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YALLFest Interview with Melissa de la Cruz

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Up today is Melissa de la Cruz, another New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, who has written a bunch of acclaimed books for both teens and adults. Melissa grew up in Manila before moving to San Francisco for high school and now lives in LA. Her latest book is Frozen: Heart of Dread, the first of a trilogy set in a dystopian world blanketed in ice. But Melissa’s exciting news is that her book Witches of East End has been turned into a television series by Lifetime and will be premiering this Sunday (Oct 6th) at 10pm, so tune in for witchy fun!
Melissa de la Cruz Frozen
And now for the Q&A with Melissa:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Fear. Sometimes rage. I find that to truly focus I need to feel panic, and then suddenly everything in my manuscript becomes clear. I work best under duress, which is something my editors have learned and they're quite good at instilling fear in me. :-) I appreciate that! I also work well with many distractions, I think it's because I had a day job for nine years and had to write my books in the middle of doing my real work.
 
Describe your book in 5 words.
Post-apocalyptic. Zombie. Dragon. Pirate. Fantasy.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first, definitely.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
To introduce the love interest in the first 30 pages, not that specifically but learning that there was CRAFTING involved in writing a novel, not just voice.
 
What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Harry Potter. Because! I don't think I have to explain.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1. I was a child model.
2. My favorite One Direction guy was Harry, but now it is Louis.
3. I have a Maltese named Mimi. She is not named for Mimi Force, our kid named her.
4. I learned to drive at 34.
5. I like savory treats better than sweet.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
In a cubicle, surrounded by softly ringing phones and people murmuring. Sadly this is no longer possible for me.
 
What are you working on now?
My new series THE RING AND THE CROWN coming next spring from Disney-Hyperion.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
YA Fantasy and Paranormal. My favorite genre to read is "literary" fiction, but I would have to say I really enjoy bestsellers just as much, I like popular fiction, no matter what genre, I like to read what a lot of people are reading and take the pulse of the culture. But for my own taste, I love smart angry women writers like Lionel Shriver and Kate Christensen. Also cookbook memoirs.
 
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel? When we've sold it!
 
You can learn more about Melissa at her website, on her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Melissa’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:
Cinda Williams Chima                       Lauren Oliver
CJ Lyons                                          Sean Williams
Rainbow Rowell                                Ransom Riggs
Veronica Rossi                                  Kami Garcia

YALLFest Interview with Kami Garcia

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today’s author is extra awesome because she is actually one of the founders of YALLFest, so we give a hearty welcome and a giant THANK YOU to Kami Garcia for creating such a fabulous festival. Kami is also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creature series – the books have been on all kinds of ‘best of’ lists and the first one was made into a movie that released in February. Kami is currently working on her new The Legion series about a secret society of ghost hunters formed to protect the world from a vengeful demon. The first book Unbreakable is releasing tomorrow (Oct 1st), so happy book birthday!
Kami Garcia Unbreakable
And now for the Q&A with Kami:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
I need three things: my laptop, my headphones, and Diet Coke.
 
Describe your book in 5 words.
Paranormal. Ghost-hunting. Intense. Romance. Secret Societies.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1. I don’t know how to ride a bike.
2. I used to be an artist (a painter).
3. I won’t fly without my huge charm necklace that I believe will keep the plane from crashing.
4. I believe in ghosts.
5. Every time I write a book, I worry that everyone will hate it.
 
What are you working on now?
I am working on the second book in the Legion Series, the sequel to Unbreakable. Like Unbreakable, the sequel is very intense and has plenty of paranormal elements. But I think it’s even more romantic and surprising than the first book.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
My favorite genre to write is definitely urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I love to read paranormal, but I am also a huge fan of horror, crime fiction, high fantasy, and science fiction.
 
