Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

I figured since we're all off enjoying turkey, ham, turducken, or whatever floats our buckets this Thanksgiving, that blog viewership is likely thin on the ground. So, no interview this week, but stay tuned next week, when I'll be interviewing the amazing Suzanne Young!

This set was gifted to us. I've dubbed the woman Scary Pumpkin Lady, especially when she moves.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

RIDE THE WIND and SPARK by Starla Huchton

I met Starla at this year's UTopYA conference (now known as Utopia Con), and was immediately taken by her cover art. Her newest book, RIDE THE WIND, debuted November 2, and is the latest in her Flipped Fairy Tales series. Have a look:

From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, I made a promise to a stranger. Though I'd never seen her face, I cared for her above all others.

Once upon a time, I broke my vow. In trying to save the one I loved, I condemned her to a cursed life and stripped her of all freedom in a single, misguided step.

Once upon a time, I set out on a journey. Though it might never earn me forgiveness, I would set her free or die trying.

Starla also has a follow-on to her Evolution series under the name S.A. Huchton, starting with the book SPARK:

A shadow looms over every day of Phoebe Lawrence's life. The child of two of the most powerful superheroes on the planet, she's never had the choice to be anything less than perfect. Making mistakes isn't an option, and being normal is definitely off the table. Being a Superkid is far from easy, and controlling her newly awakened ability feels nearly impossible. Fear finds her around every corner, and her potential for absolute destruction is a demon that not only haunts her nightmares, but chars the edges of her waking moments at the slightest lapse of control. When the Supers of ISLE start getting sick one by one, it falls to Phoebe to step up and take her parents' place. With her world crumbling around her, it's up to her to uncover the source of the disaster, and with her parents out of commission, a boy she barely knows might be her best, and only, hope. All she has to fear is herself but can love truly conquer any demon?

And here are Starla's answers to some interview questions:

I love your covers. What goes into each design, and how do they develop as you go along?

This varies really widely. A lot of it involves getting to know the story, characters, and setting for each book, but a big part is also researching design trends and new techniques. Each book faces its own challenges when it comes to a cover. That can be anything from finding the right cover model that hasn't been seen a bazillion times already, expressing a completely abstract concept with color and shape, or figuring out how to add the right amount of fire to a person's hair to make them look paranormal rather than like an arson victim. My questions for my clients are more or less the same as ones I ask about my own books. It's not the job of the cover to give away every detail about the story inside, only to tease at those things enough to make a reader want to know more. This is somewhat easier when I'm working for someone else, as I can't always whittle down the most crucial elements of my own words. It's a forest for the trees sort of thing. First I get the basics (genre, tone, age range, general idea of the plot), then move on to specific details I think I'll need for a successful cover. That could include anything from character descriptions and personality, to setting, to objects that play an important role, to the focused themes of each story. Some are easier to work out than others, and the design falls into place immediately. Others might take hours of trial and error with different ideas before I finally figure out what works for an individual book. No two projects ever play out the same way, so it keeps me from getting bored. :)

So true. And I love that paranormal heroine and arson victim aren't that far apart! Since SPARK is the first in the follow-on to the Evolution series, how did you know more of it needed telling, and how did the new story form?

There was one particular thread from the Evolution series I thought needed more exploring, but I wasn't able to tell that story within the confines of the trilogy. The rest was really me asking myself what would happen if these superheroes went on to have children. Those two things formed the groundwork of the overall plot of The Chronicles of ISLE, which was just brain fuel for more what-ifs.

I'm glad you got to further explore plot elements and make them into reality. And I'm excited about RIDE THE WIND. The concepts in your Flipped Fairy Tales series are always so unique. In what ways do you build on existing elements to make them your own?

When I first started writing SHADOWS ON SNOW, I never intended my Flipped Fairy Tales to go further than the one book, but it turns out these ideas are like rabbits. You just end up with more of them. In telling the tale of Snow White as a prince, I unintentionally found myself seeding ideas that could easily be used as ties to other fairy tales. The "formula," in as much as one exists, is to look at each story and pick out the defining themes and plot points of each, and then expound on them. For Snow White, the theme is "true love conquers all," but there are different forms of true love, not only romantic. In SHADOWS ON SNOW, love is found not only between Raelynn and Leo, but also among her and her sisters, to show how deep devotion can run and how powerful it can be if you embrace it. Because that's also the trick to it. Love is work, and you have to let it work, and encourage it to work, and foster it before anything will come of it.

