Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Interview with Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz for Jo & Laurie

Jo & Laurie

by Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 2nd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Retellings
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Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence.

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo's desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart's desire or lose the love of her life forever?

Can you briefly describe JO & LAURIE and its characters?

Mel: Jo & Laurie is a retelling of Little Women that imagines Jo herself wrote the book and is now writing the sequel. Jo March is as headstrong as ever, and now dealing with writerly success and sequel pressure, with her steadfast friend Theodore Laurence at her side. Her sisters – sweet Meg and ambitious Amy, are also in the book. 

Margie: To describe Jo’s writerly struggles, we took our inspiration from Louisa May Alcott, who became an instant literary phenomenon upon publication of the book, and then was immediately enlisted to write another, to finish the stories she had begun. As writers, we know how hard that moment can be--especially when you are writing the story of your family, as both Alcott and Jo were. We also know how hard it can be to juggle writing a love story with living one, and we wanted to capture that between Jo and Laurie as well. 

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

Mel: Jo has always been our favourite character in Little Women, and in Jo & Laurie, she is the focus of the story. When we were little girls, we looked up to Jo as someone who embodied our desire to be writers. She was our first heroine. And Laurie was our first boyfriend and we were always aghast that she does not marry him. It never felt “right” to us, and when we had the idea of the book that was our first ‘lightbulb’ moment – we’ll rewrite Little Women to give the 12-year-old girls we still are the ending that we’ve always wanted. 

Margie: Every woman writer who read that book identified with Jo. After reading Little Women, I went around telling people my future plans were to steal away to a garret in Sardinia and write while staring out the window at the azure sea. I think those were the exact words, ha! But Jo’s garret was what I aspired to, always.

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

Mel: I had been toying with a Little Women retelling for years, and had tried several different versions but only when I spoke to Margie did we figure out the right “take.” The book is about writing, writing careers, and women and writing and romance! 

Margie: I think our own friendship is so sisterly it sort of felt like we lived in Orchard House, the Alcott family home, as we wrote it. We were honorary March sisters!

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

Mel: “Lucky” by Jason Mraz, “Lucky I’m in love with my best friend…lucky to have been where I have been, lucky to be coming home again.”

Margie: Actually, I’d tell everyone to listen to the soundtrack from the latest Little Women movie; I loved it.

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

Mel: I’d say we’d just re-do Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and have Saoirse and Timothee again for sure!

Margie: I loved Katherine Hepburn, Maya Hawke and Saoirse Ronan as Jo -- but my all-time fave Laurie was Christian Bale. I know, it’s my controversial hot take.

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

Mel: Cherry cordials? I’ve never had one but they always sound delicious in the Little Women books.

Margie: A first champagne! Like Meg when she misbehaves at Sally Gardiner’s; we feature an entire tower of champagne in our New York City chapters.

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

Mel: Re-read the original of course, and the sequels! Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

Margie: Agreed. We wrote Jo & Laurie out of immense affection for the original, so be sure to re-read those!

What’s next for you?

Mel: My middle grade fairy tale series NEVER AFTER, the first book out in December.

Margie: A whole bunch of secret Marvel projects that have yet to be announced. Stay tuned!

Melissa de la Cruz 

She 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.

Margaret Stohl

She is a #1 New York Times bestselling nerd, world-builder, video game creator, comic book writer and festival founder.

As an award-winning young adult author, she has been published in fifty countries and thirty-two languages and has sold more than ten million books worldwide. Beautiful Creatures debuted as the Amazon #1 Teen book of the year; seven of Margaret’s books have reached bestseller lists around the world.

She has published fifteen novels and graphic novels, as well as contributed to several games and countless comics since her debut. Her last book, Cats Vs Robots: This is War, was a family affair, illustrated by her child, the artist Kay Peterson, and co-written with her husband, Lewis Peterson. It also starred three of her family’s five cats.

After Beautiful Creatures was released as a feature film from Warner Brothers and Alcon Entertainment, Margaret began working with Marvel on her bestselling Black Widow: Forever Red duology; in 2017 she began writing the ongoing Mighty Captain Marvel comic, followed by the acclaimed Life of Captain Marvel miniseries, where she established a new origin story for Carol Danvers in preparation for the theatrical debut of Brie Larson as “Captain Marvel” for the MCU. 

