Interview with Amy Brock McNew

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Amy Back in the day

 

Nickname:  I have a few, most I haven’t heard in a while. “Sista Mildred” was one. (Came from the DC Talk song, “Free at Last”. Long story!) There’s also “Bigfoot” “Ski Feet” and “Ina C. Stein”.

Genre:   Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Personal Philosophy:  There are two principles I live by. Always remember that what you give, how you treat people, and what you put out into the world comes back to you, and always protect those weaker than yourself.

Favorite scripture: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Favorite quote: “Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

In high school I was a… bit of everything all rolled in one. Part jock, part nerd, part music/band geek, part grunge girl. I like to defy labels. And I had friends from all groups. I’ve never been in to excluding people.

Do you see yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is? I am a Christian author. The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles is definitely a Christian series. The next one I have planned is not. Again, not much on labels. I find them restrictive. I write what I feel; the stories that invade my brain and won’t let me sleep. The difference? An author of Christian fiction only writes what can be classified as Christian fiction, in that there is always a strong Christian element and usually a “come to Jesus” moment. A Christian author may write something that wouldn’t be labeled as Christian fiction, but their faith informs their writing.

How long have you been writing? Since I learned the alphabet. I’ve always loved to make up stories.

Rebirth is about spiritual warfare and select people who can see angels and fight with them against demons. What inspired you in this story?   I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and paranormal. I’d read Frank Peretti’s books and they got me thinking. What if people had to actually physically fight demons instead of only fighting through prayer? What if there were a select few who had a gift that allowed them to see into the spiritual world? What if some of our greatest fears and biggest problems actually became corporeal? What would that look like? In dissecting the interactions between humans and spiritual beings and trying to figure out what that would be like, I learned a lot about myself and my own beliefs.

I wanted to bring the battles to life, give those issues a face, and show that they can be beaten. That you are never alone in your battle. That there is always hope. As I was writing, I found myself believing that even more than I did.

How are you like the heroine, Liz? How is Liz different? Our past is almost identical. We’re similar in appearance. We both have issues with anger. We’re both very protective of those we love. And the biggie, we both had a call on our life that we were running from. How we’re different? Liz sometimes has a hard time articulating her emotions, at least, the mushy ones. I have no problem in letting people know exactly how I feel. She tends to shut down and shut people out. Often. My inner circle is always in the loop. Though, sometimes they have to pry things out of me. All in all, we are more alike than not.

Who is your inspiration for Ryland? As far as personality, likes and dislikes, the way he “handles” Liz, and the fact that he drives a big Dodge truck, my husband, Brian. Everything else is bits and pieces of people I know or have known.

What is something you’d like for us to know (behind the scenes) about Rebirth?

A lot of the banter and even some of the arguments between Liz and Ry are actually based on interactions between me and my husband. There is a lot of us in that relationship! I can be bull-headed and a spastic mess, like Liz, and Brian is my calm, my rock. He knows just how to get me off the edge of the cliff or chill me out, just like Ry does for Liz.

Also, some of you may already know, but my husband has helped choreograph almost every fight in the book, and we’ve acted out every single battle scene. In the back yard. Our neighbors depend on us for free entertainment.

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Amy Brock McNew

Rebirth:  Book One of the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Paperback: $16.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price of $2.99)
Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC

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“An action-packed tale of classic good versus evil from the depths of human despair and heights of God’s grace. Filled with romance, betrayal, love, loss and ultimate triumph.”

—Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Legend of Sheba
Rebirth has the sweet and spicy that romance readers love, with the action and intensity of spiritual warfare—but it is ultimately the story of a flawed heroine struggling to hold on to her faith and find her self-worth through the eyes of Christ that will touch this book’s audience.”
—Kat Heckenbach, author of Finding Angel
“With crisp writing, relentless action, and breathless stakes, Amy Brock McNew’s Rebirth will grab readers from the first page and keep them riveted until the last. Liz Brantley is sure to claim a spot on the list of favorite kick-butt heroines right alongside Black Widow and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans of gritty urban fantasy won’t want to miss this ride!”
—Evangeline Denmark, author of Curio
Rebirth is a heart-wrenching, intensely spiritual novel. It definitely lives up to Amy’s promise of guts on the page—she is refreshingly raw and honest with her story.”
—H. A. Titus, author of Forged Steel

 

Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return. Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the

God who gave her this curse. Drawn to her abilities, the demon Markus unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.

