writing done.

I think words are like endorphins- the more on the page, the better the mood, even if it does take discipline to get them there. Is there anything about a writer’s life that continues to surprise you?

How much I still don’t know. There’s a saying that “writing a book teaches you only how to write THAT book” and it’s true. Every book comes with a unique challenge, lessons to be learned or relearned. And publishing works that way too. I think it’s because we’re in a time of such rapid change, but even stuff that worked two or three years ago in publishing is not the way things are done now, and I’ve been in this business for only six years.

When did you realize you actually wanted to BE a writer, rather than simply someone who writes?

I think I wanted to be a writer since I knew what writing was — when other first graders were learning to use vocabulary words in sentences, I was writing stories with my vocab lists. I had this awesome epic going on in my little black and white composition notebook. But I didn’t think that was something I could do for a living — I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Have you ever had a smaller/side character whose story you wished you could explore more?

Often! That’s one of the things I love so much about short stories; they give me that opportunity. I’ve written connected short stories (usually free) for all of my books, and they are most often from the perspective of minor characters. In “On a Field, Sable”, my story in the free anthology Eternal Spring, I was able to more fully explore Melissende’s emotions after the tragedy on the mountain in Ascendant. In the free prequel “Among the Nameless Stars”, I could explore Kai and the rest of the Cloud Fleet’s history in a way that’s only hinted at in For Darkness Shows the Stars. And of course, there are the “secret stories” on my website that tie into my secret society girl series. I really love short stories, even though I came to them the “wrong way ’round” according to most writing careers. I sold six novels before I ever sold a short story.

What books have influenced you as a writer?

I love love LOVE On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. I first read it when I was 14 and it’s still the basis of a lot of my personal craft philosophy. On the fiction side, I am still very much influenced by the books I read as a child and adolescent, which is probably why I gravitate to writing books for younger readers myself. Then again, I think a lot of people forget how much time your average student spends reading the classics. I read more Shakespeare in high school than out of it. Some of my favorites from childhood are the Narnia series, the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery, and The Count of Monte Cristo. And Austen, of course!

What are your most anticipated reads of 2012?

I’m lucky enough that I’ve read most of them. Team Human, Foretold, Code Name Verity, Born Wicked, Thumped, A Million Suns, The Book of Blood and Shadow… and they all exceeded my expectations! I know I’m forgetting some, though. Next up I’m reading Something Like Normal, by Trish Doller, which I’ve been waiting for for like, five years. I’m also doing a lot of catch up reading. I hang my head in shame.

I think our TBR stacks catch up with all of us- mine’s nearly as tall as I am now! Which…sounds less impressive for anyone who’s ever seen me in person…So let’s say you get to corral a gaggle of YA authors: where do you go, and what do you do?

Usually out drinking, sometimes off to eat pie (as in Y’ALLFest in Charleston, SC) and once even to a castle in Ireland. Beating the castle in Ireland is going to be a challenge, I think, though there are a bunch of places I’m kind of wild about doing a retreat at, once my baby is a bit older. People keep sending me drop dead amazing retreat ideas (I have one friend who is trying to get a group together in Costa Rica!) but I just can’t leave her alone too long right now. Maybe next year. I mean, Costa Rica!

Costa Rica sounds amazing!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Diana. Everyone else, if you haven’t read For Darkness Shows the Stars yet, do NOT miss out on this amazing book, and don’t forget to check out Diana’s website for information about signings and upcoming projects.

Until next time~
Cheers!

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Interview: Chelsea Pitcher, Author of the S-Word!

June 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Interviews) (, , , )

Hello again, lovelies! Please say hello to our guest today, the ever-cool Chelsea Pitcher, author of the forthcoming The S-Word, and one of my own agent-sisters. Before we dive in, here’s a little bit about the book.

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’slocker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’ sdiary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while sheclaims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

And here we go!

Okay, icebreaker question: who is your favorite superhero?

I’ve always been a fan of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. She’s witty, feisty, and just the right amount of wicked. Maybe not a traditional “hero,” but I much prefer characters that walk the line between good and evil. Anybody who’s 100% good or 100% evil will have a hard time keeping my attention.

First off, congratulations on selling your book! I’m sure this is a question that makes you cringe everytime you hear it, but where did the idea for The S-Word originate?

Well thank you! And don’t worry, since we’re pretty early in the process, I’m far from being sick of the question. Also, since so many things coalesced to inspire this novel, my plan is to give a different (but true) answer for as long as I can manage it.

So for you, my answer is . . .

VIGALANTES!

I feel like we live in a society obsessed with vigilantes. From Batman to Dexter, Veronica Mars to Revenge, we deal with our disappointments in the justice system by hoping someone cool, clever and kick-ass will step in and save us. But what does this over-reliance on heroes say about our society as a whole? And how does the quest for justice affect the vigilante herself?

