Hi guys! To be honest, I have not read that many horror novels in my lifetime. The most recent one was The Lairdbalor by Kathleen Kaufman, and although I wish I had enjoyed that book much more than I actually did, I am really excited for The Gravedigger’s Son by Patrick Moody. I am actually ready to be scared to my bones! Today, I have the wonderful opportunity to interview the book’s amazing author, and I’ve certainly enjoyed writing his questions and reading his answers. I hope you have the chance to check out his novel!
About the Book
“A Digger must not refuse a request from the Dead.” —Rule Five of the Gravedigger’s Code
Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond.
But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. So he reluctantly continues his training under the careful watch of his undead mentor, hoping every day that he’s never Called and carefully avoiding the path that leads into the forbidden woods bordering the cemetery.
Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two thing—to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished, and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves.
Only Ian can stop them. With a little help from his friends. And his long-dead ancestors.
Equal parts spooky and melancholy, funny and heartfelt, The Gravedigger’s Son is a gorgeous debut that will long sit beside Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener.
1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
First, thanks so much for hosting me, Kester!
I love writing because I’ve always been a daydreamer. I’ve always had stories in my head, or at least little snippets of stories, thinking up fantastical places and people, heroes and villains, dangerous quests and spooky castles. Growing up, my mind was filled with “what ifs”. I think, in all honesty, that I never really grew out of playing make believe. I love writing because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be fulfilled creatively.
2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
My favorite genres are fantasy and horror. Science Fiction is up there as well, and a bit of magical realism, too. I think the most impactful writer in my childhood was Robert Jordan. My father was a fan of his, and had his entire Wheel of Time series. I remember climbing up onto the bookshelves and staring at those incredible covers, completely spellbound. Aside from Goosebumps and Lloyd Alexander, I never really read for my age group. I jumped right into epic fantasy. Terry Brooks came next, followed by Peter S. Beagle and Ursula K. Leguinn.
Beagle has influenced me more than any other writer. I think The Innkeeper’s Song is the most beautiful fantasy ever written.
As for favorite books, ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King & Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury have always been close to my heart. Recent favorites include The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill and The Sorcerer’s House by Gene Wolfe. I’ve also really enjoyed a few short story collections by Kelly Link.
3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. It seems my TBR pile gets bigger every time I turn around. I think it’s growing on its own! Maybe that’ll be my next book?
For me, writing isn’t really a job. It’s a passion. A need. I do have a full time job as a middle school custodian. It’s really great for my writing. Nice and quiet, with plenty of time to think. I write for one hour a day, on my lunch break. I feel that setting a time limit really helps. On my days off, I always tell myself, “Okay, lets get writing. You’ll get so much done!”…Until I turn on the tv or crack open a book. Having the structure of writing at work really helps. Otherwise, I get way too distracted.
4. Your MG debut novel The Gravedigger’s Son tells the tale of Ian Fossor, who feels conflicted between his desire to become a Healer and his family’s lineage as Gravediggers. As he is Called to help the soul of a young boy, he finds himself fighting against a group of witches bent on seeking revenge and power. Would you be a Gravedigger or a Healer? How do you explore the themes of life and death, good and evil, and following your dreams versus your family’s expectations in your novel?
That’s a tough one! Gravediggers and Healers both help people, but one helps the Living while the other helps the Dead. I think I’d like to be a Gravedigger, since they deal with a certain amount of magic and mysticism. Healing is noble, but I’d be too worried about messing something up. I was never too good in biology or anatomy class!
Exploring the concept of death can be tricky, especially when writing for a MG audience. In terms of religion, I kept everything utterly vague and set it in a fantasy realm. I also had to do it in a way that wasn’t too bleak (I hope), so I knew that I needed a lot of comic relief. That came in the form of Bertrum, Ian’s grumpy but loving undead tutor. And it comes later with Thatcher Moore, the skeleton who refuses to stay dead. One of the main struggles in Ian’s life is the fact that he lost his mother at a young age, and though he’s growing up in a family that has the power to speak to the Dead, he knows he’ll never be able to reach her…or so he thinks. I liked the idea of having something so important being just out of his reach. It makes for a melancholy character, but a sympathetic one. Ian knows that death is a serious business. There’s a big part of him that really despises the whole notion of it (which is probably true for most of us), but as the story progresses, he discovers that death is far from the end.
Good and evil was also something I wanted to explore, but I knew that I didn’t want to make it so black and white. In the story, Ian comes across a coven of Weavers, or dark magic witches. At first, they seem to be completely evil. Yet as the conflict reaches its climax, Ian realizes that their evil deeds are coming from a place of great pain, and in the case of the younger Weavers, a place of learned ignorance. I never like stories of completely flawless heroes vs. completely evil villains. That’s been done before, and I think it’s (thankfully) becoming a dying trope. Everyone has the capacity to be good and bad. There are a thousand shades of gray. You never know what might drive a good person to do something bad, or a bad person to do something good. We all handle things differently. I wanted to write about characters who struggle with righting past wrongs. Naturally, they all have a lot of emotional distress, their morality is clouded, and that heavy baggage can lead to some pretty drastic action.
