January 31, 2013

The Rest of My Life: Day 1

So.

Hi, my name is Leah and I'm a writer.

I'm getting better at saying that.

Yesterday was my last day of gainful employment.

HOLY SHIT YESTERDAY WAS MY LAST DAY OF GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't freaking out...just a little bit.

Because I've been working since...since....well, I started babysitting when I was ten years old. So since then. I've had a job, or plans of a job, or summertime employment, or whatever. I've been a babysitter, a dental assistant, a receptionist, a veterinary technician, a lifeguard, a legal secretary, a database administrator, a call center operator, a web content manager, an assistant, and a software tester. I have been employed for over two thirds of my LIFE.

Now, I am not.

Me, this morning
I expected to be full-time happy about this, from the first moment on. But to tell the truth, this morning I was a little down, a little sad. I'm so used to having to do everything in the one day a week I used to have off that I was rushing around like a chicken without a head, trying to clean all the rooms and edit all the chapters. 

Then I bashed my head into a lamp. Ouch.

So then I went outside and punched. I felt a little better.

Then I forced myself to sit down and start editing. I felt a little better.

Then a friend of mine, a fantastic writer and who I've been trying for YEARS to impress, sent me an email.

She LOVED a story I sent her. Loved.

But look at me now!
So now, instead of a meek little puppy...I am writer! Hear me RAWR!

It's funny, how uncertain I wound up being about this. Charles and I have planned for months for me to stop working. He's going to be able to support us until I start making some sort of money again. We're all good. I actually gave my notice that I was (probably) leaving in April back in...well...August, I think. 

But when my timeline got all sped up a couple weeks ago, and when we decided to pull Zoe out of school early, and when I realized I was REALLY going to be home, all the time...well, it's been hard not to panic.

So. You may have fun reading really crazy blog posts in the coming weeks...or I may be all professional and actually, oh, I don't know...control myself? But right now, I am feeling optimistic, and hopeful, and I'm looking forward to an afternoon happy hour with my work family.

January 27, 2013

The next great adventure

Whoa.

It's Sunday night. I just finished writing a short story for an ongoing competition, and I'm watching the SAG awards. It's getting close to 9:00, and since 5:00 comes early in the morning, I should be thinking about going to bed.

But here's the weird thing. 

This is the last Sunday night that I have to think about that.

Because tomorrow is the last ever Monday of my "real" job. 

Tee hee - this is my book.
This is my last ever week as a Quality Assurance Analyst for an international software company. This is my last ever week of working a pretty typical 9-5 (ok, 7:30-4) job. 

This is the end of an era.

Starting on Friday, I'm unemployed.

Starting on Friday, if you ask me what I do for a living, my answer will be: I'm a writer.

You hear that? I am a writer!

I know, I know...I'm only able to do this because I have a husband willing to support me for a while so I can try to get my career going. I'm not even close to making a living wage...yet.

But still. I have a shot to make this all happen, and I am NOT going to waste it.

So how do I feel, you might wonder, on the eve of this end-of-an-era?

I'm a great big mess right now. Excited. Terrified. Confused. Happy.

You know, everything you can expect from someone leaving the comfort of a job they've held for years to dive into the abyss.

And it's not just one abyss into which I am diving head-first.

You see, we're pulling Zoe, my smart, precocious, spunky, fiercely opinionated four-year-old child, out of school in March. From March until she begins kindergarten in August, she and I will be together. Just us. 

We have never had this opportunity.

Yeah. I'm terrified about that, too. Or at least I was, until the other night.

Because you see, I do plan to homeschool her over the next few months. She's so used to learning new things every day (we've been THRILLED with her pre-school and how much she's learned and grown there), I can't imagine asking her to just...play...for the next six months.

Zoe and me...goofballs together
But the prospect of homeschooling was terribly daunting to me. I pictured long days of spelling tests and math worksheets, of sitting at our kitchen table while we argued over how to write the letter "Z." (She still writes it backwards...)