That's the more complex issue of theme. Plot structure is already built into the original fairy tale. Here's a short list of original versus flipped elements from Shadows on Snow as an example of what I do:

Evil Queen obsessed with beauty/Evil King obsessed with power
Princess attacked by huntsman while picking flowers/Prince attacked by his soldiers on a hunting trip
A corset, a golden comb, and an apple/Golden flax, a knife, and an apple

So you can see how I sort of pull these things in order and use the original as a loose basis for the flipped story. Fairy tales are simply the skeletons of full stories. It's my job as an author to put the meaningful flesh and soul around that structure.

Very well put--and your examples were great! If you were stuck on an island, which three books would you pick to have with you and why?

There are only a few books I've read multiple times, so this is a fairly easy question to answer. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. All three are very different, and so bring various qualities to the table that would keep me occupied during my island exile.

Those sound great! Thanks, Starla, for an excellent interview!

To buy Starla's books for yourself, check out the links below:

Flipped Fairy Tales series:


Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


The Chronicles of ISLE series:


Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound   

The Evolution series:

Evolution: ANGEL

Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Evolution: SAGE

Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Evolution: HEX

Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


I met Tim at this year's NCIBA (Northern California Independent Booksellers Association) Conference, and remembered his novel WILLFUL MACHINES from when it came across my library desk. It's a great science fiction story, and a unique take on A.I. See for yourself:

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte's attacks have everyone on high alert— everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.
But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he's Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive ... and what makes life worth living.

Tim also answered some interview questions!

Let's start on a happy note (pun intended). What is your favorite song from Les Misérables, and in what ways, if any, has music influenced your writing (or vice-versa)?

I have to admit I love pretty much all the songs from Les Miz, but the one I’ve probably spent the most time singing in the shower is “On My Own.”  I also sometimes do “A Little Fall of Rain” and then fake-die.  Of all the characters, I definitely vibe with Eponine most—which is probably a little sad, considering she’s such a tragic figure.

I do find music makes its way into my writing at times.  When I write, I like to draw inspiration from all sorts of other art forms.  For example, although music doesn’t play a big role in WILLFUL MACHINES, Shakespeare’s plays do.  In my second book, TATTOO ATLAS, which comes out next year, music figures into the story in a fairly big way (as does painting, poetry, and, of course, tattoo art).

I love "On My Own," and I can't wait to see how the elements of music play out in TATTOO ATLAS. And while Shakespeare plays a big role (pun intended?) in WILLFUL MACHINES, you also find unique ways to explore artificial intelligence and its dangers. How did Charlotte come to you, and what do you want readers to take away from her and Lee's story?

One of my goals in WILLFUL MACHINES was to turn the whole Terminator-style robot takeover scenario on its head.  Instead of portraying Charlotte and the other A.I.s in the story as cartoonish monsters, I sought to make them as three-dimensional as any human character.  And I wanted to question the assumption that machines, once they become sentient, will automatically want to obliterate mankind and take over the planet.  I mean, maybe they will.  I honestly don’t know.  But in my story I wanted to take things in a different direction.

I also wanted to use the story to explore some other A.I.-related questions that have intrigued me for a long time.  Namely, as machines get more and more sophisticated, how are these advances changing the way we think about ourselves as human beings?  What, if anything, sets us apart from machines?

Not as much as we think, I'm sure! According to your website bio, you graduated from Boston University with a master's in writing. In what ways did this help you grow as a writer, and what advice, if any, do you have for writers considering master's programs?

I had a wonderful time at B.U. and learned a lot there, but I certainly don’t think having a master’s is a requirement for being a writer.  For one thing, in the world of fiction writing, no one cares if you have a degree or not.  For another, I don’t believe most aspects of writing fiction are necessarily teachable in a traditional, structured, classroom sort of way anyhow.  Writing fiction is such a complex, nuanced pursuit, with a few guidelines but no fixed rules, and I think you mostly just learn by reading a lot, writing a lot, and getting as much helpful feedback on your writing as possible.  You don’t necessarily need a graduate program for that.

That said, I do think master’s programs offer a few things for writers.  One of those things is time.  When I was at B.U., I appreciated having the time to focus on my writing without a job or anything else distracting me.  Another is community.  Writing is usually so solitary, and I loved having a group of other writers I could hang out with and talk about writing with.  It kept me motivated.  And thirdly, I learned at B.U. a very important skill: how to take feedback.  Like a lot of writers, I felt really vulnerable whenever I gave my work to other people to read.  Each story felt like a piece of my soul on paper.  But after getting critiqued by my professors and fellow students week after week, I learned how to separate myself from my writing and not take it personally when someone else pointed out something that wasn’t working.