Hi guys! In exactly one month, I am going to be off to Washington, D.C., with my choir, and I am super stoked about it! I have always wanted to visit our nation’s capital, and I am super blessed that I have this opportunity to go there along with my fantastic choir that I have definitely bonded so much with over the last few months. Speaking of the government (haha, Kester, good/cheesy segue), today I am having Jake Burt, author of Greetings from Witness Protection! on the blog in this exclusive interview, and I am so excited to have him because if you had read my review of his debut, you’ll know why I loved it so much. I hope you enjoy this interview!
About Greetings from Witness Protection!
Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .
The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.
Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.
1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
First off, thanks for hosting me, Kester, and for all you do to support MG and YA literature! To answer your question, I fell in love with stories first. My dad used to read aloud to my brothers and me every night – stuff like The Hobbit and excerpts from Mark Twain’s Roughing It. It was easily the highlight of my day. Then, when I was in grade school, I discovered that I could create my own stories. I had a string of really good teachers who encouraged me (or, rather, at least tolerated my nascent attempts at authorship), and that allowed me to develop a love for the written word.
2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
Books:The Hobbit. Le Morte D’Arthur. James and the Giant Peach. The Last Unicorn. Charlotte’s Web. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Snow Crash. Are You My Mother?The Golden Compass. Faeries. Tuck Everlasting.
Authors: Tolkien. Malory. Dahl. Pullman. Basically anyone who wrote one of the above books. I’ve also got a special place in my heart for the authors of the books I devoured when I was a kid – sprawling Dungeons and Dragons fantasy novels by R.A. Salvatore; Lone Wolf game books by Joe Dever; sci-fi short stories by Bradbury, Vonnegut, et al. Given all that, you’d think I’d be churning out middle grade fantasy novels, right? I thought so, too. And yet, here I am with MG contemporary…and I couldn’t be happier with the stories I’m telling so far. As far as the writers who had the greatest impact on me and my writing style, though? If I’m being honest with myself, it’s probably TV writers – those behind-the-scenes authors of dialogue I’ve found particularly memorable, of scenes that have stuck with me long after the show is done. It’s often teams of people, so I don’t know precisely who to credit, but I can name characters on shows about whom I think, “I want my MC to talk like that,” far more than passages in books about which I think, “I want to write like that!” (not that I’d turn down having my descriptions compared to E.B. White’s, or anything…)
3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
I’m not sure if I’d describe writing as a job. It’s more like a passion. And lest that come across too tritely, I’m talking about the “If I don’t write this story down and get it out of my head, I’m never going to stop obsessing about it” kind of passion, rather than the “The heavens are my muse, inspiring me to the glory that is” sort. Writing IS work, of course, and often times it’s hard work. It just never feels that way to me, because it’s never monotonous. The same goes for my day job – teaching 5th grade. I love both of them, and for similar reasons: they’re nothing like the hardest job I’ve ever had. That dubious honor goes to working a hydraulic press in a gasket factory one summer in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was hard for me because it was repetition. The sameness of it about drove me mad; I have incredible respect for people who can manage it. I couldn’t, so I’ve spent most of my life engaged with careers that allow me to be as intensely creative as I can be. Writing and teaching provide those opportunities.
4. Your debut novel Greetings from Witness Protection!, which released last year, follows Nicki Demere as she joins the Witness Protection Program’s Project Family and adopts a new identity to help protect the Trevor family from those seeking to kill them. How did you research and learn more about WITSEC as you conceived your story? How did you figure out how to portray WITSEC for middle grade readers without sacrificing a thrilling story to avoid anything too “graphic” or “adult?”
I did what research I could on WITSEC, but as you can imagine, there’s not much to go on. It’s not like people in witness protection are lining up to let an author of middle grade fiction interview them about their experiences. I did access the US Marshalls’ website, Google Earth’ed the facility in Glynco, and read whatever accounts I could get my hands on, but much of what I did in portraying WITSEC and the witness protection program was fashioned after how it has been portrayed in other books, movies, and television shows. I figured if I couldn’t get at the truth about WITSEC (and that I couldn’t is decidedly a good thing!), then I could at least portray a version of it that was consistent with the rest of the body of fiction. As far as keeping it kid-friendly? I don’t necessarily know that I did. I hoped that my readers would be able to handle what I put my characters through, and as long as I was honest about the emotions behind it – Nicki’s desire to be part of something, Jackson’s anger, Brit’s trepidation – then it would read true for them. Those are real for kids, and I trusted that they’d relate. This sentiment was explored beautifully by Matt de la Pena in TIME recently, and both his essay and Kate DiCamillo’s response are modern-day required reading for MG authors, as far as I’m concerned. Check them out here: http://time.com/5093669/why-we-shouldnt-shield-children-from-darkness/
Hi guys! I am taking a brief hiatus from most blog-related activities this week and next until Spring Break rolls around. I’ll still respond to comments here and on social media, but I’m putting the blog aside a bit for the meantime since I am trying to catch up on everything from schoolwork to other extracurriculars. Today, I am posting my review
About The Misadventure of Bolingbroke Manor
You and your two friends are on a ghost hunting trip at Bolingbroke Manor, an old and reputably haunted mansion. But do you have what it takes to defeat the ghost, and, more importantly, get out alive?
