Teaser Tuesday (July-5)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Should Be Reading. Share the title and author, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!!!

Undertow by Cherry Adair

Z: “I can’t see those three little old ladies taking a midnight dive any more than I could see them partying down with the bimbos.”
T: “Well, it was either the Sea Witch or whoever’s on that Power Cruiser. I didn’t see anyone from the Good Fortune crew at the party, did you?”
Z: “The Good Fortune? Are you sure? That was the name of an eighteenth-century pirate ship.”

Five Blacktip sharks were circling her in a slow macabre dance that turned his body to ice. 

 Previous Teasers: June-1,  June-2June-3June-4, July-2

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Writerly Questions with David Wilton

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

Summer is halfway over, but there are still four more weeks of fun in the sun. Whether you are relaxing by the pool or on your porch, what better way to have some quiet time than with a good book? David Wilton suggests the novel he cowrote with Mary Palmer, To Catch a Fish, published by Terpsichore

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Three young friends who experience the innocence of youth only to see it shattered now must now face the trials of adulthood.

 How long did it take you to write this book?
That is a book unto itself. I began writing To Catch a Fish and had my first draft completed in early 2004. I knew it was not finished, but work had to be postponed. I managed an insurance claims office and my territory was first hit by Hurricane Ivan which devastated the southern coast of Alabama and the panhandle of Florida. In 2005, my territory again felt the wrath of nature as Hurricane Katrina destroyed both property and lives. These were difficult times. It took me over two weeks to locate all my employees who lived in the path of these storms.

I can’t imagine having to endure such environmental destruction! I’m sorry to hear that you were one of those who did. How long was it before you resumed working on the story? 

In 2008, I started back on the book. I engaged Mary Palmer to edit the manuscript. It was then we decided to blend our talents and collaborate on its completion.  In 2009, To Catch a Fish was awarded second place at the Sandhill Writer’s Conference for fiction, and 2010 marked the publication of the completed book. Our journey has now reached the summit as Musa Publishing agreed to continue our dream by publishing To Catch a Fish.

Congratulations on winning that award! I bet it was much needed good news. In total, how many drafts would you say were there?
Five would be my best guess.  In the first draft, I focus more on the characters. As strange as it sounds I want to know everything I can about them. And with each scene they introduce themselves to me. What draws out their emotions? How do they interact with each other? I then focus on the plot. How do the characters’ imperfections create the issues which lead to the conflict and how do they react to its culmination.

Typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
I use a computer although if it could speak, it may have something to say about that. Its nickname is “Jackass,” since I know the mistakes made are not mine, but must be his.

Mine is known as PC, short not for ‘personal computer’ but for ‘possessed contraption’! Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a man cave. It has my computer, my CD of Pavarotti and Bocelli, and a place to rest my merlot. What more can one need?

When I first started writing To Catch a Fish, I had an old computer that only had Word Perfect. I found out that Word Perfect doesn’t like Word, and Word had no appreciation of Word Perfect. Mary Palmer and I had a “great adventure” translating one from the other.

I guess that also answers the question of: What do you drink or eat while you write?
 A glass of merlot and I’m in heaven. I find my characters like it to.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
It has to be afternoon or evening. Merlot doesn’t have the same bit at six in the morning.

Hmmm, maybe not *grin* Do you listen to any other kind of music while you write?
I love classical music. Pavarotti and Bocelli are my favorite. I write from the heart and can reach the heart through these wonderful singers. I also love the Irish Tenors.

What do you wear when you write in your man cave?
Wait, I have to look in a mirror to see. Oh Lord, do I have to answer? Seriously, I usually write in a warm-up suit, but it isn’t anything that is consistent. My daddy always said, “You can cover up a lot in a good suit.” I guess I can be just as bad (good) in a suit as I can in warm-ups.

It is probably more comfortable to be sitting all day in trackies than a tux!  Do you have any other writing rituals?
Before you finish this interview, you may want to send me to the farm. I pour a glass of merlot, and turn on a CD of Pavarotti or Bocelli.  After the last note of the first song, I begin to write.

How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
My writing is character-driven. Nothing about me can be accused of being organized. I write what my heart leads me to write. I know the beginning, the middle and end before I write the first word.  I let the characters fill in the blanks.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I love first person as I’m able to find out more about the character.  It tends to pull out their motive, what makes them tick.

