Posts Categorized: Interviews

Interview with Jen Calonita

August 6, 2016 Interviews 0

Interview with Jen CalonitaVIP: Battle of the Bands by Jen Calonita, Kristen Gudsnuk
on July 26th 2016
Pages: 320
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Mackenzie "Mac" Lowell is living a dream come true on tour with her favorite boy band. Spending time on the road with Perfect Storm hasn't been what Mac expected, though-it's even BETTER!
But with screaming fans and big-time recording sessions come haters and copycats, like Thunder and Lightning, a new band on the label whose first single sounds suspiciously like the song Perfect Storm's guitarist wrote for Mac. As the two bands set out on a joint summer tour, more and more of Perfect Storm's secrets are leaked to the public.
Where's the one place all these lyrics and secrets are supposedly being kept safe? In Mac's journal, of course! Can Mac-and her comic-book alter ego, Mac Attack-stop the leaks and nab the culprit?
With black-and-white illustrations and action-packed Mac Attack comics throughout, Jen Calonita's VIP series is more exciting than a backstage pass!

Hey guys! Today I get to share a Q&A that I did with bestselling YA and MG author Jen Calonita about her latest book VIP: Battle of the Bands. Thanks to Hachette and Jen for making this happen!

You’ve written both middle grade and young adult books, which do you prefer writing and why?

I think it really depends on the story I have in mind and who I want to tell it. Lately all the protagonists I come up with are younger. Maybe it’s because I have a tween in the house and maybe it’s just because it’s the way my mind works. I always think about my life at age 11 and 12 and what the most important things were at the time. For me, it was music and my love of the group New Kids on the Block, which lead to this story.

You worked for an entertainment magazine and had the opportunity to interview some amazing celebrities, do you have any memorable stories from these experiences? You don’t have to name any names!

I really had a great time at my job and I feel like it gives me “Cool Points” when I’m speaking to a class about my books — or even to my own children, to say things like, “This one time, I was interview Zac Efron on the set of High School Musical 3….” Or: “When I interviewed The Rock at Madison Square Garden,” or “When I met Chris Pratt he was on this show called Everwood–way before Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy!” And now I’m name-dropping! But seriously, I learned so much about interviewing and storytelling and what that world was like from my time being on the fringe. It’s what inspired my first book series, Secrets of My Hollywood Life.

How has Mac and the rest of the characters evolved in Battle of the Bands?

Mac loves her life being on the road with Perfect Storm, but when you spend so much time around musicians who everyone in the world wants to get to know, you have to be careful what you say and what you write in your diary–or should I say, where you LEAVE your diary. Mac’s diary is being read and she can’t figure out how or who has their hands on it, but they’re learning secrets about Perfect Storm that they don’t want the world to know and that’s straining her relationship with them. But of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had when you’re on the road with a boy band and they spend days off at a water park or doing photo shoots at a restaurant with a mechanic bull. Mac and her friends have fun everywhere they go!

What are some recent middle grade books that you recommend?

I’m on a James Patterson binge reading the Middle School books and the I Funny series, both of which my 11-year-old is obsessed with. My 7-year-old and I love the Notebook of Doom series, about a group of monster fighters, and Eerie Elementary, and I’m reading Return to the Isle of the Lost because I loved the first book Melissa De La Cruz wrote so much.

Since this is about boy bands, I have to ask, who are three of your favorite boy bands?

New Kids on the Block

‘NSync (who I loved getting to spend time with during my magazine days!)

One Direction

Once a boy bander, always a boy bander! 🙂

Do you have any musical talents?

Oh my, I’m terrible! I can’t play an instrument, and I don’t have the best voice, but somehow I got cast in a starring role in our senior year production of The Pajama Game. I’m thinking we didn’t have a wealth of talent available that year for the school play. How else would I get a duet? In any case, I’m still really proud of the fact I got up there and did that in front of the whole school! Maybe there is a book in there somewhere….

