Tag Archives: interview with authors

Interview: Featuring Co-Authors of Shadow Run, the YA Sci-Fi Thriller

For fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Star Wars, SHADOW RUN is an addictive, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

“A grand space adventure, chock-full of action, battles of good and evil, love, and betrayal. The world-building is excellent…Fans of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman will especially enjoy this strong debut in the YA space opera genre.” —School Library Journal

Hi friends! Random House Children’s Book imprint Delcorte Press contacted me about reviewing their new YA sci-fi SHADOW RUN and interviewing its co-authors AdriAnne  Strickland and Michael Miller in a limited online promotion. Many people know I’m a lover of all types of books, and generally with a couple of teenagers, I gather additional insight now too! As a lover of sci-fi myself in all the ways the book described I was sold on featuring it. I’ll be reviewing the copy they sent me once I get it read too. Today, I have a great interview with the authors – I’m quite impressed that AdriAnne is a commercial fisherwoman in Alaska! The concept of co-authors is also interesting. The book can be for adults or for a young adult in your life, so check it out! Enjoy the interview below and I love to hear from you, so feel free to leave comments.

Shadow Run

 

Hi AdriAnne and Michael! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am a huge fan of DUNE and FIREFLY both, and yet, my teen daughter had caught me on to books like LEGEND and SIX OF CROWS so your book, SHADOW RUN, just popped at me when I read the synopsis. Where did the inspiration come from for this book?

AdriAnne: The usual sci-fi classics like Star Wars, Firefly, and DUNE were definitely inspirations, but also Alaska. I’m a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and that definitely worked its way into the book in the form of harvesting a dangerous energy source, a.k.a. “fishing” for Shadow. And also, we wanted to capture that “found family” feeling that doesn’t just exist on ships like the Kaitan and Serenity, but up here, where the wilderness and the low population really make for tight knit groups of friends that essentially become your family.

As I mentioned, you’re hitting all sort of decades and age groups with the comparisons. Did you keep that in mind when writing it or have you just happened to be able to target not only teens but their moms or dads into sci-fi as well?

Michael: We targeted ourselves, I think, and it turns out we love the stories as much as the age they were intended for! I don’t think we’re alone in that. I firmly believe is a good story is a good story, even if the struggles might refer more to one stage of life than another. Qole and Nev are dealing with issues of identity we typically ascribe to younger ages, but they are also grappling with intergalactic intrigue. It beats C-SPAN, what can I say.  

You’re getting some rave reviews so far! That must make you so excited. What is some of your favorite lines of praise so far from readers or reviewers?

A: That people who don’t like traditional hard sci-fi love our book. That we’ve gotten people more excited to read other sci-fi. That we’ve written characters that people can root for. Also, I think someone called Basra “Our Lord and Savior,” so that’s just hilarious/the best.

This is part of a bigger series called Kaitan Chronicles, and is book one, so when are the next books scheduled to be out? How many to do you think you’ll write? What are some of the vague ideas of where you’ll take the readers with this series?

M: The Kaitan Chronicles are intended to be about four books, although I think I’d be perfectly happy to write forty—the story ideas in this universe don’t stop coming. The next book is already written, actually, and going through copyedits right now—it should be out in spring of next year!

I really hate it when people just say, “I can’t spoil anything!” but now I see why they do––it’s tricky to provide anything of substance without giving away the good bits! We do have a definite story arc in mind, and I’m really looking forward to people realizing that story threads are getting laid now that will be important later.

How difficult has it been or is currently to write a book/series as a duo? What does that involve? Positive take aways? Challenges?

A: It’s been remarkably easy. We work together well, and also having dual POVs really allows us to run with our own voices for our characters without sounding out of sync. We generally brainstorm a lot in person, where we can gesticulate wildly, cackle fiendishly, and scribble things down, but we also do a lot of writing apart, using Google docs on smaller files and the latest MS Word for the full manuscript, which lets people edit simultaneously from the cloud. It’s been a mostly positive experience—when you’re stuck, you have a sounding board and can usually brainstorm a way out of a sticky situation in moments, when it would have taken me days and days on my own. Of course we have our disagreements on how to resolve issues or plot points, but meeting challenges like that honestly led to some of the stronger bits of the book.

