Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Well, I’m from Augusta, GA, majoring in Middle Education with a concentration in English–but I don’t give a flying flip about being a teacher anymore. Our education system is oppressive, and it sucks all around. The teacher I’m job shadowing for seems bored out of her mind and totally burn out, to be honest, because she has to teach to these stupid standards that allow little room for creativity, even if she does mix it up every so often.
So I’m moving to an online school next year with a degree in creative writing, and I will be able to do two English internships to gain some experience to put on my resume. August State University doesn’t really offer that opportunity.
I’m also a ballet dancer of a little over two years, and have been en pointe for a little over a year. I got en pointe at the 10 month mark, which is exceptional, as even adults take about 2-5 years to get en pointe, but I also did private lessons and exercised the crap out of myself.
Do you write under any other names?
I certainly don’t, although another monicker of mine is The Dancing Writer, but I want people to know my true name.
What are you currently working on?
The sequel to When Stars Die, The Stars Are Infinite. I wish I could give a defined blurb of it here, but I don’t have it ready. All I can say is that the chapter starts with Alice Sheraton, bloodied and beat up because she has been tortured for her sin of being a witch. She is slated to die, and she is seriously considering suicide so she doesn’t have to die by burning. I will also be getting back to When Heaven Was Blue in November while my beta reader looks over The Stars Are Infinite. WHWB is about a suicidal teen rescued by a puppeteer and doll maker, who takes him to this magical town to help Gene heal from the things that torment his mind.
How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles?
I just have one book published called When Stars Die. I also have a short story published in an anthology titled ‘I Am the Bell Jar’ in 2013: A Stellar Collection.
What inspired you to write your first book?
*inhales* I get asked this question a lot, so I’m a little burnt out on answering it (I’ve done A LOT of interviews). So I will simply say why my book is unique:
The romance is not your typical romance. It at first seems that way, but by the time you’re done reading the book, you’ll be floored. It’s also probably one of the darkest paranormal romances you’ll ever read.
The witches are very different in this book from many other books with witches, especially those under the paranormal romance label. They don’t cast spells or do incantations or make potions. In When Stars Die, they are a blight upon the world, and they are the most hated things in Amelia’s world. They are a blight that must be eliminated, not because they are a threat, but because the religious text in Amelia’s world, The Vulgate, says they must be hated, so people are brainwashed from birth to accept this as fact.
This book also, discreetly, pokes fun at fundamentalist, religious people who have a very bleak view of God, even though they constantly spout that God loves us. He is called Deus in her world, not to be confused with Deus from Deus ex Machina.
Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?
I primarily write in 1st person POV, and I am a very emotional writer, so my style touches on a lot of the senses.
How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?
There is a part in the book where Amelia is musing on stars, and how, when they die, they go out brilliantly and leave a lasting impact, even if they just silently scatter from their cores. Amelia wants to go out that way–not being burned as a witch–but go out leaving something behind, something significant. This little scene starts the entire motif of stars that will carry on throughout the trilogy. It is especially significant in the third book. I haven’t started outlining it, but I do know exactly what will happen.
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?
I want them to grasp the message that they should question everything they were ever taught, and everything they believe. It is okay to believe in the same things, even after they’ve questioned it, but they need to understand that we are all socially conditioned to think and believe the things that we do. In today’s world, especially, we aren’t really taught to think for ourselves–at least education is trying to oppress this, while colleges are trying to teach students to think for themselves. We are taught to conform to everything, and nobody fights back against this because it’s what we’ve always done.
How much of the book is realistic/true?
There is really no realism in the book, except some of the Victorian conventions, like mannerisms and dress and all that–even that doesn’t stay 100% true to the Victorian era, simply because it is an alternate universe. But everything else is totally fictional.
Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Often events in my own life. My books come from the darkest parts of me. The Stars Trilogy emerged from an anxiety disorder I had in the 8th grade, and from a deep fear of death that I had. The Stars Trilogy does explore death a lot.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Libba Bray’s books, and just about all of John Green’s books. Mary Pope Osborne’s, The Magic Treehouse series, influenced me to both read and write, even though I fell in love with writing first before reading.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?
John Green hands down. Oh, and perhaps my publisher, Raymond Vogel. He knows how to create excellent action scenes.