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YA Debut Authors Bash: Interview with Emily Ross

December 15, 2015 Features, Interviews 1

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This is my last post for the tour and I’m excited to share it with you guys! Even though this is the last day, you can still look around at the other blogs and enter some giveaways while they are still open. Some of the earlier ones may not still be going on, but I recommend checking out the posts anyway! Big thank you to YA Reads for hosting the bash. You can see the schedule here.

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Half in Love with Death

Summary:

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.

Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.

Inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, Half in Love with Death is a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

Interview with Emily Ross:

1. I have heard that Half in Love with Death is based on the Tucson serial killer. What was it about the story that inspired you to write this YA book?

Charles Schmid, the psychopath known as the Pied Piper of Tucson, was handsome and popular, and had many girlfriends. He also murdered three teenage girls, and buried them in the Arizona desert. I wondered how someone who was so outwardly charming could be capable of such horrific crimes. And why did his friends cover for him? This case made me realize how little I’d understood about my own friends as a teen, and how blindly I’d counted on love to solve everything. It would have been easy for me to have been deceived by a psychopath.

I was also drawn to the tragic story of Gretchen and Wendy Fritz, the two sisters Schmid killed. Gretchen was beautiful and reckless. I was curious as to why her volatile relationship with Schmid ended in murder. Her younger sister Wendy was especially interesting to me. There was little information about her, but the one photo I found reminded me of myself as a teen. She looks so hopeful and unaware of what is coming next. Thinking about how Schmid took the lives of these two sisters needlessly without remorse, inspired me to write a story about sisters, lies, and a girl who must see through her illusions about love to save herself.

2. The story takes place in the 1960’s, what are three songs from the era that sort of sum up this book?

As Tears Go By – Marianne Faithfull. This song about someone who is watching the world go by through her tears echoes how my main character Caroline feels during the worst summer of her life.

The Pied Piper – Crispian St. Peters. In this song a boy promises to lead a girl out of sadness into a wider happier world. But is he for real or is he masquerading? This is a lot like Caroline’s relationship with Tony. Interestingly this song was popular in 1966, the same year that the case of the Pied Piper of Tucson was all over the news.

I’m Looking Through You – The Beatles. This song is about that moment when you realize that the person you love isn’t who you thought they were. Caroline faces many moments like this as she struggles to understand the boy she loves, and to separate the truth from the lies.

3. Are there any similarities between the fifteen-year-old protagonist Caroline and yourself when you were a teen? What are the differences?

Like Caroline I wrote poetry as a teen and was a huge fan of E.E. Cummings and John Keats. I also hung out with kids who were wilder than me. I was always the quiet one watching, wishing I could be more like my friends. I was a romantic like Caroline, too. I idealized the boys I had crushes on and it took me forever to see who they really were. Unlike me, Caroline isn’t trapped by her illusions of love for too long. She figures things out. I think it is so important for girls to know they have the power to do that.

 4. This book is a YA thriller, what are some other stories in the genre (and also a few adult books) that you recommend to readers?

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Not sure this is a thriller but it is deeply disturbing with surprising twists and I love the terse prose style.

Blue Voyage by Diana Renn. In this YA thriller about a likable kickass teen girl who cracks a smuggling ring on a trip to Turkey, the setting is gorgeous, and the unraveling of the complex mystery kept me on the edge of my seat.

Dare Me by Megan Abbot. Technically not YA but this story about the darkness at the heart of an extremely competitive cheer squad is absolutely riveting.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This adult novel that teens might like, features a twisted teen girl, something awful about teeth, a terrifying dollhouse, and over-the-top Gothic darkness.

5. There obviously had to be a lot of research for Half in Love with Death, how long would you say that you spent on research alone? How long did it take for you to complete the book?

I did a couple of months of research up front, but as I wrote the book I often went back to my sources when I needed more information. Even during my last edit I was still looking things up.

It took me seven years to complete my book partly because I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. I made many wrong turns as I wrote and ended up doing a lot of revisions. Also I was juggling being a parent of teens and a full time job so I couldn’t spend as much time writing as I wanted to.

