Familial Bond, Death Note, and An A+ Typo: Q&A with Joan He

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I’ll be featuring Joan He and her novel Descendant of the Crane releasing in April 2019 from Albert Whitman Company. I’ve had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this book and oh my goodness, the writing and world-building alone are enough to draw anyone in.

But since not everyone has read it, here’s a synopsis!

36430989Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

How To Buy

  1. I want to say thank you so much for joining me on the blog, Joan. I’m super excited for Descendant of the Crane! What’s going through your head now that it’s 2019 and your book will be out in April?

Joan: Thank you so much for having me Megan! I really can’t believe it’s already 2019. Funny thing is that even though DESCENDANT comes out this year, it already feels like a book of the past. So much time has passed between idea conception and sale, and per industry standards, 1-2 years have also passed from the sale to release. In this time I’ve written three other projects, sold another book, and am currently focused on the newest work in progress. Looping back around to DESCENDANT promo has required some mental gymnastics.

  1. What advice do you have for querying writers and writers on sub?

Joan: My previous answer probably gives it away, but seriously, write the next thing. Every book opens up new opportunities. Just because a something “fails” at a particular moment in time doesn’t mean it can’t come off the shelf eventually. Just look at Marie Lu’s KINGDOM OF BACK—it was her first book on submission to editors but not the first to sell. The success of LEGEND, which did go on to sell, opened that door back up for her and now KINGDOM is coming out in 2019.

  1. Do you remember a funny typo that you can share with us?

Joan: So there’s a murder investigation at the heart of my book, and as a result there are a lot of court and trial scenes. In fact the justice system used to contain three kinds of trials: Trial by Blood, Trial by Fate, and Trial by Wits. During a rewrite I condensed all of the trials into one, but missed Trial of Spit. Now you just get plain old “trail of spit.”

  1. Describe your book in three words.

Joan: Ruling really sucks.

  1. Which character of yours do you think you’d best get along with?

Joan: Literally anyone but Hesina. Having a Caiyan would be nice—someone to manage your life for you and make sure you get to everything on time.

  1. What character from any fictional universe would you like to spend the day with?

Joan: L from the anime Death Note.

  1. Talk about a major theme that you explore in your book.

Joan: On the surface, the book explores themes of justice, truth, and morality. But at its core, it explores the idea of familial love. Guardian figures obviously want to spare their loved ones all and any pain themselves have experienced. But everyone’s life is a journey of ups and downs, and sometimes giving your loved one the freedom to err and undergo hardship is the best thing that you can do for them…though some characters inDESCENDANT would beg to differ :’)

  1. Did you always want to write for teens?

Joan: Yes! I actually got into writing longer pieces of fiction by writing Spirited Away fanfiction. Movie-watchers will know that the main character, Chihiro, is middle-grade aged, but in my fanfic I automatically found myself aging her up to a teen. I was barely a teen myself at this point, but I was eager to get there! Then, once I got there…I suspect I never left. DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE was actually the last book I wrote while I was truly young-adult aged teen, and I tweet about how that shaped the development of the character arc here: https://twitter.com/joanhewrites/status/1106257066430218240

  1. Is there a fun fact you can share about Descendant of the Crane?

Joan: The body count was a lot higher in previous drafts 😀


About the Author

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  • I’m horrible at bios so let’s do a fact list instead:
  • As a second-generation Chinese American, I was raised on a diet of Chinese cartoons and dramas. Journey to the West was basically my Sponge Bob.
  • I’m a recent grad of the University of Pennsylvania, where I majored in Psychology and minored in East Asian Language and Cultures.
  • Cats and wombats for life.
  • The weirder the story, the better.
  • I should really be sponsored by Starbucks.
  • I am represented by John Cusick of Folio Lit.

Website / Twitter


Descendant of the Crane will wreck you emotionally, but leave you craving more. Preorder this amazing book and support Joan and her books to come.