Then, after a chat with my sister-in-law last Friday, in which she encouraged me to approach this with more of an out-of-the-box mentality, I asked Zoe: What do you want to learn this summer.

The child was off to the races. We made a list. Insects. Outer Space. Walt Disney. Giraffes. Otters. Martin Luther King. People of other cultures. Comic books. Music. The Hobbit. Fairy Tales.

The list goes on.

So now, even though I know it will still be a difficult transition for us as we turn all our routines upside-down, I have a plan, and I am excited. 

Each Monday, we'll pick a topic and head to the library. We'll find books and bring them home and read them. We'll find local museums and learn more. We'll find movies and watch them. We'll find places to go, and we'll go to them. 

It's going to be a big adventure for both of us.

So there you have it. I am about to embark on a couple of Big Scary Adventures, and seriously - I can't wait for it all to begin.

You can expect to see posts about the adventures here from time to time. I can't wait to share what Zoe and I learn, and I hope to have fun writing news from time to time. 

Tonight...I feel so lucky. And I thank you for sharing in my adventures, too.

January 23, 2013

Listen to THIS: The Lone Bellow

Once upon a time, my husband ran a lovely little music(ish) blog called Ashcan Rantings. I loved when he did this - we got lots of free music from some of the most amazing, up-and-coming indie artists at that time. We found Grace Potter through his blog, and you can't argue with finding someone that cool, right?

I even wrote for Ashcan Rantings sometimes, and though I'm by no means a music expert (actually, my knowledge is a little pitiful), but I know what I like. And while this is NOT a music blog, I want to tell you about a new band that I really, REALLY like!

Ok. So. Have you heard of The Lone Bellow yet? If not, you should.

I am in love with their music, with their lyrics, and with their overal existence.

NPR is calling them a "band you'll know in 2013."

I'm calling them amazing. Powerful. Raw. Emotional. 

To give you a bit of context, some of my other recent favorites are The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, and The Lumineers. The Lone Bellow has some similar elements to all of them, with their own twist on life. So if you like those bands, and you haven't heard of The Lone Bellow yet, go ahead...check them out.


You love it, right?

So...give them a "like" on Facebook.


And definitely check out their performance on Conan last night because really...it'll blow you away.

January 20, 2013

Author Interview: Gordon Highland

I've talked and talked about my favorite writer's space here on the intarwebs. It's called LitReactor, and it's helped me find a writer's community I'm happy to call my own.

So.

When I first started hanging out there, there were a handful of those Real Writers that everyone talked about and aspired to be. Up in what I imagined to be an ivory tower, watching down over us little wannabes.

Well. Turns out, those Real Writers people just like us. The more time I spend out there, the more I see that.

I've been having a good time getting to know one of those Real Writers in particular. His name is Gordon Highland, and let me tell you - he's a bad-ass. His stories are bad-ass. But he's also a sweetheart, and with two published novels and countless short stories that make up just a small piece of an artistic career that boggles my mind, he's got a lot of fun things to tell us.

Read on. Say hi. Let us know what you think.

****

LR: You, sir, seem like a jack-of-all-artistic-trades. Music, writing, visual arts – you do it all, don’t you? So…what’s your favorite medium right now? How has it changed through the years?


GH: Film has always been our highest artform, I believe. For a creator, it provides the biggest palette to manipulate the senses, especially when you factor in the emotional underscoring of music. As a consumer, yep, it’s still my go-to, whether that’s a feature or serialized television. But because I’ve been directing videos full-time since ’95 … eh, writing’s more fun. I dig that direct jack into the reader’s brain with no collaborative middlemen. No actor interprets the dialogue, no cinematographer’s lighting alters the mood, no production designer redecorates the room. Someone reads the exact words I wrote and projects their version of the movie in their own skull, filling in whatever’s missing. They participate.


LR: Two released novels (Major Inversions and Flashover), both involving former-rock-stars, or their close approximations. How autobiographical is this?