6. Can you tell me a little bit about what stories you are working on next?

I’m working on a novel about a teenage dancer who must prove that her Russian immigrant boyfriend and dance partner is not the mythical butterfly killer who murdered the captain of the high school dance team. The story takes place in Quincy MA—a city that combines the charm of a small town with the gritty darkness of the inner city. I’m having fun writing about dance and murder!

About Emily Ross:

Emily Ross’s YA mystery/thriller HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH is forthcoming from Merit Press(12/2015). She received a 2014 MCC Artist Fellowship finalist award for fiction, and is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program. When not writing she works as a web developer and is the mother of two millennials. Find out more at http://www.emilyrosswrites.com/ or https://twitter.com/emilyross816.

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YA Debut Authors Bash: Interview with Marci Lyn Curtis

December 14, 2015 Features, Interviews 4

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Well, the 2015 Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads is almost over. I’m really excited that I could participate in it. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour and participate in the giveaways by going here.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago,Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met. Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the magnetic lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future…before she loses everything she has grown to love.

Interview with Marci Lyn Curtis:

1. Where did you get the general idea for The One Thing?

Actually, it was the characters who inspired me to write the story. I know, I know…that sounds weird. But let me explain. When the basic premise of The One Thing came to me, it brought with it a jumble of characters that sort of picked at my brain until I wrote their story. In the beginning, I was pretty clueless about the exact direction of the book. But once I started writing, the plot just unwound for me, like it had always been there from the start.

2. Maggie is a major fangirl in the book, when you were her age, what boy band were you obsessed with?

Oh man, I was a rocker chick, so I was obsessed with Van Halen in the most painful, outrageous way. Also, Bon Jovi. And ooooooh, AC/DC.

3. Mason is such a great book boyfriend who I definitely swooned over throughout the story, what YA book boyfriends are your personal favorites?

Gah…there are so many, but here are some hardcore favorites:

Joe from The Sky is Everywhere

Bodee from Faking Normal

Jase from My Life Next Door

Corey from What Happens Next

4. How old were you when you first began writing and what advice would you give those who want to write, but just aren’t sure where to start?

In my twenties and thirties, I goofed around with some poetry, but when I got into my forties I reached a point where just a few lines wasn’t enough. I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to write…something more. So I did. I wrote this middle-grade story that was basically atrocious, because it wasn’t really inspired by anything. I was writing just to write. On the plus side, it helped me to learn pacing, character arcs, and it forced me to find my voice. Right about the time that I gave up on that story—groaning, “Writing novels is hard!”—I got the idea for The One Thing.

Which I did my best to ignore.

Because, honestly. Writing novels is hard. But this new story didn’t leave me alone, so a couple years later I finally broke down and wrote it. I’m so, so glad I did.

So, long story long, my best advice for aspiring writers is to write the story that needs to be told, the one that keeps you up in the middle of the night. Write about things that matter. Write what’s in your heart. Just write.

5. In the novel, two disabilities that we don’t see nearly enough of in YA can be found through two of our main characters, Maggie and Ben, what are some books that feature characters with disabilities that inspired you personally?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything and Cammie McGovern’s Say What you Will were both fabulous.

6. YA romance book recommendations for readers that just read The One Thing and need a new book to pick up?

Oh boy, I’m terrible at choosing comp titles. I guess I’d have to say The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, because both stories have strong-willed, sarcastic heroines. Also, Kirkus Reviews gave The Fault in Our Stars as a similar title, which was shocking/humbling/flattering to even be mentioned in the same sentence as John Green.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marci Lyn Curtis grew up in Northern California, where she went to college and met an amazing guy in a military uniform. Two college-aged kids and one dachshund later, she lives in Maryland, where she laughs too loudly and eats peanut butter off spoons. The One Thing is her first novel.

Say hi to her on her at marcilyncurtis.com.

