Saturday, September 28, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Seeley James

I'm always on the search for Indie authors. I think it takes so much courage to write and release a novel on their own and it takes even more to find readership for them. That is why when I read The Geneva Decision, I knew that I would feature this author in my Blogoversary. Please welcome to Blood Rose Books today:

Seeley James 

Is there a book, author, story or person that inspired you to become a writer?
Two books inspired me: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. I read them both when I was young. Treasure Island made me realize books could take you places and the Red Pony made me realize books could make you see, feel, even smell things.

What has been your biggest challenge as an indie author?
Getting my books into the hands of people who want to read them. When I published my first book, The Geneva Decision (Nov-2012), over 89,000 books were being epublished every month. That’s twice as many as were published in all of 2002. At least I outsold JK Rowling in the first three months.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why? 
Autobiography. People tell me to write my memoirs, including how I adopted a three year old when I was nineteen. But I can’t—if I wrote an autobiography, I’d have to sue the author for defamation.

Soccer star and head of a security company are not something you read about every day, where did the idea for Pia’s occupation come from?
Fiction heroes usually come from the military or police, as do most heroines. Since women are just now going into combat roles, I didn’t see that as a realistic path for a heroine. My daughter played soccer which led me to become a big fan. She also took up boxing, briefly. Those two disciplines showed me that while women are not as physically strong as men, their will to win is very much the same. Once you combine that strength of character with a surprise attack, you can overcome many limitations.

Pia Sabel’s occupation came from the need for putting her in dangerous situations. Police and private detective angles have been bludgeoned to death over the years. And I never much liked the Murder She Wrote premise. To me, a security company provides plenty of ways to cross paths with the wicked, as well as have the personnel to do something about it.

Do you play soccer? If so which position do you play? What team do you cheer for?
I never played soccer, but two of my three children do and I’ve spent a decade on the sidelines. My son plays outside mid and my daughter plays holding mid. Both have been perennial team captains.

I’m a serious fan of Phoenix Country Day Eagles (the school my children attend), Chelsea, & Portland Thorns (NWSL). My son is fan of LA Galaxy and my daughter loves Real Madrid (I’m pretty sure that’s because of Ronaldo).

Do you find that people are shocked to find that the individual who is writing about Pia is a man?
No, there are a few but not many. When I first started writing about a woman, I submitted many short stories to writing forums. I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. The main thing is: men and women have the same hopes and dreams and ambitions. We expect women to use manipulation to accomplish their goals where we expect men to use violence. But neither case is absolute.

Was it hard to get into the mindset of a woman and write how you think a woman would act?
Physically: Pia Sabel is very tall and strong to overcome the physical requirements of fighting in a man’s world. Thrillers tend to be violent journeys through a male-dominated kingdom of evil where the hero/heroine races to prevent a crime. Many heroines today are based on the average woman, ~ 5’7” who might know some martial arts—and they are inherently unrealistic in fight scenes with men. I searched high and low for an archetype for my heroine and settled on Devon Wharf, the former U of A goalkeeper who is 6’1”, good looking, and quite strong.

Mentally: The feminine mindset is something I’ve worked on extensively with female beta readers. I try to weed out male sentiments, but I’m not convinced it makes a huge difference in thrillers. Romantic entanglements would present a different circumstance, but thrillers are based primarily on saving lives—and there’s not a lot of gender difference in that. (I did have a reader tell me that a specific line uttered by Pia Sabel sounded more like a teenaged boy than an adult woman. I told her that she was the only reader to identify the one sentence my teenaged son insisted I add).

Why did you decide to also release a serial novel? Do you find that releasing a serial type novel is more challenging or easier that writing a full novel at once? 
Readers: When I embarked on writing Trench Coats as a serial, what appealed to me was the reduced reader-commitment. With so many indie authors hitting the market, I believed it would be easier for readers to try a short version before committing 10-15 hours of reading time. That part has worked out to be true.

Evidence: I have nearly eliminated the reviewers who say they’ve abandoned the book. All books big and small have ‘abandonment reviews’. Amazon is rife with readers who need to tell the world they did not finish a book but are reviewing it anyway—god knows why they would publicly admit to active ignorance, but there you have it. 

