Interview with Jack Croxall @jackcroxall Author of Tethers

I am so excited to introduce you all to Jack Croxall, if you haven’t met him already. His book, Tethers, is totally fantastic and a wonderful, well-written read. I love it.

A bit about his book:

In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, two teenagers discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.

Set in Victorian Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, Tethers is the first instalment of The Tethers Trilogy.

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Here’s my interview with Jack:

How much work did you put into building your world?

On the whole, Tethers took about two years to write and a good proportion of that time was spent researching Victorian England (where the novel is set). I spent hours upon hours studying Victorian life and I must say it was fascinating, not a chore in the slightest! My favourite aspect was perhaps life on the waterways – a style of living that is non-existent in today’s society. Whole families would live in the single cramped cabin of a narrowboat as they transported supplies up and down the rivers and canals. The life was incredibly tough and children would work full days as soon as they could walk.

What was the initial lightbulb idea that put Tethers into motion?

 

I started writing Tethers with absolutely no (conscious) plan whatsoever, and, at times, I did wonder where the novel was going. However, my lightbulb moment came when I realised the aspect of the plot that the book’s title is a reference to. I couldn’t possibly go into any more detail than that though …

What was the single hardest scene to write in the book?

 

There is a scene where a main character dies and that was incredibly difficult to write, not only because it’s horrible to let one of your darlings go, but you have to accurately gauge and convey all the emotions at play in the other characters present. It took several redrafts but I think I got there in the end!

If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

 

I really can’t think of just one song, but I have put together a playlist of songs I listened to whilst writing the book. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/Zr6l9U

If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

 

One of my main characters, Esther, lives in a rural pub and I think if I somehow turned up there, she would be quite keen to talk to a new face. She’d probably be disappointed when she found out I wasn’t particularly exciting or mysterious though – unless she found out I was from the future of course!

If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

Oh, that’s easy; Lyra’s universe in His Dark Materials. Philip Pullman crafted a gorgeous world for his seminal trilogy and the best part is that everybody gets their own daemon (a physical, animal-embodiment of your soul). I think mine would be a heron because I’m patient, persistent and I love water!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 

Can I be a combination of the two, a ‘planster’ perhaps? I’ve recently been writing with a vague plan but allowing myself absolute freedom to go off on tangents and connect the dots however I feel is best at the time. It’s working out well actually.

How has writing changed your life?

 

Quite simply, it’s made me happier than ever before.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Firstly, I would say read as widely as you can – not exclusively books from the genre you intend to write in. I’m not only talking about fiction either; blogs, newspaper articles, pamphlets, menus, billboards, DVD boxes, E-mails, all can be sources of great writing – you need to absorb as much of it as you can. Secondly, I suggest getting involved with the larger writing community. With social networking it’s never been easier and most writers and readers really are wonderfully supportive. I’ve found talking to fellow bookish-types incredibly helpful so, get involved; my twitter handle is @JackCroxall, if you’re interested, add me for a chat!

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Find Tethers here:

 

More About Jack Croxall:

 

Jack Croxall - Author Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website

Twitter

Interview With Author Meredith Towbin @Mtprose and Her Novel Straightjacket

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Meredith Towbin, author of STRAIGHTJACKET.

The Book:

Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…

**

This was the kind of book that really surprised me. It took a completely different turn than I thought it was going to, which is so, so refreshing in today’s world. Here are her answers to my burning questions.

**

 What was your inspiration for Straightjacket, and how did you work to make it stand out from other angel books?

I’ve always been fascinated by psychology (I took a ton of psych classes in college). I knew I wanted the setting for my book to be in a psychiatric hospital just because they kind of scare me and intrigue me at the same time.

As I was creating my characters, I needed to come up with a reason as to why they might be there. Depression/suicidal tendencies is definitely one reason (for Anna), but I wanted something super weird for my other character. I mean, why be normal when you can be super weird, right? After mulling it over for a while, I came up with the idea that Caleb would be delusional and think he was an angel.

