Author Interview with Amanda Dewees

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1. Do you like your ice crushed or cubed?

Crushed. There’s something very satisfying about how graciously crushed ice yields under one’s teeth.

  1. If you could have any super power what would it be?

just-loveI’d like the ability to change hatred or contempt–or even indifference–into love. It would transform the world… not to mention my social life.

  1. If you could go any where in time where would you go and why? 

Oh my, such an array of tempting possibilities. Right now I’m drawn to the idea of witnessing some of the great actors perform. While researching Nocturne for a Widow I read a lot about the 19th-century theater and became very curious about how some of the most acclaimed actors and actresses of the Victorian era would appear to modern ears and eyes. I’d love to go back in time and see Sarah Bernhardt, Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, and other greats on stage.

  1.  If you could be any fairytale character who would you be?dutton_meet

I think I’d choose to be Janet in “Tam Lin,” because she’s independent and courageous and capable. She stands up to great danger and rescues the man she loves.

  1. Do you kill bugs or set them free?

I kill cockroaches or palmetto bugs with extreme prejudice. Other critters, like spiders, I try to set free.

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  1.  There is a lot of foreshadowing in With this Curse.  That takes a lot of time and planning.  Do you have a strategy for planning a book, or does it just unfold?  

downloadI outline my books very thoroughly, especially my historical novels. That doesn’t mean I don’t surprise myself with new developments during the writing process, but I like the security of an outline. Since gothic romance plots contain a lot of mystery, I want to be sure ahead of time that the solution will make sense, and I like to know in advance what clues and red herrings I’ll plant. As you say, it does take a lot of time, but with a good outline in place I find that the drafting process goes pretty quickly.

  1. Sea of Secrets didn’t feel like a retelling of Hamlet.  It didn’t feel like you wrote it around the story but fused the two. How did you go about incorporating Hamlet into Sea of Secrets?

I really started with Hamlet. For years I had been interested in 510xCRhaLVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Ophelia’s character and her relationship with Hamlet, and I wanted to explore what seemed to me a new perspective on their romance. Once I realized that the play shared a lot of qualities with Victorian gothic fiction, which was a real Eureka moment, I set about thinking of 19th-century analogues for the major elements in the play. Of course, there were plenty of bits of the play that I dispensed with or altered. And I introduced some gothic romance tropes, although I deliberately changed some of them.

  1. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a sequel to With This Curse, called Cursed Once More. Originally I hadn’t planned to write a sequel, but it turns out that I love Clara and Atticus too much to say goodbye to them just yet. I’m also excited to show what their happy-ever-after looks like… until more gothic intrigue overturns their lives. After that I’ll be writing book two in the Sybil Ingram series, so I’m already mulling plot ideas for that.

  1.  Who inspires you?

I’ve been fortunate to get to meet many wonderful writers over the last few years, and it seems like every one of them has inspired me download (2)or has had something to teach me. I love learning from them and seeing what different paths everyone takes. One author I never had the chance to meet but whose work has been particularly inspiring to me is Barbara Michaels, who also wrote as Elizabeth Peters. Her ability to weave together mystery, humor, gothic chills, and compelling characterization set a high bar.

  1. You have many great characters in your books.  One of my favorites is Jim from On Shadowed Wings.  Do you have a favorite?  Is there one that you love to hate most?

81XY8j3DwWL._SL1500_I’m so glad you like Jim! When I’m writing a story I become very fond of my major characters (except for the truly nasty ones), and that’s certainly the case with him. Atticus and Clara in With This Curse are especially dear to me, as I mentioned. If I found a real-life man like Atticus, I think I’d spend the rest of my life stalking him. Another one I have great affection for is Sybil Ingram, who started downloadout as a fairly minor supporting character but turned out to be so delightful that I gave her her own book, Nocturne for a Widow. I love spending time in her head because she’s so confident and self-assured and spirited. I relate more to Clara, but Sybil is terrific fun. I’m looking forward to writing more stories for her.

  1.  We are very big supporters of Self Published Authors.  What are some of the obstacles you have had to overcome being self published?

Visibility is one of the greatest challenges–just getting my books in front of readers. Although I know that traditionally published download (1)authors face a similar difficulty, they often have the advantage of greater reach–the ability to get their books into more places than self-published authors can. A more surprising challenge is time. Even though I outsource tasks like editing, layout, and cover design, it still takes a lot of time to handle all of the things that traditional publishing houses generally take care of for authors! Still, it’s thrilling to have so much control over my writing career, and I’m excited to be writing and publishing right now.

  1.  What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Join the community of other writers. You can learn so much and benefit enormously from that system of support, knowledge, understanding, and inspiration. I’ve made wonderful friends through different writing groups and networks, and I’m always delighted to see how much writers help other writers.

  1.  Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers? 

I’d like to thank them for reading and for their enthusiasm. There is no feeling in the world like hearing from a reader that they’ve read something of mine and enjoyed it. And posting a review on a site like Goodreads is a tremendous help to indie authors, so I always appreciate it when readers take the time to review my books (and that includes wonderful bloggers like you!).

You can find Amanda here:

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Thank you very much for your time.

It’s been my pleasure!

To see our reviews of Amanda Dewees book click here:

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Author Interview with VL Durand

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Letsbreaktheice

 

 

1. Do you like your ice crushed or
cubed?

“Cubed – I am drawn to shapes and like to watch cubes melt and assume different forms along the way – once I saw Henry Kissinger’s face in a cube and most recently it was a bulldog…”

2. If you could be any children’s book character who would youPippi_photo_266x450px_266x0
choose?

“Pippi Longstocking!”

3. If you could have a super power what would it be?

“It’s not considered a super power but I really wish time machines existed – I would love to go back in time to witness Paris in the 20’s for example or meet EE Cummings or Truman Capote as he was writing In Cold Blood.”

4. What is your favorite color?

“Blue like The Big Blue Bird!”

5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

“What didn’t I want to be! I had so many interests – I thought of pursuing everything from medicine to photography!”

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1. We know from your blog that you once met Shel Silverstein, who
would you like to meet in the future?

“If I could have a dinner party and invite anyone living today, the guest list would include: Noam Chomsky, Harper Lee, Stephen Fry, Thuli Madonsela, Armistead Maupin, Edward Snowden, Itzhak Perlman, Annie Leibovitz, Julian Schnabel and Nan Goldin.”

2. Where do your characters come from? The inspiration for your drawings?

“The character of The Big Blue Bird originated from a poem I wrote for a children’s volume of poetry I was working on and wanted each poem to have a picture to accompany it. For most of the poems, I simply went to the internet to find one from the free picture websites you can use without danger of copyright infringement. I couldn’t find a picture of a blue bird, that fit the picture in my head of her, so I drew one instead. From that single drawing, I could suddenly see the poem as a children’s book.”