Writing: I have discovered it is more difficult to produce a coherent thriller on a serial basis. The writing process is more drawn out; allowing over-expansion of extraneous concepts that must be reined in. If I do another serial, I’ll write the entire novel first, then break it down. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I am working feverishly on Trench Coats, Episode IV: The Desperate and will release it on the first of October. Episodes V and VI will follow shortly thereafter.

For all your readers who drop me an email mentioning the greatness of Blood Rose Books, I’ll send the first four episodes free (ebooks)!

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
Sorry, I must note two books: South by Lance Charnes (Due out in December) and Black Karma by William Davis. 

I want to thank Seeley once again for being part of my Blogoversary and I encourage you to not only enter the rafflecopter giveaway below (open INT) but also to take Seeley up on his offer for the first 4 books in his serial series. I think that we need to support Indie authors as much as we can

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Amanda Carlson

Maybe you have noticed like I have there are fewer and fewer strictly werewolf novels out there with many writers switching to the post apocalyptic and zombie genres so I was very happy to discover today's author and her novels Full Blooded and Hot Blooded this past year. Please welcome to Blood Rose Books:

Amanda Carlson

Is there a book, author, story or person that inspired you to become a writer?
I loved Judy Blume as a kid, and was a voracious reader, but I actually started writing at twelve-years-old. I don’t remember who or what exactly spurned me on to write, but the pull to create something new on the page was big, and I’m happy to say it’s stuck with me all this time.

What type of bump in the night creature terrifies you? Which do you think would be the hardest to write about?
That’s a tough one. I’m not a big true horror fan, so writing something like SAW would be very difficult. I think the humans-gone-wrong in those movies is the most terrifying, much more terrifying than any vampire or werewolf.

The Urban Fantasy / Paranormal genres appear to be the genre that everyone is writing in these days (even authors that are well established in other genres) what do you think the draw to these genre is? How do you believe your novels stand out from the rest of the crowd?
I think the “urban” part of fantasy—the part where it could be happening next door and you don’t know—is the allure. It puts a contemporary spin on fantasy and makes it more accessible to everyone. Readers can place themselves in the world and think, “What if this happened to me?” I believe my novels are very much their own spin on the urban fantasy genre. I work hard to make the tropes fresh and as new as I can.

I do not know if you have noticed, but I have, there appears to be less authors writing with werewolves as their main creature in your books, why do you think that this has occurred?
It’s because editors have momentarily stopped buying them J All genres cycle in and out of fashion at some point. Werewolves and vampires will never go away ever, but when the market gets saturated, the editors stop buying. Then, when there’s almost none on the shelves, and the readers are getting restless, they will start buying again (most will anticipate the resurgence and buy a year before you get antsy). I think I’ve managed to find myself in a very lucky place, because readers looking for vamps and weres have less books to go through to find mine!

A common theme within several werewolf based books is that a female werewolf is rare, why do you think that this is common theme?
I think it’s a good way to heighten the stakes. All tropes, across most genres, have been used at some point or another. Our job as authors is to take something that’s been done and put our own unique spin on it. Introducing something new to a story is one of my favorite things to do, because when an author does it well, it makes the reader feel like they’re reading it for the first time.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
I’m not sure, since I’ve only completed urban fantasy novels, but I do know authors write what they love. They have a passion for the topic, and when the urge hits, they jump in. I wouldn’t say that one genre is harder than another—since every novel takes the author’s blood, sweat and tears to finish—I would just say every book is hard work in its own way. 

In your second novel Hot Blooded, especially near the end of the book, it takes a dark turn once they enter into Selene’s liar. Is it hard for you to tap into the darker side of the novel? Do you think all novels need a touch of darkness?
I don’t think all books need a touch of darkness. I happen to love happy books! For Selene, and what happens in Hot Blooded, I was purely writing true to her character. She was dark, but at the same time childlike—a supernatural who’d never fully grown up. This was her turf and that’s what she brought to the table. I didn’t have a hard time writing it, but maybe because I knew my heroine would prevail

Jessica is one of the best well rounded characters that I have read in a UF/paranormal novel in a long time as she uses her head, heart and wolf equally to make her decisions. What went into the creation of her character?
Jessica, in many ways, is how I view anyone who is human suddenly making a big change in their lives. How would they handle it? How would I handle it? I strive to be as realistic as I can in fantasy. I also believe this makes the book more approachable to readers. When I write her, I’m not thinking werewolf, I’m thinking a twenty-six-year-old who just went through a major life change.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
The COLD BLOODED blog tour is running the rest of September and the entire month of October. I’m running 3 huge cross-blog giveaways, so stay tuned if you love awesome swag. More info about everything is on my website: I will also be at Coastal Magic in Feb. and I’d love to see you there! 

