Interview and Giveaway: No Angel by Helen Keeble

There’s something always a bit fun about paranormal stories, particularly in October!

No Angel by Helen Keeble17195830

Published: October 8th 2013 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult paranormal
Pages: 352
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Synopsis:

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!

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=141807f264a7b7db&attid=0.2&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1381159441072&sads=5bxFr4MMX7Zd7iFMGGQyiJ3p9IwAbout 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.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway!

One winner (open internationally) can win a signed copy of No Angel! To enter, head on over to this rafflecopter! Good luck!

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Giveaway and Interview with Lenore Appelhans, Author of The Memory of After

Debut Authors Bash at yareads.com

Lenore and I!

Lenore and I!

So YAReads has organized this amazing 2013 Debut Authors Bash. I am super excited that I was paired with Lenore Appelhans. I listened to the audiobook of The Memory of After (when it was named Level 2) and really liked it. It was one of those audiobooks that I sat out in my car for longer than necessary to keep listening.

Then, Lenore was awesome and in town and joined the YADC group (a lovely group of people in the DC Metro area that enjoy books, specifically young adult) at a dinner in DC.  I was able to meet her and even had a picture taken! I am slowly coming to the realization that authors are just people too, but I don’t think I will ever get over the excitement of meeting an author, especially one of a book I enjoyed. It really does take a lot to write and finish a book.

Haven’t heard of The Memory of After? Here’s some information on it before we get to the interview.

The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans

Published: September 3rd 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published January 15th 2013 as Level 2)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Dystopia
Pages: 304
Buy it!

12614754Synopsis:

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

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And, keep your eye open next year for the sequel, Chasing Before!

So, without anymore preamble, here is my interview with Lenore!

I have described the setting of Level 2 as ‘a kind of dystopian purgatory’. How would you describe your book’s setting in five or less words?
Your setting description is pretty accurate. I’d probably say “Memory chambers in the afterlife” since the memory chambers are the hook of the setting.

Which memory would you revisit the most if you were a resident of Level 2?
I would compile top 10 lists like Felicia did. So my top 10 travel memories, top 10 concerts, top ten family vacations, that sort of thing. I like the idea of being able to organize memories into playlists.

I’ve read that you like playlists for books. What is your Level 2 music playlist?
Yes! See? Obsession with playlists! You can see my entire Level 2 playlist here (link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYf-ELpNqYRBOBsa03NXsepn2xbuoVULI )

I don’t listen to music while I write, but I do have certain songs I’ll listen to before writing scenes that help me get into the right mood. Music has such power to convey emotion, and I really try to bring some of that atmosphere into my writing.

I just turned in revisions for the sequel, Chasing Before, and two days before the deadline, I downloaded Bastille’s debut album Bad Blood. It is insane how many of the themes their songs share with Chasing Before. I am convinced we are sharing a muse.

Felicia’s mother is a Foreign Service officer, which means that her family moves to different countries every few years. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to or would want to travel to?
I’m very sloth fixated at the moment, so I really want to go to the sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Ruins of ancient cultures fascinate me and some of my favorite places to visit have been Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Tikal in Guatemala (well, all except for the killer mosquitos). I also love visiting natural wonders and was blown away by Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), the fjords of Norway, black sand beaches of Iceland, the natural rock labyrinth of Gory Stolowe (Poland), and gosh I could go on and on.

As far as urban areas, I love NYC!

The structure of Level 2 definitely seems to be closely modeled after internet and social media trends. Is there someone you think would have the most popular memories?
I recently wrote a guest post for Authors are Rockstars about why there are no celebrities in Level 2. (link: http://scottreadsit.blogspot.de/2013/08/lenore-appelhans-is-rockstar-giveaway.html ) So aside from celebrities, I think the most popular memories would be from people who take joy in life.  Even the most spectacular sites or unique experiences would not be much fun to relive from a jaded, bored and/or grumpy perspective.

The story alternates between Felicia in Level 2 and the memories that she experiences. Did this require you to outline the story or did the story just come together as you were writing it?
I had an outline of the memories because they were the most complicated part of the story (two separate timelines and not always in chronological order).  Adding tags and memory numbers to each memory was a way to give them more structure.

I free wrote the Level 2 sections in the first draft and let the characters guide me. Of course there had to be a reason for Felicia to view a particular memory at a particular point in the story, and it was a great exercise to have to figure out those reasons.

Giveaway!

Lenore is also offering one paperback copy of The Memory of After! And thanks to the awesome timing of our dinner, I have signed The Memory of After bookmarks to give out to even more potential winners! This giveaway is for US only. To enter, please go to this rafflecopter! Good luck!

Interview with Josh Grayson, Author of Sia

18482726Sia by Josh Grayson

Expected Publication: November 20th 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Synopsis:

When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

Interview:

If you could fly anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
Italy, simply because it’s always ranked as having the best food in the world. Its beaches are nice too. I’ve Googled it.

What is your favorite genre to read/write?
Young adult (YA), because those stories carry universal themes we can all relate to, a peek into the lives of characters who are more intriguing, real, and raw.

What is one silly fact about you?
I can mimic Enrique Iglesias’s voice pretty well. I sang “Hero” at a friend’s birthday party once and received an enthusiastic response. Some applauded, others laughed. Overall, though, I felt good about my performance.

What got you started on your writing journey?
My move from Massachusetts (where I’d lived most of my life) to Virginia. The first year here was difficult. I was alone, depressed, and in completely new surroundings. But it was here in the South that I began seeing all these stories in my head, and that my “writing gene” got activated. So it seems the old saying is true, everything does happens for a reason.

Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance?
I don’t choose, per se. I just write whatever I see in my head. And so far, all the romantic parts have been sweet and clean, which is fine with me.

What other things do you have planned with your writing for the rest of the year 2013?
I’m working on another YA novel that Sia fans should enjoy as well. If things go

About the Author:https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=1410f97a06b9830b&attid=0.5&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1379356740474&sads=x_ibZVHmS5oAERpZm-cfyGNu6tA

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Blog Tour: Interview with M.M. Hall, Author of Whispered Truth and a Review

Whispered Truth by M.M. Hall Published: March 26th 2013 by Molly M Hall Format/Source: eBook for Tour Genre: Historical mystery Synopsis: In 1911, England hovers on the cusp of change. A new king waits to be crowned. Women and the … Continue reading