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YA Debut Authors Bash: Interview with Michelle Levy

December 9, 2015 Features, Interviews 1

YA Debut Authors Bash: Interview with Michelle LevyNot After Everything by Michelle Levy
Published by Dial on August 4th 2015
Pages: 304
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A gritty but hopeful love story about two struggling teens—great for fans of The Spectacular Now, Willow, and Eleanor and Park
Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?

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I’m so excited that I had the chance to participate in YA Reads’s annual debut author bash! This is my first post and two more will be coming up towards the end of the tour. Follow the complete tour here!

1. What made you want to write books for young adults? Would you ever write adult fiction books?

I write young adult books because I love exploring a character at that crucial time in their life. I also really enjoy the faster pace of young adult novels. I wouldn’t rule out writing any kind of fiction. It all depends on the characters for me. If I had a forty-year-old character or a ninety-year-old character that demanded their story be told, I would write it.

2. Jordyn is a spunky and sassy character who doesn’t take Tyler’s crap. Who are some female characters from other YA books that you loved who remind you of Jordyn?

I love strong female characters in fiction. Richelle Mead does a great job with strong women. Rose from her Vampire Academy series is one of my all-time favorites, and Sydney from her Bloodlines series is also up there on my list. Puck from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater, Avie from A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka, Karou from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, Alina from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Series, and of course, Katniss from the Hunger Games.

3. In “Not After Everything,” Tyler is forced to attend counseling until his 18th birthday. We also see his serious struggle with depression throughout the novel. I’ve read that you personally struggle from depression/anxiety. What would you say to teens out there who also are experiencing suicidal thoughts and depression but are afraid to see a therapist?

Yes, I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. I would tell anyone out there who might be struggling that they are not alone; that they shouldn’t be ashamed; that it’s okay to ask for help, that you don’t have to suffer alone. If you’re having suicidal thoughts and you don’t feel like you can talk to a friend or family member, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 and if the operator isn’t making you feel better hang up and call back until you speak to someone who can help you to see the value in your life.

4. What are some other YA books out there that those who want to read more about mental health/abuse should pick up after reading NAE?

I would recommend 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

5. On a happy note, I read that you love musicals. I’m also obsessed with them! What are three of your favorite musicals that are happy/uplifting? Besides Into The Woods haha.

Happy and uplifting? I guess that means I can’t include Les Miserables, can I? The happy/uplifting musicals I love are Wicked, Pippin, and The Book of Mormon—I dare anyone to leave that show without a smile on their face, or they might actually still be laughing.

6. You’ve been a casting director for many years and you said that Dylan O’Brien (I literally typed Stiles oops) is who you picture as Tyler. What is it that is so awesome about Dylan? I think that Tyler could really use a quirky positive friend like Dylan/Stiles in his life!

I like Dylan O’Brien for Tyler because he’s just so damn likable. You can easily see him as Tyler before his mom committed suicide. And his proficiency in sarcasm is perfect for after. As an actor, he’s not afraid of going to scary places. He’s really quite a talented actor. After seeing him tackle some pretty dark scenes, I could absolutely picture him in some of the more difficult scenes with Tyler’s dad. I definitely think Tyler could use a Stiles-type friend, but he wouldn’t have been as much help to Tyler as Jordan is. Maybe he’ll find a Stiles-type friend at Stanford.

ABOUT MICHELLE LEVY:

Michelle Levy was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, where she memorized books before she was able to read, tricking her parents into thinking she was a genius. At eighteen she moved to Los Angeles, to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Michelle always secretly harbored a desire to write. She spent many insomnia-filled nights dreaming up stories that she never thought to write down. When she finally set out to get something on the page, the words flew out of her until she had her first completed manuscript, and she never looked back.

When Michelle isn’t writing she is most likely working at her other job as a casting director, where in her many years of casting she has been privileged to work on projects such as Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Bruce Almighty, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, and many more.

She still lives in Los Angeles but desperately misses thunderstorms and clouds and, well, weather really (even the occasional snowstorm), so she visits Colorado quite often.