Writing in first-person allows you to step into the main characters shoes a little easier, I imagine.  How do you choose your characters’ names?
I would have to say many ways. I use friends and relatives’ names. Other times I just pull the first name that comes to mind. In one of my manuscript, yet to be published, I chose the name of one character to be Mary Simons. I proceeded to write the great American novel when I began reading the manuscript with much pride.  Suddenly I realized the speaker attribution I was writing was, “Simons said.” Obviously, the last name was changed.

Not exactly the aesthetic you were going  for in a ‘great American novel’… *grin*  Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
I love my wife, Linda, to read the manuscript first. Regardless of how bad it is, she loves it. She’s my inspiration, surely not my critic.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I had to share my success with Pavarotti and Bocelli, and a glass of Merlot.

 If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
I would love Cuba Gooding to play the part of Ben Johnson. He could capture his soul.

Now a little bit more about your life, rather than how your book came to life. What is the first book you remember reading?
I loved to walk the three blocks to Maryvale School during the summer where the bookmobile would be parked. I would search through the Hardy Boys. I’m proud to say I read the first, The Tower Treasure. I have read many after that first one.

I think the only Hardy Boys book I read was their Detective Handbook, which made me want to be a private investigator! What book is on your nightstand right now?
Again, you’ll believe I’m ready for the funny farm. Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kiplingrests upon my nightstand. I’ve read the novel many times but it doesn’t get old. Harvey’s growth as a person is heart-warming. He begins a self-centered, spoiled kid who becomes a man through the experiences upon the fishing vessel, We’re Here.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
I feel no guilt when I read To Kill a Mockingbird, but after the many times I’ve read it, one begins to wonder. This is my favourite book.

 How do you organize your library/book collection?
As I previously said, nothing I do can be accused of being organized. My wife closes the door to my man cave so no one can see its condition. I’m led by the heart and it tells me what my next adventure will be. Everything I read is an adventure. I try to become a part of the book I read.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a story-teller. Whether that can be considered wanting to be a writer, I’ll leave it up to you. I’ve have always wanted to move people by what I write.

I remember a story that appeared on the G.E. Theatre when I was a young child. There was a black man who was a member of a troop of other soldiers in training. He was considered unfit, unworthy of being considered a warrior. The others in his troop decided to play a trick on him. They decided during a training session to drop an unarmed hand-grenade in the middle of the men. The black man yelled to his fellow soldiers, “Run, run, I’ve got it covered,” as he threw his body over the instrument of death. He was willing to give his life for the same men who mocked him. That’s the hero I’d like to be. That’s emotions I’d love my writing to instill.

I saw a movie recently that had a similar scene, it’s amazing how brave soldiers are. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
This is not even close. I would love to have written To Kill a Mockingbird. A native of Mobile, I live about one hundred miles from Monroeville, Alabama, the home town of Harper Lee. As a claims adjuster, my road trips would take me to Monroeville, the site of the courthouse where Tom Robinson was convicted of rape. I loved to walk in and just sit.

I envision Tom Robinson listening to the lies about his involvement. I sat down at the table where Atticus Finch took notes during his defense of Tom.  I would look up in the balcony where Scout and Jem watched the proceedings along with Dill. Yes, that’s where I would want to be and hope for a righteous decision.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
As I said in my previous answer, To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book. I would love to talk to Harper Lee. The one question I would ask her would be, “What would have changed, if Tom Robinson had been found not guilty?”

 If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
This might be harsh, but I would be Boo Radley sinking the knife in Bob Ewell. Forgive me for being a little too honest. I never believe killing is the answer but in this instant, I just don’t know.

Maybe we should keep you away from any knives… *wink* What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
A complement is the best gift a writer can receive. I attached an e-mail I received from one who read To Catch a Fish. It makes the joy of writing even more special.

Hello Mr. Wilton,

You may not remember me, but, on August 9th, I met you at the Windmill in F’hope. Deloris Brown, the tall african-american lady with the curls in her hair. You kept telling me how pretty I was, your comment made my day 🙂 Anyway, I wasn’t there that day to buy a book. I came there to inquiring about Moe’s menu for that day. You presented the book so warmth felt and so passion I had to buy it. You sold me. I’m not much of a reader. And to be honest with you I didn’t think I would have time to read the book. But, when I started reading about the locations and different places I’m was familiar with I couldn’t put the book down. It seemed like, almost every page I turned I was there visualizing the charcters as well as the locations.

I left the book behind one day at work. And my Aunt called asking me where my book was. When I told her I brought it home to finish reading it, she was sadden. She told me she had just started reading it the night before and was already on chapter 7. I promised her that I would return it so she could finish reading it.

This book has touched my heart. And made me decided to read The Help. Thank you so much for your introducation of this amazing book. And thank you so much for giving me the passion for wanting to read more books.

Now, I have 3 questions for you: 1.) When is the moving coming out :)……. 2.) I want the part of Mrs. Johnson…… 3.) Why you didn’t let Davey beat the brakes off of Cushing? He needed a good @$^*%$*^%$ whipping.

This e-mail was so special. One can write with emotions but the important thing is whether the reader feels those same emotions.

I can see why getting letters from people who were touched by your book would be an amazing feeling.  What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
I’m a romantic. You write from the heart and you search for emotions. The one piece of advice I would suggest to another writer is to open up your heart. Leave nothing to chance. Let the reader know not just where you stand but where you stand with conviction.

 What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
That I cry. I cry when I read a great novel, or hear a great story. I cry for Tom Robinson and for his family. I want to tell him all is better. The sun brightens the morning as the stars light up the night. Life is full of ups and downs. We must cherish each moment and hope each day is better than the last. Then Tom Robinson can rest in peace.

  Previous Interviews: Cordelia Dinsmore, Devin Hodgins, Kaitlin Bevis, Martin Bodenham

 

 

Guest Book Review: The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

Synopsis Gabie is working at Pete’s Pizza as a part time Pizza Delivery girl. The car she uses is her beloved Mini Cooper. On Wednesday night when she should have been working the girl {Kayla} that switched places with her goes out to deliver a pizza but never comes back. The man that placed the order had asked if “the girl with the Mini Cooper was working”. Making Gabie believe that she was meant to be kidnapped, not Kayla. Gabie struggles with realization that she could have been the one taken. Now she fights for Kayla and because obsessed with finding her. She teams up with Drew, who also works with both the girls and is the one that took the order from the mystery man. Together they set out to find Kayla and prove that she is not dead – and find her before she is.

Author – April Henry has always had a love for writing. When she was 12 years old she wrote a short story about a six-foot tall frog that loved Peanut Butter and sent it to Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who loved it so much he arranged for it to be published in an international Children’s magazine. Her dream of writing than went dormant until she was in her 30s, working at a corperate job, writing her books on the side. Now she is lucky to be making a living off of what she loves. She has written 13 novels for adults and teens, with more on the way. Her books have gotten starred reviews, translated into six languages, been picked for Booksense, been named to state reading lists, and short listed for Oregon Book Award.

Cover – The cover is what drew me to the book first. Theres a girl walking down the middle of the road, with a car driving behind her. The outcome of this can never be that good. It seems mysterious and scary. When seeing all this on the cover and staring at it for a few mintues, I turned the book over and read the back. I know they say you should never judge a book by its cover, but with this one. How can you not? It had better be as good as the cover! {Thankfully it was!}

Writing Style – This writing style was different. Unqiue. I liked it. It had a few points of views going. Each chapter was told by someone else, but the main two people who were talking throughout the book were Gabie and Drew. Occassionally Kayla would talk and the kidnapper would talk. Also, in between every few chaptes there were snippets of things. There was the order form from Pete’s Pizza, evidence listed, a note from Kayla to her family, and much more. The chapters weren’t even chapters; they were listed as “Days”, Example: “Day 1” etc. When Kayla, Drew, Gabie, or the Kidnapper talked, it was from their point of view. Even though so much was going on, the writing style really worked and gave the book that much more edge.

Pacing – This book did not drag at all. It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I was rooting for the good guys. I was getting frustrated when the Kidnapper was in their mists and they didn’t know it. I was cheering on Kayla and telling her to remain strong. I was hoping Drew and Gabie would become a couple because they needed each other and would support each other. I was hoping the Detective would realize that he’s an idiot! The book was go go go! The plots, twists and behind stories worked out amazingly. I was not confused once. I loved how she gave the background stories of Drew & Gabie’s lives and it all tied nicely into the story. How she made Kayla’s parents/brother completely believable in their reactions to their daugher/sister being kidnapped.

