Monday, September 26, 2016

INTO THE ABYSS by Stefanie Gaither

I featured Stefanie Gaither's first book, FALLS THE SHADOW, because of her ability to hook readers. Little did I know that it was only the beginning. She also has a beautiful way with words, and way to hit a reader right between the eyes. As an example, here's one of my favorite quotes from FALLS THE SHADOW: "Because while most of the student body of Haven High is perfectly content with me being furniture, Jaxon always makes a point to remind me that I exist..."
The sequel to FALLS THE SHADOW, called INTO THE ABYSS, came out on August 30, and I can't wait to read it:

Violet Benson used to know who she was: a dead girl’s clone, with a dead girl’s memories. But after Huxley’s attempt to take over the government left her memories and personality wiped, all she has left is a mission: help the CCA fight back against the rest of Huxley’s deadly clones that are still at large.

But when a group of clones infiltrate CCA headquarters, Violet is blamed. Already unsure of where her loyalties should lie, Violet finds herself running away with an unlikely ally: Seth, Jaxon’s unpredictable foster brother. With Seth at her side, Violet begins to learn about a whole new side of her city’s history—and her own.

But when she learns the shocking truth about cloning, Violet will have to make a choice—and it may be one that takes her away from everyone she ever loved.

In our last interview, you said, "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." What, in your opinion, constitutes a good voice, and what typically makes you stop reading?

A “good voice” is kind of a tricky thing to define, largely because of that whole 'writing is subjective' thing. And it sounds like a total cop-out answer, but I also believe a good voice is the kind of thing that you just know when you see it (or read it or whatever). If I had to narrow down a few things that I personally like, I suppose it comes down to two main things: First is what I guess you might call ‘the flow’. My first love was poetry, and in reading and writing it as much as I have, I’ve developed an inner critic that is sensitive to the rhythm of sentences and syllables. A good voice knows when to use short or long sentences/words, when to flourish and when to be more straightforward—that sort of thing.

Secondly, good voice means paying very close attention to word choices, grammar structure, etc. People talk differently in real life, even people within the same family, and I love it when writers understand this and give each character’s voice the subtle differences and patterns that make them feel like real, distinct people. It’s a hard thing to do (without overdoing it), but when it’s done right, it really elevates a book to the next level for me.

As for what makes me stop reading…hm. I’m a pretty forgiving reader, generally speaking, so I rarely completely stop reading. But one of the biggest pet peeves I have is really inconsistent characterization, or characters just plain contradicting themselves from one page to the next. Characters that change and grow over the course of the book are great, of course, but if I’m reading and I get the sense that the author simply forgot about a character’s particular thought or trait that they just mentioned a couple pages ago, it feels like careless writing and it kind of pulls me out of the book. If that happens too much, I’ll probably disconnect from the character and set the book aside.

Distinct characters are important, and you've definitely mastered how to create unique points-of-view. For example, INTO THE ABYSS offers a different twist by following Violet's perspective. What about her perspective was the most difficult to write?

The biggest challenge in writing Violet’s perspective probably came in the beginning of the book; when Violet is first “reawakened” in ABYSS, she’s very far removed from the human girl her clone was created from. She has no memories, and a brain that understands facts perfectly well—but emotions… not so much. So, in those opening chapters, I was essentially writing from the point of view of a super computer who slowly starts to realize she’s human. It was a unique, fun challenge to make her a relatable—or at least understandable—character for readers, while also trying to make her journey to her more human side believable. Once she started to develop that human side, it was a little easier, but still challenging because ‘human’ Violet and I still don’t have as much in common as Catelyn (the protagonist from Falls) and I do.

I loved how you captured Catelyn, and I look forward to reading Violet's journey into humanity! What are some of your current projects?

My current main work-in-progress is a fantasy novel that features a cursed heroine who might actually be a villain. Also it has dragons. And lots of blood and weird magic. High fantasy was my first love as a reader, so I’m really, really excited about the way this new strange, little book is coming to life for me.

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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