Tag Archives: Author Interviews

Get insights from published authors on the Book Country blog.

Vince Salamone on Editing His Book SERAPHIM: GENESIS

Posted by August 1st, 2014

SERAPHIM: GENESISWhen it came to writing my recently self-published novel, SERAPHIM: GENESIS, daunting is the word that often comes to mind. Set in a world teetering on the edge of technological and medical evolution, GENESIS follows Jade Tetsumo, a disgraced Royal Marine haunted by a violent past and faced with a dangerous future when she is chosen to be part of the Seraphim, a six-man black-operations security force operated by the powerful Alighieri Bio-Solutions to protect the secretive and highly sensitive research contained there–but when a rogue geneticist forces the team into action, the past bleeds into the present and Jade realizes that the hardest battle to come might be from within.

The act of writing can be a harrowing and overwhelming task. Crafting characters, set pieces, events, histories, worlds, stories and plot; it can often feel like a titanic ordeal to get the ball rolling–and that’s just the prep work! Getting it all to work together is another story entirely and it’s something you won’t figure out until after you finish the first draft. When it came to my first write-up of GENESIS, there were bumps in the road but for the most part crafting that draft was organic and painless. After all, it was just my computer and I, content in the isolated flow of the creative stream. Continue reading

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Historical Romance Writer Madeline Hunter On Revising, Writing Visually, and Humor

Posted by June 3rd, 2014

the accidental duchessWe are proud to have Madeline Hunter with us today! Madeline is an award-winning historical romance author whose books have been translated in twelve languages and featured on the USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestseller lists. Her new book, THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS, is published by Jove, an imprint of Berkley Books. It features the unlikely love affair between Lady Lydia and the Duke of Penthurst in 18th century England. In this Q&A, Madeline shares her love of revision (or not), how her art history background influences her work, and what inspires her humor. 

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Janet Umenta: Most writers would agree that revising is difficult, but what was the most enjoyable part when revising THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS?

Madeline Hunter: I love to revise! It is far easier than writing new material for me, so the danger is I will spend my working time revising, if given the choice. The really enjoyable part of revising is when my editor asks for what I call substantive revisions (as in rewriting whole sections.) It is such a cool team project then, so I dig right in, glowing with renewed inspiration. (No one is believing this, right? See question #5 about my sense of humor.) Continue reading

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Writing About War and Military Service: A Q&A with Phil Klay

Posted by May 23rd, 2014

RedeploymentOne of the absolute best books I’ve read this year is Phil Klay‘s debut short story collection REDEPLOYMENT, now out from The Penguin Press. Addictively readable and full of searing, uncomfortable imagery and detail, these stories take us on an unforgettable journey through the Iraq war as it is experienced and remembered by those fighting in it. You can learn so much about writing about war from Phil–his is a book I will be thinking about a lot as we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend.

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Lucy Silag:  Why do you think that so few literary writers have written about the war in Iraq from the perspective of those fighting it? 

Phil Klay: There are a few civilian writers who have written about the military, like Ben Fountain, Lea Carpenter, and Roxana Robinson. I think to do it right takes a lot of time and research. Plus, there’s the old cultural trope that you can’t know about war unless you were there. I don’t think that’s true, but perhaps that steers people away. If so that’s unfortunate, since I think we need thoughtful engagement with the wars from both civilians and veterans alike.  Continue reading

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Jill Shalvis on Romance Heroes: “No one wants to see a big strong hero using a baby voice”

Posted by May 13th, 2014

We’re spending the morning with the hilarious Jill Shalvis, author of the Animal Magnetism series of romance novels published by Berkley. Jill is one of the headlining authors at this year’s RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans this week. We can’t wait to see her at the conference!

Animal Magnetism books in the Penguin bookstore

Lucy Silag: Your Animal Magnetism books star characters who work with animals—a kennel owner, sexy vets, shelter workers. That’s not your everyday premise for a series of romance novels, but it totally works! Tell us about how love blossoms among the animals in Sunshine, Idaho.

Jill Shalvis: In my mind, there’s nothing sexier than a guy who loves and can take care of animals.  That’s how this series was born.  I kept circling back to this idea of a bunch of guys for whom animals were their whole life.