What book are you reading now?
The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez. I recommend everyone read the two current books she has out now. They ARE in the vein of John Green, and it’s a shame she isn’t getting the attention she deserves.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My teachers, pretty much. Oh, and my assistant, Mariah Wilson.
Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?
A career definitely, even more so that I have a contract and can totally make money off it. Although, my primary reason for writing will always be the love of it. Money is great, but passion is what makes the writing never feel like work.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not at all. I have considered the criticism I have received from reviewers for the next book, but I think my book is the best it can be, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was in second grade during journal time. I just had this fervent urge to write, and the passion spring from there.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“You know the rules, Olly. You know how things are supposed to be between us. It’s worse for nuns, especially. You’ll just be given a slap on the hand, but I’ll be exiled.” I close my eyes, soaking in the reality of the implications we toss between each other. “Nothing but this can ever exist between us, Oliver.”
His eyes fall to the scuffed floor. “Not even in secret?”
“Not even in secret. So whatever we feel about each other, we just have to ignore.”
He frowns. “Like we’ve been doing this whole time, Amelia? I just can’t do that, seeing you every day, with your hair, your eyes, your smile.” He turns away, his cheeks flushing a light purple, a peculiar color for a blush, but his blush, nonetheless.
“Would you rather be my friend, or not have me at all, because if you can’t control yourself, then it will have to be the latter.”
Oliver says nothing and starts down the tight corridor of shuttered classrooms and study areas. Not a soul breathes behind them–only the knowledge of Cathedral Reims exists behind those doors when no one occupies those rooms. From day one, those rooms contain everything anyone in the Professed Order ever needs to know and nothing else. We don’t need to know anything else, certainly not about feelings or being human.
We make it halfway down the corridor, when Oliver stops me again. “Since nothing can ever happen between us, can I at least kiss you?”
I raise my eyebrow, an intense heat blossoming in my stomach that threatens to seep under every edge of me. “What will kissing do? If you like it, you’re going to want more.”
“I just want to know what it’s like to kiss you, that’s all. And once I know, I don’t think I’ll want any more.”
I sigh, mulling over his request. I’m about to decide, when I hear a familiar pair of boots pound in the direction of the stairwell that leads to the first floor. None other than Theosodore Branch appears, bearing a jagged smile that makes me want to run to my room.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just action scenes. I don’t like writing them because I really like tapping into the emotions of characters, and when I can’t do that, I get disgruntled.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
John Green. I love that he really understands teens and their emotions, and that he writes books that are both tragic and inspiring. He is real. His most recent book, The Fault in Our Stars, is especially real because it isn’t your typical cancer book where the kid with cancer is lauded as some hero and the cancer kid totally gets caught up in it. No. There is nothing heroic about having cancer, is what I get from TFiOS. These people just happen to be living a sucky disease and are trying to make the best of it, but they are not heroes for having it.
Who designed the covers of you books?
Viola Estrella of Estrella Cover Art.
What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?
Basically the ending parts. I sometimes stop before the ending and re-write everything before actually writing the ending for the first time.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just read and write a lot. Learn the rules, but then break them once you know them. Also, don’t take Elmore Leonard’s advice. He’s lauded, and I don’t understand why, but don’t pick up any of this books–I think he only has one. Also, ignore The Elements of Style. Many books break the myriad of rules in it because TEoS would make your writing dull, trust me.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
You are my Stars, you can e-mail me about anything, and I will do my best to respond. I want you to know me as more than a writer/author, so I am very human and personable when I speak to anybody. Anybody at all.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?
I suppose psychological. I love exploring the psychological aspects of my characters, and sometimes I don’t think I’m making them dark enough. But I have learned to strike that balance between being too dark and not dark enough, and I think I’ve achieved that with When Stars Die. My characters will always be psychologically tormented.
What character from your writing is your favorite and why?
Amelia. She’s loyal and determined and will always be there for you, despite her own demons. She does what she thinks is best, even if it isn’t, but she is a very good person at heart, and in that way, it makes her a very innocent character easily hurt, but that is who she is.
Additional Information you’d like to share:
When Stars Die is out on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. E-book will be released some time in December.
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