It wasn’t  my intention to write a paranormal novel, like a lot of the other angel books out there. Caleb might be an angel, and he might not – he’s either completely delusional like his doctor says or supernatural. There’s doubt there, and I think most angel books make the reader suspend disbelief and accept that in the world of the book, angels definitely exist.

What was the single hardest scene to write in the book?

The sex scene, by far! Writing a sex scene, especially for YA, is very difficult, at least for me. I wanted it to be realistic, sweet, overwhelming, but still appropriate. I remember sitting in the Barnes & Noble café writing it, and even though no one knew what I was doing, I still turned 15 shades of red.

 If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

Funny you ask because there was one particular song that hugely inspired the book. Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark” was it. I love that song, and I would listen to it and think that I really wanted to write a book about two people that love each other so much that if one of them died, the other one would die too just so they wouldn’t have to go it alone.

 If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

If I met Anna at a bar, she probably wouldn’t talk to me. She’d plant herself in a corner and look as inconspicuous as possible. If I met Caleb there, I’d be the one not talking to him because I’d be intimidated by his coolness. And if he happened to come up and talk to me, I’d be a blubbering idiot.

 If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I absolutely loved the Wicked series by Gregory Macguire. Oz is definitely not the happy-go-lucky place out of The Wizard of Oz, but even so it’s magical and full of amazing characters that I would love to get to know.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

In real life I am a major organizer – it’s all about lists and calendars and putting things in places they belong. I have a minor (ok, major) obsession with The Container Store. So I figured when I went to write a book, I’d of course outline everything and know exactly where things were going.

I used my outline for the first chapter and then went totally off the rails. I realized that I’m a pantser when it comes to writing. I might know what will happen two or three chapters ahead, but it can always change. I think it keeps it fresher for me, like I’m reading along with it even though I’m the one doing the writing.

How has writing changed your life?

It was always my dream to write a novel, but for many years, I was too scared of failing to actually try. Now that I’ve gotten up the courage to do it, I really feel like it’s a dream come true, whether or not what I write gets published. Because there are definitely things I’ve written that haven’t gotten published.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Carve out time every day that you devote to writing. There are always a million excuses as to why there’s no time. There’s never a good time. Believe me. Make yourself do it just for an hour. I wrote STRAIGHTJACKET in one-hour increments. Five months later I had a book. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish if you just make it a priority.

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Find more about STRAIGHTJACKET & Meredith Towbin here:

 

Amazon

Goodreads

Barnes & Noble

www.meredithtowbin.com

Interview with #Author Sharon Sant @sharonsant

I am so pleased to host an interview of author Sharon Sant and promote her novel Sky Song today.

A little about Sky Song:

skyson

 

Sky song is a novel that brought me immediately back to the excitement of being ten years old and reading the Dark is Rising trilogy. Jacob, a teen with mood-ring eyes, discovers that he’s something entirely different than human, and that he’s tasked with the great responsibility of being the next Watcher. Throw in an adorable since-childhood threesome who start to discover their more adult feelings for each other, and some fantastic other-worldly conflict, and Sky Song becomes a fulfilling, compelling read with the promise of an exciting trilogy.

I had the privilege of interviewing the author, Sharon Sant.

 

What was your inspiration for writing Sky Song?

 

Sky Song started off as a younger children’s tale about a girl whose father watched the skies every night for something.  I don’t even remember now what sparked off the initial idea.  Sometimes it can be a throwaway comment, a song lyric, a seemingly innocuous thing.  Only the other day an idea for a book came to me from a random comment made on Twitter!

 

The little girl in my story didn’t know what her father watched for, but it soon became clear to her that whatever it was, it didn’t belong to the world she was familiar with. As I thought about it, though, the idea seemed to morph independently, into something completely different.  The main character became a fifteen-year-old boy instead of a young girl.  I started to think about what could come from the starry heavens.  My first answer was aliens, but, for me, that was too obvious.  Then I got to thinking about all the various belief systems that have stuck with humanity over the years of its evolution, and the one recurring theme was that the stars are linked with our destinies.  But what sort of destiny could come from the sky?  Cue aliens again!  And what would you do if your destiny called but you didn’t want it?  That’s the story at the heart of Sky Song.

