Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blogoversary Author Interview & Giveaway: Sophie Littlefield

Hi Everyone,
Make sure you check out all the other interviews and giveaways by checking out the Blogoversary Tab or Picture at the top of the page.

Today I have an interview with an author whose books I have become totally engrossed in and I am always looking for more.

Please Welcome SOPHIE LITTLEFIELD to Blood Rose Books Today!

You began your writing career with crime fiction, why did you change to dystopia horror novel then to young adult?
I actually started my writing career with literary short stories about a thousand years ago. When my first child was born (he will turn 19 this fall) I wrote my first novel, a romance. Over the next fourteen years I wrote seven more novels. There were five romances in all, but when I had no luck selling them, I tried a police procedural (crime) novel with romantic elements.

That didn’t sell either, but I had been bitten by the mystery bug. My next book was what I call my “midlife crisis” book – I just wrote exactly what I damn well felt like, which was a pissed-off middle-aged mom (surprise, surprise!) with a major axe to grind.

After that series sold, and I had turned the second book in and didn’t know what to do next, my agent suggested I try young adult. I had loved fairy tales as a child, especially the dark and sinister European ones. BANISHED, to me, has some of the elements from those tales, from ancient curses and gifts to a multitude of threats including an evil grandmother and mysterious henchmen.

After that, I still had time before I was contracted to turn in another book, and I decided to try something darker yet. I have been a lifelong fan of horror, especially Stephen King, and the idea of creating a dystopic world and populating it with tormented characters was irresistible to me.

I love all my genres, and I’m very lucky that all publishers would like me to continue writing more books in each.

Do you remember the first story you wrote and did it inspire you to keep on writing?
The first long story I wrote, when I was about eleven years old, was about a girl who woke up in a shopping mall only to discover that everyone on earth had vanished, and she could shop for free for as long as she wanted. Since then I like to think that my themes have gotten a little more complex and my characters a little more layered J  However, I needed very little inspiration to keep writing – it’s something I’ve never NOT done, if that makes sense. It’s an urge I can’t ignore.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
The answer varies for every author. Each of us finds herself more at home in some genres than others, but I think it’s important to push ourselves to do new things, even – especially – when we are out of our comfort zone and when we fail many times before we succeed.

For me, the biggest learning curve has been young adult fiction. I will humbly admit that it took four very significant rewrites to get my BANISHED into shape, and I am grateful to those who helped me. UNFORSAKEN – which comes out this fall – came more easily to me. And my latest young adult novel, which I am revising right now, has benefitted from the lessons I learned from both.

I think, looking back, that my challenge in writing young adult comes from the fact that I had developed a sort of atmospheric, narrative-heavy writing style. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is appropriate to some novels, but learning to write a faster-paced novel has made me a better writer in every genre.

Your Stella Hardesty series is about “taking care” of abusive men. Why did you choose to have your main character be a slightly older woman?
‘Cause I am one, sugar!  When I started that novel I was forty-four years old, and given my track record, I was convinced I would be fifty by the time I found someone to publish it. Turns out I beat my deadline by a few years, but I still used my newfound middle-aged wisdom to paint that character.

My other series feature a 16-year-old girl and a thirty-year-old woman. One of the wonderful things about being my age is that I can relate to women at many stages of life. I remember what it was like to be in high school and I remember what it was like to be a young mother.

Why did you decide to do a dystopian novel, and the use zombies in your books? What do you think are the key aspects in creating zombies?
The zombies were truly an accident! In my young adult novel I had a very minor plot element in the first draft that was vaguely zombie-esque. When the editor asked if I could develop it into a full-fledged zombie subplot, I said “of course,” happy to have the challenge. I used to watch old black-and-white horror movies with my dad, so the lurching, creepy monster was something I had fun with.

When I wrote AFTERTIME, I wanted to try a different kind of zombie. The truth is that the creatures in AFTERTIME are not true zombies at all – they are not un-dead. They are victims of a fever that robs them of their sanity and gives them a craving for living flesh, so they are more like cannibals.

I think there are two ways to go with zombies. You can either cleave to tradition (Romero style) or you can break free and make up your own conventions. There’s no right or wrong – but being a person who does most things in her own stubborn way, I chose the latter.

Do you find that the dystopian novels have let you explore different aspects of human nature and psychology that you could not explore in crime fiction?
Great question! Yes, but I didn’t consciously set out to do so. It was only when the series was finished that I started thinking about personal devastations set against the stage of a devastated world. The great scale of an apocalypse is something you can’t really pull off in a crime novel, and I think the best crime fiction centers on a very small world, that of the individual. The way the perpetrators and victims of a crime are affected – there is nothing more personal (unless, I suppose, you write about political intrigue or spies or something like that – which I don’t.)

What do you think it is about Cassandra Dollar that appeals to readers?
Well, first I should say that there are plenty of readers that find her hard to relate to and even unlikeable. I understand that reaction, because she is very self-destructive by some measures, as well as untrusting and provocative. But I would say that those who have experienced grief and loss and shame tend to like Cass for her determination to rise above her circumstances, no matter what. Cass is broken, but she is determined. That spirit resonates with some of us.

Each of you adult series talks about some tough real life experiences (Child Sexual Abuse and Abusive Husbands), how do you find most readers react with the use of these subjects?
I’ve had victims of domestic violence tell me that my books were a gentle take on a horrific subject that worked for them. I can imagine no greater compliment. I don’t mean to suggest that I was trying to make something humorous from a terrible problem, but rather that I was trying to reflect one possible reaction that might be self-preserving and even life-celebrating. I wanted to create a character who was tough, strong, generous, and still very much a woman.

As for my young adult series, I have always felt it was important to be honest with girls about sexual predators and various forms of abuse. There are very, very few girls who are never the victim of unwanted attention. By telling the story of a girl who triumphs over her pursuers, I hoped to encourage a feeling of confidence and strength, a determination not to back down in the face of abuse, but to find alllies and fight back.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
UNFORSAKEN, the sequel to BANISHED, will be out in October. Meanwhile, the second in the AFTERTIME series, called REBIRTH, was just released and will be followed by the final volume, HORIZON, next February.

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
I love to read romance for pleasure. I have read almost all of Kristan Higgins’ books, but I am saving JUST ONE OF THE GUYS for my vacation!

Thank you so much for inviting me here! - Sophie

I want to take this time to Thank Sophie for participating in my Blogerversary and taking the time to answer some questions. Sophie has very nicely offered to have a giveaway with her interview, therefore, I have one SIGNED copy of Rebirth up for grabs!. You can find out more about Sophie's book by checking out my reviews of Aftertime and Rebirth and Sophie's website.

1.You do not need to be a follower to participate, but it is always nice for you to join
2.Please Fill out the Form BELOW to enter
3.This Giveaway is Open USA only
4. The Giveaway ENDS on October 7, 2011
5. The winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hrs to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen
6. The Book has been provided by Sophie Littlefield


  1. Goodness, Ms. Littlefield is a prolific author, and able to move around effortlessly into different genres! Thanks for the chance to win, and I will certainly be checking out all your books online today :) Rae

  2. I've read the Bad Day books, but haven't read the Cassandra Dollar ones yet - even though a good friend has told me wonderful things about it. I'll have to start reading...

    Mickie T