#SerendipiTEA Tour & Giveaway featuring Meg Eden and POST HIGH-SCHOOL REALITY QUEST

Meg Eden

Today I’m participating in something special, a blog tour that pairs several authors with their new books and specially chosen teas that match some aspect of the books being featured.  I may not be much of a tea drinker but this sounded like so much fun, I had to participate!

I was paired up with Meg Eden, the author of Post High-School Reality Quest, which is a very interesting piece that explores being a nerdy girl written in the style of a text adventure game.

Here’s what Meg had to say about her tea and her book!  And don’t forget to check out the other participants in the tour (links below) and the giveaway where you can win some of the teas and books from the tour!!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Release Day Blitz : The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

 

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about THE GREAT PURSUIT by Wendy Higgins, which is available today, and I’m so excited to share the news with all of you!
 
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Wendy Higgins, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for some amazing prizes! So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
 
Title: THE GREAT
PURSUIT (Eurona Duology #2)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Pub. Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 512
Formats: Hardcover, eBook,
audiobook
In The Great Pursuit, the dramatic sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins delivers another thrilling fantasy filled with dangerous enemies, political intrigue, searing romance, and a princess who is willing to do everything to protect her kingdom. 
One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continues.
The kingdom of Lochlanach has traded the great beast that once terrorized
the realm of Eurona for something far more dangerous: the ire of powerful
Lashed woman Rosaria Rocato. Rosaria demands that Eurona overturn the laws
prohibiting magic, or an innocent will be killed each day.
Despite the king’s resistance, Princess Aerity believes they must make
peace with the Lashed, and though she’s accepted a betrothal to the man who
took down the beast, she cannot help thinking about Paxton, the Lashed man who
stole her heart and disappeared.
Aerity soon discovers that Paxton has joined Rosaria’s army in the war
against her family. Though her feelings for him are still strong, her duty to
her kingdom and her family is stronger—especially when her parents are
kidnapped and she has to step up to the throne and once again put aside what’s
best for her in order to do what’s best for her people. Paxton and Princess
Aerity must fight to see what is more powerful: their love or the impending war
between the magical Lashed and the non-magic humans.
 
Grab the eBook 1 THE GREAT HUNT for just $1.99!
Excerpt


CHAPTER ONEA new beast roamed the kingdom of Lochlanach, killing at will. A second unnatural monster created by the hands of Rozaria Rocato, granddaughter of the most infamous and hated Lashed One of all time. Princess Aerity Lochson’s mind was a blur of piled-up worries as she rushed from High Hall of the castle, away from the frightened commoners and guests who’d come for her betrothal ceremony, and toward the office of her father, King Charles. She turned at the sound of heavy footsteps behind her and found both her childhood friend Lieutenant Harrison Gillfin and her betrothed, Lord Lief Alvi, following. Lord Alvi looked every bit the hero—his broad stature striking, with elk furs about his shoulders and a black kilt to his knees above leather boots. His blue eyes were filled with bright passion and hunger, but those emotions were not for her. They were for the beast. The new hunt.

He had killed the first creature, thereby earning her hand in marriage. The thought twisted Aerity’s stomach with discomfort and turned her mind to the man who’d disappeared weeks before when the beast was killed—the Lashed man who’d taken her heart with him and would likely never return. She clenched her jaw. This was no time to think of Paxton Seabolt or her drowned desires. The kingdom was suffering again—rendering everything she’d sacrificed to have been in vain.

Her eyes shifted from Lord Alvi’s to Harrison’s and found a fierce, protective comfort there. Harrison stood tall, lean, and capable. Never faltering. The thought of her noble friend fighting yet another beast filled her with sharp fear. So many lives had already been lost, including Harrison’s cousin Breckon, who’d been the true love of Aerity’s cousin Wyneth. Half a year was all it had taken to trample the dreams and futures of so many.

Aerity gave the men a nod to follow her. She lifted her long white skirts and moved quickly down the tapestry-lined hallway to her father’s office. Guards and soldiers ran past, shouting orders, fully armed with bows, swords, and lines of throwing daggers strapped across their uniformed tunics.

