Category Archives: Author Interview

Behind the Bill: Laura Langston

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1. What was your favourite book growing up?

I can’t pick just one. I remember being enthralled with the book of short stories my grandmother gave me at Christmas when I was maybe eight. A Collection of Stories for Girls I think it was called. By the time I was 11, I was hooked on Nancy Drew and I’d fallen in love with a series of Sue Barton nurse books too. She had red hair (how glamorous!) and helped save lives (how meaningful!). My next big love was a book called Mrs. Mike. In it, a 16 year old Boston girl moves to the Canadian wilderness and falls in love with a Mountie. It was a wonderful story with themes of overcoming hardship, resilience and living a life of purpose. In my teens I went through a Russian novelist phase (Anna Karenina was a favorite) and I also loved Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice. I have eclectic taste.

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

I was in Grade Four and I wrote a short story about a girl who was trapped in a box and managed to escape (somehow) so when her parents went to open the box, it was empty. I’m sure Freud would have loved it. My teacher did. I got five out of five.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

Oh, this is such a tough question. Just one? Really? Honestly, it depends on my mood. I’d love to sit down with Paulo Coelho or Madeleine L’Engle or maybe Meg Cabot because she’s funny. Today I’d like to lunch with JoJo Moyes because I adored her novel Me Before You and it would be a total fan girl moment, plus I could pick her brain about characterization. She tackled a difficult subject and created characters who aren’t necessarily likable, yet you couldn’t help but sympathize with them. It was a love story without a traditional happy ending and it worked very, very well. I’m in awe of that kind of talent.
4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Because I spent so many months hanging out with Sloane and Isaac and I know them pretty well, I’d probably say Lexi, Sloane’s best friend. She’s a terrible hypochondriac but funny. I’d like to find out what makes her tick and why she’s so terrified of illness. I sense a story there.
5. Describe your book in 5 words.

Rich, thoughtful, absorbing and heartfelt.

langston_ArtofGettingStared_pbTHE ART OF GETTING STARED AT hits shelves September 9th across Canada!

Join in the blog tour this month! Our dedicated bloggers will be sharing their reviews along with their own thoughts on the one thing they wish they could tell their teenage selves about body image. The schedule is:

09/02 More Than Just Magic

09/03 Xpresso Reads

09/04 Chapter by Chapter

09/05 Mostly YA Lit

09/06 Padfoot’s Library

09/07 Maji Bookshelf

09/08 Pop Goes the Reader

09/09 Emilie’s Book World

09/10 Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup

09/11 Conversations of a Reading Addict 0

9/12 Addie’s Book Blog

 

Behind the Bill: Una LaMarche

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What was your favourite book growing up?

That’s such a tough question! The first book I can remember really loving was Kay Thompson’s Eloise, because I, too, am a city child—although I did not have a swanky upbringing at the Plaza Hotel, much to my chagrin. As a teenager, though, I really began to have an emotional reaction to books, and the ones that affected me most deeply were Little Women and Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends. Those two just killed me. I was so invested in the romantic relationships, I literally wrote passionate graffiti on the spines.

Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

When I was about three years old I wrote a book titled “FOOD BOOK,” in which I drew pictures of different kinds of foods. But that was really more illustration-heavy. My first truly finished work was “When Cathy Learned Sign Language,” a short story about accepting deaf people that I wrote in the first grade. My teacher laminated it and everything.

If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

 Fran Lebowitz, because she’s so quick and funny and brilliant, both on paper and in person.

If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Jaxon (the male protagonist of Like No Other), because I just love him. I wrote him as a kind of John Hughes male lead, in the tradition of John Cusack in Say Anything, that sort of nerdy guy with a whip-smart wit and a heart of gold that you can’t help but fall in love with even though he’s your best friend.

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Una is doing a Canadian blog tour this week to celebrate her book birthday! Follow along with us:
July 25 Library of Clean Reads review

July 27 More Than Just Magic review + Q&A

July 28 Sam Couture Reviews

July 29 Words of Mystery

July 30 Pop Goes the Reader review + guest post

July 31 A Lot of Loves

Aug 1 Leonicka.com

Aug 2 Emilie’s Book World

Check out Una LaMarche’s fantastic LIKE NO OTHER, available now!