3. Why did you decide to become a children’s author?

“I didn’t decide! It just bloomed from the poetry I was attempting to write. I thought I would create a book for my nieces to have something from me to read to their children one day. I received such encouragement with the result – to publish it in some form – so I did. Sometimes life whispers in your ear – tells you what to do.”

4. Besides Shel Silverstein what children’s authors have inspired you?

download“I love simple drawings in children’s books – It was what I was attracted to as a child and still am. Like Shel Silverstein’s drawings in ‘The Giving Tree’ and ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ I also like the Pigeon series of books by Mo Willems. Not that I don’t appreciate very elaborate beautiful illustrations; there is just something I find charming about simple line drawings. I also love colorful abstract paintings. I like to add a bit of abstract, if I can, to my work.”

5. We have noticed that the Big Blue Bird is a full figured bird. Was this intentional and is it a commentary on full figured woman being properly represented in the media?

“Yes, it was intentional. I am constantly irritated by the preoccupation bordering on obsession [that] most people have with their bodies – so many people equate their size with their worth. It is such a manufactured concept with no inherent truth – we are told what is beautiful and we believe it – it’s that simple. I have four nieces and my sister was telling me one day about a comment my youngest niece Sara made to her about being called chunky or fat. She is neither, but is naturally a mesomorph where her sister Hana is an ectomorph like my sister. So standing next to her sister she appears thicker, thus producing the absurd comment. The majority of media tells us we are most worthy if we are very slender and tall. Character, honesty, integrity and personality are distant considerations and it’s beyond pathetic. We are now a society where looking good is better than being good. Facade is the paramount concern, so is it any surprise we are in a situation where there is so much vapid wrapped in pretty packages? I wanted to show The Big Blue Bird is happy and admired just the way she is!”

6. How do you feel about females being represented in media and what do you hope the impact will be on Children’s books?

“If you review the women ideal throughout history you see a transition based on a fashion industry who seem to find the wide hips and large breasts of women undesirable. Their designs appear to be created based on those physical traits most resembling males
– narrow hips and flat chests. This spills over into mainstream press,
painting a portrait of the ideal woman, which most women
cannot achieve without near starvation. In the 1800s women were pursued who were voluptuous, this is captured in the art of the age, demonstrating further how much media controls how we view ourselves and each other. The bottom line – there is still too much emphasis on women as sex objects and on façade in general. I would like to see more children’s books with positive characters of all shapes and sizes and color; sending the essential message that outside doesn’t matter only heart.”

7. Where would yo like to see the children’s book industry in 5 years?

“Flooded with my books! 😉

Actually, I would like to see less of a distinction between traditional supportindie_lgand self-publishing. There is an immediate negative reaction in learning a book is independently published and I disagree with the perception. Granted, since everyone can publish a book of any quality, there is much to sort through but I think dismissing these books (as many blog reviewers, contests, traditional publications and literary agencies do) closes the opportunity for many, many wonderful books of all genres to see the light of day and that is misfortune for all of us. I wish to thank you at The Modest Verge for being one of the increasingly few blog reviewers who embrace independent authors!”

8. Do you think all Children’s books should have a moral compass?

“No, I think there is a place for silly books that just take the child on an adventure without any ‘moral to the story’ included but I personally like to add a little segment to provoke thought or discussion in my books since I realize I am speaking to minds that are molding and really want to affect a positive impact with my books.”

9. We have read that you are also a poet. You have some posted on Wattpad of which we are big supporters. Do you have more poetry books in the works?

“Thank you – so you are the ones who have been reading the posts! 😉

30012354-256-k458093I have two volumes I am editing at the moment – one is the same title I am posting under on Wattpad (not sure for how long) called Brilliant Mothers of the Naked Waifs and the other volume is called Baying at a Blood Red Moon. They will both be out early this year I hope !”

10. What future children’s books do you have in the works?

“The next book is called Banners and Seebeex Fly Away which will be Available on Amazon February 2, 2015 img_03631 and I am finishing A Big Blue Christmas that I began over the holidays. I also have a few in the beginning stages so [I’m] not sure what they will be yet!”

We would like to thank VL Durand for answering our questions. Please visit her at the links below and if you missed Viola’s Kids Corner review of The Big Blue Bird you can find that below as well.

VL Durand can be found:

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Visit V.L. Durand’s shop where you can find her creations.

See our review of The Big Blue Bird:

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Pippi Longstocking by Planet Junior

Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Author Interview with Sabrina Zbasnik