LS: It seems like it would be terribly difficult to gracefully write about pets—if it were me, I would devolve into baby voices and cooing. How do you do it? Continue reading

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Jane Green on Writing and Motherhood: “Don’t Feel Guilty”

Posted by May 8th, 2014

I’m such a fan of Jane Green. In fact, the one time I met this Women’s Fiction author in person, it was one of the few times in my life where I have really been starstruck by an author. Jane’s bestselling books have been my faithful companions since I discovered them in college. As Jane’s characters are often British, it was from her that I learned essential vocabulary like “naff” and “spot of shopping.” We chatted about how she’s grown and changed as a writer over the years, how she accommodates the busy dual roles of mothering and writing, and what’s changed for her since she’s lived in the US.

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Lucy Silag: You must hear from a lot of readers like me: people who’ve been reading you for a long time, and who’ve grown into adulthood with you. In that time, how have you changed as a writer?

Jane Green: I’ve changed enormously as a person – ageing, motherhood, divorce, etc., etc. – all have softened and changed me, and subsequently, of course, my writing. I think I am rather more circumspect as a writer these days, and definitely more accepting. My earlier books are filled with a judgment that now makes me shudder in horror.

LS: Chick lit is supposed to be such a fluffy genre—and yet it seems like books in this subgenre of women’s fiction talk about subjects that a lot of other writers are afraid to address.For example, your book BOOKENDS was the first mainstream book I ever read that talked frankly about HIV testing. That meant a lot to me as a reader. Do you feel like you get to explore a lot of social taboos by writing “women’s fiction”—or is it something that you’d be doing no matter what genre you wrote?

JG: I write about the things that matter to me, issues that have personally touched me (often), or things I am trying to work out in my own life. The recurring themes in my book are no coincidence – I do think it is the most spectacular opportunity to work out the issues of my childhood, getting closer and closer to healing with every book!

LS: What are the biggest differences about publishing in the US and the UK?

JG: I don’t really remember anymore, having lived here for 13 years. I think perhaps there is more focus on the craft of writing over here, and certainly on editing – I rarely edited in England, and now I have had to practically rewrite entire books. It is something I have come to value above all else, despite the drudgery of having to go over it again and again; there is no question I am writing the best books of my career because of the work my US editor requires of me.

TemptingFateHCcoverLS: Tell us about your most recent main character, Gabby, from TEMPTING FATE. What was the first detail you knew about her? How did you grow that into a full character?

JG: I knew she was English, and knew she had a crazy, over-dramatic, glamorous, bohemian mother, who paid her no attention whatsoever as a child. I had a very clear picture of their house in Belsize Park, London, and it all grew from there.

LS: If I remember correctly from your Facebook posts, you have four children. How on earth have you written 15 novels with so much activity in your house?

JG: It requires a huge amount of discipline. And energy. The energy bit has been harder the last few years as I’m living with Lyme Disease, or rather, more specifically, Post-Lyme Auto-Immune Disease, and Hashimoto’s Disease, so I spend a lot more time in bed than I used to. Continue reading

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Bestselling Romance Author Julie James on Remembering the Big Picture

Posted by May 6th, 2014

It happened one wedding coverHappy Book Birthday to today’s blog guest, bestselling author Julie James! IT HAPPENED ONE WEDDING is Julie’s seventh novel. We caught up with this beloved Berkley Romance author to find out more about her writing process, how she manages to balance writing and motherhood, and her plans for the RT Booklovers Convention next week.

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Lucy Silag: Your previous books are workplace romances, but IT HAPPENED ONE WEDDING takes place in a firmly personal realm. What was different about writing in this setting?

Julie James: That was a deliberate choice—before I knew anything else about the story or the characters, I told my editor that I wanted to write a book where the hero and heroine did not meet through work. As you mentioned, my previous books all had been set up that way, and I wanted to do something different this time. Main characters Sidney and Vaughn meet when her sister gets engaged to his brother and are  then thrown together repeatedly as the maid of honor and best man in the wedding. This idea came to me pretty quickly, but the specifics of the story beyond that took a bit more time to develop. Continue reading

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The Extroverted Writer: An Interview with Ayelet Waldman

Posted by May 1st, 2014

Today’s blog guest is one of my absolute favorite writers: Ayelet Waldman. Ayelet and I have crossed paths many times over the years. An author of acclaimed fiction, memoir, and cozy mysteries, I’ve been following her exciting body of work for the last decade, always eager to see what she’ll do next. Her new book is LOVE & TREASURE, a heady mix of Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, and Historical Fiction set partially in Hungary, a place I love to read about. Read on for Ayelet’s singular take on the writer’s life.ayelet-waldman-love-and-treasure-2501

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LS: LOVE & TREASURE is a novel in 3 parts, each functioning almost like a novella. Why did you structure the story the way you did?