What are some words of advice you have for teen writers?

A: Keep writing! Everyone wants to be a massive success the first go around but really, it’s such an accomplishment to just finish something. And don’t stop there. Keep writing, keep practicing. I know it’s cliché, but practice makes perfect. Even if you need to write two, three, four or more novels to get published, you’ll make it so long as you keep writing.

AdriAnne, you do commercial fishing you mentioned in the summer season. Does that give you plenty of time to be creative in your head with your writing? What’s it like living in Alaska?

A: I don’t have much time to do anything more than work and sleep in the summer (and sometimes not even sleep), but it gives me plenty of time to be creative during the rest of the year. It’s what let me really dive into writing full time—I’d make my living for the rest of the year in the summer, and have the rest of the year to devote to something that would take a while before it made me any money. And living in Alaska is incomparable. The wilderness, the towering, craggy mountains and raging rivers, the long, brutally cold winters and endlessly sunny summers—this place works in extremes, and I love it.

Michael, what are your hobbies? Tell us about yourself.

M: I grew up in the woods on an off-the grid homestead, which definitely led to a profound love of reading. We would go to town every few weeks and I would load up on books to last me the month. They lasted about half that. My Mom was also a big influence in instilling a love of reading in me—she spent a lot of time researching high-quality books to recommend that both fell into my interest range but were more challenging. In retrospect, I see she was very crafty.

I later became an Apple consultant. As you might guess, that means I’m a giant nerd, so my hobbies include things like board gaming, video gaming, and attempting to game the system (not that last one). But growing up in the woods also made me love hiking and horseback riding and being on the water, so I’m basically a hiking, typing contradiction.

Where can everyone find you both online?

A: As for websites, we each have personal sites (adriannestrickland.com, michaelmiller.website), but we also have a site just for the series, to which we’ll be regularly adding more nerdy content about the world—or galaxy, rather! You’ll find it at kaitanchronicles.com.

We’re also both on Twitter (@AdriAnneMS and @begemotike), and AdriAnne is on Instagram at adrianne.strickland.

Thanks so much to you for stopping by and telling us about your book and yourselves! Best of luck with SHADOW RUN and the rest of the series. 

Shadow RunShadow Run
(Book One – Kaitan Chronicles)

Delacorte Press
Random House Children’s Books
402 pages
March 21, 2017

Synopsis –

Her ship. His plan. Their survival.

 Nev just started as the cargo hauler on the starship Kaitan Heritage. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person on Alaxak to have her own ship. She’s brassy and bold, and she tolerates no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. As for Nev, he’s actually a prince in hiding. He thinks Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, but when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, he resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

Before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. Nev’s mission to manipulate her becomes one to save her. To survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. Nev may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power of her own–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

For fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Star Wars, SHADOW RUN is an addictive, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

Praise –

“An entertaining intergalactic ride.” —Bulletin

“[A] well-executed sci-fi caper…full of intriguing commentary about wealth inequality and exploitation.” —Booklist

“Readers will want to join Qole’s crew.” —Kirkus Reviews

An explosive debut! Shadow Run is a high-octane space tale that brings back everything there is to love about classic science fiction—I can’t wait to see what these two come up with next!”—Lindsay Cummings, author of NYT bestseller Zenith

Purchase at Amazon and other online retailers and stores. Ask your indie bookstore and library to carry too!

Amazon

AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller Coauthor photo credit Lukas StricklandADRIANNE STRICKLAND and MICHAEL MILLER met in their hometown of Palmer, Alaska, where they agreed on 99% of book taste and thus decided to write together.

AdriAnne spends her summers as a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the rest of the year writing.

Michael grew up off the grid in a homestead in Alaska and now works in IT and tech.

This is their first book together. Visit them on Twitter, AdriAnne at @AdriAnneMS and Michael at @begemotike.

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Interview with Susanna Calkins, Author of Historical Mystery A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate

Hi Susie! I’m thrilled to have you stop by Oh, for the Hook of a Book today to talk about your upcoming April 23 release, A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate (Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s Press). As well, I hope you’ll be sharing a little more about yourself so everyone can get a glimpse into your world! How are things going for you?

Susanna:  I’m doing well, thanks for hosting me today! 

Erin:  Delighted to! Let’s have a steaming cup of tea and start our conversation!

Susanna:  Sounds good; you don’t mind if I’m drinking coffee, right? 🙂

Erin: Absolutely, actually it’s what I’m drinking too! I’ll feature the cover and synopsis first to tantalize readers….really beautiful cover.

Murder at..

Murder at Rosamund’s Gate: A Mystery, Synopsis~
Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press (April 23, 2013)
When someone she loves faces hanging for the murder of a fellow servant, Lucy Campion—a seventeenth-century English chambermaid—must interpret the clues hidden in miniature portraits, popular ballads, and a corpse’s pointing finger–to save his life, before the true murderer turns on her…

Q:  I believe A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is your debut novel, correct? When did you start writing and how long did it take this novel to come to fruition?

A: Yes, ROSAMUND is my debut novel and is also the first novel that I finished. I got the idea years ago, when I was a graduate student in history, and then I began to work on different scenes in a very haphazard way for the next few weeks.  Finally around 2009, with about 150 pages written, I sat down and took it seriously, giving myself space and time to complete the first draft in 2010.

Q: Since I’ve not reviewed your book yet, tell us some about your book and the inspiration behind it….

A: My book was inspired by some 17th century murder ballads I’d come across in my research on domestic homicide for a paper I was writing in grad school.  They were often romanticized versions of “true accounts” detailing how murderers lured their victims to their deaths; very often, the corpse seems to have been found with a letter in her pocket, signed by her murderer.  I had so many questions, beginning with ‘why would the murderer have left a note?” and “Why weren’t the victims more suspicious?” My novel was an attempt to answer some of these questions.

Erin Comments: I love that! Notes seemed to be a common theme in that time period, for everything! I like the questions your posing, can’t wait to see how your novel answers them.

Q:  What are your personal favorite books in the mystery novel genre?

A: When I was younger, I loved Agatha Christie. Now, I love everything by Patricia Cornwell and Anne Perry, and other writers of historical mysteries, including Charles Todd, Jacqueline Winspeare and Rhys Bowen.

Erin Comments: Me too, great list.

Q:  Is your book’s setting in Restoration England (or 17th Century) your favorite historical time period? If so why?

A:  I really enjoy this time period, especially in the mid 1660s.  The Plague, followed by the Great Fire of London, make for an exciting backdrop!

Q:  What are some of your other favorite historical time periods and why?

A: I have a fondness for the middle ages, especially with the emergence of the universities and guilds. I’m also fascinated by nineteenth century France.

Q: If you could write about a woman from history, who would it be? Why?

A:  Great question.  I’ve always focused on women’s and gender history, so I’ve always been interested in the everyday lives of ordinary women. I went through a phase when I was enamored of some of the great queens, like Elizabeth I of England and Queen Isabella of Spain, because I admired their strength of character and the liveliness of their minds.  I’ve written about many seventeenth century Quaker women, including one of the founders, Margaret Fell Fox.  I’ve also written about the nineteenth century Quaker reformer, Elizabeth Frye.  You can see I’m interested in Quakers! And they do feature in ROSAMUND!

Erin Comments: Sounds like a book featuring Fox or Frye and the Quakers would be a great one to read! Have you considered?

Q:  How much research is involved when writing a mystery that is thick with plot, but also takes place during an historical time period rich with detail? Can you explain your research or any interesting tidbits you collected along the way?

A:  Well, in some ways I did years of research before I started writing one word of ROSAMUND. In addition to reading a lot of scholarly works, I spent a lot of time reading the cheap print (ballads, chapbooks, pamphlets and other penny pieces) from the era, to get a feel for the language and customs of the time. I really enjoyed reading the work of Samuel Pepys, the great diarist of the time. 

Q: How do you develop your characters, both the leading and the supporting, to ensure not only their historical accuracy, but also emotionally in order for them to connect to the reader?

A: Even though Lucy was “just” a chambermaid—and an uneducated one at that—I wanted to believe that a servant could have had a lively inquiring mind and that, when push came to shove, she would do anything for her friends and family (Pursuing the murderer of one friend, and seeking to save someone else from being hanged). Even though households were structured somewhat differently back then, I believe that people who care about each other will still try to do what’s right, even if they end up defying some conventions of the time, like Lucy did.