And just like that, Angie was born—an amateur vigilante hell-bent on taking a stand against the bullies at her school, but wholly unaware of how easily morality can shift in the quest for justice, or how quickly the hero can slide into villain territory.

Wow- sounds like a grey area I can’t wait to explore! Can you tell us about how you signed with our fabulous Sandy Lu?

Sandy picked me the old-fashioned way—out of the slushpile!!

I started querying for THE S-WORD in early 2011, using sites like AgentQuery.com tofind agents who represented my genres. (THE S-WORD is realistic, but I also write urban fantasy, so I wanted to find someone who might be interested in representing my career as a whole, rather than just one book.) Sandy seemed to fit the bill, and I loved what she had to say in an interview on GuideToLiteraryAgents.com. I queried her, along with a few others, and she requested within a few days (she was the first!)

A few months later, she called to offer representation. Wegot along instantly, and after she compared my book favorably to Veronica Mars, I was hooked! I signed with her that week, and I’m so happy that I did!

So are we! Now, everyone has their little quirks and habits that affect what they do. What is a perfect day of writing like for you?

I like to do long stretches of writing. Getting a thousandwords in here and there is fine, but I find I work best when I can devote several hours in a day to getting some serious work done. On my best days, I’ve done around 7,000 words (this is rare), and I feel like writing without interruption gets the best flow going.

Also, if I could be outdoors, in the sun, somewhere peacefuland quiet, that would be fantastic (and also rare!)

I’m the same way- I like to camp out and let the whole day pass by with my mind in my own little world. Is there anything you have to have while you’re writing? Lucky pen, lucky drink, lucky weather?

I prefer to be heavily caffeinated. If I can get just the right amount (triple soy caramel latte, anyone?) I find my subconscious takes over and I don’t even think about what I’m writing. It’s pretty much as close to automatic writing as I can get, and it tends to yield the best fruit.

Mmmm, caffeine…

What about a writer’s life has surprised you most since you got your book deal?

Publishing is an interesting business, because for a longtime things are moving at a snail’s pace, and you’re just writing, rewriting, editing, querying,checking your email obsessively, er . . . a usual amount of times. And then suddenly

EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ALL AT ONCE.

It takes some getting used to, and you really have to be self-motivated—promoting your book online, working on new projects, etc.— when things are happening behind the scenes, because you don’t want to be fooled by a false sense of downtime!

So then what about a writer’s life has been the most gratifying?

The fact that my favorite thing to do and my career can actually be the same thing. It’s kind of amazing.

I think that’s the dream for most of us, right there. But, writers are also readers (usually voracious ones). What book or books most influenced you as a reader or writer?

So many books!!! But you were expecting that, weren’t you?So I’ll pick out a few:

James Howe’s BUNNICULA for hilarious character development and the creation of the Original Vegetarian Vampire.

Lloyd Alexander’s THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN for adventure, self-actualization, and a hilarious heroine.

Francesca Lia Block’s DANGEROUS ANGELS and Holly Black’s MODERN FAERIE TALES for being game-changers in the fields of magical realism and urban fantasy.

You get to corral a gaggle of fellow YA authors into a single space: what’s the space, and what do you do?

I’d take everybody to one of the islands where they filmed Mama Mia. No, seriously, have you seen that movie? Those islands are GORGEOUS, and I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. So we go there, do some swimming, writing, celebrating. Everybody’s happy, and telling all kinds of interesting stories. Win-win.

Oh, that sounds amazing. Greek islands and stories? Sign me up! We’d need something to read on the flight, though. What is your most anticipated read of 2012?

I’m really excited to read Francesca Lia Block’s THE ELEMENTALS and Michael Underwood’s GEEKOMANCY. I’m a long-time fan ofFrancesca’s, and GEEKOMANCY was pitched as Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer—how could you go wrong?

Okay, laaaaaast question: what was it like, that moment when you found out your book had sold?

Pure, unadulterated shock.

I was at my parents’ house when Sandy called, and I went into their laundry room to get some privacy. Sandy had just gotten back into town after being on leave, so I told myself she might just be calling to check in with her clients. And even after she started to tell me about THE S-WORD climbing the chain at Gallery Books, I kept expecting her to stop at some point and say, “So now it’s doing to second reads/acquisitions/etc.”

Eventually it dawned on me that the book had made it all the way to the top, and from there the shock transformed into joy. And that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since: moments of shock and disbelief, broken up intermittently by giddiness!

Thank you so much for having me!

Chelsea Pitcher

Thanks for dropping by, Chelsea, and congratulations again!

And keep an eye out for The S-Word, out in stores January 2013.

Until next time~
Cheers!

