Introducing: Shallee McArthur

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There has been only one time in my life that I was seriously tempted to steal a book.

Every job I had in college had something to do with books– book making, book selling, and book lending. (I might be a little obsessed.) The book-selling job was at a used bookstore, and it was a blast…especially the part when it was my turn to sort and price the boxes of old, moldy books people dug out of their attics and tried to sell us for exorbitant prices.

I learned really fast that “old book” usually equals “worth a penny online.” Really, a penny. That’s what some of these cracked-spine, losing-pages hardcovers went for. Which meant, sadly, I got to add them to the toss pile. But one day, I found the dirtiest, crappiest, most expensive book I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

I almost threw it away without even looking it up. The cover had come completely off and the pages were falling out. Pubbed in 1792. But I looked it up, and got dealt a jaw-dropper. It was not worth a penny. It was worth over $3,000.

And why is that, you may ask? Because it’s Jane Austen’s disputed first work in print.

The Loiterer is a periodical published by Jane Austen’s brothers when they were at Oxford together. All 60 issues were bound in two volumes when the boys graduated. Jane was about 13 at the time, and many critics believe, based on the style, that a letter from “Sophia Sentiment” in the 9th issue was hers.

I’m not going to lie. I came this close to logging it as a throw-away item and sneaking it home in my bag. Okay, not really. One time I stole a decorative rock from my uncle’s garden and the guilt tortured me for two years before I finally absolved myself and gave it back. I don’t think I could’ve lived with that book on my conscience.

Besides, the near-fainting freak-out I got to see my boss do when I told him was totally worth it.

For a brief time, I got to touch and read and smell a book by one of my idols– a woman who had been dead over a hundred years, but whose books had formed a small part of who I am. And that, my friends, is why I love books. Why I love to read them, and write them, and help people find the books that will form a small part of who they are.

It’s my biggest dream that someday, my book THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE will help shape a person in some small way. Until then, at least I know it’s shaped me.

Shallee McArthurShallee McArthur originally wanted to be a scientist, until she realized she liked science best in fictional form. Her debut YA sci fi, THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE comes out November 2014 from Sky Pony Press. Her other adventures have included wrangling a group of volunteers in Ghana, changing her hairstyle way too often, and raising two small nerdlings with her husband.
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ALL FOUR KIDS: AN INTERVIEW WITH RYAN GRAUDIN, AUTHOR OF ALL THAT GLOWS

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Today I had the wonderful privilege to interview OneFourKidLit author Ryan Graudin, whose debut ALL THAT GLOWS launches today.

All That Glows

About ALL THAT GLOWS:

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love. 

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RG

And, now, for the interview.

JT: You write such a beautiful well-imagined world. What was the inspiration for the story?

RG: Why thank you! My inspiration was a blend of many things—traveling to England, touring Buckingham Palace, riding the London Eye, hiking the Scottish Highlands, studying Old English in college, reading lots of Arthurian lore and fantasy in general as a child. All of this got tied together into one story when I found out about a short story prompt to write a “sexy, modern fairy story.” I started thinking about what modern fairy godmothers would do and the book just took off from there!

JT: I’m always interested to know how much authors blend research and imagination. Did you do research into the real royal family? How much of your fae mythology is your own imagination?

RG: Much of my research was based on the daily lives of the royal family—ie. What do they eat? Where do they go on vacation? Where do they go to school?—rather than specifics on Charles or William or Harry. I used that as a framework and let my imagination guide the rest. As for the Fae mythology, a lot of the creatures in ALL THAT GLOWS are based on actually British Isles folklore. The Green Women, Banshees and Black Dogs are all portents of death/ demonic soul eaters in their respective districts. A lot of things like the Fae’s aversion to technology and the caste system are common threads throughout fairy story archetypes, but I added my own liberties by tying things in with Arthurian folklore and in the way they cast spells!

JT: Emrys is such a strong female protagonist. Is there a little bit of you in her characterization?

