Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FALLS THE SHADOW by Stefanie Gaither

I contacted Stefanie after I read her fantastic Fiction University post on hooking readers. Her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is a unique YA science fiction thriller, and the premise grabbed me immediately:

From Goodreads

When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. Like nothing had happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth—which means this new Violet has the same smile. The same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

At least, that’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.

In a thrilling debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together?

Here are Stefanie's answers to some questions:

According to your website bio, you are repped by "ninja" agent Sara Megibow. How did you connect with Sara, and what do you like most about her as an agent?

I connected with Sara through a cold query--no prior contact, no referrals, nothing like that. She requested a partial from my one page query, and then a full almost instantly after that, and then a week or so later, I got "the call". You can read more about my query here:

And there's lots to like about Sara! Aside from the fact that she's one of the sweetest and most optimistic people on the planet, she's also super communicative and informative; my emails are always answered quickly and thoroughly, usually before my crazy writer mind even has time to stress about her reply :) She's really good about letting her clients know what to expect too, whether with submissions or otherwise. The list could go on, really--basically, let's just say she keeps me sane (ish) and leave it at that. 

Sane (ish) is definitely important. And I love the premise of FALLS THE SHADOW. Where did the idea come from, and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished?

The idea came from a combination of a quote I saw on the internet, my own experiences losing family members, and probably a multitude of other things and experiences I'm forgetting about. As far as what I want readers to take away, great question! I guess that ultimately, for me, this is a book about family--all different kinds of family, with all their different kinds of complications, sci-fi related or otherwise. So, I'd hope FALLS might make readers think about that, and maybe question what they would do if given a choice like making their loved ones, in a sense, immortal. What might that mean for their relationships? Would it be worth it in the end? It's a fascinating, terrifying, complicated possibility to think about.

It is indeed! You also work as a copywriter for an advertising agency. In what ways does this supplement your creative writing, and what sort of balance (if any) do you find between both?

I think this background was most handy when it came to pitching the story; with copywriting projects, I'm usually trying to sell a product or person, and that's essentially what query letters and synopses are doing. Having this work on the side also helps me to remember to consider the business side of publishing when I'm crafting a story, which sounds totally anti-creativity or whatever, but to me, it's really not. The most successful businesses are creative businesses, after all--and I think success in publishing these days requires a happy marriage of creativity and business sense. 

So true--and definitely something all authors should think about. Your recent post on Fiction University discussed hooking readers. What elements hook you the most when reading, and why? 

Aside from the initial spark of conflict and questions that I talked about in that post, I'll follow a strong voice/good writing and an intriguing character a long way into a book, even well past the point where the plot or worldbuilding elements stopped making sense or holding my interest (though it's nice when everything keeps working, of course).

I agree--science fiction and fantasy writers often rely on worldbuilding, but more often it's the characters who carry the story. What are some of your current projects? Will FALLS THE SHADOW have a sequel?

Can't say anything at the moment, but I will be sharing some exciting news about this in the near future :)

Can't wait! Thanks, Stefanie, for giving such fantastic answers!

To snatch FALLS THE SHADOW for yourself (I know I'm going to!) click the link below:

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