GH: That indeed was the easiest and truest aspect of those books to write. I lifted certain details—many exact—taking what I experienced and applying them to more inflated and exaggerated situations. Those anecdotes were either for character development or comic relief, not plot, ever mindful that just because something is true doesn’t make it compelling. So I also lied my ass off in equal measure.

LR: I’ve been told I’m mean to my characters – I put them in shitty situations, and have all sorts of bad things happen to them. Seems like I could accuse you of the same thing. You do, after all, throw Tobe Mohr off a rooftop after electrocuting him. I know I have my reasons for being so “mean”….what are yours? What do you accomplish by throwing these things at your characters?

GH: You learn the most about people, their true nature, when in crisis. Some of it’s writerly vicarious living, testing what you yourself would do in these scenarios, before realizing that, no, that’s the safe job-interview answer, and then filtering that through the character you’ve created. I love how writing fiction forces you to consider alternative viewpoints and the depths/heights you would endure to survive, to evolve. That’s where my plots come from: a character with a specific trait or occupation is thrust into a scenario in direct opposition to it. The musician struck deaf. The serial womanizer in a committed relationship. The photographer without a subject.

LR: Our paths crossed at LitReactor, my favorite FAVORITE site for writers. What brought you to LitReactor, and what keeps you going back?

GH: I was an OG on Chuck Palahniuk’s fan site since the turn of the century, so when they spun off its writing community and workshops into LitReactor, I followed suit. It’s been great getting to know all of you twisted souls over there, and the diverse forum discussion, articles/columns, and networking keeps things humming and me honest.

LR: What are you working on, writing-wise, right now?

GH: Short stories mostly, and songs for my duo, Winebox. There isn’t another novel on my immediate radar, but I’d like to put out a collection of shorts next year, while getting more individual ones published in the meantime. I’ve got stories coming out this year in the Booked. Anthology and The Tobacco-Stained Sky, both of which feature some authors your readers should be familiar with.

LR: Are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pants kind of writer?

GH: Outliner, for sure. I write so slowly, editing as I go, that I don’t have the luxury of exploring many dead ends in the long form, so I work most of that out in advance. Each of my novels took three or four years, and it was months before I penned the first word of either. It’s more about setting small goals and plot milestones that still allow for freedom for surprises between them to keep things interesting. And those outlines do adapt in the process.

LR: When you were a kid, were you a reader? Like, a hide under the covers with a flashlight to read after bedtime kind of reader? If so, were there any books that really inspired you as a kid? And any characters on whom you had a book crush?

GH: Oh, yeah. Always had a Mad or Cracked magazine, or a G.I. Joe comic splayed out on the table next to my cereal bowl and afterschool snack and dinner plate. And I’d sneak them into school and trade with others. Most of my books, though, were movie novelizations (when I wasn’t heisting my mother’s Stephen King novels). Understand, this was pre-VCR, so the only way I could re-experience those movies on demand was through their books. Star Wars, The Goonies—all that shit. What kid didn’t wish he was the one kissing that cheerleader girlfriend of Josh Brolin’s?

What probably foreshadowed my later interests, though, were those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Had dozens of them, even knock-offs from other presses. Oh, man … I just remembered this one series called Micro Adventures, where you’d read for a bit, then have to type a page of computer code into the ole Commodore 64, which, once executed, would give you the next clue in the story. Probably explains my adult fascination with metafiction.

LR: Ok, favorites time. Favorite book?

GH: House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, which is the ultimate in metafiction. I admire it technically, for its craftsmanship. But my most-enjoyed read, my comfort-food novel, is Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. A master wordsmith, that guy. He’s the yardstick I’m always measuring myself against, even if a ruler would suffice at this stage.

LR: Favorite movie?

GH: I’ve been telling everyone forever that it’s P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia. But now I think I gotta give the top slot to Almost Famous. It hits all the right notes with me, being a love letter to music, and you can’t help but share in that kid’s wide-eyed awe as he’s exposed to this whole new forbidden universe laid out before him. Plus, hey, Kate Hudson.

LR: Favorite album? (Bet this one’s hard for you…always is for my musical friends.)