RG: Thanks! She’s very loyal and stubborn when it comes to the people she loves, which I see a lot of in myself. She also internalizes things a lot and tends to overthink them, which I’ve found myself guilty of. But there are things about her that I can’t identify with. Emrys breaks the rules a lot without much fear, and I’m a big rule follower!

JT: How was the debut process? Any great advice to bestow on the Fearless Fifteeners?

RG: The debut process is different for everyone! But one thing that stays the same all across the board is the rollercoaster ride of emotions! Having something you’ve worked on alone for such a long time out in the world for all to see is thrilling and terrifying all that once! I think though, my biggest piece of advice is to have things in your life outside of writing to diffuse the craziness that is the debut process! It’s a lot of emotional stress and sometimes distractions are needed. Like knitting or watching Doctor Who on marathon!

JT: Prince William or Prince Harry? Kate or Pippa? I just have to know!

RG: I always was more of a Prince Harry girl myself. And I love Kate’s fearless elegance.

JT: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of?

RG: I’m afraid of not making a difference in the world. Dying without leaving a mark. BUT, that’s being said, I’m not afraid of living: traveling the world, seizing the moments, chasing dreams. I’m also not afraid of rats. Just cockroaches.

Thank you so much for the interview, Ryan, and congratulations on ALL THAT GLOWS!

Jessica TaylorJessica Taylor is an author and fashion industry professional. She adores sleepy southern settings, unrequited love, and characters who sneak out late at night. She lives in Northern California with a sweet-yet-spoiled dog and several teetering towers of books. Her debut, INVINCIBLE WILD, a young adult magical realism novel, is slated for Fall 2015 release from Egmont USA.

Introducing: Katie M. Stout

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Hello, lovelies!

I’m the author of Hello, I Love Youmy contemporary YA debut with Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s, about Korean pop music, first love, and family.

I’ve been writing books since high school but never thought I’d get  published one day, so this has been a surreal experience to say the least! I actually entered the YA world as a book blogger, where I was quickly hooked on the romance, excitement, and creativity that young adult books offer. Sometimes, I miss receiving ARCs in the mail, but I’m happy to be on this side of the publishing industry. 🙂

I’m a Southern girl from Atlanta, raised on corn bread, grits, and sweet tea. But last year, I traded all that for Yorkshire pudding, Earl Grey, and custard cream biscuits (yum!) when I moved to England. I work for a Christian charity called Operation Mobilisation, and my job gives me the opportunity to visit a lot of amazing places, which only feeds my addiction to travel.

My writing is heavily influenced by the places I go, and Hello, I Love You was actually inspired by one of my visits to Asia, where I got completely hooked on Korean dramas and pop music. Many months (and hours marathoning dramas) later, I had a book that merged my love for all things YA with my new Korean pop culture obsession.

I can’t wait to share my book with everyone! I don’t have an official summary to share, but here’s what my announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace looked like:

Katie M. Stout’s HELLO, I LOVE YOU, a teenage girl from a famous country music family, after a rough year at home, attends a boarding school in Korea only to get swept up in the K-pop fandom when she falls for a teen idol, to Kat Brzozowski at Thomas Dunne Books.

I never did shake my love of chatting books after I quit book blogging, so you can still find me on Twitter fangirling about my favorite reads. I also frequently haunt Tumblr, where I flail over things like “Sherlock,” the KPOP band CN Blue, and my only *slightly* creepy obsession with Korean actor Kim Woo Bin. Let’s be friends!

Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, but now lives in the north of England, where she works in social media for an international charity that sends her to fun countries like Spain, South Africa, and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of Starbucks and working on her goal to fill up every page of her passport. Her debut novel, HELLO, I LOVE YOU releases in 2015 with St. Martin’s Press. Visit her on Twitter to chat books, KPOP, and all things “Sherlock.”

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Bethany Hagen, author of LANDRY PARK

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Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Bethany Hagen, whose YA debut, LANDRY PARK releases today!

About LANDRY PARK:

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Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won’t allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty – her family and the estate she loves dearly – and desire.