Follow her: Twitter | Website | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Truest Interview

December 1, 2015 Blog Tours, Interviews 3

Blog Tour: Truest Interview

Hey guys! I’m so glad to be apart of YA Read’s Blog Tour of the excellent book Truest. You can read my five star review of it here. Even though I’ve already read this book, I wanted to be involved in this tour because I desperately wanted to interview Jackie and spread the word about this story even more.

About the Book

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Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

Genre: YA realistic contemporary

Published on September 1st, 2015

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

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Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Interview with Jackie Lea Sommers:

1. One of the supporting characters in Truest has a mental illness that a lot of reads probably don’t know much about. What made you want to write about this illness?

Laurel Hart, one of the main character’s of Truest, suffers from a mental disorder called solipsism syndrome, in which she questions the nature of reality. People sometimes ask me how much research I had to do to write about it, and in truth, the answer is “Less than you think.” The reason for that is that I lived it. At various stages of my life, I went through experiences similar to Laurel’s– the worst variation being in my early twenties when I somehow convinced myself that my life was like The Truman Show and all of my friends hated me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone that in those awful, ugly months. Years later, when I discovered that there was a name for it, I knew I wanted to write a story about it.
2. How old were you when you first realized that you wanted to be a writer?

Love this question! I have always been a storyteller. Even when I was very, very young, a lot of my play involved creating “scenes” for my My Little Ponies and drawing pictures about my future life married to the boy my mom did daycare for. I suppose I was in about third grade when I started to write actual stories. In sixth grade, I wrote my first “book”– really, it was a short story, but it had a beginning, middle, and end– and my second and third “books” came during junior high and early high school. I also authored a soap opera in junior high, and my friends would pass the notebook around to read new “episodes.” It was probably in ninth or tenth grade when I declared that one of my life goals was to publish a book.

3. Which character in Truest do you personally connect with the most and why?

I connect deeply with Laurel Hart. I have diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even though that is different than what Laurel goes through, I understand her depression, her loneliness, her terror– and also those moments of joy that stand out like bright suns in the midst of it all.

4. What made you want to write books for young adults specifically? Could you see yourself writing adult books at some point?

The first (unpublished) book I wrote was for adults. I assumed that I would write for adults all the way until January 2012, when I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and asked myself, “Why am I not writing for teens? These are the books I love most.” From that moment on, I narrowed my focus to writing YA. Could I see myself writing adult books at some point? Possibly! But right now, I’m far more intrigued by the wild, wonderful, awful world of young adults. My daily life has work and a mortgage; I’d rather write about discovering things for the very first time.

5. What are some of your favorite artists and songs to listen to while you write?

I generally don’t listen to music while I write actually! I find it too distracting– though I do create a playlist for each story I’m writing and listen to it a lot in my non-writing hours and I find that it inspires me a lot! For Truest, my playlist includes Mew, Vocal Few, and Keane. Keane’s “Try Again” is the song I think of when I think of my novel.

6. Silas is an incredible book boyfriend. Who are some of your favorite YA boys?

Augustus Waters, Sean Kendrick, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, and all of Melina Marchetta’s boys: Jonah Griggs, Will Trombal, Finnikin, Froi, even Thomas Mackee, in his own way. Melina Marchetta is the queen of creating amazing male characters. I worship at her throne.

7. Going off of that question, I’m curious to know what you think about two of my personal favorites. Augustus Waters from The Fault in our Stars or Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road.

Ha! You and I think alike! You’re gonna have to fight me for them. 🙂 In all seriousness, Augustus Waters inspired Truest because he taught me that if you have a great character, you can make him/her do just about anything and the readers will be happy to come along for the ride. Shortly after meeting Augustus Waters, I began crafting Silas Hart.

About the Author

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Jackie Lea Sommers lives and loves and writes in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize. She dislikes OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She likes book boyfriends, cranky teenagers, and Minnesota springs. Truest is her first novel.

