Ready to mingle

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Outsider is now live on Amazon!

Okay, as you can probably tell by that statement I’m feeling extra giddy. 🙂

It’s the third book in the Outsider Chronicles a YA dystopia that as a friend says, features a badass girl with a baseball cap.

It already has one reviewer saying, “The third installment in The Outsider Chronicles is probably the best yet.”

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Not to mention the fact that it’s part of a giveaway that ends at midnight.

So go on, hurry, you never know, soon you could be saying two glorious words…

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Wet Moons and Firetraps

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Today marks #4more days until Outsider is out (you can still pre-order it though!). Yesterday marked the one year anniversary for my blog and since I’ve got two things to be happy about I decided to share the love by providing another list!

The first list was for Niko, and and the weird random facts (and books, and jokes, and music videos) that went into creating book one.

So now here’s a list of all the fun facts you may not know about Harm, book two of the Outsider Chronicles.

Try, try, try again

I hate writing sequels. While the first book is all fun and games and blazing on through while you create a whole new world, the second book is about building upon the foundation that you cobbled together (especially if you don’t outline like me) and trying to make sure it all makes sense. That means a lot less fun.

Harm had two false starts before it finally got going.

In the first one (which lasted a torturous thirty pages) Roosevelt was in it but not Songhay, she was also twelve and lived with her mother. Her name was originally Evan.

In the second, equally false, start, Songhay was in it but not Roosevelt. He was supposed to steal from Niko but attempt number two died an even faster death than attempt number one (fifteen pages… ) and that scene never happened (it probably wouldn’t have ended well for him anyway).

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Now they’re together!

What’s in a name?

Niko is taken from the Japanese word for smile (yea, I know the irony) not Nicholas or any of it’s various incarnations.

Roosevelt loosely translates to “rose field” in Dutch

Songhay’s name comes from Songhai which was an empire in western Africa spanning from the mid-15th to the late 16 century

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If you remember from the last list, I get a lot of inspiration from books, movies, and music. Here’s what went into Harm.

The false names that Ben, Niko and Jared used in their attempt to get into the city (Hanna and Wyatt Reeves, Jamie Brennan) pay homage to The Demon Lexicon Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan, and Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves.

Roosevelt was very (very, very) loosely inspired by the characters in Wet Moon by Ross Campbell

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Meet Trilby, fave Wet Moon character and hair inspiration

Songhay and Roosevelt’s roof hopping antics are inspired by Parkour, specifically the French movie B13 (I would suggest watching this from 1:17)

I decided to burn down the slums after listening to Fire in Freetown by K’naan

Songhay is a fighter because I love watching MMA

The theme song for Harm is Rigamortis by Kendrick Lamar

Locations and Locales

In Harm, there are very few settings but I wanted each one to be as distinctive as possible to showcase the wide gap in resource allotment between the slums and the cities. So while the slums are very gritty and grimy, the Greenery is just the opposite.

The slums are based on the favela’s in Brazil and the townships in South Africa – but you probably already guessed that already. 🙂

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The slums surrounding Cherai are broken into four sections, Aker, New Mill, Orange County, and Freetown

All three cities have a nickname. Cherai’s is the Black City.

The Greenery, even though it only makes a brief appearance in Harm is heavily influenced by the design style of Art Nouveau and was inspired by Clamp’s manga trilogy Clover.

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Well that’s it! A little something to tide you over in the coming days before Outsider is a officially out.

In the meantime, would you care for a little giveaway?

Last Outsider Cookie + Giveaway

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This is the last Outsider cookie before it’s out and completely available to the masses (Not yet! You say. We’ve been on a cookie less diet for more than a month! How can you be so cruel!) Unless you’ve already pre-ordered it then… *thumbs up*

Not to worry I haven’t cut you off completely and won’t leave you guys to survive of the crumbs of this last Songhay-filled cookie (like chocolate chips but better 😉 ). I’m hosting a giveaway!