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Today’s author interview is with the truly great Sabrina Zbasnik author of The King’s Blood.  We asked her some silly questions and some rather serious ones.  She gave us fun, informative answers in true Sabrina Zbasnik fashion which means that they are sharp smart answers that you’re going to enjoy reading.  So without further ado please enjoy our interview with Sabrina Zbasnik.
Letsbreaktheice
1. Do you prefer crushed or cubed ice? Crushed, that way it’s much harder for the ice golem to reconstitute itself.
2. Do you kill bugs or set them free? I set most of them free. The only bugs I will hunt down mercilessly are mosquitoes and hornets/wasps. Then I go full Raid Rambo.AHFS_cover
3. What is your favorite color? Blue, because Octeen hasn’t been discovered yet.
4.  If you could be a character in any fantasy novel ever written who would it be?  I’ll go with Granny Weatherwax in the Discworld novels because no one messes with Granny. She’s the female version of Gandalf.
5.  If you were in your very own fairy tale would you rather be the fire breathing dragon or the sword wielding heroine? You always go dragon.
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1.  Have you always been a fan of epic fantasy? Oh boy, right off the bat I’m gonna get myself into big trouble. Honest truth, I picked up the first Narnia book and hated it. It wasn’t grounded enough in reality for my tastes. Because of that I avoided the classic/epic fantasy for a long time. I read Goosebumps like all kids my age and played around in horror type fantasy and was a huge sci-fi fan. Animorphs was my jam in middle school. But it wasn’t until high school that I attempted Tolkien and fell hopelessly for the historically focused fantasy. Later, I found the magic of Discworld and loved the combination of science, humor, and fantasy. It was perfect for me.  What I do like about fantasy, and genre in general, is that you can easily twist it to be allegorical. With classic historical fiction you’re confined within human stereotypes, what people think happened in that time. With fantasy you can flip the script on something to highlight a strange or disturbing foible of human nature.
dictionary2.  As a reader I can’t imagine how you keep such a gigantic story straight as you write it.  How do you go about it and are there post-its everywhere? The King’s Blood took about four months to write the first draft. I always have the basic plot in my head before the first word is put down, focusing on the beats, what major obstacles will have to happen; but it’s the little stuff that creeps up along the way that throws me. Like Isa’s walking stick. It began more as a side joke, the witch with her wand that she can hit people with. But then I kept forgetting about it. There were drafts when she’d lose the damn thing for months, then suddenly it’d pop up again. That’s what editing’s for.
The worst is probably random names. I’d toss out the name of a place, a god, an old friend and then 40 pages later I make a reference back only I can’t remember what it was.  Then I lose a half hour combing through the manuscript to find the name before I can continue. Now, when I put down something like that, I jot it on the side in the research notes. With fantasy and genre one tends to use weird names in general, and my trick to spelling it properly from the get go is to add it to my word processor’s dictionary. It’s the spell check’s problem now.
3.  Your characters are complex.  What is most important to you when you’re creating your fascinating characters?  I suppose I want them to be believable. It makes me sound wacky, but I feel less like I’m god creating stories and more I’m the dungeon master. I gave these pieces their setting, now to sit back and see what they do and maybe throw a random encounter or two in. Characters often do something unexpected. Like Isa and Ciara not getting on due to religious differences. I hadn’t set out to have it happen, but it came up and I ran with it because it made sense to me. I’ll also have characters that refuse to do what I tell them. Taban was the worst. He had some vital backstory he needed to share but he would not talk about himself no matter how many times I threatened to get him stabbed. It reached the point I was afraid I’d never get it out of him and have to find some other way to stick it in there.
4.  You recently wrote a blog post about female characters.  The tagline “Strong Female Character” has become a catch phrase full of everything that a strong female character really isn’t.  What do you think it will take to shift popular thinking and what can female readers do to help shape the landscape so that authors and screenwriters choose to create actual strong female characters? I fear that a large part of the problem is this assumption that boys won’t read books with female main characters, boys won’t see movies with female heroes. It’s all about boys, boys, boys. You’d think Hollywood execs were teenage girls the way they go on about boys. We’ve become obsessed with gender dimorphism. Girls are only pink, boys are only blue, to the point we have color coded servingware for Processed by: Helicon Filter;kids and god help you if you eat off the wrong one. And since separate is never equal, it enforces the coded message of everything boy = good, everything girl = bad. Which is when you get that in order for girls to be interesting, to be worthy of listening to she has to act masculine, almost hyper masculine. She has to punch things through walls, she has to belch and fart, she has to never ever talk to another girl and declare herself “one of the guys.”
It is the nature of the beast, but because the female voice is equivalent to 1/10th of a male, those boys are the ones who can still enact real change. Getting boys to watch movies like Brave, to see other girls not as some unknowable species but a person like them is a huge and necessary step. It’s coming slowly. Things like My Little Ponies crossing the gender demilitarized zone helps greatly. Rising up and demanding it, making voices heard is all that gets through. Like the recent Assassin’s Creed fight about including female assassins. We’re sick of being treated like some abnormality. We’re over 50% of the population, not some tiny subset you have to cater to. I fear it is a fight that will never end.
5.  What inspired you to include zombies in The Kings Blood? I needed something to show the power the unstable magic had, a reason why everyone is working for this end goal. Walking dead seemed a pretty great deterrent. Also, it gave me an excuse to have a nameless horde for the heroes to fight off. I’m not a fan of black and white, good vs evil, but I couldn’t logically send a couple of untrained teenagers onto a real battlefield and expect them to survive. So, the magic zombies came into being.
big_italian_cheese_edit6.  What would you go on an epic adventure for?  What would be your goal? Cheese, I would go on an epic adventure for cheese. Preferably to eat it. Destroying it would be hard, because then I would lose the power to control all the cheese in the world.
7.  You have a lot of clever one liners in this book.  Do they just come to you when you write and do you have a favorite? Some come up when I’m in the middle of writing. Some I think of when I’m outlining the scene, usually while walking or doing other mindless tasks. For a few I put in a placeholder joke, something so terrible I groan every time I read it, to force myself to come back later and add a better one. Though there are plenty of times while editing I’ll read a joke and think “I have no idea what in the hell I meant here. Delete!”
One of my favorites is probably the exchange between Ciara and Aldrin:
“Did your father have a lot of enemies?”
“He was king. If he didn’t have enemies, he wasn’t doing it right.” It’s a nice little microcosm of all the drawbacks of this royalty thing and why wanting to be king is kinda overrated.
8.  What is your next project and where can we find you? I’m currently working on Dwarves in Space. As you can guess from the title it’s about Dwarves and they’re in Space. I call it Tolkien merged with Hitchhikers in a horrific transporter accident, though there are obvious touches of Firefly in there. It’s hard to do band of travelers skirting outside the law without paying an homage to Firefly. DiS also gives me a chance to skewer not only fantasy tropes but science fiction as well in one convenient series.
You can find some of my book info on my blog that’s still in the construction stages http://sezbasnik.blogspot.com/ Or follow me on twitter @introvertedwife I’ll post about any and everything on therekings blood from Halloween props, to video games, to other one liners I think of during the day.
(Her Halloween props are fantastic.  Her Doctor Who gallery is not to be missed.)
9.  Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?  I hope you like my book, as does every author in the history of the written word (except maybe for Jonathan Swift) and it helps continue the question of why can’t there be more diversity in fantasy.
But you cannot have the cheese. It’s mine, my own, my precious!

SZ_profile Sabrina Zbasnik is the author of The King’s Blood as well as TerraFae and Tin Hero – a rollicking tale of slime molds and their love of fine cigars.

Or a fantasy satire that lovingly pokes fun at those classic cliches.

Sabrina spends nearly of all her time in Nebraska but that’s because it is impossible to leave without finding the lamppost. She lives in a house that has at least four walls and there are some other souls wandering forlornly calling to their lost lives within.

Thank you for your time and wonderful answers Sabrina.  We are looking forward to Dwarves In Space.  We wish you luck and cheese.
Header image: King Family by Saavem from freeimages.com
Versailles#3 by Zanuda from freeimages.com
Italian cheese 2 by kalimevole from freeimages.com

Author Interview: Cara Rosalie Olsen

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We recently interviewed Cara Rosalie Olsen author of Awakening Foster Kelly.  She was just as kind and gracious as her main character and she answered all of our questions with flair.  We start off, as always, with five silly questions to get us started. Enjoy the interview.