 

What can we look forward to for The Young Moon?

 

At the end of Sky Song, we left Jacob **Sound of a truck roaring past** so, The Young Moon picks up two years on from there. There was always going to be three books and each one continues the overall story arc. Sky Song was as much about Jacob’s dilemma over his life choices as it was about his battle with the bad guy.  In The Young Moon there’s a whole bunch of different dilemmas around loyalties and who gets to choose who lives and who dies.  Jacob gets faced with some really tough decisions and quite often has to deal with the consequences of making the wrong ones. Aside from that, The Young Moon is a quest story, essentially; Jacob needs to find something before Makash does; if you’ve already read Sky Song, you’ll have a pretty good idea what that is!

 

 

Quick! Your top three favourite books!

 

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by good ol’ JK.

 

Ask me tomorrow and they’ll change, though!

 

 What are your thoughts on the current state of books and Indie Publishing?

 

I think it’s the most exciting time there has ever been for Indie publishing.  I think if you’re prepared to work hard and have a little luck on your side, you can achieve things now as an indie that have never been possible before.  The biggest change is the Kindle platform, of course.  I love that because it kicks the backsides of vanity publishers and other system abusers by giving authors a choice. And authors also have a choice now about whether they want to even bother trying to get a traditional deal. I know lots of indie authors who make a good living from self-publishing and are not interested in working any other way.  I have another novel coming out through a fairly small publisher (though they are awesome) in June, so I’m not just saying that as a self-published author with no insight into traditional publishing, I’m saying it because there should be a level playing field for those who are able to play it.   Having said that, I do feel that there has to be a place for traditional publishing as well, the books they produce must be the yardstick by which indie publishers measure themselves.  Indies have to strive to match and exceed the quality of traditionally published books, and that can only be a good thing for publishing as a whole.

 

Advice for aspiring writers?

 

Don’t do it!  But if you must, be prepared to eat really cheap food!

 

On a more serious note, I could spout the usual advice about perfecting your craft and getting used to rejection, but I’m not going to.   Everyone’s journey is different and it wouldn’t do for me to preach.  All I can do is share what helped me along on my journey.  The first thing was to get a good support network; I found this studying creative writing at university.  The people I met there are some of my closest friends today and I can always rely on them to give me a no-bull opinion on something I’m working on. Which leads me neatly to the fact that it was also at university where I really honed my craft.  I took notice of every word the tutors said, even when I was doubtful about it, and every word turned out to be useful somewhere along the line.  Even now, I never dismiss advice until I’ve evaluated it first, no matter how silly it initially sounds.  The other thing I did was to get involved in everything that came my way.  I got my first editing job after working unpaid for a publisher for two years, a job that I offered to do when the chief editor of the company came to visit our creative writing class.  When they needed a new fiction editor, I was already there; I knew their business, I had experience from the unpaid work I had been doing for them, so they gave the job to me. I worked for them for another few years as editor, and when they decided to branch out into young adult fiction, guess who was there with a manuscript in the bottom of her bag?  That manuscript just happens to be the book I have coming out in June.

 

What are you reading right now?

 

I happen to be reading a book by one Lindsay Leggett called Flight, which I’m loving. (You heard it here first, folks! ;))  I’m also reading something else as a beta reader so I’m not allowed to say what that is yet.  I recently finished The Night Circus, which was glorious.

 

About Sharon: 

sharon

Sharon Sant was born in Dorset but now lives in Stoke-on-Trent. She graduated from StaffordshireUniversity in 2009 with a degree in English and creative writing. She currently works part time as a freelance editor and continues to write her own stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes across many genres, when not busy trying in vain to be a domestic goddess, she can often be found lurking in local coffee shops with her head in a book. Sometimes she pretends to be clever but really loves nothing more than watching geeky TV and eating Pringles.  Sky Song is her debut young adult novel. The second book of the Sky Song trilogy, The Young Moon, is due for release March 8th 2013.

About Sky Song

What the man told him was too incredible to believe, yet Jacob did believe it.  On some deep unconscious level he had always known it to be true. He was an invention, a fictional character.  Jacob Lightfoot didn’t exist.

