Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Interview with Melissa de la Cruz for Gotham High

Gotham High

by Melissa de la Cruz & Thomas Pitilli
Publisher: DC Ink
Release Date: April 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novels, Sequential Art, Superheroes, Comics
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex and Eliza and The Witches of East End comes a reimagining of Gotham for a new generation of readers. Before they became Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker, Bruce, Selina, and Jack were high schoolers who would do whatever it took--even destroy the ones they love--to satisfy their own motives.

After being kicked out of his boarding school, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to find that nothing is as he left it. What once was his family home is now an empty husk, lonely but haunted by the memory of his parents' murder. Selina Kyle, once the innocent girl next door, now rules over Gotham High School with a dangerous flair, aided by the class clown, Jack Napier.

When a kidnapping rattles the school, Bruce seeks answers as the dark and troubled knight--but is he actually the pawn? Nothing is ever as it seems, especially at Gotham High, where the parties and romances are of the highest stakes ... and where everyone is a suspect.

With enchanting art by Thomas Pitilli, this new graphic novel is just as intoxicating as it is chilling, in which dearest friends turn into greatest enemies--all within the hallways of Gotham High!

Can you briefly describe GOTHAM HIGH and its characters?

Gotham High is about Batman, Joker and Catwoman in high school. It re-imagines them as former high school best friends turned rivals who are in love with the same girl. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

Truly it is hard to pick – I love how smart and crafty Selina is, and how much Jack cares, and how desperately Bruce just wants to do the right thing. 

Did you find inspiration anywhere to write this novel?

In thinking of Bruce and Jack’s dynamic, I kept thinking of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Capote said he thought the killer, Perry Smith, was just like him, from the same background, the same history, but “one of us walked out the front door and one of us walked out the back door.” I thought of how due to circumstance and choices, one would grow up to be a superhero and one a super villain, but at the start, they were almost the same kind of person. That felt like such a tragedy to me, and I wanted my book to have that weight.

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Oh man there is only ever one Batman song- Prince’s Batdance. “You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” I must have written that a thousand times in my journal as a teen. 

What is it like to write a comic book? How is it different from any of your other stories?

It’s more like writing a screenplay than a prose novel – you have to think about the page turns and how the story plays out on images across the page. It’s a learning curve for sure. You can’t just have people talking, that’s boring, something has to happen. And you have to tell the story through images, not just words. It was fun, it was different, it was a cool 

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Oh they’re in high school, so no drinking! But my adult readers can go to New York, to the Rainbow Room and have one of their fabulous cocktails, since Bruce and Selina go to the top of the Gotham Tower, based on the Empire State Building.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish GOTHAM HIGH?

Try my YA fantasy THE QUEEN’S ASSASSIN – also features a headstrong young girl and a brooding hero! 

What’s next for you?

Jo & Laurie – a romantic retelling of Little Women – co-written with my best friend Margaret Stohl.

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

Interview with Tracy Wolff for Crave


Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Release Date: April 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
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My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

Can you briefly describe CRAVE and its characters?

Crave is a lot of fun! I like to think it has something for everyone—romance, angst, adventure, angst, humor, angst, sarcasm, angst, and a bunch of paranormal creatures all thrown together in a boarding school in Alaska. Oh, and did I mention it’s got a little ebit of angst?

Grace is an every girl kind of heroine. A bunch of bad stuff has happened to her--which is how she lands at this boarding school in Alaska-- but she manages to keep a sense of humor as she works through it all. She’s also pretty kickass, if I do say so myself.

Jaxon is … complicated. His issues have issues, but he has a really good heart. One reviewer called him a giant marshmallow of a vampire and I have to admit, I love that description sooooo much.