Click on the links to make your decisions and save the day with this fast-paced interactive adventure!
Disclaimer: Thanks so much to the author for sending me a free electronic copy of this book for review consideration. This will not affect my review in any way.
I love text-adventure games! I remember in middle school reading a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book about visiting the Statue of Liberty and either getting involved in a crime heist or being transported back in time to Ellis Island in the early 20th century. The Misadventure of Bolingbroke Manor was a delight to read! This interactive adventure will both entertain and spook readers as they search for elusive ghosts in the manor, but trouble and mayhem is very close at each turn. I certainly had a really fun time as I sped through this book—I did not stop until I went through every single outcome possible!
Hi guys! I have been really busy this past week, especially since I have been doing my best to catch up with everything after missing a few days last week for the DECA TN SCDC. I had such a great time there, but now it’s time for reality… that means more homework, studying, practicing, and blogging! Today I am a part of the blog tour of These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas. I read These Vicious Masks (the first book in the series) last year, and I am going to review for y’all its sequel These Ruthless Deeds. I hope you enjoy!
These Vengeful Souls Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker
(These Vicious Masks #3) Published by: Swoon Reads Publication date: February 20th 2018 Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Summary: England, 1883. On the run with the grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants two things: to be reunited with her friends, and to get revenge on the evil Captain Goode. Not only has he misused his and Sebastian’s powers to rack up a terrible death toll, but he’s also completely destroyed any hope of Evelyn or her friends regaining the life they once knew.
Evelyn is determined to make Captain Goode pay for what he’s done, but is her revenge worth risking the lives of Sebastian and her friends? Or is it better to flee the city and focus on staying alive? And with the Captain spreading lies about Sebastian in an attempt to flush them out of hiding and turn the populace against them, does she even have a choice at all?
These Ruthless Deeds Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker
(These Vicious Masks #2) Published by: Swoon Reads Publication date: March 14th 2017 Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Synopsis: England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.
As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher and Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.
I have been wanting to read These Ruthless Deeds for such a long time now, and I jumped at the opportunity to read it. Although it did not exactly live up to its predecessor since I had such high expectations after reading such an outstanding debut, I still really enjoyed it. Certainly, These Ruthless Deeds is the satisfying and attention-grabbing sequel to These Vicious Masks that will make you beg for more until you reach the last page. It was such a great continuation, introducing new plot twists and characters, that I had to read book three as soon as I put this book down!
These Ruthless Deeds had so much action and excitement seeping from its pages from the first one. There were so many plot twists and surprises that felt like they punched me in the gut. Seriously, that’s how much I hurt after I learned of these shocking revelations. My eyes became glued onto my Kindle as I literally flew through the pages, transporting me into the X-Men-esque Society of Aberrations. In addition, there was so much humor, snarkiness, sarcasm, and awkwardness that made me chuckle and smile throughout the entire book, even when things got tense. This novel was so entertaining yet heart-wrenching.
The best thing about both this book and this series is the characters. I loved the introduction of many new characters with unique and bizarre abilities, and I fell in love with people like Miss Chen and Emily. Before I go on, I have to say that my favorite character in the entire series is Mr. Kent. He is truly amazing, and he always has some sort of witty or sarcastic remark that makes me laugh. Plus, how he uses his power is so cunning and awesome — seriously, I wish we were friends, though he’d probably make me say things I wish I hadn’t said. This unique cast of characters will stick with you even after you have left this alternative London.
As expected with every sequel, this book fell a bit — just a bit — flat for me since I had such high expectations from These Vicious Masks. Although I found myself sucked into the plot, I didn’t feel as emotionally invested as I had wanted to. However, I do find These Ruthless Deeds a very satisfying sequel to its predecessor. I am so glad that I was able to continue it, and I hope that you’ll be able to pick up These Vicious Masks and These Ruthless Deeds sometime! 🙂
Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.
Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.
Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.
Hi guys! I am super excited to present to you all this month’s LILbooKtalk! Two of my favorite authors are here on the blog to talk about their backgrounds in the film industry and how their books are in the process of being adapted into movies! I had my heart being wrenched out in Brittany Goodwin’s YA debut If You’re Gone and in Jennifer Brody’s The Continuum Trilogy, and I cannot wait to see their film adaptations when they come out! I hope you enjoy this LILbooKtalk!
About If You’re Gone
Lillian White was planning for the perfect summer- spending every waking minute at the lake with her heartthrob boyfriend, Brad Lee. But her world is shattered when Brad mysteriously disappears the night of his graduation ceremony- the same night he tells her he loves her for the first time. After law enforcement dismisses the case, classifying Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his family. Not from his friends. Not from her.
Heartbroken but determined to find answers, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship. Will the truth lead her to him? Or are Brad’s lies just the beginning of the mystery?
