Tag Archives: Author Interviews

Get insights from published authors on the Book Country blog.

EXCLUSIVE: Book Country Member Alex Rosa Interview with Best-Selling Author Cora Carmack

Posted by June 16th, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Book Country Member Alex Rosa Interview with Best-Selling Author Cora CarmackWe are SO excited to have Book Country member Alex Rosa and author Cora Carmack on the Book Country blog! Cora is the New York Times and USA best-selling author of the LOSING IT, RUSK UNIVERSITY, and MUSE series. Alex Rosa released her debut New Adult novel, TRYST, in March, and Cora wrote a wonderful blurb to promote the book: 

“Brother’s hot best friend? A steamy friends with benefits arrangement? What more could you want? Tryst is a fun, tantalizing read!”

Below, Alex and Cora discuss Cora’s new RUSK UNIVERSITY series, book boyfriends, writing, and cats. 

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Alex Rosa:  Antonella DeLuca (a.k.a Nell) is the third girl you’ve introduced as a main character in the RUSK UNIVERSITY Series.  All of your leading ladies have had incredible, strong-willed personalities. Dallas in ALL LINED UP has the will to find herself and get out of her father’s shadow, and Dylan in ALL BROKE DOWN is a passionate activist who tries her best to do what she believes is right and fair. Now we have Nell in ALL BROKE DOWN. What does she bring to the table for this series? What makes her a standout? Is there anything that makes Nell a personal favorite for you?

Cora Carmack: Nell is one of my favorite heroines I’ve written to date. She’s incredibly smart and more than just a little anti-social. Her focus is on her education and accomplishing her goals as quickly as possible. And now she’s about to graduate from college early without ever having what’s considered a “normal” college experience. I love Nell because she just says what she’s thinking, and it’s often quirky and out there and awkwardly honest. I think a lot of book nerds will be able to see themselves in her.

AllPlayedOutCoverAR: Mateo Torres in ALL PLAYED OUT seems like quite a character (and a hot one). I’m eager to find out what demons this possibly perverted (in a good way) hunk have. What’s your favorite thing about Torres, and what do you think makes him book boyfriend material?

CC: I love that Mateo feels like a real guy that I could know. Yes, he’s sexy and sweet, but there’s something so down to earth and genuine about him. He’s the class clown, the shameless flirt, the funny guy who’s always the center of a party. I think we’ve all known guys like him. But by getting into his head, we get to see the fears and insecurities that fuel his outlandish personality. And it just makes him incredibly human.

AR: As a writer, you’ve created these great leading men in your books. But who is your ultimate book boyfriend as a reader? The one who made you swoon first.

CC: The one who made me swoon first? The first time I remember being truly obsessed with a book boyfriend was with Jace from MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. He was so snarky and funny with a bad boy edge. Sexy + funny will always hook me. Continue reading

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“There is always a reason to not give up.” Interview with Aisha Saeed, Author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS

Posted by April 22nd, 2015

Interview with Aisha Saeed, Author of WRITTEN IN THE STARSAisha Saeed is the author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS, which is published by Nancy Paulsen Books. Aisha is also co-founder and Vice President of Strategy of We Need Diverse Books. In WRITTEN IN THE STARS, Naila, a smart Pakistani-American high school senior, is forced into an arranged marriage by her own parents. I was stunned by the trials Naila had to face. In our interview, Aisha shares what the hardest chapter was for her to write, the specific technique she used to query agents, and what has surprised her most since joining the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. 

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Janet Umenta: Did you draw from any real-life conversations while writing WRITTEN IN THE STARS?

Aisha Saeed: I definitely drew from real-life experiences while writing WRITTEN IN THE STARS. Growing up, I had childhood friends who were coerced and pressured into marriages they would not have chosen for themselves. While my novel is entirely fictional, those stories always stayed with me and served as the inspiration for my novel. Continue reading

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The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

Posted by April 21st, 2015

The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started with a simple Twitter exchange between authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo about the lack of diversity in children’s literature on April 17, 2014. One year later, we’ve seen huge support on social media and in major book and author events, including BookCon and BEA. However, there is still more work to be done to make #WeNeedDiverseBooks a reality.

Alis Franklin is the author of LIESMITH, a queer urban fantasy novel published by Hydra. In LIESMITH, Sigmund Sussman, a shy young man working in low-level IT support in Australia, falls in love with Lain Laufeyjarson, a Norse god. Below, Alis addresses the problem of the underrepresentation of minority groups in literature and what needs to be done to improve diversity in publishing.

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One of the most fascinating things to realize about the (Western) publishing industry is that it’s been around, in some form or another, for something like 500 years. That is one old industry. It’s also an old industry that’s seen an enormous amount of disruption, to the point where it seems every year brings something new to shake things up.

If 2014 rattled anything on the manuscript-stacked table, it did it via talk of diversity, a.k.a. the way marginalized and other non-majority authors are treated and their stories told. This is particularly relevant as we enter April, which marks the one year anniversary of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Originally intended to spotlight the lack of diversity in children’s literature, over the past twelve months it has since grown beyond its original mission statement, spawning conversations in every corner of the industry.

And for good reason. There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to publishing’s relationship to diversity and, to set the scene, let’s begin by pointing out that…

1. Publishing is super, super homogeneous

No matter where you look–from fictional characters to their creators to their producers–the consensus is that the publishing industry is white and it is (with some exceptions) male and it is middle-class. “Write what you know,” says decades worth of well-meaning writing advice. Which, according to a quote attributed to US sci-fi author Joe Haldeman, is “why so many mediocre novels are about English professors contemplating adultery.”

Plenty has been written about this topic already, noting the homogeneity of characters appearing in genres as disparate as children’s lit and erotic romance. Employment wise, the publishing industry as a whole isn’t much better than the fiction it produces, with indications things are getting worse as publishers poach executive talent from the notoriously white and male tech sector. Meanwhile, white male authors are not just more likely to gain critical acclaim–particularly when they write in genres traditionally considered to be “for women“–but to get sympathetic pats on the head from prestigious media outlets when they do “lose out” on literary awards in favor of women or people of color. Continue reading

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Q&A with Stephanie Chandler, Founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association

Posted by April 15th, 2015

Q&A with Stephanie Chandler, Founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors AssociationStephanie Chandler is the founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association, a marketing community for writers. The 5th Annual Nonfiction Writers Conference begins May 6th, and the keynote speaker will be Julia Cameron, author of THE ARTIST’S WAY. Participants can attend live sessions by telephone or Skype. Stephanie shares why she started the Nonfiction Authors Association and her experience being a self-published author.

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Lucy Silag: First off, what is the Nonfiction Authors Association and why did you start it?

Stephanie Chandler: The Nonfiction Authors Association is a marketing community for trail-blazing writers! I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. When I quit my corporate job in 2003, I opened a 2,800 square-foot bookstore in Sacramento and planned to write novels in the back office. (When you’ve wanted to write your whole life, you naturally assume that a novel is the way to go.) But it turned out I didn’t have a knack for fiction, so I wrote my first nonfiction book (a business start-up guide) and was astonished by how much I loved writing nonfiction.

I began attending writers’ conferences and eventually started speaking at them as my author career took off. I noticed that nonfiction authors were largely neglected at these events. We didn’t quite fit in with the fiction writers and had different needs and approaches. So I launched the Nonfiction Writers Conference in 2010—an event conducted entirely online. I had no idea if it would catch on, but it did. Each year our attendees kept asking how they could keep the momentum going, so I finally answered them by launching the Nonfiction Authors Association in 2012. We needed our own community and now we have one with over 8,500 members and growing every day. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria Oliver

Posted by April 7th, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria OliverWe’re happy to have Book Country member Gloria Oliver with us today! Gloria is currently workshopping INNER DEMONS, an urban fantasy novel. INNER DEMONS is one of April’s Editor’s Picks on Book Country. INNER DEMONS was published by Mundania Press in early 2014. Gloria shares what it means to be a speculative fiction writer and tips on choosing the perfect title.