 

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1) Do you like your coffee hot or iced? Most definitely hot. We – my husband and I – are unabashed coffee connoisseurs. Coffee is the third family member around here. Mr. Olsen has the beans shipped to our home from all sorts of exotic countries and then spends 30 minutes in hula-hoop motion over the stove roasting them. I personally owe much of what I do to coffee. It is that sweet siren call by which I am lured out of bed each morning. In case I don’t say it enough, thank you, Coffee.

2) What is your favorite color? Ooo. I love color; it’s tough to choose only one, but you are demanding it of me so I must. True turquoise. Not blue, not green, but the fervent blend of two tealy tones into one rich, royal hue.

3) Your bio says that you would have taken over as CEO of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory if you were not a writercandy_pic. What is your favorite candy? Another tough one. Whew, you’re really grilling me! I think . . . Yes. I absolutely must pick two; because there is chocolate, which is a type of candy, and then there is candy candy, which includes an assortment of sweet and sour and gummy and chewy and hard and soft. Twix and Skittles.

4) Do you kill bugs or set them free? Of course I set them free! . . . . . down the drain, the toilet, the sink. I bet there’s a gloriously soggy kingdom reigning in our pipes.

5) If you could travel back in time where would you go and why? Although I would be tempted to pick a completely different time period, something quieter, modest – an era during which people were forced to look one another in the eye when they wanted to have a conversation, I think, honestly, I would go back and speak to myself around age 12. I think it’s the magic age. We are very much still children, dreaming with unfettered hope, of becoming firefighters, actresses, doctors, and astronauts. By the time we reach 18, we are a bit exhausted. Sarcasm and doubt have trickled in, and all our dreams are a touch too wry. If I could, I would speak to 12 year-old Cara and tell her, perhaps, not to listen to the critics or even too closely to the opinions of well-meaning folks, but to pay special attention to the Voice within her heart – the One telling her she is loved no matter what, no exceptions, and the world is hers to explore and claim, but first she must fail on epic proportions, and then decide it was the only way to do it, really. Then, when she reached 25ish, she wouldn’t have worried so much about getting it right, always getting it perfectly right. Because all masterpieces look like messes before they’re finished.

 

 

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1) Some of the characters in your book have unique names. Did you intend for them to be different or was it a happy accident? I am very intentional about names, so yes, that was planned. In fact, the entire book, which was written in no less than 5 years, began with the idea of writing about a character with a first name for her last and a last name for her first, and the sort of havoc – both funny and detrimental – this might have on a person. From there, Foster Kelly came alive on her own (well mostly; sometimes she was incredibly shy and difficult and we had these very serious chats, but ultimately I decided she needed Emily Donahue).

2) It’s great as a reader to have a mean girl (or boy) in a book to hate but it could be argued that Foster is her own worst enemy. Where did the character Vanya come from? Was she changed by Foster’s courageous intervention? I would completely agree with you that Foster is her worst enemy. I was conscious of not working a “villain” into the story purely for the sake of having one. Vanya – originally Hannah – plays a specific role in Foster’s development; however, and not unlike Foster and really every single one of the characters, she is broken. She is hurting and scared, and by contrast to Foster who is self-deprecating and plagued by shyness, Vanya is fallaciously conceited and attempts to quiet the hateful voices using malice and evil. Vanya is quite envious of Foster; though, if you told Foster that, she would laugh nervously, then blush, then try and sneak out the back door when no one was looking.

I wouldn’t say this book ties up neatly. Neat isn’t really my thing. Contemporary usually deals with people and situations, and in real life we hardly get the pretty red bows. But in my opinion, we get something better. We get scars. And from those scars we witness something intricate and stunning and round. We witness healing. Our own, that of those we love, and also those who have hurt us. As far as Vanya and Foster are concerned, I leave this particular resolution to the reader’s discretion. Me, I like to believe Vanya took a moment or two after being confronted with undeserved grace and love to evaluate her behavior, and where her life is headed if she doesn’t find the strength to forgive and in turn allow herself to be forgiven.

This moment, though, is about Foster. It is about her, infused with wisdom and enlightened perspective after what she has been through; but even more than that, it’s about Foster having the strength to enter into an uncertain situation, with someone not at all safe, and putting fear aside and doing what she must in order to fuse this inveterate wound, to move on, move forward, just move. Truly, I think this is one of the greater, spherical moments in the book, though it’s hardly ever spoken about, as it sort of naturally pales in comparison to Foster and Dominic, our two protagonists.

bookshelf_img3) Every reader we know has a picture of what their fantasy library would look like. Bookshelfporn.com exists for a reason. Does the library in the chateaux resemble yours? Oh, my. Well, you know what I’ll be doing when I finish here. What a name! Yes, absolutely. The library in the Kelly’s chateaux is my dream library fully realized.

4) When I go back and think about the book I realized there was at least one instance that I should have known something was up. Did you leave us any clues to the amazing ending? I am smiling. Because, yes. Absolutely I did. I do a little jump and heel-clap every time readers’ send me a note after finishing, letting me know how everything, now, makes so much sense. The reader, having been utterly confused for the majority of the book, feels an overwhelming achievement at the newfound clarity, and I just adore this. If I had to choose one thing I love most about Awakening Foster Kelly as a whole, it is that there is almost more for the reader reading it the second time around. Which, at 672 pages, I know is asking a lot.

5) Did you know the ending was going to be the ending the whole time you were writing the book? No. And this was probably the most tragic, burdensome, maddening epiphany I have ever had. I almost wanted to forget I thought it. Just pretend it never happened. Poof! Gone. My husband is largely responsible for cultivating what is inarguably the most talked about aspect of the book. Further, he is wholly responsible for my not chucking the idea out the window along with some choice words. I mourned. I railed. There were times when I thought “I can’t. I just can’t do that to my readers. It’s the worst, ever. Ever-ever-ever-EVER.” But then . . . the more I thought about it, the more I allowed myself to embrace the journey as a whole, let go of my control, and accept Foster for Who She Is, the more I realized how beautiful and perfect it was. It made the most sense of anything I had written. Those who love this book are either devastated by the ending or enchanted by it. And I love that, because whether this negatively or positively affects the review, I can take solace in that the reader was moved to feel passionate; they felt rescued or pitched off the side of a cliff. Readers, I love you either way!

6) Can you tell us about your next book Much As Funny Loves A Laugh? I must confess to you: I am absolutely dreadful at summarizing my books. I LOVE writing book reviews, but my own, well, it’s like my tongue shrivels up and every word flicksCRO_MAFLL out of a wrinkle like a dead fingernail. Not pretty. So I’ve pasted the blurb below for you, which is the result after days (weeks) of thinking and editing and thinking and more editing. Then, more editing.

