Follow the whole blog tour on the countdown to publication!
I am thrilled to introduce the wonderful Charlaine Harris. Her brand-new series – Midnight, Texas – is set in a small Southern town with nosy neighbours and late night murders. In other words, it is quintessential Charlaine!
Thank you, Ms. Harris for taking time away from your writing to answer a few questions!
To start off: can you introduce us all to the world of Midnight, Texas?
Midnight is a small down somewhat west of central Texas. It was formed around a crossroads in the late 1800s — early 1900s, though now the town is mostly empty. The people who live there have a lot of secrets . . . of course.
While Midnight Crossing is the start of an all-new series, it stars some very familiar characters. What can fans of your other series look forward to? Is there anything Charlaine Harris-newbies need to know before they start?
I think newbies will have an easy time getting comfortable with the world. Though I do use characters from past works, I did my best to make it easy for new readers to meet up with them, because those characters are getting a new start in Midnight.
As one of the genre’s most celebrated authors – and, dare I say, one of the pioneers of Modern/Urban Fantasy – your work is constantly under the spotlight. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve faced as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism? How shall I pick? Hmmm. The most painful one is fired at me pretty often from haters of the last few Sookie novels: it’s that I “phoned them in.” I work very hard on each book I write; never doubt that. If you think I worked hard with very little result, so be it; but I worked.
The best compliment . . . that’s a much happier topic. Many times readers have told me that my work has helped through a sad situation in their own lives. That makes me feel wonderful, and that I’m doing the right thing.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
For many years, I wrote with very little success. Having been on the bottom of the totem pole, you can bet I appreciate my readers. That’s why I decided to end the Sookie series; I could feel I was running out of creative energy, I’d reached the end of the story I had to tell. I didn’t think it was fair to continue the books if I was running on empty. I hope they’ll enjoy the new books!
From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…
Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.
There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).
Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…
Midnight Crossroad will be released at one minute past midnight, May 8th 2014! Add the book to your goodreads and then enjoy the rest of the blog tour countdown!
I am super excited to introduce the lovely Ally Carter, author of the Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series. The third novel in the Heist Society series (Perfect Scoundrels) just came out in the UK this month. If you haven’t read her books yet, what have you been waiting for?!
The lovely Ally Carter
Hi Ally! First off, I let me just say that I love your Heist Society series and Katarina (and not just because she shares my name!).
Yay! I dearly love writing about Kat, so it’s a joy to hear that she has fans.
Talk me through your writing a Heist novel: do you start thinking about a particular character or about the final heist?
Each book is a little different. I’m always trying to think about what I did last time and where I can go next. How do I push the characters? Where should their journeys take them? And perhaps most importantly, how can I write a very different book that gives the reader a very similar experience? That is one of the hardest things with series—making people feel like they are reading something totally fresh and new but still letting them feel like they’ve come back to a world and writing style that is familiar.
For Perfect Scoundrels, the story started with Hale. I’ve always known that Kat and her crew had it easy because of Hale and his vast resources. So I wanted to know what would happen if those resources went away. What would that do to the crew and how they operated? And, most importantly, what would it do to Hale and how would Kat cope with those changes?
I love how your novels have female characters taking on roles that are typically male. Did you set out to counteract the stereotype?
Probably not intentionally. I just don’t know any other way. I’m a woman. Most of my readers are girls and women. I certainly don’t think there is anything about my books that men and boys wouldn’t enjoy if they’d give them a chance, but I know how the world works. From this point forward in my career I will be known as a “girly” author, and so I will probably always write about girls. As to why I give the girls the fun jobs? Well…why wouldn’t I? It wasn’t a feminist statement. It was just the way I think it should be. Your main character should be the hero or heroine of his or her own journey, and that’s what I intend to write for the remainder of my career.
Will there be more books in the Heist series after Perfect Scoundrels?
I certainly didn’t set out to end the Heist series with Perfect Scoundrels, so if you see any reports of it being the third and final book in the trilogy, don’t believe them. That was never my intent. I’ve always seen the Heist series as being quite episodic. Maybe there will be three books. Maybe there will be thirty. I can say that I don’t have any more under contract at this time, but that certainly doesn’t mean the series is over. It just means I haven’t written a fourth one…yet. Will I? Only time will tell, but I’d really like to do that eventually.
I am hesitantly excited about the Heist Society movie (especially knowing that Drew Barrymore has signed on – amazing). Do you have any more news on the film front?
