Sisterhood, Multiple POVS, and How Cool Phoenixes Are: Q&A with Nicki Pau Preto

Hello Readers & Writers,

I have another author on the blog today and that is Nicki Pau Preto! Her book Crown of Feathers will be out in this world in February 2019 from Simon Pulse. This book not only has phoenixes and warriors, but a strong theme of sisterhood.

Before we jump into the interview, here’s what you need to know about the book.

35715518I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

Goodreads

  1. I want to start off by thanking you for joining me on the blog, Nicki. I am beyond excited for Crown of Feathers and want to ask, how do you feel knowing your book will be out in the world in a few short months?

Nicki: You are so welcome! I am honestly still in a state of shock. Every new milestone just makes me retreat deeper into my frozen, robotic state. I remember when I got my ARCs (advance reader copies) in the mail, I just stared at them, trying to comprehend how that was my cover, my name—my book. It’s still hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that strangers will be reading it. It’s both exciting and terrifying.

  1. What’s been your favorite part about the publication process?

Nicki: I think getting my cover. I was SO nervous. I’m a graphic designer and an artist, so I felt really REALLY invested (aka TERRIFIED). Of course all authors are, and I had absolutely zero need to worry. The cover my publisher gave me is better than I could have imagined, and opening that image on my screen and seeing my name overtop…I just started running in circles, freaking out. With dignity, of course (not).

  1. Tell us as much as you can about the relationship between Veronyka and her sister. How is sisterhood explored in your book?

Nicki: Veronyka has a very complicated relationship with her sister. I don’t have any sisters of my own, only brothers, so it was fun to explore that dynamic, even if it is a toxic one (or maybe because it is). They grew up together, and in many ways, Val raised Veronyka. So, no matter how nasty and controlling and cruel Val is, Veronyka loves her because so much of who she is is tied up with who her sister is. They wouldn’t be who they are without each other, good or bad.

  1. Were there any challenges you ran into while writing Crown of Feathers and how did you move past it?

Nicki: Where to begin! COF is the first multiple point-of-view book I’ve written, and I think I, uh, underestimated how hard that would be! It can be so satisfying to read, but you have to line up timelines and character decisions and ensure everything makes sense, or else it all falls flat. It requires extensive planning, but also the ability to shift and adjust to make sure everything works together as well as separately. Just talking about it makes my brain hurt!

  1. Describe your book in three words.

Nicki: Phoenix. Riding. Warriors.

  1. Who do you relate to most out of your characters and why?

Nicki: I actually think that if Veronyka and Val were on a spectrum, I’d fall somewhere in the middle. They are both determined and strong in their convictions, but while I have some of Val’s cynicism and sense of self-preservation, I also have Veronyka’s wild hope and willingness to take risks.

  1. What do you love most about the world you created?

Nicki: Honestly, I think the phoenixes. Not that I can take credit for the mythological creature, but as I was writing the first draft, I kept stumbling on all these amazing possibilities. As soon as you introduce a creature like that into a pre-industrial revolution world, you change the game. War, hunting, travel…everything changes. Then there’s the symbolism of feathers and fire and of course, resurrection. Phoenixes are so rife with possibility, so dynamic and exciting. They’re basically like dragons but they can be reborn. Can it get any cooler?

  1. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Nicki: I’ve had some readers compare the feeling they got when reading my book to the way their favorite writers growing up made them feel, authors like Tamora Pierce. That is honestly the highest compliment I could ask for, and exactly why I wrote this book. It was a love letter to the fantasy I grew up on: dark and vast and complex, but peopled with brave, compassionate people doing their best. I think the overall message is one of hope, and Veronyka’s strength doesn’t come from kickass fighting skills or otherworldly talent; it comes from endless determination, perseverance in the face of devastation, and above all, a fiercely defiant conviction in what is right.