She opened the door without knocking. No fewer than twenty faces shot toward her. She recognized the burgundy red hair of her mother, along with her aunts and uncles, military elite, and royal advisers. Her father invited them in with a quick flick of his fingers.

When the door closed he asked her, “What is the state of things in High Hall?”

“The people seemed to have calmed for the moment, Father,” Aerity said. “And supper is being served.”

“Your daughter gave a rousing speech,” Lord Alvi pro- claimed in his rumbling voice. “She is to thank for the calm.” Aerity’s face flushed with heat at the unexpected compliment. Then he put a heavy hand on her shoulder and pulled her close. Aerity fought the urge to shrug away. For the sake of the kingdom, she had made a commitment to become his bride, and she would follow through regardless of what her heart wanted, and regardless of the fact that she was certain feelings had grown between Lief and Wyneth. “Did she?” The king’s eyes softened with pride, and her mother, Queen Leighlane, smiled at Aerity and Lief, no doubt thinking what a lovely couple they were. If she only knew.

Behind them Harrison cleared his throat. “Are we to begin hunting the creature, Your Majesty?”

King Charles nodded, his face lined with anxiety. “Aye. But most of the hunters have dispersed.” Or been killed, Aerity thought with sorrow, remembering the men who’d come from all over Eurona and even a huntress who’d lost her life.

“I can have a message sent to Tiern Seabolt,” Harrison said. “I’m certain he would return with haste.”

Aerity’s abdomen tightened. Tiern was Paxton’s younger brother. He’d nearly been killed by the first beast and had been saved by Paxton’s Lashed magic. It was the very reason Pax had fled the kingdom—using magic was illegal, even to heal. Aerity didn’t want Tiern to hunt again. She didn’t want Paxton’s sacrifice to have been a waste.

“And his older brother?” the king asked.

“Nay.” Harrison paused. “He disappeared after the hunt. We don’t know his whereabouts.”

“Must you call Tiern back?” Aerity asked. When her father’s eyebrows drew together she emended, “He’s . . . so young.”

“He’s the same age as you, Daughter,” the king reminded her. “Seventeen. A man who’s already proven himself in the hunt.” Aerity pressed her lips together and nodded. She could not keep Tiern safe any more than she could force Harrison to stay out of harm’s reach. Their heroic hearts would urge them forward.

“Can we send word to the Zandalee?” Aerity’s uncle Lord Wavecrest asked.

The king shook his head. “I’m afraid not this time. The letter from the Rocato woman stated that her creatures have now been released in all the lands of Eurona. The Zandalee will be needed to fight in their own drylands of Zorfina.”

A fearful silence fell over the room. Each kingdom was on its own with its own beasts to battle now. Lochlanach was a quaint kingdom of fishermen and crop villagers, farmers, that had enjoyed many years of peace. The people had risen together to fight the first beast, but how much more could the king expect from them? It was too much. To imagine this kind of horror inflicted on innocent people all over Eurona sickened Aerity.

“Perhaps another proclamation?” Lord Wavecrest suggested carefully. At this proposal from Aerity’s uncle, the men in the room glanced around at one another, and the hairs rose on the princess’s arms. The queen caught her daughter’s eyes, and they both went still.

The last proclamation had offered Aerity’s hand in marriage to whoever killed the beast. The only thing left to give was the second princess, Aerity’s fifteen-year-old sister, Vixie. Her father stared down at his desk.

“No.” Aerity stepped forward, out of Lord Alvi’s embrace, her body trembling. “You cannot offer Vixie’s hand.”

The king’s hazel eyes, filled with regret, rose to hers. “I have nothing left to give.” With Vixie’s hand would come her dowry of lands. Using Vixie as a prize would surely smother her soul. Aerity wouldn’t stand for it.

“And why should you oppose it?” her uncle Preston asked haughtily. “The first proclamation provided you with a fine match. It can do the same for Vixie.”