It’s Valentine’s Day. Raegan Delaney Morrison is eagerly preparing to give her ten year-old heart away in the form of pink and red construction paper, Elmer’s glue, and a sequin for every thought she’s ever had about Christopher; he is the boy next door, and he’s been Raegan’s best friend since they were old enough to grab sand and make a meal of it.

With confidence, Raegan declares her love, certain Christopher must feel what she feels: tingles in his toes, butterflies in his stomach, and this magnificent all over sickness that sort of feels like the flu. And Raegan knows that once their ardency is out in the open, the sooner they can get to the good stuff: holding hands at school, sharing pudding, discussing who they’ll invite to their zoo-themed wedding . . . there’s only one small problem.

When does anything in life ever go according to plan?

A bewildered Raegan is left to confront the first of—what will inevitably be many—life’s cruelties. But perhaps not all on her own.

When Raegan meets Sue for the first time, she doesn’t comprehend the rarity sitting before her, disguised in dirty flesh and bones; all she knows for certain is there is something very different about Sue. What appears to be written and resolute to minds awakened by judgment, remains clean and potential to a child’s uncluttered eyes. Raegan is drawn to Sue; into her world without walls.

7. Who is your favorite literary character? Schmendrick the Magician, from The Last Unicorn. He is wildly inept and audacious, floundering through life with a gentle sense of humor that completely absolves him of any flaws. He is also kind and noble and slightly ornery, and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for his friends. For these reasons he is one hundred percent awesome. If you have not read this book, oh goodness, I can’t even. I can’t. Just. Go.

8. What is your favorite book of all time? Well . . . but in addition to The Last Unicorn, Outlander is a very close second. Diana Gabaldon’s cast is compromised of the richest, most fleshy characters I have ever come across. They literally leap off the page into my mind. That is not hyperbole. I dream about them. I imagine what it might be like to know Jamie and Claire, to have them as friends. I think my husband and I would get along famously with them. We might never cease laughing. And the writing, the writing is so flawlessly beautiful, sometimes I have no choice but to lay the book on my abdomen, close my eyes, and thank God for creating people devoted to making art with their words. When I read Diana’s art, I am transported.

heart_tree_res9. Who inspires you? Sometimes I feel like I might explode from all the inspiration. Nature, music, books, animals – these all inspire me. I am inspired by the soldiers defending our country. I am inspired by my dog’s unconditional, unwavering loyalty. I am inspired mothers forsaking every comforting liberty, all in the same of raising healthy, intelligent, kind human beings. I am inspired by my husband, who spends his days helping children with special needs function in system not built for their hearts and heads. Mostly I am inspired by Jesus. By His love. That He came as a needy infant, then spread His body on a cross and died the most excruciating death known to man, so I and everyone else could be set free from this brutal life which would otherwise keep me frightened and paralyzed and unable to love myself and love people. I am in awe of my Savior.

10) Is there anything you would like to share with our readers? Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And I would love to meet you. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a note on Goodreads. I hang out there a lot.

And thank you, Lynn, for having me, for writing up such lovely, thoughtful, in depth questions, and for all the cheek-crimsoning accolades for Awakening Foster Kelly. I am honored to be here and so pleased to have met you!

**** The first 10 chapters of Awakening Foster Kelly are available for free on Noise Trade.****   http://books.noisetrade.com/cararosalieolsen/awakening-foster-kelly-excerpt

 

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If you missed our review of Awakening Foster Kelly you can find it here.

Author Interview Sydney Lane

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Thank you so much for talking with us today. I want to start out by saying I really enjoyed Choices and how pleasantly surprised I was to love Fate even more. Hearing the story from Brody’s point of really drew me in.

Our first set of questions are what we like to call

Letsbreaktheice

 

 

They are silly and will allow our readers to get to know you.

1. Do you like your ice crushed or cubed?

Crushed

2. If you were a fairy tale character who would you be?Belle2  

I’d like to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast – she has the best story for taming the bad guy 🙂

3. Do you kill bugs or set them free?

 I’m a killer. Gut instinct.

4. If you could go to the past or the future, where would you go and why?

tumblr_lx23ucg9uh1qjghrxo1_500I would love to travel to the past, maybe the 1920s because I feel as if the world was just coming into its own. It was pre-depression, and the feminist and equality movements were just on the verge of happening. It would have been nice to see the things that make this country what it is today.

 

5. If you weren’t human what would you be?

Ummmm…. this is a hard one. I think I’d like to be a vampire. I’m obsessed with them right now!

Now the series questions

1. Did you always know that Quincy would end up with Brody or was there a certain point where it hit you?

This is a great question because many people would never guess that I originally wrote the book with the intention that she ended up with Declan!!! My friends and faithful beta readers wouldn’t hear of it!

2. What would you say to people who feel Quincy was playing both boys?

I would ask that they keep in mind that she was an 18 year old girl with a lot of baggage. She had a lot of growing up to do!

3. We know that essentially Quincy is based on you.  How hard was it for you to write the scene where her sister has committed suicide and why did you feel it was important?

 It was hard, harder than I imagined it would be. I think I just wanted people to see how your decisions affect those around you. I also wanted to show that you never know what is going on in someone’s life, so you should never judge people based on appearances. 

4. I have to say I was rooting for Brody the whole book and sometime just wanted to slap some sense into Quincy.  What would you say to the people who felt she made the wrong decision?

I felt the same way when I was writing it! Believe me when I say that characters sometimes take on their own personality and kind of write their own story. I mean, Quincy really was wishy-washy, but again, she was only 18 years old. I would say that although Declan was a great guy, he deserved someone who only wanted him. He deserved better.

5. What should we expect from Patience?

I know it is Eric and Jenna’s story, but are there any surprises? I wrote a really fun novella for them. It’s a story about their first few months together, and I wanted it to be a really light read. After Choices and Fate, I thought we needed a little fun! I plan another novella for Eric and Jenna that chronicles their wedding, honeymoon, etc.

6. What are you working on now?

DECLAN!!!  He deserves a happily ever after, and I’m trying to get one for him. His book is called Hope, and I’m really having a good time with it.

7. Tell us a little bit about your cover art.  Who designed it? 

All of my covers have been designed by MSA Photography (Melissa Storm Allen). She does a great job, and I trust her to make the characters come to life. The photos were taken right here in TN, and I am in love with them!

ChoicesFate CoverPatience Cover

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your time.

Thanks for asking! I hope you enjoy Jenna and Eric’s story!

Interview with Elle Lothlorien

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First off thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview.  

You’re very welcome. I appreciate the opportunity.

Our first set of questions are what we call LetsbreaktheiceThey are silly and will allow our readers to get to know you.

A perfect way to cull the herd. If they haven’t run screaming from the room after reading my first answer, they may just be my kind of people.