Xx
Megan

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Just A Drop of Poison – Talking with Addie Thorley

Hello Readers & Writers,

I have an amazing guest post today from the author of An Affair of Poisons, Addie Thorley! Her debut novel has just made its way into the world yesterday from Page Street Kids and if a whole post about poison doesn’t make you want to buy it, I honestly don’t know what will.

But just in case, here’s the synopsis and then Addie will have the floor.

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No one looks kindly on the killer of a king.

After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge.

Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half of the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant dauphin. Forced to hide in the sewers beneath the city, Josse’s hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible―until his path collides with Mirabelle’s.

She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. They are sworn enemies, yet they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?

Barnes&NobleIndieboundAmazonBook Depository

Thank you so much for having me, Megan! I’m super excited to talk about one of my very favorite subjects…POISON!! This will probably sound slightly creepy, but I have always had a fascination with poison. One of my favorite movies growing up was Arsenic and Old Lace (which is not exactly a normal choice for a 5th grader) and I was always way more interested in the evil queen and her poisoned apple than Snow White. Something about the dangerously beautiful plants and smoky laboratories filled with colorful bottles really got my imagination going. So when I started writing novels, I naturally gravitated toward stories that allowed me to slip in a pinch of belladonna or a handful of hemlock.

I also did a lot of reading, soaking up every poisonous tale I could get my hands on. Here are just a few of my favorites that served as inspiration while I was working on An Affair of Poisons:

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder: This lethal fantasy is the gold standard when it comes to books about poison! Instead of being executed for murder, Yelena is given the opportunity to become the royal food taster for the Commander of Ixia. But the chief of security (Hello, Valek! *swoons*) doesn’t trust her, so he feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—a deadly poison, for which she must drink an antidote each day to avoid an agonizing death. Full of fascinating magic with a smart, relatable heroine, this is a must read for all poison connoisseurs.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: This is one of my all-time favorite books! It’s set in an alternate version of Brittany, where the daughters of Saint Mortain serve as the realm’s assassins. That’s right. Assassin nuns. It doesn’t get better than that. And, Ismae, our heroine in this first installment, has a special affinity for poison. From poisoned knives to noxious candles, this book is vicious and virulent and PERFECT. Plus the writing is gorgeous!

The Sin Eater’s Daughter/The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury: If you’ve seen the breathtaking covers of these books, you know immediately that they’re all about poison! The Sin Eater’s Daughter follows Twylla, the physical embodiment of a goddess, whose skin is poisonous to the touch. And in the sequel, The Sleeping Prince, Errin must care for her sick mother by selling illegal herbal cures and poisons. One of her clients just so happens to be the mysterious, dangerous, and swoon-worthy Silas *fans-self* The world building is absolutely stunning, and the entire series has a deliciously dark and witchy vibe.

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole: This historical thriller is set in Rome and focuses on the infamous Borgias family, who were known for…you guessed it…poison!! Francesca is the daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia’s poisoner, and when her father is killed, she secures a position back in the Borgia household by artfully poisoning her father’s replacement. With plans to poison the pope, rumors of a secret project to create an undetectable lethal poison, and a society of alchemists, this is a thrilling and mysterious journey into a world ruled by poison.

The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley:  Of course I had to save the best for last! The Oracle Glass is set during the Affair of the Poisons (the same historical event that inspired An Affair of Poisons) so the novels share quite a few characters. The heroine, Genevieve, is one of the most compelling narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. With the ability to see the future in ewers of water, she attracts the attention of a secret society of Parisian witches, and her descent into their underground world of poison and witchcraft is equal parts thrilling and haunting.

And now, since I can’t write about poison without whipping up a little concoction of my own, here are two delicious “poison mocktails” inspired by the deadly tinctures featured in An Affair of Poisons.

*Fun Fact: poisoners like my main character, Mirabelle, often used spider webs, nail clippings, human blood, bone splinters, excrement, and blobs of hanged man’s fat to make their potions. YUM! But I, being the kind-hearted author that I am, altered my recipes to suite our more modern tastes. You’re welcome!

