Archive for ‘Interviews’

December 7th, 2012

An Interview with the Author of Ironskin, Tina Connolly

by Madeleine Rex

I’m enormously excited to have had the opportunity to interview Tina Connolly about her debut novel, Ironskin (which I reviewed earlier this week). It’s the first interview I’ve done in a long while, but Tina was such an amiable interviewee that her awesomeness compensated for my rustiness.

But you’re not here to listen to me…

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1. There’s no denying that there are many similarities between Ironskin and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (which I love). Was this intentional? If so, what inspired you to take Jane Eyre and give it a new, fey-ridden twist?

I love Jane Eyre too! The novel grew out of a short story, which was not specifically like Jane Eyre, but did feature a governess going to a creepy mansion. Someone pointed out the similarities to Jane Eyre, and when I decided to expand the story into a novel, I started playing with those threads more openly, using Jane Eyre for structure as well as playing with the thematic similarities. I really loved working with the Jane Eyre story—you might say the book is sort of an homage to Bronte’s book.

2. In the past few years, paranormal creatures have become a common feature in YA fiction. Were you daunted by the task of making your fey book stand out among the rest? How did you make it happen (because you did)?

Thank you! I confess that was not one of my fears (although I certainly have a plethora of fears and daunts!)—I think I was more focused on trying to make sure my fey were even understandable, because in many ways they are so alien to our usual conception of the fey. Sometimes my short stories are so weird they go off the rails, so I tried to temper the weirdness with a (hopefully) relatable, if unusual, protagonist in Jane.

3. As I read, I could never pinpoint what time-period Ironskin is set in. There’s the foggy English moor and dilapidated mansion that are reminiscent of the mid-1800s, but modern (and even futuristic) technology is mentioned. Did you have a specific time-period in mind?

It’s tricky, yeah! Ironskin is not exactly alternate history. It’s set 5 years after a Great War between the human and the fey, and so to help give it a sense of place, I ended up doing a bunch of research into post-WW1 Great Britain. However, it’s a different world really. For one, humans have been trading for all this cheap clean technology with the fey, so the tech in Ironskin is both ahead and behind (as you mentioned) of where it might be in our world.

4. The book, similar to Jane Eyre, is full of ominousness and a creeping feeling that something, well, creepy is going to happen. The book definitely delivers. Did you look at other books as inspiration for the scariness and drama of the climax?

Thanks! I didn’t look at anything specifically, but I’m glad the ending worked for you. I had a very similar ending in the original short story, so it’s kind of been in place for a long time. I had a lot of creepy elements to tie up at the end, so it’s perhaps inevitable that they resolved in a creepy fashion. 🙂

5. Have you always been interested in writing YA, or have you explored other genres? If so, what made you settle on YA?

Well, Ironskin is actually under the regular Tor label (not Tor Teen.) However, I absolutely love middle-grade and young adult books, and so I’m sure some of that came through in writing Ironskin. I know a lot of young adult fans have been picking up the book! Ironskin and the forthcoming sequel are like the 7th and 9th books I’ve written, I think? I have a couple definite trunk novels in there, but then I do have 2 MGs and 2 YAs, and a couple of them I really love. So maybe we’ll see them someday!

6. Do you have some favorite YA authors and books? What about classic novels (aside from Jane Eyre, of course)?

Recent YAs—I love Kristin Cashore’s books! I’ve got Bitterblue on my nighstand and haven’t had time to read it yet, though I’m dying to. Other recent favorites: Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, Rae Dawn Carson’s series. Not fantasy, but I absolutely loved E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

A couple recent favorites by friends–EC Myers’ Quantum Coin series (twisty SF YA), Leah Cypess’ dark/high fantasy books, Merrie Haskell’s books (MG high fantasy/interesting fairy tale retellings), and an e-release I recently blurbed for K. Bird Lincoln, Tiger Lily (a genderbending historical fantasy set in Japan.)

And classics! My all-time favorite is actually Pride & Prejudice (I love Jane Austen to bits), as well as Charlotte Bronte’s books (Villette is probably my favorite.) Other faves include Edith Wharton, Saki, Roald Dahl (for any age really, but his kids’ books edge ahead with Quentin Blake’s wonderful illos), Margaret Atwood, Noel Streatfeild (best known for Ballet Shoes), and ohhh…. So many more. We moved this year to a 1940’s fixer house, and one of the best bits is it has a library for my 2000 books.

7. Did you study English or Creative Writing in school, or has it been a longtime hobby? Have you ever had to deal with people who discouraged you from pursuing novel-writing?

I did study English Lit at college and loved it (hey, a degree where you get to read all the time! What could be better?) But I actually didn’t start writing till after college, when I ended up in a job with night shift hours and I couldn’t do theatre. My formal creative writing training is that I went to the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2006 (an intensive 6-week program in Seattle), and I highly recommend it. I am lucky in that my family and husband have always been encouraging, because pursuing any creative path is generally long and uphill!