Permalink 5 Comments

Interview: Jodi Meadows the Awesome!

May 27, 2012 at 11:00 am (Interviews) (, , , )

Hello, friends!

So here’s where Dot finally pulled her big girl panties on. I’ve been wanting for a while to start an interview series with some of the authors I love, but me being me, and being shy and awkward and socially self-concious (even on the internet) ((I swear, I really am shy)) I couldn’t quite convince myself to reach out and ask authors to take time for that. Well, I finally asked, and the awesome Jodi Meadows is here to kick off our interviews!

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jodi is the author of the fantabulous Incarnate, an epic story of identity and romance and a changing world. Seriously. Amazing. So everybody give a cheer for Jodi!

Okay, icebreaker question: who’s your favorite superhero?

Jodi: Currently Batman. I don’t know. I go back and forth a lot on my favorites, and it’s usually the last superhero movie I’ve seen. The husband and I recently caught up on the first two Christian Bale Batman movies in preparation for the third one and they always make my heart go pitter-patter.

I’m sure this is a question that makes you cringe every time, but where did the idea for Incarnate originate?

Jodi: When I was a kid, some of the other kids in day care and I had a hole we were digging under a tree. We were going to dig to China. Well, we never made it to China, but I did find a box of ideas. Millions of them. All the ideas came flying out when I opened the box. I had to shut it quickly to keep them inside. >em>Incarnate was one of those.

(This answer may be a lie.)

Having written three Nosoul books, which was the hardest to write? What was it that made it more difficult than the others?

Jodi: They were all difficult in their own ways, but I think book 3 was probably the hardest. There are so many storylines to tie up, problems to resolve, character arcs to complete. . . . I also had to throw away the first draft of book 3 — all 75,000 words. And then the next 10,000 words when I tried to start over. When I’m answering these interview questions, I haven’t turned the draft in to my editor yet, so I don’t know what kind of changes she’s going to suggest, but right now I’m pretty pleased with the story. I know it will need more work once I have some distance from it, but I think it’s solid right now.

What is a perfect day of writing like for you?

Jodi: Quiet in the house. No distracting drama online. Just a lot of coffee and inspiration.

Is there anything you have to have while you’re writing? Lucky pen, lucky drink, lucky ferret?

Jodi: Nope. I mean, a bottle of water is always nice, because no one writes well while they’re dehydrated. But otherwise, no. I don’t want to need something like candles or a ferret while I’m writing if, say, I want to write during a layover in the airport. I hear they don’t like candles there.

What about a writer’s life has surprised you most since you got your book deal?

Jodi: Hmm. Not sure. I had a lot of friends who were already published by the time I got my deal, so I had the advantage of hearing their stories and seeing them go through the process. I was pretty well prepared!

What about a writer’s life has been the most gratifying?

Jodi: When someone writes to me and tells me that my book made a difference in their life.

What book or books most influenced you as a reader or writer?

Jodi: ALL the books! Everything is an influence. But some of the books that affected me the most deeply: Sunshine by Robin McKinley, Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (basically all of her books), Winter of Fire by Sheryl Jordan, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce.

Side note from Dot: having read and loved most of those books- YAY! Anything Robin McKinley or Tamora Pierce is on my must-read list, but Winter of Fire is one of my all-time favorites!

You get to corral a gaggle of fellow YA authors into a single space: what’s the space, and what do you do?

Jodi:Oooh. The space is a bookstore and we talk about books. (Hopefully there’s a cafe in the bookstore so we can drink caffeine and eat junk food.) One of the best things about writers is that they LOVE talking about books they love and books they’re working on. So yeah. That.

What is your most anticipated read of 2012?

Jodi: Oh geeze. I don’t even know. There are a lot. Some I’ve already read: Defiance by C.J. Redwine (fab dystopian fantasy), Timepiece by Myra McEntire (fab timeslip romance), Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (fab urban fantasy), Everneath by Brodi Ashton (fab myth fantasy), Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins (fab paranormal romance).

Okay, final question: What was it like, that moment when you found out your book had sold?

Very surreal. I had a big clue ahead of time since my agent had to set up an auction, and I’d already had a chance to talk with the editors who wanted to offer. But I kept not believing until the minute we got our first offer because I’d had so much practice in disappointment in the past. My agent called me while I was reading the first offer email and there was a lot of “wow” and stunned silence and then incoherent babbling. I’m still kind of embarrassed about the babbling.

Heh, I don’t think you need to be embarrassed about the babbling- I know my call had a lot of nervous laughters and sudden bursts of Oh my God!

Thanks so much for dropping by, Jodi!

And if you haven’t read it yet, definitely check out Incarnate first book of the NoSoul trilogy, to be followed by Asunder next year!

Until next time~
Cheers!

Permalink 1 Comment