  1. Tell us readers a fun fact about either you or your book.

Nicki: So, I first conceived of the idea for Crown of Feathers on a bus on the way to the airport after a writer’s retreat in Cuba. Morgan Rhodes, author of the Falling Kingdoms series, was there with me, and she helped brainstorm the initial seed of the idea. We were discussing the possibilities, and since the Game of Thrones TV show was huge at the time, she told me to call it “A Phoenix of Ice and Fire.” A lot of the things we talked about during that conversation remain—like the idea of doing multiple POVs—but alas the title did not 🙂


About the Author

Nicki-b&wHeadshot-1

Nicki is a young adult fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: She loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular nine-to-five life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.

WebsiteTwitter ~ Instagram


 

 

Once again, a huge thank you to Nicki for joining me and I hope you all are ready for the badass book that will be Crown of Feathers!!

xx
Megan

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Beneath the Citadel: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I am beyond thrilled to review Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria due out October 9th from Amulet books. I was sent an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback. As always, there will be no spoilers, but there will be a lot of gushing because this book was incredible.

Beneath the Citadel is a multi-pov story that follows a group of teens trying to fight against the High Council and a world run by prophecies. We have Cassa, the daughter of rebels as the leader who never takes no for an answer; Evander, a daredevil able to manipulate silver; Newt, a boy with complex family issues and the ability to bend his body past normal human limits; and Alys, a seer who is afraid of telling the future but is nonetheless awesome. These four are thrown into a situation where the truth gets muddled, their friendship is tested, and they must ultimately decide what they’re fighting for: the government, themselves, or something more.

Capture
I feel as if everyone is wary of multi-povs because the story may get lost or the characters will begin to sound the same. This is very much NOT the case in this book. Each character has a unique force driving them forward and it’s through the povs that you see not only how deeply their friendships with one another run, but who they are. Destiny crafts a world where her characters become close to you without realizing it, where you are rooting for them so damn hard. Every character tugged at me whether it was Cassa trying to fight for what had been done to her, or Evander painting on a smile and continuing to fight, or Newt trying to find his place, or Alys overcoming her anxiety to prove to herself what she can do. Readers will easily find a home in one of these characters.

The world-building in this book jumped off the page. It felt as if each sentence was put there with an intention to add another layer to the story. I found myself hating that I had to stop reading because I was hooked by every chapter or twist or detail.

Beneath the Citadel explores important themes, particularly those of trust, war, and what to do when the government may not be on your side. An added layer to this discussion is the ability for memories to be taken and shared. Among the major POVs, we are shown memories of important people on the playing field, meant to not only craft empathy, but make the stance that no issue is ever one sided – even if it’s the wrong issue. Just as the story challenges the main characters regarding their beliefs and memory, this book also asks the reader to do the same.

You will not be disappointed with this book as it has something for everyone with all of the characters involved and the heavy subject matter. It also has amazing gay, bisexual plus sized, and anxiety rep that came across effortlessly. By the time I finished, I not only wanted a whole other book, but the characters had become my friends (and I screamed at the ending which was like a punch to the gut).

Bottom line here: Don’t wait to pick up this book. Preorder it. Reserve it at your library. Pick it up in a store. It is well, well, worth it.

This gets 5/5 coins from me.

Xx

Megan

Complicated Girls, Flipping the Script in Literature, and Yes, Fish: Q&A with Rory Power

Hello Readers & Writers,

I’m beyond delighted to be featuring Rory Power on the blog today with her book Wilder Girls. You can expect to see it on shelves in 2019 from Delacorte Press. If you’re looking for complicated girls, a ton of atmosphere, and survival, put this book on your TBR right now!

Before we jump into the interview – though there’s no cover or full synopsis yet – here is what you can expect:

WILDERGIRLS
The story of three best friends living in quarantine in their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears.

Goodreads

1. Thanks so much for joining me on the blog Rory. I am so excited for Wilder Girls!! Since you comped your debut to Lord of the Flies, I have to ask, how do you feel about that book?

