Interview with author Rachel Vincent

I am super excited to be introducing the brilliant Rachel Vincent. I am a big fan of both her Werecats Urban Fantasy series and her Soul Screamers YA series. The fourth in her YA series, My Soul to Steal, has recently been released in the UK. (Check out the amazing animated cover!)

So, without further ado… here’s Rachel!

My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent - animated coverQ. First off, how many books are you planning for the Soul Screamers series? Do you have a particular ending in mind, or will you just stop when you run out of ideas? (Not that I want them to end, of course!)

I’m contracted for seven. I have tons of ideas for this series. The world building really leaves plenty of room for good conflict. However, whether or not I write beyond the seventh book depends on dull business factors like sales. Writing is an art. Publishing is a business.

Q. One of the things I really like about your YA series is how you don’t shy away from certain issues. You deal with sex and addiction, but keep the series firmly rooted in YA. Was that a conscious choice on your part?

Yes. Sex and drugs and other such decisions and dangers are very real presences in teenage life—that much hasn’t changed since I was in high school. Ignoring that in the books just made no sense to me. It’s very important to make sure that the reality-based parts of a paranormal novel are accurate and well grounded, otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to get readers to suspend disbelief for the fantasy elements.

Q. Talk me through your creative process: do you start thinking about a particular character or about the overall plot?

With the Soul Screamers books, I start with a theme—one of the seven deadly sins. They aren’t part of an obvious structure in the story; they’re just my starting point. For instance, the theme of My Soul To Steal was envy, so I asked myself how envy might manifest in Kaylee’s world, and in her life. What would it take to make Kaylee truly envious of someone? Who might be envious of her? Enter Sabine… 😉

Q. You’ve published 12 books since 2007, a number which I find rather astonishing. Besides having to actually come up with ideas, how do you actually find the time to write that much? Your daily writing schedule must be packed.

My work schedule is kind of crazy, yes. But I know many writers who write faster than I do and put out more books a year. For me, it’s an issue of impatience. If my hands and mind are idle, they will start a new book, whether it’s contracted or not. My publisher has been kind enough to indulge me by publishing them as fast as I can write them, which is nice, because now they’ve stopped piling up. 😉

Q. And here’s a tough final question: what are you Top 5 Desert Island books? They don’t have to be YA or Fantasy, but the ones you would be happy reading over and over for the rest of life…!

But honestly, if I were stuck on a desert island and I got sick of reading my five allotted books, I’d just make up my own stories. That’s kind of what I do anyway. 😉

Thank you for answering my questions! 

Hope you all enjoyed the interview.I’ll be reviewing both My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Steal next week, so keep an eye out for those. In the meantime, you can read my reviews of the first two books in her YA series: My Soul to Take and My Soul to Save. Or you can check out my reviews for the first three books in her Werecats series (note: it took me 3 books to really love them!): Stray, Rogue, and Pride.

Crossed Blog Tour: A Day in the Life of a Touring Author!

Crossed (Ally Condie) Blog TourI am excited to be hosting Ally Condie, author of Matched and Crossed, to share the hour-by-hour experience of being an author on tour. Enjoy!

A Day in the Life of An Author: On Tour/Traveling

Ally Condie on tour

Loren Long, Ally Condie and Brian Selznick

I’m writing this before I go on tour, so this is a record of my most recent travel day prior to the tour—October 12:

8:00 a.m. – Wake up in Providence, Rhode Island, where my publisher has sent me for a bookseller’s convention (NECBA). It’s 6:00 a.m. back home so I’m kind of tired. Debate going for a run but decide time would be better spent working. When do I ever have a full day like this to write?

8:00-9:00 a.m. – Shower, eat breakfast.

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Write, pausing now and then for phone calls to and from home answer questions for husband, remind husband about things, schedule doctor appointment for youngest child, talk to kids before they go to school.

12:00-1:00 p.m. – Eat lunch, finish getting ready.

1:00-3:30 p.m. – Write and work on presentation. Call home to make sure everyone remembered that there is an appointment this afternoon for one of the boys, and a field trip coming up which requires an extra permission slip in addition to the usual ones. Find out from my husband that it appears insurance WILL cover the cost of the minor accident my mom had today while driving my kids around while I’m gone. Also find out that a medical report on one of the kids came back— we’ve been waiting anxiously for it. All looks fine. Breathe enormous sigh of relief.

3:30-4:30 p.m. – Go down to the ballroom of the hotel to sign 150 books that will be given away to conference attendees. Make sure presentation works on conference computer/audio visual equipment. It does. Hooray!