You can learn more about Kami at her website, on her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Kami’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Veronica Rossi

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today’s interview is with the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Veronica Rossi. On her website’s bio, the first random fact she lists is “I’ve never met a dog I haven’t loved,” which automatically makes her good people in my book. Because dogs are awesome. Veronica was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and now lives in Northern California. Her bestselling trilogy started with Under the Never Sky and is set in a world where the very air can kill you, and continued with Through the Ever Night, and the final installment will be Into the Still Blue releasing on January 28th. 
Veronica Rossi Under the Never Sky
And now for the Q&A with Veronica:
 
What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
Yeah, those. And all the ones in between!
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
$5. Just kidding. Um… tip… I think it’s probably to allow yourself to suck when writing early drafts. It takes away a lot of the fear of generating good material. It’s not easy to be creative when you’re judging your work.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1. In the past year, I discovered a deep love of Brussel sprouts
2. I talk to myself. Heck. Sometimes I argue with myself.
3. I’m arguing with myself about including that last point at this very moment.
4. My favorite animals are elephants.
5. Dresses with pockets make me happy.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
I usually work in my home office, but I love working in hotel rooms. No distractions!
 
What are you working on now?
Something I’m very excited about! Can’t divulge any details yet, but it’s an idea I’ve been mulling over for years.
 
You can learn more about Veronica at her website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Veronica's books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Ransom Riggs

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today’s author is Ransom Riggs, and in researching him, I have discovered that he’s just like me. Not only does he write novels, he also writes screenplays and makes short films. So, see, except for the fact that he’s a super successful New York Times bestselling author, Ransom and I are exactly alike!!! *ahem* Okay, not really, but it’s still fun to find out that he got his start with the movie-making side of storytelling. Ransom was born in Maryland, but mostly grew up in Florida, and now lives in Los Angeles. His novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about creepy children and includes even creepier photographs to make it all more haunting. 
Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
And now for the Q&A with Ransom:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Silence. My noise-cancelling headphones have become almost essential.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first. I rewrite and rewrite it a million times. The last comes easy.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
I’m six foot four. I lived on a working farm until I was five. I used to know how to cook Indian food but now I’ve forgotten. I love documentaries. One day I will conquer the moon.
 
What are you working on now?
A novel for Little, Brown the plot of which is SECRET! (Sort of, for now. But I’m really excited about it.)
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
Oh, definitely YA to write in. I read everything, lots of YA, lots of adult, nonfiction of all sorts. I even read poetry when I’m feeling ambitious. I think it’s crucial to have lots of different influences. If you only read in the genre you write in, your writing will sound like everything else that’s already out there.
 
You can learn more about Ransom at his website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Ransom’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Rainbow Rowell

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
I’m giddily excited about today’s YALLFest author because I recently finished reading Eleanor & Park, and although I haven’t had a chance to write up a Read-n-Feed post about it yet, here’s a spoiler – I LOVED it! The person responsible for this heart-wrenchingly beautiful novel is Rainbow Rowell, an author with a super-cool name living in Nebraska. Rainbow has also written two adult novels: Attachments and Landline (coming Spring 2014). Fangirl, her second YA novel, released earlier this month and is about a teen who’s so caught up in the fandom of a fictional character that she might be missing out on living her own life.
Rainbow Rowell fangirl
And now for the Q&A with Rainbow:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Lip balm.
 
Describe your book in 5 words.
FANGIRL
Earnest, snowy, swoony, minty, bookish.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
THE FIRST! The whole first page is a nightmare. I want people to just skip it. And I always end up rewriting it.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
“Just finish your book.”
 
What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. I think it would have made me feel less alone.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
At coffeeshops. In giant overstuffed chairs.
 
What are you working on now?
I’m revising my adult novel, Landline, which comes out in spring 2014, and playing with a romantic/political/tragicomic fantasy.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I write mostly contemporary. I read mostly fantasy.
 
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
All of my ideas are full-length novels. I have a hard time narrowing my scope.
 
You can learn more about Rainbow at her website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Rainbows’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Sean Williams

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today we welcome Sean Williams, a prolific author from Down Under. There must be something in the Australian air that makes award-winning words pour out of him because he’s written forty novels, eighty short stories, and even a sci-fi musical. Say what?!? The New York Times bestselling author writes books for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers, plus he writes across multiple genres, with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy. His YA thriller, Twinmaker, releases on November 5th and is a near-future tale of technology, identity, and the lengths one girl will go to save her best friend.
Sean Williams Twinmakers
And now for the Q&A with Sean:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
The right music. And chocolate as a reward when I finish.
 
