Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Interview with Debbie Rigaud for Truly Madly Royally

Truly Madly Royally

by Debbie Rigaud
Publisher: Point
Release Date: July 30th 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
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Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She's excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she's definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who's an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming...and undeniably cute. Zora can't ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother's big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora's not sure it's something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that's like The Princess Diaries for a new generation.

Can you briefly describe TRULY MADLY ROYALLY and their main characters?

TRULY MADLY ROYALLY follows what happens after Zora (a Jersey girl-next-door) meets and falls for Owen (an actual prince of a European country) at a prestigious college program one summer. Is that brief enough? Because I can go on and on about their memorable meet-cute, their sweet chemistry and, yes, their colliding worlds. It’s a fun ride—one I hope readers enjoy coming along for!

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

I love them all, but my favorite character is Zora. I admire her. Even though she’s way out of her comfort zone, and figuring things out isn’t easy, she handles it. Sometimes she handles it clumsily, sometimes she handles it like a bawse, but she handles it. Plus it’s cool she has a few life hacks for staying on task, including mapping goals out with her best friend. But at the end of it all, I love that she has a big heart. She loves her community actively, and wants to make a difference in it. Zora knows life is interconnected, and she works hard to be a strong link in her family and her neighborhood.

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

When it came to crafting Zora’s personality, I found inspiration in the girls and women around me who are quick to pitch in, lend a hand, make an impact. I interviewed a community-minded friend who is always thinking up ways to add social or creative value to her neighbourhood. I wanted to learn what makes her tick. I gave Zora some of the same impulses she has, and I think this brought Zora to life. As far as the theme, I was definitely inspired by Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry, as well as by the community reaction to their nuptials. All over Black Twitter, there was excitement, curiosity, judgement, indifference, support and so I tried to weave those sentiments throughout the story where it made sense.

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

“Get Back to Me” by Abby Deneke, a song on The Paragon Project, Vol. 2: Medicinal Music album (and streaming on Spotify). This song is so special because it was written and performed by Columbus, Ohio high school students. I just love it. When I heard this song, I was struck by how perfectly it captures Zora’s struggle at one point—the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I tug of war. She’s got this mapped-out summer, but should she allow herself to get distracted by this cute boy, this prince with the swoon-worthy accent? The song brings to life this mood so well.

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

Oooh, fun! I’d love to see Skai Jackson play Zora. She’s definitely a goal-getter like Zora. She also supports causes close to her heart, like Zora does. And whoa, she’s such a fashionista! You just know she’d look stunning attending a royal wedding. For Owen, I’m going with Lucas Jade Zumann from the Netflix series “Anne with an E.” I am a huge fan of that show, and he’s a standout on it. On the show he and Anne have this ongoing crush, and he plays into the will-they-or-won’t-they role so well. And of course, if Meghan Markle ever comes out of acting retirement, she’d make a lovely Sadie, the royal bride. Just putting that out there. ;-)

Summer is here 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?

The cover covers it all. ;-) A picturesque picnic, summery drinks, adorable company. Yes, Zora and Owen chilled on a college campus with some cool drinks—fruit smoothies for starters. But I’d also recommend a peach iced tea at the park. Even Jersey girls like Zora and I are allowed to enjoy signature Southern refreshments on a romantic summer’s day.

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

There are diverse royal romances tearing up the adult lit world right now (by Alyssa Cole and Jasmine Guillory to name two), and I’m all over them. In the YA/NA world, royal romances are hot as well. There’s Casey McQuiston’s RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, Rachel Hawkins’ HER ROYAL HIGHNESS and the upcoming AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee. As for contemporary YA romances starring Black girls, I highly recommend I WANNA BE WHERE YOU ARE by Kristina Forest, and Justin Reynolds’ THE OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS

What’s next for you?

I am co-writing a middle grade series with activist/actor Alyssa Milano! The first book comes out in October and I can’t wait. I’m also working on another YA rom-com, this time centering on an overprotective Haitian-American girl. It’s been something I’ve been working on for years, so I’m glad it’s just about ready to share with editors.

YA author Debbie M. Rigaud began her writing career covering news and entertainment for magazines. She’s interviewed celebs, politicians, social figures and “real” girls. Her writing has appeared in Seventeen, CosmoGIRL!, Essence, J-14, Trace, Heart&Soul and Vibe Vixen, to name a few. Her first YA fiction writing was published in the anthology HALLWAY DIARIES (KimaniTru Press/September 2007). Her first standalone YA book--a Simon Pulse romantic comedy titled PERFECT SHOT--is due out in the Fall of 2009.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Interview with Sarah Henning for Sea Witch Rising

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch #2)

by Sarah Henning
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: August 6th 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
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“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love. 

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds? 

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

Can you briefly describe SEA WITCH series and their main characters and what’s going to happen in SEA WITCH RISING?

SEA WITCH is an origin story for the sea witch as she is in Hans Christian Anderson’s original tale. It’s set in an alternate 1860s Denmark when Anderson would’ve been alive and follows the life of Evie, a secret witch as she grapples with the many faces of love while aiding a mermaid who has made a dangerous bargain.