Flint is a charmer through and through. He’s fun, sexy, loaded with charisma and he knows how to show a girl a good time. Of course, there’s a lot buried under the surface with him, but you’ve got to dig a little to get there. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

This is a hard one for me, because honestly, I love Grace, Jaxon, Flint and Macy all for very different reasons. But if I have to choose one, I’m going to go with Grace (even though Jaxon is a super close second). But there’s a lot of me in this book, and a lot of me in Grace specifically, so I’m going to pick her. But if you ask me tomorrow, I’ll probably say Jaxon because he makes me swoon …

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

Honestly, I’ve always loved vampires. Dracula, The Lost Boys, The Black Dagger Brotherhood, The Carpathians, The Farm, Boys that Bite, Twilight, Morganville … I’m here for them all! I never thought I’d write a vampire series, though, because I didn’t want to write one unless I had an original take on vampires. But when Jaxon’s world came to me (much of which will be revealed in books two and three of the series), I knew I wanted to write it. Once I had him and Grace and Flint fleshed out, the story just kind of poured out of me :)

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be? 

Gods and Monsters by Lana del Rey. It was running through my head a lot as I wrote Crave.

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

Ooooh! I am actually really horrible at dream casting, but I’ll give it a shot, just for you J

Grace: Joey King

Jaxon: Douglas Booth

Flint: Shameik Moore

Macy: Chloe Grace Moretz

Lia: Kiko Mizuhara

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Umm, blood. Obviously ;) But if you’re not an actual vampire, I suggest you grab a cold Dr. Pepper (it’s Grace’s favorite) and curl up in a super comfy arm chair because it’s a really looong book.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish CRAVE?

If they’re looking for vampires, I’m going to go a little old school and recommend a couple of my faves. Emily McKay has an amazing vampire trilogy called The Farm that I absolutely love. And Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires is my favorite vampire series ever. 

If they’re looking for something different, Sherry Thomas’s The Magnolia Sword (a retelling of the Mulan story) is out now and absolutely amazing. And We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fielder is a beautiful book.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

The American short storyist, Dorothy Parker, says writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat. And I have to say, she’s right. For me, the hardest part of writing is making myself sit down at the computer when I know I have to write a difficult scene. Not difficult like I can’t write it, but difficult emotionally, like I know I’m going to have to open up a vein and bleed all over the page (metaphorically speaking, of course). Some scenes mean touching on my own pain so the characters’ emotions feel real and resonate with the reader. Some days that’s okay and other days that’s really, really hard.

What’s next for you?

More Crave, actually. I’m currently working on Crush, the second book in the Crave series, and I’m so excited to be back in Grace and Jaxon’s world.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tracy Wolff wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—in second grade, around the same time she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. A one-time English professor with over fifty novels to her name, she now devotes most of her time to writing romance and dreaming up heroes. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Interview with Intisar Khanani for Thorn


by Intisar Khanani
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: March 24th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Fairy Tales
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A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

Can you briefly describe THORN and its characters?

THORN is a retelling of the Grimm’s tale, “The Goose Girl.” It’s both dark and whimsical, packed with sorrow and hope. It’s a tale of betrayal, and injustice, and sorcery, and learning to be strong in who you are and fight for what you understand to be right. 

At the heart of the story is Princess Alyrra. She’s grown up a victim of abuse, her power and rank protecting her from very little. So, when she is sent off to marry a prince whose family dies with alarming frequency, she has little hope for a better future. Along the way, she’s betrayed by her companion, Valka, who steals her skin and takes her place… leaving Alyrra free to make her own decisions for the first time in her life. And she decides she would much rather live a different life than her own. She has an unexpected ally in a talking horse who witnessed the switch (that’s straight from the fairy tale!), and a much more dangerous enemy in the fae sorceress who has sworn to destroy Prince Kestrin and his family. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

I love Alyrra deeply, and she is by far the character I have wept with and laughed with the most. (I mean, she’s also the point of view character!). But my favorite character is actually a rather ornery, ill-mannered horse named Moonflower who only shows up in the second half of the book or so. Moonflower has her own history, and I love how her response is to bite at people, and glower, and only slowly trust them. I love that she is passionately protective as a horse even if she won’t quite admit it to your face. As ridiculous as this might sound, I intend to keep writing companion novels until I manage to give Moonflower a happy fate. ;)

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

As I mentioned above, THORN is based on “The Goose Girl.” But much of the characters’ struggles with concepts of justice and compassion come from my own experiences growing up and watching nations lash out at each other over perceived wrongs… when a sense of history shows that both sides have been hurting each other for a very long time. How do you break out of that cycle? How do you achieve justice when everyone is wrong? Is it even possible? I still don’t know the answers to these questions, but I explore them and leave them open to the reader in THORN. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Terrible confession: I don’t listen to a lot of music. I can’t while writing, and somehow the rest of my day is busy and filling and I … mostly end up hearing kid-appropriate songs, from albums like Blue Moo by Sandra Boynton. This question therefore takes me back to songs I heard a long time ago, or that have just snuck in an caught me despite my general obliviousness. In this case, I’m going to mention “Beautiful” by Carole King. The music itself isn’t quite where it’s at for me, it’s the lyrics, and they are so much Alyrra. 