GH: My artistic-cred answer would be Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or on a rainy day, maybe Jeff Buckley’s Grace. But if we’re being honest, I cannot deny 5150 by Van Halen. Yeah, that one, along with their former vocalist Roth’s Eat ’Em and Smile are the two albums that first dropped my jaw and made me pick up the guitar, woodshedding away most of my youth. Some of that material still trips up my fingers to this day. 5150 has a majestic blend of pop songwriting and sleazy fretplay that prickles up the arm hairs. Christ, please stop me; I sound like Patrick Bateman gone off on some Genesis jag.…

LR: And finally – tell me something I don’t already know. Something you’ve always wanted to tell people but have never been asked. Make it good.

GH: I wrote the Sanford and Son theme song. Always wanted to tell someone that, despite it never being asked, or true. 

****

So there you have it. One interview, including Choose Your Own Adventure, Michael Chabon, The Goonies and Almost Famous. Clearly Gordon and I were separated at birth, right?

If you'd like to learn more about him, drop by his site any time!

January 16, 2013

Dear Blackbaud...a letter to my work family

Dear Blackbaud,

You are the company that has employed me for the past seven years, and my husband for nearly fifteen.

You had a rough day yesterday. A hundred and fifty people who had jobs when they woke up yesterday don't have a job today.

And then you lost forever one of your own, a well-loved vice president whose work touched nearly everyone who ever set foot in the product support department.

Dear Blackbaud, people are going to be angry. People are going to be scared and worried about the future.

People will say mean things, angry things, because it's so easy to be mean and angry in times of trouble.

People will talk about the golden times of days past, when life was better and jobs were secure and we had all the fun and all the good times. The days of drunken holiday parties and drunken family picnics, and all the other things that have gone by the wayside as the company has grown and the economy has changed.

And people will talk about the days, five years ago, when our CEO stood before us and compared our company to a ship out to sea, weathering a storm.

"We'll weather it together," was the mantra then.

Together.

Now, so many of us will no longer be together. And while that's hard to stomach, here are some things that I'll carry with me.

****

I started at Blackbaud in 2003 when I was 23 years old. Twenty-three! I was new to town and had no local friends, and from my first days in Support, I had a life again.

"Working here is like instant friends, just add water," I used to say, and it was true.

My team became my family, and when I left to pursue a different goal, they sent me off with well-wishes, and when I wanted to come back they welcomed me with open arms.

Dear Blackbaud, even though I haven't loved every day here, you have given me so much.

You have given me my husband, Charles, and by extension my daughter, Zoe.

You have given me teams that are more like family than colleagues. 

You've given me friends that are more like brothers and sisters.

You've given me a slew of "work-husbands" with whom I spent as much time as I did my real-life one.

You've given my husband "work-wives" too, and I swear: I'm not even jealous!

Together we've all shared real life, too. Real growing up. Real husbands and real wives, real babies, and now: real funerals.

And yet, as big as we've grown, we are still a family. You can see it in the somberness of a company meeting the day after cutbacks. People were concerned, but thoughtful, and together.  You can see it in the way we all furiously "liked" each other's Facebook posts on Tuesday night after news of our colleague's passing spread like wildfire. We weren't "liking" the death or the sadness, but with each like, we said to each other, "Hey. I'm here, and I'm listening."

There were a lot of people listening Tuesday night.

Our CEO was right. We're still weathering these storms together.

****

Maybe years ago do feel like the golden ages, especially when seen through the haze of rose-colored glasses. Yesterday was indeed a very difficult day for all of us.

But for the people who start working with you today, for those who start next week, remember that these will be their golden ages, and they will remember them well. 

And, dear Blackbaud, while yesterday feels like a day that took much away from many of us (even those still there...they will not forget their fallen friends), we need to remember how much has been given to us through the years.

January 14, 2013

Happiest of Happy Book Birthdays! Jenny Milchman: Cover of Snow

Ever make a decision that makes you completely terrified, but it turns out to be possibly the best decision you've made (career-wise, that is....)?

That was me, a year and a half ago.
I'll never forget. 

Agent Extraordinaire Janet Reid posted on her blog about an upcoming class about the ins and outs of the publishing industry. It was called Polished to Published, and it was taught by Janet's friend, author Jenny Milchman.

I posted in the comments that I wished it wasn't in New York (publishing classes in South Carolina being lacking), and Jenny replied almost immediately. "What would you suggest?" she asked.

When my heart stopped racing (Ermigod, a real writer just spoke to me!!!), I wrote back. "How about an online class?"

Well, Jenny set it up, and then I had to decide: would I put my money where my mouth was, and actually take her class?

I did, and yep: that was the best career-decision I've made. I learned more about publishing in that eight-week span of time than I ever expected. I made a handful of really lovely writing-friends with whom I remain in touch.

And I met Jenny, who's turned out to be the best writing-mentor a girl could ask for.

****

Jenny's been writing for well over a decade, and she's seen it all. Multiple agents, some near-misses, and something like eight written and polished novels. 

She's generous with sharing her experiences, knowing how much we writers need to know: we're not alone, no matter how much it may sometimes feel that way.

She's generous with her time and her space. Jenny's blog consists of guest posts and "made it moments" written by other writers, sharing their own excitement and happiness and sadnesses and roller-coaster writing lives. She's allowed me to post there twice, and I am in amazing company.

She's generous with her love of books. She established a bona-fide book holiday called Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and celebrates independent bookstores as if each owner is her particular best friend.

In short, Jenny is amazing.

****

On Tuesday, January 15, Jenny's "debut" (in quotes because, like I said...eight novels!!) novel, Cover of Snow, releases to bookstores everywhere. If I know Jenny, that means it is definitely coming to an independent bookstore near you. It's also going to be available on Amazon and other online outlets. Jenny will be touring the country for the foreseeable future, in support of her book and also indie bookstores everywhere.

This post celebrating Jenny's success is the best way I could think of to help celebrate with her, since I could not be at her release parties this week. 

Please - this is a moment over a decade in the making, a moment of success I can't imagine going to a more deserving person. Take a moment and celebrate with her, too. Check out her book. Tell your friends. Nothing helps make a writer's day more than knowing her book is in good hands.

****

Here's what Cover of Snow is all about:


Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.

January 11, 2013

When I grow up I want to be...

Today is Friday, which means I don't go to my day-job (I am officially part-time, working only four days per week). I sent Zoe off to school with promises of a living room camp-out tonight so that I can clean, clean, run, clean some more, and then write.

I sat down a little while ago with a huge pile of laundry to fold, so to keep myself entertained I turned on the TV, and then NetFlix, and then The Wonder Years: Season One, Episode Three: My Father's Office. In the episode, Kevin goes to work with his father after expressing interest in knowing exactly what he does at a company called NorCom all day long.

So. 

Today I learned it's an entirely different experience, watching The Wonder Years as a grown-up with a job and a family, than it was watching it as a kid, when I might as well have been the female Kevin Arnold. I did NOT understand this episode the first time I saw it as a kid.

In one particularly poignant moment, Kevin and Jack (the dad) are drinking coffee in the break-room. Jack's already had a few tense phone conversations and found out one of his employees has messed something up.

Kevin asks Jack: When did you decide you wanted to be a manager of Account Distributions and Product Support when you grew up.

Jack laughs.

I laughed.

Because really: does anyone want to grow up to be a manager of Account Distributions and Product Support when they grow up?

I didn't, though I work right now at a company not altogether unlike NorCom (just with updated technology). 

First, when I was very small, I wanted to be a fireman. (Yes...a fireMAN. I didn't understand the difference back then.)

Then when I was in third grade I learned about dinosaurs and Indiana Jones, and I swore I'd be a paleontologist when I grew up. I think it made people laugh to see such a small person chewing on such a big word.