Sounds like an excellent way to approach craft. What are some of your current projects? Will WILLFUL MACHINES have a sequel?

As I mentioned, I have another book coming out next year, also from Simon Pulse.  It’s called TATTOO ATLAS, and it’s a psychological thriller about a teen sociopath who receives an experimental brain surgery that gives him a conscience.  Right now I’m working on finishing edits for that.  And then … I’m not completely sure.  I do have a story arc mapped out for a sequel to WILLFUL MACHINES, but I also have at least two other concepts I’m extremely excited about, and I’m not sure which of these projects I’m going to dive into next.  I definitely hope to get back to Lee and Nico and the WILLFUL MACHINES universe at some point, though.

I hope so too! Thanks, Tim, for an excellent interview!

To grab WILLFUL MACHINES for yourself, click any of the links below:

Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I first heard about THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS from some of the Sacramento Youth Services librarians. Then, as luck had it, Anna-Marie stopped by the library one day. As soon as I learned more about her and her book, I knew a feature was in order. She weaves together a beautiful story, and her touches of magic are both subtle and inspired. Have a look for yourself:

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Anna-Marie also answered some interview questions!

You bring a lot of richness to your writing, and your ability to seamlessly craft words together completely blew me away. Which authors were influences for you, and can you tell us more about your writing and publishing journey?

Thank you so much! So many authors of magical realism inspire me: Allende, Marquez, Coelho, Esquivel, Belli, Lorca…I come back so often to their novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. My heritage plays a role, either in the forefront or in the background, of everything I write, and I feel blessed to be able to be open about being Latina, and about being queer, in the book community. Book lovers—readers, book bloggers, publishing professionals—are such lovely people to get to know, and I’m grateful for how many I’m getting to meet!

And I'm grateful you brought this lovely book into the world! I especially loved how THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS drew on magical realism to enhance the dynamic between the Corbeaus and Palomas as rivaling circus families. What inspired the symbolic pairing of feathers versus fins, and what do you want readers to take away from the story?

Years ago, my father told me about a mermaid show he’d seen when he was in his twenties. Ever since I’ve wanted to write a story about performing mermaids, but it wasn’t until a photographer friend had me out in the woods while wearing a set of wire and cloth wings that the idea for the book came to me. Women swimming in mermaid tails, and winged tree performers. The story grew from those two images coming together.  The Palomas are the performing mermaids, and the Corbeaus are the winged tree-climbers. But just as important as their circuses are their cultures. The Palomas are Mexican-American, and the Corbeaus are French-Romani. Lace and Cluck’s heritages are as central to their lives as their families’ professions. Lace and Cluck have to find each other and see each other even through the prejudices they’ve been taught. And that’s what I hope readers take from this story, that we have to find each other and see the beauty in each other, especially in those different from us.

Definitely--and this is even more pronounced with the dual points-of-view between Lace and Cluck. I loved the intimate insight into both families, especially Lace's. How did this develop as you wrote, and what experiences, if any, shaped the story overall?

Speaking from my own experience, when you grow up in a big, closely knit family, they’re your world. What they believe is what you believe. Lace accepts that her body should be different than it is because she and her cousins measure themselves by their older relatives’ opinions. The things our families teach us may not be what we believe throughout our lives, but they stay with us even as we define who we are.

Beautifully put. And you've captured this in really relatable ways, especially with Lace's descriptions of her "soft" body. What are some of your current projects?

I’m current working on another book that’s about new characters, but has some of the same elements as THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS—magical realism, multicultural themes, and a small-town setting. I’ll be sharing more soon, but for now I can tell you that I’m especially excited because this book will also have LGBT themes.
Thanks so much for having me, Karen!

And thanks for being here, Anna-Marie!

To grab your own copy of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, feel free to click any of the below links:

Buy:  Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound
          Books-a-Million ~ iBooks ~ Powell's

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THE CHILD GARDEN by Catriona McPherson

My relationship with this book started months ago, when I first pre-ordered it on Amazon. Then, one of my colleagues mentioned that she knew Catriona, and that we happen to live near one another. Finally, Janet Reid expressed the following on her blog:

"Lee Child writes wonderful commercial fiction. Laura Lippman does too. Catriona McPherson on the other hand must be read with a notebook at hand. Whether anyone distinguishes these enormously talented writers by literary/commercial is almost immaterial. They write books people want to read."