About The 13th Continuum
One thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the brink of extinction, the survivors take refuge in continuums designed to sustain the human race until repopulation of Earth becomes possible. Against this backdrop, a group of young friends in the underwater Thirteenth Continuum dream about life outside their totalitarian existence, an idea that has been outlawed for centuries. When a shocking discovery turns the dream into a reality, they must decide if they will risk their own extinction to experience something no one has for generations, the Surface.
Questions are in bold
Kester: The first author we have today is the amazing Brittany Goodwin, who is actually a local author from my home state of Tennessee! I loved her YA debut If You’re Gone, and I had the opportunity to meet her at SE-YA last year! Could you describe to us a bit about yourself and your book?
Brittany:Yes, and it was so fun to meet you last year! I grew up in Tennessee and lived here until I was 18, then started traveling around the country following my passion for acting and worked at different regional theaters, on a cruise ship, and eventually ended up in Los Angeles where I worked in some independent films. The whole time I was working on my novel If You’re Gone here and there but was more focused on the film side of things, and when I moved to North Carolina in 2010 I decided to write and direct my first feature film Secrets in the Snow. It was followed by the sequel, Secrets in the Fall, and once the second film released in 2014 I decided I was finally ready to focus on “If You’re Gone. So I spent a year writing the novel, which is a missing persons story about a teenage boy who goes missing, told from his girlfriend’s perspective. It released in June of 2016!
Kester: Your background is so awesome! Thanks so much, Brittany! Alongside her, we have the awesome Jennifer Brody, whose action-packed, post-apocalyptic The Continuum Trilogy is my favorite series of all-time! I had the pleasure of creating the questions for the Q&A that is featured in the back of the epic conclusion The United Continuums! Would you also like to share with us a few things about yourself and your novels?
Jennifer: Of course, and so fun to chat with you! I’m still sad we haven’t had a chance to meet IRL yet.
Kester: I know!!! Hopefully some day though!
Jennifer: I’m the author of author of the award-winning Continuum Trilogy. The first book The 13th Continuum sold in a 3-book deal and is being packaged into a feature film. Translation rights to my books have sold in multiple territories, most notably Russia and China. I also began my career in Hollywood. Highlights include working on The Lord of the Rings films, The Golden Compass, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I live and write in LA (so howdy from the West Coast). Though I grew up in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. So I also do both book and film projects. Several of my short stories are also being put together as films. They’re in various stages of the packaging process.
Kester: That’s so rad!!! Thanks, Jen!!! This next question is for both of you! I know you might have already mentioned it, but could you describe to us your backgrounds in the film industry? What inspired you to shift from producing movies to writing stories, and what was the transition like?
Brittany: I was focused only on acting for the early part of my film career, but as I started working on independent films I became fascinated with what went on behind the camera and wanted to tell stories of my own through film. I definitely felt like writing screenplays came easier to me than writing novels, because I knew I would be able to SHOW the audience instead of TELL. So If You’re Gone was a really big challenge for me but it was always in my head and I just knew I had to get it on paper. Then turning it into the screenplay was even more challenging because it had to be cut back a lot, which was tough to go from author to screenwriter. But it was fun. And worth it.
Jennifer: I wanted to take a shot at telling my own stories, not just giving them away to screenwriters we hired. And since I think it’s important right now to be really honest about it, one of the biggest reasons I shifted from Hollywood is related to the #metoo movement. I’ve worked for or with most of the big names in the news. And I got really tired of the bad practices toward women in the business and not being taken seriously for my talent and hard work. But I think there is a rare opportunity right now to have more control and come back into the process with the goal of putting strong content together with female and POC directors.
Brittany: Totally agree with Jennifer on how women and their work are viewed in the industry!
Jennifer: Yes, Brittany! And also that’s why I’m so impressed you directed films. I can’t emphasize how important it is to get more women behind the camera. I always worked as an executive or producer. I’ve never directed, but I’m thinking about it now finally. I’m sure we could trade industry stories.
Brittany: You definitely should! It is one of the most rewarding experiences. And I hope to keep including more and more women on my film crews.
Jennifer: Yes, that’s also so important! I was so excited the female cinematographer from MudBound got a nomination. If I direct, it will be a horror movie. I‘m going to get a few of my projects going with others first and then maybe go for it!
Brittany: Yes!! The first screenplay I ever wrote was a horror film. That’s so awesome. Remember you know a fellow author/actress!
Brittany: Sounds amazing! 🙂
Jennifer: Let’s go make something fun and scary! You’ll have to send me your films to check out or tell me where I can watch them.
Brittany: Definitely, would love to trade work.
Jennifer: Let’s do it! Look Kester, isn’t that cool?
Kester: It is!! I love this so much! It would be great to have you both collaborate on a project — you’d rock at it! Next question: How did your experiences in the film industry affect the creation of your stories? Did you write your books with a movie adaptation in mind? How is writing a novel different from writing a script?
Jennifer: Great question! I think I got two big things from working in development and producing—how to structure a story and also my writing has a very visual component to it. And yes, I always think about the film adaptation, partially because I love movies so much. And it would be a great to make the Continuum books into films. Fingers crossed—the big pitch is going out next week I think!
Brittany: That’s so exciting, Jennifer
Kester: Ahh, that is so awesome Jen!!! I wish you all the best with it!!