She’s desperate for a normal life. When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted moves within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.

Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil. And she isn’t sure which side to choose.

Bio:

Amy Brock McNew doesn’t just write speculative fiction, she lives and breathes it.

Exploring the strange, the supernatural, and the wonderfully weird, Amy pours her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. Nothing is off-limits. Her favorite question is “what if?” and she believes fiction can be truer than our sheltered and controlled realities. Visit AmyBrockMcNew.com to learn more about this intriguing author.

Social Media Links:
Website: http://amybrockmcnew.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyBrockMcNewAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyBrockMcNew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26955721-amy-mcnew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AmyBrockMcNew/
Purchase Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Sm5pNZ
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1So45GY
iBooks: http://apple.co/1So4l8S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/213uz67

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Jeri Massi

As most of you realize by now, I’m a great fan of Jeri Massi’s novels for tweens having posted two book reviews: Derwood, Inc. a year ago, and Hall of Heroes earlier this week. Jeri graciously agreed to an interview. After all, how could any author resist my enthusiasm?

Hall of Heroes

 

Whenever possible, the Scriblerians invite our honored authors to “sign” our slam book.

Nickname (in childhood or now or both): Jeriwho

Genre: I prefer to write fantasy and SF but rarely get a chance to do so. I’ve written across many different genres: Westerns, mysteries, adventures, historical, fantasy, SF, etc.

Favorite scripture: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:10-11

Favorite quotation: All warfare is based on deception. – Sun Tzu

In high school, I was… loud, and tall.

 

 

Jeri blog
Jeri, welcome to the Scriblerians.
Thank you, Linda. It’s an honor.

 

 
As you know, I love your Peabody Kids series, especially the first book, Derwood, Inc. The humor is timeless. In fact, I recently spoke with a fifth grade teacher who still uses Derwood in her classroom. She shared with me that the book is her kids’ favorite choice in the curriculum. How have you updated your characters since the Derwood Series was published about – what – 30 years ago?
If a character works in a story, he or she should never need to be updated. Jack will always be the charming leader, and Penny the loyal companion. Scruggs will always be the person in transition. Humor and mysteries alike tend to be built on certain familiar character types, so while their clothing or jargon may change over time, they remain essentially the same whatever the time setting of the story. We see the same characters clearly in Hall of Heroes, which is an exact mirror of the characters from Derwood, Inc.

 

 
While Derwood was fun and adventurous with lessons for the Peabody Kids in each book, Hall of Heroes strikes deep. I took in such themes as: “Love God and enjoy Him forever,” and “Heaven completes our creation.” Have I nailed it, or would you add another theme dear to your heart.
“The Christian life is built on humility.” The humor of the story is built on the fact that the “good guys” think they are always going to be victorious, just because they are the good guys. They’re actually pretty arrogant and full of themselves. In short order, the bullies overthrow them and steal their club house. There is a thematic link to Martha Jenkins, who has done so much good in her life, but is facing certain death while still too young for it. Both groups have to accept their lot with humility. Jean herself notices that Digger seems much more heroic when he is helping around the house for Martha. He fulfills the role of a manly Christian effortlessly when he forgets about acting like a hero and simply offers his work to a suffering person.

 

 
Many of the readers of the Scriblerians blog are also writers, so I’d like to ask questions in relation to how you write your novels. Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? When I think of Derwood, Inc. I assume it had a bare skeleton which you fleshed out with twists and turns that might have surprised you as you were writing. But did Hall of Heroes need a stricter outline?
All of my stories are outlined. I always think of the plot first, then complete it in outline form, and then start writing. If I decide to throw in a new twist, I usually outline it into the main outline.

 

 
While you had several comical moments with the villains in the story, the mature spiritual issues caused my chuckles to subside as I contemplated eternity and how God sees our mission on earth. When your readers finish the last sentence of the book, what do you want them to come away with?
Well, first, that nothing is as it seems. Martha Jenkins had a lot to offer, but she was pretty much ignored by her church. And nobody meant to be unkind to her; they just didn’t look hard enough to realize their Christian duty towards her. The real Hall of Heroes meets in Martha’s living room, three overlooked people who love each other and have fellowship in the face of a great tragedy. Christianity today is blinded by grandeur, and that’s a horrible blindness. We will find the power and the fellowship of Jesus Christ with the least of His brethren, always.

Second, we all die, and yet we all must live. Digger’s joy over regaining the club house is not misplaced. Martha herself had a full life until close to the end. We ought to live joyfully and make our boast in God, and we ought to approach death with humility and willingness to go where He leads us, even there.

 

 
I always enjoy teen and tween fiction when the main characters have GOOD parents, intact families with Mom and Dad loving each other and watching out for their children. Jean experiences growth as she makes her own decisions, and her wisdom comes from the example of her parents. Am I in the minority of adult readers today, or do you find the reading public does want wholesome material for their children?

I think the best readers want the truth, whether that truth is couched in a conventional story with a home and a hearth, or whether it’s couched in science fiction, or fantasy, or talking animals, etc. The reality is that many children do lose one parent, or both parents, and so fiction should also reach out to them. I have given up on figuring out what most readers want. I write what I believe makes a good story. I assume that if it keeps me and my spot readers entertained, it ought to entertain others.

Jeri Massi

Jeri and Ben

 

Want to know more about Jeri Massi? Read her Blog on the Way (www.jeriwho.net), follow her on Twitter (@jeriwho), or like her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jerimassi).

Christa Kinde’s Alter Ego Tells All . . . and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!

Today, we have a very special guest, Christa Kinde (KIN-dee), prolific author of fairy tales, epic adventures, comic misadventures, light and sweet romance, clever allegories, whimsical fantasies, far-flung journeys, knotty mysteries, and more.

Christa, thanks for posting in The Scriblerians ‘visiting author’ slam book:

Nicknames: Marmee, CJ, codename “Sugar Daddy” (my husband is “Nacho Mama”)
Genre: Fantasy & Christian Speculative Fiction
Personal Philosophy: “Be brave and do your best.”
Fave Scripture: “Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.” –Micah 6:8
Fave Quote: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” –C. S. Lewis
In high school, I was a… voracious bookworm with lamentable social skills and a formidable vocabulary.

 
Christa we’re delighted you joined us today to talk about the Galleries of Stone series. After publishing so many successful books, why did you write this trilogy under the nom deplume C. J. Milbrandt?

The books I’ve written as Christa Kinde—both fiction and nonfiction—belong solidly in the Christian market. When I approached my publisher about doing a fantasy series, they advised me to abandon the plan. It didn’t fit my author brand. So I shelved a short stack of magic-laced manuscripts and focused on the angels and demons in my Threshold Series.

But I began quietly investigating my indie options. Maybe it’s because I’m a “from scratch” kind of gal, but I love managing the creative process from start to finish. So my family-friendly fantasy is published under my maiden name—C. J. Milbrandt.

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And all of us are very glad you made the decision to follow your dream! I recently read Rakefang, the riveting third book of the Galleries of Stone, and I found it very hard to put down each night. What is your inspiration for such diverse stories?

Story ideas aren’t hard to come by. It’s near impossible to avoid the pesky things. Their ambushes throw my imagination into a tizzy and make me wish I could type faster.

However, Galleries of Stone trilogy is a special case. The story began as a personal challenge. For one year, I used an online dictionary’s “word of the day” as inspiration for my daily installment. On January 1, all I knew for sure was that the Keeper of the Gray Mountain was a banished Pred—a sheep in wolf’s clothing. And that Tupper Meadowsweet, his new Flox servant, was either brave, dense, or brilliant.

With each day’s addition, new complexities unfolded. I built the world to suit the story’s needs, making new discoveries right along with Tupper. By December 31, I had 366 chapters (2012 was a leap year) and more than 300,000 words. After some minor edits and a few additions, I released Galleries of Stone as a trilogy: Book One: Meadowsweet (2013), Book Two: Harrow (2014) and Book Three: Rakefang (2015).

Your target audience is tweens/teens, yet I’m also drawn to the delicately entwined layers of allegory and symbolism. What do you hope readers—of all ages—will take away from your books? 

I’ve often wished that books could be rated “E for Everyone.” I write what I enjoy reading—adventures with action, a surprising turn of events, a hint of mystery, and a smidgen of romance. If only “heart-warming” was a genre.

Takeaways? Hmm. The three highest compliments my stories have received are laughter, tears, and a warmly-expressed intention to re-read. I want folks to come away from a book feeling that they know the characters. Let’s add joy over the journey they’ve just taken. Satisfaction in its resolution. Anticipation for what’s to come. And with each successive title, a deepening trust in the storyteller.

Well, I for one am hooked because I’ve already started re-reading them. One of the things I like is that Galleries of Stone and your other series immerse readers into the heart of a rich story world, where customs, culture, and relationships unfold in a natural way (and I’d be remiss to not mention that the covers and chapter headings are like works of art). Can you tell us more about how you develop such detailed, fantasy worlds?

Over the course of the trilogy, I invented multiple cultures. Pred are vicious conquerors with an elitist mindset. Grif add a showman’s flourish to all they do. Drom are cantankerous plodders with a passion for spice and melons. Clow honor their tribal ancestry. Fwan are gentle lovers of beauty, but brutally superstitious. It’s a vast and varied world.

By contrast, Tupper’s whole life is bound up in one small village. He didn’t know there were other races of men. He’d never heard of magic. He had no concept of an ocean, let alone distant continents. But when confronted with a wider world, Tupper rolls up his sleeves and chips away at racial barriers. He adapts and adopts new ways of thinking, seeing, and doing. Frey’s “lambkin” makes a big difference in small ways.

Yes, he does. Tupper is one of my favorite characters.  In the Galleries of Stone series, which character is most like you and why? 

There’s a little bit of me sprinkled throughout the trilogy—attitudes, insights, bits of advice, turns of phrase. The strongest resemblances would likely be Carden’s love of family, Freydolf’s restlessness to create, and Aurelius’s formidable vocabulary. 

If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which one would it be and what would you do together?

I wish I had the courage to say Aurelius, but he scares me. So Freydolf. And since the Keeper can’t stray far from his mountain, I’d ask for a tour of the Statuary.

I, too, would like a tour of the statuary and the magical figures the Keeper carefully reveals within the stone! The mountain is a place that came alive for me through your writing!

Christa, thank you for coming on The Scriblerians to talk to our readers! I’ve listed her contact info below. Her websites and blogs are a wonderful world of sample chapters, beautiful artwork, and behind the scenes info on your favorite stories. Check it out!

Continue reading below for a sample chapter from the first book of the Galleries of Stone Trilogy and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!

Christa Kinde
Website/Bloghttps://christakinde.wordpress.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ChristaKinde
Twitter – @ChristaKinde
GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/642522.Christa_Kinde

C.J. Milbrandt
Website/Bloghttp://cjmilbrandt.com/
Galleries of Stone on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Galleries-of-Stone/1480104452254159
Byways on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byways/840562655975459
Twitter – @Elymnifoquent
GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7465580.C_J_Milbrandt

Christa’s books are available here:
Christa Kinde on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Kinde/e/B007O45N7A C. J. Milbrandt on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Milbrandt/e/B00H1D6PLW

Galleries of Stone Trilogy

Galleries of Stone Trilogy

 

 

Excerpt from Galleries of Stone, Book 1: Meadowsweet

With a flurry of silk and sulk, Aurelius burst into the workshop and demanded, “Have you seen the sprat?”

Freydolf glanced over the top of the golden stone he was marking and inquired, “Recently?”

“Since breakfast,” his brother-in-law clarified.

“I’ve been a little distracted.”

“And I’m being driven to distraction! Do you know how much work is waiting?”

“Yes and no,” Freydolf replied vaguely. “I usually leave such things to you.”

Aurelius rolled his eyes. “Very trusting of you, but I thought we’d agreed that you’d be entrusting your pet to me for the duration.”

“Aye.”

“So you haven’t seen him?” Aurelius prodded.

“Maybe he’s hiding from you.” Giving the other man a stern look, he added, “You could have been more polite at breakfast.”

“I was!” he insisted. “For me.”

Freydolf snorted and said, “If you don’t bridle your tongue, you’ll never win the lad over.”

“I’ll bridle my tongue when you collar your pet,” Aurelius muttered. “He’d be easier to find if you kept him on a leash.”

“Have you tried behind the rimbles in the upper loggia?”

The other Pred blinked. “The what in the where?”

“In the upper loggia,” Freydolf patiently repeated. After offering a convoluted set of directions to the tucked-away spot, he remarked, “It’s pleasant there, especially in summertime.”

Aurelius stared dubiously at his brother-in-law. “Do you really expect me to believe that I’ll find him way up there?”

“Not really,” Freydolf admitted, turning his attention back to the stone and making a sweeping chalk line along its side. With a growl, Aurelius exited the workshop, and Freydolf looked down at the boy sitting on the floor between his feet and winked broadly.