Along my growing-up experience, I learned the main things I liked to do were read and write, so that's what I majored in during college (though by then I harbored secret longings to be an actress...I figured I just needed to be "discovered" like Natalie Portman at a pizza joint in the city...too bad I didn't frequent many pizza joints in the city...).

The job I've had I sort of stumbled into when I moved down here. I test software for a living ("Yeah, but what does that mean?" Kevin Arnold's voice echoes in my head.) mainly because people taught me how to use software, and it turns out I'm pretty good at breaking it.

I never wanted to be a writer until recently. And now I'm doing everything in my power to make that dream come true. 

So.....here's where I'd love to hear from you! It would be awesome to see some answers pop up in the comments section of this post. This is just for fun, no pressure, nothing to be gained aside from some laughs.

1. What's the earliest thing you wanted to "be when you grew up?"
2. What's the career desire that lasted longest?
3. What are you now?

January 8, 2013

Recently Asked Questions

Wait, what? I have a blog? Where I should, like, write things? 

What the hell??

Ok, so last week was a little busy. Or...a lot busy. Finishing editing a book, taking care of a sick kid....it was a bit crazy.

So.

So today I remembered that I run a blog and should post things. I have nothing on the schedule for this week, so I'm going to answer some questions I find myself answering more and more frequently these days...about books, career, etc. If you have any other questions you'd like answered, feel free to post 'em in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.

****

How's the book selling?

Yeah. So that question always catches me off guard, to tell you the truth. I don't think it ever occurred to me that people would ask! BUT....I will say...it's selling about as well as a debut author who has no marketing experience can expect to sell. Slow, reasonably steady, with much room for improvement. I've enlisted the help of a friend for some PR work, though, so we'll see what she and I can drum up.

That being said, I still LOVE my book, LOVE my cover, LOVE everything about this whole experience. I get random tweets and comments sometimes from people, telling me how much they love it. My Amazon reviews are all awesome so far.  And those are the things you absolutely can't measure in dollars and cents.

Seriously. It's amazing.

When's part 2 coming out?

I will admit....I can do cliffhangers. People want to know what happens to Sam and Jenna and Lola in the next book.

Well. Last Friday, at 10:30 pm, I finished my round of Big Edits on Book 2. I sent it to my brother and my husband for them to do a first pass/thumbs up/thumbs down read. I rely on the two of them - they are honest and fast.

If they approve, I'll do another round of edits (based on their suggestions). Then I'll send it on to my publisher to see if she wants it. 

So really, only time will tell. I do promise: it will be published in some fashion. I won't leave my readers hanging...for too long.

So what's next?

Yay. Next. I'm so excited...tonight I start work on a new book. I wrote a few thousand words on it a few months back, but then got tied up in Undead America edits. It's straight-up sci-fi, with aliens, a planet in peril, and a group of mothers in a city under siege, just trying to keep their children safe.

I have it outlined. I'm so excited to write it I might asplode.

So yes. Next. We shall see how it all comes together.

Whatcha reading these days?

Well. Lots of stuff. But I'm most excited to really dig into a beta read of a friend's YA novel. Seriously people - I've read the first few chapters and it's really, REALLY good. I'm psyched about it.

More about that a little bit later into her process. I know I'll be hosting her here someday soon.

Can I do anything to help you?

Sure! Please! If you read/enjoyed my book, tell someone. Word of mouth is the number one biggest seller of ebooks these days. People don't want to spend money on a book by an unknown author. But if they know YOU, and you enjoyed my book, they'll buy it.

And then I'll owe ya!

****

So that's about it for now. Thank you for reading; I appreciate everyone's interest and support and love and hugs and high-fives. 

This has been a ride so far. Can't wait to see where it all goes in the future!!

*SMOOCH*

January 2, 2013

Author Interview: Adriana Ryan

In late November, I was excited to take part in the cover reveal of my friend Adriana Ryan's upcoming novel, World of Shell and Bone

Now, the book has released, to great reviews and even greater sales! I'm so excited for my friend, and am happy to host her back here, for a fun author interview. 

Read on to learn more about the book, Adriana herself, and from whence her story came.

