Home Blog Tour: Interview with Eleni McKnight

Hi guys! In two days, I am going to the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee! I am so excited! You know what else I’m excited for? This author interview with Eleni McKnight because of two reasons: 1) She is local author from TN! Yay! Go Volunteers! 2) She’s from Murfreesboro, the town I’m going to this Saturday! I hope you enjoy this interview!

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Home by Eleni McKnight home-front-cover-hirez

Genre: YA Dystopian

Release Date: November 22nd 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Knowledge is a Dangerous Commodity HOME – the last bastion of civilization in a corrupt and fallen world. Outside dwell the reanimated dead, cannibals, and scavengers; remnants of a once great race. Inside, the commune is ruled with an iron fist by Deacon, and administered without mercy by the Elders. Everyone knows their place in HOME. Everyone is safe in HOME…as long as you follow the rules. Handmaiden Suzannah Commons is content with training to be a wife and mother, the only occupation open to women in HOME. But her world is turned upside-down when she tastes the forbidden knowledge contained in outlawed books. Suzannah discovers a new way of life is possible, but that knowledge comes at a high price. It could cost her life. Or the life of the boy she loves. 

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About the Authoreleni-mcknight

Eleni McKnight is a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Literature and a wild passion for creating clothes and doing make-up. She’s also an avid reader and loves music and theatre. She started writing at age eight when she had read all the Baby-Sitter’s Club books that were out and wanted something new to read. It’s never quite left her over the years These days, you can usually find Eleni working backstage or costuming in local community theatres, reading a book, walking (that FitBit is addictive!), at a concert, drinking a craft beer with friends, knitting, embroidering, or taking a dance class.

Author Links:

Email | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

 

Now onto the interview!

eleni

1. What is your book Home about?

“When did your ignorance become as good as my education?” sums it up in short. It’s a book about how reading can be dangerous because it opens your minds to new ideas and situations, and gives you empathy (which I think society is sorely lacking these days). Suzannah Commons is an innocent young Handmaiden who has always followed the rules. An accident happens, and her “purity” is compromised when she accidentally walks in on a naked boy while doing her chores. In her purity-centered religious culture, the message is that the loss of virginity was her loss of a huge part of her as a person, and as she tries to redeem her soul, she begins to open her mind to new ideas when she begins reading books, making her dangerous.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Wow, that’s so me. I grew up with a teacher for a mother, and she got me into reading big time. I loved the Baby-Sitter’s Club books and when I wanted to read more of them, but couldn’t go to the store for more books because I was eight-year-old and didn’t have money to get them, I decided to write my own books! Writing has gotten me through some severe depression in the past (along with therapy, and I think everybody needs a therapist to unload on and talk to!) and it’s helped me document my life a little bit, if not in writing, by how I was feeling and thinking at the time.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I’d definitely say Ann M. Martin started me down the path. She will forever hold a special place in my heart due to that. Judy Blume made a huge impact on me too, teaching me that reading could be fun and enjoyable, not a chore (like the Superfudge books).  I loved Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Anne Shirley series by L.M. Montgomery, too. I was also crazy about scary stuff, too, so I loved horror like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street (but never Goosebumps) and Christopher Pike as a teen, too, but it more started with my love of the book Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe. I love paranormal books, too, so I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula and general classical horror novels, now I like Stephen King too. But I always wanted to write YA because my teen years were a difficult and confusing time in my life (hey, whose weren’t?). I didn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood until after I finished Home, and I’m happy I did, because it’s become one of my favorite novels, and it shares a lot unintentionally with my book. I am so excited about the series that’s coming soon! I like her work a lot, too, especially The Edible Woman.

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I like embroidery, sewing and costuming, cross-stitching, theatre, knitting, make-up, and candle-making. I know that’s a lot of hobbies, but I try to make it work, you know? I work during the day, so writing is my part-time gig!