Q:  Do you feel it’s important for women as writers to “schedule” writing time in order to complete and pursue their dreams? What advice do you have for other women writers about fitting it all in?

A: Oh my goodness! I get this question all the time, and I don’t know if I have an answer that will work for other people. I do have a lot of commitments (full time job, additional adjunct teaching, wife and mother of two young children), so I’m pretty busy. But I’m also fortunate to have a supportive spouse who takes on many of the family and childrearing responsibilities.  More importantly, I don’t try to write in luxurious three hour blocks, I always just think, ‘okay, I’ve got 20 or 30 minutes, what can I work on?” So maybe I write a scene. Or I look up a historical detail on the internet.   

I also don’t heed most of the writing advice I hear, especially those who insist that writers should ‘write first thing in the morning’ (I hate writing in the morning), or ‘Write every day.’ You know what, sometimes you can’t write everyday, and that’s okay.  But I do usually think about something related to writing every day, and at the very least, I lay in bed dreaming out a favorite scene. When I tell myself the scene enough, I’ts pretty easy to write down when I get a chance.

Erin Comments: I ask this one of most women authors to see the differences or advice, for myself as well as other aspiring women authors. This is one of the best answers by far and pretty much sums me up. I am not a morning person. 🙂 Thank you!

Q:  What has been the most challenging aspect for you in becoming a published author? What has been the most positive? 

A:  I think I have had to develop a thicker skin when it comes to what readers/reviewers will say about my book.  I’ve learned to say, ‘Well, my book wasn’t for that reader,” but mean comments can still hurt. On the flip side, I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet readers, librarians, reviewers, publishing people and other writers. I wrote so much in isolation, I do enjoy talking about reading and writing with other people.

Q:  What other things do you enjoy beyond writing and reading?

A: I enjoy playing games with my children (ages 9 and 6); I really like teaching (grading, not so much), and I love my full-time job, which is to help faculty improve their teaching.  I also love traveling, any new place is a great place to be!

Erin Comments: Two of my three children are 9 and 5 (6 in May)! We also play a lot of games too, especially in the winter.

Q:  What things do you have planned for your upcoming launch date?

A: Ha! I actually scheduled my students’ first paper assignment on my release date (April 23), so I know I’ll be doing some grading! But in relation to the actual book launch, I’ll be doing some talks at my local library in Highland Park, Illinois (April 25) and at the Barnes and Noble in Skokie, Illinois on April 26. Why don’t you come on by?

Erin Comments: I would love to! I’m in Ohio and Tim’s family is from Illinois, but it’s probably too far a drive for this week. 🙂 I hope any readers in the area will come by though. I know you also have a lot of stops on a book tour too, and readers can find those stops on your website (link below).

Q: Is there another novel in the works for you? What other writing are you doing or plan to do in the future?

A: Yes, the second Lucy Campion mystery (tentatively titled “From the Charred Remains”) will come out next April. I am also working on a Young Adult novel about a gang of teenage thieves living in late nineteenth century Paris.

Erin comments: All sounds wonderful!

Q: Where can readers connect with you?

A:  Readers can check out my website at www.susannacalkins.com, email me at s.calkins.nu@gmail.com, or tweet to me @scalkins3. I’d love to hear from you!

Erin:  Thank you so much, Susie, for joining us today. I can’t wait to finish up your historical mystery! I wish you the best of luck with all your pursuits! Keep in touch!

Susanna:  Thank you so much! This was a lot of fun! I’ll stop back by to answer any questions!

And stay tuned readers for a review coming up next week of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate and a giveaway!

Susanna Calkins, Biography~

calkinsSusanna Calkins is a historian and academic, currently working at Northwestern University. She’s had a morbid curiosity about murder in seventeenth-century England ever since she was in grad school, when she was first working on her Ph.D. in history. The ephemera from the archives—tantalizing true accounts of the fantastic and the strange—inspired her historical mysteries, including A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate (St. Martins Press/Minotaur Books). Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives outside Chicago now with her husband and two sons.  See more at www.susannacalkins.com.

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