Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Interview with Catherine Linka for What I Want You to See

What I Want You to See

by Catherine Linka
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult
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Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work—and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.

Can you briefly describe WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE and its characters?

Sabine is a first year art student getting back on her feet after a horrible year. She lost her mom in the spring and after months of living in her car, she got new friends, and a scholarship that even covers a cozy rented room. But Sabine’s painting instructor, Collin Krell, critiques her work so viciously that she’s terrified she’ll lose her scholarship. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who wants to help and he seems to have the access and insights she needs to deal with Krell. But Sabine makes a not-so-great choice that pulls her into a situation that could demolish the new life she created. 

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

Sabine, of course. After I spend so much time in a character’s head, I can’t help loving her. She’s smart and determined, and knows she’s talented, but she’s barely holding it together after losing her mom and their home. She’s aching for friendship and love, but she holds herself back because she doesn’t want people to know she was living in her car. She knows they’ll label her that “homeless girl,” and the only label she wants is “talented painter.”

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

I wanted to write a story set in the art world, and I’m obsessed with art crime so it had to be twisty. I remembered a book I’d read where a grad student did something borderline illegal to help a guy she loved, but it took her life apart. I thought what if my character was young and desperate so she crossed a line, but what she was doing wasn’t really hurting anyone….until it sends her world crashing.

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

I always freak a little when I hear the perfect song for the first time. As soon as I heard the opening bars of Smoke by Lucie Silvas, I had to stop and listen because this was Sabine’s song. When Sabine meets Adam, “she knew right from that moment he was too good to resist” and then, “Somebody stop me. I am a danger to myself.” Perfect, right?!!

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

Sabine’s in her first year at the art institute, so I’d team up with Ariana Grande to produce and play Sabine. Then I’d beg her to cast Avan Jogia to play Adam, because he’s got Adam’s smoldering intensity—and she’d need to cast Matt Bennett as Kevin because he’s got the smile and the curls.

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

For a perfect book date, you’d want to go to The Broad art museum—or any museum of contemporary art, and contemplate a few pieces that really speak to you. Then you’d want to find a grapefruity drink—maybe with vodka—maybe not and soak up some sunshine on the patio of a nearby restaurant while you dip into guac and WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE?

Art lovers who yearn to live in NYC should check out Piper Perish and Art Boss by Kayla Cagan. LGBTQ readers will fall in love with Kelly Loy Gilbert’s Picture Us in the Light. And if you like your stories twisty, dive into Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart.

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

Figuring out why a story isn’t working. It can be painful!!

What’s next for you?

Getting my newest protagonist out of the mess she’s gotten herself into.

Catherine Linka is the author of the young adult novel WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE as well as the dystopian series A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and A GIRL UNDONE. A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS was an ABA Indie Next Pick and won the Young Adult Novel Award 2014 from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. A frequent speaker at writing and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and worked as a young adult book buyer for an independent bookstore for seven years. Prior to pursuing a career in publishing, she studied international politics at Georgetown University followed by a master’s degree in business at the University of North Carolina. Catherine is married and lives with her husband in the San Gabriel foothills. Visit her at

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🖌 G I V E A W A Y 🖌 . . Happy Wednesday, Beautiful Bookish People! Do you have any hidden talents or what talent do you wish you would have? . . Today I am super excited to share with you about an original story about belonging and deceptive expectations. After some tragedies in her life Sabine Reye's has won a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school. However, things don't turn out to be the way she hoped and she finds herself meeting someone and doing things that could be seen as questionable. Full of passion, attraction and complexity, this story would keep you up all night! . . I have partnered with @letstalkya and @mbc_books to give you the opportunity to win a copy for yourself . . Entries for the giveaway: ▪︎Follow @theffbc & @whatmakespatri ▪︎Follow @catherine_linka ▪︎Follow @letstalkya & @mbc_books ▪︎Comment - Answer my question above ⬆️ #qotd . . Extra entries: ▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk & @artsyreadergirl ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (let me know who did you follow): @booking_belle @savingsinseconds @bookishgeekig @ya.its.lit @l.m.durand @sometimesleelynnreads @sincerelykarenjo @bookablereads @shalini_g26 @moonlight_rendezvous @twilightreader1 @adreamindream @kaitplusbooks @kagunderman @laurensliterarylibrary @amysbooketlist #whatiwantyoutosee #letstalkya #catherinelinka #bookshimmy #bookgiveaway #bookgram #yabookstagram #ireadya #booksatgrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #booknerd #booklover #amreading #yalit #booksofinstagram #bookcommunity #booksbooksbooks
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Interview with Alexandria Warwick for Below

Below (North #1)

by Alexandria Warwick
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister's face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister's face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister's face in hand. But in Yuki's harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

Can you briefly describe BELOW and its characters?

