There’s something always a bit fun about paranormal stories, particularly in October!
No Angel by Helen Keeble
Rafael Angelos just got handed the greatest gift any teenage boy could ever dream of. Upon arriving at his new boarding school for senior year, he discovered that he is the ONLY male student. But what should have been a godsend isn’t exactly heaven on Earth.
Raffi’s about to learn that St. Mary’s is actually a hub for demons-and that he was summoned to the school by someone expecting him to save the day. Raffi knows he’s no angel-but it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s some higher plan at work when he wakes up one morning to discover a glowing circle around his head.
Helen Keeble’s debut novel, Fang Girl, has been praised for its pitch-perfect teen voice, and VOYA called it “refreshing and reminiscent of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series.” No Angel brings you angels and demons like you’ve never seen them-complete with the wry humor of Vladimir Tod, sinfully irreverent romance, and some hilariously demonic teenage dilemmas.
Interview with Helen Keeble about writing
1. Your first book, Fang Girl, was a paranormal comedy about a vampire fan girl who becomes a real vampire. Is No Angel a sequel?
No, they’re completely unrelated – no characters from Fang Girl show up in No Angel. There isn’t any mention of vampires in No Angel, and Fang Girl didn’t have any angels or demons in it, so the jury is out as to whether they’re even set in the same world. (Even I haven’t quite made up my mind on that one)
However, for those who enjoyed Fang Girl, I can promise that No Angel has the same sense of humor, including affectionate mockery of ridiculous paranormal romance tropes! Basically, what I do to vampires in Fang Girl, I do to angels in No Angel.
2. What was the hardest part of writing No Angel?
Working to a deadline! Because I had a two-book contract with HarperTeen (the first being Fang Girl), I actually had a deadline for No Angel before I’d written a single word, or even worked out what the story was going to be about! A very different experience from slowly writing Fang Girl in spare hours over the course of several years, with no-one but myself caring whether or not it was ever finished…
3. How did you become a writer?
The short answer is that I wrote a lot of stuff, and eventually got good enough (and lucky enough) to find someone that would pay me for it.
The longer answer is that I’ve always written for my own amusement, but never let anyone read it until I went to university and started writing fanfic based on a role-playing game called Legend of the Five Rings. It was a rather unusual fanfic community, because people generally used the game’s setting but invented their own original characters rather than writing stories about pre-existing characters (like Harry Potter or Twilight fanfic tends to do). It gave me a lot of practice in inventing imaginary people! I then slowly drifted into writing completely original stories, and was eventually lucky enough to be able to sell some to magazines. After a few successes with short stories, and in a fit of pique at the prevalence of both Twighlight-inspired novels in bookstores and Twilight-bashing articles in newspapers, I decided to try writing a novel… and that was Fang Girl!
So now, somewhat to my bemusement, I seem to have become a YA comedy author. I still blink at my own books sitting on my bookcase, amazed that they are really real.
4. Are you a full-time writer?
I wish! No, like most writers I have a day job – I’m an industrial software engineer. It is a very awesome career (where else do you get to play with oil rigs and nuclear power plants) but does mean I have to squeeze my writings into the evenings. I have a bad habit of forgetting to go to bed, so I’ll often be typing away at my laptop well into the small hours of the morning.
5. Fun fact about writing No Angel?
In order to keep track of where all my characters were at different times in the school day, I made timetables for them in Google Calendar… and then forgot to delete the calendars after I’d finished the book. I was greatly puzzled when Google started bombarding me with reminders to get to my history class.
6. Are you a pantser (just sit down and write) or a plotter (outline everything first)?
I used to be a total pantser (the first draft of Fang Girl was written in a month, for NaNoWriMo), but these days I’m more of a plotter. It’s something of a necessity when working to a deadline, with an editor who wants to make sure you’ve actually got a plan, and are not just going to kill all the characters in the last chapter out of despair.
7. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Apart from the day job, sleeping, and taking care of my family? I read everything I can get my hands on, especially fantasy and science fiction books. I’m also very into board games of all descriptions, from light family fun like Survive! and Kingdon Builder through to heavy strategic games like Tzol’kin or Puerto Rico. In any spare moments, I like to dabble in crafts – I recently learned to knit dolls and dolls’ clothes, and am now experimenting with making jewelry out of resin and plastic. If only there were more hours in the day!
8. What books make you laugh out loud?
I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. They’re an amazing blend of so many different types of comedy: parody, political satire, character-driven, situational, wordplay, puns… even slapstick! He’s a master of messing with reader expectation to comic effect. I think my very favorite example of this in the entire series is the character in Thief of Time who’s dialogue is all “—-ing” this and “—-ing” that… but late in the book we find out (spoiler alert, look away now!) that all he’s doing is pausing and saying “ing”. Genius!
Other writers I can consistently rely on to make me giggle are Sarah Rees Brennan (though she’ll make you laugh in one paragraph and stomp on your heart in the next) and Louis McMaster Bujold (who also manages to mix high emotional stakes with very witty characters). I’m also very fond of the classic P. G. Wodehouse stories, although some of them have, erm, really not aged very well (why hello there, casual racism).
9. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on now?
I’m currently writing a YA dystopian comedy. No, really. If anything is ripe for a parody, it’s the whole “THE GOVERNMENT CONTROLS X AND Y IS BANNED!!” genre! The working title is Escaping Utopia, and it’s set in an idyllic far-future society where there is no war or crime as everyone’s needs are perfectly fulfilled by government-issued androids called Soulmates. Unfortunately for one 16 year old boy, his brand-new Soulmate tries to kill him on sight. Hijinks ensue!
The story also features a grumpy girl revolutionary hacker, a ridiculous number of huge planet-shaking conspiracies, and a bubblegum-pink battle robot named Candi who just wants to be loved. Let’s just say I’m having a lot of fun with this one!
About the Author:
Helen Keeble is not, and never has been, a vampire. She has however been a teenager. She grew up partly in America and partly in England, which has left her with an unidentifiable accent and a fondness for peanut butter crackers washed down with a nice cup of tea. She now lives in West Sussex, England, with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a variable number of fish. To the best of her knowledge, none of the fish are undead.
Her first novel, a YA vampire comedy called FANG GIRL, is out 11th Sept 2012, from HarperTeen. She also has another YA paranormal comedy novel (provisionally titled NO ANGEL) scheduled for Sept 2013.
One winner (open internationally) can win a signed copy of No Angel! To enter, head on over to this rafflecopter! Good luck!