8. What was your experience as a first-time author? Was the journey, from query letters to signing contracts to publicity, smooth or an adventure?

Tor has been absolutely fantastic. Things there have been perfectly smooth since the beginning two years ago, when my awesome agent sent Ironskin to my wonderful editor and she made an offer. Now for the adventure part…. I got the offer for Ironskin + an unwritten sequel in Nov 2010. In Dec 2010 I had a baby. (!) So I had to learn to write the sequel while raising a brand-new baby (our first). I haven’t gotten a ton of sleep over the last two years, but I did turn in my sequel! 🙂

9. If you had 50 words in which to impart wisdom to aspiring authors, what would you say?

My favorite piece of advice is to figure out all the things you love most, and put lots of them in. Said another way: Write the book you want to read. I’ve sold about 50 stories and poems now, and it always turns out that the weird ones I wrote and thought no one but me would like–people like those the best.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Madeleine!

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She’s great, right? Now run of and read Ironskin over the weekend!

For more info on Tina, check out her website, http://tinaconnolly.com/

December 1st, 2011

Interview with Miranda and a Giveaway! – The Release Day of CATCHING JORDAN!

by Madeleine Rex

(The book cover is linked to the amazon page, but guess what? They’ve only got three in stock! That should tell you how enjoyable this book is. Go ahead and order anyway because they have more coming.)

And without further ado, Miranda has been kind enough to answer a handful of interview questions…

ME: From paragraph one, football is an important part of the book. Did you grow up involved in football (even as, goodness forbid, a cheerleader?) or were you searching “blitz” on Google when you decided to write the book?

MIRANDA: Growing up, I played some football on the playground with the boys, and in junior high and high school, I loved going to games.

ME: Did you finish any books before writing Catching Jordan? If so, were they genres beside Young Adult, or have you always known YA was the world for you?

MIRANDA: I finished one book called OUT OF A BLUE MOON. It’s a tween-YA, and it’s about a 15-year-old guy who grew up on the moon. I love the book and would love to do something with it one day but it needs a total rewrite. YA is definitely the world for me!

ME: Now that your first book has debuted and you have another two on the way (plus an anthology!), you’re career as an author has officially begun. You can cross this dream off your list, so what’s next? The NYT bestsellers list?

MIRANDA: I would love a TV series or a movie!

ME: Where do you see Jordan in ten years? Is she playing professional football and kickin’ butt, or kickin’ butt in some other way?

MIRANDA: At 27, I see Jordan being a football coach for a high school or middle school, or working for a college or NFL team in some capacity. She’s definitely still kicking butt. I’d say she’s married. *winks*

ME: Jordan’s relationship with her father is tense (to say the least). Was their relationship difficult to craft? Did you pull from personal experience, or other peoples’ experiences that you’d heard or read about?

MIRANDA: No – I made it all up, and yes, it was difficult to craft. It was the story line I had to edit and edit and edit and edit… It took a long time. I just tried to put myself in her dad’s shoes and then in her shoes and went from there.

ME: What was the most difficult step of the novel-writing or publishing process? Those dreaded copy-edits, or something that happened much earlier?

MIRANDA: Every step of the way is difficult, but I’d say the toughest part is the waiting. Waiting to hear if you have an agent, waiting to hear about submissions, waiting to hear from publishers, waiting to hear what bookstores are carrying your books. It never ends. But you grow a tough skin and deal with it. If you want to write badly enough, learning how to wait is key.

Thanks so much to Miranda! She’s really a splendid person, folks. Don’t pass up the opportunity to check out her website, twitter, goodreads, and facebook. Go to her website for some more links!

The Giveaway!

In honor of the release, I’m giving away three prizes!

1. A signed and personalized finished copy of Catching Jordan, 2 bookmarks, and two Catching Jordan Young Adult Romance Trading Cards

2. A football signed by the author and 2 Catching Jordan bookmarks

3. 5 Catching Jordan bookmarks and 3 Catching Jordan Young Adult Romance Trading Cards

To enter: Post a tweet about Catching Jordan and include @MadeleineRex and/or post a comment below and let me know what your favorite football team is. The giveaway ends December 10th.

You can also receive an extra entry by asking Henry, Jordan’s best friend, a question by December 5th. To do so, click here.

Happy Catching Jordan Day! And congratulations, once again, to our dear Miranda!

EDIT: CLOSED!