I hope you’ll sip on these delectable draughts while devouring An Affair of Poisons and the other perfectly poisonous books I recommended.

*One last Fun Fact before I go: The reason people began clinking their glasses together when toasting was to exchange a part of the liquid—to make sure none of the glasses contained poison.

À votre santé, mes amis!


1

Viper’s Venom   

Ingredients:

3 oz V8 Splash Blue Raspberry

2 oz white cranberry juice

Sprite

Fresh or frozen raspberries for garnish

Directions:

Chill all ingredients. Pour V8 Splash and cranberry juice over ice. Fill the glass the rest of the way with sprite. Garnish with raspberries

2


Aqua Tofana        

Ingredients:

3 oz unsweetened coconut cream

2 oz pineapple juice

2 oz frozen strawberry puree

 Squeeze of fresh lime juice

Directions:

Blend ingredients with a handful of ice and pour into a cold glass.


About the Author

Addie Thorley pic.jpgAddie Thorley spent her childhood playing soccer, riding horses, and scribbling stories. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism, she decided “hard news” didn’t contain enough magic and kissing, so she flung herself into the land of fiction and never looked back.

She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and wolf dog. When she’s not writing she can be found gallivanting in the woods or galloping around the barn where she works as a horse trainer and exercise rider.

AN AFFAIR OF POISONS is her debut novel.

Twitter: @addiethorley 

Instagram: @addiethorley


Before we go, I want to give a huge thank you to Addie for joining me. Be sure to follow her on social media and buy An Affair of Poisons – out now!

Xx
Megan

Margins Box: An Upcoming Book Box To Watch Out For

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I’m beyond excited to feature cara and Adrianne – the creators of an upcoming young adult book box called Margins Box. What makes this box stand out from the crowd is its mission to feature BIPOC authors and creators. There is no official kickstarter yet, but you bet I will be posting it here once it’s made available.

I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with cara and Adrianne to gain insight into how the book box came to be and their goals for this new and necessary addition to the young adult world.

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Photo by Aga Putra on Unsplash

1. What made you want to start marginsbox?
cara: I was looking into book subscription boxes for reasons I don’t even remember, and I noticed a common theme across all of the ones I saw was whiteness. They were all heavily pushing books by white authors, usually ones who really don’t even need the extra promotion, and so I was like, what about BIPOC authors? I haven’t seen a single box for us. So I shared the thought with Adrianne and now here we are!

Adrianne: I’ve wanted to do something tangible to help raise the visibility of BIPOC authors for a long time, so when cara mentioned creating a subscription box, it just seemed like great timing!

2. Were there any challenges you faced as you went about creating this book box?
cara: Aside from funding, the biggest challenge I’ve come across so far is getting responses from publicists. They’re busy people, and the writers they represent are busy, so it’s tough when we have specific books we want to feature but don’t hear back.

The next-biggest challenge lies in finding marginalized makers. We put feelers out but, again, it’s tough to get responses. And Google is no help at all. A lot of the time, I would input specific searches for creators of color or creators with disabilities or queer creators and Google’s just like, did you mean this completely unrelated thing? It’s very frustrating.

Adrianne: The biggest challenge I’ve encountered thus far, apart from funding, is navigating the infrastructure of publishing companies. Those organizational charts must be something else! Responsibilities are not always clear and industry jargon is rampant.

3. Was there a book you read by a marginalized author recently that you wished you could shove into the hands of readers?
cara: I honestly really love THE BELLES, by Dhonielle Clayton. It’s exactly the kind of book I’ve been obsessed with my whole life. Fancy futures! Dramatic outfits! Secrets! It’s just really great and I loveit and I need more people to yell about it with.

Adrianne: I love TIFFANY SLY LIVES HERE by Dana L. Davis. It touches on mental health, race, blended families, and mystery with humor, sensitivity, and commanding voice.

4. What do you hope this box adds to the community?
cara: I hope it adds conversation. I hope the people who subscribe find new authors to love and shout about on social media or with friends face-to-face. I want more than anything for marginalized writers to find readers in people who may not otherwise have given them a chance, and I want marginalized readers to feel like they can be more comfortable with themselves and have other people understand their point of view more.

Adrianne: I hope subscribers discover their new favorite authors and books to get excited about. I want authors to have the chance to reach new readers and for those readers to see themselves reflected in the authors’ work. I hope people expand their scope of reading and realize just how many more amazing stories are out there and worth exploring.

5. Are there any items you’re excited to include?
cara: I make things with my own shop, Ten Three Labs, so honestly I’m most excited to get to craft items based on the books we find. I love making perfume oils based on characters, but for the box I’ll probably stick to making candles since more people can enjoy candles.

Adrianne: I can’t wait to boost items by marginalized creators! I’ve worked in art museums for a long time so I’m really excited to include visual and craft art of all mediums.

6. What books are you looking to include in your box – traditionally published, self published, etc?
cara: We’re looking at traditionally published for now, but in the future we could possibly do something special for self-published authors!

Adrianne: Traditionally published is the focus for now, but I’m hopeful that we will can expand to include self-published authors as well!

7. Are you planning to create boxes based on a certain book or do you have themes in mind that you want to work around?
cara: The boxes will primarily be themed around that particular book for the month. So for instance if we had been around to do a box for THE BELLES, we might include tea or tiny elephant figurines or some kind of cosmetics.

Adrianne: The themes are based around that month’s particular book. So if we could’ve done a box for SUMMER BIRD BLUE we might include an enamel pin depicting a wave within a heart shape, candles evocative of the ocean or beach, or a tiny, hand-cranked music box.

8. Tell us some books you’ve absolutely loved within the last year.
cara: A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA by Tahereh Mafi. I love slow burn and it was just so painful to watch Shirin and Ocean clearly being into each other but not actually getting together. And Jason Reynolds’ LONG WAY DOWN – not usually something I would read, but really gripping. Similarly, I would probably not normally pick up Kosoko Jackson’s A PLACE FOR WOLVES but I read an ARC and was blown away.

Adrianne: THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY by Kheyrn Callendar. I love meet-cutes and the awkwardness as Nate and Oliver stumble toward love gave me life. Traci Chee’s THE STORYTELLER is the most satisfying triology-ender I’ve read in a long time, a high-fantasy, immersive world that stayed with me for quite some time.

9. Is there anything you’d like to tell readers as your box gets closer to launching?
cara: Please give us a shot! We want everyone to step into this subscription with an open mind.

Adrianne: Please subscribe! We’re embarking on an amazing adventure and we hope you’ll come along for the ride.

If you’d like to learn more, visit https://www.marginsbox.com/ for updates and subscribe to their newsletter.

Follow them on twitter (https://twitter.com/marginsbox) to help spread the word! This is absolutely needed in the publishing community and we should do our best to support them.

Xx
Megan

Intricate Garments, Multiple Endings, and Even Sailor Moon: Q&A with Elizabeth Lim

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I’ll be featuring Elizabeth Lim and her novel Spin the Dawn, releasing in July 2019 from Knopf. If you’re looking for an East-Asian fantasy filled with mythology and an incredible heroine, don’t click away. I am beyond thrilled to be showing off the very recent (as in yesterday) released cover!

Before we dive in, here’s the gorgeous cover and blurb of Spin the Dawn!

36683928This sweeping fantasy duology, steeped in Chinese culture, will entice fans of Sarah J. Maas.

When her ailing father is summoned to compete to become the Emperor’s tailor, 17-year-old Maia Tamarin dresses as a boy and goes in his stead. At the palace, Maia competes with twelve other tailors to win the job. While deceit and sabotage among the tailors complicate the task and a budding romance with the court magician, Edan, threatens to expose her secret, Maia emerges victorious.

Or so she thinks. The recent treaty between her nation and a rebel warlord is precarious, and the Emperor’s marriage to the warlord’s daughter, Lady Sarnai, is the only thing keeping the peace. However, Lady Sarnai demands three magical dresses — one made from the laughter of the sun, one from the tears of the moon, and one from the blood of stars — before she can marry the Emperor. With the fate of their country at stake, Maia and Edan embark on a quest along a reimagined silk road in search of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Goodreads/Preorder Here

  1. Thanks so much for joining me Elizabeth! I am beyond excited to have you and talk about Spin the Dawn. Let’s start with how does it feel knowing that this book will be out in the world next year?

Elizabeth: Thank you so much, Megan! I’m excited to be a part of your blog and talk about Spin the Dawn. Honestly, part of me is still in awe that Spin the Dawn comes out next year! The deal was announced in November 2017, so I’ve had a long time to anticipate its release, but every time I think about it I’m still nervous, excited, worried, and ecstatic all at once!

  1. What is a major theme that you explore in your book?

Elizabeth: Family is a major theme in Spin the Dawn. Maia embarks on her quest to disguise herself as a boy and compete to become the imperial tailor in part to save her father. Breaking the glass ceiling is another theme; the other reason Maia enters the competition is because she wants to prove that she’s an amazing tailor and being a girl is no impediment to her talent.

  1. Lady Sarnai demands a dress made out of the laughter of the sun, one from the tears of the moon, and one from the blood of stars. If you could have an outfit crafted from anything in the universe, what would it be?

Elizabeth: Hmmm…I’ll go with an outfit crafted from film of my favorite memories. Extra points if they can play all at once.

  1. How are you and Maia similar – if at all? How are you different?

Elizabeth: Maia and I are both very serious about our crafts: hers, tailoring, and mine, writing. We are also family oriented, and total introverts. I like to think of her as a fellow INFJ. We’re different because Maia’s a lot less of a worrywart than I am, and she’s much more of a risk-taker.

  1. Describe your book in three words.

Elizabeth: Enchantment. Journey. Lies.

  1. What was your favorite part about writing Spin the Dawn?

Elizabeth: My favorite part was incorporating allusions to fairytales. The most obvious ones are to East of the Sun, Donkeyskin, and the Chinese legend The Cowherd and the Weaver. I also loved creating new mythology for the world, and writing romance. I love romance.

  1. If you were a character in your Maia’s world, who do you think you’d be?

Elizabeth: Realistically, I’d probably be a zither teacher in Gangsun. But if I could choose anyone, I wouldn’t mind being a chef for the emperor with some magic spices.

  1. I read in your bio that you wrote Sailor Moon fanfic? Who was your favorite character?

Elizabeth: Ahh! I had a soft spot for Rini (the pink hair!), and Sailor Neptune because she was so awesome at the violin. But I think my favorite’s Sailor Mars – always loved her fire and her fierce loyalty to Sailor Moon J

  1. Do you have any fun facts about yourself or about your book that you would like to share?

Elizabeth: Me? I used to be a film and video game composer before becoming a writer. I also used to be a serious hoarder when I was really young: trading cards, pogs, beanie babies, Happy Meal toys…you name it, I probably collected it.

About SPIN THE DAWN: I rewrote the ending multiple times. It was the most difficult part of the book because it just didn’t feel right, but my agent Gina came to the rescue with some ideas, and what’s in the book now feels perfect to me. Without spoiling anything, the original ending inspired the beginning of the sequel…


About the Author

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Elizabeth Lim grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was raised on a hearty diet of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Before becoming an author, Elizabeth was a professional film and video game composer, and she still tends to come up with her best book ideas when writing near a piano. An alumna of Harvard College and the Juilliard School, she now lives in New York City with her husband and their daughter. She is also the author of Reflection: A Twisted Tale, published by Disney Press.


Please don’t hesitate and preorder this book asap. I know that’s what I’ll be doing. And once again, a huge thank you to Elizabeth for joining me.
Xx
Megan

For The Readers Who Need This Book and The Cheesiest Joke of All Time: A Q&A with Mason Deaver

Happy Monday Readers & Writers,

Today I’ll be featuring Mason Deaver and their novel I Wish You All The Best, releasing in May 2019 from Scholastic. If you’re looking for enby rep and the sweetest characters to ever exist, this is the book for you.

Before we jump into the interview, here’s what you need to know about I Wish You All The Best.

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When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

Amazon / IndieboundGoodreads

  1. Before we begin, I just wanted to say thank you so much Mason for taking time to speak with me! I’m so ready for I Wish You All The Best to be out in the world. How does it feel knowing readers everywhere will be able to follow Ben’s and Nathan’s story?

Mason: It’s actually a very scary feeling, but in the best way possible if that makes any sense at all? I Wish You All the Best might be the most ‘me’ book I’ll ever write. I put a lot of my own self in this story, and in Ben. Ben is my anxiety, my depression, my feelings towards my own gender.

Because of that’s it’s almost like people have the ability to buy or check out my diary. But I’ve already heard from so many that it’s a story that touched them and helped them come to terms with their own feelings towards their gender. So it’s an incredibly scary idea, but in a way, it’s incredibly exciting.

  1. What is your writing process like and did I Wish You All The Best challenge that in any way?

Mason: Complicated. I Wish You All the Best is actually the first book I started and finished. Which is rare for most authors it seems. So actually, writing I Wish You All the Best was just as much an experiment in discovering how I write.

Which is something I immediately switched up for the projects I’m currently writing. I Wish You All the Best was pantsed (in that I hardly plotted any of it) but everything else I’ve written since has very much been plotted out. I guess it was just a fluke?

  1. Give me some songs that fit your book and/or your characters.

Mason: Oh, this is a good one.

Ben is 100% Hard Times by Paramore

Nathan is probably Rose-Colored Boy

In writing I’ve actually realized that specific albums very much apply to the stories I’m writing. So actually, if I had to pick an entire album to represent I Wish You All the Best, it’s definitely After Laughter as you can tell. My other secret-project-albums have been Melodrama and The Steven Universe soundtrack.

  1. Describe your book in three words.

Mason: Lots. Of. Gay.

  1. What do you hope readers take away from I Wish You All The Best?

Mason: I’ve actually thought about this a lot, or non-binary, genderqueer, or trans readers, I really hope this book helps them feel less alone. I would’ve killed to have a book like this when things didn’t make sense to me, so I hope that in a way, I can help them through some of the things they’re going through.

  1. What’s one cheesy joke Nathan would tell Ben that would make them smile? I know there are probably hundreds.

Nathan: What did the scarecrow get a gold medal for?
Ben: I don’t know, what?
Nathan: He was out standing in his field!

  1. If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Mason: That it’s okay to be confused, and to change your labels. Deciding something that fits you now doesn’t mean it has to be permanent. People change, and so do labels.

  1. Are there any fun facts that you could tell us about yourself or your book?

Mason: Well, something about the book is that it actually started as college romance between two boys, and it was definitely more new adult than YA. But, obviously, it’s changed a lot. Though the names Ben and Nathan have always been there. I have no fun facts about myself haha!

  1. What kinds of stories do you hope to write in the future?

Mason: I want to write more stories about trans and non-binary kids and teens. To me, it’s very obvious that there’s a lack of trans and enby stories out there in the world, especially for younger readers, which can be the most formative years for trans kids.

I just want to fill the shelves with trans books.

About The Author

MASON
Mason Deaver is a non-binary author who lives in Charlotte, NC, where the word ‘y’all’ is used in abundance. Typically, they’re writing incredibly queer stories, but when they decide to take a break, they love gardening and baking.

‘I Wish You All the Best’ is their debut novel.

Twitter / Website 

 

 

Please preorder and support Mason’s important book. You won’t be disappointed ❤ And once again, a huge thank you to Mason for joining me!

Xx
Megan

Blackholes, An Alien Apocalypse, and Learning to Cope: Q&A with Laura Pohl

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I’ll be featuring Laura Pohl and her novel The Last 8, releasing in March 2019 from Sourcebooks Fire. If you’re looking for a diverse cast of characters surviving an alien apocalypse, then this is the book for you.

Before we jump into the interview, here’s what you need to know about The Last 8.

36349389A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave 

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Goodreads / Indiebound 

1. I want to start off by saying thank you so much Laura for agreeing to sit down and chat with me! I’m very excited to have you and learn some more about your work. How does it feel to know The Last 8 will be on shelves early next year?

Laura: Surreal! I started this book not knowing if it would ever find any readers, and now it’ll be on the shelves and being picked up by people other than friends and my mom. It feels great.

2. From your bio, you used to write fanfiction. I did as well. Do you have a favorite fanfic you created or would you rather it remain hidden in the abyss of the internet?

Laura: Hah, I have so many different fanfictions I created throughout the years, though most of them are in Portuguese. I used to be a huge fanfic writer for the Percy Jackson fandom, but I mostly leaned toward nonsense and comedy. I still write fanfic sometimes as a way to blow off steam and work on something where there’s no pressure.

3. What was the writing process for The Last 8 like? Did you hit any bumps that took you a while to get over?

Laura: I’m usually a planner, so The Last 8 process was a bit different for me because I didn’t plan anything ahead at all. All I knew is that I wanted a team of survivors who’d bring different skills to the team, and I went from there. I was pantsing the whole time, so it was different but good. I had to rewrite it three times, but I didn’t have any particular bumps on the narrative.

4. Out of all of the ways to end the world, why did you choose an Alien invasion?

Laura: I’ve always loved movies about aliens, and I loved Independence Day as a kid. I think you can write a good parallel between humans & aliens, and that’s why I always thought it was such an interesting take.

5. Describe your book in three words.

Laura: Epic. Funny. Wholesome.

6. What’s one of your favorite elements of The Last 8?

Laura: The ensemble cast. I think it was one of the most fun parts to write, a bunch of unruly teens who survived the end of the world. Each person brings a different thing to the group, and writing their interactions and friendship was one of the best parts of writing the book. Also, Sputnik the dog. We don’t get to see that many dogs in SFF, so it was fun writing about a dog who survives the alien apocalypse.

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

Laura: Clover’s journey to survive the apocalypse take her into a dark path—a lot of The Last 8 is about learning how to live with PTSD and depression. I hope that readers see her journey and feel less alone, and that sometimes just surviving is more than enough.

8. Is there a character you relate most to and why?

Laura: I think I started out relating to Clover as the main character—her decision making process through thought and logic is very close to me—but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Brooklyn. Brooklyn talks too much and loves conspiracy theories, and she’s always the one making jokes.

9. You’re waking up the day after an apocalypse. What are three things you’d want to have on hand?

Laura: Huh, depends on what kind of apocalypse, zombie and alien ones can be wildly different. In general, I’d say, water, a weapon of choice, food. It sounds boring, but I think that’s pretty much what you need to survive from the start.

10. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Laura: As a child, I was scared of blackholes. All the other kids in my class were afraid of things like monsters under the bed, the boogeyman or werewolves, but I was just plain scared of the sun blowing up and sucking the Earth.

About the Author

DSC_0637Laura Pohl is a Brazilian YA author. She likes writing messages in caps lock, quoting Hamilton and obsessing about Star Wars. When not taking pictures of her dog, she can be found curled up with a fantasy or science-fiction book. She makes her home in São Paulo, where she graduated in Literature.

She is the author of THE LAST 8 (Sourcebooks, 2019). When not writing, she likes reading science fiction and fantasy, and enjoys deep discussions about conspiracy theories and alien life. Learn more about her on her website, and make sure to follow her on twitterinstagram, and pinterest.

 

I don’t know about you readers, but I’m ready to dive into this book. Keep an eye on my blog for more interviews and be sure to preorder The Last 8!

Xx
Megan

 

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