Aerity stilled, forcing back the torrent of words that flooded her mind: unfair, poor match, confinement, no joy, no love. She was to endure those things for her kingdom, but the thought of Vixie losing her freedom to choose her future . . . it gutted Aerity. She knew how it appeared to the world—that she’d landed a handsome, noble, brave lord—but the heart didn’t care about appearances. It wanted who it wanted.

“And then what?” Aerity asked. “Who shall we offer for the next beast, and the one after that? Your own Wyneth? Or perhaps six-year-old Merity?”

Lord Wavecrest scowled.

“Enough, Aerity,” Queen Leighlane said quietly. Aerity met her mother’s eyes and felt an understanding there. No one knew better than the two of them how this would crush Vixie’s spirit. These men couldn’t possibly understand.

“Vixie’s nearly sixteen,” Lord Wavecrest pressed. Aerity wanted to claw out his eyes and force him to stop speaking.

“A proclamation offering Vixie’s hand will be my very last resort,” King Charles said, standing taller. “It is my hope that the people will rise of their own free will to protect their families and lands as they did in the last hunt. I will not hinder them with further curfews.”

Lord Wavecrest shook his head and crossed his arms. Aerity breathed a temporary sigh of relief.

“Sire, we should address the other part of the Rocato woman’s letter.” This was from the king’s oldest adviser, Duke Gulfton. This duke had been the closest adviser to Aerity’s grandfather King Leon. His views on the Lashed were legendarily conservative and strict, and he was a proponent of keeping the Lashed lists up to date. All persons with Lashed capabilities and their families were notated in the records and checked regularly for markings.
The stooped man wore a sea-green robe around his shoulders and a perpetual serious frown on his face. He leaned on his cane. “We cannot do as the Rocato woman demands. We cannot burn our records of Lashed Ones in these lands, or give them rein to take over our kingdom.”

A few of the other older men murmured their agreement.

Harrison stepped forward. “What if we made a copy of the list? Then it wouldn’t matter if one was destroyed.”

“I’ve got scribes copying pages as we speak,” the king responded. “But the Rocato woman has called for the records to be burned by sundown. The copy won’t be complete. There are thousands of names.”

Thousands of persons with Lashed blood in Lochlanach. Amazing, Aerity thought. Only a small percentage of those on the list actually had magic, though. Paxton’s family was not on the list. Aerity wondered how many others of magical blood had been able to elude the system.

“How will the madwoman know the difference?” Duke Gulfton asked. “Burn papers to appease her, then kill her and her monsters once and for all. End of story.”

“Here, here!” a few men shouted, as if it were that simple. As if they wouldn’t have done it by now if they could.

The king’s jaw was set. “I have a terrible feeling this woman has eyes and ears everywhere.”

The room quieted and a sense of unease spread as heads turned and everyone eyed the others present. Her father’s council was a small group of family and a mere handful of wise advisers, all landowners, who’d been loyal to the kingdom since her grandfather ruled. She couldn’t imagine this group being compromised.

“With all due respect, gentlemen,” Lord Alvi said to the room, “we will find every beast and even Rocato herself, but we cannot guarantee immediate success. The last hunt took two months.”

“Aye,” Harrison added. “And she’s threatening to kill seven men each week.”

“You’ll have to work faster this time,” Duke Gulfton told them.

The room tensed. During the last hunt they’d had a hundred men. They’d sought the monster nearly ten hours a night and spent the days scouting and preparing. The lands of Lochlanach stretched far and wide. Yet people like Duke Gulfton were expecting a miracle of the sea.

Queen Leighlane cleared her throat. “The fact of the matter is that we’re going to have to at least put on a show of honoring her wishes. We need to buy time as we plan.”

Another elder, Duke Streamson, asked, “What are you proposing, Your Highness? Rocato is demanding that all Lashed be allowed to freely work magic.”

Magic that wasn’t all bad, Aerity thought. Magic that had saved Tiern and could save others. If only she could get them to embrace that.

“I have an idea.” Aerity’s brain whirred as all eyes turned to her. “What if we set up a public area just outside the royal lands and invited Lashed from throughout the kingdom to come, and any Unlashed who wishes to seek their healing can receive it?”