****


LR: First, congrats on the release of World of Shell and Bone – looks like the world of Amazon LOVES it so far! What’s been the most exciting part of this release for you? What’s been the most surprising? 

AR: Thanks! It’s been received so much better than I’d expected, and either that shows (a) my sad lack of optimism or (b) how beyond awesome readers really are. It actually probably shows both. 

The most exciting part was probably when I got my first reader email telling me how awesome World of Shell and Bone is, and how much she loved it. That was a huge high point. In fact, I still haven’t come off that cloud. I admit, I saved that email. Yes, I am a nerd! 

The most surprising thing has to be how many people are connecting with the book. When I wrote it, I was sure that my immediate family would love it (because, let’s face it, they sort of HAVE to), but I wasn’t sure how much widespread appeal it would have. Plus, you’re always hearing agents say that the dystopian market is dead and that readers don’t want to read about that anymore. So, yeah, I’m totally blown away by the interest in the subject matter. 


LR: Tell me something about Vika Cannon (great name, by the way) that I don’t know from reading the book description on your website. 

AR: Thank you! I had so much fun picking character names. Hmm, something cool about Vika is that she loves cooking. You wouldn’t get that from reading the description, but it’s true. She could’ve been a chef in another life. 

LR: Now tell me something fun about Shale, Vika’s assigned Husband. 

AR: Ah, Shale. I love him. Something fun about him is that he could’ve been a poet. He’s a romantic at heart.

LR: What brought you to write/create this post-apocalyptic world? What are your influences? 

AR: I’m a huuuuge Margaret Atwood fangirl. When I read The Handmaid’s Tale, I was hooked. Utterly and completely hooked. That’s when the wheels really started spinning for Vika’s world. I wanted to do something that was, in some ways, the exact opposite of what Atwood did—I wanted women to be the ones in power. But the idea for a world that centered on procreation was born (pun intended!) after I read her work. 

LR: You have another book releasing soon, if I’m not mistaken (the first book in your Enlightened trilogy). What can you tell us about that book? And where you are in that release process? 

AR: Enlightened is a totally different book than World of Shell and Bone. It’s a humorous-ish urban fantasy with some really dark elements (I know, weird description, but that’s the best way I can think to describe it). It’s currently in line for cover art, and then it’ll be out sometime around February 2013.

LR: When you write, are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pantser? 

AR: I definitely have to have an outline. But I can’t deal with extremely detailed, 50-page outlines either. I like to have a loose outline of the major scenes (and/or scenes that I know just HAVE to be in there) before I write. I plot the small, in-between scenes as I go, in Scrivener, which I would marry if I could. 

LR: Were there any characters in literature who you looooved as a kid? Had a crush on, even? My example for me is Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time – I loooooved him. 

AR: Oh man, so many! I absolutely had a crush on Sir Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I read in eighth grade. I really had trouble coming to terms with the fact that he was fictional. I also loved Roald Dahl as a younger kid—I read Boy in fourth grade and thought he must’ve been such a fun person to be around! 

LR: And now we’ve reached the “favorites section.” All-time favorite movie? 

AR: This is hard, but probably Man on Fire (the 2004 version). Denzel Washington was so, so good and I bawled like a baby. 

LR: All-time favorite book? 

AR: Ack, if the movie question was hard, this is impossible! I can’t possibly pick just one. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult among others. 

LR: All-time favorite album/band/music? 

AR: This is easier because I’ve never been a huge music buff. It takes a lot for me to really connect with a piece of music. That being said, one of my favorites is Priscilla Ahn’s album, A Good Day. 

LR: OK, now: is there any question you’ve not been asked in an interview that you’re dying to answer? If so, here’s your venue to ask/answer – basically, tell us anything you’d like. 

AR: Since it comes up often, there is going to be a sequel to World of Shell and Bone. Right now I’m estimating it’ll be out around mid-2013. It’s going to be epic, I promise! :) 

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Thanks, Adriana, for stopping by! For more info on Adriana, check out: