YA Q&A with Rachel A. Marks, author of Darkness Brutal

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Hello, and welcome back to another enthralling edition of YA Q&A. Today we’ve put the lovely Rachel A. Marks, debut author of DARKNESS BRUTAL, on the spot to answer some burning (or slightly ridiculous) questions. Let’s turn the time over to our host and get this show on the road.

Becky Wallace: You wake up one morning and, OMG, you’re a faeire. What’s the first thing you do with your new ability?

Rachel Marks: Oh, I’d be so excited!! So, first I’d of course have a faeire tea party. And then I’d grow a whole forest in my back yard and sleep in the trees.

BW: Is there a hammock? I would so be on board with naptime in the forest if I’m promised a cozy hammock. Your parents, however, aren’t too happy with your change. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

RM: I present my trouble to Hermione and she chats with my mom about how efficient this change in me will be, especially as it pertains to gardening. 😉

BW: Efficiencies and Hermione aside, your parent still prefer Normal Rachel (But I don’t want to be normal!) to fae Rachel. You arrive at school and literally crash into your crush. He/she asks you why you’re shaken up. What do you tell him/her?

RM: I tell him about my magicalness (but in a “help me, I’m so lost, what should I do, I’m such a freak” kind of way) and then he will fall madly in love with me, but I still play hard-to-get and so when I finally admit I may have had a crush on him, our love will have reached epic levels of awesomeness.

BW: He/she isn’t convinced you’re telling the truth — after all, it’s a pretty far fetched story. He/she suggests going somewhere to talk about it more. Where’s this dream date taking place?

RM: I would probably suggest we go to the forest so that I can give examples of my amazing talents that I now will always have forever. And since trees are my friends it will be very romantic and the birdies and squirrels will chat with us and be our hosts.

BW: If he’s not completely weirded out, there may be a Happily Ever After for Fae Rachel. But, there is definitely one for Normal Rachel! Your book is out! Dream come true. Give us a summary in 140 characters or less.

RM: DARKNESS BRUTAL is a Paranormal YA that is like Oliver Twist meets TV’s Supernatural in modern day LA.

BW: And if that wasn’t enough to satisfy your interest, here’s the full summary:

51ErApwJ8XL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.

In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.

With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny

me_signing_3Here’s a little bit more about Normal Rachel: Rachel A. Marks is the author of The Dark Cycle series, beginning with DARKNESS BRUTAL. You can read more about her weird hobbies and see some of her artwork on her webpage: www.RachelAnneMarks.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE STORYSPINNER and its sequel, THE SKYLIGHTER (available March 22, 2016 from Simon & Schuster). She lives in a happy little village in Texas with her own real-life Prince Charming and their four munchkins.
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A Teen Reader Interviews MarcyKate Connolly About MONSTROUS

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Alexandra B. is an 8th grader at King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, CT. She recently read MarcyKate Connolly’s MONSTROUS and had a few questions for the author.

Alex: What part of this book is special to you and why?

MarcyKate: This is the hardest question! The whole book is special to me, but I think one of my all time favorite parts is when Kymera and Ren are just getting to know each other and he still has no idea what she’s really made of.  It’s both sweet and bittersweet because she gets to be herself with a human and gets a taste of everything she lost in her former life.

Alex: Is Kymera’s personality similar to yours? How?

MarcyKate: In some ways, yes, she’s a bit naïve like I was when I was 13, and that naiveté does get her into a bit of trouble…

Alex: How did you come up with the idea to write the book?

MarcyKate: I’d wanted to write a fairy-tale-inspired book for a while, but hadn’t quite found the right concept. Then one day, while stuck in gridlock traffic and literally parked on the highway, the first line of Monstrous popped into my head. I had to write that line and the rest of the first page down immediately, and for the rest of the day I could not stop wondering who would say that and why. The plot pretty much came together that day, and I was so taken with the idea and the character that I had to begin writing the book right away.

Alex: To you, is Kymera more a monster or a human?

MarcyKate: I think Kymera is a better person than most of the people who are physically human in the book, which was intentional. What we look like does not define our character or whether we’re good or bad.

Alex: What made you decide to end the book the way you did?

MarcyKate: I’m glad you asked this, and I’m going to try to answer without spoiling the book J

The ending is something I wrestled with a lot in the first few drafts. I tried writing a pat little Disney-fied ending but it was so wrong and completely out of character for Kymera. The final epilogue went through many iterations and tweaks along the way (its current form was the result of 11th hour line edits that had me rewriting the entire epilogue!).

First, the book is more like a Grimm’s fairy tale than a Disney one – it’s dark, and some characters do die. At the end of the book, the main character makes a decision to do something very dangerous to protect her friends and the result is…unexpected (I know what you’re thinking and no, Kymera does not die – it’s something else entirely!). She actually gets exactly what she wants, but in a way that never occurred to her. While it might sound like it would be easier to let an adult character do the difficult task or to change the rules of magic in the world, it’s crucial to the story and her character that it be her. Monstrous is Kymera’s story, her battle – letting someone else make the hard choices in her stead would take away her hard won agency. It would be a huge let down, and, really, kind of a cop-out.

