Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Interview with Anna Bright for The Beholder

The Beholder (The Beholder #1)

by Anna Bright
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 4th 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
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Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

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

THE BEHOLDER is a there-and-back-again story: Selah, our main character, has her marriage proposal declined and she’s sent away from home by her stepmother to find a husband elsewhere. The Beholder’s crew and her suitors—plus a couple ~unauthorized~ boys—make up the rest of the cast. 

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

Selah. She’s a squishy-hearted bookworm, just like me. Apart from her, I love Homer. He’s a grumpy old man who tells it to you like it is. Also, he has a map in his office. 

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

I was blow-drying my hair and thinking about Stephenie Meyer’s THE HOST! Romance was rolling around my brain. And once I got the idea to structure the book around the fairy tales I retell, the rest was history. 

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

Blood Stutter, by Handsome Ghost. It’s tentative and emotional and sparkly and gauzy and I listened to it a BAZILLION TIMES while I drafted. 

Since it is still cold outside, what hot drink do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

I will be drinking a thousand cups of PG Tips tea with two sugars and a heap of milk as I draft the sequel, so… that. 

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

If you need romance, I would point you to FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE by Sandhya Menon, DEFY THE STARS et al. by Claudia Gray, or UNMARRIAGEABLE by Soniah Kamal (not YA, still awesome). 

What’s next for you? 

I’m working on THE BEHOLDER #2! And……..other things.

I believe in woods, mountains, highways, cobblestones, roller coasters, dancing, concerts, cherry Pop Tarts, books, and magic.
When I'm not reading or writing on my couch, I'm dragging my husband off on an adventure, communing with Salem (my kitten/spiritual familiar), or causing trouble at One More Page Books, where I work.

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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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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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:, or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.