1.  Crushed or cubed?

Phineas_gage_-_1868_skull_diagramI’m assuming we’re talking about ice here, right? In that case, my response is “neither.” You remember in elementary school when you learned about Phineas Gage, the 19th century railroad worker who accidentally blew an iron rod through his head, obliterating most of the left frontal lobe of his brain—but who lived to tell the tale? Well, when any ice-cooled liquid touches my front teeth, I empathize with Phineas Gage in a way that I’m certain nature and history never intended.

Now, if you’re referring to ex-husbands, I prefer them crushed flat, the way they do at junkyards with cars that have outlived their usefulness and no one wants anymore.

 

 

2.  If you were a fairy tale character who would you be?Ballgowns

Whichever one is wearing the biggest hoop skirt, honey.

3. Do you kill bugs or set them free?

It depends on the bug and where they are in relation to my person. For the most part, I have a “live and let live” policy when it comes to insects…unless you’re a spider; then you’re as good as dead.

That’s because when I was in my early 20s, I ran calls with a fire & rescue department for six years. On one fateful night, we were dispatched to a call at 3am. I was still only half-awake when I pulled on my boot. A second later, it felt like a bee had stung the top of my foot. I tore the boot off just in time to see a spider leisurely strolling out of it. It was too dim in the bunkroom to see what kind of spider it was, but my foot swelled up like a balloon, and it felt like it was being spit-roasted over open coals for the next two days.

The moral of this story is this: Before donning any type of footwear you can’t see the bottom of, one should be sure to turn it upside down, shake it around, and smack it against a brick wall a few times. At that point, it’s safe to pretend to give said shoes to a friend, suggesting that they try them on immediately “for size.” After your friend has successfully arachno-tested them, seize them and put them back on your feet where they belong. If, however, a spider weathers the shoe storm and actually manages to bite your friend, comfort her by telling her that the odds are excellent that she will walk away from the situation with superhero powers. Or at least the ability to glow in the dark (which would be kewl at dance clubs under white lights and stuff).

4. If you could go to the past or the future, where would you go and why?

Definitely the future, but it would depend on whether or not I could control both the time and the physical destination I was traveling to. Knowing my luck, I’d end up like Guy Pearce’s character in the movie “The Time Machine,” where he’s knocked unconscious inside the time machine and flops over the steering wheel, leaving the thing careening wildly out of control—all the way to the year 800,000—arriving just in time to see what remains of humanity trying to eat each other. (Good luck finding spare parts for your flux capacitor now, big guy.)

As for the past, I refuse to consider traveling to any date before the invention of antibiotics (circa 1932).

Also, no to the 1970s. Because disco.

5. If you could have one superpower what would it be?

In general, I’m leery of superpowers of any kind. That’s because no matter how careful you are to keep your x-ray vision or superhuman strength a secret, someone—probably the one person you love and trust most in the world—will inevitably out you. And once you’ve been yanked out of that phone booth, Clark Kent, there ain’t no going back in it.

Also, superpowers go hand-in-hand with disastrous fashion choices that seem to inspire unfortunate fads such as Underoos.

 

Our Serious Questions

1. When did you realize you wanted to reinvent the classic fairy tale?

Reinventing fairy tales actually happened by accident. In 2009, I saw a 60 Minutes-type show about people who are technically next in line to a throne somewhere in the world—Ethiopia, Russia, Greece, Albania. The only problem, of course, is that those countries no longer have monarchies. That same year, I read an article about a group in France called “Monarchists” who were lobbying to reinstate the monarchy there (with obvious positive implications for guillotine manufacturers everywhere).

2013-08-06 Frog Prince w 3pt border NO TAGIn any case, those two stories planted the seed that led to the premise for The Frog Prince, in which a Denver sexuality researcher, Leigh Fromm, meets the man who would have been the king of Austria—if the monarchy there hadn’t been abolished in 1918. The title of the novel comes from the Brother’s Grimm fairy tale of the same name about a girl who kisses a frog and turns him into a real prince. Leigh Fromm is a woman who is a little on the quirky side, and isn’t quite sure what to do with the would-have-been King of Austria when he pursues her.

2013-08-06 Sleeping Beauty w 3pt border NO TAG

When I came up with the idea for my second book about a young woman with a sleep disorder called Klein-Levin Syndrome, aka “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome,” I didn’t have to agonize over what to call it. (Seriously, what else could it be called besides “Sleeping Beauty”?) It wasn’t until I was halfway through writing Sleeping Beauty that I realized that I had stumbled on a potential franchise of sorts; namely, the reinvention of classic fairy tales.

2.  We all love Leigh Fromm [in The Frog Prince and Gilding the Lily-pad]. How did you come up with her character?

It wasn’t that difficult; Leigh Fromm is the most autobiographical character I’ve ever written. Today, we might say that Leigh has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism that can include, among many other things, a higher-than-average IQ, significant difficulties with social interactions (such as blurting out inappropriate things or random facts, or struggling with “small talk”), problems interpreting nonverbal communication  (such as  facial expressions or body language), and a tendency towards hyper-logical thought processes. It wasn’t until my son was diagnosed with the disorder at age four that I realized that it runs in my family. (Thanks, Dad).

2013-08-06 Gilding the Lily-pad w 3pt border NO TAGAs a child, social dynamics were an utter mystery to me, and I tended to have very few friends. When the hormones hit at around age 12 or 13, turning me into a boy crazy teenager, I became hyper-aware that, regardless of my largely acceptable physical appearance, I was a walking, talking, breathing, man-repellent. (Seriously, my idea of “small talk” at a kegger was something along the lines of, “So, what are your thoughts on the war in Bosnia?”)

So I embarked on a decade-long People Study, which basically involved me closely observing others as they talked and interacted. Eventually, I developed dozens of what are called “social scripts,” which enabled me to engage in conversations by basically choreographing them in advance. Ironically, all those years spent listening to people talk to one another has resulted in my ability to write pretty decent dialogue (even if I’ll never be the world’s most brilliant conversationalist).

I like to think that Leigh Fromm was attracted to the field of sexuality research for the same reason that insane people often choose a career in psychiatry: the hope of self-diagnosis and treatment. In short, Leigh’s trying to figure out why she attracts men, but can’t seem to attach them.

3. What should we expect for Leigh in The Frog King?

2013-12-23 Frog King

While much of The Frog Prince (and the companion novel, Gilding the Lily-pad) takes place in the U.S., The Frog King is set exclusively in Austria. Leigh, now reunited with her lover, Roman Lorraine von Habsburg, is desperately trying to find her footing in a country that has, thus far, been less than welcoming. Everyone’s favorite characters—The Countess, Kat, Christine, Menen, Jason, Princess Isabella of Denmark—are back for the sequel, with one or two new quirky cast members whose antics will leave you laughing until your sides ache.