Duke Streamson made a choking sound. “Round up the people of Rocato to turn against us in one place? That’s precisely what she wants!”

Aerity rushed on. “I don’t believe all Lashed are ‘her people.’ The entire area would be heavily guarded so that if any Lashed got out of line, they could be dealt with immediately.” The old dukes scoffed at her.

One of the military advisers stepped forward. “Our numbers are not as large as they once were. Our troop sizes have been modest in the past fifty years. I’ve got to keep men patrolling the seas and borders, and we’ve lost many in the past months. I worry that a large-scale showing of the Lashed will bring crowds.”

The room broke out into fervent debate. Those who were against Aerity’s idea were adamant, passionate in their fears. Those in favor seemed on weak, shaky ground.

“Given permission to put their hands on innocent people, it could be a massacre!”

“What if the Lashed overwhelm our guards?”

“They’ll rise up throughout the lands!”

“. . . commoner revolts . . . war . . .”

Aerity felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Harrison, his light brown eyes showing the never-faltering respect he seemed to hold for her. She gave his hand a quick squeeze of gratitude before he released her. Aerity caught Lord Alvi watching the exchange with curiosity, so she turned her gaze forward again—she would let him think what he wanted.

“Enough!” King Charles’s voice silenced the room. “I will think on it. I must put safety first. I’m not ready to overturn our laws—” Aerity opened her mouth to argue that she wasn’t suggesting a complete overturn, but a one-time, enclosed, secure circumstance. Her father held up a hand to stop her. “This blasted parchment from Rozaria Rocato is bound to have our people in terror. If I take the stability of our rules away, it will cause chaos. Tonight on the lawn we will burn whatever pages my scribes have managed to copy, to keep Rozaria satisfied, but the original lists remain with us. I pray to the sea this works.”

He looked at the hunters. “Lord Alvi. Lieutenant Gillfin. Gather as many hunters as you can and begin hunting this new beast immediately.” They nodded and took their leave. Aerity watched them go, swallowing a dry lump in her throat. The king looked to his military advisers. “I want every soldier on duty, and round-the-clock patrolling of royal lands. I want Rozaria Rocato, dead or alive.” He turned to his top castle guard. “Send messengers to the other four lands to let them know of our new foe and to find out their circumstances.”

Without another word, the king swept from the room with Queen Leighlane and a line of advisers close behind.

Aerity felt the brush of velvet on her arm and peered

down at the old man beside her. It was Duke Gulfton, his eyes glistening. “I mean no disrespect, Princess, only a piece of advice. In times of fear and upheaval, absolute routine and stability in the law are called for. Any slight change can set the people off.”

“As I recall,” Aerity said steadily, “Mrs. Rathbrook healed your ailing heart last year.” Mrs. Rathbrook was the royal healer—the only Lashed allowed to work magic.

He grasped the top of his cane with both hands. “Aye.”

“Should we not allow the people of this land to benefit from magic as you have?”

He looked down at his hands, nodding solemnly. “Not all Lashed are as trustworthy as Mrs. Rathbrook. You saw the Rocato woman face-to-face. You know the evil of which she is capable.”

“I suppose everyone is capable of evil, Duke Gulfton. None of us is immune, Lashed or not. But I choose to believe the best in people until they show me otherwise.”

Duke Streamson, waiting in the doorway, cleared his throat. Duke Gulfton peered up at Aerity and patted her hand. “Once they show you otherwise, it is often too late. As a rule it is not safe to take such chances. Seas help Lochlanach in our time of need.”

As Duke Gulfton shuffled away, Aerity whispered in return. “Seas help us, indeed.”

About Wendy:

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.
 
Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University. She is represented by Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.
Giveaway Details:
 
(2) Winners will receive the grand prizes (The Great Hunt Paperback and The Great Pursuit hardback from HarperTeen, and signed swag from Wendy Higgins! Plus an ARC of ROAR by Cora Carmack!), US Only.

 

(5) Winners will receive signed sets of swag – International!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview and Giveaway: Joshua Khan

 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers and other internet folk!

Here’s a special holiday treat for all of you.  I was able to send some interview questions to Joshua Khan, author of the 2016 debut Shadow Magic, which I reviewed earlier this year.  I loved everything about this book, so I knew that I had to let the author know and find out about a sequel.  Luckily for us, he was willing to answer my questions and now I’m sharing them with you.  And he has some juicy tidbits strewn throughout, so make sure you read through all of them!

Continue reading

Giveaway and Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich #ReadThemAllThon

And the Trees Crept In

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
OK. First off, this was one of the books I chose for the #ReadThemAllThon featured by Read at Midnight.  If you remember, I picked it for the Cascade Badge as a book that might make me cry at instead of crying tears.  Well, it did both.
The story was intriguing, and the writing was well done.  However, I really struggled to finish this book.  I had picked it up because I loved Dawn Kurtagich’s debut book, The Dead House, from last year.  That book was borderline horror/thriller and was created using various media entries to draw a picture.  This book took a similar approach by utilizing poems, flashbacks, journal entries, and an unreliable/crazy narrator.
Unfortunately, And the Trees Crept In went too far down the horror path for my liking.  It made my stomach churn (physically not just mentally).  The story was enough to keep me going to the end (as well as the reading challenge), but this is not something that I will ever want to reread in the future.  It just… I don’t know, really upset my mental state, which is the exact opposite from the whole point of reading, for me anyway.
The ending was an interesting twist that, on one hand, I liked and it helped my mental disassociation for finishing.  On the other hand, it felt a little too much like a dream sequence.  (It wasn’t, in case you’re worried.)  But it did make it feel like I had wasn’t energy on the negative feelings for not a good reason.
I completely understand that these are my own feelings, and I know there are plenty of readers who will greatly enjoy and appreciate all the points I just listed as assets to the story.  Which is why I’m hosting a giveaway for an advanced uncorrected proof to one lucky reader!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summary:

A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead Houseauthor Dawn Kurtagich

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

 

And now for the Pokemon math!  I finished reading this book, which totals 35 CP for 352 pages + 20 CP for finishing + 20 CP for posting a review.  Add in the three Twitter posts, and I get another 6 CP.  For a final total of 81 CP, which brings my Dratini to 91 CP and on its way to evolving into a beautiful dragonair.

trainer

Next on my reading list is Sign of the Crescent by Debbie Federici and The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.  I hope these go more quickly, or I definitely won’t finish the challenge on time!

The Sight Blog Tour, Interview + Giveaway!

This week I’m participating in the Chloe Neill blog tour for her newest release, the sequel to The Veil.  And while I haven’t yet read this series, I’m super excited to pick it up very soon!  At the bottom of this post you’ll find the grand prize giveaway from Chloe Neill herself with lots of cool stuff.  Check it out!

thesight

Paperback
Expected publication: August 16th 2016 by NAL Trade

AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionIndiebound, or iBooks

The paranormal war that engulfed New Orleans seven years ago is over.  But the battle for the city is just beginning . . .

Claire Connolly is a Sensitive, infected with magic when the Veil that divides humanity from the world beyond fell. Magic can easily consume and destroy a Sensitive, and if Claire’s secret is discovered she’ll be locked into the walled district of Devil’s Isle along with every other Paranormal left in the city.

Bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered Claire’s secret, but refused to turn her in. Together they saved New Orleans from the resurgence of magic that nearly destroyed it. But now a dangerous cult is on the rise, and it will take both Claire and Liam—and magical allies within Devil’s Isle’s towering walls—to defeat the occult threat before magic corrupts them both…

I also had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Chloe Neill as part of this blog tour, and I’m excited to share her answers here!

Q: What was your inspiration for the Devil’s Isle series?

A: I have always loved New Orleans, and really wanted to set a series there. I’ve also been wanting to write a book with a southern gothic feel, and to explore the idea of a paranormal prison, where it’s sometimes not clear who our enemies are. THE VEIL was the result of blending up those ideas.

Q: How do you try to set your books apart from other titles in the genre?

A: I don’t think I consciously try to set my books apart. I do try, though, to be true to the characters and the setting.  I want people to get a sense of New Orleans, even if they’ve never been there, and to relate to the characters. I always try to be true to the characters, to make their actions and fears and joys be consistent with who they are.

Q: Why did you choose New Orleans for this series?

A: New Orleans is a very complicated city–with amazing food and architecture and culture, but also poverty and crime and corruption. I love to write about complicated cities (Chicago is one, too), as they give me a lot to work with.

Q: How many books are planned for Devil’s Isle?

A: There are three books under contract right now.

Q: What other projects are you working on right now?

A: I’m currently editing BLADE BOUND, the last Ethan and Merit Chicagoland vampires novel.  I’ll start writing PHANTOM KISS, next the January 2017 Ethan and Merit novella.  Also in the works is my new Chicagoland Vampires spinoff!

Thanks for having me!

The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter Chloe’s Grand Prize Giveaway, which will run August 8 through August 19 on Chloe’s web site.

What’s included in the Grand Prize Giveaway?

 

Author Interview and Giveaway: Sara Wilson Etienne

Sara Wilson Etienne

Some of you may remember my post about Lotus and Thorn from early June, where I promised an interview with the author.  Well, here it is!  And, I decided to include a giveaway for 1 hardcover copy of Lotus and Thorn, and Sara has graciously agreed to sign a bookplate to accompany it!  (You can find the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post.)

I wanted to interview this author for a couple of reasons.  1) I had some questions that needed answers, and I thought other readers might want to know those answers as well.  2) This book was fabulous, and I wanted to keep the conversation going.  Sara Wilson Etienne is definitely high on my watch list now, as I’m eagerly hoping for more novels set in the universe of Lotus and Thorn.

Interview:

  1. What was your inspiration for Lotus and Thorn?

I tend to collect bits of books like puzzle pieces. I’m not always sure where the pieces fit until a couple of them suddenly click together. At the time I started Lotus and Thorn, I’d been carrying around one piece of the puzzle for a few years… a fascination with courtesans— particularly the Renaissance women of Venice who cultivated money and power by becoming the lovers of influential men.

A few years later, I read an article about hikikomori and I knew I had another piece of the puzzle. Hikikomori are teenagers in Japan—mostly boys— who lock themselves away in their rooms for months, sometimes years, away from the pressures of the real world, and withdrawing from society. So with those two pieces, I knew the questions I wanted to explore with this book—and for me writing is all about asking questions.

My first question was: what happens when the only option available to women is to marry or to cultivate power with their bodies? (What does that power look like? How does that power relate to strong women and girls in our world now?)

Second, what sort of intense pressures are necessary to make a teenage boy—with his whole life ahead of him—turn his back on the world?

Third, what would a world look like where both these elements, both these characters, could exist and interact with each other?

I didn’t want to write historical fiction and this story doesn’t belong in present day. So I reached into the future and created the sci-fi world of Lotus and Thorn. I used the Grimms’ fairy tale structure to lend a sense of timelessness and fantasy to the technologically advanced planet of Gabriel. There’s a lot of bloodshed in the book, but it also mirrors the bloodiness of the original Grimms’ fairy tale. All in all, my hope is that Lotus and Thorn feels like a new story with an old soul.

Lotus and Thorn

 

  1. Why Fitcher’s Bird? What drew you to this fairy tale?

Well, I actually started the book—in the early, early drafts—using a bunch of different fairy tales. Leica would read bits and pieces of them to Edison as the book progressed. At that point, I was still working out what the fairy tale aspect brought to the book. But when I read Fitcher’s Bird, I knew what I needed to do. It’s so different than most of the stories. First of all, it has such a strong female lead. I alter or omit some details in my retelling, but I didn’t touch that aspect of the story…she already kicks ass and takes names.

And it’s not just that she’s brave and clever and saves her sisters… there is a wonderful twisted sense of humor in that story. Like how the sister putting a wedding veil on one of the skulls in the window and everyone comments on how happy the grinning bride-skull looks. That is awesome. This fairy tale has a spark to it that brought something new to my story… a framework and grim humor I’d been looking for. And it click into place so perfectly with the world I already was building. I suppose it was another puzzle piece!

