Feb 11, 2011

FTLOR: A Preview

        On February 26, 2011, For the Love of Reading will take place at the Sumner Library from 2 to 4 p.m. Although the event is free, it is asked that attendees bring a can of food for the local food bank. FTLOR will target a female, young adult audience and will be graced with the presence of five wonderful authors: Dia Calhoun, Holly Cupala, Kimberly Derting, Mandy Hubbard, and Lisa Schroeder.
Come see some of your favorite authors talk about their books! Then you can buy their books and get them signed! The Reader hopes to see you there; in the meantime, here is a little preview of what is to come!

Dia Calhoun
What message do you hope readers get from your novels?
I don't write to convey a message. I write to tell a good story.

What gave you the inspiration to write your first book?
My first novel Firegold, was inspired by my family's commercial apple orchard in the Methow Valley near Lake Chelan. A firegold is a magic apple.

Why did you decide to write fantasy novels?
I write fantasy because I like spending time in magical worlds, and because fantasy offers so many possibilities for my imagination to soar.

Read: Aria of the Sea, where thirteen year old folk healer Cerinthe trains to be a famous dancer, until a crisis occurs and she must seek help from the Sea Maid’s song…Arielle of Rhia, a novel that finds Princess Avielle of Rhia making a future that does not consist of evil, while at the same time keeping her identity secret after a deadly attack on her home.

Holly Cupala
Is there a specific theme in your writing that you hope readers grasp?
Many ideas went into Tell Me a Secret—so many questions I ponder about relationships and time and the universe, and how different people can experience the same events and come away with completely different memories. If I had to boil it down to one or two things I hope readers will take away, I’d say you can’t find yourself in other people, and the past does not have to define the future.

Are parts of your book based on any real-life occurrences?
Many of the events in Tell Me a Secret happen in real locations. Sure, there are the old Cornish campus and the landmarks of Capitol Hill, but I’m talking about the underground locales…such as the Halloween party house, which is based on a place in Wallingford where my friend lived as an undergrad. Some of the Tell Me a Secret characters were sparked by people I have known, but through the course of writing, they became entirely their own. Though my very closest and oldest friends will tell you they recognize certain traits, or emotions, or events—they know the secrets, but they’re not telling!

What is your favorite part of a book?
In learning to write, you hear over and over how important the first five pages are—they have the great responsibility of hooking the reader, setting the stage for the entire story, and propelling the narrative through the layers of plot and character. My favorite part, though, and maybe one of the hardest to write, is the ending. If I’m reading a book and I’ve spent time and emotional resources with a story and its characters, the ending will make or break my thoughts about the entire novel. I think I was most nervous about writing the end of Tell Me a Secret—so much that I skipped writing it the first time around. As I revised, the threads began to come together.

Do you have any fun facts about your books?

  • I spent four years writing Tell Me a Secret and wrote Don’t Breathe a Word in just four months. (I’m hoping the third book will take four weeks…)
  • Tell Me a Secret is full of secret references to my friends and family. 
  • Xanda’s favorite band, Splashdown, was a real band of some very good friends—we featured their amazing song “Ironspy” in the Tell Me a Secret trailer and quoted lyrics from “Presumed Lost” in the novel. 
  • Delaney, a Tell Me a Secret villain, was kicked out of Viewridge Prep—a fictional school that first appeared in friend Justina Chen’s Girl Overboard. Used with permission, of course!

Read: Tell Me a Secret, a compelling story about Miranda, a teen who has to face her dead sister’s past after she gets two lines on a pregnancy test…Don’t Breathe a Word, Cupala’s latest novel about a runaway keeping secrets (out Fall 2011).

Kimberly Derting
What are some major themes of your books that you want readers to see?
If I had to list one major theme, it’s pretty basic: Don’t talk to strangers.
       But I also think there are too many books in which the girl’s life revolves around her boyfriend at the expense of her friends.  I really wanted my main character (Violet) to have close girlfriends to lean on.

What gave you the idea to write books involving murders?
I didn’t intentionally set out to write a book about murders, it was really a book about Violet’s unique ability to find the dead bodies.  It was because of Violet’s ability that it made sense to have murders in the book.

What is the most difficult part of writing a novel?
For me, it’s trying to set a writing schedule and actually sticking to it.  I find myself constantly distracted by Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and email.  (Mostly because I LOVE Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and email!)