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JW: When did you first think of the concept behind Landry Park? I know the book was pitched as “Gone with the Nuclear Wind” and that has so many people excited (including me!) so I’m curious how and when you came up with the idea.

BH: Backstory: Basically, I’ve loved Gone with the Wind since I was six and my mom rented it for me (my mom had a very demented idea about what children like to read and watch, which is probably why I’ve read every V.C. Andrews book but I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables.)  I read the book in grade school and then over and over again in high school.  Actual story: In college, I did a stint working at a local history museum.  I had a lot of opportunities to stare at doe-eyed Edwardian girls and sepia-toned pictures of palatial houses and also to read a lot of academic articles about Cold War nuclear hysteria.  The final ingredient (and this is key) was an exceptional amount of free time in between tours, usually spent aimlessly wandering the exhibits and wiping down Plexiglass.  Eventually the kernel of the story began to take shape.

JW: Who was your favorite character to write? And what should we expect from leading lady Madeline Landry? Is she sort of a sci-fi Scarlett O’Hara or does she have a softer side? And what about Captain David Dana?

BH: Cara Westoff is far and away my favorite character to write.  She’s a spoiled and selfish and damaged and kind of awesome.  I think Madeline is a cross between someone like Scarlett–who obviously has a lot of pride both in her land and in her family–and someone like Fanny Price from Mansfield Park, who is very quiet and very perceptive.  Which is why David is such a shock to her–he’s moody, at turns obsessive and dismissive, and is a bit of an epicure.

JW: Do you have a favorite scene in the book?

BH: Easily Madeline’s debut ball.  I could describe food all day long.  I think I missed my calling writing menu copy.

JW: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and what you’re currently working on?

BH: My writing process is kind of scattered and bizarre and littered with bouts of laying on the floor.  But lately it’s looked like this–I use Save The Cat to write up a beat sheet–and then I use that as my road-map while I draft (also my road map: long, rambling chat sessions with my critique partners where I frequently threaten to douse my laptop with gasoline and burn it in the chiminea.)  While I’m drafting, I generally write about 2,000 words a day, seven days a week (which usually means lots of late nights since I have a day job as a librarian.)  Right now I am hard at work on the Landry Park sequel, which I’m tentatively calling Landry Park II: The Taffeta Reckoning.

JW: What has surprised you the most about your publishing experience? Any advice for 2015 debuts?

BH: I suppose the stress surprised me the most. Normally, I expend a lot of energy to avoid feeling badly, but I found that’s been really difficult to do.  Deadlines, negative reviews, business-y non-writing stuff–it’s pretty much entirely unavoidable.  My advice: Remember why you love to write, write often (but don’t be afraid to take breaks,) and, if you’re going to read reviews of your book, make sure you have some scotch in hand.

JW: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.

BH: Currently, I’m not into heights or tunnels.  They freak me out.  And I’m not afraid of the Twelfth Doctor.  I can already tell he’s going to be fantastic.

Thanks so much for the interview, Bethany, and congratulations on your debut! 

About Bethany:Bethany Hagen
Bethany Hagen was born and raised in Kansas City. She grew up reading Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and all things King Arthur, and went on to become a librarian. Landry Park is her debut novel.

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JasmineWargaFearless15ersJasmine Warga is the author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES coming from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in Winter 2015. To learn more, visit jasminewarga.com or follow her on Twitter.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Rebecca Behrens, Author of WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE

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Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Rebecca Behrens, whose middle-grade historical WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE comes out today!

About WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE:

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When frustrated First Daughter Audrey Rhodes discovers Alice Roosevelt’s secret diary hidden beneath the White House floorboards, she’s inspired to ask herself, “What would Alice do?” Audrey’s Alice-like antics are a lot of fun—but will they bring her happiness, or a host of new problems?

It is ridiculously difficult to get a pizza delivered to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned. The decorations are all set, and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute for a “security breach,” squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is having your own bowling alley if you don’t have anyone to play with?

Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless—until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former first daughter’s outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun . . . and get her into more trouble than she can handle.

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MKC: I love the “What Would Alice Do?” Slogan! What sparked the idea for WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE?
RB: Thanks! I’ve always been fascinated by children living in the White House, and when President Obama was elected in 2008, I wondered how the lives of his daughters would change as they headed to Washington. Would it be hard for them to make new friends? How much privacy do they have when they’re at home on Pennsylvania Avenue? The idea of a First Daughter feeling a little isolated and constrained stuck with me, and that developed into Audrey’s character.

At the same time, I was kind of obsessed with Alice Roosevelt’s wild life. The more I read about her, the more I was surprised by her turn-of-the-century antics. It’s kind of shocking that she got away with so much at a time when women in general had much less freedom. I started to wonder if there was a way to combine those two First Daughter ideas into one story.

One day when I was out for a walk in New York, I suddenly had the initial spark of how to combine Alice’s story with that of a contemporary First Daughter: via a long-lost diary. As I kept walking, I outlined the whole book and scribbled everything down once I got home. Weird fact: I found out later on that Alice’s aunt had lived at 62nd and Madison, the very intersection where the idea hit me, and Alice spent plenty of time there as a young person.

MKC: You weave so many fascinating tidbits about the real Alice Roosevelt into your book! What was your favorite and/or most surprising thing you learned about her in your research?
RB: It’s really hard to pick one detail about Alice; she was such an interesting person. But I love the image of her practicing yoga. By her accounts, she could put her leg behind her head, which she called “relaxing.” This was at a time when women still wore corsets and full-body bathing costumes, so that seems really weird to me.

But in a larger sense, I was surprised to uncover Alice’s vulnerability. Having first heard about all of her exploits and her goal to shock people, I thought she had probably been a supremely confident person. In reading interviews and published accounts of her diaries and private papers, however, it became clear that she dealt with a lot of insecurity and in some ways was rather shy—for example, she was terrified of public speaking. The more I learned about her, the more she became wonderfully complex.

MKC: Do you have a favorite scene you can tell us a little about?
RB: I’m going to pick one from the beginning of the book, so as to not give away too much. Right after Audrey finds Alice’s diary and reads the first batch of entries, she’s inspired to sneak out of her bedroom and roam the White House at night, in search of her own “Inauguration of Fun.” She runs the halls, goes bowling alone, and contemplates sneaking out onto the roof. By the time she heads back to bed, she’s giddy and invigorated and is set out on a path to find more fun in her White House life . . . and more trouble, of course.

MKC: Tell us three fun facts about you.
RB: My favorite food is the doughnut, my favorite place is the beach, and my favorite punctuation is the em-dash.

MKC: Do you have any writing rituals or habits?
RB: Is procrastinating with Twitter a ritual? Because I definitely do that!
I tend to play musical chairs when I’m working—I can only sit in one for so long before I start to feel blocked. On a good writing day, I’ll cycle from my desk chair to the couch to an armchair to the kitchen table and wind up cross-legged on the floor.

MKC: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.
RB: Despite the fact that I do it regularly, I am terrified of flying. I continue to hope that someone makes teleportation a thing, and soon. But I am not afraid of snakes. I think they’re cute!

Thanks so much for the interview, Rebecca, and congratulations on your debut! 

About Rebecca:
RebeccaBehrensGrowing up in Wisconsin, Rebecca Behrens dreamed of becoming the following: a zoologist, an Olympic swimmer, or an author. One out of three isn’t bad! Today she lives in New York City, where she works as a production editor for children’s books. Some of her favorite things are: the beach, bright shoes, running, doughnuts, and laughing.

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MarcyKate Connolly is an author and arts administrator who lives in New England with her husband and pugs and writes weird little books. She’s also a coffee addict, voracious reader, and recurring commuter. She blogs about all those things and more at MarcyKate.com, and can often be found on Twitter. Her debut upper MG/Tween fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children’s Books in Winter 2015.