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The Giveaway:

One signed and annotated hardcover of Truest

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Blog Tour: Poet Anderson…Of Nightmares

November 6, 2015 Blog Tours, Interviews, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Blog Tour: Poet Anderson…Of NightmaresPoet Anderson ...Of Nightmares by Tom DeLonge, Suzanne Young
Published by To the Stars on October 6th 2015
Pages: 368
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four-half-stars
From the critically acclaimed transmedia project Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, comes one of the most anticipated collaborations in YA literature this year: a thrilling, edge of your seat story written by award-winning musician, producer and director Tom DeLonge and New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young. 
Poet Anderson...Of Nightmares follows the epic journey of two orphan brothers, Jonas and Alan, who are Lucid Dreamers. After a tragic car accident lands Alan in a coma, Jonas sets out into the Dream World in an attempt to find his brother and wake him up. What he discovers instead is an entire shared consciousness where fear comes to life as a snarling beast called a Night Terror, and a creature named REM is bent on destruction and misery, devouring the souls of the strongest dreamers to get closer to the Waking World. With the help of a Dream Walker—a guardian of the dreamscape, Jonas must face his fears, save his brother, and become who he was always meant to be: Poet Anderson.

So what’s special about this book? Truth be told, there’s so many things about Poet Anderson…Of Nightmares that standout to me as a reader. There are just so many different genres that are meshed together in this YA book that makes the end result truly special. The story itself is one that I personally could kick myself for not coming up with. It’s just fascinating and instantly drew me into the story and I had to keep reading to find out what in the world was going to happen. Simply put, you get sucked into this complex world that these two authors have created. You also care about each and every character, and definitely cheer for them to defeat the bad guys. My first reaction to the ending was anger, but that was short lived once I realized that there will luckily be two more books after this one! I can’t wait to find out what’s next for our main boy Jonas and all of the other memorable characters that more or less come to life throughout the story.

Who should read it? This is a complicated question to answer because I personally think that the story covers pretty much every genre out there. I have seen that fans of Star Wars and other science fiction novels will potentially love this more than other readers, but I am not a huge fan of Star Wars (shocking I know) and I still found myself lost within the world of lucid dreaming here. I think it’s a genius topic to cover because I’m sure that a lot of people have at least heard of lucid dreaming, but might not be familiar with it in the way that it is presented in this story. Personally, I thought that it was insanely creative and different to come up with all of these trials that come with lucid dreaming.

Jonas and Alan are both orphan brothers who also are lucid dreamers. Alan, who is older, ends up in a coma from a car crash and Jonas then sets off into the dream world of Genisis to find him. There is where he discovers that he is a poet. There is a war going on in the dream world, and the villain is REM, who wants to take over the Dream World and the Waking World. Jonas must face off against REM and save these two worlds. Additionally, there’s also some romance thrown into the novel between Jonas and Sam. I found it to be an added bonus in the story, and I really enjoyed getting to read about their relationship.

While some may say that this is a trilogy that Science Fiction fans are most likely to enjoy, I also have to say that those who just enjoy a unique and complex YA story will love the book as well. Since it covers a variety of readers, I’m going to recommend it for those that love YA and are looking to escape to a completely unique and creative world that you will definitely get lost in.

Interview with Tom DeLonge:

What inspired the storyline of Poet Anderson and is there a character that you most identify with?

I saw a fascinating documentary about the study of nightmares at Stanford University. It talked about nightmares preparing human beings for real world events. It instantly made me think of my already existing character Poet Anderson, a post-punk and introverted kid from a rainy downtown Seattle. He’s a lucid dreamer, somebody that can see a better world, even if there is myriad of conflict. Yes, a character that I see a lot of myself in. From the days when I had much longer bangs. HA.

Have you always wanted to write a novel? How was this experience for you? 

When I was younger I could never find the desire to read. I cheated over and over and never read one book in school. Out of all the books they had given us, in all my years of school, I never read one of them.