It was clear--I had to feature THE CHILD GARDEN. And it's definitely a book you'll want to read--complete with a spooky cover just in time for Halloween:

Eden was its name. “An alternative school for happy children.”  But it closed in disgrace after a student’s suicide. Now it’s a care home, its grounds neglected and overgrown, and its only neighbour Gloria Harkness. Her son lives there, lighting up her life and breaking her heart each day.

When Gloria’s childhood friend turns up at her door, she doesn’t hesitate before asking him in. A girl from Eden is stalking him, has goaded him into meeting her at the site of the suicide.  Only when the dead begin to speak, it’s murder they say.

Gloria is in over her head before she can help it. Her loneliness, her loyalty and her all-consuming love for her son lead her into the heart of a dark secret that threatens everything she lives for.

Catriona was also kind enough to answer some interview questions!

According to your bio, you lived in Scotland before settling in California. In what ways, if any, did this influence your writing, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?

Yes, I lived the first forty-four years of my life in Scotland and even if I live to be eighty eight here in California, I'll always be a Scottish writer.  Readers tell me my voice is Scottish even when I'm writing straight standard English narrative. But then a Texas writer I admire - Terry Shames - sounds pure Texas on the page although she uses no dialect representation. Language has music, right? And the tune of Scottish is a stiff breeze and a choppy sea. Texas . . . isn't!

My journey to publication was back in the olden days, before ebooks and self-publishing, and I was also lucky enough to break in during a boom. 2005, when my first book came out, was a buoyant moment. It's much tougher now but I still think how I did it is worth a shot for anyone who wants a traditional publisher. I sat alone in a room and wrote a book, start to finish, edited and polished it, then sent it out to agents. After forty rejections, I put it in a drawer and wrote a different one. It worries me sometimes (not that it's any of my business!) that beginning writers have critique groups and websites and Facebook author pages before they have finished books; almost as if you can network your way to being a writer and the actual slog of writing is a technicality. (Ha! Can you tell I've got ambitions to be a grumpy old battle-axe one day? I seem to be doing some ground work.)

Trust me--the actual slog of writing is still a necessity, because the writing is what readers go back for. And speaking of going back, let's explore the start of THE CHILD GARDEN, when you sat alone in a room and it was just an idea. How did the characters come to you, and what do you want readers to take away from their stories?

Thank you. I am very fond of Gloria Harkness (the hero of the book) and I admit I fell in love with Stig a bit too. The story began with the house, actually. That lonely, ramshackle, shambolic house in the middle of nowhere. I lived in the real-life Rough House for the last ten years before moving to the US and I wanted to write away my homesickness for it. So . . . it went: Who lives there? Why? What keeps her there? What would she do to stay there? The other spark came from that experience we're many of us having these days, where a childhood friend finds you online and you feel instant trust because you knew this person when they were ten. Madness! A childhood friend is a complete stranger. Everyone was a child once . . .

This is the real-life Rough House. 
As to the second part, I honestly have no idea. Once the book is out there it's only one part of every reading experience, added to the reader, her mood, what she read last . . . I go from being a furtive control-freak about first drafts to cutting my books adrift completely once they're in readers' hands. It's fascinating to got to book groups and hear what people think, but I wouldn't argue about any of it.

Book groups can be subjective, I think. And writers can benefit from your book too--it's already challenging me to play with words in new ways, especially with the lovely turns of phrase you use, such as, "the heavier tread of hedgehog." Does this kind of texture come when drafting, editing, or both, and what do you enjoy most about crafting words together?

Well, thank you again. It's a mixture. Some lines come out right first time and stay through all the drafts. Some bits of fancy schmancy writing feel good at the time of writing but stink the fourth time I read them! Some sections of a first draft stink immediately and I sail on, knowing I can fix everything later. I like to get the first draft out, even if it's ugly, and then I know I'm not polishing bits I'm going to cut anyway. Also - no one ever sees the first draft (furtive control-freak, see above). That's very liberating.

I think I enjoy the good days of the first draft best. Second best is when I finally see what's wrong in a late draft and correct something that's been a pebble in my shoe for months.

What a wonderful analogy for drafting (and editing). What are some of your current projects?