Saying Goodbye to The Gypsy King

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A guest post by Maureen Fergus

I finished writing Tomorrow’s Kingdom, the final book in The Gypsy King trilogy, on a Saturday morning in early June last year. I’d stayed up until two the night before, hoping to finish it off, but when I got so tired that I had to squint to keep from seeing double, I decided that perhaps a little sleep was in order. I staggered over to the couch and collapsed. Two hours later, I was back at work. Four hours after that, my family started to wake up. As the hours slipped by, a hush fell over the house.

From time to time, my husband or one of my kids would tiptoe by and whisper, “How much do you have left to go?”

“A couple of pages,” I would murmur, my eyes glued to the screen, my fingers flying across the keyboard. “Less than a page … a paragraph … a sentence …”

Then, before I knew it, the answer was, “I’m done.”

And just like that it was over.

The feeling that came over me then was a strange mixture of tranquility and emptiness. Tranquility because I’d driven myself rather mercilessly in an effort to finish this trilogy and I could hardly believe I’d actually done it; emptiness because the kingdom of Glyndoria, its cast of characters and their destinies had been my all-consuming passion for so long that I didn’t know what I was going to do without them.

It was an adjustment, to be sure. It took a few weeks for my brain to stop feeling like a sponge that had been squeezed too hard, and a few months for me to stop repeatedly waking up during the night because I was dreaming about some particularly dramatic or tragic scene from one of the books.

Recently, I was asked which characters I missed the most now that I was finished writing the trilogy. The answer is that it can be hard to let go of characters as complicated as Persephone, as irresistible as Azriel and as deliciously evil as Mordecai, but if I’ve done my job as a writer, by the time I’ve finished a book (or in this case, a trilogy) I’ve told that part of my characters’ stories that I was meant to tell. For me, there shouldn’t be a powerful feeling of wanting to stay connected to them. Sometimes we meet people who have a profound impact on us at a certain point in our lives. Then we or they move on and our time together becomes a special and important memory — an experience that helps to shape who we are and the path our lives takes.

The characters from The Gypsy King trilogy are like this for me. There are still nights when the citizens of Glyndoria, good and evil, visit me in my dreams. But while I enjoy connecting with them again, I don’t really encourage them to linger.

Because you see, I’m working on a new young adult novel about a different boy and a different girl in a different world, and I owe these new characters and this new story nothing less than my undivided attention.

TOMORROW’S KINGDOM is available from Razorbill Canada on July 8th 2014.

Behind the Bill: Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins

Today we’re thrilled to introduce Rachel Hawkins, author of Rebel Belle and creator of sassy Southern heroine, Harper Price.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?
Roald Dahl’s Matilda was the first book that had me locking myself in my room until I’d finished it. Dark and twisty, hilarious and moving, plus a bookish heroine with SUPERPOWERS? Yes, please!
2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.
I wrote my first “book”, Skytwister, when I was in Kindergarten, and it was a truly epic piece of fiction about a unicorn and a princess. It was also about 6 pages long. I actually still have it, though, complete with a note from my teacher inside about how she hoped I’d keep making up stories for people to enjoy, which was really neat to see.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?
Agatha Christie, mostly because I want her to tell me where the heck she was back when she “disappeared” for awhile in the 30s, and also because I wouldn’t mind learning her secret to churning out that many books that fast!

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?
I would definitely choose Harper from Rebel Belle. She’s a smart, resourceful lady who loves shopping and the color pink. We’d get along famously.

5. Describe your book in five words.
Deadly Heels, Killer Queens, Shenanigans. 🙂

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Rebe Belle is on sale today! Happy Book Birthday, Rachel!

Dear Reader: A Letter From Emery Lord

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Dear Reader,

When you have a book coming out, one of the questions you get most often is: “So, what’s it about?”

I have a lot of answers: OPEN ROAD SUMMER is about best friends, about summer and travel and music. It’s about setting who are against who you want to be and trying to close that gap. It’s about all kinds of love–family and friends and yourself and the flirtation that might just become something more one day.

But, if we’re going behind-the-scenes here…the truth is, for me, this book is mostly about forgiveness.

It’s strange to me that forgiveness rarely gets talked about. No one ever says, “I like that girl. She’s really good at forgiving people.” But how and when and why to forgive? That’s one of the hardest, best things I’ve had to learn in my 20-something years.

So, OPEN ROAD SUMMER is about forgiving your family for not being perfect. Of course they’re not perfect. It doesn’t matter. They’re yours.

It’s about forgiving your best friend because, in some ways, she has what you want. It’s okay to wish that you could trade lives sometimes. She feels the same way about you. I promise.

It’s about forgiving the people in your life who bailed on or betrayed you. They hurt you. It wasn’t your choice, and that sucks. But the choice you do have? Who you’re going to be from here on out.

It’s about forgiving the girls who were bitches to you in junior high. Holding on to that bitterness doesn’t change what happened. And becoming a bitch yourself? That makes you the same as them.

Most of all, it’s about forgiving yourself. So you made a bad choice or six. Maybe you were reckless, with your choices or with others’ feelings or even with yourself. Being a teen and human is not about whether or not you’ll mess up. You will. It’s about you DO with that mess.

So, reader, thanks for taking a summer road trip with Dee, Reagan and me. I hope you see the concerts and the American landscape and the fireworks, and I hope you see yourself in one or two of the characters. But mostly, I hope it reminds you that, as our girl Taylor Swift would say, today is never too late to brand new.

Emery Lord 

Excited about OPEN ROAD SUMMER? Find out more when Emery drops by to fill out the Behind the Bill questionnaire next week! In the meantime, check out this awesome video:

Behind the Bill: Morgan Rhodes

Morgan Rhodes Author PhotoFALLING KINGDOMS, the first book in Morgan Rhodes‘ high fantasy quartet of the same name is in paperback today. We went Behind the Bill with the Canadian author to find out more about her world building and history as a writer.

What was your favourite book growing up?

The first thing that pops into my mind is the Adventure series by Enid Blyton – The Castle of Adventure being a particular stand out in my memory. My mother suggested I read these, since she loved the books as a kid. And I loved them too! I remember a pet cockatoo (which was awesome) and I remember lots of adventure and danger and mystery the kids would get themselves into. And treasure. I loved books about hidden treasure!

Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

I have a very earnest but aimless completed YA trilogy about angsty teen ghosts stuck in a small town due to a nasty curse. I absolutely loved these books and even considered self-publishing them recently…that is, until I opened them up for the first time in a decade and read them. Yikes! Nope. They would need far too much work to make them readable, but I still love the idea.

If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why? 

It would have to be J.K. Rowling since I am amazed by her success with her amazingly timeless series, her skill as a writer, and also her ongoing love of writing beyond the books that made her famous. She’s an inspiration in so many ways.

If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Out of my four main characters – Cleo, Magnus, Jonas, and Lucia – I would have to choose Magnus. He fascinates me, how he says one thing but thinks another…I wonder if he could fool me too! Plus, he strikes me as somebody who needs a friend and a hug, even if he’d never admit it.

Describe your book in five words

Battle. Betrayal. Magic. Forbidden romance.

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Dear Reader: A Letter From Megan Miranda

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Dear Readers,

I want to tell you about the genesis for Vengeance, how it became an idea and grew into a book, but the truth is that it’s all tied up in you and a book that came out two years ago. This book exists because of emails and tweets and questions you sent to me. It’s because of messages you sent to my publisher. It’s because you asked, after Fracture came out: but what happens next?

And the truth is, at first, I thought—anything. Anything happens next. That was the journey of Fracture. Delaney had to discover, for herself, what makes life worth living. I also liked to image that the characters were happy for a time. In a way, the next phase of their lives was just beginning. They had made it through.

Right before Fracture was published, I had written a short story called Eleven Minutes from Decker’s point of view about the time Delaney was trapped under the ice and the days she spent in a coma. In a lot of ways, Decker’s story was just beginning at the end of Fracture. He was a hero—the guy who rescued her from the ice. But he was also the reason she was out there in the first place, and he had a lot of guilt about that.

Eventually, there was a tipping point. Suddenly when you asked, what happens next? I started to wonder, no, really, what does happen next? And for that, I thank you. Questions have always fueled my story ideas, and so I started to think:

What if a girl survives something that should be un-survivable, but there are several other deaths in her place?

What if everyone believes a guy is a hero, but he still sees himself as the reason behind all the tragedy that happened in Fracture?

What happens in a place like Falcon Lake—where there were too many coincidences surrounding a girl that miraculously lived?

What happens to people after the falling in love stage? After they have forgiven each other for everything? Are there things that are not forgiveable?

What makes someone believe in a curse?

What happens when you do believe?

I wrote a 1-page concept, just for myself, playing around with the idea. It originally turned into a pitch, in Decker’s voice, about Falcon Lake.

This is how it started: Nobody really believes in a curse.

This is how it ended: And I believed.

I spent six years living in Boston before they won the World Series, breaking their 86-year curse. Even though I wasn’t a RedSox fan, there was something about that curse that identified the city, that bound people together. Driving down a main street, there was a sign that said “Reverse Curve.” But someone had spray-painted over it, changing it to say “Reverse The Curse.” The city let it stand, because it was such a part of the identity, even when used in jest. But how many near wins and heartbreaking losses before it stopped being a joke, becoming something people kind of really almost believed?

I think there was some sort of identity in that sign. Some claiming of the curse: It’s our curse. We suffered through that. It belongs to us. So I took that idea, but changed the stakes. What if it’s not a game, but a life? How much coincidence before you really believe? Before nobody will touch the lake?

My parents recently took a trip to Hawaii and wanted to bring back a volcanic rock for my son who’s obsessed with volcanoes. A tour guide told my parents there’s a curse. It’s bad luck. My parents don’t really believe in curses. But they left the rock. There’s something about superstition that feels too close. Too possible.

This is a story about stepping across that line. For dipping a toe in the water and suffering the consequences. For trading in lives. It’s a story about what can be hidden in a place that embraces the idea of a curse.

It’s also about Decker and Delaney, and guilt and love, and grief and hope. I hope you enjoy the journey. I loved taking it. Thank you for asking the questions that sparked the idea. This book wouldn’t exist without you.

Megan Miranda

Behind the Bill: Michael Betcherman

Michael Betcherman

Meet Michael Betcherman, Canadian author of Breakaway, a Best Book for Kids and Teens selection and a finalist for the John Spray Mystery Award. Michael’s latest YA novel Face-off is a page-turning blend of family secrets, international intrigue, and high stakes hockey action.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

Lost Horizon by James Hilton. The main character in the book ends up in Shangri-La, a monastery in Tibet. Shangri-La is a paradise on earth, where people age incredibly slowly and live for hundreds of years – as long as they don’t leave the monastery. There is much more to the book than this, but it was the idea not aging that captured my imagination when I was younger and starting to come to terms with our mortality. I liked this book so much that I chose it for my elective reading every year in high school. (I thought of adding a facetious comment about not telling my teachers I did this, but I was living in Toronto, not Shangri-La, so none of them are around.)

2. Tell us about the first piece of fiction you ever finished.

The first piece of fiction I ever wrote was a screenplay called Breach of Trust, a thriller about a young woman who falls in love with her murdered sister’s husband, only to suspect that he is the one who killed her. The villains are two lawyers who conspire to defraud the two sisters out of their inheritance. ‘They’ say you should write about what you know, but I assure you that the fact that I used to be a lawyer is purely coincidental.

3. If you could have lunch with one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Conversations with a dead person tend to be a trifle one-sided, so I’d definitely choose someone who’s alive. There are many authors I’d be honoured to lunch with but the one who jumps to mind is Stephen King. He’s an amazing writer, and I would love to know he manages to be so productive. From what I hear he’s a really good guy so hopefully he wouldn’t mind my grilling him about his creative process.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose and why?

I would definitely want to hang around with Lara. She reminds me of my daughter – feisty, witty and brave – and spending time with my daughter is one of the great pleasures of my life.

5. Describe your book in five words.

Identical twins uncover long-buried secrets.

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Thank you, Michael!

Behind the Bill: Robert Paul Weston

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We’re thrilled to introduce you to Robert Paul Weston, Canadian author of many fantastic novels, the most recent being Blues For Zoey which is celebrating it’s book birthday today!

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. When I was a kid, I liked hearing stories and telling them, but I didn’t particularly like reading. In short, I was a reluctant reader. But I was good at faking it. I learned that if a teacher saw you with a book in your hand, you could get up to all kinds of mischief and no one would suspect it was you (who broke that window). Then one day I ended up winning an audiobook of Danny, the Champion of the World and, ebing able to hear it, it became the first real novel I “read.” After hearing it, I really did read it. On paper. I’ve come to think everyone has the book that turns them into a reader. This was mine.

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

I grew up in a small town northwest of Toronto called Georgetown, Ontario. My elementary school was named after the town’s founder, a businessman named George Kennedy (not to be confused with the prolific American actor). When I was 5 or 6, the school had an anniversary. To celebrate, every one of us was issued a yellow helium balloon. Each one was affixed with a little message from us and a tag telling whoever found it to contact the school and let us know where it was found. We all released them at once and some wafted as far away as Los Angeles and Central America. Mrs. Ingalls, my teacher at the time, assigned us the task of writing a story about the adventures of our balloon. I remember mine was the longest in the class (I hadn’t yet learned the adage of quality over quantity) and features elephants and pirates and aliens and perhaps even piratical green elephants from Planet X. That was the first thing I ever wrote. It was pretty madcap. Some things don’t change.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

With these questions, I believe it’s always best to aim for the dead. Since it’s hypothetical, I definitely want to meet a ghost, someone who lived life start to finish. I want a complete picture. In that case, I choose George Orwell. He lived a far-ranging and far-reaching life and I admire his thoughtful, lifelong dedication to his craft. At the same time, his style changed, in ways that were both subtle and dramatic, between Burmese Days and 1984. I’d want to talk about that, along with his countless adventures all around the world.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

It would have to be Mortimer Yorgle from Zorgamazoo. He’ll always be my favourite, partly because he and Katrina were the first characters I brought to life through publication and also because I think we have a lot in common.

5. Describe your book in five words.

Yes, I suppose I ought to mention Blues for Zoey, since that’s what this is all about. I’ll sum it up like this: money, music, mother, murder, mystery.

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Thanks so much, Rob! Learn more about Blues for Zoey by following the blog tour, schedule below:

Feb 3 Library of Clean Reads

Feb 4 Me on Books– Guest Post

Feb 5 CanLit for Little Canadians– Q&A

Feb 6 Misbehavin’ Librarian

Feb 7 Maji Bookshelf

Feb 8 Curling Up By The Fire

Feb 9 Lost in a Great Book– Guest Post

Feb 10 The Book Wars

Behind the Bill: Robin Benway

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Today’s Behind the Bill feature is Robin Benway, author of Audrey, Wait!, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, Also Known As (the first book to feature teen spy Maggie) and Going Rogue, new this week.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

Definitely any of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I loved that Ramona wasn’t a perfect kid and was always saying and doing the wrong thing. I can remember reading “Ramona the Brave” when I was six or seven and thinking, “I feel the same way that Ramona does!”

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

The first piece of writing I ever finished was “The Pesty Little Brother,” a book I wrote in second grade about (you guessed it) my pesty little brother. Of course, now he’s grown up and about a foot taller than me and a generally lovely person. Sorry, dude.

3. If you could have lunch with one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

This is so difficult! Either Dorothy Parker, Judy Blume, George Saunders, Lemony Snicket, or Beverly Cleary. I have so many questions for all of them! We probably wouldn’t even have a chance to eat because I’d bug them the whole time.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose and why? 

Without a doubt, Angelo. Even though I created him in my imagination, I still feel like I know nothing about him. I want to know more about his childhood, growing up, what he really does in the Collective. And I’d want to know what he’s wearing and where he gets his suits made.

5. Describe your book in five words. 

Spies, friends, family, danger, love.

Going Rogue

Thank you, Robin!