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
*fingers twitch to pick up a book* I don’t get much time to read, but when I do I love Kristen Painter, Amanda Bonilla, Kristen Callihan and Julie Ann Walker. I don’t reread very often, but Harry Potter gets that prize for sure.

Thanks for hosting me on the blog today! I had fun stopping by. COLD BLOODED releases in a few short weeks and I’m so excited to share it with my readers. 

Thank you once again Amanda for being part of my Blogoversary and I think we can all relate about not having enough time in the day to read. You can enter Amanda's Cold Blooded Blog tour below (which she is running across a few blogs).
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Laura Bickle

If you have been reading in the UF/paranormal genre for awhile like me, it is sometimes hard to find authors who are able to introduce new ideas. That is why I was very happy to find today's author and her first novel Embers as it had some ideas that I had never heard of or read before, something new is always refreshing. Please welcome to Blood Rose Books today:
Laura Bickle
I like how you merged elements of your background in criminal justice and library science within Embers, do you find  that you background has helped you as an author? Why or why not? 
Thank you so much! I hope that it did. I studied criminology and worked in criminal justice for many years. I think having some knowledge of law and criminal procedures has helped me more create realistic worlds. Whenever I see a show on television or read a book with mistakes in criminal procedure, it really kicks me out of that world fast!  

My background in libraries has helped me research the many, many things I don’t know. Having access to buildings full of books has been one of the most wonderful parts of my career.  

You write in both the adult and YA age groups, what are some additional challenges that you faced when writing a YA novel? 
The funny part about THE HALLOWED ONES is that I didn’t set out to make it YA. It just came out that way…I knew that I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of a young Amish woman who was dealing with issues of conformity and autonomy. I was completely unaware that it was YA until I
turned it in to my agent.  

So I guess…the answer is that I didn’t consciously adjust my writing or seek out YA as a special challenge. The story just developed on its own in a YA way. 

Why did you choose to write under the pseudonym Alayna Williams for your Oracle series? 
I had books coming out in alternating series and we wanted to try and keep things somewhat simple.   

The Urban Fantasy / Paranormal genres appear to be the genre that everyone is writing in these days (even authors that are well established in other genres) what do you think the draw to these genre is? How do you believe your novels and series stand out from the rest of the crowd? 
I think readers like to ask the same “what if” questions that writers like to putter with: What happens to ghosts – do they fade or linger? How does having a magical power make a person psychologically different from the rest of us? What would happen if a salamander laid eggs in my heroine’s bathtub?  

Okay. I’m pretty sure that nobody but me wants to know the answer to the last question. ;-) 

But I try to ask “what if” questions that I haven’t seen addressed before. It’s like daydreaming on paper.   

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why? 
I think UF is very challenging right now, because it is a very full market. There are a lot of great stories out there, and the competition is stiff. 

In your Oracle series, Tara has the ability to see into the future with her Tarot deck. Would you ever want to have Tara’s ability? If yes what would you want to know? 
I think it would be interesting to have the ability to see the future in Tarot cards. If I had Tara’s accuracy, I’d be very much interested in her line of work, criminal profiling. Or possibly playing the stock market. Maybe a little bit of column A, little bit of column B… 
One of my favorite parts in your novel Embers was Sparky and his glow worm (I remember those from when I was kid); a salamander is a very unusual familiar therefore, what inspired Sparky? Did you have a salamander pet growing up? 
When I was a little girl, I loved trying to find salamanders. I lived in a pretty rural area, and I’d always be turning over rocks in clear streams, searching for them. When I saw one, it was a rare and wonderful thing, and it felt like magic. 