Right now, I'm writing the first draft of what I hope might be book one in a new series. Still crime fiction but something different for me. (Can't say more, see above). I'm also waiting for the edit notes on the eleventh Dandy Gilver novel and then I'll be licking that into shape. It's set in a convent and was a lot of fun to write. I do love a nun. Then I need to do one last pass on a short story for the third Sherlock Holmes anthology, edited by Laurie King and Les Klinger. I was honoured to be asked but I'm a bit terrified now.

Ooh, I love anything Sherlock Holmes! Can't wait to see your unique touch on it. And thanks again for such a lovely interview.

If you can't want to wait for Catriona's forthcoming books, you can still buy the following:


Buy:  Amazon.com
          Barnes & Noble                   
          Or click the BUY IT button


Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble   
          Or click the BUY IT button


Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble   
          Or click the BUY IT button


Buy:  Amazon.com                   
          Barnes & Noble 
          Or click the BUY IT button

You can also discover (or re-discover) the Dandy Gilver series.


Catriona McPherson is the author of a multi-award-winning series of preposterous detective stories, set in her native Scotland in the 1920s and featuring the gently-born lady detective, Dandy Gilver. She also writes a strand of darker (that’s not difficult) stand-alone suspense novels, which have won two Anthonys and been shortlisted for an Edgar. THE CHILD GARDEN is the latest. Catriona immigrated to America in 2010, and lives in the hills west of Davis with a black cat and a scientist. She is second-generation librarian on her mother’s side.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A SKY UNBROKEN by Megan Crewe

A few months back, I featured the Earth & Sky series by Megan Crewe. A SKY UNBROKEN, the final in the series, debuted October 13, and while I'm sorry the series is ending, this cover has to be my favorite so far. Have a look:

From Goodreads:

The rebels have been disbanded, their plans ruined. Betrayed by those she trusted most, Skylar finds herself herded, along with a small group of Earthlings, into a living museum—a human zoo—on the Kemyates’ space station, subject to her captors’ every whim. Any move Skylar makes could result in the extinction of her people—but giving in means losing any hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, Win returns home and evades punishment by pretending to be loyal to Kemya. But he can’t bear knowing that Skylar is imprisoned or watch his fellow Kemyates swallow the Council’s lies about Earth. He must bring the truth to the Kemyate public and see the Earthlings freed—even if it means openly challenging his world’s rulers.

In this final book of the action-packed Earth & Sky trilogy, neither Skylar nor Win knows they are about to uncover an even deeper conspiracy—one that could push the future they’re fighting for completely out of reach.

Megan was also kind enough to answer some follow-up interview questions!

A SKY UNBROKEN imprisons Skylar in the Kemyates' living museum. Very intriguing! What about this setting was most interesting to work with, and how did it develop as you wrote it?

The idea of humans being placed in an alien "zoo" is something I've seen a few times in science fiction, and I toyed with it when I was first brainstorming the larger idea that became the Earth & Sky trilogy. Because of the directions the rest of the story and world-building went in, particularly given the Kemyates' fascination with Earth history, what ended up making the most sense was having that "zoo" be devoted solely to Earthlings from different time periods. It made for a great reveal and way to shock my main character when she discovers it while exploring the space station in THE CLOUDED SKY, and I hoped made it completely clear just how little respect most Kemyates had for Earthlings. Getting to put Skylar right into that setting in A SKY UNBROKEN was a lot of fun and also a challenge.

I think what was most interesting was figuring out how such a place would work. How self sufficient would the Kemyates be able to allow the inhabitants to be? How would they keep them from realizing just how trapped (and how far from home) they were? What aspects of Earth life would they not be able to replicate perfectly, that would disconcert their prisoners? Figuring out what plot points I needed to have happen around Skylar's imprisonment there also helped me flesh out her particular situation in the exhibit.

Interesting! And I really admire the masterful way you used world-building to enhance Skylar's character development. In our last interview, you mentioned the challenges of fitting a novel-sized idea into a short story container. In what ways, if any, have you found this useful in your current writing?

I think that early practice trying to write effective short stories taught me a lot about making maximum use of the words I have. Getting across information through subtext rather than spelling everything out. Avoiding starting scenes too early and ending them too late.  Picking the right place to begin the entire story rather than including unnecessary lead-up. It also gave me a lot of practice at figuring out what I found most gripping about a particular idea and focusing in on that. Even though I never really took to short story writing, it was definitely not wasted time or effort.