Describe your book in 5 words.
Jump meets Uglies. But different.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first line is often the hardest to write, but I like a good challenge. The line I like writing the least is the last because it means I have a whole load of rewriting ahead of me.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Give up. If you can do that, you’ll be happier and probably better off as a result. If you can’t, then you know writing is exactly the right thing for you!
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1) I live in Adelaide, South Australia, a place that’s home to about a million other people but somehow feels like a small town, which is why I love it.
2) I still think music from the 1980s is cool.
3) My stepson has situs invertus, which means his heart is on the wrong side of his body. That’s not really about me, but it is pretty random.
4) I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who.
5) I’m minding a pair of green tree frogs, Skipper and Jumpy, for a young friend while she’s overseas with her family. You can see pictures of them on my Facebook page.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
In my study, a lovely upstairs nook containing all my favorite book-related things, but I’ve trained myself to write anywhere as long as I have my headphones and some music. I quite like writing in hotels, probably because someone else does all the household chores.
 
What are you working on now?
Crashland, the sequel to Twinmaker.
 
You can learn more about Sean at his website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Sean’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with CJ Lyons

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
We’re kicking off the interviews this week with author CJ Lyons, a girl from Pennsylvania who grew up to be a pediatric ER doctor. But CJ had always been a storyteller, so after seventeen years of saving lives, she took the leap and became a full-time writer – a gamble that paid off since she's now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books for adults that she classifies as ‘thrillers with heart.’ On November 5th, CJ is debuting her first YA novel, called Broken, about a teen with a rare and untreatable heart condition who discovers something sinister happening at her high school.
 Broken
And now for the Q&A with CJ:
 
Describe your book in 5 words:
Girl dying of broken heart (literally)
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first. I’ll often return to it over and over again until I’ve sliced and diced and fine-honed it to that perfect combination of intrigue, visceral reaction, and emotional connection with the reader.
 
What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Code Name Verity because it is so emotionally honest and inspiring, empowering, not to mention gut-wrenching. Really brings the era to life as well as the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
When I was a kid I worked summer stock theatre and was actually a theatre major undergrad before switching to pre-med. I’ve had two hard landings in helicopters while working as a flight doc. I survived rampaging Cape Horn Buffalo and a pack of wild baboons, not to mention a leopard (he’s already eaten) while hiking in Hells Gate Park in Kenya. I’m a Capricorn. I diagnosed my niece with the heart condition that’s at the center of my YA thriller, BROKEN.
 
What are you working on now?
DAMAGED, my next YA thriller, due out in 2014. It deals with the really tough topic of abuse and coercion and is the most difficult book I’ve ever tackled—there have been times while writing when I was literally in tears as I typed.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I created my own genre of Thrillers with Heart—I love writing fast paced stories with raising stakes but centered on the emotional heart of an evolving relationship. As for reading, I read almost every genre but especially love YA, magical realism, and thrillers. As long as a story grabs me by the throat and won’t let me go because I’m too worried about what the characters are going through, I’ll read it and love it.
 
You can learn more about CJ at her website, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of CJ’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Lauren Oliver

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today’s featured author is Lauren Oliver, a New York born and bred gal, whose books have not only been New York Times bestsellers but have also been on just about every other noteworthy list as well. Seriously, way too many accolades to mention in one blog post. Her YA books include Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy (as well as other stories set in the world of Delirium), and she’s also written books for younger readers like Liesl & Po and The Spindlers.
Lauren Oliver  Requiem
And now for the Q&A with Lauren:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Coffee!
 
What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
Honestly, neither. It’s just every single line in between that feels impossible.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Aim for truth and beauty will follow.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
I have fourteen tattoos. I can fall asleep any time, any place. I have a phobia of worms. I hate fruit. I wrote my first novel largely on my Blackberry.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
In my sunroom in upstate New York.
 
What are you working on now?
Two different middle grade books and an untitled young adult novel that my agent described as “the most disturbing thing he’s ever read.” Oops!
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I love realistic books that include just a hint of fantasy.
 
You can learn more about Lauren at her website, on her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Lauren’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:
 

YALLFest Interview with Cinda Williams Chima

I’m so happy pumpkin spice lattes are finally here – not only because they are super yummy but also because fall’s arrival means YALLFest is just around the corner. I had so much fun at YALLFest the past two years, and they have another great lineup of YA authors appearing on November 9th, 2013 in Charleston, SC.  
YALLFest
Adding to my excitement? YALLFest has selected my blog to help with hosting author interviews as part of the countdown to the main event. Whoo hoo! Each week I’ll share interviews with the fabulous authors appearing at YALLFest, and I can’t wait to find out more about them.
 