And I did have a Glow Worm growing up! It was my absolute most favorite toy, since I was quite afraid of the dark. I still give them as gifts for baby showers.  

Can you give us a hint of what additional powers are in store for Anya in future novels? 
Fingers crossed that there will be additional books someday. I would love to explore Anya’s relationship with Charon further. He hasn’t been entirely honest with her about who he is and what he’s up to. And I love that he gets under her skin. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? Another Trilogy perhaps?  
My latest releases are a pair of YA thrillers. My agent describes them as Witness meets 28 Days Later, which was a lot of fun to think about! 
The first book in the series is THE HALLOWED ONES. Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the outside world. But the outside world comes to her when a helicopter falls out of the sky near her house. Katie must confront not only a massive disaster unfolding in the world outside her community, but also the threat of darkness in her own increasingly fragile society. 

The sequel, THE OUTSIDE, was released September 3. Katie has been exiled from her Amish community for failing to follow the new rules of survival. As the title to THE OUTSIDE suggests, Katie must confront the devastation in the world beyond her community. Her chief challenges will be her own survival and protecting those she loves from a plague of vampires. 

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite). 
It’s not on my shelf yet, but I can’t wait for Lauren DeStefano’s PERFECT RUIN. I love the idea of a city in the sky and a heroine looking down at forbidden ground. 

Thank you once again Laura for being part of my blogoversary and I hope that more novels are on the way in all of your series as I am very excited about them. Laura has very nicely offered a giveaway to go along with her interview, a SIGNED copy of the second book in her Anya Kalinczyk series Sparks (open INT), so please fill out the rafflecopter app below to enter.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Annie Walls

I think one of my best indie finds from this year is the next author feature for my Blogoversary, she created an amazing zombie novel, Taking on the Dead, that will make anyone's hairs stand on their end and leave you wanting more. Please welcome to Blood Rose Books today:
Annie Walls 

Is there a book, author, story or person that inspired you to become a writer?
Honestly, no. I can’t remember when I started writing, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I realized I wanted to write full-time. I’ve always been an avid reader and writer of some kind.

What are some of the challenges you have had as an indie author?
Getting an editor that believes in your story and rising above all the backwash that indie authors receive.

The Urban Fantasy / Paranormal genres appear to be the genre that everyone is writing in these days (even authors that are well established in other genres), what do you think draws authors to these genres? How do you believe your novels stand out from the rest of the crowd?
I think because you can add elements that are not real and make them real to the reader. My novels are character driven. I like diving deep into them and even secondary characters. I’m not sure if this makes them stand out, but it helps the readers relate and care about them.

Zombies have become the new Vampire or werewolf (everywhere you look there is a new Zombie novel/TV show/movie out) in the horror, paranormal and urban fantasy genres, why do you think that zombies have become so popular?
Because the threat of the end of the world. I know it might be a little out there, but really, if we had a choice of how the world ends, wouldn’t zombies be the most fun? Wouldn’t zombies give us a better chance at survival than say a nuclear war or a huge meteor dropping on us? But to be honest, since the genre has become so mainstream, I’m really sick of them. Haha! I can’t wait to publish the Famished and be done with it.

You have a love of zombies, hence why you chose to write a novel based around them. Every writer does zombies slightly differently, what do you think are the key characteristics that are needed to create zombies and create a successful zombie novel?
I think we need to be able to picture them clearly in our minds. They have to be gross and they have to resemble people. I decided to have mine at different stages of decomposition to make it more realistic, and I believe this helped a lot in my novels.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
For me, it would be an epic fantasy. The world building alone could be a novel. The authors that can do this plus pull off an awesome plot and character building, I’ll forever envy.

Do you see yourself in Kansas’ character? Do you think you would react in a similar way as she did?
No, I can’t see myself as Kan. I’d like to be Kan though. Haha! Yeah, I would react the way she did by hiding out. It was my plan before I gave it to her.

You decided to release a sub-story from your Famished Trilogy (Bailing Out into the Dead) and you chose to release it in a serial type format, why did you choose this format instead of the novel format? Were there additional challenges in releasing it chapter by chapter?
I decided to do this to give readers something to read and look forward to while they wait on my next book. Another reason is for it to be free. I never once thought it’d be as successful as it has, so I’ll continue to do it. The only challenge I faced was in editing… I did it myself, and worry over it all the time.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I’ll be releasing a new series when The Famished is done. It’s similar in feel as a dark fantasy and has all the same elements except I replace the zombies for physic abilities. It’ll take place in a dystopia world as well, but with advanced technology.

