Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Interview with Rebecca Podos for The Wise and The Wicked



The Wise and the Wicked

by Rebecca Podos
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 28th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Magical Realism
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Synopsis:

Ruby Chernyavsky has been told the stories since she was a child: The women in her family, once possessed of great magical abilities to remake lives and stave off death itself, were forced to flee their Russian home for America in order to escape the fearful men who sought to destroy them. Such has it always been, Ruby’s been told, for powerful women. Today, these stories seem no more real to Ruby than folktales, except for the smallest bit of power left in their blood: when each of them comes of age, she will have a vision of who she will be when she dies—a destiny as inescapable as it is inevitable. Ruby is no exception, and neither is her mother, although she ran from her fate years ago, abandoning Ruby and her sisters. It’s a fool’s errand, because they all know the truth: there is no escaping one’s Time.

Until Ruby’s great-aunt Polina passes away, and, for the first time, a Chernyavsky’s death does not match her vision. Suddenly, things Ruby never thought she’d be allowed to hope for—life, love, time—seem possible. But as she and her cousin Cece begin to dig into the family’s history to find out whether they, too, can change their fates, they learn that nothing comes without a cost. Especially not hope.


Can you briefly describe THE WISE AND THE WICKED and their main characters? 

THE WISE AND THE WICKED is a contemporary Russian folktale about choice and destiny, and all that lies between the two. It follows Ruby Chernyavsky, born into a line of women who, according to family lore, were once possessed of powerful magic, including the ability to defy death itself. But, after being forced to flee their homeland by greedy men who sought to destroy them, they gave up their magic to keep themselves safe. Generations later, the only scrap of power that remains to them is this: Once a Chernyavsky comes of age, she has a vision of who she will be when she dies. Ruby has been raised to believe these visions cannot be fought or altered, until great-aunt dies, and her premonition proves untrue. Suddenly, Ruby must decide how far she’s willing to go to change her own fate, who she truly wants to be, and who she cannot stand becoming. 


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

It feels disloyal to pick, but I’d have to say it’s a tie between Dov, Ruby’s love interest with a mysterious origin story of his own, and Cece, her cousin and best friend. I don’t often write sweet, cinnamon roll characters, but they’re the closest I’ve come, and were fun to set against the pricklier Ruby and her nemesis. 


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

This sounds super vague and sort of pretentious, but I wanted to tell a story about stories. There are many different forms of storytelling found in THE WISE AND THE WICKED—fairy tales and folk tales, family legends, song lyrics and podcasts. All are devices we use to sort out and engage with the world, and our place inside of it. I wanted to write a character who’s been told stories about herself and the person she’s destined to become, and who’s grown up believing them. And then, suddenly, she has to parse out the places where story and truth tangle together, vine-like, in order to make a path forward for herself. 

That and, you know, I really wanted a book with Baba Yaga in it. 


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

It so happens that I’m obsessed with writing soundtracks, so I know exactly which song! It would be “The Day I Died” by Alex Winston. Yes, it is on the nose. 



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

Hoo boy, am I bad at fan casting! I will say that Cece, Ruby’s beloved cousin, would be played by the high school-self of one of my best friends, who inspired her style of dress, expansive hair, and general sweetness. 


Summer is coming and we love to go out and enjoy the sun. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

I’d recommend a strong tea brewed in a traditional samovar (but make it iced; it’s May, I’m not a monster) and a shadowy clearing in the backwoods of Maine, if a trip to the Republic of Karelia in Russia is not in your future. Adult readers may feel free to spike it as they please. Responsibly! 


Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish THE WISE AND THE WICKED? 

Absolutely! I’ve been on a queer SFF kick, and have loved Never-Contented Things, an epically twisted fairytale with a deeply human core, by Sarah Porter. Also, for the four people who haven’t read Emily Duncan’s Wicked Saints, an epic Russian fantasy, get on that! And for those who finish TWATW and want more Baba Yaga in their lives (who wouldn’t?) I’d recommend Baba Yaga’s Assistant, an amazing MG graphic novel by Marika McCoola, and Ask Baba Yaga, a trippy, hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt “advice book” by Taisia Kitaiskaia. 

What’s next for you? 

I’m working on my next book, another contemporary fantasy tentatively called THE DUST ALPHABET (which, hey, you can already add on Goodreads!) It’s a blend of Jewish mysticism, history and magic about the descendants of the rabbi who created the famous Golem of Prague in America. It means the world to me, because it’s my first time writing a Jewish character, which also means it will be a total bear to draft…






Rebecca Podos' debut novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a B&N Best YA Book of 2016. Her second book, LIKE WATER, won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children's and Young Adult. THE WISE AND THE WICKED, her third novel, is forthcoming in May 2019.

A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing Program at Emerson College and the Creative Writing Program at College of Santa Fe, Rebecca's fiction has been published in journals like Glimmer Train, Paper Darts, and Smokelong Quarterly. By day, she works as a YA and MG agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston.






Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Interview with Tiffany Schmidt for The Boy Next Story



The Boy Next Story (Bookish Boyfriends #2)

by Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks
Release Date: May 21st 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
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Synopsis:

The second book in a series where your favorite literary characters come to life, inspired by the timeless classic, Little Women!