To enter is pretty simple, from now until the Twenty-third either leave a comment telling everyone your favorite dystopia is and why. Once you’ve entered one lucky winner shall receive books, 1, 2, and 3 of the Outsider Chronicles. 🙂

For now, enjoy some cookies!

Itadakimasu!

The image of a familiar dream was just beginning to flicker into view when she heard the soft tinkle of glass hitting glass and felt a cold shadow press against her body.

Five heartbeats passed between the time it took her to sweep his feet out from underneath him, grapple him to the ground and press a knife to his throat. She opened her eyes.

“Songhay.”

He swallowed delicately.

“I thought you were asleep,” he finally managed to say.

“I was.” But her time in the Box had turned her into a very light sleeper. “What are you doing here?”

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Interview Time! Tima Maria Lacoba author of the Dantonville Legacy Trilogy

Woot! at long last I’ve nabbed the busy Ms. Lacoba and have asked the usual round of interview questions. This Aussie writer was very gracious and didn’t even mind the minor bout of kidnapping (Kidding!)

Anyway, without further ado here is all the juicy little tidbits you wanted to know about Bloodgifted.

Itadakimasu!

 

1. How would you describe Bloodgifted to those who haven’t read it yet?

Bloodgifted is the story of a young woman who stopped aging in her mid-twenties, and only later learns the frightening reason why.

2. How did the idea for Bloodgifted come about?

While I was doing research for my MPhil in Archaeology in Britain, I came across a Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall that had been abandoned in the mid 3rd century and re-inhabited a century later. No explanation was given as to why it was abandoned so suddenly. So, I came up with my own.

3. Is there a sequel?

Bloodgifted is the first book of the Dantonville Legacy series. Book 2, Bloodpledge has only just been released, and Book 3, Blood Vault is due for release April/May 2015.

4. When did you first realize that writing was something you wanted to do?

It was only a recent development, and totally unexpected. My career took up so much of my time, very little was left for either reading or writing. So, I didn’t take it up seriously until I resigned from my teaching job.

5. What’s your usual writer’s schedule like? Are you an Outliner, or do you let the characters lead you where they may?

Oh, I wish I had a schedule! I write whenever I get the time. Although I prefer mornings when my brain is fresh, there are always interruptions—life so often gets in the way. As for being an Outliner or not, I’d say I’m a combination of plotter and pantser. I tend to outline the story from beginning to end so I know which direction I’m going, but some individual scenes I happily leave up to my characters. After all, it’s their story.

6. Name some of your writerly crushes.

Where do I begin? There are so many. But my ultimate author crushes have to be on Maggie Shayne, Gena Showalter, MaryJanice Davidson and Lindsay J Pryor. They’re all brilliant.

7. Movie Time! Who would you cast for Bloodgifted: The Movie?

Since Bloodgifted is an Australian story, I would have to choose an all-Aussie cast. Here they are:

  1. Laura – Theresa Palmer

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2. Alec—Justin Melvey

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3. Luc—Chris Hemsworth

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4. Judy—Rebecca Gibney

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5. Matt—Sam Worthington

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Interview Time! Character interview with Jools Clayworth of The Sanctum Trilogy by Madhuri Blaylock

With the new book in The Sanctum trilogy out right now (a totally awesome book by the way, you should go check it out). I decided to do something different this time– or at least different for this blog– and host a character interview with one Jools Clayworth, Class A Warrior and Acting Head of The New York Academy. Also one of my favorite characters because she’d just awesome like that. 😀

Full name: Jools Gabrielle Clayworth

Age: 18

Occupation: Class A Warrior for The Sanctum, Acting Head of The New York Academy

KNR: Tell us a little bit about what happens in The Boy?

I feel like it’s a treatise of sorts on dealing with loss, the devastating effects loss can have on you and how everyone handles loss differently.

