A Writing Study on Assassins, Flashbacks, and Emotions (A Guest Post & Giveaway by Fantasy Author Maria V. Snyder)

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Oh, am I excited about our returning guest! Fantasy author Maria V. Snyder stopped by here 2 years ago for an interview on SHADOW STUDY, her fourth Study novel and the return of Yelena and Valek, her two most beloved characters. Today, the series ends with DAWN STUDY, and Maria was gracious enough to take time out of her schedule to write a guest post. So, let’s celebrate DAWN STUDY’s book birthday with a “study” of master spy-assassin Valek, his growth since SHADOW STUDY, and the challenges of writing from his perspective. 

When my first book, Poison Study, was published over (*cough*) eleven (*cough*) years ago, I had no idea I’d go on to write five more Study books and the spin-off Glass Series. Nine total books and four short stories! I’d also didn’t know that Valek would become my readers’ favorite character (according to an unscientific Facebook poll).

While planning Poison Study, I knew Valek would be Ixia’s Chief of Security and the Commander’s assassin. He’d be distant, cold, and good at killing people with all types of weapons – basically, a stereotypical bad ass.  After that, I didn’t really consider him to be more than an antagonist to my main protagonist, Yelena.  In fact, I thought if there would be a romance in the book, it would most likely be between Yelena and the Commander. Yeah, well, I’m not the best at planning books, and I tend to discover the true story as I write.

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Interview with Roshani Chokshi, Author of “The Star-Touched Queen”

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I love it when authors write a story that veers away from trends yet works in every way. Roshani Chokshi’s debut YA fantasy The Star-Touched Queen is exactly that. With gorgeously vivid writing and unbridled imagination, this Hindu-inspired tale brings readers to a world of mythical creatures, surreal settings, and love intertwined with destiny. (Check out my review of The Star-Touched Queen here if you haven’t yet.) The book has been an instant hit with readers, too, debuting in the New York Times’ YA Hardcover Bestsellers List in its first week of sales. That’s pretty good, if you ask me.

Today I’m thrilled to have Roshani stop by and chat about The Star-Touched Queen. If you’re curious about her world-building approach, writing influences, her journey to becoming a published author, and flesh-eating demon horses (yes, you read that correctly), then this interview is for you. Enjoy!

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Interview with Emily Skrutskie, Author of “The Abyss Surrounds Us”

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Sometimes a book takes you out of your comfort zone and surprises you. That was the case with Emily Skrutskie’s debut novel The Abyss Surrounds Us. Sure, it had been on my radar thanks to the science fiction and fantasy book blogs I follow, but I read less YA science fiction than YA fantasy. Yet when I dove into Skrutskie’s futuristic world of pirates, genetically engineered sea monsters, and the people who train the beasts, I came away from each chapter thinking, “That. Was. SO. COOL!” (You can read my review of The Abyss Surrounds Us here.)

Today I’m excited to have Emily here to talk about The Abyss Surrounds Us. How did she come up with her awesome Reckoners? Why was her route to publication different than other authors who are traditionally published? And, would Emily want to be a Reckoner trainer like her protagonist Cas? Let’s find out!

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Interview with Sarah Zama, Author of Give In To The Feeling

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I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Sarah Zama here today! We met last year during the A To Z Blogging Challenge, through commenting on Alex Hurst’s Japan photo-essay collection and then on Sarah’s own series about the Roaring Twenties. Now, Sarah, who lives in Italy, is preparing to release her first book. Give In To The Feeling is a fantasy noir / paranormal romance novelette set in Chicago during the height of the Prohibition era. I’ve already read an “advance copy,” and I really enjoyed it! In fact, you’ll see a review of it in next month’s Recent Reads. 😉

For now, I’ll let Sarah tell you more about Give In To The Feeling in her own words. We’ll also talk about fantasy literature, her favorite writers, the Roaring Twenties (of course!), and her advice to writers who aren’t published yet. So, let’s dive in!

(Also, click here if you’re interested in checking out the other dates on Sarah’s Give In To The Feeling blog tour.)

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Interview with Alyssa Palombo, Author of “The Violinist of Venice”

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Writers rejoice when their publishing dreams come true, but it’s equally thrilling when the same happens for a writing pal. I met Alyssa Palombo back in 2004, on an official messageboard for the symphonic rock band Evanescence. That’s where we bonded over music, the Boston Red Sox, and writing. We fell out of touch after a while, but I always remembered how helpful Alyssa’s feedback had been and wondered if she was still writing. The answer came in 2014, when I stumbled across Alyssa’s book deal announcement for her first two books. No lie – I was so happy for her, I freaked out!

Today, I have the immense pleasure of having Alyssa Palombo here on the blog. We talked about her historical fiction debut The Violinist of Venice, which comes out next Tuesday, December 15th. (Click here to read my review.) You’ll also learn how her music background helped with writing the book, and why she recommends reading outside your preferred literary genre now and then. And, um, there might be lots of some fangirling (on both her part and mine) about metal music and tea. 😉 Let’s begin, shall we?

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Interview with Rachel E. Carter, Author of the Black Mage Series

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There are countless ways of discovering authors and their books online. In the past two years, my top three sources have been Twitter, blogs, and Goodreads. That last site is where I met YA fantasy author Rachel E. Carter. While her books are still on my TBR list, I’ve enjoyed reading her book reviews and watching her interact with fans there. She isn’t just an author who adores YA fantasy; she’s one who engages, encourages, and respects other readers, including those who review her work.

Today I’m thrilled to have Rachel here to talk about her Black Mage series, whose third installment Candidate comes out on Tuesday, October 27th. You’ll learn more about her love for kick-butt female protagonists and bad-boy love interests, how music influences her writing process, and her tips on writing and social media platforms. And maaaaybe some Harry Potter and Song of the Lioness fangirling – which I wholeheartedly approve of!

Also, if you like e-books, you can buy the debut Black Mage novel First Year for 99 cents from Kindle, Nook, iBooks / iTunes, and KOBO through October 31st! Look for the links at the end of this post. 😉

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Interview with Mackenzi Lee, Author of “This Monstrous Thing”

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There’s something exciting about finding writers who live in your local area, especially if they write one of your favorite fiction genres. That happened earlier this year when I heard about Mackenzi Lee and her debut YA novel This Monstrous Thing. We both live in the Boston area, and her story melds historical fiction with steampunk – with the added bonus of Frankenstein. I wouldn’t say I’m not a fan of Frankenstein, but it’s also not something I’ve read much about. That said, when I read the blurb for This Monstrous Thing, the first three words that entered my mind were, “MUST READ THIS!”

This Monstrous Thing officially comes into the world next Tuesday, September 22nd. Which means it’s the perfect time to invite Mackenzi for an author interview! Today you’ll learn more about her novel and her path to becoming published, as well as her writing influences and her thoughts on the importance of sibling relationships. There might also be some bits about Mary Shelley, Tulipomania, and Jonah Hill gifs. Enjoy!

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Interview with Angela B. Chrysler, Author of “Dolor and Shadow”

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I’m always excited to meet other fantasy writers through blogging or social media. That’s how I found Angela B. Chrysler last fall, though I don’t quite remember how. I want to say it was on Twitter… But what I do recall is that when Angela shared the premise of her debut novel Dolor and Shadow with me, I knew the story would be up my alley. High fantasy combined with Norse mythology, a foreboding atmosphere, and a dynamic female protagonist – where are the checkboxes to tick off? Oh, and Angela’s a fellow Tolkienite. Yay!

Dolor and Shadow was released on Sunday, May 31st, and I’m honored to have Angela here today for our newest Author Interview. Learn more about her novel, why she chose to self-publish, and how many books she plans to release over the next year. (Holy cow, it’s staggering!)  Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Interview with Maria V. Snyder + Shadow Study Giveaway!

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I’m thrilled to have Maria V. Snyder for our next Author Interview! Maria was one of my favorite “new” writers (or rather, new to me) of last year, and her debut novel Poison Study ended up at #2 on my 10 Favorite Reads of 2014 list. Besides Poison Study, I gobbled up the rest of her Study Series (Magic Study and Fire Study), which follows poison taster / magician / diplomat Yelena Zaltana as she confronts her past, learns about her magical powers, and kicks some serious butt. Next week, Maria releases her thirteenth novel, Shadow Study – which means Yelena and her assassin-spy soulmate Valek are back for more adventures! Plus, as you may have noticed from the title, we have a very special contest at the end of this article!

So, read on to learn more about Shadow Study, how it’s different from Maria’s previous Study novels, and a few things about Maria herself, including her writing influences, her favorite literary heroines, and what she’d do – or avoid doing – if she ever visited Yelena’s world. Also, if you’re interested, come back on Monday, February 23rd for my review of Shadow Study!

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Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, Author of “Radiant”

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You never know where a book is going to take you sometimes. That was the case with Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel Radiant. I guessed from the jacket copy that it would be a cross between urban fantasy and dystopian science fiction. But in the end, I couldn’t pigeon-hole Radiant because, well, I couldn’t. *lol* It’s imaginative, beautifully written, and too difficult to categorize – in a good way that’s equally hard to describe. Does that make sense? Anyway, if you’re looking for a futuristic fantasy that emphasizes world-building and focuses on friendship instead of romance as the primary relationship, Radiant may just sate your appetite.

Today I’m thrilled to have Karina Sumner-Smith here to talk about Radiant as well as her path to becoming a published author. What kind of writing did Karina explore before tackling novels? What YA fantasy novels does she recommend to fans of adult fantasy? And, what can readers expect from her forthcoming sequels to Radiant? Read on to find out the answers to these questions, and much more!

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