Monday, December 2, 2013

Eight Authors. Five New Titles. Two Weeks. One Fierce Tour.

...and one great giveaway.
Young Adult authors Gennifer AlbinLeigh BardugoAnn Aguirre, and Jessica Brody came through Albuquerque, NM at the end of October for stop two on their eight-city Fierce Reads tour. The Spellbinders had the opportunity to talk with the authors beforehand and moderated their discussion.

What's your weirdest writing habit? 
Gennifer Albin: I often but not always burn incense.
Jessica Brody: I never drink coffee unless I’m writing. It’s “productive juice.” I try to eat the same thing, tricking my brain into knowing it’s writing time. I listen to the same white noise track with a brain entrainment work track underneath. And I put on Mac Freedom. 
Leigh Bardugo: I use Mac Freedom, too. I eat the same thing every morning. Pot roast. When I’m on deadline, it’s 15 minutes for each meal, the rest of the time at my desk. If writing with friends, we take each others’ phones so we stay offline.
Ann Aguirre: I start at the same time every day and treat writing like a day job. I make sure my words are done before turning on the Internet and turn it off when I feel distractible. I’m generally done with my writing by lunch. Then I’ll do social media stuff.

What is cool about writing a series?
Jessica Brody: I like writing trilogies because you have more opportunity to create a bigger character arc. By the time a stand alone comes out and you are marketing it, you have moved on to other books.
Leigh Bardugo: The most intense book for me was book two because I was working on deadline. The biggest challenge was book three because it was about closing doors [rather than opening them]. 
Gennifer Albin: I wrote the first book of the Crewel series on a library computer during NaNoWriMo and now sit on the advisory board. The Crewel world trilogy starts with a secret. Book two has more secrets, more violence, and more kissing. 
Ann Aguirre: I prefer writing series to writing stand alone books. Even though I’ve written series of 5-6 books, I prefer trilogies. I have a trilogy brain. I admire writers who write 20 books on the  same character. I would have killed all the characters by now.

I noticed three of the four of you use prologues in your book.
Gennifer Albin: A good prologue is awesome, but it should serve a purpose. I write mine first. They always take place right before the story starts. They’re a bridge from the previous story to the new one. I firmly believe it’s the best page in my first novel. Hopefully it encapsulates what I’m trying to do in the whole book.
Leigh Bardugo: I knew when querying some agents were very anti-prologue, so I sent things from chapter one. All three of my books are framed with a before and after, and they are both written last. I wanted to write in first person, but wanted the sure and steady third-person guiding hand that is typical of fantasy. So the prologue has the traditional fantasy feel.
Jessica Brody: I've never heard till recently that prologues weren’t popular. A good prologue hooks you in fast. Each of my prologues will challenge my character with a different element (science vs. nature is a major part of the series). I’m inspired by Leigh’s pattern to her prologues. My second book’s prologue is a flash forward. I think prologues are great if you can find a purpose. They can’t be info dumps. Mine are called chapter zero.

How do you juggle writing and touring?
Ann Aguirre: I killed myself prior to tour to get everything turned in early. Everyday for two months was a 14 hour day. I wanted to focus on the tour and a little social media. And that’s it.
Jessica Brody: I enjoy the tour bubble. I don’t hear news. There’s not a lot of connection with family. You can set things aside for a while and choose not to think about it right now. You have to be present on tour. Give it your all. You can’t be in your head thinking about what you’re supposed to be doing [in the rest of your life]. I love being on tour. It’s easy to forget readers exist when you’re in your office, but on tour you remember why you write.
Leigh Bardugo: I’m trying to learn to be more balanced. There are phases when I’m intensely in the book, then I have a few weeks off, and then tour. Very compartmentalized. Yes, it’s challenging, but this is what I’ve wanted my whole life. I’m very happy.
Gennifer Albin: This is my third tour, and it’s the first time I’ve never had something to turn in. I have my own deadlines, things I’ve promised to readers but it’s not an editor, marketing, or PR deadline. It’s been awesome. I always think, I’ll get writing done on tour, but then I don’t.

Finally, what makes something a Fierce Read?
Jessica Brody: Something that makes you think and challenge the world around you. It brings reality to a new level, takes normal circumstances and takes them to the extreme.
Ann Aguirre: A Fierce Read has an empowered heroine. I’m tired of books with passive girls who wait for others to solve their problems, wait for the boy, wait for their families to treat them better. I want to see a character standing proudly at the helm of her own life and want readers to see what’s possible if you try. In the last 2-3 years there has been a shift in the prevailing winds. There are a lot more empowered heroines. 
Leigh Bardugo: There are lots of different ways to be empowered. For a time there was codified language used for a strong heroine. Now we can have heroines strong because they are clever or physically adept. There is so much range to build unique variety of characters.

Four lucky readers will be able to win books from the Fierce Reads Tour. Simply email Caroline directly with the heading Fierce Reads or leave a comment at the Spellbinders blog. Winners will be announced in next month's feature article.

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