I’m sure Wyatt would say it’s all about him becoming more perfect than he already was, but for me, THE BOY is about coping and overcoming and loving and ultimately, growth. On so many levels, from the most basic, where you see me step into Sam’s shoes and start leading our Academy to the more subtle, like when Ryker forgives Dev (which I’m not supposed to know, but I’m totally nosey and manage to get all sorts of information out of Madhuri) (she likes me best, you know).

KNR: What is the Sanctum? What are Magicals?

Currently, The Sanctum is going to mean different things to different people, depending on their agenda. Ideally, The Sanctum was created by the gods to oversee Magicals and keep humans in the dark about the supernatural lives existing right under their noses, on their blocks and sometimes in their very own homes.

Ask a Breslin and they’ll tell you The Sanctum is a means to achieving dominance over all of us, warriors and Magicals alike. Ask Carter Breslin and he’ll tell you The Sanctum is his premier torture chamber in the basement of The London Academy.

Ask Wyatt and he’ll tell you The Sanctum is an upstanding and vital organization meting out justice for all Magical-kind. Ask Ryker and he’ll tell you The Sanctum is nothing but a bunch of blood-thirsty, murderous fools.

Personally, The Sanctum represents what we are and how we should always strive to improve. Yes, we protect Magicals and humans, but we can do a better job of it, we can be more just and less brutal. We are the fine line between Magical and humankind and maintaining that balance in an honorable manner should be our primary goal, as the gods intended when they created us.

What was your other question? Oh yeah, what are Magicals? Basically, that’s just Sanctum lingo, a catch-all term we use for any non-human being, from demons, vampires and werewolves to faeries, trolls, imps and the like.

KNR: You’ve recently become Acting Head of the New York Academy, can you tell us a bit about what a day as Acting Head is like?

Hell mixed in with a lot of ass-kissing, cajoling and threats. Ha! I kid, but not really.

It’s tough.

I’m young and I’m not Wyatt. And everyone expected that next to the words “Head of The New York Academy” would be the name Wyatt Clayworth. So I’ve spent a lot of time having to prove myself to our allies. And as much as I hate to admit it, having Ryker around has helped tremendously. He seems to iron out all of my wrinkles, stepping in whenever I get testy, saying just the right thing and putting everyone’s minds at ease.

I’m working on being better at that aspect of the job, but for him, it just comes naturally.

Right now, I’m so caught up in creating this coalition to take on the Breslins, that the other aspects of running The Academy are still being handled by my dad. Of course, Sam has rejoined us, so I imagine she will help Dad, but right now, he’s been handling the day-to-day with the Magicals. He’s my right hand and I love him.

KNR: What do you think people would be most surprised to learn about you?

I love a good rom-com. And I had a fling with a werewolf.

KNR: List five things you can’t live without.

My crossbow, a good pair of jeans, scotch, mint ChapStick…and Ryker

But if you tell him he made my list, I swear to the gods, I will kill you.

KNR: If you weren’t a part of the Sanctum what do you think you would be doing?

Practicing Shindo, no doubt. Dark magic, black arts. Making The Sanctum crazy because if I’m not in The Sanctum, I’m pretty positive I’m doing something to make them chase me around constantly, so I can fight them all the time.

It’s in my blood. I’ve got to fight. I can’t really imagine a life where I don’t have a blade around my hips and that crossbow on my back, you know?

Did you think I was going to say something like own a brownstone in Brooklyn with Ryker and have a bunch of babies?

Ha! Not likely.

KNR: What do you feel is your best characteristic? Your worst one?

Best characteristic, easily my killer instinct. I’m one of the best warriors in The Sanctum, if not the best now that Wyatt is gone and Ryker never liked being a warrior anyway.

My worst? You should have asked Wyatt since he’ll have a nice, long list for you of all my annoying qualities. Personally, I think I’m freaking awesome, but if I have to pick something, probably those rare moments when my bratty side rears its head.

KNR: Lastly, can you give us all a tiny hint at what’s going to happen in Book III?

No way.

Madhuri will kill me.