At its heart, Below is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. It’s about Apaay, a young woman who learns her sister’s face has been stolen by the North’s most notorious demon. In her hunt to get back her sister’s stolen face, she becomes trapped in a deadly labyrinth, where her only chance of escape is to find her sister’s face before the labyrinth kills her.

Apaay is deeply loyal to those she loves. Throughout her journey, she has to outwit Yuki, a terrifying girl who rules over the labyrinth. There is also Numiak, an enigmatic man and Ila, a young deaf woman, whose paths cross with Apaay in the labyrinth.

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

I’d say my favorite character is the main character, Apaay. She is the most like me, so writing her story has been rather easy in terms of voice, but also kind of eye-opening because in the process of developing her character, I'm learning things about myself as well. 

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

The initial idea was inspired by the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe. In the show, there's a spirit called Koh, the Face Stealer. I thought the concept was really fascinating and wanted to center a story around the idea that faces could be stolen. The next piece of the puzzle came when I was researching Inuit mythology, and that's when I decided to pair the face-stealing concept with an Arctic-inspired setting.

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

I'd probably pair it with the song Untitled by Sigur Ros. Their music has this eerie quality that I think reflects the setting well.

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

Oh, this is a good one! I’d have to say that in order to truly experience Below, you’d have to head north of the Arctic Circle, a cup of steaming tea in hand.

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

If you're looking for something character-driven with an atmospheric setting, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Along that same vein, if you're looking for a story with a brutally cold setting, a compelling demon, and stunning prose, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. For books with less common mythologies, try the Red Winter trilogy by Annette Marie!

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

There are a lot of moments when you read a current draft and it just sounds like a pile of crap. Those are the times when you need to have faith in your capabilities and know that the story in its current state isn't going to be forever. 

What’s next for you?

Next up is book two in the North series! Meanwhile, I'm always tinkering with future story ideas in the background. :)

Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. She is the author of The Demon Race and the upcoming North series.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Interview with Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani for Seven Deadly Shadows

Seven Deadly Shadows

by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 28th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
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Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

Can you briefly describe SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS and its characters?

COURTNEY: SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS is loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s immortal film, SEVEN SAMURAI. It’s about a young woman named Kira Fujikawa, who works as a miko, or shrine maiden, at her family’s ancestral Shinto shrine. 

One night, the Fujikawa shrine is attacked by a band of yokai demons, monsters who are searching for an ancient sword that once belonged to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu. When they are unable to locate the sword, the monsters promise to return during the rise of the next full moon. With her ancestral shrine in shambles and the shadows closing in around her, Kira teams up with the shrine’s kitsune guardian, Shiro, to seek help in Tokyo . . . only to find hope in the unlikeliest of places.

VALYNNE: Seven Deadly Shadows is a retelling of an old, classic film by Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai, a movie of which Courtney and I have always been fans. In the original story, a village is being attacked by bandits. The villagers end up hiring seven samurai to help defend their homes. Our saga replaces the bandits with monsters and demons from Japanese folklore. Shinigami, death gods, are used instead of samurai. 

Kira, the protagonist, is a young teenage girl who is subject to all kinds of metaphorical demons before she is forced to face actual monsters. Seven Deadly Shadows depicts a character who must learn how to form relationships in order to navigate a world filled with adolescent issues as well as the fantastical world that surrounds her.

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

COURTNEY: For me, it’s probably Lady O-bei. The scene in which she and Kira meet is one of the best things I’ve written thus far; I remember feeling utterly transported while writing it! 