Plot – The plot was great. I do like some mystery novels, but not much. This one book has changed my mind about that! The story is believeable. Anything can happen to anyone and this just proved that. No one would really think about being kidnapped while delivering pizza. I loved how everyone in the book had different reactions to the situation. I loved how Kayla was strong, even though she was kidnapped, she remained strong. Did what she had to do to survive. I loved how you see the struggle Gabie is having knowing she was the one the guy really wanted. How she slowly because obsessed with Kayla. How those two girls have that connection. How this guy equally makes them think the same thing: Gabie is glad she wasn’t taken, but is sickened by this thought. Kayla wishes Gabie was taken, and is sickened by this thought. Overall the plot worked, the story is believeable and great.

Character – If I had to choose one Character that really stood out, it would have been Kayla. She’s this gorgeous, athletic girl who is popular. Who works at Pete’s Pizza and everyone loves her. She’s talkative, sweet and funny. She always has fun no matter one. You don’t get to read from her point of view that much {maybe 4 or 5 times} but throught Drew and Gabie you learn a lot about Kayla. Through the brief moment Gabie and Drew meet up with Kayla’s parents, you learn alot about her. She is loved. She wasn’t meant to be kidnapped, she knows this and knows what she needs to do to survive. Figures it out quickly and does what she needs to do without losing herself. Without trying everything she can to get away from him. Her Character makes you question your own strength. It also makes you Thankful that you have never been in her situation and hopeful that you never will. Its funny how her and Gabie are so different. Gabie is slowly coming unhinged while Kayla is fighting for her life and remaining strong.

Character Development – Every character in this novel goes through a slight growth. Kayla is already strong, but she does the unthinkable and becomes that much more stronger. Gabie is quiet, a bit shy, smart and doesn’t speak her mind but fights tooth and nail to find Kayla, while slowly becoming more obsessed with it and breaking down but in the end finding her strength. Drew discovers himself a bit throughout the book and becomes someone worth fighting for. The Characters develope throughout the whole book. By the end the three of them are someone you are proud of. Someone you would love to be friends with.

The Verdict –    I had the pleasure of briefly emailing April on Goodreads. After I had read this book, I had wanted to let her know what I thought of it and that she was an excellent author. She told me a bit about her next project and, needless to say, I am REALLY looking forward to it. I plan on checking out more of her books and diving right in. Over all this book is worth reading! Maybe not at night though…

~Karo~

 Previous Reviews: Torn, Switched,  Personal DemonsHunting Lila

Writerly Questions with Martin Bodenham

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

July is nearly over and August is on its way, but these summer nights are perfect for lounging at the cottage or telling scary stories around the campfire… or better yet, why not read a thriller aloud to terrify your fellow weekenders? Martin Bodenham is here to talk about The Geneva Connection published by Melpomene in December of 2011.

In his long career as a private equity investor, Martin Bodenham has witnessed investment banking’s greed and fear at first hand, providing plenty of dramatic material for his financial thriller novels.  Much like Grisham does with legal thrillers, Martin sets his fast-paced plots against the real world backdrop of international finance, giving his stories authenticity and depth. He lives in Rutland, England’s smallest county.

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Set in the UK, US, Mexico and Switzerland, the story is about John Kent, a massively successful private equity player, and what happens when his unbridled ambition collides with the world’s most powerful drug cartel.

How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me six months to write and then another two months to polish the manuscript for submission. I had to squeeze my writing in around my day job. I run a London-based private equity firm, which eats up most of my time.

How many drafts do you go through?
After my own editing process, I counted nine versions of the manuscript for my first novel. After the third draft, I began to involve beta readers, which meant the fourth draft was a major re-write, addressing points made by those readers.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I squeeze my writing in when I can. Fortunately, I am an early riser so I am usually at my PC between 4.30 and 5.00 in the morning. I try to fit in one or two hours in the evening when I have finished my day job.

I can’t imagine waking up so early! Where is your favorite place to write?
My wife and I live in an old rectory, which we renovated a few years ago. As part of the work, we converted a stone stable into a separate office. I love to work in there as it is quiet and has a wonderful view across a valley through the old stable doors.

That sounds like a lovely place to live and write. But do you use a typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
I prefer to use my laptop so I can write on the train. I commute into London by train most days, which means I can use the one hour journey each way. The laptop also comes with me on holiday. When I first started writing, I was amazed how much typing was involved!

What do you drink or eat while you write?
I am a bit of a health freak so I don’t eat when I am writing. I would only be tempted to eat junk food. Water or coffee keep me going. After my morning writing session and before I set off for work, I like to fill up on a bowl of porridge.

I imagine you would need coffee if you are writing before the sun even comes up! Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
I have tried listening to music when I write, but I find it distracting. I have to have absolute silence.