SEA WITCH RISING picks up after the epilogue of SEA WITCH, fifty years in the future at the opening of World War I. It is told in alternating points-of-view by the sea witch and Runa, the twin sister of a mermaid who begged for and won the sea witch’s magical help to “go above” on the pretence of true love.

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

It’s so hard to play favourites but if I have to pick it would be Nik. He’s just such a cinnamon roll. I know so many of my readers love him too and that gives me great joy—and for those of you who loved him in the first one, don’t you worry, his fingerprints appear all over SEA WITCH RISING.

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

I really set out to make SEA WITCH RISING a book about the people left behind. Who picks up the pieces when the main character leaves on an epic journey? In traditional tellings of THE LITTLE MERMAID, the sisters do try to get the little mermaid back, but there’s no real context given to the how and why of their actions? What were they thinking? What did they sacrifice? What were the consequences we don’t see? Every tale has a ripple effect and in this case those ripples run head-on with real history and Denmark’s understated-but-important role in World War I. 

Denmark was technically neutral during the war but Germany used its proximity to coerce Danish seamen into planting mines in the pinch-point waterways around Denmark as a threat to Allied ships. Additionally, young Danish men were conscripted into the German army and many gave their lives for something they didn’t believe in or benefit from.

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

This is going to sound silly because of the title but I really think Katy Perry’s “Rise” is super applicable to the arcs of each of the main characters.

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

I’ve often pointed to Alicia Vikander for Evie and she’d be perfect in SEA WITCH RISING too. As for Runa, I really think Kaitlyn Dever who played Amy in BOOKSMART would be perfect for Runa.

Summer is here 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?

A trip to the beach with an umbrella chair and a bottle Prosecco or fancy sparkling water would be for SEA WITCH RISING.

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

I highly recommend THE BONE HOUSES by Emily Lloyd-Jones. It’s out in September and is the perfect concoction of fairy tales, zombie-style horror, and dry wit.

What’s next for you?

I have a YA contemporary called THROW LIKE A GIRL coming out on June 7th, 2020, and then the first in a new fantasy duology is scheduled for summer 2020 called THE PRINCESS WILL SAVE YOU. The second book will be out in summer 2021.

Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.

July 16th

July 17th

NovelKnight - Interview
The Reading Corner for All - Review + Favourite Quotes + Dream Cast
Jrsbookreviews - Review

July 18th

Luchia Houghton Blog - Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Chemist - Review + Favourite Quotes
L.M. Durand - Review + Favourite Quotes

July 19th

Moonlight Rendezvous - Review + Favourite Quotes
Utopia State of Mind - Review + Favourite Quotes
Dazzled by Books - Review + Playlist

July 20th

The Book Nut - Review + Playlist
Morgan Vega - Review + Favourite Quotes + Playlist

July 21st

Kait Plus Books - Interview
Frayed Books - Review
Bookish_Kali - Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookishly Nerdy - Review + Favourite Quotes

July 22nd

The Reading Life - Guest Post
Book Rambler - Review

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Interview with Kalyn Josephson for The Storm Crow

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1)

by Kalyn Josephson
Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Release Date: July 9th 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life...until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother's death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

Can you briefly describe THE STORM CROW and their main characters?

THE STORM CROW follows Thia, a princess who trained her entire life to become a crow rider—until the day they’re destroyed. When she finds a surviving crow egg in the rubble, she teams up with her sister the queen, her best friend, and a kind-hearted inventor to hatch the egg and defeat the empire that destroyed the crows.

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

Kiva! I love her cutting honesty. She doesn’t beat around the bush and she’s not afraid to say what she thinks.

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

I did! The story was inspired by a newspaper article I read about a little girl who fed her neighborhood crows. In return they brought her gifts, and her neighbors called her The Crow Queen. That title is what gave me the idea for a kingdom whose way of life was based of magical crows and what would happen if they were suddenly gone.

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

Alive, by Sia. I think it really captures Thia’s emotional journey, and it has a raw strength to it that fits the vibe of the book.

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

Oh gosh, these types of questions are always so tough for me. I think Isabela Moner would make a great Thia, and I’ve thought of Ericen as a young Robbie Amell. For Caylus I think of a young Eddie Redmayne. Kiva is the one I really struggle with and haven’t figured out! Someone tall and seriously badass.

Summer is here 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 somewhere cold and rainy, like Ireland, or warm and storming, like a little cottage off the US east coast. Anywhere with the steady drum of rain the background that promotes drinking a nice cup of tea ;)

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

CROWN OF FEATHERS by Nicki Pau Preto! Instead of crow riders, you get phoenix riders, and they’re super cool! It’s got fantastic worldbuilding for all your epic fantasy needs.

What’s next for you?

Right now I’m working on the sequel to THE STORM CROW, which we should be announcing the title for soon. Other than that, I have a couple drafts of other books I’m playing around with, all to do with more types of animal magic!

Kalyn Josephson is a Technical Writer in Silicon Valley, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. She grew up in San Luis Obispo, CA, but now lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an even tinier owl). When not writing YA Fantasy, she loves baking, reading, playing sports, and watching too many movies.