When not roaming the halls of Seattle game developer Bungie - where she oversees the creation of new global IPs - Margaret can often be seen at a Comicon or at one of the teen and youth book festivals she co-founded, YALLFEST (Charleston, SC) and YALLWEST (Santa Monica, CA), the largest in the country. Wherever she goes, you can find out more about her (and invariably her cats) at @mstohl on twitter or margaret_stohl on instagram or margaret_stohl on snapchat or at

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Interview with Swati Teerdhala for The Archer at Dawn

The Archer at Dawn (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy #2)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 26th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, India, Cultural, Mythology
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The Sun Mela is many things: a call for peace, a cause for celebration, and, above all, a deadly competition. For Kunal and Esha, finally working together as rebel spies, it provides the perfect guise to infiltrate King Vardaan’s vicious court.

Kunal will return to his role as dedicated Senap soldier, at the Sun Mela to provide extra security for the palace during the peace summit for the divided nations of Jansa and Dharka. Meanwhile, Esha will use her new role as adviser to Prince Harun to keep a pulse on shifting political parties and seek out allies for their rebel cause. A radical plan is underfoot to rescue Jansa’s long-lost Princess Reha—the key to the stolen throne.

But amid the Mela games and glittering festivities, much more dangerous forces lie in wait. With the rebel Blades’ entry into Vardaan’s court, a match has been lit, and long-held secrets will force Kunal and Esha to reconsider their loyalties—to their country and to each other. Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives.

Can you briefly describe THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT TRILOGY, its characters and what’s happening in THE ARCHER AT DAWN?

Sure! THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy that follows the story of Kunal, a dutiful soldier, and Esha, a legendary rebel spy named the Viper. When their paths cross one night and Esha is accused of the murder of Kunal’s General, a dangerous cat and mouse game starts between them, one which throws everything they’ve known into question. In THE ARCHER AT DAWN, without giving away any spoilers, things have come to a head. Kunal and Esha go to Jansa with the mission of rescuing the Lost Princess just as the Sun Mela, an ancient celebratory tournament, begins. Problems ensue! 

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

This is a tough one! I love both of my main characters, Kunal and Esha, equally. They’re two halves of a whole. But I have to say in THE ARCHER AT DAWN, my favorite character is Alok, who you get to meet early on in THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT. He has a bigger, more fun role in this book.

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

I first got the idea for The Tiger at Midnight when I was traveling and visiting an old Fort. It was the first spark of an idea of what would become The Tiger at Midnight and the first time I heard the voice of Kunal, one of the two main characters. I looked out from one of the old window openings and wondered what would be the most odd or startling thing a soldier of old might have seen. A girl. And that’s the opening page of THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT. 

If you could choose one song to describe each book in THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT TRILOGY, which one would it be?

Great question!

THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT: Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine

THE ARCHER AT DAWN: Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers

Book 3…you’ll have to wait for that. :)

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

This one’s hard because I’ve never had a 100% fancast of my characters! I recently fell in love with the idea of Geraldine Vishwanathan as Esha and Avan Jogia as Harun. Kunal is a hard one to cast though! I don’t have the perfect fancast for him. But in a dream world I’d love to see a young Hritik Roshan.

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

A hot cup of masala chai in a sunroom or out on the porch.

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

Absolutely. I had the pleasure of reading A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A. Brown early and it’s the perfect blend of conflicted romance and thrilling fantasy that I think fans of THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT series would love. Additionally, THE WINNER'S CURSE is a classic YA fantasy trilogy that also blends romance and fantasy together perfectly.

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

I’d say more often than not the hardest part is keeping up your motivation and momentum. The way I do that is by making sure I have a really firm grasp on the story I want to tell and why it’s important for me to tell. That can keep me going even when it feels like nothing else is working. 

What’s next for you? 

I’m currently finishing up edits on Book 3 of THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT TRILOGY and working on something new!

Swati Teerdhala is the author of The Tiger at Midnight series, which has appeared on both Barnes and Noble and Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Novels lists. 

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BS in finance and BA in history, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart. She currently lives in New York City.