 What do you wear when you write at home?
Normally my tracksuit or my shorts in warmer weather.

How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
For my debut novel, I wrote by the seat of my pants. The words just flowed out of me, and the plot seemed to find its own way. Maybe that is how a first book works. However, for my second novel, I followed Ken Follett’s method of setting out the fifty or so scenes of the thriller. Each scene consisted of a paragraph or two. It really helped to know the direction of the plot before I began writing the story in earnest. It prevented wasted time going down blind alleys and helped me to keep focused. I think I will stick to this method in future as I believe it led to a better quality first draft.

I have noticed that a lot of authors start using plot lines after the first couple books, too. How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I don’t like reading books written in anything other than third person, past tense, so that is what I stick to as a writer. I think it suits the thriller genre.

 How do you choose your characters’ names?
I try to have a bit of fun with character names. I try to make a few up and then create some by mixing up the names of people I know. I’m always keeping an eye out for interesting looking names to use. For my second novel, I ran a reader contest by asking readers to submit their names so I could choose one at random for one of my characters. Interestingly, most people asked if I could make them one of the bad guys. What does that tell us about thriller readers?

I guess your readers love your villains and want to live vicariously through them! Speaking of your audience, who is the first person to read your manuscript?
My wife is the first person to read my manuscript. Then I show it to friends and other family members. The problem is they always fear offending me by offering negative criticism. Any writer will tell you that you need to hear the direct truth about what works and what doesn’t. Consequently, I have a few beta readers I use from a writing community to which I belong. That way I receive really useful feedback which helps me make my work as enjoyable as it can be for the reader.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I took my wife out to her favorite restaurant to celebrate. That was the least I could do for the months of having to put up with me going on about my novel.

Awww, that’s so sweet! But going back even further in time, what is the first book you remember reading?
King Solomon’s Mines by Rider Haggard. I remember how it conjured up such a vivid image of Africa in the 19th century. I loved it and read every book by Haggard thereafter.

What book is on your nightstand right now?
The Partner by John Grisham. He is my favorite author. I like how he uses his real world legal experience to create an air of authenticity in his legal thrillers.

How do you organize your library/book collection?
I have so many books that I simply don’t have room to display them all. My wife accuses me of being a hoarder so, sadly, every now and then I am forced to have a clear out. That is why I have become such an avid convert to eBooks. I own a Kindle and love being able to keep my book collection at my fingertips. As Amazon archives every book I buy, I can avoid any painful clear outs in the future!

I have a similar problem with my books, and an ereader is becoming a necessity! Did you always want to be a writer?
I have always liked writing, but until recently it was restricted to work related matters, press releases, reports etc. I like my own company so I would like nothing more than being able to sit in a quiet remote cottage somewhere on the coast and tap away at my keyboard for a living.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
It would have to be John Grisham. I admire his storytelling and credible characters. I would like to learn how much of what he writes is based on what he sees around him and how much is a complete creation of his imagination.

I was kind of expecting you to choose that author *grin* What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
An order for 100,000 copies of his latest novel.

What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
Don’t take criticism personally. Look at all feedback as a way of making your manuscript as powerful as it can be.

What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
Just after I left college, I crashed my ten year old car and could not afford to replace it. I suggested to my wife that we enter a well-known TV quiz show as they always had a car as the first prize. Believe it or not, we managed to get onto the show and won the car. I have the video to prove it!

 Previous Interviews: Lauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith InterviewEmma Lane Interview

Book Review: Torn by Amanda Hocking

Synopsis: Wendy thought she finally understood who she was and what she wanted, but everything changes when the Vittra (her rivals) come after her. She’s caught between two worlds, torn between love and duty, and she must decide what life she is meant to lead.

Author: Amanda Hocking is a young author; she is self-published in ebooks and is now publish in paperback. She has sold over million copies of nine of her books out of seventeen that she has written. She has more books in the works and is talking about turning her Trylle series (Switched, Torn, and Ascend) into a movie.

Writing Style: The novel begins just as the previous book ends, but gives an overview through Wendy’s remembrances. This is both helpful if the reader has not read the previous book in a while or at all, but otherwise annoying for those who just finished Switch as it takes an entire chapter.

Plot: As opposed to the previous novel where Wendy is on a journey of self-discovery, the main character must now learn to accept who she is and realize who everyone needs her to be. She has to make some really tough decisions in her near future that will affect not only herself, but also those around her.