First up is Cinda Williams Chima, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author from Ohio. She’s written a high fantasy series called the Seven Realms, which is four books set in the queendom of the Fells. She’s also written the Heir Chronicles, which is a contemporary fantasy series set in Ohio. There are currently three of those, with the fourth book The Enchanter Heir releasing on October 1, 2013.
Cinda Williams Chima The Enchanter Heir
And now for the Q&A with Cinda:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
A computer
 
Describe your book in 5 words
Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
Usually the lines in between.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Give yourself permission to write badly.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1.  I am a twin.
2.  I am named after a character in a novel.
3.  I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.
4.  I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.
5.  I used to be in a folk music band.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
On a balcony overlooking the ocean.
 
What are you working on now?
I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.
 
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
When I’m finished with a full-length novel. 
 
You can find out more about Cinda at her website, on her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Cinda’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?

Where Things Come Back - Read-n-Feed

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for the signed copy of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. There were lots of fun answers to the question of what animal people would like to be spliced with, but birds and felines were the clear winners. From reading the answers, I think if we could all be flying cats, most of us would be pretty darn happy! 
 
So now, the moment you’ve been waiting for . . . according to Rafflecopter, the winner is . . . Wayne D. Congratulations! I’ll send you an email to get your address.
 
For today’s Read-n-Feed post, I'm jumping back to last year's YALLFest and featuring one of the authors I saw there.
 
Category: Young Adult
Genre(s): contemporary literary
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2011)
Pages: 228
Awards: Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature (2012) and William C. Morris YA Debut Award(2012)
Amazon Description: 
In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, he is forced to examine everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.
 
Meanwhile, the crisis of faith spawned by a young missionary’s disillusion in Africa prompts a frantic search for meaning that has far-reaching consequences. As distant as the two stories initially seem, they are woven together through masterful plotting and merge in a surprising and harrowing climax.
 
This extraordinary tale from a rare literary voice finds wonder in the ordinary and illuminates the hope of second chances.
 
Since I’m more of a thrills-and-chills-plot-driven kinda gal, I don’t read literary fiction as often as I probably should (I also usually skip my veggies to guarantee room for dessert). But I saw John Corey Whaley speak as part of the History & Mystery panel at YALLFest, and he was so charming and adorable as the lone dude on a panel of kick-butt women (like Robin Wasserman and Sarah Rees Brennan) that I decided to add his book to my frightfully high TBR pile.
 
After reading Where Things Come Back, my writing lesson is to experiment more with POV and tenses, since Corey uses various configurations within his novel. The odd numbered chapters are written in first person past tense by the protagonist Cullen. But at certain points Corey strategically breaks the strict POV/tense rules that are drummed into writers’ heads: when Cullen relays wisdom and advice given to him by the mysterious Dr. Webb, it is in first person present tense; and then there are other sections that always start with “When one is” which explain in third person present tense what Cullen is doing (sneaking out the window, lying on the floor, etc.) and describe the elaborate scenario he imagines as he does it.
 
As for the even numbered chapters, they are written in third person past tense and cycle through the POVs of several seemingly unrelated characters. They wouldn’t be included if they weren’t going to ultimately converge with Cullen’s story, but seeing how all the pieces eventually fit together is itself a lesson about how the most random things (such as walking out of a boring movie) can have huge repercussions on many lives down the road. 
 
At first the various POV/tense switches were a tad confusing, but I eventually settled into the rhythm, and as I did I realized it was the rhythm of a classic southern storyteller. Corey captured on the page the way my grandparents used to tell us stories in a languid manner, winding from one part of the story to the next, summarizing some parts, sharing small, quirky details at other parts, and along the way switching tenses and POVs as needed to best tell an entertaining tale. Instead of boxing himself into one POV and tense, Corey manipulated them to give his novel a particular voice.
 
I tend to gravitate to first person past tense in my writing, but this shows me how important it is to play around with the various options to give a different sound and feel to my stories. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go hog wild and use second person!
 
If you’ve read Where Things Come Back, what did you think? What POV and tense do you usually use in your writing? Do you ever use more than one in a story?