20 Questions

It’s a fair bet I’ll never be featured in my graduate school’s magazine… or any magazine, for that matter. But I can pretend by answering the questions my alma mater asks of people anyway.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Wandering a new city or place I’ve traveled to.

If you could study any field aside from your own, what would it be?

I really enjoyed all the psychology classes I took, and I’d possibly pursue that.

Whom do you most admire?

Queen Elizabeth II, I think. She has such grace under fire and has lasted through so much.

What are three adjectives you’d use to describe Emerson?

“Expensive”? Seriously, though, “connected” comes to mind. Also “purple” because all the banners were that color.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I say “sure” way too often. And any other filler words: like, so, etc.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having my short play produced twice and then turned into a short film. (I know I’m supposed to say my children or something like that, but I want to be honest. I adore my kids and am proud of them, but I don’t consider them an achievement.)

What is your greatest regret?

When I interned for Lynda Obst, she suggested I go work in her L.A. office and I instead chose to finish my last year as an undergrad. At the time I didn’t really understand that offers like that are not forever. And I feel like that was a huge missed opportunity. Of course, then I wouldn’t have gone to grad school, met my husband, etc.

Who are your favorite writers?

Right now? Tana French, Ben Aaronovitch, Kate Morton. I pretty much buy whatever they publish at the moment. But I love a lot of authors, like Jane Austen and Agatha Christie and Diana Wynne Jones.

Reading on a Kindle or other device: Yay or nay?

Nay. Not because I think it’s a terrible idea—it’s nice to have many books in one handy, portable place—but because I just don’t go looking for a device when I want to read. I’m old enough that I look for a physical book.

If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be?

I think Cary Grant would be a fun dinner date.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Saving animals somehow.

Coffee or tea?

Tea. Chai, specifically.

Beach or mountains?

I’m more of a meadows/hills/forest kind of girl. Someplace secluded, but where I can still get food delivered.

Broadway or Hollywood?

Hollywood.

If you could spend 48 hours in any city around the globe, where would you go?

I really want to go to Japan. I don’t even care which city.

What song are you most embarrassed to love?

My friends will tell you I have terrible taste in music. To hear them tell it, I think should be embarrassed by any of the songs I love.

You’re stranded on an island. What three possessions would you not be able to live without?

My notebook and pen (does that count as two?) and at least one book, I guess.

What is your motto?

Well, per my logo: “From words to worlds.” But I don’t think I really have a motto per se.

What’s the best thing about Emerson?

Emerson got me the internship at Houghton Mifflin that started my publishing career. It’s got a solid reputation in the business and a string of accomplished alumni. I feel fortunate to be able to say I got my M.A. there.

Author Interview: Kimberly Emerson

PepperWords is pleased to feature the author of No Accounting for Destiny

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

KE: I’m Kimberly Emerson, a lifelong writer and newly published author. I live in L.A. with my cat Zoe, who loves me but still needs her space.

PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

KE: I’ve been writing for most of my life. I remember doing my creative writing assignments in fifth grade as a series, basing characters on myself and all my classmates. In sixth grade I started a new series, using the daughter of the character I created in fifth grade. I don’t think I was actually trying to be clever—I seem to remember it was a way to use the same characters over and over so I didn’t have to make up new ones.

PW: Ha! It was a generational saga!

What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

KE: This book is based on a plot that’s been in my head for probably thirty years. I fell in love with London many years ago and was sure I was supposed to spend the rest of my life there, and of course that I would meet someone incredibly famous who would be so impressed by how unimpressed I was by his fame. I live in Los Angeles and I’ve never lived in London. Maybe I got the first letter right but got distracted during the rest of the prophecy? The book is a mystery because those are my favorite kind to read. I love puzzles and logic problems. Plus, it gives me an excuse for anything weird in my browser history.

PW: I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and London is one of my favorite cities. Alas, it’s never happened for me either. Maybe that’s one of the things I love about this book, that I identify with it.

Speaking of famous people and Los Angeles, in Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

KE: Hmm… Maybe: “An accountant and an earl find out getting kidnapped isn’t as much fun as you think.” I’ll keep working on it.

PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?

KE: If I had to cast this book as a movie, I’d put Reese Witherspoon as Emmy. The problem is I’d want to play Jane myself.