Part of Kym’s struggle throughout the book is that she needs to realize she must step outside the barriers that others would set around her to protect her. She has to take responsibilities – and the responsibility of protecting her city belongs to her. At the start of the story, she only has inklings of what that entails. A big part of her internal arc is discovering what that truly means. Her character may be a monster but she is constantly caged by others. Her father gives her restrictions, her dragon friend would whisk her away to hide her in his mountain home, and even when she finally breaks free, she’s captured and caged by others who would do her harm. It isn’t until the end of the story that Kym has true freedom and agency and the ability to finally succeed at the mission she’s had from the very beginning.

In other words, having anyone or anything else complete her mission for her would send a rather negative message to readers, especially young girls. It’s critical to Kymera’s story and character that when she has real agency, she makes the choice to bear the full weight and cost of the responsibility she’s taken on. Importantly, her actions are not done out of hate (which she was acting on in the beginning), but out of love – because the love she has for her city, family, and friends has grown so much larger than that hate and they’re more important to her than anything else. Kymera may be a monster in physical sense, but she is truly the best person in the book.

MONSTROUS is available wherever books are sold, including:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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, released with HarperCollins Children’s Books in Winter 2015.

YA Q&A With Carol Riggs, Author of THE BODY INSTITUTE

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Welcome back to another installment of YA Q&A! I’m so excited to introduce Carol Riggs, debut author of THE BODY INSTITUTE. It’s another fresh release from our Fearless Fifteen clan, and I think Carol’s answers give away a bit  of what she might have been thinking about when she started drafting this book.

BW: You wake up one morning and, OMG, you’re sixteen again! What’s the first thing you do with your new ability?

CR: Sit on my haunches in a crouch, because my knees haven’t let me do that for YEARS. Woo!

BW: You want to be young again, and your character makes people thin. Can anyone else see the correlation?  Hmmm…Sadly, your parents aren’t too happy with your change. They’ve already raised teen Carol and they do not want to do it again. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

CR: I’d ring up Emmett “Doc” Brown from Back to The Future, because obviously, some serious unraveling of the space-time continuum is going on.Emmett_BacktotheFuture_CRiggs

BW: Back to normal, you arrive at school and literally crash into your crush. He/she asks you why you’re shaken up. What do you tell him/her?

CR: “I swear to you, I’m really a senior citizen! But I woke up this morning wearing high-water pants and a bad case of bangs-covering-my-eyebrows.”

BW: Strangely, I know teens and AARP members who both match that description. *wink* Your crush isn’t convinced you’re telling the truth — after all, it’s a pretty far-fetched story. He/she suggests going somewhere to talk about it more. Where’s this dream date taking place?

CR: A lovely sandy beach—one that’s actually warm. Which means it’s probably NOT the Oregon coast.

BW: It might not be true love yet, but there is a Happily Ever After in your near future. As a Fearless Fifteener, your debut is out this year. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.

CR: Morgan Dey accepts a job at The Body Institute to lose 100lbs for another girl–& finds she may lose more than the weight she signed up for.

BW:  OOOO!!! Love this concept.  And y’all totally need the longer summary to really get into this premise.

The Body Institute 365x547About THE BODY INSTITUTE:

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer and feeling great. Only there are a few catches… 

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Not only that, suddenly residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in her mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul.

Carol Riggs author photo_headAbout Carol Riggs:

Carol Riggs lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE STORYSPINNER and its sequel, THE SKYLIGHTER (available March 22, 2016 from Simon & Schuster). She lives in a happy little village in Texas with her own real-life Prince Charming and their four munchkins.

The 15th Happenings: September News

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Launch Days

The Fix Truest Burn Girl A 52-Hertz Whale Jillian Cade (Fake) Paranormal Investigator

1st: THE FIX by Natasha Sinel
1st: TRUEST by Jackie Lea Sommers
1st: BURN GIRL by Mandy Mikulencak
1st: A 52 -HERTZ WHALE by Natalie Tilghman and Bill Sommer
1st: JILLIAN CADE (FAKE) PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR by Jen Klein

Dream Things True The Next Together Exit Stage Left The Dead House The Weight of Feathers

1st: DREAM THINGS TRUE by Marie Marquardt
3rd: THE NEXT TOGETHER by Lauren James
8th: EXIT STAGE LEFT by Gail Nall
15th: THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich
15th: THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore

Lock & Mori The Unquiet I Am Drums Secrets of the Dragon Tomb Dead Boy

15th: LOCK & MORI by Heather Petty
22nd: THE UNQUIET by Mikaela Everett
22nd: I AM DRUMS by Mike Grosso
22nd: SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB by Patrick Samphire
29th: DEAD BOY by Laurel Gale

 
sold
Susan Adrian sold her debut middle-grade, NUTCRACKED, to Random House for publication in Fall 2017!