 

[Le sigh, I had to make an attempt :)]

Aside

Review of The Boy by Madhuri Blaylock

Dun dun dun! The Boy, book II in The Sanctum trilogy by Madhuri Blaylock’s is finally out (by the way did you know you can download the first book, The Girl for free on Amazon now? You didn’t? Well, go on. I’ll wait).

Since The Boy was so awesome (and sexy! :3) I’ll leave a review for your enjoyment, and be on the look out for a character interview with Jools Clayworth (so you better start reading The Sanctum right now and earn your hipster bragging rights).

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Review

I enjoyed the first book in The Sanctum trilogy but I enjoyed the second one even more. The Boy by Madhuri Blaylock starts off pretty much where The Girl left off. Wyatt is dying from a mortal wound inflicted by Max Breslin and Dev has brought him to the Ramyan hoping he can be saved.

Back in the Sanctum world Jools is now acting head of the New York branch, Darby’s her usual Southern Vampire self, the Breslins are a-plotting and a-scheming, and someone is impersonating Ryker, killing Magicals left and right.

The action never stops as the plot and tension builds leaving the reader holding their breath during each chapter.

The Boy is actually one of the few series where I find myself enjoying all the characters and even those I might have been cold toward in the previous book I’m starting to warm up to.

The writing’s excellent and while The Boy doesn’t end with a cliffhanger this time I can hardly wait for book three.

I loved it. Madly.

Interview Time! Natalie Wright author of Emily’s Heart

How would you describe Emily’s Heart to those who haven’t read it yet? 

 
Emily’s Heart, Book 3 of The Akasha Chronicles, is a dystopian love story. The story is set in our modern world but the planet is gripped by the influence of the dark god, Ciardha, who has escaped his shadow prison. Emily’s Heart has a dark edge to it. In a world filled with chaos and darkness, can Emily find love in her heart? That’s the main theme. Emily’s friendships, which she relied on most of her life, are falling apart. She’s more alone than ever at a time when the world is moving inexorably toward total darkness. She has to unite with an old enemy, try to reunite her old friendships and find new friends to help her fight the darkness.
 
Emily’s Heart is different from my prior books and not quite like most books that readers may see for young adult audiences. It is told in the dual first person of main character Emily and of her friend and love interest, Jake. But there are also short vignettes told in the third person that are “Apocalyptic World” chapters. These short chapters set the scene for the reader of what’s going on in the wider world. The book is more character oriented than the prior two books in the series, but there is plenty of action too.

How did the idea for Emily’s Heart come about? 

 
I had the original idea for the first book, Emily’s House, while in a hypnotherapy session! I had a vision of a torc arm bracelet and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I began researching Celtic history and myth and the next thing I knew, a story began to emerge.
 
I had not originally planned for it to be three books. But on the plane ride back from Ireland (yes, I won a trip to Ireland where I was able to go to all of the places mentioned inEmily’s House!), I had the idea for three books and all three titles came to me. At that time, I knew only the title for book three and that I wanted Emily to connect with her true love. It was only after writing Book 2, Emily’s Trial, that I knew that Emily’s Heart would be a dark, dystopian sort of love story.

Any plans for a sequel?

 
Emily’s Heart is the third and final book of The Akasha Chronicles trilogy (Emily’s House is book 1 and Emily’s Trial is book 2). So no, there won’t be any more Emily. I’m currently working on a new young adult science fiction series titled H.A.L.F. It will appeal to fans of T.V. shows like The X-Files and Roswell. Alien-human hybrids, government conspiracy, and lots of action. The first book will be out in the Spring of 2015.

When did you first realize that writing was something you wanted to do?

 
I always wanted to be a writer. However, I got sidetracked for a while with a career as a lawyer. It feels good to now be doing full-time what I wanted to do all along.

Who are some of your writerly crushes?

 
Are you speaking of writer’s that I crush on? Or characters?
 