PW: What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

KE: So many favorites. My favorite genre is mystery, but if I had to pick one book to read for the rest of forever it would probably be William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, so I guess my taste is a little eclectic. Well, Princess Bride or Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. I love Jane Austen, with the favorite being a toss-up between Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. I also read just about every book Erma Bombeck ever wrote and I own about eight books of Fox Trot comic anthologies. (Bury My Heart at Fun-Fun Mountain is a pictorial account of my childhood.) J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are a nearly perfect series. Oh, and I will always have a special place in my heart for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables stories. I could go on.

PW: I should know better than to ask authors to name favorite books. My oldest son is a huge Fox Trot fan, and I love me some Agatha Christie and L.M. Montgomery, so we have that much in common. What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

KE: Right now, I am re-reading David Casaret’s The Missing Guests at the Magic Grove Hotel. It makes me want to visit Chiang Mai in Thailand. I love novels that teach me about new places. The book also makes me wonder if I missed my calling as a medical ethicist. I can imagine myself spending my days scouring patient records to figure out whether the right ethical choices were made. After I finish that, I’d like to read Anne Lamott’s Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. Her blend of spirituality and self-deprecating humor inspires me, and I think we all need more hope in our lives these days.

PW: Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

KE: I wish my writing had something as sophisticated as a process. Usually, I start with a snippet of dialogue that pops into my head. I work outward from there. It’s kind of like I can hear the sound of a movie and gradually I can start to see the picture. Once I’ve started on a story, I try to carve out time every day to write something, even if it’s lousy. Sometime my discipline fails me, though. Writing is like trying to exercise and eat right. It’s a commitment you have to make over and over again. I just remind myself that any little step I take in the right direction is better than nothing.

PW: I think most writers would say discipline is the most important thing. Alas, we all need undisciplined days. Except maybe Stephen King. I hear he never takes a day off. Guess that’s why he’s so prolific.

How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

KE: The length of time to write a book depends on the book. With No Accounting for Destiny, I started and stopped a lot, so it took me a couple of years. With the book I wrote after that, I finished the first draft in four and a half months. It depends somewhat on the story and somewhat on what else happens in my life at the time. I try to make time whatever else is going on, but sometimes life gets in the way. The important thing is just to try to get back to it again once you get your head back above water. After I finish the first draft, it needs to go out to my critique partners and then the beta readers. Then once I feel content with it, it needs to go to the copy editor for spelling and grammar checks. If I didn’t work full-time, I think I could do a book a year. As it is, it takes at least two years. I try to start on the next one before the last one is completely done, in order to tighten things up.

PW: What are you working on now?

KE: I’ve started working on Fate & Other Terrorists, the sister novel to No Accounting for Destiny. I’m looking forward to calls from the FBI once the title makes the bestseller list. Together with my mystery writer’s browser history, I expect to spend a lot of time in conversation with government entities. Please start collecting bail money for me.

PW: We’ll start a crowdfunding campaign! Aside from not getting arrested, what advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

KE: The only advice I can give to any writer, to any kind of creative person, really, is to know your own worth. Fame and fortune land where they choose to land, and if there’s any logic to their destinations, I haven’t found it. As one of my mentors at acting school used to say, “If you’re not enough without success, you’ll never be enough with it.” You have something to say. Say it, the best that you can. That’s all you can ever do.

PW: I really like that quote from your mentor; I’ll need to keep that written down somewhere… Where do you see yourself in five years?

KE: In five years, I see myself buying a lake house, ideally with proceeds from my books. I write better at the lake.

PW: I do love lakes and lake houses. My best friend’s grandparents had one and… Oh, but this isn’t about me! Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying?

KE: My favorite quote is from theologian Frederich Buechner: “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” There’s more to the quote than that, but that’s the part that sticks with me. The idea that I in my insignificance bring something irreplaceable to the world has gotten me through some dark days.

PW: Favorite color?

KE: I love lavender. I also love sea green. My house has a lot of both. They make me feel creative and relaxed at the same time.

PW: Favorite TV show?

KE: My favorite show changes, depending on the day. All-time favorite is probably Murphy Brown. Current favorite is The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

PW: Okay, weird confession from me: I used to have a crush on Jim from Murphy Brown. That’s right, Jim. Maybe I have a thing for older guys? But I married someone younger so… ??? Oh, and I adore Kimmy Schmidt. What a great show.

Favorite movie?

KE: My favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I had to stop watching it because I could say virtually every line along with the actors. Second place is Clue. For things I’ve watched lately, Ali Wong & Randall Park’s Always Be My Maybe made me laugh so hard I almost broke a rib.