Do you have any fun facts about your books? 

  • For some of the tertiary characters (in both books), I used the names of some of our friends and family.  Honestly, I was surprised by how many people wanted to be the dead girls!  
  • The Body Finder takes place at White River High School in Buckley, WA.  You might know the place.
  • In real life there are no lockers at White River High School.  But I really wanted my characters to have lockers, so I made them up.
  • When my editor first read the manuscript, she sent back a note that said: “What does ‘the mountain is out’ mean?”  She’s from New York City…apparently a mountain being blocked by cloud cover isn't a big problem there.

Read: The Body Finder, about Violet, just the typical teenager with a crush on her best guy friend--except she can hear the echoes of dead bodies…Desires of the Dead, the sequel which follows Violet as she gains too much attention from the FBI and puts herself and those that she loves in danger.

Mandy Hubbard
If there was one thing you would want readers to take from your books, what would it be?

My main goal is just for people to learn something about themselves, through my books. Whether that means finding your inner confidence, or understanding the world--and where you fit-- a little bit better.

Do you prefer writing in one genre, or multiple genres?
I actually do write in multiple genres. I do my high-concept/paranormal type books for Razorbill under the name Mandy Hubbard. I also write darker, reality-based novels under Amanda Grace. Those are published by Flux books. I have done a novella for adults, as well, which was published by Harlequin last year.

Where do you get the ideas for your books?
I tend to actively brainstorm them-- I like playing the "what if" game with a million different scenarios, until something strikes me.

Do you have any fun facts about your books? 
You Wish: Takes place in Enumclaw.  All of the teachers last names are those of NASCAR drivers. All of the main characters (Kayla, Nicole, Janae) are named after my cousins. Only six months passed between getting the idea and holding an advance copy of the book in my hands.
Prada & Prejudice: I revised the book over and over. When it sold, it was in its 9th draft. It was rejected by 26 other publishers. It was once in TIME Magazine because actress Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunchine; My Sister's Keeper) was reading it.

Read: You Wish, about Kayla, who wishes on her sixteenth birthday that every birthday she ever made would come true--and they do...Prada & Prejudice, where Callies buys a pair of Prada pumps, trips in them, hits her head, and wakes up in 1815.

Lisa Schroeder
What do you hope readers grasp from your novels? 
My first three YA novels, I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Far From You and Chasing Brooklyn explore the themes of love and loss, healing and hope. I want readers to walk away with the feeling that love endures all things, as well as the idea that every day is a gift, and we should make the most of the gift we are given, and love with our whole hearts as much as we can.

Of all your books, which is your favorite and why?
You know our books are kind of like children to us, right? So I don't think I can pick a favorite. I love each of them for different reasons. I love I Heart You, You Haunt Me because writing it was such joy and even though I knew it was different, it was the first time I felt really proud about a novel I'd written. I love Far From You because I took three things I wanted to write about - angels, Alice in Wonderland, and a songwriter - and threw them together and made a book. I love Chasing Brooklyn because it was really hard to write dual narratives, with both a boy and a girl narrator, but I did it, and I'm proud of how it turned out.

What is your thought process when writing a book?
Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing...Yep, that's pretty much it. Writing a book can be hard. I love the days when it flows and time is racing by and I can't get the words down fast enough. But that doesn't happen very often. I think when I'm writing, I try hard to give the reader a story with layers that will touch them. I'm sort of known, up to this point, for making people cry, so I just try to dig deep and write scenes that people can relate to on a basic emotional level.

Do you have any fun facts about your books? If so, what are they? 
I Heart You, You Haunt Me came about after I had a dream about a girl whose boyfriend died and he loved her so much, he didn't want to let her go. A lot of readers wanted a sequel, but my editor felt like we left Ava, the main character, in a good place. But he suggested maybe Ava could make a cameo appearance in another book, and that's how Chasing Brooklyn was born. I think of Chasing Brooklyn as my gift to the fans of I Heart You.

Read: I Heart You, You Haunt Me, a story about Ava, a girl who blames herself for the death of her boyfriend--who is back from the dead as a ghost…Far From You, where Alice gets trapped in a car during a snowstorm with her stepmom and newborn baby sister, who she is forced to communicate with. Coming June 2011: The Day Before.

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