Jennifer: Thank you! We have a great screenwriter attached who is getting a lot of traction lately. And producers. So we shall see…
Brittany: I could always picture If You’re Gone as a film as I was writing the novel, and before I really cracked down on the novel I went back and forth between writing it as a screenplay and as a book. And even though I wrote both the screenplay and the novel, they are different in many ways because they translate differently on the page and on the screen.
Whenever I read any book I am ALWAYS thinking about it as a film! I love to read books that aren’t really in the main stream with the thought of turning them into a film myself. I have a stack of books I’ve had for YEARS that I would love to option as films at some point (if I ever run out of my own stories to tell lol).
Jennifer: That’s really cool Brittany! I do that too!
Kester: How do you think of your “dream cast” with your books? I know it’s popular for book bloggers to make them (I don’t have that talent though haha), but I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Jennifer: For The 13th Continuum, we plan to break new talent on the teen leads. My only hard ask is that we cast the roles with diverse actors (which is how they’re written in the books). Especially Myra—she has to be POC or biracial. I picture Octavia Spencer as Maude and Kevin Klein at Professor Divinus.
Brittany: That’s a really good question… honestly I can’t remember if I had a dream cast in mind before I actually started casting the film! Coming from the Indie side of things, I always have realistic expectations of budgets, etc, so I don’t think I ever thought Jennifer Lawrence would star in If You’re Gone or anything haha. But I do know when I saw the actors I ended up casting in If You’re Gone I knew immediately that they were right for the roles!
Jennifer: I’d love to work with Tessa Thompson again. My short story “200” is being adapted and directed by a really cool female screenwriter. I think Tessa could be perfect!
Jennifer: Yes, I can’t say who the writer is yet. But I can say that she’s one of the top writers in the industry right now. And she wants to direct, so she will make this her debut. It’s Philip K. Dick style SF.
Brittany: I will say, for the new screenplay (and novel) I am working on I definitely picture Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars as the lead female! Maybe it could happen! 🙂
Jennifer: Oh nice choice! Netflix wants to do a lot of films and teen stuff right now. And they have a low budget division and lots of money. My old boss just produced #realityhigh for them.
Brittany: That’s awesome! I’m sitting here racking my brain on who your writer could be… heheh.
Jennifer: Well, she’s usually the only women in a lot of male writing rooms on big studio films lately. They just announced the one she’s writing now two weeks ago and it trended on Twitter. 😉
Brittany: I’ve been dying to leak the trailer for If You’re Gone and my producer says I can’t. So I’ve been good! Easier said than done though hehe.
Kester: It must be tough! I’m still happy for you, though, Jen! The movies are going to be epic!
Jennifer: Thanks and excited for the trailer Brittany!
Brittany: Thanks! Hopefully soon!
Kester: Brittany, what was the biggest challenge of turning a character-driven novel into a film, and how did you overcome it?
Brittany: The novel was all told from Lillian’s perspective, so the reader always knew exactly what she was thinking and because it is a faith-based novel there are several instances where she is silently praying. That was one of the trickiest things for me to figure out how to convey on screen without having a cheesy narration going on throughout the film. I had to choose the most important moments and figure out which silent thoughts needed to become dialogue and what could be told visually.
Overall, the film is a little darker than the book because of the style choices we made, but the story still comes through and I’m SO happy with how it is turning out in the editing room. So I think it worked!
Kester: That’s so great to hear, Brittany!!! I am super excited to hopefully see the movie come out in the future!
Brittany: Thank you!
Kester: Jennifer, what is it like writing a trilogy, and what are some of the challenges you faced?
Jennifer: The best part of a trilogy is getting to tell such an epic story and watch the characters grow and change. The hardest part was the third book The United Continuums. I was writing on deadline, and had so many POVs. I had to pay everything off and raise the stakes. I really didn’t want to write a bad third book. I’ve personally been disappointed by so many series as a reader. I didn’t want to deliver that experience.
You were one of my first readers, and that’s why it meant so much that you loved the book. It was so fun to have you do the Q&A. When my editor suggested adding one, you were my first thought.
Kester: Aww, thank you, Jen! I’m so happy that I got to read it and do your Q&A! It was so fun, and certainly it was both my pleasure and honor to do so!
Jennifer: You asked great questions and made it easy.
Brittany: Kester you are making quite a name for yourself!
Jennifer: He sure is.
Kester: It’s all thanks to all the love and support from authors like you! Before we end this LILbooKtalk, would you both like to share any advice to young readers and writers or even screenwriters and filmmakers who are viewing this discussion?
Brittany: For all the young people who want to write or get involved in film… just go for it! Write a short story and film it on your smart phone, do whatever you can just to make it happen! It can be a little scary to get started, especially if you’re self-taught like I am, but there are some amazing books out there you can read to learn about screenwriting, directing, etc. And never think you’re too young to try!
Jennifer: This probably sounds cliche, but don’t give up on your dreams. You will hear NO a lot, but believe in yourself and tell the stories you want to tell. Read a lot and watch a lot of films. Seek out other people with similar interests and classes and workshops so you can learn from the best. Don’t give up.
Kester: Brittany, Jennifer, thank you so much for taking part of this LILbooKtalk!!! I really appreciate everything you have done, and I definitely had such a fun time chatting with you both!
Brittany: Thank you for thinking of us, Kester!
Jennifer: Thanks Kester! This was a lot of fun.
As a screenwriter and author based in Nashville, TN, I am proud to have written the screenplays for two nationally-distributed films, Secrets in the Snow and Secrets in the Fall, both of which have been awarded five (out of five) Doves from the Dove Foundation.
I love to read and create stories with elements of faith and friendship, particularly ones with realistic female protagonists. At a young age I was drawn to the work of writers who added a slightly glamorized twist to the day-to-day lives of teens- Francine Pascal, John Hughes, and Ann M. Martin to name a few. I always found elements of myself in the characters these writers created and felt inspired by them. If Andi could fall in love with a boy from the other side of the tracks, I could find a prom date. And if the Babysitters Club could solve mysteries, so could I! The characters in my stories are meant to emulate the same emotions from readers. Even the most average protagonist can accomplish something extraordinary.
I live on a mini-farm with my wonderful husband, John, and our ever growing plethora of house pets (current count: 3 canine, 5 feline). With a cat on my lap and a dog at my side, I enjoy watching anything on Investigation Discovery Channel, web sleuthing via missing persons websites, DIY projects, and movie trivia.
Jennifer Brody is the award-winning author of the The 13th Continuum. Her book sold in a 3-book deal and is being packaged into a feature film. The book is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) from theIndependent Publisher‘s Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Return of the Continuumsand The United Continuums complete this epic trilogy. Translation rights to her books have sold in multiple territories, most notably Russia and China. Her short fiction appears in the From the Starsanthology and Common Deer Press’ Short Tails. She is a graduate of Harvard University (magna cum laude), a creative writing instructor at the Writing Pad, and a volunteer mentor for the Young Storytellers Foundation. She’s also a board member for the non-profit writing competitions the Roswell Award and the Tomorrow Prize. After studying film at Harvard University, Jennifer began her career in Hollywood. Highlights include working for Platinum Dunes and New Line Cinema, most notably on The Lord of the Rings films, The Golden Compass, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She also produced the feature film Make It Happen starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Tessa Thompson. She lives and writes in LA, where she’s hard at work on her next book.
She is represented by Deborah Schneider (Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners), Josie Friedman (ICM) for TV/Film, and Curtis Brown for UK and foreign rights.
Thanks so much again to Jennifer Brody and Brittany Goodwin for agreeing to do this LILbooKtalk! I hope you all enjoyed this online discussion panel, and if you’d like to talk about any aspect or question of the discussion, please comment below!
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!
Hi guys! We have an amazing lineup of 2018 debut authors in store for you this year, and we’re kicking off all the #2018debuts with Eliot Sappingfield, author of A Problematic Paradox! I loved this book so much because it gave me so many laughs and hilarious moments, and I am glad I have the opportunity to interview the author about it! Hope you enjoy!
About the Book
Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in this wild, warm-hearted, and hilarious sci-fi debut about a brainy young girl who is recruited for a very special boarding school.
Nikola Kross has given up on living in harmony with classmates and exasperated teachers: she prefers dabbling in experimental chemistry to fitting in. But when her life is axially inverted by a gang of extraterrestrials who kidnap her dad and attempt to recruit her into their service, she discovers he’s been keeping a world of secrets from her–including the school for geniuses where she’s sent for refuge, a place where classes like Practical Quantum Mechanics are the norm and where students use wormholes to commute to class. For Nikola, the hard part isn’t school, it’s making friends, especially when the student body isn’t (entirely) human. But the most puzzling paradox of all is Nikola herself, who has certain abilities that no one understands–abilities that put her whole school in greater danger than she could have imagined.
A Problematic Paradox releases tomorrow January 23rd from G. P. Putnam’s and Son’s!
1. Your debut MG sci-fi novel A Problematic Paradox is releasing on January 23rd from G. P. Putnam and Son’s, and it follows Nikola as she is sent to the School, concealed from the outside world and filled with extraterrestrial creatures and futuristic technology, after her father is kidnapped by a group of aliens called “the Old Ones.” If you had the opportunity to become enrolled in the School, would you go? What classes would you want to take, and what would you be most looking forward to as a student?
Absolutely! Practical Quantum Mechanics sounds like a lot of fun to me, even if I might not be able to keep up with the actual geniuses there.
There’s also the fact that since I wrote the place, I’d be kind of like a god, and could control reality and bend others to my every whim. I’d be cool about it, though.
2. Nikola struggles to both fit in as a genius in her old school and as a human in her new school mostly comprised of parahumans, extraterrestrial creatures with extraordinary capabilities. How do you want A Problematic Paradox to impact young readers, especially regarding the themes of bullying and fitting in?
I wanted it to be realistic. A lot of times, especially in those middle school years, kids find themselves in impossible situations and are given terrible advice for dealing with it. It’s not that adults want to give bad advice; it’s just that every situation is different and what works for one kid doesn’t always work for others.
Since that’s just a fact of life for some, what I really wanted to do was to focus not on overcoming bullies, but on not letting them make your whole world as ugly as they are. It can feel safer to close yourself off, and avoid people altogether, but that stops you from connecting with the wonderful people that are all around us, sometimes dealing with the same issues.
I had a tough time in school myself, but was lucky enough to make friends that made it all worthwhile. Today, looking back, I can’t recall the face of a single bully, because they’re ultimately forgettable (which might be why they’re bullies in the first place) but I still speak to some of the friends I made back then.
3. Since Nikola’s primary passion is science, why do you believe it is important to portray more empowering girls pursuing STEM-related careers as protagonists and deuteragonists in Middle Grade fiction?
That was actually where the idea for the book came from initially. I wanted to write a science fiction story with a female hero, but one that wasn’t a “girl book”. My daughters complained that there weren’t enough science books with girl heroes, and challenged me to come up with one. I’ve heard the middle grade years are when a lot of young women turn away from the sciences and start embracing what they think are gender-normative goals, so I really loved the idea of creating a world where a girl being brilliant and deeply interested in science isn’t just possible, it’s the norm.
Hi guys! Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Today we are remembering one of the greatest figures in American history who has inspired millions of people across the nation both in his lifetime and after his death to strive for greater racial unity and equality. To celebrate his birthday, I’m interviewing Alice Faye Duncan about her newest children’s picture book Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, which revolves around the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968 and Dr. King’s role in it. Honestly, I had never heard of the Strike until I was first introduced to this book by my author friend Linda Williams Jackson, and I’m very surprised I haven’t heard about this since this took place 50 years ago in my home state! I hope you enjoy this interview, and please go check out and pre-order this book for you or any children you know!
About the Book
This historical fiction picture book for children ages 9-12 presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.
In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.
1. Your picture book, Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop—is set to release in September (2018) and it has already become a #1 Amazon early release. This historical fiction tells the story of the Memphis Sanitation Strike through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl, Lorraine Jackson. What is the strike’s historical significance?
The Memphis Strike of 1968 was a non-violent protest where black sanitation workers left their garbage barrels on the curb in order to defend their dignity and demand economic justice in a city that abused their labor. White sanitation supervisors spoke to the men like children, called them buzzards and when it rained, they sent the black men home early without a full day’s pay.
It is important to know that Memphis sanitation workers initiated and organized the strike. This was not an idea conceived by Dr. King. However, Dr. King chose to help the men in their struggle for justice. Also, children like my main character, Lorraine Jackson, missed school and black parents sacrificed time to march in the strike over 65 days. Ultimately, it is Dr. King, who made the greatest sacrifice. While helping the striking workers in Memphis, he was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
2. What do you want young readers to learn from your character, Lorraine Jackson and Dr. King?
Freedom is not free. And to gain freedom and keep it, children and adults must be vigilant, courageous and ready to sacrifice their comfort.
3. Why did it take 10 years to write a story that is only 3,000 words?
It took 10 years to write MEMPHIS, MARTIN, AND THE MOUNTAINTOP because my proper entrance into the story, the right characters and organization for the plot, did not show up when I received the initial idea to write it. I wrote more than seven drafts for the story until I finally landed the perfect combination of poetry and prose.
4. What did the creative process for birthing this book teach you?
After writing for two decades, there is one thing that I clearly understand. The story that I am looking for is also looking for me. It is also my opinion that the writer serves as a vessel or instrument, who carries the story until it is ready to emerge. Writing is not easy. But, when the real germ of the story appears, there is clarity and the soul of the writer knows that she is on the train that will carry her and the reader to an ending that satisfies.
5. What makes this new book different from the other children’s books you have written?
I wrote my first non-fiction book in 1995. It was titled THE NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM CELEBRATES EVERYDAY PEOPLE. That book was a chronology of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1954 – 1968.
MEMPHIS, MARTIN, AND THE MOUNTAINTOP is a historical-fiction that was inspired by the life of a Memphis preacher, Reverend Henry Logan Starks and his young daughter, Almella Yvonne. Almella marched in the sanitation strike with her mother and father. She sang freedom songs at the strike rallies and she also heard Dr. King deliver his last sermon, “The Mountaintop Speech.”
Hi guys! Today is my second day to go back to school, and I know this semester is going to be even crazier than the first! Now I have AP exams and club competitions to worry about in the next few months! It’s going to be a long ride, but I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to read many great books and blog for you all! By now, I should have all my January posts scheduled, which is a great reliever for me. Today, I am reviewing a book I received many many months ago, but I finally had the chance to read it a few weeks ago and review it! Here’s my review of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman for you!
About the Book
Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author. One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.
London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.
Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…
FEATURING BONUS MATERIAL: including an interview with the author, a legend from the Library, and more!
Disclaimer: I received a free finished paperback of this novel from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
I was really looking forward to reading this novel because the premise intrigued me and a reviewer likened it to Thursday Next, who is one of my favorite literary characters of all time. I devoured half of it in an entire day, not just because I had three hours to wait out in a college commencement, but mainly from the novel transporting me into its thrilling plot. The Invisible Library is full of fascinating world-building with eccentric characters and an entertaining and slightly satirical writing style that will put you on the edge of your seat. And I agree with that reviewer–it definitely did remind me a lot of Thursday Next. (You need to read that series, by the way. It’s hilarious and set in a world where all books are interconnected!)
Hi guys! Back in March, I had the lovely opportunity to meet Kathryn Ormsbee at the SE-YA Book Festival, and she is also a local Tennessee author living in Nashville (one of my favorite cities in the world). I was able to interview her here on the blog (which you can find here), and today I have the chance to review her debut YA novel Lucky Few! I hope you enjoy!
About the Book
Stevie, Max, and Sanger: keeping Austin weird.
Stevie Hart is homeschooled, but don’t hold that against her. Sure, she and her best (okay, only) friend, Sanger, will never be prom queens, but that’s just because the Central Austin Homeschool Cooperative doesn’t believe in proms. Or dancing. Still, Stevie and Sanger know how to create their own brand of fun.
Enter Max Garza, the new boy next door. After a near-fatal accident, Max is determined to defy mortality with a checklist: 23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying. Dead set on carrying out fabricated demises ranging from impalement to spontaneous combustion, Max charms Stevie and Sanger into helping him with this two-month macabre mission. But as Stevie finds herself falling for Max, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line between his make-believe deaths and her real life.
Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book and some swag from the author. This will not affect my review.
I was really excited when Kathryn sent me signed copies of both her YA contemporaries Lucky Few and Tash Hearts Tolstoy! Lucky Few has been on my to-be-read list for a long time, partly because she was a SE-YA 2017 author and the cover is so cute. This book did not disappoint! I had such a fun, exciting adventure with Stevie, Sanger, and Max. Lucky Few is one of those novels that you could laugh and cry in one sitting. Just like your closest friendships (it definitely reminds me of mine), you don’t want this book to end–you just want it to go on and let the good times continue!
One of my favorite aspects of this book was Stevie’s narration. Kathryn Ormsbee has an amazing gift for making first-person narrators so unique and entertaining. She conveyed the homeschooled experience very authentically, and I really enjoyed reading about how the homeschooling process works. Stevie also is one of the most memorable narrators I’ve ever read–her voice stands out from the other first-person accounts I have read in past books. From page one, I fell in love with Stevie’s character and how she told her story, and that’s an uncommon thing you see in stories. However, Ormsbee managed to accomplish for me a love of the main character at first sight.
I also loved the friendship between Stevie, Sanger, and Max! The author transported me so much into the story that I both laughed and cried (internally for the latter) as if I was part of their group. Their escapades were so fun and entertaining, yet you could feel the bonds of their friendship really strongly on a different level. Each character was also so unique yet likeable too. From Sanger’s eccentric personality to Max’s desire to fake his own death 23 times, you’ll just fall in love with them. The evolution of their relationships (both friendly and romantic) definitely drove the story really well, showing both their good times and bad times. I wish I was actually able to meet them in person!
Lucky Few is one of the most entertaining and huggable YA contemporary novels I have ever read! You will definitely fall in love with it from page one! From the author’s mastering of making the narrator’s voice unique (which Ormsbee also does in her newest book Tash Hearts Tolstoy) to the main characters’ fun friendship, Lucky Few infuses both the light and dark moments all friendships go through as Stevie, Sanger, and Max not only get closer to each other but also discover more about their identities. I will definitely be looking forward to more of Kathryn Ormsbee’s works! Her writing style is entertaining, unique, and amazing–which also describes her books.
About the Author
Kathryn Ormsbee writes books & songs in Nashville, TN. Her debut YA, LUCKY FEW, published June 2016 with Simon & Schuster. Her next YA, TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY, comes out June 6, 2017.
Kathryn also writes Middle Grade fantasy novels as K.E. Ormsbee. She is the author of THE WATER AND THE WILD series and the upcoming standalone THE HOUSE IN POPLAR WOOD (Chronicle Books, 2018).
In her wild, early years, Kathryn taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. Nowadays, she teaches piano lessons, records a weekly true crime podcast with her sister, and runs races she never wins. She likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. She is from the 90s. You can visit her online at keormsbee.com or follow her on Twitter & Instagram @kathsby.
Hi guys! Today I am on a 5-day weekend because of parent-teacher conferences and Labor Day, so it’s going to be a break full of catching up on a bunch of stuff including studying, extarcurriculars, and reading! Today I am so glad to be a part of the Hunting Prince Dracula Blog Tour, and I have a physical ARC (yes, I have an actual physical ARC!) at home I’m so excited to dig in soon! To help you convince you to get both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula, I am doing my Top 10 Favorite Quotes from Stalking Jack the Ripper!
Title: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Pub. Date: September 19th, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Synopsis: In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?
Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.
But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.
Also, Kerri is hosting a pre-order giveaway where if you send her proof of purchase, you can get a Stalking Jack the Ripper novella that is set in Thomas’s point of view! You do not want to miss Meeting Thomas Cresswell! Check out the details here!