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Lucy Silag: Tell us more about yourself. How did you become a writer, and how did you find your way to Book Country?

Gloria Oliver: As I kid, I always had a hard time falling asleep. This led me to making up stories in my head to entertain myself until slumber finally came. One day, one of these stories kept bugging me to actually put it on paper – so I did. A few years later, the bug bit me again as I got a neat idea for a fantasy novel, and this time the infection set in deep. I’ve not looked back since.

I heard about Book Country back when it was being put together. The day job at the time had slow days here and there, and I’d found out about an evil Outlook add-on that would convert Twitter items to email and put them into a personal folder. This was just around the time social media was catching on big time, and I followed people like Kristen Lamb, Chuck Wendig, and many other writers and publishers. Through them, I learned of Colleen Lindsay from Penguin and followed her as well. And soon after Colleen started talking about a venture she was very excited about – a “Sekret Projekt” she was involved in, one where she and her peers hoped to create a place where authors could meet, share, help each other, and create a long lasting community.

Colleen even did a ‘reveal’ presentation in Dallas during the DFW Writers Conference back in 2011. The goals and concept of Book Country sounded fascinating and well thought out, so I signed up! Continue reading

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GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE: Interview with Author George Hagen and Editor Anne Schwartz

Posted by March 31st, 2015

GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE: Interview with Author George Hagen and Editor Anne SchwartzI had an amazing time reading GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE! Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, GABRIEL FINLEY follows twelve-year-old Gabriel on his journey to find his missing father with the help of his riddle-loving raven, Paladin. Set in Brooklyn, New York, this story was full of magic and plot twists; I didn’t know if Gabriel was going to make it until the very end! Author George Hagen shares what inspired him to write GABRIEL FINLEY and his experience writing for children for the first time. Anne Schwartz, the editor of GABRIEL FINLEY, shares what’s it like when a book clicks for her.

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Janet Umenta: Your two previously published books were written for adults. What made you decide to write a children’s book? How would you compare writing for adults with writing for children?

George Hagen: My younger daughter Lola challenged me to write her a book. She was 10 and specified that it should be both exciting and magical. I loved stories like that at her age, but my adult books were quite realistic in tone. Every weekend we took family walks across the Brooklyn Bridge to Chinatown for lunch, and I had to invent a story engaging enough to keep Lola walking. I learned quickly what kept her interest. Her favorite situations were a) when magic goes wrong, b) when children are more competent than adults, and c) when children have the power to communicate with animals. So, I followed those rules. Continue reading

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“Everything is hard except for the story.” Interview with SUEDE TO REST Author Diane Vallere

Posted by February 18th, 2015

Interview with SUEDE TO REST Author Diane Vallere

I had a great time reading Diane Vallere’s SUEDE TO REST, the first book in the Material Witness Mystery series! Published by Berkley Books, SUEDE TO REST takes you to the accident-prone life of Poly Monroe as she discovers the truth behind the murder of her great aunt in her family’s textile store. SUEDE TO REST has recently been nominated for the 2015 Left Coast Crime Award for best humorous mystery novel. In this Q&A, Diane reveals what inspired her to write SUEDE TO REST and shares her advice to aspiring writers.

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Janet Umenta: You’ve worked in the fashion industry for twenty years. What was it like writing during that time?

Diane Vallere: I don’t love flying. My job as a buyer took me to some fabulous places, but there was pretty much only one way to get there. I would take my laptop and write as soon as we were allowed to use electronic devices. My first book was mostly written on flights to and from NY. Even today when I fly to a conference, I look forward to that time as solid, uninterrupted writing time.