Definitely not--and it proves that no words are ever wasted. Now that the Earth & Sky trilogy is complete (boo) what's next on the horizon?

I still don't have anything definite lined up in terms of new books, though I hope to have news of one sort or another by the end of the year.  I can reveal that I'm re-releasing my out of print debut novel, GIVE UP THE GHOST, in December, with a new cover I'm quite pleased with. I know a lot of readers only "discovered" my books with the Fallen World trilogy or later, and I hope the re-release will bring GHOST to a larger audience!

Can't wait! Thanks for another excellent interview!

To get the books in the Earth & Sky series for yourself, click any of the links below:

Buy:  Amazon.com
          Barnes & Noble                     

Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble   

Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble   

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DECEPTIVE by Emily Lloyd-Jones (second in the Illusive series)

I first discovered DECEPTIVE when I saw it on one of the book carts near my desk. The cover was so intriguing that I had to find out more, so I contacted Emily for an interview. Come to find out, DECEPTIVE is second in the Illusive series, the premise for both books will blow your mind:

From Goodreads:

You don’t belong with us. These are the words that echo through the minds of all immune Americans—those suffering the so-called adverse effects of an experimental vaccine, including perfect recall, body manipulation, telepathy, precognition, levitation, mind-control, and the ability to change one’s appearance at will.

When immune individuals begin to disappear—in great numbers, but seemingly at random—fear and tension mount, and unrest begins to brew across the country. Through separate channels, super-powered teenagers Ciere, Daniel, and Devon find themselves on the case; super criminals and government agents working side-by-side. It’s an effort that will ultimately define them all—for better or for worse.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

Emily was also kind enough to answer some interview questions:

According to your bio, you work in a bookstore by day and write by night. What sort of work-life balance have you established, and do you find that your day job feeds your creativity? 

I love my day job because it lets me keep my finger on the pulse of the industry. I see a lot, and I do mean a lot, of books. I see how booksellers react to them and how customers react to them. And while none of this feeds my creativity, it does feed my business sense. I think being a bookseller has made me a better writer simply because I’ve been exposed to so many books. I learn a lot from reading. Also, booksellers are amazingly fun people to work with - independent, creative, and usually a little sarcastic.

On the writing side of of things, my work-life balance tends to be... less balance and more chaos. When I’m in the throes of writing a new book, I tend to let things like housework, cooking, and all other non-work responsibilities fall by the wayside. At this moment, there is a pile of laundry atop my couch because I haven’t had time to fold it.

I know exactly what you mean! At least books are always there, no matter what state of array our lives happen to be in.
Since DECEPTIVE is the second in the Illusive series, how did the the story develop with this new installment, and what advice, if any, do you have for writing sequels?

The story developed by way of the characters. The characters grew up a lot in the second book and the plot itself became more mature as a result. One thing I relished in the second book is this: I didn’t pull my punches when it came to the characters. Maybe it makes me a terrible person, but I love creating characters and watching them deal with impossible situations.

The best advice I can give to people attempting to write a sequel is this: make friends. Have very good writer friends who know what you’re going through, who are willing to beta your work on a moment’s notice, who will listen to you moan for hours at a time and then offer good advice. In my experience, first books are written alone while sequels require a bit of a group effort.

Definitely a good way to ensure things remain consistent. Speaking of consistency, I love your website! What went into the design concept, and do you have tips for authors wanting to establish an online platform?

Oh, thank you! I designed it myself. Once in a while my art minor comes in handy. I wanted a web presence that would reflect my books - which in this case is a moody cityscape. I think one of the key parts of establishing a web presence is keeping things simple and consistent. I try to make myself easy to find and accessible on places like Twitter and Tumblr. I also try to conserve my social media energy to those two outlets because there is only so much I can handle in one day. Actually, my Twitter has been a little neglected lately because I’ve been throwing myself into my writing.

Simplicity is definitely best! And rest assured, Twitter won't go away any time soon. What are some of your current projects?

My current project is a standalone YA novel due out in spring of 2017. It’s called THE HEARTS WE SOLD and it’s about misfit teenagers, Faustian bargains, Lovecraftian monsters, and how far a person will go to achieve their greatest desire.

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for such a great interview!

To get your hands on Illusive, Deceptive, or Murder on the Disoriented Express, the companion to both titles, feel free to click the links below:

Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble   

Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble   

Buy:  Amazon.com                     
          Barnes & Noble