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

*cough cough* Look, I read books, okay? LOL. I do watch movies, but I’m actually really bad with faces. So, while I know I’ve loved most of what I’ve watched in the last year or so (Hidden Figures, Crazy Rich Asians, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, etc.) I’ve got nothing when it comes to actual actors…

I find visuals and sensory detail really challenging, so even when I write my first drafts, I rarely know what my characters look like. That’s something I build in afterward, mostly because my beta readers point out they have no idea what anyone looks like. Go figure. :P

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

A cup of mint tea out on a deck or in a meadow or park sounds like just the thing to me!

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish THORN?

Although very different in tone, I love W.R. Gingell’s Two Monarchies sequence, that begins with Masque (hookline: Beauty met the Beast and there was . . . Bloody murder?) and Kate Stradling’s The Legendary Inge, which takes a seemingly throw-away moment from Beowulf, genderswaps the main character (yay girl power!), and builds a fabulous story from there. Definitely an original fairy tale, and one of the few reads I’ve enjoyed so much I flipped back to start over again the moment I finished.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

Letting it go. Seriously. I find most parts of writing a book really challenging – from drafting to revision to line edits. But allowing myself to step back and decide I’ve done everything I can for that story? That’s so hard. I want to keep tinkering, I always know there’s more I can do, and I want to do it. I want to make it the best story that I can. Accepting that I’ve done the best I can in this moment, and that the story is as ready as it will be? That’s hard.

As a reader, what is the “one thing” that a mind-blowing story must have, in your opinion?

All the things. LOL! For me, if there isn’t strong character development, I tend to lose interest even with a fantastic plot. But I really think this is a matter of preference. 

What’s next for you?

I just turned in final edits (ouch! Letting gooooo!) on the first book in a companion duology to Thorn. If you pick up Thorn, you’ll notice a short story at the back of it titled The Bone Knife. It introduces my new heroine, Rae, who takes on a few of the strands left dangling from Thorn. Her book is titled The Theft of Sunlight and is slated to release sometime next year. Now I’ll be toggling back and forth between edits on the third book in my indie series, The Sunbolt Chronicles, and Rae’s second book. Never a dull moment!

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. 

Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s debut novel, Thorn, was picked up by HarperTeen and will be re-released in Winter 2020. In the meantime, she’s hard at work on the remaining books of The Sunbolt Chronicles.

On March 24th Thorn will be releasing from Hot Key (UK) and HarperTeen (US/CA)! To celebrate, the author is offering some amazing Thorn goodies to everyone who …
  • pre-orders/orders a copy of Thorn before March 31st at 23.59.
  • OR requests it from their library (library hold / suggested purchase) before March 31st at 23.59.
Here’s what’s up for grabs:

Physical goodies (US/UK):

  • A Thorn Bookmark
  • A set of Chibi Stickers featuring Thorn characters
  • A Signed Bookplate

PLUS Digital goodies (worldwide):

  • A PDF of Brambles – a Thorn prequel short story so you can jump into Alyrra’s world now!
  • A PDF of The (Annotated) Goose Girl – the original fairytale with annotations from yours truly in the margin
  • A coloring page of three Thorn-themed bookmarks
All you need to do to enter is send a proof of purchase (or screenshot of your library hold), your name and address to khananipreorder@gmail.com. T&Cs apply!

UK entrants: Hot Key Books rocks and can mail you physical goodies as well as the digital. Check it out here: http://hotkeybooks.com/thorn-pre-order/.

For more information, go to Intisar's website: http://booksbyintisar.com/thorn-pre-order/.

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