PW: Clue is so quotable, and a perfect stormy night movie.

Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet?

KE: Eleanor Roosevelt has always fascinated me. She came from privilege and spent her whole life working to use that privilege to make everyone’s lives better. She also dealt with a monumental amount of judgment from people who disagreed with her. I would love to have a cup of coffee with her.

PW: I always wondered how she felt about her husband’s infidelities. She certainly seemed to handle things with true grace.

Last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

KE: Please find my book, No Accounting for Destiny, on Amazon! You can also find more of my thoughts on life at www.kimberlyemerson.com (where there is also a handy link to Amazon to buy my book).

Ways for Non-LGBTQIA+ Authors to Participate in Pride & Diversity

I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in a roundtable with my fellow authors and led by Stormy Corrin Russell. She’s posted our discussion here. You’ll see me as “ALP” in the conversation. (People who know me personally will know why.)

Come read what I and other great authors have to say about the subject, and please comment and leave your own thoughts too!

Author Interview: Elizabeth Spencer

Today I’m welcoming Elizabeth Spencer to my blog as part of my ongoing Author Interview series!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

justice_unending_cover_largeElizabeth Spencer: Hi! I’m Elizabeth Spencer, and I’m a bit of a nerd. A nerd who likes to make stuff. So it’s no surprise that I spend a lot of time writing YA fantasy—but also baking, crocheting, sewing, and pretty much anything else that involves making cool things. (I’m currently working through the entire World of Warcraft cookbook!) I also play a lot of video games, particularly RPGs. I live in New England, but I’m a very new transplant and I haven’t really settled in here yet.

PW: I lived in Massachusetts for 12 years myself. Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

ES: I’ve been writing since I was in grade school, but it took me a long time to muster up the courage to try to publish something. I started writing seriously about nine years ago, and wrote five full-length novels before Justice Unending. Justice was the first book that I really made me stop and think, “Wait. What am I doing? This is good. I could query this.” I’m glad I did!

PW: What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

ES: 

Justice Unending is an action-adventure-style YA fantasy with some light steampunk elements to it—so while there are corsets and trains and at least one giant steam-powered laboratory, the story’s main focus is an insular group of bodiless immortals and the conflicts between them and the people they possess.

Justice was the product of this persistent, half-formed idea that haunted me for most of a year, where I wanted to write some kind of fantasy about people marked with tattoo-like symbols on their body that gave them certain magical powers. But that wasn’t an idea as much as it was a magic system, and I had no idea what kind of story should go with it. I was on a long plane ride when it finally all came together—what if these people were possessed by some sort of spirit, and the symbols on their bodies were the marks of whoever was inside them? And, hey! I love Victoriana and steampunk, but I hadn’t actually written anything but high fantasy. So why couldn’t I throw in some corsets and big hats in this one? By the time that plane landed, I had the setting, the main conflict, and most of the main plot points and characters worked out.

PW: Oh my God, I am so in! This book sounds amazing. Okay, in Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

ES: A teenage girl is possessed by the spirit of an ancient assassin who wants to use her body to take down the kingdom—and to right an ancient and terrible crime.

PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?

ES: Is… is this the time to admit that I don’t watch a lot of movies?

PW: LOL! Fair enough. What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

ES: Ahhh, I can never pick a favorite! The Seraphina books by Rachel Hartman are some of the best YA books I’ve read in the last few years, and Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland books are my new favorite MG series. But Patricia McKillip will probably always be my favorite author, though—I started reading her books when I was very tiny, and read all of her books throughout my teens and early twenties. She’s probably the reason I became so determined to write my own books.

PW: What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

ES: I just started on the first Mistborn novel! It’s amazing, and there are tons of them, and I can already tell that this is going to be a series I’m going to be reading for a very long time. I also want to check out Martha Wells’s Ile-Rien books, if only because I have been completely obsessed with her Raksura series, and the next one doesn’t come out until mid-2017.

PW: Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

ES: I’m definitely a plotter! But recently, I’ve found that something halfway between plotting it and winging it seems to work best for me. I go into my first drafts with about four or five major plot points and a lot of world building—I like to have my world, characters, and magic systems figured out in advance. But then I just loosely follow the outline, point my characters toward the next big plot point, and see if I actually end up there. When I hit the end of a writing day I’ll write a quick “mini-outline” of the plot points that feel like they should happen next, and then use that as a guide the next day.

I write in a seldom-used guest room that I’ve crammed a desk into. I’m a bit ritualistic about it—that room is only for writing, and the internet is only for accessing my files and doing research. There are very few distractions in there, except a bunch of warm blankets and a pair of speakers for background music. Alas, while I’d like to say my writing drink is “hot chocolate,” if I make some before I write I’ll forget about it until it’s ice cold. I just wait until I’m done to treat myself now.

PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

ES: I am extremely neurotic about tracking how much I write—I have an Excel spreadsheet that tallies up my totals by day, week, month, and story. So I can say with complete confidence that it takes me 4-5 months to write a first draft, about two to do the first edit, and however many more months it takes to drum up some beta readers and work through their changes. Thus far I average about a year to a year-and-a-half from starting to being query-ready.

Justice was a bit of a mess, though. I started querying it before it was ready and had to stop, get some new betas, and rewrite some of the story before I tried again. The first version I queried was only proofed by me and my beta friend who reads everything I do. And while they’re a fantastic reader, I needed the cold, hard, dispassionate gaze of a perfect stranger to figure out which things really weren’t working. After getting three new betas and rewriting the first fourth of the story, Justice was finally ready to go. That took nearly two years. Goodness!

PW: I’m a slow writer myself, which agonizes me since so many people say you should put out several books a year. How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

ES: I queried 30ish agents, stopped, then rewrote. Then I queried 93 agents over the span of (again—crazy detailed Excel spreadsheet here) 10 months. That resulted in 5 full requests and 1 partial, but no one ultimately offered me representation. And while that was very disappointing, I knew by the end of it that I probably had something special if I was getting this much interest.

I later submitted it to nine publishers and got two full requests and two contract offers. That took another 10 months—although most of that time was spent trying to get my first contract offer to work out, and then having to hunt down and negotiate a second one. But this is my first published novel. Now that I know the ropes, I hope the next ones will go faster!

PW: I’ve had similar experiences in querying and submitting. It does (usually) go faster once you get the hang of it. That said, never a good idea to rush it, right? What are you working on now?

ES: A YA high fantasy about an impenetrable fortress in the middle of the ocean that is said to be home of the gods—until a ship full of starving and half-dead children crash-land on the shore, bearing a curse that’s slowly killing them. I’m about 85K into it and am hoping to be done with the first draft by the end of the month.

PW: Yow, sounds intense. What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

ES: Start a writing habit. Don’t worry about being good. Don’t worry about publishing or getting an agent. Worry about establishing a habit where you write on a schedule—whether it’s every day, 3 times a week, or whatever makes sense for your schedule. Then learn how to finish projects reliably and on a decent timeline. It took me wayyyyy too long to learn that it didn’t matter how good my writing was or how interesting my ideas were if I was unable to finish a first draft in a reasonable amount of time—or if I never did at all.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

ES: I’m hoping I’ll get an agent sometime in the next five years. Fingers crossed! But even if I don’t, I intend to keep publishing books. It took me a long time to decide to publish something. Now I need to get my butt in gear and actually start building a library!

PW: Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

ES: I’ve always been fond of “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

PW: I’ve never heard that one, but I really relate.

Favorite color:

ES: Plum-colored purple!

PW: Favorite TV show:

ES: Is this a bad time to say I don’t really watch TV, either? Uh. Can I do my favorite video game?! I’m a diehard fan of the Castlevania series (before they rebooted it with the Lords of Shadow spinoff), and while Symphony of the Night is probably the best game in the series, my favorite story (and cast of characters) will always be Aria of Sorrow.

PW: Works for me! (I know nothing about video games except what my kids and husband try to explain to me.)

Favorite movie:

ES: I’m not sure I have one! I’ve enjoyed a bunch, but claiming a “favorite” seems like a pretty big burden. And I’m not sure I’m ready to make that sort of commitment.

PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

ES: It’d be so lovely to have a chance to talk to Tolkien about how he came up with his ideas and built his worlds. World building and linguistics fascinate me!

PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

ES: My website is at elizabeth-spencer.net, and you can find Justice Unending on Amazon and the Evernight Teen website!

Blurb

Within the walls of the Bastion, it’s an honor to become a host for an Unending—the bodiless, immortal spirits who rule the country.

But for Faye, it meant her sister would have to die.

When Faye sneaks into the Mother Duchess’s manor, she just wanted to see her sister one last time. Instead, Faye finds a manor in chaos, a murdered man, and an Unending assassin named Aris who needs a new body—Faye’s body—to bring the Bastion to its knees.

