Andrew Hiller Interview

Back in December, I read and reviewed A Halo of Mushrooms by Andrew Hiller. We also decided that we would have an interview posted on my blog. However, the holidays came along and we both were busy so it took a little longer to get the interview done. But now, I can post it!

Interview With Andrew!

 

What is your book, A Halo of Mushrooms, about?

On the surface, it’s about a healer who steals one of the last withering mushrooms of the first faerie ring in the hopes to transplant it and restore wonder, magic, and wisdom to all the worlds connected to the ancient fungi. On a deeper level, it’s about scarcity and how we react when something necessary is dying or disappearing. To what lengths will we go to save it? Will we lose our humanity in trying to grab what little remains? How do you save a dying species?

What inspired you to write A Halo of Mushrooms?

While I was working in the newsroom, I kept being assigned to report on stories about drought, cities going bankrupt, species decline, and other frustrating subjects. It seemed to me that we were seeing a lot of decline (economic and environmental) all at once… not just in one localized spot, but in unconnected places all around the world. The story emerged from that observation and then merged with other thoughts.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I went through several titles actually. I initially was just going to call it “The Bald Mushroom” which seemed pretty cool to me, but I worried that no one would have a clue what that meant. Also, my friends hated it as a title.

I liked the idea of a halo because of its several meanings: A halo of light, an angelic symbol, a protection, etc.

Which character(s) can you relate to most in the novel?

I think it’s important to relate to everyone you write about. People say, “Write what you know,” I’ve never bought into that… I prefer “Write what you understand” or “Write what you are curious about?” After all, when we write we are often exploring a why… Why do people act the way they do? Why did events or history unfold the way it did< Why does an object in nature respond to stimuli in the way it does?

Who was the hardest character to write about in your book and why?

I guess the hardest character was Jacob, Lara’s boyfriend. Jacob became an offstage character. We never get to meet him. He never gets to defend himself. His actions are always interpreted by others. Yet in several ways, he still is a major catalyst in the story. How then to write this invisible character and make him human and not a cardboard cutout, wall decoration, or a plot device?

Characters like Jacob are not unusual in the real world. All of us feel the weight of people who are not there. People whose influence lingers long after they leave the room or our lives.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Creation. I love the flow of ideas and exploring. I love learning and discovery. To get lost in texture, sound, color, and emotion is a blast.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, when and how did you realize you wanted to become one?

I think I always wanted to be a storyteller. I sold my first painting at 14 and my first poem a year later. I’ve gotten to report for NPR, be published in the Washington Post, and see my plays live on the New York stage. Writing is key to that, but I think telling stories, whether true or made up, is what it’s all about.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Good question. I’ve been told I do, but I’m not hyper conscious about it. I tend not to outline much and trust that I can refine what I need to through the editing process. I believe in my audience and readers (perhaps sometimes too much.) I hate dumbing things down. So, I may leave a few things unexplained hoping that the reader will puzzle them out or fill in the story through the lens of their experience and philosophy.

What advice do you have to give to new authors or people who want to become authors?

Dream. Write. Dare. Think of a rough draft as a place to play. Just put everything in there and then start pulling back what works and what ideas are the ones that really sing to you. Don’t follow trends because unless you are really quick by the time you finish your story, it gets through a publisher’s slush pile the trend is over. More importantly, if you follow a trend… the story you write will not be yours. It’ll just be what you think someone wants to hear. Write instead about what interests you, excites you, and scares you. Also, don’t be afraid to make your heroes miserable… they’ll thank you in the end especially if they win out.

What would you like to say to your readers?

Thank you for bringing our stories to life. Without the reader, without someone to listen, our stories fade. Also, let a writer know what you think! We often put our work out there and never know if it brings about a smile, a sigh, a tear, or if it causes raging boredom! Many of us love to interact with readers. I know I do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about A Halo of Mushrooms or any of my other work.

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Interview and ARC Review: A Christmas Kerril by Denise Jaden

*Thank you to Denise Jaden for sending me A Christmas Kerril. I received this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Sorry that I have been M.I.A. I have been preoccupied by the holidays. However, I promise you that I have some incredible posts coming soon!


Synopsis: In this modern take on a holiday classic, high school junior, Kerril, faces her past, present, and future to be reminded of the good in others, and in herself.


Haunted by the memory of the worst of her divorced parents’ public Christmas blowouts, Kerril, will do almost anything to avoid the upcoming tinsel-filled season. Unfortunately, a teacher with a grudge casts Kerril as the lead in the school’s holiday production. To add to the misery, she will star alongside ultra-awkward Adam as her love interest.

Wanting to ditch the play, Adam, her parents, and Christmas altogether, Kerril accepts an invitation to take off to a cabin with her ultimate dream crush, Perry – only Perry may not be the guy she hoped he was, and it’s not until she’s left Adam behind to fend for himself onstage that she realizes he might just be the guy of her dreams.


Description of the Plot: Throughout the story, we follow Kerril, a somewhat scrooge who has hated Christmas since the year that her parents had a huge brawl in front of her town resulting in the parent’s divorce. Following her parents separation, Kerril has stood by her mom and has avoided her dad at all costs. However, Kerril still remains in the middle of the family’s war.

At school, Kerril is faced with several dilemmas as well. Kerril’s best friend, Brooke, is determined to make Kerril and her new friend, Aysha, close. However, Kerril is not a fan of Aysha especially when she starts to date Kerril’s crush, Perry. Soon, Perry and Kerril become close and things between the three become complicated.

Also, Kerril is being forced to star in a play called ‘A Christmas Kerril’. Kerril believes that this is a revenge scheme created by Adam because of her making fun of his speech problem when he started school. Despite what happened, Kerril and Adam become close and Kerril begins to have dreams of great importance that feature him.


Actual Review: My overall opinion of the book is good. However, I thought it would be easier to state the negative traits of this book first. The one thing I have against the story is the cheating. I have never been a fan of cheating in books. Even in books I love, I still feel a little resentment for the cheating characters.

Now onto my positive review! I rarely read holiday books. However, this story has encouraged me to read more holiday based books. The greatest thing about this book was how unique it was to other holiday adaptations of A Christmas Carol. I may not read Christmas book, but I do watch an unhealthy amount of Hallmark Christmas movies that have an A Christmas Carol vibe! I can honestly say that I never watch a Hallmark movie similar to this book. I believe this could be a great book-to-movie adaptation for Hallmark Movie Network. Another thing I enjoyed was the characters. I felt that the characters, with the slight exception of Kerril and Perry, were easily likable. Finally, I enjoyed the topics that the book addressed and the overall theme of the story!


INTERVIEW TIME!!!

  1. What is your book, A Christmas Kerril, about?

A Christmas Kerril is a reimagining of the Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. In this YA novel, a modern-day teenage “scrooge,” Kerril, experiences her past, present, and future through lucid dreams, and must decide between filling her selfish desires, or making herself truly happy—by helping others.

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

I was recently critiquing a friend’s novel, a YA retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and I loved the idea of retellings. I’m also a big fan of all things Christmas (I leave my tree up year-round) and was very familiar with A Christmas Carol. I hadn’t seen a teen retelling of this one, so I thought it would be a fun story to reimagine.

  1. Which character do you relate to most in your book?

I relate to a lot of the characters in different ways. With Kerril, I relate to her in her desire to do what’s best, but still somehow making stupid mistakes. How many times have we all made stupid mistakes, and then the more you try to cover up or make up for your mistakes, the deeper you seem to dig yourself? I relate to Brooke in that I tend to look a little too much on the bright side of life, even ignoring reality sometimes. I relate to Adam (my favorite character in the story) in that I am the type of person to push past my fears, sometimes putting myself in ridiculously difficult situations in order to overcome them.

  1. Which character was the hardest to create?

Kerril was the most difficult character to create. She’s loosely based on Scrooge, and so I realize many readers will have trouble warming up to her, especially when she is at her most selfish stages. But I saw the depth of her and how much she really did want to be a good and helpful and loving person, and I hope I was able to deliver that side of her to readers as well.

  1. What do you think readers will enjoy most about your book?

I think readers who enjoy retellings and reimaginings will enjoy the uniqueness of this story. I hope they’ll also enjoy the voice and bits of humor.

  1. If there is one thing readers get from this book, what would you want it to be?

I’d love for readers to take away that we all make mistakes, but it’s never too late to turn your life around, to have a better outlook. Also, that helping others will always bring more personal joy than helping yourself.

  1. What is it like being an author? What is scary about it? What is great?

I love writing and telling stories, and would not give up my career for that reason alone. The publishing side can be scary—not knowing what books will sell, which ones will resonate or offend. The most rewarding part, at least for me, is hearing from readers who have really connected to one of my characters or books.

  1. What has been your greatest experience throughout your journey of writing your novels?

One of my greatest experiences was hearing from a reader who had been struggling with an eating disorder and with cutting. After hearing her painful story, she told me my book, Never Enough, was a comfort to her and helped get her through her days without hurting herself. I look back at that letter often and it reminds me of all the wonderful connections I’ve made with readers. It reminds me of why I do this.

  1. What advice do you have to give to new authors?

I’d say to try really hard not to compare yourself to other writers, at any stage in your career. When you’re first writing, you may compare the amount of agent requests you get with someone else. The next thing you know, you’re comparing publishing deals, foreign sales, and movie rights—or lack thereof. The list goes on and on, and it can be all-consuming and leave you feeling depressed and inadequate. I encourage all writers to focus on and enjoy their own journey, whatever that may be. There are joys to each stage, if you remember to look for them.


Buy A Christmas Kerril:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

 

SST: Jennifer Walkup Interview

A few months ago, I signed up for Sunday Street Team, a street team where we support a different author each month. This month we are promoting Jennifer Walkup’s book, The Ordinary Life!

1. What is your book, The Ordinary Life, about?

The short version: A teen with big dreams of making it in radio, struggles to hold her family together while dealing with her brother’s epilepsy, her mother’s alcoholism, and her own broken heart.

The back cover copy (long version):
High-school radio host Jasmine Torres’s life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep Jasmine from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.

Jasmine can’t control everything, not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health, not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but Jasmine may just discover that what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

2. What inspired you to write The Ordinary Life?

Jasmine came to me first – a strong main character who loves working at her school radio station and works hard for her ultimate dream – to be a real radio dj someday. But I knew she’d have struggles – a cheating ex boyfriend, an alcoholic mother, an absent father. Her brother’s epilepsy was central to her character. I wanted at least one character who is struggling with epilepsy. It’s a subject that’s important to me, and something I wanted to represent. When I wrote in Wes, the love interest, also with epilepsy, I wanted to show how characters are people first, disability second, and way more than the sum of their disabilities. Wes is a really great guy, and they quickly become good friends, and maybe more… Plus, Wes gives her support, attention, and love she hasn’t had before. But he also gives her the hope she needs to keep following her dreams and caring for her family.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book?

It’s funny how difficult titles can be. With my first book, I went through what felt like millions of titles. But with THIS ORDINARY LIFE, the title came to me almost as soon as the book did. Jasmine, the main character has lots of challenges in her life. She often wishes things were easier and simpler, but through the course of her struggles and chasing her dreams, she realizes that sometimes “ordinary” is found where we least expect it. And sometimes ordinary is more than good enough.

4. Which character(s) can you relate to most in the novel?

I can relate to most of the characters in the novel, in one way or another. Like Jasmine, I take care of someone with epilepsy and understand the unexpected struggles this sometimes bring. Like the Mom character, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. And like Ms. Hudson, I know what it’s like to believe in someone so much and be proud of someone else’s accomplishments as if they were my own, doing what I can to help them on their path.

5. Who was the hardest character to write about in your book and why?

The mother was probably the most difficult for me to write. As a mother myself, I can’t imagine making some of the choices Jasmine and Danny’s mom made. It was necessary for the story, but man did I get mad at her in some of those scenes.

6. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Creating characters and new worlds and putting my imagination on paper is pretty great. And when I hear from readers, that is truly one of the best things ever!

7. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, when and how did you realize you wanted to become one?

I did! I always wanted to be a writer. I have the first book I wrote in fourth grade, about a mouse who runs away and gets stranded on a desert island. It’s bound with duct tape and illustrated by yours truly. Hopefully my stories have gotten at least a little better since then.:)

8. Do you have a specific writing style?

Not really. I’m a pantser (meaning I don’t plan or write from an outline). This style of writing can be really exciting when the words are flowing, but frustrating when they’re not. For the most part, when I’m in the middle of a project, I write daily, at least a few hours at a time. I also take a good amount of time off between books.

9. What advice do you have to give to new authors or people who want to become authors?

Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Seriously. Write a ton, read a ton, and don’t ever stop writing. Also, grow a thick skin. Rejection stinks, but getting through it is the only way to the other side.

10. What would you like to say to your readers?

Thank you so very much to everyone who reads my books. I appreciate every single one of you

Comparing and Contrasting Fahrenheit 451 to The Hunger Games

(I POSTED THIS BECAUSE THIS WAS MY SUMMER READING PROJECT)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is about Guy Montag, a firefighter who is living in a futuristic society. In this dystopian novel, forms of self-expression through literature are almost extinct. Guy Montag’s primary job as a firefighter is to terminate books and the places that they are hidden. Being that reading was always disapproved of in society, Guy never had any doubts about the damage he was inflicting upon the future generations. His life is bland until he meets Clarisse. Clarisse helps Guy realize what he has been doing. Guy’s minds began to realize the wrongness of his actions when his wife had attempted suicide and Clarisse vanished. Guy Montag starts to hide books in his house and begins to rebel against the government.

In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Katniss Everdeen is forced to fight to the death with twenty-four other adolescents for the government’s enjoyment. When Katniss and the other teenager from her District, Peeta Mellark, are reaped to fight in The Hunger Games, the two District 12 citizens had to find a way to survive. With this in mind, Katniss had to get the public to like her despite how sickening the games were. As Katniss and Peeta embark on their journey in the games, the more they rebel against how the government wants them to live.

Fahrenheit 451 and The Hunger Games obtain various similarities and differences. When reading both books, I had found a large number of distinct similarities. The main similarity I had found was that they were both set in futuristic dystopian worlds. Another similarity is that both books show the possible negative effects of giving a massive amount of power to the government. Both books show remarkable character development for their main characters. In Fahrenheit 451, Guy began the story burning books but ended the book by reading a book to the public and rebelling against society’s beliefs. In The Hunger Games, Katniss begins the story by participating in the reaping but in the end she threatens suicide in order to prevent a victor. A good example of katniss’s character development is the passage where she decides to take action against the Capital, ‘Yes, they have to have a victor……… “The count of three,” he says.’ (Collins, 344).

The main difference between Fahrenheit 451 and The Hunger Games was the citizens. In Fahrenheit 451, the citizens were fine with their lifestyle. However, the citizens in The Hunger Games disliked the games that killed children. Another difference is that the government in Fahrenheit 451 is a democracy and the government in The Hunger Games is extremely corrupt.

Overall, I enjoyed both books immensely. Despite their differences, both books share important messages and are worth reading. Both books set great examples to dystopian authors.

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag!!!!!

Thank you to Carlisa for tagging me to the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag! I had fun participating in this tag!

A POPULAR BOOK OR SERIES THAT YOU DID NOT LIKE

tog Matched An_Abundance_of_Katherines-cover

I don’t know why I disliked Throne of Glass. Throne of Glass felt boring in the beginning so I did not finish it. Matched felt like a knock-off brand of The Giver. Though Matched did copy The Giver in some aspects, it did not copy what made The Giver good. An Abundance of Katherines felt too quirky for me. I forced myself to read a chapter a night to guarantee that I would finish the book.

A BOOK THAT EVERYONE HATED, BUT YOU LIKED

shatter me series

I do not care what anyone says, I am a hardcore Shatter Me fan! Yes, Juliette is annoying in the beginning but she matures. I am aware that it features more drama than action, but the drama was well written.

A LOVE TRIANGLE WHERE YOUR SHIP DID NOT SAIL

lesmis

I completely agree with Carlisa! Eponine (I do not know how to put the accent on the e) and Marius were my OTP. I have no idea why Cosette won Marius (I am not basing my opinion on Eponine’s unfortunate fate). EPONINE AND MARIUS HAD A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF CHEMISTRY!!

A POPULAR CHARACTER THAT YOU DISLIKED

Peeta

Do not get me wrong, I did enjoy Peeta’s character at times, but he still had a tendency to annoy me.

A TROPE YOU DISLIKE

I have two. The first one is the obvious instant-love. Also, I hate when the damaged bad boy falls in love with the sweet, innocent girl.

A POPULAR GENRE THAT YOU NEVER READ

I dislike non-fiction because I read to escape reality. Unfortunately, when reading non-fiction I still feel tied down to my life.

AN AUTHOR WHOSE BOOKS YOU DO NOT READ

Richelle-Mead-fantasy-author Sarah Dessen

It is not that I dislike Sarah Dessen’s writing style, but I do not favor her stories. Richelle Mead’s writing style is not my favorite. I have read an ARC of her upcoming book, Soundless, and the story felt dragged.

A SERIES THAT YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING

va

I bought one book from the series but had no interest in reading it once the time came. Plus, I did not enjoy the movie.

A MOVIE THAT YOU ENJOYED MORE THAN THE BOOK

Divergent

I nominate Stella MarieSydsaurusNovaThe Petite Book Blogger, and Mia in Narnia!