In the original draft of The Frog Prince, there was a scene where Roman and Leigh joined her parents for Thanksgiving dinner. Although it was funny, it didn’t really serve any real purpose plot-wise, so I edited it out of the final version of the book. Although there are brief “walk on” references to Leigh’s parents in The Frog Prince and Gilding the Lily-pad, they remain something of a mystery. In The Frog King, readers will truly “meet” Leigh’s parents for the first time.

4.  Is there anything else you can tell us about The Frog King?

When I wrote The Frog Prince, I knew that a lot of the story would be set in Vienna, Austria. And while I was born in Germany and lived in Italy as a teenager for several years, I’ve never spent more than a day in Vienna (and then only overnight on the way to skiing in the Alps with my parents). As a financially struggling, single mother back in 2009, an exploratory trip to Austria was about as feasible as a trip to the moon, so I did what all writers do in such cases: I researched as much as I could, kept the characters indoors as much as possible (in this case, inside Schönbrunn Palace), and simply made up the rest.

Schonbrunn

Almost as soon as The Frog Prince became a bestseller in 2010, readers began clamoring for a sequel. One of the reasons I resisted was because I knew that there was no way I could pull off writing an entire novel set in a foreign country without going there and seeing it for myself. So in December, I spent ten whirlwind days in Vienna, “doing research” for The Frog King. (Hey, it’s a tough job, but some poor sucker has to do it.) While there, I had the very great privilege of being taken on a six-hour, behind-the scenes, private tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the royal residence in The Frog Prince and Gilding the Lily-pad. Walking through rooms that you’ve only written about but have never seen for yourself is a surreal experience, to say the least. Every time I turned a corner, I felt like I was going to run into one of the characters in the books!

5. Did you ever imagine there would be a Frog Nation?

Short answer: Never-ever.

Mad HatterLonger answer: Sure, every author hopes that their books will be appreciated, but I never suspected that The Frog Prince would resonate with fans the way that it did. The “Frog Nation” (a term coined by a fan on Facebook and quickly adopted by the rest) is essentially made up of the aggregate of my Number One Fans. I interact with the Frog Nation every day on Facebook, and while our conversations are mostly of the funny and entertaining variety, these are the people I turn to when I’m in need of anything—beta-readers (fans who read a novel as I’m writing it and provide feedback), a reality check, a laugh, or even a little bit of encouragement. They are fiercely loyal, and I am incredibly fortunate to have such a dedicated fan base. Sure, they’re all a little insane, but that’s why my Facebook page is nicknamed “the Tea Party.” There’s always a place to sit and the kettle’s always on, but bring your own tea if you know what I’m sayin’.

6. Are you still thinking about writing a sequel to Alice in Wonderland?

2013-08-06 Alice in Wonderland w 3pt border NO TAGAbsolutely. For those not in the know, Alice in Wonderland was based in part on a two-week trip to Australia that I took in August of 2012, and was heavily inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. Writing “my Alice” was more like recounting a vacation to a friend than actual work.

Before I’d even published Alice, I knew I’d circle back at some point to write Through the Looking Glass. I just never realized how long it would take to get back to the project!Through the Looking Glass NO TAG

Through the Looking Glass will pick up where Alice left off, namely with Alice Faye Dahl and Lapin “Rabbit” Montgomery setting off on their “very important date.” While the focus of Alice in Wonderland was professional poker, Through the Looking Glass will explore the world of professional chess. (Anyone who’s read Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There will understand the inspiration for the chess plot.)

7. I know you have been writing Rapunzel on and off for a little while now.  Do you hope to be finished with it soon?

2013-09-17 RapunzelWhile I’ve never kept it a secret (and have often written about it), many of your readers may not be aware that I have a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. Essentially, my body has difficulty regulating my sleep/wake cycle to the point that no matter how long I’m asleep, I never wake up feeling rested the way a person without narcolepsy would. As a result, I don’t have as many productive hours in a day as other people do. So while my mind is always sprouting new ideas for future books, there are simply not enough productive hours in each day for me to write them as quickly as I would like.

Poor Rapunzel is just one of the casualties of my ongoing battle with narcolepsy, but that was actually only half of the problem for this particular book. The novel is set in England, and despite intensive research on my part, the writing was going slowly (and, quite frankly, turning into an enormous chore that I began to dread every day). After finishing about one-third of it, I realized that a trip to England would be the only thing that would reignite the passion I felt for the story, the only thing that would make it truly come alive on the page. With any luck, I’ll be making that trip this summer. I’m reluctant to even hint at a publication date, but I can promise you that I have not abandoned the novel.

8. Have you ever thought of writing a book where the main character has some of your “Dating Experiences”?

By “experiences,” I’m assuming that you’re referring to the trail of dating detritus I’ve left in my wake in the last four months—experiences that I’ve faithfully chronicle on Facebook. My most recent tragedy involved the guy who got totally hammered on our first (and only) date and then, over the next hour, proceeded to tell me about why he and his ex-wife couldn’t conceive. (Helpful hint: his sperm weren’t “swimmers.”)

I actually thought my dating stories would make for a pretty funny TV series. In fact, fellow-author, friend, and business partner Isobel Irons and I recently drafted a treatment for such a show. As much as I want to, I really can’t add much more than that because we’re currently shopping it around in the hopes that someone in Hollywood will take a chance on it. Fingers crossed!

9.  What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

It’s okay if you hate writing, as long as writing loves you.

To tell you the truth, I never wanted to be a writer. And since we’re being all “truthy,” I’ll admit that I actually hate writing. However, once I opened a laptop in the winter of 2000 and began my first book, I couldn’t seem to find a way to stop. As the eminently wise and talented Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” (For more information on the blood, sweat and tears that await the foolish, aspiring writer, see my blog on this topic: “If This Is Love, Then Why Am I Laboring?”)

That said, it’s hard to complain too much when your Day Job consists of waking up, shuffling to your computer in your PJs and bunny slippers, and making stuff up all day.

10.  Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?Bacon sleeping

The more I date, the more I appreciate the company of my dog, Bacon Bourgeois, Legendary Wiener. Unlike most men, he is quiet, sober, portable, and always happy to see me.

Also, many of my books—which are regularly priced between $4.99 and $5.99—will be available for 99¢ at various times over the next few weeks on Amazon, so snap them up while you can!