November 9th, 2010

Lauren Oliver Saves the Day – And Alex Tags Along! (Author and Character Interview)

by Madeleine Rex

First, let me just say that Lauren Oliver is my hero. She earned this title by swooping in (red cape and all, you really should have seen it. Kodak moment.) and saving my English grade. Things had gotten… jumbled, and Lauren had to receive and answer my interview questions within five days. And she turned her homework in early, the little overachiever!

Lauren is the author of Before I Fall (Review) and Delirium (Review coming soon!), and the latter is to be released in February of 2011. Lauren also has a snazzy little blog that I really must start reading. Want to join me?

Without further ado, Lauren and her fabulous character, Alex:

Questions for Lauren:

ME: Were you surprised by the hype surrounding Before I Fall? Did you ever in your wildest dreams (even beyond the dreams of dancing the Macarena in cowboy boots) imagine your first published novel would land you on the NYT Bestsellers List?

Lauren: How did you know I often dream about doing the Macarena in random footwear?? Honestly, no. It has been an unbelievable debut.

ME: What’s, in your opinion, is the value of an MFA program? It’s part of my plan for the future, and I’m sure that many other writers would be interested in your take on it.

Lauren: I think there are several really valuable things about attending an MFA program. The first is simply the time it gives you to immerse yourself in your work, to speak with like-minded people, and to read wonderful books (I really think the reading list was one of my favorite parts of the NYU MFA program). Also, it teaches you how to accept critiques; but just as importantly, it teaches you that sometimes it is necessary to ignore critiques. Both are equally important.

ME: It’s not common that a writer will jump genres between their first book and their second. In fact, we’re told time and time again not to do that. What made you decide to make that leap to dystopian, and how did your critique partners/agent/editor react?

Lauren: I didn’t actually think of either of my books in terms of genre, so maybe that made it easier. I’ve always wanted to write a range of books, and I’m typically attracted to story and character as opposed to a “type” of book. It’s true that some authors are encouraged to stay within a genre, of course, but I’ve been blessed to find editors and an agent who have really encouraged me to expand my voice and my range. I’m so grateful for that.

ME: Were there vast differences between being published for the second time and being published for the first? Was it less or more stressful? We so often hear about a writer’s “road to publication,” but it’s hard to believe that road ends when the debut novel hits shelves.

Lauren: That’s a great point, and of course, the road doesn’t end. I think the stresses are different for a second-time publication: you worry about disappointing your fans, or you worry about falling under the “curse of the second book.” At the same time, you do have some kind of readership to depend on, which is so nice. I think every book brings its own stresses, and its own rewards, honestly. But maybe I’m just a stress ball!

More Delirium-Related Questions

ME: The idea of love being a disease definitely isn’t one I’ve heard before. What thought lead to the premise of Delirium?

Lauren: It was funny. I had just read a great quote about the fact that great books are usually about death or love, and then I was watching a news channel about a rampant flu panic, and I think the ideas—love, and the panic surrounding diseases—just kind of combined in my head.

ME: Characters, characters, characters! Goodness knows that the characters in Delirium are fabulous. Goodness is also aware of the fact that character development/creation is a common topic in the writing community. What’s your particular process when it comes to creating and developing characters? Or isn’t there one? Do they simply “germinate” on their own?

Lauren: I’m not sure I have a process, other than to spend a lot of time thinking about people, and why they are how they are—why they say the things they do, and become who they become, etc. I think that attentiveness to other people ends up floating through into your work.

ME: World-building must have taken a huge chunk of the time spent writing Delirium! Had you ever tackled creating another world before? Did much of the systems and lifestyles of the folks in the book came along with the original idea, or did they tag along later?

Lauren: World-building was definitely much of the fun of Delirium. To a certain extent, of course, every book requires world-building; every fictional landscape, however closely it may approximate real life, requires detail and fleshing out. But in this case that work was more comprehensive and expansive, and I did much of it before I started writing. I had to, in order for it to logically hold together.

Questions for Alex:

ME: Who’s your favorite author? What is it about his/her books that strikes you?

Alex: Probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His work is forbidden, obviously, and I think it’s because he writes so truthfully about everything human—loss, love, hope, mourning, death—it’s all there in his work.

ME: If you could pick a single person in the world that you “love to hate,” who would it be? I can imagine you’d have quite a list of possibilities.

Alex: I love to hate anyone who would rather have his eyes closed than confront pain or difficulty.

ME: What is your favorite word?

Alex: Yes.

ME:  When you met Lena, or when you saw her for the first time, what was the first sentence that ran through your mind? Did it run in circles, refusing to give up and disappear, or did you forget it after a moment?

Alex: I don’t think it was really a sentence so much as a feeling. When I first saw Lena, it was like coming up for air after a long period of being underwater.

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And that, my friends, is a fabulous interview. Thanks again to Lauren!

If you have not yet read a book of Lauren’s, please, please do! She truly is a fantastic author, and her books have a way of entrancing you.