No. I’m afraid there’s nothing to talk about right now. Maybe there never will be anything to talk about. Or maybe a huge story will break tomorrow. That’s the way Hollywood works, I’m afraid.
You write books filled with espionage and white collar crime… you must get your inspiration somewhere! What are your favourite heist and spy books/movies/shows?
I’ve long been a fan of heist and con movies, going all the way back to watching The Sting with my father when I was a girl. I grew up on To Catch A Thief and How to Steal a Million. More recently, I’ve loved all the Ocean’s movies, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Italian Job. And what’s not to love about Leverage and White Collar? And there was a UK show called Hustle that I really enjoyed on DVD even though it never aired in the States (to my knowledge).
Thank you for answering my questions, Ally. 🙂
All about the author
Ally Carter writes books about spies, thieves, and teenagers. She is the New York Times Best-selling author of Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and the popular Gallagher Girls series, including I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, and Only the Good Spy Young. She lives in the Midwest where her life is either very ordinary or the best deep-cover legend ever. She’d tell you more, but…well…you know…
Website ⎟ Twitter ⎟ Ally’s Blog
Today, I’m happy to be part of Julianna Scott’s blog tour for her debut young adult novel, The Holders. The book hits the shelves on March 5th in the US and March 7th in the UK.
First off, congrats on the publication of The Holders. It’s tough out there for a debut novelist!
Thanks so much! Yeah, it’s definitely rough out there, but my fabulous agent, Carly Watters, smoothed the process considerably. 🙂
Could you tell me where your idea for The Holders came from? Were you lead there by a character or by the idea of the mythology?
Both actually. And a jewelry website. I’d had all this random idea for a story floating around in my head for awhile and I came across a Celtic jewelry website one day, and everything just sort of fell into place.
Are the “holders” based on existing lore or mythology?
I took some creative license of course, a good majority of it is actually based on several different Celtic legends and characters of Celtic lore.
Ireland is one of the main “characters” in your book; the atmosphere, the culture, even the language are key elements of The Holders. What was it about Ireland made you want to feature it so heavily? Do you think the book would have “worked” set elsewhere?
It is possible that it could have worked elsewhere, but that would have largely depended on the lore and mythology of the area. A lot of the lore in The Holders comes directly from Celtic Mythology, so that was a large reason Ireland worked so well. That, plus I have always found something beautifully mysterious about the atmosphere and the language that is almost as haunting as it si welcoming, and I knew I wanted that feel incorporated in my story.
Is The Holders part of a trilogy, or do you think you’ll be exploring this world across a number of books?
It is planned for four books, but we’ll see what happens. 🙂
What authors or novels have influenced your writing most? And, if you could pick just one, what writer (living or dead!) would you want to have as your beta?
Oh wow, that’s a hard one. As far as influenced so, I would have to say Richelle Mead. She has such an amazing talent for creating awesome characters. As for a beta, that one is really tough as I am so intimidated by other writers. I have what you might call an inferiority complex when it comes to writing. That isn’t to say I’m not confident in my work, because I am. It’s just that when I think of myself as ‘being a writer’ it is always subconsciously followed by ‘but I’ll never be a writer writer, like (fill in name of successful writer here). I would LOVE to have the chance to meet Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters, and—to bring it to the modern day—Robin McKinley, as I love and admire their work, but I don’t think I could ever actually let any of them read or critique my stuff.
And, finally, as a debut novelist yourself, what advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?
Write. Seriously, just write. Don’t worry about telling the rest of the world that you are a writer, or getting followers on Twitter, or having everyone you know to ‘Like’ your author Facebook page, or chatting on writing forums, or starting a blog, or any of the other things that so many ‘writers’ spend their time doing. That stuff may make you feel like a writer, but the only thing that makes you a writer is writing. There will be more than enough time for the rest later, trust me. Spend your time writing, not ‘being a writer’.
Thank you for the great answers, Julianna!
All about the author
Julianna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent the majority of her educational career convinced she would be a musician. However, after receiving her music degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, she realized that she’d been born in the wrong era for her dreams of singing jazz to adoring fans clad in zoot-suits and flapper dresses to come true, and began to wonder if her true calling might be elsewhere.
While Julianna had always excelled in writing throughout school, she’d never considered it career possibility until about three years ago, when she’d gotten her first story idea and decided to go for it. She grabbed her laptop, started typing away, and has never looked back.