This is the first I’m mentioning this publically, but I’ve also written a book I’ll be publishing under a pen name and hopefully, traditionally. It’s a quirky love story I wrote for a contest. So we’ll see how that works out. It’s, by far, the most challenging thing I’ve written because I stayed within one genre. There’s nothing dark or creepy to it, and I had trouble not adding something wicked. ;)

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is always a go-to book. 

I want to thank Annie again for being part of my Blogoversary, and I know I am looking forward to continuing to read her famished trilogy, it is an amazing Indie find. Annie has very nicely offered an ebook giveaway to go along with interview, so make sure to check out the raffecopter app below (Giveaway open INT).

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Layton Green

If you are looking for different type of thriller novels you need to check out this authors Dominic Grey Series (The Summoner, The Egyptian and The Diabolist) Please welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:

There was a two year gap between your second book, The Egyptian and your most recent release in your Dominic Grey series The Diabolist. Can you let us know what you were doing in those two year and why there was a delay in the release of your third novel?
After the second book, the series was picked up by a publisher (Thomas & Mercer). Mainly the delay was due to contract negotiations and such, but I expect much smoother sailing from here on out. I don’t know for sure yet, but I would expect the gap between books in this series going forward to be much closer to one year than two.

You have just released your third novel in your Dominic Grey series, how has your writing process changed from your first book to your third book? What have you learned about yourself in this time?
The writing process is both easier and more difficult. Easier, because I really know the main characters. Harder, because I work very hard to keep the content fresh and the locations indelible and the character arcs arcing. What have I learned about myself? I leave it all on the page . . . . 

The religious cults within your novels seem so real, with you knowing the inner workings of them, are the cults portrayed in your novels real?
Who says I don’t know the inner workings of them? Ha! I do extensive research for these novels, of all varieties. It sort of depends on each particular novel and cult as to how much is real and how much is fictionalized, but I do like to operate within the framework of reality (whatever that is). One reason I chose a religious phenomenologist as a co-protagonist is because belief is a very subjective thing, regardless of whatever meta-truths exist. Also, to be clear, I absolutely do not speak to the validity of any religion or cult portrayed within the novels, and often extrapolate certain elements for the purpose of the story. As does anyone who writes fiction. 

How do you choose a religious cult or cult aspect to feature in your novel?
There is plenty of source material, let me tell you. I have lots of ideas for these novels, and usually simply choose the one that is most compelling to me at the time. 

I do not think there is any denying that your novels are well researched, where is your favorite place to find your information?
 In person. 

The third novel The Diabolist now appears to have two main characters with Radek becoming almost the center of most of the investigation with this novel, is this going to continue in future novels?
For that you’ll have to wait and see (I’m not even sure myself). I’ll utilize whatever the story arc calls for. But I don’t think either protagonist is going anywhere. 

What do you think is the most defining characteristic of Grey and Radek?
Grey: His struggle to understand himself
Viktor: His search for truth. 

Is there a planned or set number of books for your Dominic Grey series?
Not yet. One can never say for sure, but I plan on writing many more Grey novels.

Do you have any information to share with us about upcoming events, works or projects?
I’m working on the fourth Grey novel right now, and it will be set in Miami and south of the border – way south. I also just finished the first draft of a new fantasy series, and have a few stand alone novels I am polishing. 

Do you have one book that you have read in the past year that is must read?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It came out over a year ago, but wow, I loved that book. 

Thank you once again to Layton for being part of my Blogoversary. Layton is one of my favourite indie authors, who is not going to be indie for too much longer :). Layton has very nicely offered up 2 copies of the newest Dominic Grey novel The Diabolist (open CAN/US) please see the rafflecopter app below.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Brett Battles

I'm not 100% sure how I discovered today's feature author, all I can say is that I am extremely glad I did, and his Jonathan Quinn series has become one of my favourite (The Cleaner and The Deceived). Please welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:
Brett Battles

How has your writing experience, process or style changed since your first book The Cleaner and your most recent solo release The Enraged?
I’m more confident in my choices and know that if I do make a mistake, I’ll figure out how to fix it in the rewrite. When I first started out writing, I wasn’t even sure if I could finish a novel, let alone solve plot hole problems. I’m also more structured in my writing schedule. This helps me get a lot more written a day than I used to achieve, and finish projects on a more timely manner. 