A strange-eyed boy with no memory of his true identity or real parents, Jacob could have no idea of the mortal danger he has been in every day of his fifteen years. Now that danger has found him and suddenly he doesn’t know who he can trust and what is real anymore.  All he knows is that his new identity is almost as terrifying as the peril unleashing it has brought. Caught in the universal power struggle of an ancient race of beings and a destiny demanded of him that he does not want, he must fight to protect his own life and everyone he holds dear.

But when the time comes, will he be strong enough to make the sacrifices that saving them will demand?

 

www.sharonsant.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharonjsant?ref=hl

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888220.Sharon_Sant

Twitter: @sharonsant

 

Get Sky Song:

 

skyson

 

 

 

 

 

And keep an eye out for The Young Moon,  the next installment of the Sky Song Trilogy!

 

 

Interview with Sara Hubbard, #author of Blood, She Read

I’m proud to interview Sara Hubbard, author Blood, She Read.

1. Blood, She Read has a great structure to it and many elements; mystery, danger, paranormal. What was your original inspiration?

Gosh, it all started with one scene. Originally, a man came to Petra’s house in the dead of the night asking for Petra’s help. He was desperate to know his future, or rather the future of someone he loved. It took many false starts with this book before it became what it is now. And Dylan was originally a young boy who followed Petra around and wanted to learn magic from her. The more I wrote, the more I realized his young age couldn’t work with the story. The amount of material I cut from this story was probably upwards of 20,000 words, but it had to be done and I’m happy with the finished product.

2. How has your real life affected the setting of the story?

Well, I’ve lived in Nova Scotia for the majority of my life so I wanted to have a story set here. There are so many books out there now that are set in America and I wanted to do something different. Plus, I think sticking with what I know helped to add a little more character and realism to the story.

3. What do you think is the most magical thing about Nova Scotia?

Hmm. There are many things I love about Nova Scotia, but mostly, I love the oceans and the forests and that you can always smell one or the other no matter where you are.

4. If you could have one magic power, what would you choose?

I would love to be invisible. What fun it would be to see what people are doing when they think no one is looking?

5. What can we look forward to for Finn and Petra?

I think the next book will be a big surprise for fans of Petra and Finn, especially since Finn will be absent for the first half of the book. You can look forward to more time with Sebastian and Tommy and see some fun interactions between Gina and Sebastian. I love their relationship. It is so much fun to write. There will also be a new demon villain around too. He will make things…difficult for Petra. And for Tommy too.

6. What are your thoughts on the changing book industry, and how has it affected your publishing experience?

I love that eBooks are bigger now than they were five or ten years ago and that self-publishing is gaining more respect. This has opened up a lot of doors to people who might not have otherwise been noticed and/or published. It gives authors more options and more bargaining power and, hopefully, keeps more of the profits in the authors hands where they belong. Most of us authors write because we love it. Unless you’re a NYT bestseller, chances are you will have to have a second job to pay your bills (I’m one of those authors). This is a hard business so it’s nice to see the industry moving in a direction that helps the authors.

Many thanks to Sara, and go check out her book! It’s fantastic!

Kindle 

Kobo

Amazon

Petra Maras lives a charmed life, but only in the magical sense. Her absentee father is a
criminal, her mother is emotionally dead, and everyone at her new school knows
she comes from a family of witches. All she wants is to be normal, but that’s
impossible, given her family. And given that she’s psychic. When the police
request help with a murder investigation, Petra reluctantly agrees. Which isn’t
such a good idea since the prime suspect wants to date her, and she really wants
to say yes. Her gut says he’s innocent, but since she can’t get a read on him,
she can’t know for sure. And when she discovers he’s been keeping secrets, she
wonders if maybe she’s been following her heart instead of her head…

Find Sara at www.sara-hubbard.com

Interview with Author Suzanne Van Rooyen

It is my distinct pleasure to present an interview with YA author Suzanne Van Rooyen. Suzanne’s latest book, OBSCURA BURNING, is a deeply woven tale about the struggle of one young man, Kyle, dealing with the death of his best friends while rogue planet OBSCURA threatens the earth. Possibly due to Obscura’s presence, he’s able to hop between two universes, one where Shira died, and one where Daniel died. Kyle is given the ultimate ultimatum: which universe should he save?