Website ⎟ Twitter ⎟ Holders Facebook Page
Julianna is giving away some amaaaaazing prizes to celebrate the launch of The Holders. If you are in the US or Canada, click away!
Today, I’m thrilled to be introducing Saci Lloyd, author of the Carbon Diaries series, Momentum and, her newest release, Quantum Drop. I am a big fan of this self-described “activist”, and think her ability to address serious, global issues in her novels should not only be lauded, but emulated.
First off, what inspired you to write Quantum Drop? Where you lead to the book by a character or by a concept?
Oh, this book came from a lot of different angles. At the heart of it, for me is an exploration of the way human beings live on the planet. I’m fascinated by our strange minds, how we make up insane systems and then live by the weird rules we made up. No other animal does this. I also wanted to write it from the point of view of a bunch of very extraordinary ‘ordinary’ young people. Anthony is named after the Belle and Sebastian song – Lord Anthony – and the lines ‘Anthony bullied at school, get your own back now you are cool’ are an essential part of how I perceive this character.
Your YA novels incorporate serious, real-life issues into them (climate change, the financial crash) – do you consciously set out to tackle these themes, or are you just inspired by current events?
I’m drawn to write about the big issues of the day. What could be bigger than climate change and the financial crash that bankrupted us all? I’m also enraged on behalf of the younger generation, that they’ve had their future world messed up by shortsighted politicians and corrupt financiers. Sometimes I wish I was drawn to writing about goblins, but I just can’t do it somehow.
Quantum Drop was one of the first books I’ve read in a while to be narrated from a boy’s point of view. What made you opt for a male POV and how was it different to writing the Carbon Diaries?
Anthony felt very natural to me. He’s a pretty sensitive soul in his own messed up way, so it wasn’t like I had to create some super macho figure. Having said that, I did interview a lot of boys before starting to write – as I wanted to make sure I was getting the tone right. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, Anthony is very real and alive to me in exactly the same way that Laura Brown is in the Carbon Diaries. That’s when you can tell if a character is working – when they start to act up and invade your mind off the page. Anthony and Laura were both a total pain in the ass.
I feel like the teenagers of 2012 are more “plugged in” than any other generation – technology is just so natural to them. Do you think these teens will have a different appreciation for Quantum Drop than the rest of us?
The pace of technology is speeding up all the time. When I first wrote Momentum and Quantum Drop I used to have to wave my arms a lot while I explained how a visor or a laser beamed onto a retina might work. Now I just point to Google glass and it’s easy. The next stage will surely be some kind of hook up to the optic nerve. Terrifying really, when you think how dumb we are with our little screens. No, but seriously, I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about with technology as long as it’s us using the tech and not the other way around.
Final question: what’s next on your agenda? Do you have any other books in the works and, if so, what will they be about?
Yeah I do. I’m working on a novel called 50% Banana, set in a parallel earth run by Californians. It’s a comedy. I’m really enjoying writing it.
OK – that sounds awesome. Thank you for answering my questions, Saci! Check out my review of Quantum Drop here.
Julie Kagawa is the best-selling author of the Iron Fey series – the latest installment of which (The Iron Knight) is out now in the UK. I asked her what authors and books inspired her to become an author in her own right, and here’s what she had to say! (BTW, Julie? Your teenage years sound an awful lot like mine!)
In middle school and all the way through high school, all I did was read. I read on the way to class, I read after class, I read in class with novels hidden behind my textbooks (my teachers were not appreciative of this).
And while many of the books and authors sort of blended together in that time (I read nothing but fantasy), a couple do stand out as books that have influenced me as a reader and an author. One was The Scions of Shannara series by Terry Brooks. It had all the essential fantasy plotlines: a great, stirring evil, a band of unlikely heroes, a race to save the world. But what I remembered most about the series were the characters, particularly one character’s storyline where he fell in love with a mysterious girl, journeyed with her to stop a rising evil and, as she had been sent to do from the start, watched her sacrifice herself in the end to save them all.
Readers of my books and blog know my love of Ultimate Noble Sacrifice endings. Well, I think it began right here, with Morgan Leah and Quickening, and their star-crossed love story. I remember thinking, while tears were pouring down my face, that I wanted to do this someday; write a novel with characters that could make you laugh, fall in love with them, and sob your heart out. So, thank you, Mr. Brooks, for your wonderful series and characters, and for making me cry at beautiful, tragic love stories. I only hope my characters can inspire the same. 🙂
~ Julie Kawaga
This is the third time I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Vincent here on Dead Book Darling – a testament to a) her awesome blogosphere presence, and b) how much I friggin’ love her work.