Image from Arthur Rackham

 

  1. Did you read many fairy tales when you were younger?

I remember I had a Fisher Price record player and they used to make these kid’s records with scenes on them… I had this one about a girl who lived in an scallop shell that I listened to over and over. But I have to say, I didn’t have an obsession with fairy tales in particular… I just loved fantasy and science fiction. Especially whenever the mystery and magic intersected with our own world. For example, Where the Wild Things Are. Or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Or Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater. Deep Magic by Diana Wynne Jones. Even books like The Westing Game or The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler have an element of the fantastical and the mysterious in our own world. These are the kinds of stories I love, stories that give us a “world of more”… and most fairy tales fit right into that mix. Real, but not real.

 

  1. Do you have any more books planned after Lotus and Thorn?

I can’t say too much about this topic right now… however I will say that this world and those characters grabbed onto me and I haven’t been able to shake them. Nor do I want to!

More Cliff Stock 138 by The-strawberry-tree

Stock photo from the-strawberry-tree
  1. What made you decide to end on such a huge cliffhanger/reveal?

Well, the cliffhanger was a bit of a surprise to me too! As a reader, I don’t always love it when an author does that. But when I was writing that final scene with Leica and Nik and the Pup sleeping out under the stars, it just happened. I saw the helicopters coming up over the mountains. I heard the thrumming as they flew closer and saw the sunrise glaring off the blades and felt my heart start to pump faster! It was such a visceral writing experience that I felt compelled to keep the scene like that, despite any objections my “reader” self might have put forth.

The thing is that I’ve always known the Big Picture of what this world looks like; so with this reveal, it was only a question how much Leica would find out and how much she would understand of what was going on in the outside world. So for me, the helicopters felt like a satisfying taste of what lay beyond those mountains.

  1. Did you do any research for this book?

So much research!! I’m a scientist at heart—studied biology and ecology through most of college—so I love the research aspect so writing. But this book was intense! Figuring out ecosystems—what would grown in the desert, in the Dome. Figuring out what would still be around after 500 years and what would have broken down. Future technology, like 3D food printers or swarm robotics or solar glass. Cultures. Clothing. And I definitely pulled in wonderful writers and super smarties to help me along the way as well. I had people vet the book for medical/genetics issues, whether the radio/tech stuff made sense in practice and/or theory, for cultural/language/accessibility/diversity issues. There are obviously many, many things in Lotus and Thorn that don’t exist in our world and I’m sure there are lots of discrepancies, but I tried to ensure that the theories and concepts behind my world make sense. And that the real-world issues at play—from growing seasons to transmitting radio signals—functioned correctly.

 

  1. How do you overcome writer’s block?

Mostly I simply try to keep writing on a daily basis, even if it’s for as little as 15 minutes. Something that is routine has less chance of being daunting. I also try to end a writing session a little ways into a new scene, or even in the middle of one…anywhere but the end… so that the next day I’m not coming back to a blank page.

  1. Why did you decide to include Kisaengs in your world?

As I said earlier, I was fascinated by the idea of Venetian courtesans. At the beginning, I struggled with the appropriateness of this subject in a YA book. But then I realized that was exactly where this belongs. Even today, so often teenage girls and young women are taught to use their bodies and appearances as tools of power. You only need to look at magazine racks full of fashion and dating tips to see this. 10 ways to win a guy! 12 dresses that’ll make him look twice! Kisaengs are far removed from the canals of Venice, or from our present day world, but it was their physicality—appearances, bodies, sexuality— that allowed them to escape the desperation of Pleiades. I wanted the reader to explore Leica’s own struggle with this dilemma and with her own sense of power.

 

9. Are you working on any other projects right now?

I am! I’m working on several projects that I love. It takes me a while to puzzle my way through my books, so I find that sometimes, working on multiple projects can help me move forward a little faster. I really wish I could talk about them, but for now I’ll just share that I’m having fun putting all the pieces together!

And here’s the promised giveaway!  I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did!

a Rafflecopter giveaway