Rory: Thank you so much for having me, Megan! I actually love Lord of the Flies. I think just looking at it as a classic work of literature has its pitfalls, and raises the question of what exactly we consider classic and why, but I really do find it to be such an interesting representation of traditional masculinity, and of the ways it can collapse and turn toxic. Considering it through that lens has made it really valuable to me, and in that way it’s a great comp for Wilder Girls. There are similarities to the set up – both books are about islands and isolated schoolchildren – but more than that, Wilder Girls is about girls the way Lord of the Flies is about boys. It’s about our specific experiences, about the specific pressures we face.

2. Were there any scenes you enjoyed that unfortunately had to be cut from Wilder Girls?

Rory: There were a bunch! Wilder Girls is on the shorter side, and I wanted to keep it as streamlined as possible, so I did have to lose a handful of scenes. I was particularly sad to lose this one moment between Hetty and her love interest, where they had a moment to take a breath and joke around a little. Unfortunately it just didn’t quite fit with the tone of the rest of the book, so I had to cut it, but I tried to make up for it elsewhere.

3. Since we have a while until your book is out in the world, is there anything you can tease us excited readers with?

Rory: Of course! I know personally I love finding out how authors would sort their characters into Hogwarts houses, so in that vein, my main character Hetty would be a Hufflepuff With Zero Chill. Her best friend Byatt is a Ravenclaw With Too Much Time On Her Hands, and their friend Reese is a Gryffindor Who Wishes She Wasn’t A Gryffindor.

4. What is your writing process like?

Rory: Like a lot of people I prefer revision to drafting, so my process is essentially: get the first draft done as fast as possible. But even before the first draft, the most important thing to me is setting. I don’t necessarily need to know my characters before I start writing, but I absolutely cannot get a word down until I have the setting figured out.

5. Describe Wilder Girls in three words.

Rory: Sharp. Angry. Atmospheric.

6. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Rory: This is a terrifying question, but I think really, most of all, I want readers to take from Wilder Girls the idea that girls should be allowed to be as complicated and lost as anybody else. We expect a prettiness of girls on every level, and I want people to leave Wilder Girls feeling that expectation just a little bit less.

7. If you were quarantined on an island – similar to your main characters – what are three things you’d want to have with you?

Rory: I’ll leave aside any sensible answers and just go with three separate family-sized bags of salt and vinegar chips.

8. Which character do you think you’re most like and why?

Rory: The trio of girls who star in Wilder Girls each have something of me in them. Hetty and I are both recklessly loyal to our friends. Reese and I share a complicated relationship with expressing emotion. And Byatt and I are both The Worst. But of the three of them, I think I’m most like Reese, because Reese is as angry as I felt when I was her age, and like me, she has her home where her heart should be.

9. Did you discover anything, either factual or about yourself, while writing Wilder Girls?

Rory: I learned a ton about a lot of different natural phenomena, including a few I can’t tell you about (spoilers!). The research for this book was fascinating and often gross, but I came out the other end knowing so much more about climate change and animal behavior. Like, okay, I have to share this one because I think it is the absolute coolest and that’s that fish almost never run into each other when in schools because of something called a lateral line that runs along their bodies and responds to changes in the flow of the water and I’m writing this as a run on sentence to convey to you how excitedly I would be screaming this in your ear if we were speaking in person because nature is seriously amazing.


About the Author

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Rory Power grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia, and her debut novel, Wilder Girls, will be published by Delacorte in 2019.

Twitter: twitter.com/itsrorypower

 

 


Once again a super huge thank you to Rory for joining me on the blog! Her book sounds absolutely incredible and I hope you all keep an eye on updates as they come.

Xx
Megan

Dragons, Chinese Mythology, and A Capella: Q&A with Katie Zhao

Hello Readers & Writers,

I’m back with another author feature – this time Katie Zhao, with her book The Dragon Warrior. You can expect to see it on shelves in 2019 from Bloombury. If you’re looking for a middle grade novel with Chinese protagonists, myths, and dragons, you’ve found the book for you.

Before we jump into the interview – though there’s no cover or full synopsis yet – here is what you can expect:

 Katie Zhao’s debut middle grade, The Dragon Warrior, pitched as Percy Jackson and the Olympians meets the work of Grace Lin. In the book, a 12-year-old girl wanting to find her place in a secret society of warriors embarks on a journey to fight her way through gods and demons in various Chinatowns, in order to find a secret island where her missing father might be.

Goodreads

1. Before we start off, I’d like to say thank you so much Katie for joining me. I’m beyond excited for your book! Tell us a little about where the idea for The Dragon Warrior came from.

Katie: Thanks so much for the interview, Megan! I’m honored to be here. To start off, I want to give a bit of background on this book. THE DRAGON WARRIOR is a middle grade Chinese-inspired fantasy that takes inspiration from the Chinese classic tale JOURNEY TO THE WEST, as well as PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS, and sets it in an urban American setting across Chinatowns. It’s a book filled with gods and demons and dragons, food and family and fun, all steeped in Chinese mythology and lore. I wrote THE DRAGON WARRIOR because it’s a book that I, as a Chinese-American reader, would have devoured as a kid—and I think non-Chinese kids would have great fun reading this story, too. Beyond the mythology, Faryn’s story is a story about seeing people for who they are rather than what they look like; it’s a story that’s near and dear to my heart, about a girl who, at the end of the day, is just trying to find her family, found family and blood family alike, as well as her home. The Chinatown settings are specifically chosen because of my childhood experience. My parents, who are immigrants from China, would always manage to find Chinatowns in every new place we travelled to within the states. They’re truly magical places, little pockets of home. More than anything, I wrote THE DRAGON WARRIOR with the hope that the Chinese readers who pick up this book will feel what I feel when I visit or write about Chinatown – that feeling of belongingness, of home. I hope they feel proud of the rich culture and mythology of China, and of themselves. I hope they feel seen and heard and know that they, too, can be heroes.

2. Who’s your favorite character from The Percy Jackson series and why?

Katie: My favorite character would have to be Percy, as cliche as that sounds. He’s hilarious, and pretty much just your average kid who’s thrown into the chaos of Greek mythology. I find him to be really relatable and real, and that’s why I think a lot of kids adore Percy too.

3. Did you initially want to write a middle grade book or did the story wind up leaning towards middle grade?

Katie: Initially THE DRAGON WARRIOR was written with the intention of being young adult. However, several CPs and readers told me that the book read as middle grade to them, especially since I was comp’ing my book to PERCY JACKSON, which is a middle grade series. In the end, aging down my characters to fit the middle grade audience didn’t even take that much work, because they were all right!

4. What was one of your favorite parts about writing The Dragon Warrior?

Katie: I loved cracking silly jokes throughout THE DRAGON WARRIOR. That’s something that’s definitely more common in the middle grade age category, getting to poke some fun at one’s own work. I’m cheating a little by mentioning a second thing, but I vividly remember watching and absolutely loving Disney Pixar’s Coco, getting literal chills down my spine, and realizing that I had to rewrite THE DRAGON WARRIOR—but that it would be infinitely better for it.

5. What’s one piece of advice you’d want to give Faryn and one piece of advice you think Faryn would give you?

Katie: I’d tell Faryn not to leave the apartment ever!! Just kidding. I’d probably tell her to be a little kinder toward her younger brother, even though he can be annoying sometimes (all the time). I think Faryn would tell me to leave the apartment and actually go do something outdoorsy…which, tempting as it may be, I would probably have to ultimately decline. I’m an author, not a child warrior.

6. Describe your book in three words.

Katie: 1. Lots 2. Of 3. Dragons

7. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Katie: I hope my Chinese readers recognize themselves and their culture in the pages of THE DRAGON WARRIOR, and I hope non-Chinese readers have a fun time delving into a world that they’ve likely never been exposed to before.

8. What would you tell writers out there hoping to get published in the future?

Katie: I won’t tell anyone not to ever give up, because I did give up for three whole years (and I fully believe I wasn’t mentally ready for the taxing journey of publishing back then). But to any writers who are serious about being published, you will have to try, try again, and you will have to learn how to use rejections to fuel your writing, not stall it. I still get rejected, and when I do, I get angry. I grow even more determined to bust down the doors of publishing and get my #ownvoices stories out there. This level of stubbornness is what I think ultimately allowed met to get my book deal.

9. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Katie: I sang in an Asian-interest a cappella group in college! We even competed in ICCAs once. We sang a lot of K-pop and our group dinners alone probably helped sustain the sushi and Korean restaurants on campus.


About the Author

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Katie Zhao is a middle grade and young adult author who holds an English major and Political Science minor from the University of Michigan (2017) as well as a Masters of Accounting (2018). She is a proud alumnus of Kopitonez a Capella. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, singing, and working out. She currently resides in a cozy house in Michigan that she insists on filling with too many books and Asian snacks.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ktzhaoauthor

I don’t know about you all, but with Percy Jackson and The Olympians being one of my favorite book series as a kid, you can bet I’ll be getting my hands on this as soon as possible.
And once again, thanks so much to Katie for joining me!
Xx
Megan

Not Even Bones: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer which is due out September 4th 2018 from HMH Books for Young Readers. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

There will be no spoilers so no need to click away.

Note that this book includes a lot of blood, mutilation, and gore so if you’re sensitive to this, take caution while reading.

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The story follows Nita, a teenage girl who finds comfort in dissecting dead bodies of the supernatural. Her and her mother sell the parts on the black market for money. Nita has always separated herself from killing supernatural beings, finding it easier to maintain her morality if she isn’t directly involved. This has gone well until her mother brings home a live subject and wants Nita’s help. Nita makes the decision to go against her mother and release the prisoner which as a result leads to her capture. The biggest problem with her capture: Nita is a supernatural herself with a rare skill that traders will stop at nothing to obtain.

I want to start off by saying I absolutely loved this book. It was dark, compelling, and deals extensively with the morality of a teenage girl who begins to question the actions of her entire life. Having been sheltered from the majority of the world, and exposed to crime since she was young, Nita has never had to wonder about much. She did her job for her mother and found comfort in it. But when she’s on her own, meeting other supernaturals and having to fight for her life, she realizes the lines she drew for herself may not still apply.

Schaeffer throws out the typical convention of a YA novel. Not all of the characters are likable. The plot is brutal. The reader is operating in a world that is more for villains than heroes. Even then, the word villains may not necessarily be the best fit as these characters are forced to act under conditions that challenge ‘being a good person’. Nita experiences every aspect of the black market – being a prisoner, escaping, befriending someone who had wanted to torture her, bringing down the system, and dealing with betrayal.

By the end, you’ve gone through a whirlwind of moral dilemmas and are left wondering what can possibly come next in the second book? And may I say I cannot wait until the next installment.

This gets 5/5 scalpels from me!

Xx

Megan

Pitch Wars Wishlist

Hello Fellow Writers!

I think it’s important to start this post off by telling you a little bit about me and my mentoring style. My name is Megan and I’ve worked as an assistant editor in NYC for almost two years. Just recently, my internship with Corvisiero Literary Agency was announced. Prior to that, I had two internships with indie fantasy publishing houses where I acted as a line and content editor. On top of that, I read way too many books for my health (jk, no such thing), talk about writing, and freelance edit YA & MG stories. My non-book related activities include: hiking, binge watching television shows on Netflix, playing with my dogs, and traveling whenever I can.

For my first time as a mentor, I am specifically looking for YOUNG ADULT stories. They’re my favorite audience category to read and have sent me weeping into my bed on several dozen occasions. Also, I just love the idea of books being written for children and teens and want to see as many of these wonderful stories as possible.

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What My Mentoring Style Is Like

I’d consider myself a cheerleader for the stories I love. I want to push writers so they can get the words on the page as close as possible to what’s in their heads. I’m a very open and communicative person so I encourage questions, ideas, and new routes you think will help your work as we go forth. Nothing makes me happier than everything clicking into place.