Character Development: Wendy continues to mature on her path towards finding true self.  She is a bit more emotional, but that is to be expected from a teenager full of angst and drama.

Character: Loki is Wendy’s ever-so-handsome enemy. There is a connection between the two that Wendy cannot comprehend, as he is not only her nemesis but also an arrogant one at that. The intrigue between the two is believable and shows Wendy’s confusion while she discovers they are tied together in ways she is about to discover.

Romance:  The previously predicted love-triangle has come to be, but it is more the potential of love than the actual emotion when it comes to Loki. The reader cannot help but question his motives behind the interest he has in Wendy since he is, in fact, her enemy.

Quote: “Right then, it didn’t matter what his reasons were. All I knew that I was sick of him breaking my heart.”

The Verdict: Once again I loved this novel, possibly even more so than the first. Amanda Hocking stays true to the characters, and never lets them stagnate. Due to the great plot, I wasn’t able to put the book down and finished it within a day. It is a great combination of action, romance, and humour. This series is definitely worth picking up and reading, as I can hardly wait for Ascend to be published in April.

~Karo~

 Previous Reviews: The SummoningDark FlamePersonal DemonsHunting Lila

Writerly Questions with Kaitlin Bevis

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

Summer is well on its way and things are starting to heat up! But things get very hot in Kaitlin Bevis’ new book when the main character takes a little trip to Hades’s home in Persephone

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
There are worse things than death. Worse people, too.

Oooh, that sounds interesting already!  How long did it take you to write this book?
I started writing Persephone summer of 2010, just about the time Clash of the Titans came out. That quote “damn the gods” just got in my head and wouldn’t leave. Somehow I got to thinking about the Persephone myth, and how much more there may be to that story. I wrote an outline but wasn’t able to devote much time to the story for another six months. In that six months I had a baby, graduated college, and moved to Athens where I joined a local writers group. With a lot of help from that group, I managed to write something worthy of publication in about a year.

Yes, it sounds like you were very busy! How many drafts do you go through?
I revise a lot while I write, so it’s hard to tell. I know I had at least five distinct drafts. The first draft of Persephone was written in third person and was about a third of the length it is now. The next draft was in first person and maybe twice what it was now. I kept adding and whittling away for a few more drafts before I got the plot whipped into shape.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I tend to write at night, but my best brainstorming happens in the car. I live a good thirty minutes outside of town, so if it’s just me and my toddler in the car I have nothing to do but think. I talk through entire scenes and conversations while driving. The other drivers probably think I’m nuts, but it’s honestly when I get the most done. At the end of the day, I hop on the computer and write out all the ideas I had.

If anyone asks, you were talking to your child *wink* Where is your favorite place to write?
The couch. That way I can keep one eye on my daughter, and one ear on whatever show my husbands watching. I can bounce ideas off him if I get stuck, and I don’t feel as much like I’m spending too much time away from my family. It’s a comfortable routine.

That is a great way to spend time with your family, but still get some work done. But what do you use when youre on the couch: a typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper?
iPad. It’s so light and portable. I can bring it with me anywhere. It fits in my purse, and when I’m stuck in a doctor’s office or stopping for lunch I can just take it out and get right to work. I can write, edit, stop and google something, and you can’t beat the global find and replace.

Note to self: get the awesomeness that is an ipad What do you drink or eat while you write?
Soda. Caffeine is my only vice. I need it to stay awake and get all my ideas down! I don’t tend to eat much while I’m writing. Most of my writing happens after dinner.

Do you ever listen to music while you write?
I can’t, it’s too much of a distraction. The song lyrics get stuck in my head. My husband tends to have the TV on while I’m writing and that’s not typically distracting. Though one time my writers group noticed Hades had started channeling Dr. Who (David Tenant). I fixed it, but it kind of works. He’s got the whole timeless thing down.

Guess we know what your hubby likes to watch!  What do you wear when you write?
Pajamas. Sweatpants and a t-shirt. It’s comfortable, it’s the end of the day, and I’m ready to relax. I write until I’m ready for bed.

I wish we all could wear pajamas to work, they are the best attire ever *grin* Do you have any other writing rituals?
The problem with rituals is that they become necessary to your concentration. I’ve moved eight times in the last five years. My husband and I both work, both have school, and now I have a toddler in the mix. Right now I write best at night, but next semester my school schedule may shift and I may do most of my writing in a coffee shop between classes. I have to stay flexible, at least until my life settled down into a more predictable routine.