4:30-5:30 p.m. – Back up to hotel room, write a little, feel nervous because the other presenters are Loren Long and Brian Selznick.

5:30-6:30 p.m. – Pre-dinner mingling and cocktail hour downstairs in the ballroom. Meet many lovely booksellers and librarians.

6:30-10:00 p.m. – Dinner at NECBA. Give speech in between Loren Long and Brian Selznick, who are both talented, charming, extremely kind, and truly invested in storytelling, art, and children. They both say things that make me tear up and feel grateful to be a writer and to be in this room at this moment. Talking with the booksellers has the same effect—they all want to change communities and put books into children’s hands.

10:00-10:45 p.m. – Pack up and climb into bed for 4:00 a.m. wakeup call (my publisher kindly booked me on the earliest flight of the day at my request, so that I can get home as soon as possible to see the kids).

This was a really lovely travel day. Most days on tour are school visits all morning and afternoon, then a signing at night, and then either a late night or early morning flight to the next location. Which is also awesome, but a lot more hectic than this day was!

Thank you Ally for taking us through your day! I for one am excited to read Crossed. I just finished Matched yesterday (read my review here) and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

For those of you in the USA, check in tomorrow to win a finished, hardcover copy of Crossed!

Rachel Vincent Interview & Review of My Soul to Take

Rachel Vincent Interview & Review of My Soul to TakeMy Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers #1
Published by Harlequin Teen, MIRA
Pages: 368
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
Add to Goodreads
Also in this series: My Soul to Save, My Soul to Keep, My Soul to Steal, If I Die, Before I Wake, With All My Soul

Something is wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh.

She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next...

Thoughts: I really enjoyed My Soul to Take. It had characters that I genuinely liked, a universe that I adored and a focus on family that I found very realistic.

In fact, I found the entire book extremely realistic. For example, there was a great scene where Kaylee decides to Google her supernatural powers and comes to the conclusion that she has a brain tumour. How fantastic is that? I mean, honestly, that is the most logical answer. The idea that she would immediately assume she had inhuman abilities is just silly! As soon as I read that, I knew Kaylee and I were going to get on just fine.

You see, I’d read two of Rachel Vincent’s werecat series (Stray and Rogue) and while I had liked her writing style, I really disliked the main character.  It made me apprehensive about starting My Soul to Take, as I was afraid I’d just be in for some more of the same.  But I’d needn’t have worried, because Kaylee is fantastic.  She stands up for what she believes in, but not to the point where she is making too-stupid-to-live decisions. My Soul to Take proved to me that Vincent can write a main character that I could enjoy – it has made me hopeful for the rest of the werecat series too!

While I liked Kaylee’s boyfriend Nash, I was most intrigued by Tod the teenage grim reaper.  Now really, just the phrase “teenage grim reaper” should be enough to get you into this series.  I am hoping to see more of him (and Kaylee’s BFF Emma) in the rest of the books.

Bottom Line:  An original take on (what has become) the standard paranormal YA action/romance.  Great writing, a unique universe and fantastic characters make this book a must for YA readers.

Rachel Vincent - Author ImageInterview with Rachel Vincent

Rachel was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the Soul Screamers series and her upcoming literary plans.  Here’s what she had to say:

Q. First of all, I am very excited to have your YA series released in the UK. What do you think of the UK jacket covers?

I love them! I think the UK covers are gorgeous, and I love that they capture a different aspect of the books than the US covers do. Both fit the series, but in different ways. 😉

Q. Any chance of a tour in the UK?

Oh, that depends entirely on my publisher. I’ll go wherever they want me to, but to my knowledge, there’s currently no plans for me to go overseas. Travel is expensive…

Q. A lot of Urban Fantasy authors have crossed over into the YA market – with great success. What do you think of this trend, and what inspired you to write a novel aimed at young adults?

I think any trend putting good books into the hands of teens who might not otherwise be reading is a good trend. As for why I’m writing YA, I write it because I like to read it. I love being taken back to a more fantastic, exciting version of my own youth.

Q. Could you introduce the Soul Screamers series to UK readers, new to the books?

The Soul Screamers books are about a sixteen year old high school junior who discovers that she’s a bean sidhe (banshee) who knows when someone near her is going to die. Along with her boyfriend, Nash, Tod the rookie reaper, and a growing and assorted cast of friends/family, she saves lives, returns souls, and battles evil hellions bent on owning her, body and soul. Also, there’s kissing. Lots of kissing. 😉

Q. With your werecat series at an end, will your be Young Adult series become your main focus or do you have something else in the works?