5. Since the society in your book has outlawed books, what is one banned book that you loved reading, and would you want schools to read it? home-front-cover-hirez

I LOVE BANNED BOOKS! I’d much rather be on the Banned Book List because that means I’ve “made it” as an author! Not yet, but I’m working on it… I loved The Giver by Lois Lowry. I think this one is so important for kids to read and understand: it’s good to challenge authority by asking WHY we have certain rules, not just going along with them. I also think it’s good for kids to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in high school, because it gives them an idea of how futile and horrifying war truly is that you can’t really get from a history textbook. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie spoke volumes to me, because I did not grow up on an Indian Reservation, and I never understood what people who were in different economic conditions than I was survived. Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a great book by Judy Blume because it covered a lot of the bullying and the realization and empathy that comes in school, but it didn’t have an after-school special kind of ending to it.

6. What would you do if the zombie apocalypse struck unexpectedly?

I’d probably get a blow torch and take out as many of those suckers as possible! Are they zombies induced to come at you when there’s noise? Because I can be very quiet. But, I’d also be a bad ass driving away on a motorcycle like Daryl Dixon on Walking Dead with a cross bow strapped to my back.

7. On your website, you say you want to write for a TV show or movie. What about the TV or movie industry attracts you to want a career in it?

That’s a great question, and I love answering this. I actually majored in theatre at UT. I’ve always dreamt of acting, because it’s telling a story. A lot of the times, I can empathize with someone who is a good actor and can portray the conflict of the situation. It opens up my mind a lot and gets me thinking. I want to be a part of that, maybe one day.

8. I see you love music and theater! I love them both, too! What is your favorite play or musical? What is also your favorite song or musician?

SQUEE! Another theatre person!! I love the play My Fair Lady because it had an ending where Eliza came back as Henry Higgins’s equal. I love Shakespeare, I used to do a lot of that, too, my favorite play being Twelfth Night. And my favorite song is “As Long as I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, it’s not a musical song. If you want that, I love the song “Anything Goes,” because it’s so catchy and you can do some great choreography to it.

9. If your readers had to get one message from this book, what would it be?

That reading is so important. And so is equality, even if you think you already have it, a lot of people in this world don’t, so always work towards it.

10. What is your go-to cure for writer’s block?

Finding an inspiring read. The best one though, is sometimes taking a break from writing and re-entering the real world and reconnecting with friends.

11. I’m from Tennessee, too! What is one thing you love about Tennessee and one thing you wish was better about the state?

eleni-mcknightOMG, really?!?! SQUEE! The best parts of being from Tennessee is the amount of people who always volunteer to help after a disaster. You never have to worry about getting help, we are the Volunteer State for a reason. I think the worst part: we are landlocked 😦 I love the beach!

12. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

I have written several books that I had to shelve. I really want to write a paranormal series that I’ve renamed and rewritten about fifteen times that right now, I’m calling the Magi Chronicles. I know it will take a lot of passion and work to do all that I wish to with it. I really want to write more Young Adult (that’s maybe not so dark) in the future. I plan on writing contemporary romance under a pen name, too, but that’s a ways off. And like I said, I’d LOVE to become a film and television writer, but that’s a long shot. It would be nice to be able to put food on the table and roof over my head with a savings account in the bak from writing alone, but I’m not sure if that’s even feasible. For now, I just want to get my work out there and get it read by people!

13. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be passionate about what you write. Try to write every day, even if you don’t feel like it. If you need inspiration, look inside yourself at the things that you are passionate about and try to write about that, even if you think it’ll never get read. And don’t read your reviews (at least the non-professional ones)!

Thank you so much for coming on our blog, Eleni! It was nice having a local author on LILbooKlovers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

 

GIVEAWAY:

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Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

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The United Continuums, by Jennifer Brody

Hi guys! I have this amazing, wonderful, super awesome book that I finished reading… and I don’t have any words to describe it other than it blew me away! It’s probably the best ever book I’ve read, and I am so glad that I was one of the first ever readers of this book! This book is so amazing because…. I’ll tell you in the review below! 😉

DISCLAIMER: I received a free uncorrected ARC proof from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.the-united-continuums-cover

Goodreads Summary: In the epic conclusion to the award-winning Continuum Trilogy, Aero leads a group insurgents from the Second Continuum to overthrow his rival Supreme General Vinick and unite his space colony’s military forces, while Seeker takes on a secret mission back to her home colony to reinforce Earth’s defenses and defend the First Continuum against an even greater threat. Meanwhile, Myra’s nightmares have become a reality as the Dark Thing hurtles toward Earth with designs on eradicating the planet’s fledgling populace. The only thing standing in the way are the three Carriers and those who would join them to fight against a second coming of the Doom.

Rating: 12/10 Stars

Oh my goodness! This book is officially my favorite book of all time! I devoured- and I mean I just could not stop reading this book- in 3 days, with 80% in just 2 days! That’s 360 pages in 2 days! I’ve never done that until The Continuum Trilogy. It exceeded my expectations so much! I loved every single minute of reading it! IT’S SUPER AMAZING!!!!!

The author sucked me into the story so much that I cried both internally and externally when I got to certain parts. It felt like an action movie at times that I would forget that I was reading a book. I literally could not put this down! Whenever I had a little time to read this, I always took up the opportunity. I finished nearly 60% in a single day! I rarely do that- and if the book was in print, that would be the equivalent of 270 pages. The author made me step into the shoes of the characters, actually become them, and see their sides of the story, thrusting me so much into the book that I cried and became worried and anxious whenever something bad happens to someone I liked. I truly felt the emotions of each one and became more sympathetic with them, and this made me love each and every one of them even more.

Jennifer packed so much action, adventure, thrill, suspense, and almost every single literary element you can think of in this book and molded it in a perfect way. Everything was thrown at me, and I loved it, like eating an entree that was packed with so much spice and flavor. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and there was so much tension in the air that there was a time that I did not feel it. The cliffhangers and plot twists made me crave to know more, making it harder for me to resist not reading it. I devoured this book, yet I savored every second of it. It truly sticks out from the regular YA dystopian novel, and it definitely beats The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, and The Maze Runner combined!

The strongest element of this story is the plot. Although it has wonderful characters and character development and fascinating world building, the plot is probably the most memorable aspect of it. It’s so unpredictable that you can’t figure out what will happen next! There are so many surprises planted all throughout the book that you will go “What just happened?” at least a few times. The plot never dragged but never went too fast- a really nice pace- and all the ends were tied up. I could not find any holes or loose ends in the story, which led me to no questions, and that is a good thing! The only questions I had were just “What happens next?” questions. It gave me the right amount of storyline for me to be both content yet wanting more at the same time. The ending (no spoilers here) is an “left to the reader’s imagination on what happens next” ending. I want to know more, yet I feel sad that this is the finale to the trilogy. It truly was an amazing adventure to be on.

There is literally nothing wrong I have seen with this book although there were a few isolated spelling errors- but this is an uncorrected proof so I understand. The United Continuums was so good that it is officially my newest favorite book of all time! If I had to re-read a book, I would choose this one! You will not be disappointed with this book. It’s so awesome that I had no words to describe my reaction to the entire story. I was speechless.

Recommendation: 1000% Yes! I will definitely recommend this to anybody! (But you have to read the first two first, so get them!)

What are your favorite dystopian novels? What are you looking for in one? Comment below your thoughts, and we’d love to chat with you! And make sure to check out the giveaways for Marie Silk’s Davenport House and Melanie Ifield’s The Age of Corruption! You won’t be disappointed with them! Hurry now for a chance to win!

Exclusive Interview with Austin Aslan

Hi guys! Today I have an exclusive interview with an author that is very sentimental to me! It was actually become of Austin Aslan’s books that started my love for Young Adult fiction. I was so hesitant to read The Islands at the End of the World at first because of the length, but when I picked it up and opened it, I devoured it! It’s up in my favorites because it means so much to me! I’m so happy I’m able to interview this wonderful author, and I hope you enjoy this interview!

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1. What are your books The Islands at the End of the World and The Girl at the Center of the World about?sandiego1-body

Hi, Kester. Thanks for inviting me onto your blog. I’m excited to be here. ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a young adult disaster/survival novel with science-fiction elements. The story involves a catastrophic global blackout but it takes place entirely on the Hawaiian Islands. It’s about a 16 year-old girl named Leilani who is half white, half Hawaiian. She lives on the Big Island but she and her father are on the island of Oahu when the global blackout happens. The islands are suddenly thrust into darkness and isolation. No one knows what’s going on. As days without electricity, without airplane travel, and without food/gas shipments turn to weeks, tensions grow, hunger sets in, and the situation on the islands becomes desperate and violent. Lei and her dad set off on their own to get home to the Big Island by any means necessary. A lot of crazy things happen in this book, and there are some cool science-fiction things going on, too, but this novel is really about a strong father/daughter relationship that’s strained to the limits on a dangerous journey to get back home to family.

The sequel, THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, continues the saga started in the first book. GIRL is different from book one in a number of crucial ways. The difficult geography of Hawai`i, the sense of separation, the urgency to get home—these are all powerful, compelling story elements that come together to make ISLANDS wholly unique. Developing a fresh, exciting sequel to such a singular story was quite a challenge. With GIRL, I wasn’t interested in trying to repeat the feel of ISLANDS out of some unspoken sense of obligation to match what I had already done. I wanted to engage in a new kind of storytelling and a new set of scenarios. The important thing is that I returned to the characters! I think I hit just the right mix of old and new with GIRL.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I’ve always been a writer. I once turned in an 11-page short story in sophomore English class for a simple page-long vocabulary assignment. Looking back, one of the greatest insights of my life was long ago identifying writing as a possible way to escape my destiny. Writing is cheap. It costs NOTHING to put pencil to paper and go. What other creative pursuit can you engage in with the potential of making a career out of it without spending a dime? For the cost of a Number Two pencil and a notebook we can stop the globe spinning. We can blow up buildings. We can create and destroy entire lives, entire solar systems. We can make people cry and laugh and beg for more. It’s pretty astounding.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I grew up reading Stephen King and Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. Almost exclusively. Not the greatest variety, unfortunately. But I caught up with reading all those books I was supposed to read in high school when I entered the Peace Corps. I read the 100 most influential English-language books of the 20th Century during those years. And it was important for my development as a writer to do so.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I have no favorite child, and the best books I’ve read are all unique enough to defy direct ranking against each other. But for what it’s worth, my best reads have all been somehow transcendental, somewhat epic in form, and illuminate something profound of the Human condition. 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera fit the bill. LOTR does, too. Brothers Karamozov. The Gunslinger and The Shining. Cloud Atlas, for its sheer versatility. And one of the few series I read over and over again: Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books. Simply sublime. I don’t know what these books do to my own writing, except to humble me, and ignite my love for the written word.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?austin-aslan_islandsattheendoftheworld_sfwa

I now write for a living. I NOW WRITE FOR A LIVING! I avoided a mid-life crisis by THIS much. I no longer shy away from that “What do YOU do for a living?” question at parties.  I’m cuter. I’m younger. (Not.)

I like to hike and backpack and get outdoors. I thru-hiked the entire Arizona National Scenic Trail last winter. It’s 800-miles long, absolutely gorgeous, and it took me almost three months to complete. You can read more about those adventures here: http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/author/a_aslan/

6. Have you been to Hawaii before? How was living there? How did your experience in Hawaii help shape the story?

I lived in Hilo, on the Big Island, when I was getting my masters degree in Tropical Conservation Biology. My field sites were high up on the forested slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano. I was coming home from a rainy day of doing pollination experiments with rare Hawaiian flowers and I drove down through the clouds and suddenly had a great, clear view of the ocean surrounding the island. I was struck by how alone and isolated the Hawaiian Islands were (this is something that people in Hawaii think about frequently, and it wasn’t a new thought for me, either). At that time, I happened to be thinking about a haunting post-apocalyptic book by Cormac McCarthy called THE ROAD. The idea popped into my head that it would be really interesting to set a post-apocalyptic story on the isolated Hawaiian Islands, and the story and characters just started flowing out of me like lava! I thought to myself, Everybody know what happens at the end of the world in New York and LA, but what would a global disaster mean for Islanders? 95% of Hawaii’s food is imported every day. The islands are home to 1.5 million people. If things got tough there, where would all those people go? There are no mountain ranges or Great Plains to escape to. Everyone is stuck. Hungry. No way to escape. When I arrived home at the end of my drive, I started writing the book immediately, that night, and I had my first draft finished 83 days later—all while going to class and doing field work for my degree!

7. Can you speak Hawaiian? Do you know any words?

I only know a few words of Hawaiian. The book doesn’t have much pidgin, and that was an editorial decision, as much as it was a product of the reality that I have no command of the dialect! My editor also works with Graham Salisbury, and they both long ago came to the conclusion that sales to general audiences dwindle as a direct function of how much pidgin appears in the text. Mainland readers just don’t have the patience to wade through too many unfamiliar words and phrases.

The biggest challenge for me was feeling comfortable and legitimate in writing about a Hawaiian main character and crafting a story deeply-rooted in Hawaiian cultures and traditions, even though I’m haole (white) and don’t come from the islands. I’m not Hawaiian, and there’s two problems with that. The obvious problem is that I don’t “know” the culture. There’s a lot to learn and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll never be an expert, though the book has to feel authentic not only to general readers, but to islanders, as well. The more complex problem is that, as an outsider, I struggle with claiming the right to tell a story set in Hawaii. I’m not only writing as a half Hawaiian when I’m not one. I’m also writing about thorny scenarios involving “sovereign nation” perspectives, and one of my bad guys is pure Hawaiian (though most of my Hawaiian characters are very noble, and I try to make all of my characters, regardless of race, as three-dimensional as possible). This issue has a lot of complexity around it, and I’m most comfortable approaching it with a great deal of humility. Ultimately, I think that any author has the right to tell any story they want to. The question is: can you get away with it? Will your effort be respected? Will the people whose voice you’re trying to assume authenticate your attempt or not? So far, the books have been respectfully received in different circles. I feel that I’ve approached this dynamic with awareness, humility, honesty, and good faith.

8. Did you really appear in the movies The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and The Postman with Kevin Costner? Did you get to meet them? Who’s the biggest celebrity you have met?

Yes. And I did get to meet both of them. I had a slice of Pizza Hut pizza on location with Alec while we waited for the crew to set up the scene for a car chase. Kevin actually directed me in a few scenes during Postman filming. Super fun experience. Those are two of the biggest celebrities I’ve ever been around, if you don’t count national politicians (I’ve worked on projects with more than I can count in another job). I’m looking to round out my rolodex, though; know of any you could hook me up with?

9. What would you do if technology fails? Could you live without it?

We have become so reliant on certain technologies, basic and advanced, that their sudden loss would be catastrophic to the normal functioning of society. How long do you think it would take for the more unstable forces in our communities to run Henny Penny into the street and self-fulfill a falling sky?

Though, to be clear, I don’t think the conditions of your question will ever actually be met. I think that a “sudden lack of energy” befalling our world is highly unlikely. Loss of technology and the power with which to run it is much more likely to be a slow, gradual process that we don’t even realize we’re adapting to, if it happens at all.

10. You’ve performed research on rare Hawaiian plants. How was your work, and have you discovered anything new?

I studied mutualism:  some creatures help each other out for so long that after a while they turn into special species that need each other to survive.  Plants and birds (and a lot of plants and bugs) can do this.  Pollination is one way that plants and birds help each other out.  Birds can get food from the flowers of plants.  In return, the plants can transfer pollen from one plant to the next by using the birds.

In Hawaii, an example of this is Hawaiian honeycreepers and a type of plant called lobeliads.  The honeycreepers have very long bills, which they use to reach the food deep inside the very long flowers of the lobeliad plants.  When the bird visits the flower, it gets pollen on its head, and then brings the pollen to the next flower to help the plant reproduce (make new plants). But what happens when one of the two species goes extinct? What happens to the other species? Will it also go extinct? In my study example, the flower is now being pollinated by a newly-introduced bird from Japan. The conventional wisdom is that introduced species are bad for ecosystems, but my research has helped to develop a narrative within the scientific community that this issue is more complicated than we want to realize.

11. Could you describe your reaction when you got “the call” that your books will become published?

“The Call” is a misnomer, at least in my experience. It’s an involved process, spanning many days. I went back and forth with several editors from different houses, and all the while things remained in flux, though at some ambiguous point it became pretty clear that someone was going to make a final offer. I was sick in bed with a cold the day things got finalized. I was pretty ecstatic, and took my wife out to dinner, but it all kind of felt forced at the time.

I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed of becoming a published author, and I half expected my life to suddenly transform into glitz and glamor and whatever once I finally realized my dream (don’t we all day dream about that?). But the truth is that I believe that circumstances don’t change who people are. Change in one’s life comes from within; it’s rarely external. The good fortune I’ve had so far hasn’t changed who I am or how I act or who I hang out with. The biggest difference for me is that I’m now able to make writing my job. But I don’t actually feel that I’m writing more often than I used to. I’m just getting paid to do it now. So, it has freed me up somewhat, but that just means I have more time to attend to the thousand other responsibilities of raising a family!

12. Who was your favorite character to write about and why?img_6459

Leilani, for sure.

Leilani was such a miraculous surprise for me. I had no idea I could write someone like her. My “model” for her—my own daughter—was only seven years old at the time I wrote the novel. I did my best to project forward into her teenage years as I wrote. It seems to have worked out fairly well! Leilani is so awesome because she’s every bit as strong as Katniss Everdeen but she’s so much more. She operates in the real world, and her challenges are the kind that any one of us could face on a bad day. Her courage and her wits are exceptional, and she’s constantly saving her father rather than the other way around. She’s mixed race (half white, half Hawaiian), which presents its own set of hardships in our confusing world, especially in the context of a scenario in which society is unraveling at the seams! Leilani also suffers from epilepsy. Lei isn’t intended to be cool or special because she has a disability, or because she’s able to navigate a terrifying world in spite of her setbacks. She’s not inspirational or pitiable because of her disability. It’s just a part of her that she struggles with and manages, at times, to accept. It’s who she is.

Now, there are fantastical elements to this story. Lei finds herself in a position to make a big difference in the world. But she’s no “Chosen One.” I hope that’s sufficiently conveyed in the text. The abilities that she finds she has are not unique to her. She just happens to be in the right place at the right time to seize the moment and the initiative. Her successes and her failures are completely hers to choose. I don’t believe that she operates under any mandate of destiny, as occurs in so many fantasy and science-fiction stories, so, yeah, ironically, this is another big thing that makes Leilani special and unique.

And one last thing, since we’re on the subject. I’m very hopeful that readers will find Lei a very refreshing departure from the star-crossed girl who is inexplicably caught up in romantic engagements even though everyone has bigger problems at the moment. This book doesn’t have any love triangles. Lei is a sixteen-year-old girl who occasionally crosses paths with interesting guys, but the “love” in this has nothing to do with romance. It’s about family. It’s about her father. Something I hope most readers can connect with in a very real and visceral way.

One of the very first decisions I had to make before I started typing this story was whether I wanted my main character to be a boy or a girl. The choice was easy for me. I have a daughter. I could easily imagine myself as a father feeling the burden of keeping her safe if we were in the situation of my book, having to hop islands to get home while society disintegrates. It was scary to think about. I also knew I wanted to write a YA novel, so the youth had to be the main character. Once I was convinced that my MC would be a girl, writing as her wasn’t that hard. I just channeled my daughter as best I could and assumed (for better and for worse, in some cases) that for all the ways we like to portray boys and girls as impossibly different, they’re actually pretty similar. I think it worked out just fine. I was fortunate to find a voice for Leilani quickly, and then I just stayed authentic to that voice throughout the book. When my agent and I were shopping the novel around, an editor at a major publishing house said that she was surprised to learn that I was a guy. I was very flattered by that, and took it as a good sign that I had effectively managed to pull off a girl MC!

13. Have you written any other works? What are also your current plans with your writing career?

As a matter of fact, yes! Several projects. Different genres. I recently finished a draft of a new disaster adventure set later in the 21st century. I’m very fond of that project. I’m also developing a series of chapter books with an environmental theme. I have two fantasy project in the works, as well. In this industry, the key is to keep writing, and I plan to continue doing just that for the foreseeable future.

14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Keep writing. And by that, I mean new material. You may not find publication for your first project, no matter how polished and perfect you can eventually get it through revisions. (I’ve written seven books and only published two!) You need a wide array of projects to shop around. As they say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

I love that I’m living proof that perseverance will eventually pay off. If you want to be a published author badly enough, you can make it happen. Writing is one of those rare careers these days where new people still constantly break in and become successful. It is honestly true that agents and editors are looking at the quality of your material first and foremost. Who you are, where you came from, your education level, your rap sheet…none of these things matter in this business as much as your story, your characters, and your voice. Anybody can do this. It took me ten years and six novels to finally make it all the way through the door, but I always trusted in the system to judge me fairly and my learning and growth finally paid off. So, if you really, really, really want to publish a book, you will. The trick is, of course, that “really wanting it” recognizes that there are certain ways to play ball and you have to respect the process and you have to continuously hone your craft and strive to be a better writer. Getting published is like going to the Olympics…you honestly have to train HARD to make it. But it’s also better than going to the Olympics, because you don’t need to be born with an athletic body that predisposes you to competitive ability—you just need a sharp mind and a good story and LOTS of practice!

Thank you so much, Austin! It was fun interviewing you! Thank you for writing such brilliant books that made me interested in Young Adult fiction!

If you want to check out more of Austin’s works or social media accounts, click below to check them out!

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Please continue to share and like our posts, as well as follow us to keep track of our latest interviews and giveaways! Don’t forget we have two giveaways- Marie Silk and Melanie Ifield– so go check those out! And

 

 

Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley

Hi guys! If you’re here on the Damaged Goods blog tour, welcome to my tour stop! What a great way to end the tour, huh? This series is actually one of my most anticipated reads of 2016! I can’t wait to start it! And today, I have the honor to interview the lovely Jennifer Bardsley, also known as the YA Gal! (*internally screaming insider because I’m so happy I got to interview her*). Let’s get on with the tour!

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Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: January 17, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis:

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.

 

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Title: GENESIS GIRL (Blank Slate #1)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 280

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon |  B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Books A Million | Google Play | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online. 

 

About Jennifer: jennifer-bardsley

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

GENESIS GIRL will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, the sequel  will come out in 2017. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

 

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Interview with Jennifer Bardsley:

Kester: In your own words, what is your Blank Slate series about?

Jennifer: The Blank Slate series is about a teenager named Blanca who grew up in a quasi-religious cult called the Vestals, where she was shielded from the Internet for eighteen years. Blanca grew up with no online profile or digital footprint. All the Vestals were blank slates, and since that is so rare, it made them valuable. In GENESIS GIRL Blanca’s digital purity gets auctioned off to the highest bidder. In DAMAGED GOODS, Blanca struggles to overcome the brainwashing of her past.

Kester: Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Jennifer: I grew up keeping a diary. It’s really hard to commit to a diary, and I flaked out a whole bunch, but did manage to write a few times a month. Now I have diaries from when I was ten to fifteen that I treasure. If I was a teenager today though, I’d probably have an anonymous blog instead.

Continue reading “Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley”