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:

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The Secret Billionaire Blog Tour: Interview with Teymour Shahabi

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Hi guys! Happy Friday! Welcome to one of the final tour stops for THE SECRET BILLIONAIRE Blog Tour!!! Woo hoo! Look at that pretty cover! This book is really intriguing, and you should read it! Also, we are hosting Teymour Shahabi on our blog, too, in a special interview! Hope you enjoy our tour stop and grab the book!

The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi the-secret-billionaire

Genre: YA Mystery

Release Date: September 2016

Summary from Goodreads: 1960s — March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.  His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found. Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere… Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?

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Buy Link: Amazon

About the Authorunspecified-3

Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris in 1985 of Persian parents. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He currently lives in New York City, where he’s spent the last few years among serious grownups who probably have no idea he’s doing this. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.  You can watch (and help) him try to figure out writing and life at www.youtube.com/PageWingChannel.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

And now onto the interview!

teymour-shahabi

1. How would you describe The Secret Billionaire?the-secret-billionaire

>> The Secret Billionaire is a young adult mystery novel. It tells the story of an enormous fortune that a tycoon left in his will for “his dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. Decades later, three high school students set out to solve the mystery.

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

>> I love the two main components of writing: storytelling and language. (I suppose I’m cheating, because then I should explain why I love each of these two… But writers are good at using words to cheat – surely you know that already J) I’ve loved writing as long as I can remember. I would stay up writing in secret, with a flashlight, as a kid. And I have embarrassing proof locked away in my closets.

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

>> I work full-time in a field that has nothing to do with writing, and I’m incredibly lucky to love my job. I’m even more fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who support and even celebrate my writing. And by challenging me and teaching me in ways that are seemingly completely unrelated to fiction, they constantly help me grow as a person – and therefore as a writer.

4. If you received an entire fortune, what would you do with the money?

>> I would do five things exactly: (1) share the wealth my family; (2) help support causes that matter infinitely more than my writing – in particular children’s medical research; (3) build Iron Man’s house; (4) start a business; (5) keep on writing.

5. Do you like to go about solving mysteries? If you could, would you be a detective?

>> Sure – but I’d need: (a) a creepy real-life movie score playing wherever I go; (b) an awesome raincoat.

6. Which literary character would you pick as a sidekick? It could be one as a detective sidekick, a writing sidekick, a vlogging sidekick, whatever you like!teymour

>> I want White Fang, the wolfdog of Jack London’s novel, to be with me at all times. I would have given you the same answer twenty-two years ago. I’ve made my peace with it.

7. It’s so cool that you have your own Youtube channel! What is it like being a vlogger? Do you have some tips to making a great video, especially one about books?

>> Thanks! The channel made a huge difference for me: it allowed me to connect with strangers from all over the world who helped me every step of the way (for example by voting among possible covers – or even telling me whether toward or towards sounds better). More importantly, they became my first readers – and some of the most encouraging friends I’ve ever encountered. I’ve found that the best way to make a good video (about books or anything else) is to be yourself. Nothing is more compelling than the opportunity to connect with a real person.

8. How was it like winning three awards for the Best Young Adult Book at three book festivals last year?

>> It is an extremely joyous and strangely personal feeling. It feels like a hug from people you’ve never met. I don’t know about achievements in other fields, but there’s something deeply emotional and intimate about winning an award for a book. Each time, the first thing I do is tell my family. Perhaps it’s because I feel honored, grateful, and humbled beyond belief – these are all emotions best shared with the people you love the most.

9. What do you do if you are not reading, writing, or doing anything book-related?

>> I daydream about food. But you could guess that from the book. I’m also a big movie guy. So put on a movie and give me a pancake. We’ll be best friends.

10. How do you want your book to impact your readers? What is the message you want readers to get from The Secret Billionaire?unspecified-3

>> Nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers. I feel a combination of profound thankfulness and love (I was going to say friendship – but really, love) for anyone who tells me that the book kept them reading late at night, or made them miss a train stop. But as for the message of the book…  I wouldn’t want to share my own assumptions with readers, especially since I’ve seen some incredibly thoughtful and generous reviews about the book’s message on Amazon.

11. What are your current plans with your writing career?

>> Every time I read a new reader review, I feel the strength to write for a whole new chapter for the sequel! More immediately, I’m almost done recording the audiobook for The Secret Billionaire, which I’m very excited to release.

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

>> I have only one: just write, gratefully and joyously, as if the world needed you to write. It does!

Thank you so much, Teymour, for coming onto our blog! I loved your answers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

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Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano

 

Hi guys! So I just finished a really good book called Holding Smoke, and I am so glad to be hosting Elle Cosimano today in an exclusive interview with her! Also, she is giving away a hardcover copy of Holding Smoke in the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this page, so I urge you to check it out! Enough said, let’s get on with the interview and giveaway!

elle-cosimanoElle Cosimano grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs, the daughter of a maximum security prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rode a Harley. She spent summers working on a fishing boat in the Chesapeake Bay, baiting hooks, scrubbing decks, and lugging buckets of chum. A failed student of the hard sciences, she discovered her true calling in social and behavioral studies while majoring in psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Fifteen years later, Elle set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. She lives with her husband and two sons in Northern Virginia and Mexico.

Elle’s debut, Nearly Gone, was a 2015 Edgar Award finalist and winner of the International Thriller Award. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, and Sisters In Crime. She was selected for the 2012 Nevada SCBWI Agented & Published Authors’ Mentorship Program, where she worked under the guidance of Ellen Hopkins. She attended the Writers’ Police Academy at Guilford Technical Community College, Department of Public Safety, to conduct hands-on research for her books.

holding-smokeJohn “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders-but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

2017 Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in dark fantasy and horror writing

My Mini-Review (Full to Come Later!)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a review. I also got some free signed swag- this is outside of the trade agreement. None of these factors will affect my review.

Rating: 9/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: I really liked this book! It was very well-written, and it definitely does leave an impact on you. I was creeped out at times because it was very haunting and chilling. This is one of those books that you’ll just go “Wow” at the end. I know, because that happened to me!

Pros

  • That ending. I never saw it coming! You’ll never predict it!
  • It will make an impact on you! There’s an article by the author at the end that have the potential to change your outlook on the world. I know I was just amazed by it- it links well with the ending!
  • Hooks you in emotionally, especially with the flashbacks and vivid imagery

Cons

  • I started to lose interest in the middle, but the ending hooked me back it.
  • Some details were a bit off to me. Sometimes I didn’t know if Smoke was in his body or not, and other times I wondered how these events stringed together.

Recommendation: Definitely!

elle

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

I love storytelling in all forms. I love reading stories, watching them, listening to them, and I enjoy creating stories of my own. I think it goes beyond the escapism. For me, the fascination is in the discovery process, both of the characters within the tale but also of my self. When I was a kid, I had an uncle who would read fables and fairy tales aloud to me when I came to visit. We would talk about the characters and their struggles–why they made the choices they made and how they felt about those choices. These were formative moments for me, and in hindsight, I can see how strongly they’ve influenced the kinds of stories I write today.

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

The first book I really, deeply connected with was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read her books over and over again. Her characters were so real to me, so alive and layered, each one unique. It was amazing to me, that she could achieve that kind of depth of character and richness of setting in such a short book, or that she could make me feel so much within so few pages. To this day, I still gravitate toward books that make me care the way this book did–stories and characters that make me laugh or cry or shout out in public places. When I write, my goal is to make a reader feel.

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

I love thrillers and suspense of all kinds, and I appreciate a touch of mystery in anything I read. In adult fiction, I enjoy crime thrillers and psychological suspense. When it comes to YA, I also gravitate toward books with a touch of magic, paranormal, or fantasy in them. And I love a good atmospheric ghost story for any age! When mystery, thrills, and speculative elements are combined, that’s often the perfect combination for me.  

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

I’m Mom to two very busy boys, ages 11 and 14, so my time is divided between writing and Mom-ing. I retired from a long career in real estate to write books, and writing has been my career every since. As for what I do when I’m not writing? I live on a beautiful stretch of beach, and it’s a great place to plot murder. . .  errr. . .  I mean to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

5. Would you want to have a power like Smoke’s, even with all the risks? Why or why not?

Smoke’s ability (astral projection) came at a pretty steep price–a near-death experience at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for him. I don’t envy any of the experiences Smoke endured in order to possess the ability to separate his spirit from his body. I can’t imagine anything more painful than suffering that, or feeling so broken you might never be whole again. So no, I don’t think I would ever want an ability like Smoke’s. 

6. How much research did you have to put into Holding Smoke since it takes place in a prison in Denver? What did you learn?

When I was growing up, my father was a warden of a maximum security prison just outside of Washington, DC. Over the years, he managed institutions which housed some of our nation’s most violent offenders, so I had a great resource for a lot of my questions, and have visited him at the prison, and also at a detention center (jail) before. I attended a special police academy for writers where I was able to take classes on cell searches and talk with corrections officers about their experiences, as well as do a ride-along with a deputy sheriff who answered a lot of questions about arrest procedures and responding to domestic violence calls for me. I interviewed EMS responders and ER physicians for answers to several medical questions. I interviewed a lawyer regarding some of my legal questions. And as for the setting, I lived in Denver for two years, so I was already familiar with the region. As for what I learned? Well, I wrote about that in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. But you can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elle-cosimano/the-good-the-bad-and-the-_9_b_5922654.html

7. How does it feel like living in a tree house on a Caribbean island? I bet the view must be beautiful and breath-taking there!

I don’t live on an island, though that might be nice! I live in Mexico, on a stretch of the eastern coast called the Riviera Maya. My community is tucked between the Caribbean Sea and the jungle (but I can see the island of Cozumel on a very clear day from the beach across the street.) My house is mostly open-air, and the living spaces are under a palapa, a thatch roof made from dried grass or dried palm leaves. The support poles are made from trunks of very hard wood trees called zapote, giving it the look and feel of a tree house. It’s very peaceful. We live simply here, mostly outside, and it’s a great place to raise the kids. I also get very interesting critters in my kitchen sometimes. . .  scorpions, snakes, pumas, and spiders the size of my face. I post a lot of pics of my home on my Instagram. You can see a pic of me in my treehouse here: http://www.instagram.com/p/x4jF9rJnaz/

8. The title of your book Holding Smoke is a play on Smoke’s nickname. Why did you choose Smoke as the name of your protagonist, and how you did come up with the title?

Honestly, I can’t remember when his name came to me. I was doing a lot of research and reading about Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Lots of people described their experiences very similarly . . . seeing themselves from outside themselves, almost as if they were in ghost form looking down on their own bodies. Several reported that their NDEs left them with the ability to project their souls at will. So in my mind, Smoke’s astral form was very wispy and ghostlike. But word choice is important. It reflects the narrator’s voice and the lens through which they see their world. A “hardened” kid in a dangerous world probably wouldn’t call himself “Wispy”. But he might just be okay calling himself Smoke. It felt like a fit, both to his voice as well as within his setting.

9. What is your favorite quote from this book, and is there a message you want your readers to get from Holding Smoke?

“The way you look when you project yourself, the places you can go, the things you haven’t figured out how to do yet. . . it’s all in your head.” — Pink, Holding Smoke

This is my favorite quote from the book, and perfectly encapsulates the message I wanted readers to take away from Smoke’s story.

10.  Do you have any tips for any aspiring authors or writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Everything you need to become a writer? It’s all in your head.
Now onto the giveaway!!!
Click below to win a hardcover edition of Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano!
Just a few quick notes:
1) This is a US Only giveaway (sorry Int’l).
2) You must be 18 years or older or have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter.
3) No PO Boxes. You must have an address to have the book sent.
4) Be truthful! All entries that do not do what the instructions are will not be counted!

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I wish you the best, and happy reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Exclusive Interview with Erin Beaty!

Hello! Last week on the #BBTC Twitter Chat (hosted by the lovely Brittany’s Book Rambles!), I got to meet a wonderful author whose debut book is probably one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! The Traitor’s Kiss sounded so amazing that I wanted to interview Erin Beaty so much, and I’m so happy that I’m able to host her on our blog! It was so fun last week, and to those that were there with me last week (or to those who were not), here is my exclusive interview! Go pre-order it today! TTK comes out May 9, 2017!

erin-beaty-credit

1. In your own words, how would you describe The Traitor’s Kiss?

ttk
Kester Note: By the way, look at that pretty cover!
When I was pitching the story to agents and later to publishers, I called it “Jane Eyre meets Mulan.” It’s about a girl who lives in a society where the vast majority of marriages are made through a system of matchmakers. Sage is completely unsuited for marriage herself, but she gets hired as the matchmaker’s apprentice, and a big part of the job is spying on people. They’re headed to a national marriage conference with a group of specially selected brides when Sage gets romantically involved with one of the soldiers from their ceremonial escort. The problem is, she has to lie about who she is, but so does he. In the middle of all this secret-keeping from each other, they uncover a treasonous plot that threatens to plunge the whole kingdom into civil war.

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

Until very recently, writing was something I only did on the side. Growing up, I loved to read, but I was all about science and math, and writing was just another skill to master. My dad was pretty insistent on communicating clearly, and I would often go 15 rounds with him on various history and English papers- and this was back before Microsoft Word! I studied engineering in college, but I did so well in my humanities classes, a few professors suggested I change majors. And somehow I always roped into doing the write-ups in our group projects. Did I like writing? Sort of. Mostly I was just glad our lab results were presented clearly.

Years later I had a blog, but it was mainly to keep family in the loop about our lives as we moved around the country. People who read it were always telling me I should write a book. I thought that was just weird until one day I got hit with an idea so hard I actually sat down and started typing. Now I’m like, why did it take me so long to realize writing is awesome?

Really, though, I look back over years of blog entries, and I see a lot of improvement in my story-telling. I wasn’t ready until now, so I don’t feel too bad about waiting this long to start.

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

I really do love Jane Austen, because she has this dry, observational wit and her heroines don’t compromise what’s important. I love the precision of Michael Crichton and Robert Heinlein (and their science) and the historical narratives of Michael and Jeff Shaara. As a teen, I was all about Tamora Pierce, but her influence was more in living rather than writing. I’ve been pretty eclectic in my reading, though, and I don’t know if I can really nail down where my style comes from. Even now when I read books I feel like I’m learning something craft-wise. I think I will always be evolving.

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

I read whatever sounds interesting, and generally contemporary is lower on the list- I guess I never felt like I fit in my own time. You can be pretty certain I will never write a contemporary novel. I like sci-fi and fantasy, but I can be picky about it, especially if I think it’s going to take a lot of effort to understand the world. I adore historical fiction, but it has to be accurate.

My all-time favorite book is Michael Crichton’s Timeline, because quantum physics and medieval history make my nerd heart beat fast, and this has both. Other books I’ve read over and over are everything by Jane Austen, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, and Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and his short story anthology The Past Through Tomorrow. All those had huge influence on me in my teens and twenties, and I go back to them like comfort food.

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

Oh lordy. I have five kids and am married to a Navy man, so my life revolves mostly around running a household and moving every two years. The only reason I have time to write is because I’m anti-social. I’d say it’s part-time, but I don’t have any other real paying job, though I teach at the local writing center. Until we move again, that is.

6. Would you want to be a spy? If so, what would be your code name? What would also be your dream mission?

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Photo by Devon Shanor
I think I’d be a terrible spy- even calling people on the phone makes me hyperventilate, but I might be able to handle the type of spying Sage does. She kind of studies people like a naturalist studies ants. My code name would be Mama Bear, and the best mission I could handle would be where I’ve got a background job, but I’m really looking for signs of human trafficking or abuse.

7. Before you started your writing career, you worked in the U.S. Navy as a weapons officer. How was being in the Navy like? How did your experiences help you write this book?

There were so many good things and bad things, but I honestly don’t think most of the bad things were that unique to the military. Jerks and incompetence exist everywhere. There was sexism, yes, but also incredible support and empowerment. I learned so much about myself- what I was capable of, what my weaknesses were, and what was ultimately important to me in life. I learned how to prioritize and how to get stuff done. There were miserable times, but I dealt with them and came out stronger. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

There’s nothing specific in THE TRAITOR’S KISS that relates to lessons I learned, but there’s an underlying theme of what it means to be a leader, especially a military one.

8. Your novel is “Jane Austen meets an espionage twist!” Which Jane Austen character can you relate with the most? Which character relates to Sage Fowler, the protagonist of The Traitor’s Kiss, the most?

Is it vain to say Lizzie Bennet for myself? She sees the absurdity in everything and so distances herself from the world a bit. Sage is actually more like Jane Eyre than any other literary character – she starts with bitterness and loss, and she’s probably rougher around the edges than any of Austen’s characters. Definitely doesn’t have any of their refined manners.

9. In your own opinion, what is your favorite quote from your novel?

The one that always makes me smile is when Sage goes to apologize to the matchmaker and says, “You see, the way this works is, I say I’m sorry for the horrible things I said, and then you say you’re sorry for the horrible things you said. Then we smile and pretend we believe each other.”

10. If your book was turned into a movie, who would you want as the director and cast?

I love Kenneth Branaugh as a director (and an actor, but I don’t see a part for him). I’d always envisioned Duke D’Amiran looking like Richard Armitage, which is interesting because I think he’s kind of hot, and the character is the main bad guy. Majel Barrett would have been a great matchmaker, but that’s not possible. There’s an actress named McKenna Knipe who kind of has Sage’s looks, but I have no idea if her acting is any good. All the guys I can think of are too old. Wouldn’t mind sitting around looking at candidates all day, though.

11. Could you describe your reaction when you found out you were going to be published?

When my agent called to say I was going to an acquisition board at Macmillan, I was ironing a bunch of shirts for an upcoming wedding. I very carefully set the iron to the side and sat down on the couch behind me and said, “What?” Then I started shaking all over. For the rest of the evening, I was bumping into things left and right.

A week later I was lying on a bed at my in-laws’ house, staring at the ceiling and waiting for the results of said board. When my agent called to say I had an official offer, I just closed my eyes and shook my head for about ten minutes. Then I got up and got all the kids dressed for the wedding’s rehearsal dinner, where I imbibed heavily.

12. What is your go-to cure when you get a case of writer’s block?

I break out old fashioned notebooks. Writing things out by hand unlocks the creative part of my mind. But if my brain is just tired or stressed, I’ll watch a movie or read a favorite book. The book or movie has to be something I’m already familiar with, though, so there’s no real effort to understand what’s going on.

13. Do you have a favorite snack, drink, or song you like to listen to when you write?

erin
Photo by Devon Shanor

It’s hard to eat and type or write, so I often have chai or lattes on hand. I’ll snack while I edit sometimes. I have a few mood playlists, but interestingly, I can’t listen to anything with words if I’m editing, only writing.

14. As a debut author, what is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know how much work it would be or I might have chickened out. There were many things I heard over and over – that each level of success only brings a new (and often worse) kind of stress, that I would experience horrible jealousies over other writers’ successes, and that I would leave some of my early writing friends behind – so I expected them, but I was unprepared for how they felt.

15. What are your current plans with your writing career?

I guess I’ll just keep writing books as long as it’s fun and people want to read them. I have several stories I want to develop, but right now life (moving) is getting in the way, and the priority in writing is finishing what has now become a trilogy. I let the writing genie out of the bottle, though, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put it back.

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

Critique other people’s work (in a partnership), and learn how to do it well (it’s not easy). That was the best thing for finding the problems in my own writing. And write what you would want to read. Believe it or not, there’s lots of people out there who will like it, too. 

Thank you so much, Erin, for coming onto our blog! I loved your answers! I’m so excited to get The Traitor’s Kiss in May!

If you want to get some more of Erin Beaty through her social media accounts, or if you want to pre-order her book, check out the links below!

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

I’ll try to be at #BBTC tonight for anyone who wants to join me!

Do you like the classics like Jane Austen’s books? Do you like books infused with espionage? Will you pre-order this book, or is your interest piqued? What’s your most anticipated 2017 read? Comment below with your thoughts!

Til Next Time! ~ Kester

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”