There’s no one better than the boy next door. At least not according to Aurora Campbell, fourteen, who has been in love with Tobias May since their very first sandbox kiss. The problem is, he’s in love with her older sister, Merrilee. And Merri is already dating one of his best friends.

Rory is learning all about pining as her class reads The Great Gatsby, a book she doesn’t find “great” at all. Also not great—her GPA, something she needs to fix, quickly, if she’d like to apply for the chance to spend a week studying art with her hero in New York City over winter break. But when Ms. Gregoire assigns her to read Little Women for extra credit, Rory discovers more than she expected—both about herself and Toby. Maybe she wasn’t in love with the boy next door. . . but the boy next story.

Love is complicated, and it’s all about to get even trickier for Rory at Reginald R. Hero Prep . . . where with the help of one quirky English teacher, students’ fantasies come true, often with surprising consequences.


Can you briefly describe what’s happening in THE BOY NEXT STORY and their main characters? 

Rory loves the boy next door, Toby. 

Toby pining for Rory’s sister Merri. 

Merri’s dating Toby’s best friend, Fielding. 

Literary hijinks ensue when their (maybe magical!) teacher assigns Rory to read Little Women and her life starts to resemble the plot of the book. It’s a story of sisters and outgrowing old crushes, knocking ideals off pedestals, and falling in love while figuring out who you are and how to use your voice. 


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

Oh geez. I love them all. Is that answer allowed? I will say that Huck Baker is a character who exploded onto the page and stole scenes in a way I hadn’t originally envisioned or anticipated. He quickly became one of my favorites to write and he’ll be getting his own love story in BOOKISH BOYFRIENDS 4: GET A CLUE. 


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

I’m going to say something very controversial right here – I’m #TeamAmyMarch. It’s a younger sister’s prerogative and I’ve always been so frustrated by the Little Women Amy haters. This book might just be my attempt to get them to change their mind (and I’ve definitely done a fist pump for every early reader who’s contacted me to say they have). 

Even while drafting the first book in the BOOKISH BOYFRIENDS series, I knew that Rory needed her own story. As a younger sister myself, I know what it feels like to be overshadowed by a high-achieving and charismatic older sibling (Thanks, Heather!). Add in Rory’s lifelong secret crush on the boy who’s smitten with her sister, and you’ve got all the elements of an angsty rom-com. 

Oh, and I can’t forget Ms. Gregoire, the girls’ (maybe magical) English teacher whose assignments bleed over into the characters’ lives. Poor Rory has to read The Great Gatsby and Little Women. Drawing from and playing with aspects of these classic novels was one of my favorite parts of writing The Boy Next Story. And, yes, there is a twist on the book-burning scene. (Go, #TeamAmy!) 


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

Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s “Someone to Stay” 


I have a whole playlist for this book, but this is the song that hits its emotional core. I still can’t listen to it without tearing up over the lyrics: “Can you keep me close? Can you love me most?” 


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

A cup of tea, a bottle of kombucha, a package of liquorice, and key lime pie. . . Hmm, probably not all at the same time.


Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish THE BOY NEXT STORY? 









What’s next for you? 

Bookish Boyfriends 3 & 4! Talk Nerdy to Me (Eliza + Curtis!) and Get a Clue (Huck + Winston) are both in various stages of drafting and editing. I cannot wait for these romances to get in readers’ hands!






Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family book 1). 

She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

You can find out more about her and her books at: TiffanySchmidt.com, TiffanySchmidtWrites.Tumblr.com or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Interview with Breeana Shields for The Bone Charmer


The Bone Charmer

by Breeana Shields
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: May 21st 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Synopsis:

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.



Can you briefly describe what’s happening in THE BONE CHARMER and their main characters?

Sure! The Bone Charmer takes place in a world where bones are the source of all magic--they tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. The story follows a girl named Saskia, and on the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines apprenticeships—her worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of a dark past.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones, and the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.


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

Definitely Saskia, if only because I spent the most time with her. Also, after writing her story two different ways—in two alternate timelines—I feel like I know her better than any other character I’ve written.


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

I find inspiration all around me—in snatches of overheard conversations, museum exhibits, documentaries, movies, and news articles. But usually it’s the combination of multiple different ideas that makes something finally begin to gel, and that’s what happened with The Bone Charmer. Several elements of the story had been rattling around my brain as separate ideas for years, but it wasn’t until they finally collided that I knew I had something I could fall in love with.


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

Another Life by Ingrid Michaelson (And stay tuned later in the blog tour for the entire Bone Charmer playlist!)




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

How about these Dug Up Pretzel Bones


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

If readers are looking for another dark and twisty read with strong female characters, I highly recommend Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series. On the other hand, if readers are in the mood for a lighter, more humorous love story involving themes of fate and free will, I recommend Lovestruck—a totally charming new release from Kate Watson. 


What’s next for you?

I’m hard at work on edits for the sequel to THE BONE CHARMER, and then I plan to start something brand new.



Breeana Shields is an author of fantasy novels for teens including THE BONE CHARMER, POISON'S KISS, and POISON'S CAGE. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English.

When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and playing board games with her extremely competitive family. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, her three children, and two adorable, but spoiled dogs.