Michelle H. Nagler and Jenna Lettice at Random House have aquired Susan Adrian’s NUTCRACKED, about a girl cast as the lead in the Nutcracker ballet, who is transported to a magical world every time she dances with an antique Nutcracker. Publication is set for fall 2017; Kate Schafer Testerman at KT Literary brokered the deal for world rights.

Fonda Lee sold her next YA science fiction novel to Scholastic for publication in spring 2017!

Jody Corbett at Scholastic has bought Fonda Lee’s untitled YA novel about a bio-enhanced teen soldier who must struggle for his freedom and the safety of the planet when he is taken hostage by an extremist group intent on overthrowing alien governance of Earth. Publication is set for spring 2017; Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management negotiated the deal for world rights.

 
Of Interest

Cindy L. Rodriguez’s WHEN REASON BREAKS was featured in “Under the Covers,” a blog for the Hartford Public Library! And on Des Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children.

Randy Ribay has an awesome infinite playlist for his AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES.

 
Professional reviews

Fonda Lee won the Willamette Writers Up and Coming Award!

Erin Entrada Kelly will be on a panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival @ 3 p.m. on September 19th. It’s free!

Ann Jacobus’ ROMANCING THE DARK IN THE CITY OF LIGHT has a shiny Publishers Weekly review:

Summer can be bright-eyed and hopeful, her thoughts and dialogue funny, at times, despite the stubborn curtain of despair that hangs over her every move. As Summer struggles with alcohol dependency and contemplates suicide, readers will grit their teeth in the hope that Moony will win the romantic tug-of-war with Kurt in time to help Summer see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Randy Ribay is Geekadelphia’s Geek of the Week.

 

tessaelwoodTessa Elwood designs sites, breathes da:i, & haunts highways in her dusty baby. Her YA, INHERIT THE STARS, arrives 12/2015 from Running Press.

FEARLESS FRIDAY with Mackenzi Lee

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I have what you might call an irrational fear. It is also an unorthodox fear. I also am, I think, the only YA author with this fear.

And today I face it.

Today, I face the dreaded writing of a kissing scene.

Mackenzi Lee is a reader, writer, bookseller, Diet Coke fanatic, unapologetic fangirl, and fast talker. Her YA reimagining of Frankenstein, THIS MONSTROUS THING, will be published by Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins on September 22. Find her on Twitter, Pinterest, or on her blog, where she talks about books, Boston, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

YA Q&A with Natasha Sinel

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Yay! Yay! YAY!!!  Did you know that Natasha Sinel’s debut novel, THE FIX, came out yesterday?  Well, it did and I’m super lucky to get to host her for YA Q&A.  If you want to know more about her favorite super powers and about her new book, then read on!

 

BW: You wake up one morning and, OMG, you can fly. What’s the first thing you do with your new ability?

NS: Well, I want to take a test-fly immediately because…I can fly!? So I zoom around my bedroom and realize a minute too late that I have no idea how to steer or stop. I slam sideways into my dresser and everything on it falls to the floor with a loud crash. Well, at least now I know one way to stop.

BW: Turns out your parents aren’t too happy with the dent you put in the wall. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

NS: On my way to school, I run into the Green Hornet, and even though he doesn’t fly, he explains wind patterns and aerodynamics to me. He also tells me that my new power is tip-top secret, and if I tell anyone that I can fly, I will lose my ability.

BW: Green hornet, huh? He is sort of pretty to look at. Back to normal, you arrive at school and literally crash into your crush. He asks you why you’re shaken up. What do you tell him?

NS: “I can fly!” I say. He looks at me funny.

BW: He isn’t convinced you’re telling the truth — after all, it’s a pretty far fetched story. He suggests going somewhere to talk about it more. Where’s this dream date taking place?

NS: I take him to the roof to prove I can fly. I stand on the edge and just as I’m about to take off, I remember the Green Hornet’s words: “If you tell anyone, you’ll lose your ability. Poof!” Suddenly, I feel kind of wobbly, like I’m going to fall. “I fear I can no longer fly!” I shout as I jump back onto the roof. My crush gives me that funny look again. “Maybe I’ll see you around sometime,” he says and heads back into the school building.

BW:  Aww! Sad. It might not be true love yet, but there is a Happily Ever After in your near future. As a Fearless Fifteener, your debut is out this year. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.

NS: When Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that revealing her shameful past could ruin her family but keeping silent could destroy her.

BW: And if that isn’t enough info, here’s the full synopsis for THE FIX.

Fix-cover-finalOne conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

2014_Natasha_Sinel_249-hi_resAbout Natasha:

 

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon but in her head, she’s still in high school and hopes no one near her can read minds. THE FIX is her first novel.

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE KEEPERS’ CHRONICLES: THE STORYSPINNER, a magical adventure in which a case of mistaken identity exposes a young performer to a danger she could have never imagined and a secret her father died to protect. It will be available from Simon & Schuster in March 2015. When Becky’s not writing, she’s baking cupcakes and teaching her kids ’90s dance moves.