AN INTERVIEW WITH SUZANNE VAN ROOYEN

One of the things that makes Obscura Burning so original is that Kyle is bisexual. What inspired you to write an LGBT main character?

I’m not sure. It wasn’t something I decided like, ‘Oh hey I’m gonna write an LGBT character now.’ As Kyle emerged from the depths of my imagination – or where-ever these characters exist before they do on paper – he was confused, a bit bi, but mostly gay and that was who he was, so that was what I wrote.

I’m open about my support of QUILTBAG rights, so I’m glad to see more diverse characters trickling into YA, especially in science fiction which is a genre often white- and straight-washed.

How have your real life experiences affected the narrative, especially the setting?

I’ve never been to New Mexico but I’ve lived in hot, arid places. I grew up in South Africa where summer temperatures often reached the high thirties (Celsius). Then I lived in Western Australia and experienced scorching temperatures reaching the high forties! I have no love affair with heat (one of the reasons I moved to Finland) so when this idea started to take form I knew I wanted to set it somewhere hot and oppressive, with cactus and dust devils, and an unrelenting sun. New Mexico was the ideal setting and also provided subtle nod to one of my favourite science fiction TV series growing up, ‘Roswell.’

As for other aspects of the story, I did draw from real life experiences like a boy I knew as a kid, who was a problem fire-setter – a compulsion that both fascinated and terrified me, and still does. There are various other bits and pieces I’ve purloined from my life experiences too.

The publishing landscape has been changing so rapidly. How do you adjust to keep up?

It’s hard work. It requires daily participation in the industry like reading blogs, following the Twitter accounts of people in the business, watching what’s selling on Amazon, which books are making waves on Goodreads etc. That’s how I keep up. I think authors need to embrace these changes and be open to new developments in the publishing landscape if they want to succeed.

Obscura Burning is such a deeply layered story. What was your original inspiration?

It really came out of nowhere one day while I was listening to the haunting music by the band Explosions in the Sky. The music conjured the image of a boy walking in a desert and gradually, that boy’s story started to unfold.

Do you have any upcoming book tours? Do you find it difficult to market a book to North America from overseas?

I’ve just finished a Book Blitz but I’ve got a few interviews and guest posts coming up soon. It is trickier marketting a book from so far away. I’d love to organise book signings and library visits but that just isn’t feasible so that leaves most of my marketting done online, which is the way most authors are doing it today anyway.

Do you write by the seat of your pants, or are you a planner?

I’m a bit of a hybrid here. I don’t enjoy writing from outlines so once I have the basic premise and story trajectory down, I start writing. As the story progresses, I’ll inevitably have to rewrite and replot, usually changing quite a bit from that original outline. Once I know how my story ends though, it’s just a matter of getting there. I try my best to write according to the seven point plot structure even when I’m pantsing it. It doesn’t always work out but I love revisions.

What do you have coming up next?

My agent has two manuscripts of mine at the moment. Both YA, one paranormal and the other science fiction. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more good news regarding those soon. While waiting on those, I’m working on a couple of projects for both YA and NA markets but they’re very much works in progress.

What book are you currently reading?

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay – This book has a fantastic cover and the prologue is one of the best I’ve ever read!

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Watch OBSCURA BURNING’s Book Trailer.

BUY OBSCURA BURNING

Kindle    Amazon

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Amazon

Burning Tree Reads is looking for interviewees! If you’re an author of speculative fiction and would like to be featured, please visit the About page or email me at lindsay@burningtree.ca

Thank you for reading, and share the love!

Coming up: An #author Interview with Suzanne Van Rooyen

I’m proud to announce that I will be interviewing Suzanne Van Rooyen (http://www.suzannevanrooyen.com) tomorrow about writing, publishing, LGBT characters and more.

In the meantime, check out her newest book, OBSCURA BURNING. It’s fantastic.