If it’s writers you speak of, I have lots of writer crushes. Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) and Erin Morgenstern (“The Night Circus”) both come to mind. But right now I’m writer crushing on on the writing genius of both Richard Peck and George R.R. Martin. Richard’s writing is short and each word is perfectly chosen. His stories are tight and poetic and I think he’s the best young adult writer of the past century. George is very different. His stories are long and more wordy but they are visceral and you feel like you’ve lived the story. I’d love to pick the brains of these guys!
 
If it’s characters of which you speak, I have a thing for manly men! I have a mega crush on Thor – both the character and the man who plays him, Chris Hemsworth. I’m not a very having-crushes-on-guys sort of girl and I’m generally not the swoony type. But if Chris Hemsworth walked into my house without his shirt on, I’d probably faint like a pubescent girl.
 
 
Another fictional character that I’m hot for is Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. Not so much the T.V. show (though he is super hot), but the character I’ve imagined from reading the books. I love strong underdogs that rise to the top. I’d like to curl up in Jon Snow’s furs with him.
 

What’s you’re usual writer’s schedule like? Are you an Outliner, or do you let the characters lead you where they may? 

 
I generally spend a month or more researching and planning a new novel. I don’t outline the whole book, but I do what’s called the “snowflake” method. I know the major plot points and spend a lot of time on character motivation and world building. When I’m ready to write, I write for 2-3 hours every day until I’ve got a first draft. That takes about a month to a month and a half (I type pretty fast 😉 After the first draft is written, I let the novel sit for a while and percolate. When I go back to it, I revise and rewrite many times. The first draft, at least for me, is just a beginning. Much of what I write in the first draft will go by the wayside.
 
I do plan a bit, but I let the characters lead the way. I am often surprised at the turns the story takes. And I think readers are surprised too because I get that comment a lot – “I didn’t see that coming,” they say. That is my absolute favorite part of writing – the excitement of the story unfolding before my eyes. But because I let my characters wander where they will, I think that’s why I have to spend more time than some in revision. I have to clean up messes that my characters make! 😉
 

Movie time! Who would you want cast for Emily’s Heart movie?

 
Ah, movie time! Well if I could cast anyone as Emily, it would be Ashley Phillips, the cover model for the covers of books 2 and 3.
 
 
We chose Ashley for the cover of book 2 but shot the cover for book 3 at the same time. So while writing Emily’s Heart, I pictured Ashley as Emily.
 
For Greta Hoffman, I pictured Anna Sophia Robb. She’s the great combination of blonde beauty but she looks strong. And Greta is no shrinking violet! She can hold her own, against both Emily and the shadow people.
 
 
Jake is a bit tougher for me. He began the series as a too-short-for-his age nerdy kid with thick glasses and a tousled mop of sandy blond hair. But by Emily’s Heart, he’s seventeen and has grown up and filled out. He wears contacts now and his hair is darker than when he was a kid. He’s thin but strong. Jake Cooper, at least in this photo, is close to what I pictured for Jake Stevens. My character Jake is a bit older than this in Emily’s Heart, but you get the idea. Cutey nerd 🙂
 
 
In Emily’s Heart, Fanny Katz is lost in the Umbra Perdita (most of the time). But before Fanny was taken by the darkness, she looked a lot like Allisyn Ashley Arm.
 
 
 
And then there’s Tristan. Yummy, hot Tristan! I’m not sure who this hotty is, but I pinned him from somewhere to my Emily’s Heart pinboard and he was the inspiration behind my character Tristan Fields.
 
 
I had a lot of fun searching for Ciardha and Draicha. Stuart Townsend is perfect to play Ciardha in his adult, human form.
 
 
And Dorcha? Rooney Mara would be perfect. Longer hair with a bright pink streak in it and it’s Dorcha in her human form!
 
 
And I hope this doesn’t scare the bejeezus out of people, but this photo captures the eyes of the people in Emily’s Heart who have “turned”. 
 
 
 
And check out the trailer to Emily’s Heart right here!