Now Faye’s harboring the Bastion’s most wanted criminal. And if she wants to live, she’ll have to escape the Duchess and her immortals, all while keeping Aris from harming anyone else.

There’s just one problem—Aris is not the villain. And now Faye is the only one who can help her stop the Duchess before anyone else—and especially Faye—has to die for the Unendings’ whims.

Excerpt

Trays rattled. A half dozen women gasped. Justine was on her knees and forearms, her head inches away from the tiles. Her fingers clawed at the grout.

It happened so quickly Faye was left standing with her hand in the air. She dropped to her knees and put an arm gently on her sister’s back, her voice shaking so hard she had to force herself not to yell, “Why didn’t you say you felt this bad?”

“I—” Justine croaked. She clenched her eyelids shut, clamped her arms against her chest, and bent over herself, folding her body into a tight ball of pain.

The maids crushed around them. Olivia crowded up behind Faye, sounding worried. “We’ll have to carry her to her room. Two or three of us can do it. Faye, tell your father—”

“No,” Justine whispered. “No.”

Faye watched Justine’s back rise and fall with every unsteady breath. “Oh. Oh. Me? You want me.”

“What?” Faye asked.

“I can’t… I’m sorry. Please, one moment… I…”

“Justine?”

Justine didn’t answer. Slowly, unsteadily, she pushed herself up to her knees. She was still shaking as she pulled her arms away from the curve of her stomach, lifted them, and showed their backs to her sister.

Thin black sigils ran all the way down her arms, spiraling and looping from her knuckles to her elbows. They looked like stylized flames.

Those were the sigils of an Unending.

Faye stiffened. The maids sucked in a collective gasp of surprise. Only Olivia managed to croak, “Whose are they?”

Justine stared at her own hands like they belonged to someone else and cocked her head to the side, as if listening to a voice only she could hear. “Belisama.” She paused a moment, dreamlike. “The Mother’s guard? I would imagine that she’d choose someone big, someone strong, someone who can…” She fluttered her eyes weakly, and it sent tears sliding down her cheeks. “I am admirably responsible? Duty? Is that enough?”

Faye wished Justine would stop talking. Her sister did not ramble. Her sister was proper and well spoken, and this … this was terribly, desperately wrong. Faye stared at the sigils as her stomach shuddered like a pot in rolling boil.

Justine pulled herself away from Faye as she rose to her feet. Olivia offered her a shoulder, and Justine leaned against it before she tried to speak again. “We need to send a message to the Mother Duchess. I’ll have to go there, talk with her, be Fixed.” Her eyes widened, as if she only then realized what she was saying. “I have to tell Mother and Father. I have to get my things in order. I have to make sure the maids know what to do. I…”

No one said anything, even as Justine trailed off into silence. The maids looked at her achingly. Olivia shot Faye a concerned glance, then gently took Justine by the arm. “Come, miss. Let’s tell your parents the news.”

Faye tried to breathe and choked on a sob. No one seemed to notice. The maids stepped around her, their skirts rustling against the tiles as they followed into the hall, leaving the half-finished dinner still bubbling and popping on the stoves.

Faye couldn’t move. She was trembling, she realized, trembling so hard her fingers were numb. Her brain looped wildly, madly, hysterically through a pair of awful, unbearable thoughts.

Her sister had been chosen by an Unending. Her sister was going to die.

Buy Links:

Evernight Teen:

http://www.evernightteen.com/justice-unending-by-elizabeth-spencer/

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MD2BSZT

About the Author:

Elizabeth Spencer is a YA fantasy author who writes action-packed adventures about magic, mystery, and very brave women. She also writes steampunk, although that’s mostly because she really, really loves big hats. Her first novel, Justice Unending, was released by Evernight Teen in November 2016. She otherwise has a very normal job as a professional editor and project manager. She lives in New England with her husband and an extremely fluffy cat.

Author Interview: Sarai Henderson

Today I’m welcoming Sarai Henderson to my blog as part of my ongoing Author Interview series!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

hunter-evernightpublishing-2016-ebookSarai Henderson: My name is Sarai Henderson. I live in Oregon, in a small town south of Portland. I’m the mother of three young boys who keep me busy and the author of HUNTER, a YA urban fantasy/paranomral about bounty hunter telepaths who work for a ruthless telepath faction.

PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

SH: My writing started after my ballet career suddenly ended when I was 18. I had always enjoyed writing when I was young, but didn’t truly come to life until that was all that was left. I wrote my first novel in my early twenties (House of Chaos) but didn’t publish it until this year, 2016. After I had my third son, I decided to write Hunter, my most recent novel and my first to be published. It took me a year of lunch breaks from work and a Twitter pitch party to land my publisher, Evernight Teen.

PW: ET is the publisher of my YA novel Manifesting Destiny! What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

SH: Hunter is a YA urban fantasy/paranormal. I love urban fantasy because I can describe the world around me, so people can see what I love and hate about places I’ve been. In Hunter, I describe how the rain falls here in the NW. Its something I actually love, but I let my main character in the book loathe it. I wanted her to portray misery in that moment and the rain really helps with that (even though it truly is a beautiful thing).

PW: Nice use of imagery and symbolism. In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

SH: Sixteen-year-old Hunter is stuck between her telepath world and the strong arm of the government where she must choose between trust and loyalty.

PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?

SH: I’ve always loved Emma Stone and her big eyes. She would be a perfect Hunter and I think I would make Chris Pratt Seeker. He has the big brother kind of vibe that Seeker is known for.

PW: I love Chris Pratt, would watch him in just about anything.

What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

SH: I’m a huge fan of Garth Nix and his Old Kingdom series. He was what drew me to epic fantasy, magic and the paranormal. Everything he writes is unique and creative. He is my favorite author.

PW: What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

SH: I’m reading Allegient right now, finishing up the series before I see the last movie. I’m also working through the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I’ve been reading those books for 10 years now and I’m only on Book 4. That’s some deep stuff.

PW: I read the first couple Wheel of Time books but felt overwhelmed, not up to the task. I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to read something so densely, lushly written. I stand in awe of Jordan’s world building, and in awe of you for attempting to read it!

Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

SH: My process is pretty much word vomit. I sit in my car on my lunch break from work and write until my hand cramps. I can usually come up with a pretty good plot in my first draft that needs some small tweaking in the next draft. Its worked for me so far.

PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

SH: My first draft takes me about a month and a half, but the following drafts can take me another six months or so. I usually consider a novel done when I can’t stand reading it any longer.

PW: How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

SH: This book was unusual when it came to the submission process. I finished it just in time to participate in Pit2Pub, a Twitter pitch party by Kristin D. Van Risseghem. My first 40-character pitch received eight requests, one of them happened to be my current publisher, Evernight Teen. I was researching all the publishers that had shown interest in my novel when I got a message on Twitter from Evernight Teen saying that they were really interested in my novel and how much they wanted me to submit to them, so I did. They were the second query I made with this new manuscript. A few months later, Hunter was published.

PW: I had a similar experience with Manifesting Destiny. What are you working on now?

SH: Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Hunter called Seeker. It’s going to be telepaths against telepaths with a new threat and blast from Hunter’s past. Who knows what will happen? Well, I guess I do 🙂

PW: What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

SH: Don’t give up. I spent several years trying to publish my first manuscript and only two tries to publish my second. Anything can happen. You never know.

PW: Good advice. Seems like if the first book doesn’t sell, write something else and try again.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

SH: I dream big and want to have my Hunter series turned into a movie, but in reality, I think I’ll have my current series done and started on another. Hopefully, a little better known than I am now.

PW: I’ve been trying to get one of my novels turned into a movie for over three years now, but the industry is a tough nut to crack. Good luck with your work!

Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

SH: My favorite quote is from the movie ThorL “You want me to put down the hammer?” I use it for everything. “You want me to put down the tuna sandwich… Laundry… Three-year-old child.” It works for everything….

PW: Ha! Love it! Favorite color:

SH: Orange!

PW: Favorite TV show:

SH: The Walking Dead

PW: Favorite movie:

SH: Fifth Element… Lelu Dallas, multi pass.

PW: Oh my God, we say that around our house all the time! Okay, someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

SH: My favorite Chrises: Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth, Pine.

PW: Good taste! And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

SH:
http://www.exballerina.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7708229.Sarai_Henderson
https://www.amazon.com/Sarai-Henderson/e/B01H7MFNUA/
https://twitter.com/shendersonbooks
https://www.facebook.com/authorSarai/
https://www.pinterest.com/udjb1984/
https://www.instagram.com/exballerina/?hl=en

Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Hunter belongs to the Telepathic Alliance for the Latent or Newly manifested, otherwise known as Talon, a bounty hunter community known for their ruthless tactics. Her latest mission in San Diego was supposed to be a piece of cake, but when the job takes a treacherous and deadly turn, not even her telepathic abilities could have warned her of the dangers lurking around the corner.

There is only one place for Hunter to go, and that is straight into the hands of the government and their Psychic Intelligence Team, but even the “Normal” world isn’t safe. With each passing hour throwing her deeper into the game of life and death, Hunter must decide who to trust before this mission becomes her last.

Buy Links:

http://www.evernightteen.com/hunter-by-sarai-henderson/

https://www.amazon.com/Hunter-Sarai-Henderson-ebook/dp/B01I4MKWRG/

saraihendersonAbout the Author:

Sarai Henderson is a retired ballerina from Oregon City, Oregon, where she spends most her time chasing down her three rambunctious boys and writing on her lunch break at work. She enjoys DIY projects, Photography and writing on her blog about life as a mother of an autistic son. Find her online at www.exballerina.com or on Twitter @Shendersonbooks.

Character Interview: Peter Stoller

In advance of the Virtual Book Fair this weekend, I thought I’d post this interview with Peter Stoller. And hey! You can grab his novel for just 99 cents on Amazon!

1. Name: Peter Stoller
2. Role: Protagonist
3. Age: 36
4. Description: Tall, thin, ash blond hair, grey eyes, sharp features
5. Nickname: n/a
6. Occupation: Intelligence Agent
7. Location: London
8. Goal in life: to take over the Agency when my boss retires
9. Motto: Quod me nutrit me destruit (that which nourishes me destroys [me])
10. Family: Estranged mother, deceased father, deceased older brother
11. Best friend: Charles
12. Current conflict: Charles is accused of counterespionage, and Peter must find out the truth
13. Favorite Food: Ice cream
14. Addictions: Work
15. Pet Peeve: Inefficiency
16. Favorite Hobby: I don’t think I have any.
17. What do you do for fun? . . . Work?
18. Favorite childhood memory: Time spent with my brother. He always let me tag along.
19. Dream job: Doing what I do.
20. Favorite part of your day: Getting into the office before everyone else and settling in.
21. Pessimist, Optimist, or Realist: Realist, I think.
22. Beverage of choice: Tea.
23. Most annoying person in your life: Depends on the day. There are a number of candidates. Miranda, Jules, Gamby… Trevor is always near the top of the list.
24. Taken or single? Any love interests? Taken, very taken.
25. Pets: None, unless Mr. Martin counts.
26. Biggest Fear: Failure. On any front.
27. Guilty Pleasure: A gentleman doesn’t discuss it.
28. Most embarrassing moment: My first kiss. Any and every first kiss, come to think of it. That’s always an awkward moment.
29. Greatest Strength: Loyalty.
30. Greatest Weakness: Loyalty.
31. Who do you most admire? Gordon Lessenby
32. Are you keeping any secrets? It’s my job to keep secrets.
33. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Still doing my job in whatever capacity I’m most needed.
34. Advice for the reader as they follow you through your journey? It’s in my nature to withhold information. Probably best to keep that in mind.

Author Interview: Kristen Morie-Osisek

The-Sixth-Event-evernightpublishing-JayAheer2016-finalimage Today I’m welcoming author Kristen Morie-Osisek to the blog as part of my author interview series!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

Kristen Morie-Osisek: My name is Kristen Morie-Osisek, and I’m currently living in Connecticut. I have a Ph.D. in psychology, but I’ve also long been interested in prehistory and paleontology, which is what led me to write my book, The Sixth Event.

PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

KMO: Back in probably fourth or fifth grade, I was bitten by the writing bug. I had always been a voracious reader, and it was around the time I discovered the fantasy genre that I realized I could write stories of my own. I started trying to write by hand, and because I have a very hard time doing that, it didn’t really go anywhere. Once I learned to touch type, though, I began writing short descriptive scenes and short stories. Finally, once I had free time in college, I finished an entire novel. From there, I just kept going. I have to say that it all started through reading—I don’t think I would have begun had I not been a huge reader as a kid.

PW: I think many writers do begin as readers, or at least good writers do. Writers who don’t read don’t write all that well in my experience.

What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

KMO: The Sixth Event actually started life as a short story. I had always had the idea of someone waking up at a previous moment in their life at much younger age and trying to change something that will happen in the future. I brought a draft of that story to a creative writing class in college, and while it needed work, everyone really liked the concept, so I kept it in my back pocket. In addition, I’ve always been fascinated by extinct animals—everything from the dinosaurs to giant mammals in the ice age. I combined the two ideas into one in The Sixth Event, where the main character gets thrown back in time to prevent another planet-wide extinction event. The idea evolved from there.

PW: Sounds fascinating. In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

KMO: Hmm… probably something like “This time, extinction isn’t the end.”

PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?

KMO: This one’s a toughie since I don’t know actors or actresses very well. I would probably want new talent to come in! The characters are very down-to-earth, so it’d be neat to get some new up-and-coming actors to play the roles.

PW: What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

KMO: My favorite book of all time is TailChaser’s Song, by Tad Williams. Its animal fantasy about a cat and cat society. Think Warriors but darker and more fantastical. As for favorite authors, I love Mercedes Lackey and Anne McAffrey. Sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite genres.

PW: Oh my God, I love Tailchaser’s Song! I read Watership Down and then Tailchaser and just love them both. What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

KMO: At the moment, I’m reading The Storyteller Trilogy by Sue Harrison, which is fiction that follows Native American tribes that takes place in Alaska during the ice age, 800 years ago. It’s a really fun look back at the past. Up next, I intend to read some more YA, including the Maze Runner series, which I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

PW: Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

KMO: I tend to write as inspiration strikes, sitting on my couch in between playing video games. I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to write at least 400 words a day.

PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

KMO: I’m a bit on the slow side—a book a year is my likely rate, with novellas or short stories added in on the side. As for readiness, I typically will finish the book, then take a break from it for a few months before going back and editing. Once a beta reader takes a look and I do one last editing pass, I call it ready.

PW: How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

KMO: The Sixth Event had a lot of near misses before I heard the unfortunate news that no one wanted dystopian or apocalyptic books any longer. After about a hundred queries and 25 or so full requests, and two editor requests, I went with small presses. Evernight Teen snapped it up very quickly!

PW: I had a similar experience with Manifesting Destiny. What are you working on now?

KMO: I have a YA portal fantasy series called A Ring of Stones in the works. Book 1 is complete and Book 2 is in the works, out of what will likely be three or four books. In Book 1, a young girl, Ryn, discovers she can walk through the veil between worlds and enter the fairy realm at will. The fairy world was closed off from the human world centuries ago, and Ryn has to figure out why she can travel the two worlds and how to protect the human world from powerful fairies who want to harm it.

PW: Cool! I keep hearing “portal fantasy” getting thrown around these days and had to look it up. Seems to mean a story that involves a magical doorway of some kind (in case anyone else was wondering).

What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

KMO: Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses, so it would depend on the person, but the old clichés still work. Practice makes perfect. Write every day. And most importantly, keep reading! Reading and enjoying other people’s books is the best way to keep your own creative juices flowing.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

KMO: Given academia these days, probably scrambling for grant money. 😛 Seriously though, I hope to keep finding success. I want to put out my YA portal fantasy with Evernight Teen, and hopefully have the whole series out by then!

PW: Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

KMO: This was said at my middle school graduation (class of 2000!). It’s a cliché saying, but I love it. “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.”

PW: Favorite color:

KMO: Probably green.

PW: Favorite TV show:

KMO: I love The Simpsons, but the TV show that will always give me warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings is Dinosaurs. Yep, the old puppet show. And if we include anime, Trigun! I love space westerns.

PW: “Not the Mama!” (Nod to those who get it.) Favorite movie:

KMO: There are so many good ones! I think the most recent would likely be Rise of the Guardians.

PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

KMO: Einstein. I’d love to chat about the history of the universe with him.

PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

KMO: My website, which I should update more often, can be found here: http://sfwrites.blogspot.com/

The Sixth Event can be bought from Evernight Teen here: http://www.evernightteen.com/the-sixth-event-by-kristen-morie-osisek/
Or at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sixth-Event-Kristen-Morie-Osisek-ebook/dp/B01FEEITZ4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472521826&sr=8-1

Blurb:

During Raquel’s first semester of college, she witnesses the end of the world, only to wake up in her old room at her parents’ house two years in the past. Even worse, it seems she’s the only one who remembers—until Chris Lyley, a boy Raquel always thought was a loser, tells her he remembers the catastrophe.

Before long, they both discover new abilities. They’re able to understand any language and teleport through time and space. If Raquel and Chris can figure out what caused the end of their world, maybe they can stop it.