Before we begin edits, I’d like for you to tell me anything you’re concerned about or anything you’d specifically like me to pay attention to before diving in. I’d also like for you to tell me what you love most about your story.

Our first round of edits will be focused on the larger picture:

  • How’s your pacing?
  • Are there any obvious plot holes?
  • Do your characters and their motivations make sense?
  • Are you doing enough to convey your world to your audience?
  • Does your story have a full and completed arc?

All of these topics and more will be addressed in an edit letter after I read your manuscript. For me, this is often a few pages and consists of what I liked about your manuscript, what isn’t working, and suggestions on how to incorporate necessary changes. Once you receive this and go over it, I’d love to discuss where you stand, what’s going through your head, and of course any inquiries you may have. We will also work out a schedule to have these changes made.

The second round of edits will still include the bullet points above but will also be focused on line editing and proofreading. Here along with any big picture edits, you’ll get an annotated manuscript from me that will highlight:

  • Grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors
  • Sentences that aren’t adding to your story, are repetitive, or seem out of place.
  • Tense issues
  • Consistency of your writing style

The goal of this edit is get everything polished for the agent round. Of course you’re welcome to ask anything about publishing beforehand, but any lingering questions would be best at this time. My ultimate goal as a mentor is to make your manuscript shine while keeping in mind the message of your story and what you want readers to take away from your world.

What I’m Looking For

Onto the fun part: what manuscripts I’m interested in. As I mentioned above, I am ONLY taking YOUNG ADULT.  I will NOT take graphic novels, new adult, or memoirs. The genres I am eager to read are:

Science Fiction

  • Dystopian/Apocalyptic
  • Space Operas/Space Exploration
  • Futuristic Societies
  • Present Day but with a Twist
  • Steam Punk
  • Cyber Punk
  • Virtual Reality

Fantasy

  • Fairytale Retellings
  • Magical Realism
  • Contemporary Fantasy
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Dark or Magical Fantasies

Contemporary

  • Dark Contemporary or Contemporary with a Twist

Elements I Shout for in a Story

  • Diversity in terms of characters, setting, and culture
  • Gray Morality
  • Strong Women
  • Soft/geeky characters
  • Queer characters that have an arc larger than their sexuality
  • Anti-heroes
  • Strong friendships and sibling relationships
  • Complex family dynamics
  • Strong mental health rep
  • Slow burn relationships of any kind
  • Uncommon hobbies
  • Worlds I can sink my teeth into
  • Emotional gut punches/angst
  • Wholesome best friends, especially best friends to lovers
  • Badass group of friends who take on some role and often explore their relationships with one another

What I Don’t Want

  • Epic or High Fantasy
  • Stories that have animal abuse
  • Contemporaries centered entirely around romance
  • Paranormal, Supernatural, or Horror Stories (Note for paranormal/supernatural stories: I will take stories with magic or magical creatures. What I CANNOT take is anything involving exorcisms, hauntings, possessions, and similar paranormal elements.)
  • Historical Fiction (There is an exception to this – if your story takes place in a certain time period, but isn’t necessarily recreating real life events, I’ll take it. I just don’t think I’m the best fit for history retelling pieces).

Favorite Books

To give you a better sense of what I like to read and my tastes, here’s a by no means completed list of some older and newer YA books.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  • Nyxia Triad by Scott Reintgen
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
  • Proxy by Alex London
  • When the Moons Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
  • How to Make a Wish by Ashley Blake
  • Timekeeper by Tara Sim
  • Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glen Marsh
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
  • Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova
  • Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
  • You’ll Miss me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Favorite TV Shows

  • Stranger Things
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Avatar the Last Airbender
  • Breaking Bad
  • Dear White People
  • Cloak & Dagger
  • Jessica Jones
  • The Punisher
  • The 100
  • Sense8
  • This is Us
  • Shameless

I think that’s everything. Thank you so much for reading and I can’t wait to see the stories that appear in my inbox.

You should check out all of the other mentors HERE 😀

Xx

Megan

 

Complex Friendships & Learning Instagram: Q&A with Katy Loutzenhiser

Hello Readers & Writers,

I’m so excited to be featuring another debut author, Katy Loutzenhiser, with her book If You’re Out There. You can expect to see it on shelves from Balzer + Bray in March of 2019. If you’re looking for a contemporary YA with a mysterious twist, this may be the fit for you.

Before we jump into the interview, here’s a synopsis:

coverAfter Zan’s best friend moves to California, she’s baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all. Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing, and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that the friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the charming new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility. Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails. Maybe she can’t.

Goodreads

  1. Before we get into the first question, I want to thank you so much Katy for joining me! I’m so excited to have you. How does it feel knowing your book will be out in the world in only a few months?

Katy: Well, first of all, thank YOU for having me! And to answer your question, it feels… somewhat hypothetical still. Like maybe this is all an elaborate misunderstanding? I’ll believe it when I have a hardback in my hands.

  1. From the summary of If You’re Out There, it seems like this is a contemporary novel with mystery involved. What drew you to that genre?

Katy: In this case, the story arrived, and the genre just sort of followed. I still struggle with how to categorize this book, but another author recently referred to it as a “mystery-love-story-friendship-thriller-comedy” and I thought that pretty well summed it up. I enjoy stories that genre-bend, or don’t fit into a specific mold, so I suppose it makes sense that I wrote one!

  1. Tell us a bit more about how you incorporated social media in your story as well as which social media app you use the most.

Katy: Instagram is fairly key to the story, with post captions scattered throughout. The main character, Zan, has been ghosted by her dearest friend, and watching Priya move on through these #bestlife snippets applies constant salt to the wound. This is one element of the story that readers have consistently told me they find relatable. It’s difficult to let go of someone when they’re only a few clicks away.

  1. Describe your book in three words.

Katy: Ghosted? Or worse?

  1. What are some themes that your book explores?

Katy: At its core, IF YOU’RE OUT THERE is about intense friendship and all the things that come with it: codependence, independence, history, what it means to know a person, and how to decide if it’s time to let that person go. As I was writing, I was also sort of shooting for “fun feminism,” in that the book showcases the myriad ways women can be strong and awesome and hilarious, and how guys can have their backs.

  1. If you and Zan were to meet, would you get along?

Katy: I think so, although she might hurt my feelings if she was having a bad day. I’m pretty sensitive, and she’s a bit snappy. If we met at the right moment, though, I think we’d pretty much be BFFLs.

  1. What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Katy: My hope, at the risk of sounding like that “open hearts” collection Kay Jewelers lady, is that readers reflect on the idea that it’s worth living your life in a vulnerable way—to really care about people, even if sometimes that means getting hurt.

  1. Who/What were some of your biggest inspirations for writing?

Katy: So many, from books to plays, TV to movies. Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, etc. etc. forever), Amy Poehler (Parks and Rec is perfect), Mindy Kaling (still waiting to be best friends—call me, Mindy!) Tina Fey (my not-so-original, original career goal was to *be* her), Nick Hornby (Funny Girl, About a Boy, among others), most so-bad-they’re-good romcoms—especially ones with numbers in them (10 Things I Hate About You, 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days… I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE!) Jenny Han, Rainbow Rowell, Liane Moriarty, Matthew Quick. And good old Jane Austen and Shakespeare!

  1. Do you have any fun facts or things you learned from writing this book?

Katy: Actually, yes! I forced myself to learn Instagram so that I could write about it in the story! (Am I losing coolness points by admitting that?) EPILOGUE: I now love Instagram, which is probably a sure sign that it’s on its way to becoming irrelevant.

About the Author

Katy LoutzenhiserKaty Loutzenhiser is the YA author of IF YOU’RE OUT THERE (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins 2019). Katy grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attended Bowdoin College, and trained in comedy at the iO and Second City theaters in Chicago. She now lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katyloutz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katyloutz

Website: katyloutzenhiser.com

 


I hope you’re all ready for this book because I definitely am! And if you’d like to learn more about upcoming novels and their authors, stick around.

Xx

Megan