How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
I kind of work backwards. I typically have a very clear scene in my head when I think of a story. I write that and let the story shape itself for awhile. After an initial draft, which really reads more like a summary with a few very detailed scenes, I write an outline. I write another draft, then fine tune my outline, making sure each chapter has something that actually happens in it and furthers the plot of the story. That’s typically when I add subplots. Having an outline really helps, but I’ve never been able to start there.

Well, it obviously works for you which is all that matters! How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
My characters decide. Persephone started in the third person but it just didn’t work. It was too distant. I have another novel I’m working on that just didn’t work in first person. It’s just a matter of finding the right voice that works for my characters, and some of them need more distance than others.

How do you choose your characters names?
For Persephone it was a tough decision whether to go with the classic Greek names or rename the characters something more modern. It was a tough call, but I’m glad I stuck with the classics. Sometimes the names find me, and that creates the character.

While I was researching the Persephone myth, I stumbled upon Melissa, which was a title for a priestess of Demeter. To me, Melissa sounds like a young name, a modern name. Not some ancient title. That contrast got me thinking of whether or not the modern gods would have modern priestesses, and what that dynamic would be like.

Ive always been a fan of mythology myself, so the original names hold so much more connotation for me. Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
My writers group. They get to read it a couple of times as I go through each draft. They helped shape the manuscript and I trust their judgement completely. It took awhile to get to that point. It’s hard to let other people read your work and actually ask for criticism because I’m always so excited about my story that I can’t imagine someone having a negative reaction.

A writers group thickens your skin, and they represent all the readers that might react to your book if it gets published. If multiple people in my group aren’t getting something that I think is clear as daylight, then I obviously didn’t do a good job explaining myself in the manuscript.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
Posted it on Facebook. I called my mom, told my husband, and announced it to my writers group. I think every person I’ve ever met knew in about ten minutes. I was excited :).

It says something about our society that a facebook status is posted before phone calls are made *L0L* Im the same way *grin* If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Chloe Grace Moretz to play Persephone for sure. She was awesome in kick-ass and everything else I’ve seen her in. She definitely has the range to pull off the changes Persephone is going to go through during the series. Hades is tougher. I picture someone like David Tenant or the guy from Grim, but they’re quite a bit older than Miss Moretz. I wouldn’t want to cast Hades as a teenager but I don’t want him looking like a creepy old pedophile either.

Ive seen Hugo and thought Chloe did a wonderful job. It was a great family movie, though I havent yet read the book. What is the first book you remember reading?
I have vague memories of some story about the mayflower in kindergarden, but the first book I have very, very clear memories of is The Boxcar Children. My mom was worried that I would catch my older brothers “reading isn’t cool attitude, so she offered to pay me a dollar for every book I read. So I read the boxcar children series and the sweet valley series. She still owes me several hundred dollars. 🙂

I loved reading both of those series, and the BSC books, myself  when I was younger. How about now, what book is on your nightstand?
Dragons of Winters Night. We read out loud every night before bed, and right now we’re working through the Dragonlance series. I’m rereading the Hollows series by Kim Harrison right now on my own. And when I’m not reading either of those I’m reading classical literature to study for the GRE: Subject test in English Literature.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Nope. I’m not ashamed of anything I read. I love young adult fiction. I love fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, classic literature, everything. I even like Twilight. I think people who get all smug about their preference in literature are a bit silly.

All that matters is that people are reading, right? *grin* How do you organize your library/book collection?
I don’t. Not until Kindle updates their app and lets users organize their books by type on apple products. I am such an eBook person. I’ve bought books I own in print just for the convenience of having them on my phone and iPad. The only print books I own either don’t come as ebooks or are autographed copies. They’re arranged by author on a bookshelf in my office.

Did you always want to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember. My over-active imaginations gotten me in a lot of trouble. I’m glad it’s finally paying off.

If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Tamsin by Peter Beagle. I love that book. It’s so well written, and all the characters were so well developed, even the cats. The book seems to completely change genres about a third of the way through, it starts as this coming of age accepting a major life change plot, then transforms into this ancient ghost story. There’s not a lot of writers who can make that large of a shift feel organic, but Peter Beagle does.