I have a new adult series debuting in the fall in the US, and I’ll be splitting my focus between them for as long as I’m fortunate enough to have both on my plate.

Q. What were your favourite reads as a teen? What YA reads have you recently enjoyed?

Oddly enough, as a teen, I read adult books. I was a huge fan of Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, and Patricia Cornwell. Now, I read adult urban fantasy and YA paranormal and contemporaries. Recently I loved Matched by Ally Condie [see my review here] and Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. Both are well-worth importing, if they aren’t shelved in the UK.

Thanks Rachel!

Christine Johnson talks Wolves and Weres

I am thrilled to introduce Christine Johnson, author of Claire de Lune, as she shares her thoughts on wolves and werewolves.

Warning: This post contains *extremely minor* spoilers. If you’re very, very sensitive tothat sort of thing, hurry and read the book before you look at this post.

Christine Johnson - Author Photo
So, when Kay suggested that today’s Claire in the UK Week guest post be about my thoughts on werewolves/real wolves, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about exactly that. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to talk about why the wolves are a female-only species, and the particular lore that plot-twist engenders, but I haven’t really gotten to discuss how the pack acts in their wolf form.

A few people have commented to me that there seemed to be a lot of actual wolf behavior in Claire de Lune and they’re absolutely right. When I wrote about the wolves – especially during the scenes when the pack is together – I relied heavily on information about grey wolf behavior. In fact, it was most common for me to be working on Claire de Lune with three windows open on the computer. One word processing document for the actual novel, one Internet page with grey wolf behavior and a lunar phase calendar. For the wolf-stuff, I have several sites I really like – one has diagrams of physical postures used by wolves, a couple of others described pack interactions and behaviors. There were books and articles that were really helpful for creating a base knowledge, but for quick reference, the Internet was definitely my friend.

In Claire’s world, the werewolves communicate non-verbally when they’re in their wolf-forms, the same way that grey wolves would in the natural world. I tried to anchor the pack’s “conversations” and interactions in real wolf behavior, elaborating and embroidering from there. Ear positions, body postures, snarls and tail position stand in for dialogue tags. No one can “say” anything if the communication is non-verbal, but bared teeth or a lowered, cowering posture have just as much impact. For me, keeping the werewolf’s behavior rooted in actual wolf behavior kept the pack’s interactions and decisions feeling honest. Fitting the magic into the empty spaces made it seem smooth to me – made the Claire’s world feel internally logical and consistent, which is so critical in a paranormal novel.

Part of what makes paranormal so interesting, so evocative, is the possibility that it *could* be happening. It’s the “normal” part of paranormal. It’s not something that takes place on Kronos 9, it takes place here. With humans. It explains the mysteries and oddities that science hasn’t neatly slotted away. Paranormal novels peek at the shadows under the beds. They have a more interesting explanation for that odd, middle of the night noise on the roof. But it all starts with the real, solid, known world. And that’s what I wanted to do with the werewolves in Claire’s world. I wanted them to be a real animal species that was *more*. That was beyond. That was literally – Para. Normal.

It made sense to me that if wolves and dogs are related species that share many of the same behaviors (trufax, both of those,) then perhaps werewolves would be a sort of bridge species that would have characteristics of both wolves and humans, plus some magic thrown in, because, really, who can resist that? So, in their wolf form, they behave much as wolves do, and in their human form, they act like any other person, and the ability to switch back and forth between those forms creates the opportunity – the need – for magic, which opens the door for things like the ability to create fire from nothing, or the special talent of hearing humans who are miles and miles and miles away.

Part of writing is trusting your instincts, I think. Researching and searching and thinking until you come across something that just fits into the story, and then building around that. Stacking the next “right” stone on top of the first one until you’ve got a novel built. (Then, of course, you have to tear the whole thing down and rebuild – aka revisions – but that’s another story.) Putting real grey wolf behavior into Claire de Lune was one of those perfect stones, for me.

Thanks so much for sharing, Christine!  I thought the wolf-detail in Claire de Lune was spot on and, as a wolf-lover, was really impressed.  I also love the idea of werewolves as a kind of intermediary species between wolves and humans – never thought of it that way before.  ♥

If you want to know more about Christine and her books, check out her website here!  Also check out some of the other Claire in the UK blog tour stops – Christine has done a bunch of fab guest posts this week.

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