VALYNNE: My favorite character is Kira’s grandmother. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think you have to have a dark sense of humor to appreciate this character. She is abrasive, not afraid to say exactly what she thinks, and does not possess the kind nature usually associated with grandmothers.

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

COURTNEY: If I recall correctly, it started with a tweet. Valynne and I had been talking about writing a novel together for years; and during a Twitter conversation about SEVEN SAMURAI, someone mentioned yokai and shinigami and it was all downhill from there.

VALYNNE: The idea was Courtney’s. She pitched the story to me, and I immediately fell in love. My inspiration came from many Japanese samurai movies I watched growing up, and then Japanese folktales that were told to me as a child. We both have a love for anime and manga, so those influenced the writing as well.

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

COURTNEY: Hmm, that’s a great question! I’m really into K-pop at the moment, so I’d say that Red Velvet’s PEEK-A-BOO fits the mood, Twice’s BREAKTHROUGH fits the theme, and ONEUS’s VALKYRIE adds a nice dose of epic!

VALYNNE: For me it would be Panic Room by Au/Ra. I think the song and lyrics embody someone plagued by fear and the feeling of being surrounded by demons.

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

COURTNEY: Honestly, I’d like to see SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS as an animated film; especially since the book drew so heavily on anime and manga like BLEACH and DEATH NOTE.

VALYNNE: For Kira, or any Japanese female character, I always say Kimiko Miyashima because she is like my little sister. I like Haruma Miura as Shiro, Kento Nagayama as Ronin, Ken Watanabe as Shimada, and Rinko Kikuchi as Roji.

Can you tell us a fun/interesting fact from SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS?

COURTNEY: While I was in Japan researching SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS, I spotted an enormous black butterfly in the middle of an empty shrine path. It launched itself into the air as I approached, circled a few times, and disappeared into the shrine’s gardens.

I like to think that one of Shimada’s spirits stopped by to say hello! 

VALYNNE: In the first draft, Ronin wasn’t even a character in the book.

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

COURTNEY: Ooh, perhaps matcha tea in a lovely Japanese garden. Or if you aren’t a fan of tea, get a Ramune soda!

VALYNNE: I am a Diet Coke girl. Everything goes with Diet Coke. As for the place, I always like curling up in bed.

Is there anything we need to know before we start reading SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS?

COURTNEY: The finished novel contains both a Fujikawa Shrine map and a Japanese glossary to help you acclimate yourself to Kira’s world.

VALYNNE: I think sometimes it is hard to understand just how important honor and duty are in the Japanese culture. That alone is reason enough to motivate a character to risk his/her life.

What is it like to be a co-author and what would be the most difficult part of writing a book for you?

COURTNEY: Co-writing a novel in one voice is difficult, but not impossible. In general, I’d first draft the odd-numbered chapters, and Valynne drafted the even ones. I’d revise the even-numbered chapters, and she revised the odd. 

We had a verbal framework for the first draft—we’d meet weekly to discuss where we wanted the novel to go; but by the second draft, we needed a hard outline to make it all work. I’m not a great outliner, but I learned!

VALYNNE: Being a co-author is good because you have two people bringing ideas to the table as opposed to one. It’s also more difficult because you have to make sure the voice of the characters is consistent despite different writing styles.

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

COURTNEY: Go read Kat Cho’s WICKED FOX! It’s set in Korea, rather than Japan, but features a nine-tailed gumiho that needs to consume the energy of men to survive. It’s fantastic! 

What’s next for you?

COURTNEY: I’m currently researching a historical horror set in Paris during the Belle Epoque; developing a YA sci-fi world and mythos for [redacted—sorry, if I told you I’d have to kill you!]; and writing a feminist adult fantasy novel. I’m also working on a new comic. In short, I like to stay busy!

VALYNNE: I am hoping to finish two more companion books for the Ink and Ashes series.

Courtney Alameda

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

Valynne E. Maetani

Valynne E. Maetani (pronounced Vuh-lin Mah-eh-tah-nee) grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Currently, she is a full-time writer. She is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children's literature because every child should grow up believing his or her story deserves to be told. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the New Visions Award 2013, a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection, and Best Fiction Book in Salt Lake City Weekly’s Best of Utah Arts Award for 2015. She lives in Salt Lake City.