As Blink-182 got popular, I started to realize what really made me excited about art was the way people felt when they come together, quite an epiphany for me. I became fascinated by the world of film, books, and music coming together. Hitting somebody with a 360 degree bat of art on the head. Angels and Airwaves was the genesis of that. Now, whenever I have any time at all, I find myself reading anything I can get my hands on, and trying to learn something of value.

Lucid dreaming plays a key part in the storyline, have you ever experience a lucid dream? What attracted you to the role that dreams play in our lives? 

There are two main reasons that attracted me to dreams, I have had lucid dreams in the past where I can’t get these pictures out of my head to this day; wondering what they meant, and what the hell they were, I am also a daydreamer by trade, and I spend every waking hour thinking about how to improve my future, my environment, and my experience.

The novel is part of what you call a Poet Anderson Transmedia  experience. Can you explain what other media assets you have created that help tell the story and how …Of Nightmares fits into it? 

I believe that the future of art is the convergence of film, music, and publishing. This will create new ways for people’s imaginations to be immersed into new worlds and new ways of thinking. This is called Transmedia, a cohesive mix of various mediums of art working together leading to a much grander experience for the audience.

Recently you’ve shifted your focus from your platinum-selling band Blink-182 to your new company To The Stars. What can you tell us about your future plans? 

As I’ve grown, I find myself wanting to do more things that involve other young artists. I get inspiration from talented people. I want to learn from them. I want to meet more people, try more things, feel new emotions, and see more reactions on people’s faces.

I just don’t do well in a box. After 25 years of one thing, I’ve developed a really cool new view of the world. I am always looking for new interesting ways to share my ideas and exciting, innovative people to collaborate with. The sky’s the limit for To The Stars, and I get to be the captain.

Interview with Suzanne Young:

What is your take on lucid dreaming? 

I wish I could lucid dream. I read up on the act itself, and there are some who don’t believe it’s possible and others who think it’s a learned skill. I’d like to believe that a true lucid dreamer can modify and change his/her dream, but then again, if we all had the skill, how many of us would wake up again? It’s almost like virtual reality. But in the case of POET ANDERSON, it’s an actual reality.

Where did you draw your inspiration for the world? 

I was lucky in that Tom and screenwriter Ben Kull already had a clear idea of what the world should look like. I tell character-driven stories, so my focus was on the Anderson brothers, and later, Poet’s relationship with Samantha. It was great to have pictures and graphic novel images to draw on for the setting.

There are a lot of intense battle scenes. What is your process for writing those? 

When I write, I always imagine the scene as a movie. I watch it in my head and then try to describe it on the page. Sometimes it works; sometimes it’s a mess. But those were the times I’d send it to Tom and he’d be like, “I love it!” Or he’d be like, “Yeah, I don’t know what’s happening here.”

How does the novel …Of Nightmares fit in to the TransMedia universe? 

The novel tells the origin story, introducing a young adult version of Poet Anderson. We know he’s going to be a serious badass, but right now, he’s Jonas Anderson, and he just wants his brother and he to live their lives. Then a Night Terror and a bunch of Dream Walkers show up and throw his life into total upheaval. He grows from here, but this was a great place for him to start.

Some of your other novels have heavy emotional themes. Does that carry into Poet Anderson at all? 

Most of my books are about loss and grief, and I think one of the more interesting aspects of this book, in addition to the world Tom created, is the relationship between Jonas and Alan Anderson. That sense of belonging to no one can be a driving force. Some of us have to create our own families. So I think in that aspect, fans of The Program series will connect to the emotions that Poet Anderson will stir up.

Where do you see the story going from here? 

No spoilers, but I will say this; going forward, nothing will be the same for Poet Anderson. He undergoes a significant change, losing a lot of people along the way. In the end, he realizes exactly what he is capable of. And what it can mean for the entire dreamscape.

four-half-stars

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Interview With Jenn Bennett

October 24, 2015 Interviews 0

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Romance author Jenn Bennett has a new Young Adult book that’s coming out on November 3rd! This was one of my favorite books of the year and I’m so excited that I was able to interview her a few months back. I hope that reading this interview makes you excited for the book.