What do you think is the key aspect in writing a successful thriller novel?
Creating characters that readers care about. A book could have the best concept ever, with a killer plot to boot, but if readers aren’t able to connect with the main characters, then your story has already failed. I don’t mean that readers have to particularly like the main characters, but there has to be something that makes readers want to see what happens to her or him. 

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
For me? Probably straight romance. I have no problem including romantic storylines in my books, but if my novel is all romance, I would be at a loss.

Now, this is an entirely selfish question for me, but as someone who is going to be visiting Ho Chi Man City for the first time later this year, what is one thing that I need to do while I am there?
I’ll give you a few things. The first, just cross a busy street. You’ll see what I mean when you’re there. A hint, watch the locals do it first to see how it’s done. Second, have a meal or a drink at the restaurant atop the Rex Hotel. Can’t remember if the food was all that special, but the view is great even though you are only about five or six stories up. Shopping…cheap and fun. 
You have quite a few series and some stand-alone novels, which of the main characters do you think embodies your own personality the most?
Hmmm…I think most of my lead characters embody some of me, usually it’s their faults that we share. They are always better at me at the good/fun stuff. Quinn is an excellent example. Terrible at reading women he’s interested in (me), and excellent at making bodies disappear (not me.)

How did you partnership with Robert Gregory Browne occur? Can you tell how what the experience was like co-writing with Browne?
Rob and I have known each other since about a year before each of our first books came out. Over time we have become very good friends and have often served as sounding boards for each other when it comes to working out plots and making our way in the business. About a year or two ago, we started talking about writing something together. Took us a while to figure out what and fit it into our schedules, but we were able to finally make it happen. And I have to say the experience of writing POE (as I expected it would be) was great. Very easy and painless. We’re actually working on the sequel now. 

With all your books, even your project Eden series, there is a sense of realism in what is occurring, was creating this realism aspect in your novels important?
It is, to a point. What is important to me is creating the sense of realism in whatever world I’m creating. If it sounds right and is true to the story, it will sound real. 

Have you ever experienced regret in killing off a character?
Not yet. Wait, I take that back, kind of. In an early draft of THE CLEANER, the first Quinn book, I killed of Nate, Quinn’s apprentice, in the first third of the book. That was a huge mistake. Luckily, I was able to rectify it before the book was done. THE ENRAGED, which came out in July, is the 7th in the series, and Nate is still going strong. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
Yes. I’m currently working on the fifth Project Eden novel, EDEN RISING. At the time of this interview, I’m hoping to have it out late September/early October. Don’t hold me to that, though. Around Thanksgiving, Rob and I should be releasing the second Poe novel, and I’m hoping to have another out before Christmas (series and title I’ll hold back for now.) 

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
DUST, by Hugh Howey. Absolutely loved the first two books in his WOOL series, and am anxious to find out where he goes next! 

I want to thank Brett once again for being part of my Blogoversary and I recommend his Jonathon Quinn series to those who like the action adventure genre. I know I am going to try his other series as well. Brett has very nicely offered up FIVE, yes FIVE, winner choices of either Sick (Eden #1) or The Collected (Johnathan Quinn #6), open INT, so make sure to enter with rafflecopter below. Thank you again Brett.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Author Interview & Giveaway: Ilsa J. Bick

Today I feature a YA author that was able to keep me entralled in her novel and keep me coming back for more. Her novel Ashes is one of those books that will stick with you and have you questioning everything. Please welcome to Blood Rose Boooks
Ilsa J. Bick

Why are you so surprised that you are an award-winning, best-selling author?
Uhm . . . because it’s like winning the lottery? Like, you hope things work out, but you don’t really expect it? Honestly, it’s thrilling enough to see my stuff in print. Don’t get me wrong: the awards are great; heck, I bought a refrigerator from the money I got from one prize, and my secret ambition is to someday win an Edgar, or at least make it onto the bloody list. (There’s just something about that little Poe head I really groove on.) But to have your work read and enjoyed by a lot of people from all over the globe . . . that’s just really special. I’ll never forget the day I found out I’ve got a fan base in Turkey. Turkey! And they’re really sweet kids, too!

Did you decide to write within the YA genre because of your other career as a child psychiatrist?
Nope; it just happened. I started out in work-for-hire in established universes like Star Trek, Mechwarrior, Battletech and Shadowrun, and I’ve published a number of adult sf short stories in all sorts of venues. I was writing an adult mystery when I got the idea for Draw the Dark. When I finished Draw—and, boy, I wrote it pretty fast—I realized that I really enjoyed the genre and started educating myself about the YA that was out there. The thing I love about YA: kids aren’t necessarily as rigid as adults in their genre expectations, and there’s room for all sorts of mash-ups. For example, Draw is a paranormal mystery, but there are also horror, historical fiction, and dark psychological elements (in fact, one reviewer decided I’d created a new genre altogether). I love the freedom YA gives.

The Urban Fantasy / Paranormal genres appear to be the genre that everyone is writing in these days (even authors that are well established in other genres) what do you think the draw to these genre is? How do you believe your novels and series stand out from the rest of the crowd?

Gee, I don’t know; let’s take those questions in order. Doesn’t everyone daydream about having super-powers and not being ordinary but discovering that you’re really someone incredibly unique and special—and finding that certain special someone to boot? Honestly, the conceits fit very well with adolescents; if you think about it a sec, the whole task for the teenager is to leave home, find a love interest, and negotiate his/her way in that big bad world beyond their parents’ front door. It’s all very go forth, young man.

But why would anyone in his or her right mind voluntarily leave someplace safe and secure where, for most of us, you’re fed, clothed, taken care of? Right; nobody. In order to leave home and believe you can tackle life, you have to think you’re pretty darned special. That’s one of the reasons teens are so self-involved, and it’s all about me and finding a love interest and conquering the world. So I think the psychology and developmental tasks of adolescence play their part in those genres’ popularity.

Now, having said that . . . none of my books are like that. Period. I mean, yes, Draw the Dark was a paranormal mystery, but the protag was a boy and there really wasn’t a love interest per se; the task for the kid in my book was very, very different. But I’ve yet to write an urban fantasy or straight-up paranormal. So I guess that’s how my books stand out because they’re not.
Many adults have taken to reading novels that have been classified with the YA designation. Why do you think YA novel are now appeal to adult more and more?
Well, if you believe some commentators, it’s because YA is supposed to be easier on the brain and adults are tired. But I don’t buy that. I also don’t buy that many or even a majority of YAs appeal to adults; there are just as many young adults who find the situations and storylines of a lot of YA too simplistic. (I mean, you honestly think a twenty-something really wants to read about a sixteen or seventeen year old kid who’s getting dissed in high school, or can’t decide between Hunk A or Brainiac B?) So I personally don’t think it’s about the genre; it’s always about the story and the story has to be compelling and complex enough to grab and appeal to an adult. The fact that the story may have YA protags is secondary; the narrative is what carries the reader along for the ride.

Do you think that this may change some of the over content of the YA genre? Do you write with youth in mind or an adult reader in mind?
I actually never write with a particular reader in mind; I’m almost always invested in the characters, who just happen to be teenagers. So is that writing for teenagers? I guess so . . . but that almost feels too bald. The truth is that I’m writing their stories, and so, yeah, I’m trying to keep myself in a teenager’s mindset. If an adult is interested or enjoys that, great. But, again, I’m really all about story.

As for content . . . you know, I pretty much don’t worry about that. I put in what the story demands.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Historical fiction, which I happen to be tearing my hair out over right now (in a bizarre and twisted Ilsa-kind of way): you can get so caught up in learning facts, that you can a) research forever and b) lose sight of the fact that what you’re after is verisimilitude, not an A+ for a some research paper. You have to figure out which period details you want to include and bag the rest because you’ll never get it all right (and I’ve read some fairly jarring things in well-received books that I know are flat-out wrong—but you forgive the writer if the story’s good). In addition, there are some things that are just unknowable. For example, take whale oil: different grades gave off very specific light, hues, and smells. But what does a room lit with grade A whale oil really look like? Smell like? What about soot? And shadows?

You can go crazy worrying about stuff like this.

There are quite a few paranormal creatures out there (vampires, werewolves, witches, etc.) why did you choose to feature a zombie type creature in your Ashes Trilogy?
Dunno. Just seemed right at the time, and for the situation I was positing. Plus, I’m really not a fan of vampires, werewolves or witches—and there was no way to gracefully or even semi-scientifically slot them in there ;-). I guess I just liked the idea of kids who still looked like kids and were mortal but had undergone this major lifestyle change.

Your novel Draw the Dark, takes place during WWII, but is also a fantasy novel, was it hard to merge fact and fiction together?
No, not really, and especially because only certain sections happen in WWII

but always from the viewpoint of the primary protag, Christian Cage, who is very rooted in the present-day. I was really looking for a way to tell the true story of German PWs in the US, and sort of stumbled on the idea of melding a paranormal mystery with historical fact

All of your novels and series have a dark edge to them and some of them feature tough (and often not talked about) issues. For you, what is the appeal of the darker side? Do you find it hard to go to the dark side of your thinking? Do you think it is important to bring these issues to adults and teens even if it is within a fiction novel?
Well, I did some psychoanalytic training and am a Freudian and, you know, for us, the glass is always half-empty ;-). Honestly, I think I gravitate to the darker side of people because that both fascinates me and is what I’m trained to do. I’ve crawled through more people’s private sewers and hells than you can imagine, and I’ve heard and seen some pretty horrific things. So that dark side, when we really don’t behave well, is something I’m quite familiar with. At this point, I don’t find it hard at all. Remember, I also worked in a women’s prison, and Orange is the New Black, it ain’t. In some ways—and sad to say—almost nothing shocks me anymore. If a situation’s perverse and awful and cruel . . . someone somewhere will be hip-deep in it and having a good ol’ time.

As for the appeal . . . people are fascinated by darkness, and always have been. It’s why they flocked to public executions; it’s why serial killers get fan mail and marriage proposals. People are fascinated by taboos and the eerie, the uncanny, the things that go bump in the night and down the hall. In some ways, horror and awe are related emotions; the truly horrific also holds us in thrall. It’s the reason people queue up to watch the lions at feeding time, or slow down for an accident, or watch horror movies through their fingers. In the Bible, you cover your face in God’s presence; looking at God can also drive you mad, and almost every encounter with the divine, especially in the Old Testament, is frightening in some way.

In terms of a mission or importance . . . no, I don’t look at it that way. Remember, I’m first and foremost an entertainer. My job is to tell you a good story. So I never approach a book with an agenda. I think a book like that would actually be very boring, and kids are lectured at enough in school and by their parents. That doesn’t mean that things don’t creep in; my stories are fraught with people faced with difficult moral choices or tempted to break certain taboos, and then they have to decide what to do. Sometimes—many times—they make bad decisions. Then they just got to deal, and we get to see what happens next.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
Sure. Just finished the first-pass copy-edits for WHITE SPACE, the first volume in my new DARK PASSAGES series: think The Matrix meets Inkheart and Inception, and you start to get the gist. Very YA horror/darkly psychological thriller, mind-bending stuff going on. Right this second, I’m in the beginning throes of the sequel, THE DICKENS MIRROR. Soon as I’m done with that, I’ll go back and finish banging out a standalone YA thriller that’s about halfway done. Then I get to return to Saving Sky, the first book of a new sci-fi-ish series that I broke away from to write MONSTERS. By the the time I finish that first book . . . I’d better have some more ideas.

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
Oh gosh, I have so many. I guess . . . Countdown City by Ben Winters. But there’s Silken Prey (John Sandford) that I keep putting off; and Joyland by Stephen King; and . . . GAH!!! Too many books, not enough hours in the day!

I think that all of know how Ilsa feels about too many books, not enough time, but make sure to make time to read her Ashes Trilogy as well as enter her giveaway below (open USA) for either the first book Ashes or Monsters which was just released today. Thank you once again Ilsa for being part of my Blogoversary.