AW: You said the dreaded word, “Novella!” No! No! No!

Kidding.

Sort of.

Not really.

The truth was that I had the structure before I had the novel. I fell in love with three-story structure first when reading The Hours by Michael Cunningham, then in Three Junes by Julia Glass. I read them when I first started taking the project of writing seriously, when I had emerged from my apprenticeship writing light-hearted mysteries, and had started to imagine trying something more ambitious. Those two books gave me a deep appreciation both of structure, and of the importance of theme in creating the world of a novel. They taught me that what is true and real about a story can transcend even characters. That’s a terrifying thing to contemplate, in a way. That what we care about in a novel can be something deeper even than the people in it, that our commitment to the story can survive the disappearance of characters we are invested in and care about. Continue reading

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The Art of Letting Go: Nick Bantock and Creativity

Posted by April 3rd, 2014

The Trickster's Hat.jogToday our blog guest is Nick Bantock, the author of the new Perigee book THE TRICKSTER’S HAT: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity. A wonderful visual artist, Nick’s work breaks through genre conventions to create something truly different in the world of publishing–the most famous example of how he’s done this is with Griffin and Sabine, an epistolary novel fashioned from letters and postcards drawn and painted by Nick. His books feel like the perfect way to pull yourself out of the “same-old” in your routine, and discover something new about yourself as a writer.

LS: Describe for us what our community can get from your book. How does it help jump-start writing creativity?

NB: Sooner or later, as writers or artists we hit a rut. Our work becomes predictable, and we get bored with it. If we don’t find a way to change direction we hit the dreaded BLOCK. THE TRICKSTER’S HAT is made up of 49 exercises designed to help the reader slip-slide into a plethora of new universes. Some of the exercises use words, some images. Interestingly in my workshops I’ve found that it is often the collage that frees the writers and the writing that helps the artists. Continue reading

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From Email to a Published Memoir: The Story of Graduates in Wonderland

Posted by March 20th, 2014

Graduates in Wonderland

Photo Credit: Ian Cook

It’s not unheard of for writers to turn their personal journals into a memoir — but what about emails? Two friends vowed to write honest accounts of their lives once a week as a way to keep in touch after graduation. Over the next few years, Jess and Rachel exchanged detailed emails about their trials and tribulations — jobs, men, the whole gamut of life in your twenties — while moving from country to country. Now their joint account will be published in May by Gotham as GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND

We asked Jess and Rachel to share their unique publication story — of how a casual email chain between friends turned into an inspiring memoir about being twenty and finding your way in the world. 

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Rachel: Do you remember the night of our graduation from Brown?

Jess: Uh, yes. Obviously. I wasn’t that drunk and we’ve only just turned 29.

Rachel: Okay, prove it. What do you remember about the pact we made that night?

Jess: We were sitting on the back steps of the house we lived in with our friends in Providence on Governor St. I think it was raining and it was really late – everyone else had already gone to bed or they were still out. And you and I were sitting outside under the awning and discussing how since we’d been through the past four years together, we felt so close to each other and to our other college friends. But we also knew how easy it is to let friendships fade away after graduation, no matter how close people are.

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Four Questions with Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor Danielle Stockley

Posted by March 11th, 2014

d_stockleyWe are really excited to introduce Ace and Roc editor Danielle Stockley. Danielle has been a trusted counselor to us over the years and is our go-to science fiction and fantasy fiction expert. (She also edits Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s the Books of the Between!) It is our pleasure to have her answer questions about her work at Penguin Random House on Book Country today. Read on for great tips about the craft of writing—and editing—in those genres. 

NG: What are some of the clichés in science fiction and fantasy submissions that make a manuscript an automatic “pass” for you?

DS: I hate to declare anything an automatic pass, because inevitably it will show up in something that I’ve published. There are definitely things that make me wary, though. Plots involving mind control; protagonists who are constantly developing new powers just when they are needed most; character “development” by way of sexual assault; and evil, monolithic corporations with seemingly limitless resources don’t feel especially fresh to me.

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