Readers should note that most of this Q&A deals with post-If I Die issues. That said, if you haven’t read the book you won’t be truly spoiled by reading this interview. But if you have read it, the answers will make a lot more sense!
Q. I have always been a big fan of Tod’s, so If I Die was an absolute treat for me. But I can’t help but wonder, did you always plan for Tod to go from being a side character to having a staring role?Interview with Urban Fantasy and YA author Rachel Vincent
A. No. Tod (much like Sabine) kind of grabbed his part and squeezed everything he could from it. Like a child born for the spotlight. He’s irrepressible, and I love finding new things out about him as I go.
Q. Nash seems to have changed a lot in the course of the series – are we seeing the “real” him now? Or is this “just the frost” that’s talking?
A. At this point, I’m not sure that even Nash knows what the “real” Nash looks and feels like. I didn’t realize how complicated and tragic a path I was putting in front of Nash until I got to the end of My Soul To Keep and realized there was no turning back, without taking a copout ending (having Kaylee forgive and forget, which would have been unhealthy for her, and having Nash miraculously cured). And I don’t do copouts. So I had to admit that the only way out of this mess for Nash was the long way. The truth is that an addict is never cured. The cravings are always there, and the best you can really hope for is the strength to fight them. And to keep fighting. So there’s definitely hope for Nash, but that hope lies in continued strength, not in a miracle cure.
Q. While I am in love with what you’ve done to Nash, Tod, and Kaylee, I wonder if I am alone in my feelings. Have you received much positive/negative fan reaction to If I Die?
A. You know, it’s been interesting. And if anything, the reader reaction to If I Die has reiterated for me that there’s no way to please everyone with one book. Once people had read My Soul To Steal and realized that Tod had feelings for Kaylee, but that she didn’t know it, I started finding lots of reviews (many were actually comment threads) containing ultimatums. In fact, on Goodreads there was a pair of reviews only one or two apart that made me laugh out loud. Then want to cry. One said that if I put Tod and Kaylee together, she’d never read another one of my books again. Two reviews later, another reader wrote that If I didn’t put Tod and Kaylee together, she’d never read another one of my books.
Overall, I have to say I’m thrilled that people are attached to the characters enough to care that much what happens to them. I consider that a success. But sometimes it’s really hard to remember that the world is big, and every reader is different. Some are going to love a book for the very same reason others hate it, and there’s nothing I can do about that. Which is good, because I can’t possibly craft a story to please its potential audience. All I can do is write the story the way I see it, staying true to the characters, even if that means making some of the readers mad. I can’t afford to wimp out (or copout) just because someone won’t like that ending. Someone will always dislike every ending.
Q. With If I Die being such a game-changer of a book, I can only imagine that Before I Wake is going to be very different to the rest of the series. Am I right? And if so, how did that change how you went about writing the book?
A. Yes. That’s inevitable. Without giving too much away, pretty much everyone’s changed at the end of If I Die, but the most difficult transitions are for Nash and Kaylee. Before I Wake is the sloth book (My Soul To Take was vanity, My Soul To Save was greed, My Soul To Keep was gluttony, My Soul To Steal was envy, and If I Die was lust.) which presented a unique challenge from the very beginning. How can you write a sloth-themed book and keep it fast-paced and exciting?
In the end, the answer to that came from the characters’ natural personal progression. I’m illustrating sloth as depression, but the book is really about fighting depression—and fighting evil. Among other things. Both Kaylee and Nash are wrestling with things they’ve never felt before, and they’re both having trouble dealing. They both have a good support system, but they’re also kind of in the media spotlight at the moment, because the things that happened at the end of If I Die have drawn real-world attention, which is the last thing either of them needs.
On the surface, however, for a more accessible answer to your question, Before I Wake involves the consequences of what Tod did for Kaylee in If I Die. In the Netherworld, no good deed goes unpunished. 😉
Q. Finally, can you give us a few teasers about what to expect from Before I Wake?
A. Um…battling evil. Friendship. Loyalty. Growing up, even if your dad isn’t ready for that to happen. Living with consequences. And kissing. 😉
As always, thank you Rachel for answering my questions. I absolutely cannot wait for Before I Wake! Check back in tomorrow for my review of If I Die (my favourite Soul Screamers book yet).