Alice in Wonderland: February 15, 2014

Sleeping Beauty: February 22, 2014

Our list of review Elle Lothlorien Books

Sleeping Beauty

The Frog Prince

Alice in Wonderland

Author Interview with Shannon A Thompson

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Blackout_AuthorIntWe have a great interview with author Shannon A Thompson to share with you.  We just reviewed Minutes Before Sunset and her new novel Seconds Before Sunrise will be out on March 27th.  We are really excited to find out what happens.  Read our review to find out why.  It’s a great book.  Our first questions are silly ones but she gave us great answers to all of our questions.  She has an amazing website with tons of information.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring writer or an avid reader who wants to know how authors do what they do, her website has great information.  If you have fun questions that you would like to see us add to our list of icebreakers send them to us.  We would love to see them.  Now, our interview with Shannon A. Thompson.
 Letsbreaktheice
 
1. Do you kill bugs or set them free?
 
“Depends on the bug? Lady bugs must be set free. Wasps must be vacuumed with the hose from a distance.” 
 
2. If you weren’t human what would you be?
 
“Oh! Now that is a question. I think a magical, forest creature of some sort – as long as I was also nocturnal.”  
 
merlot_image3. What is your favorite color?
 
“A deep red, like Merlot. I actually painted my bedroom in college this color, and I matched it with black and gold furniture with black and white posters from my favorite 50’s movies.” 
 
4.  If you were a fairy tale character who would you be?
 
“I grew up with the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, so I’m not sure I would want to be one of those characters. They always end up dismembered. But if I could choose from Disney, I think Mulan is my favorite (although the legend of Hua Mulan is very different from the Disney version.) I’m starting to think that I’m over-thinking this.” 
 
5. If you were that fairy tale character fighting a dragon and the dragon gave you a choice between saving your love and saving a nearby village from its wrath which would you choose?
 
“I would save my love, because I would’ve already saved the village people – making the village empty and only houses would be destroyed. (See? Happy endings.)” 
 
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1.  Why did you choose to write about Shades?
 
“Well, for one, I like writing about creatures beyond the norm, and the shades were based off of what I saw in the dreams I based the novel off of. I wasn’t sure what to call them, but I ultimately decided on shades when writing the second novel. I actually explained my decision on my website” here: http://shannonathompson.com/2013/09/16/writing-tips-creating-the-paranormal/ where I discuss the method of combining old tales with new ideas in order to create a refreshing twist on overused creatures.
 
2. In your book the Shades have a human form.  Were you worried that would be confusing to the reader?
 
“I think most authors are worried about everything being confusing to the reader, but I trust the reader. Of course, juggling two identities with every character wasn’t easy when writing, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy when reading it, but sometimes that is the point – the challenge yourself and the reader to focus on the separation of identities in order to grasp what the trilogy is stating about identity in general.”
 
3. What do you hope your readers take away from this series?
 
“Other than being entertained, I hope readers can relate to the characters and appreciate the challenge of stereotypes and archetypes. For instance, light is normally good, and dark is bad, but I flipped them. I wanted readers to ask, “Why do we continue to use these same symbols in our literature over and over, and do we have to continue using them?” In terms of stereotypes, I wanted to create characters that teens could relate to in order to find comfort in their own identity. For instance, Crystal dresses in a style most would consider “punk,” but she is ambitious and girly in her own way. I wanted readers to see themselves – or their classmates – in that. A punk doesn’t have to be this “negative punk.” A punk can be a hardworking student that goes to prom.” 
 
4. How is writing a series different than writing a stand alone novel?
 
“I wrote about this on my website, too. I do a lot of writing, editing, and publishing tips. But, anyway, here’s the link: http://shannonathompson.com/2013/09/05/writing-tips-sequel-trilogy-series-etc/ I think both require a lot of attention and planning, but a series is much longer, and they must tie together, which can add complications. I enjoy writing both, but I recommend new writers to begin with a stand-alone novel before moving onto series.”
 
5. What can you tell us about book two in The Timely DeathSeconds Before Sunrise Trilogy?
 
“Seconds Before Sunrise releases on March 27, 2014. While the first book was focused on being in the Dark, this novel will revolve around what it is like to be human in a paranormal world. But don’t worry! There’s plenty of action, romance, and twists ready to be revealed and explored. I will give you one hint: the novel takes place from the middle of August to the middle of December.” 
 
6. Who is your favorite author?
 
“That is an impossible question, but I will try to narrow it down to a few. Billy Collins is my favorite poet, and Cassandra Clare is my current obsession within the YA genre (but I also LOVE Lauren Oliver and Meg Cabot and…okay, I could go on forever.)”
 
7. What books have influenced you and your work?
 
“I wouldn’t say that any specific books have influenced my work, but I would say that an abundance of reading all different kinds of novels inspired me to write in a variety of genres. That being said, I always admired Meg Cabot’s young-adult fiction. She isn’t afraid of breaking boundaries with her protagonists, allowing them to be both tough and girly, intellectual and human, as well as many other things.”  
 
8. What has writing taught you about yourself?
 
“Writing has allowed me to realize what is most important in this world: helping and inspiring others. I always thought my dream was to be a published author, but that happened, and I knew that wasn’t the main goal I was working toward. Ultimately, I dream of being able to open an affordable art school. It may not be accredited, but I think it would be better if it was simply a place where new artists could meet acclaimed artists in their field – like networking – and grow with their art in order to make it into a career at an earlier age.” 
 
9. What has it taught you about life?
 
“Life is short. I know. I know. How cliche. But there’s a reason it’s cliche – it’s true. 
My love for writing was only taken seriously after my mother died, and I knew I had to spend my life spreading the love for achieving dreams, because – quite frankly – I won’t be here forever, but art will be. It may not be my art – but if I can influence another artist to try, I think my life will be worth it. Art is immortal, and it teaches the soul to those of the future.”
 
ShannonAThompson10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
“My mantra is “Write with passion; succeed with self-discipline.” It helps me get through the bad and the good days. It’s okay if you have to remind yourself how much you love what you do; you just have to keep doing it. It may take years, even decades, but following your dreams is worth more than wondering what it would be like to try.”  
 
11. Is there anything that you would like to share with our readers?
“My website – http://shannonathompson.com – includes writing, publishing, and editing tips, but I’m here to help anyone! I’m also giving away free copies of Minutes Before Sunset in exchange for an honest review. Feel free to email me at any time with questions or comments (or even just to chat.) I’m at shannonathompson@aol.com. I would love to hear from you!”
We would like to thank Shannon A. Thompson for taking the time to answer our questions.  Don’t forget to pick up Minutes Before Sunset.
Wine Glass Image: Red Red Wine by Theswedish from freeimages.com
All images of Shannon A Thompson can be found on the authors web site.