That is rather impressive; Ill have to take a look for that book myself. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
I’d love to have a chat with Kelley Armstrong. I love her books, particularly her YA series. It’s my dream to go on the supernatural summer tour with her and just about every other author I’m a fan of. I have no idea what I’d talk about. I’d probably freeze up and shove a book at her to autograph like I did when I met Peter Beagle. I seem to lose the ability to form coherent sentenced when meeting famous people. It’s pretty embarrassing.

I met Kelley Armstrong at the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto. She seems really nice, so I wouldnt worry about freaking out! Her stories are amazing and her characters are so interesting.  If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
I don’t know that I’d actually want to be any of the characters from any of the books I read. There lives kind of suck. I’d like to live in their world with their powers, but all the death and drama that’s so fun to read would not be that fun to live through.

What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
A multi-million dollar book contract :). Short of that I’d say an iPad. I have my word processor, every book I own, all my songs and pictures, and the entire Internet on one device that can easily fit in my purse. What more could I possible need?

Other than food, nothing! *L0L*  What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
Join a writers group and listen to their criticism. They aren’t being stupid, and they aren’t trying to hurt your feelings, they’re working on making your book accessible to other people. Readers don’t have the luxury of being in the writers head and getting an instant explanation for something, and as a writer it’s hard to get that distance when you know your characters and your world so well. A good writers group makes a huge difference.

 What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I love cartoons. Sailor Moon, Gargoyles, X-men, Spiderman, Jem and the Holograms, every Disney movie, Pirates of Dark Water, anything with a decent plot. I love them. I’m so excited that my daughter is getting old enough to like at least some of my favorites because now I have an excuse to buy them all.

*starts singing: The musics contagious, outrageous. Jem is my name, no one else is the same…”

 Previous Interviews: Lauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith InterviewEmma Lane Interview

Book Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

Synopsis: Wendy Everly never seemed fit in anywhere, being a little different than everyone else. When she was little, her mother tried to kill Wendy thinking she was a monster, so Wendy went to live with her aunt. Now, at seventeen, Wendy begins to wonder if her mother was right all along, that she really is not-quite-human. When Wendy is befriended by Finn Holmes she enters a world where she truly belongs, but finds that it is just as lonely, and frightening, as the one she left. Torn between missing her family and her new responsibilities, Wendy  has to figure out what she wants, and if she’s willing to pay the price…

Author: Amanda Hocking lives in Minnesota. She’s a young author of 28 years old. She’s a self-published author of e-books (now paperbacks, too). She is the first author to make $2,000,000 or more in sales. Right now she is selling about 9000 books a day. She has written 17 books, has sold over million copies of nine of those 17 books. She’s slowly becoming more and more popular.

Writing Style: For this novel she writes in first-person based around Wendy, the main character. Her books are paranormal romance, which are written in a fairly simple manner so as to be accessible for teens, but just as enjoyable for adults.

Location: The books are set in contemporary Minnesota… and also not.

Plot: The plot is a bit unknown at first. You, like Wendy, are completely in the dark with what is going on and why her mother thinks she’s a monster. The plot slowly comes reveals itself as you read more, but not enough for you to guess the end of the story to keep you reading.

Character: The book is based around the main character, Wendy, and her struggles as she discovers what/who she really is and her reaction to that truth. You meet many other characters, some are friends and some are enemies, but all play an important part in the trilogy.

Character Development: Wendy starts as this lonely high school student who always seems to be getting into trouble and getting kicked out of school. The reader begins to see her as a misunderstood troubled teen, someone that is slightly spoiled but not so as to be an overbearing brat. As the book progresses, Wendy begins to grow and mature. She becomes stronger as she is thrown into some crazy situations that would make anyone questions their sanity.

Romance: There is a budding romance between Wendy and Finn, but it could become a love-triangle by the third novel in the series. The relationship between the two is light (not enough to gag the readers!), but isn’t the most important thing in Wendy’s life at this time.

Quote: “I don’t need love or a man to complete me, and someday you’ll find that true for yourself. Suitors will come and go, but you will remain.”

Finn: I look at you because I can’t look away Wendy.
Wendy: That’s kinda creepy.
Finn: I will work on being less creepy then.

The Verdict: The book was amazing. It kept me wanting more, hoping it would never come to an end. The characters were well written and believable. It is a page-turner, and the pace never slows. I never once thought about putting it down and never picking it up again, as it was everything I had hoped for and that much more. I have a feeling I will read this book as much as I read Harry Potter series!

~Karo~

 Previous Reviews: The SummoningDark FlamePersonal DemonsHunting Lila