After I moved from buying to sales, I wrote on my lunch break. I kept a table in the stockroom, sandwiched between back stock and dismembered mannequins! It was good training for being able to write on command. Continue reading

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Book Country Member D.J. Pizzarello on Publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others

Posted by January 13th, 2015

Book Country Member D.J. Pizzarello on Publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others

Congratulations to Book Country member D.J. Pizzarello on publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others! D.J. workshopped several short stories on Book Country and received outstanding feedback. We recently featured D.J. on the Member Spotlight. In this Q&A, D.J. shares what surprised him most about the publishing process and advice he would give to other writers considering the self-publishing route. You can purchase COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others on Book CountryAmazon, and other major online book retailers. 

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Janet Umenta: After years of writing, what was the moment like when you decided you were ready to publish?

D.J. Pizzarello: I’d actually decided to publish some years before I finally took the plunge. I felt strongly that my stories should be told, that I had something to say others might find interesting, perhaps even thought-provoking. I’ve always loved language, loved trying to express myself in inventive ways. So I spent some years working on stories I’d already written, revising, and revising, and revising—and at times, creating new ones. At a point, fairly recently, I decided that my work was ready to be published. How did I feel at that point? Ready, eager, energized. Raring to go. Continue reading

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SPARK by Book Country Member Atthys Gage: On Sale Today!

Posted by December 17th, 2014

SPARK by Atthys GageCongratulations to longtime Book Country member Atthys Gage! His debut YA novel, SPARK, was originally workshopped on Book Country, and came out today from Lycaon Press.

Lucy Silag: Tell us about your first “spark” of the idea for SPARK. How did that idea grow and change over time and drafts?

Atthys Gage: It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but there is a persistent image that I associate with SPARK: someone is walking past a vacant lot; there are a couple of homeless types standing around a big metal drum, warming themselves on the scrap-wood fire lit within; sparks fly upward. The only thing is, that scene doesn’t appear in the book and never did in any version. It is, apparently, a sort of catalyst scene. Like an enzyme, it allowed the process of writing the book to take place but wasn’t consumed in the process.

LS: What has surprised you most about the experience of taking your book from an idea to a finished product?

AG: I was struck by how my own feelings changed as we neared the end. At first I was willing to fight for every little thing. Or, if not fight, then endlessly agonize over how to fix something that wasn’t quite right. By the end, I was more likely to just eliminate the problematic passage with a sweep of the blue pencil. It’s almost as though the book itself was so ready to be done and out in the world that it began resisting my efforts to fix it anymore. I’d reach out to straighten a clause or rub out a questionable comma, and it would slap my hand away like a moody teenager. Just leave it alone! Go away! I honestly think the poor thing was tired of all the attention. Continue reading

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Interview with Matteo Pericoli, Author of WINDOWS ON THE WORLD

Posted by November 19th, 2014

WINDOWS ON THE WORLD by Matteo Pericoli

As someone who loves looking out the window, I was excited to learn about how 50 of the world’s prominent writers relate to their own window views in Matteo Pericoli’s WINDOWS ON THE WORLD, published by Penguin Press. While reading through various profiles, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to T.C. Boyle, I got to experience a small slice of the daily lives of writers through their own eyes. In the interview below, Matteo Pericoli shares the inspiration behind WINDOWS ON THE WORLD and the insights he gained from working on this project.

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Q: You are an architect, teacher, and, of course, the author and illustrator of many books. How did you form the idea for WINDOWS ON THE WORLD?

Matteo Pericoli: In 2004 I paused in front of the window at my Upper West Side apartment and felt an urge to take the view with me. I had looked out that window for seven years, day after day, taking in that particular arrangement of buildings, and, now, I was about to move out. Without knowing it, this view had become my most familiar image of the city. So, on that day, I finally paid attention. I drew it, frame and all, on a large sheet of brown paper noticing for the first time the quantity of things I didn’t know I had been looking at for so long. Since then, I’ve spent years drawing window views. Continue reading

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