1. This is your first young adult book. What made you want to write books for teens and not just adults?

A popular character in my adult fantasy series, Jupe, is a teenage boy, and readers often requested I write a spinoff with him as the protagonist. Though that never happened, a couple of years ago, my agent encouraged me to try my hand at writing young adult because she thought I had the right voice for it. I guess she was right (she always is), because when I started writing this book, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. I’m *really* happy I listened to her.

2. What inspired you to name your protagonist Beatrix?

I totally dig old-fashioned names—the odder, the better. And I liked that this one could be shortened to the much snappier “Bex”, which suits my protagonist quite well. It also has some interesting book and film heritage, being the full name of Trixie Belden from the mid-century children’s mystery books and the protagonist of the *Kill Bill* films
(Beatrix Kiddo).

3. In the UK, this book is called “Night Owls” while it’s called “The Anatomical Shape of a Heart” here in the United States. Can you tell the story behind the different titles?

Clear as mud, right? My original title is NIGHT OWLS, which the U.K. decided to keep. I named it NIGHT OWLS as a nod to the San Francisco late-night Owl buses, on which my protagonists, Jack and Bex, meet in the opening chapter. I also titled it that because their activities keep them out in the city after midnight: Bex is sneaking out for a chance to draw cadavers inside the university hospital’s Willed Body lab, and Jack is a graffiti artist. However, my U.S. publisher decided they wanted to focus their marketing on the anatomy aspect of the story, so they retitled it THE ANATOMICAL SHAPE OF A HEART. (Confession time: When my family and friends ask why the name was changed, I tell them that my U.S. publisher “John Green-ified” my title, because wordier titles seems to be the trend in YA over the last couple of years in the States. I don’t mind, though; I like both titles.)

4. Do you listen to music while you write your stories? If so, what genre, artists, or specific songs do you typically listen to?

When I write, I’m easily distracted, so I need complete silence. (Nothing but the sound of my two pugs snoring, which is pretty loud; they sleep in my office while I write.) However, I do listen to music for inspiration, and also when I’m editing drafts after the book is finished. My tastes are eclectic, but for this book, I listened to a lot of: Metric (*Synthetica*, especially), The Roots, Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, Queens of the Stone Age (*Like Clockwork*), Father John Misty, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, Magnetic Fields, and Outkast.

5. Where did you get the idea to write about Beatrix’s passion for medical type drawings and Jack’s passion for graffiti?

I was an art student myself (I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts and worked on my graduate degree in Painting) and over the years have drawn many an anatomical study of bone and muscle. And though medical science was never really my thing, I could certainly see how it might become another person’s obsession. Same with graffiti. Street art is fascinating. It’s the ultimate art rebellion…expressing yourself in pubic places, often on buildings and trains that people consider ugly and decrepit. You’re creating something out of nothing. I love that. It’s beautiful.

6. What was the easiest and most difficult part of writing this book?

The easiest thing was writing it. It just flowed out of me. I think I wrote it in six or eight weeks? Something like that. The difficult part has been waiting for it to be published. That has been excruciating. U.S. publishing is a giant beast that moves about the same speed as a line at the post office two weeks before Christmas combined with the D.M.V. dipped in honey, while watching the second season of True Detective. I’m talking S-L-O-W. Now, I say that with much love in my heart for U.S. publishing, but sometimes I think they are your old, farting dog that you want to swat on the butt in an attempt to make him go faster. For the love of Pete, stop smelling the dandelions and get in the BLEEP-BLEEP house, already!

7. Are you working on any other young adult or adult books currently?

Why, yes, indeed. I just finished my second young adult contemporary and turned it in to my agent. I can’t tell you much about it (SECRETS, shhh!), but much like the first book, it was a complete joy to write. It’s a standalone romance with brand new characters, and the hero and heroine gave me a lot of swoons and tears and laughs, those crazy kids. I can’t wait for everyone to read it. Let’s hope I don’t have to swat any old dogs on the butt to make that happen faster.

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