Tupper’s eyes shone with gratitude, admiration, and the rare delight of a shared secret. He was quite sure that his Pred was bigger and better than any other.

–End of excerpt–

Dear readers, we would love to hear from you. Tell us which book of the Galleries of Stone you’d like to win, or ask Christa a burning question you’ve always wanted to know about the fantastic realms she creates, or simply leave your thoughts on today’s post!  

One lucky commenter will win The Blue Door from Christa’s Threshold series and another lucky commenter will win an e-book of choice from the Galleries of Stone trilogy.

(if you have technical problems leaving a comment, scroll up and click on the blog title; the comment form will then appear at the bottom!)

 

Happy Release Day to Amish ZOMBIES from Space!

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Read it. Enjoyed it. Have the t-shirt. 🙂

In 2013, I had the chance to read my first Kerry Nietz book – Amish Vampires in Space. I wasn’t sure what to expect because, let’s face it, it’s a title that can’t be taken seriously. I was pleasantly surprised because not only was the book strangely plausible, but it was really, really good. (Read my review).

Fast forward to today, and Kerry Nietz is one of my favorite authors, and his new book, Amish Zombies from Space, has released! I couldn’t be more thrilled to host him on The Scriblerians again (first interview is here) and ask him some questions.

Everyone, say hello to Kerry!

Kerry Nietz

Author, Kerry Nietz

Q: Last time I interviewed you, I asked “I understand that AViS is the first of a series. What can you tell us about the other books and when can we expect to see them on the shelves?” To which you answered. “LOL. Now that’s news to me. Who have you been talking to?” It’s not even 2 years later, and Amish Zombies from Space is here! What led to the sequel?

LOL. That earlier interview probably had something to do with it, Lisa.

Around that time I talked with Jeff Gerke (my then-publisher) about the possibility of Amish Vampires in Space having a sequel. Given the interest in AViS, he was confident that Marcher Lord Press could publish a series of Amish-themed science fiction books. I just needed to write them.

The subsequent sale of Marcher Lord Press complicated matters a bit, though.

Q: And really, why zombies?

Jeff was convinced that the next monsters I had to explore were zombies, simply from a pop culture standpoint. Zombies were ubiquitous—both in print and film. In fact, one of the Hollywood people that contacted us had connections to the Walking Dead. So it seemed an obvious way to go.

Q: Unlike most people, I’m not a zombie fan. I don’t watch the Walking Dead or any of the zombie apocalypse movies, but I did enjoy your book. How long did it take you to come up with a plausible scientific explanation for the zombies?

Not long. A day or two, maybe. I’ve been really blessed in that the science seems to present itself right when I need it. Much of what happens in Amish Zombies, though, is an outgrowth of the first book. The characters and situations of AViS fueled the characters and situations of AZfS. Same goes for the science.

Q: Amish Vampires in Space received a lot of notoriety–from worst book cover lists to the Tonight Show. What has been the craziest thing to come out of this series so far?AViS

Last year was a fun ride. There were so many unexpected twists and turns. I never knew what I was going to wake up to.

For instance, much of the week before the Tonight Show mention I spent trying to get the print version of AViS back on sale. I had some typos I wanted fixed and the time seemed right to do that.

Unfortunately, CreateSpace takes your book out-of-print while you make corrections. The AViS print galley has a few stylistic things that makes the CreateSpace reviewers nervous, things they flag even though the book would print fine. Consequently, it was a stressful process. I finally got the book back on sale on a Tuesday morning. That night it was mentioned on the Tonight Show. Good timing, huh?

But there were lots of fun things that happened last year. I got to chat, via Twitter, with folks all around the world, in at least seven different languages. (Thank you, Google translate!)

I also exchanged tweets with a gentlemen only to learn he was in the cast of the Ghost Hunters show. I talked to a handful of people from the film industry, in fact.

(In case you wondered, Amish Vampires in Space was considered too far out for the SyFy channel. Ah well.)

So yeah, it was a crazy, crazy time. Loved it.

Q: They say no publicity is bad publicity. Have you found that to be true with AViS?

For me, I think that’s true. It probably depends on how you approach it, though—on your attitude going in.

With Amish Vampires in Space my conscience was clear. I knew what I wrote, and why I wrote it. So most of the mockery and near-slander just rolled off my back. I embraced it, in fact. Every situation, even the confrontations, became an opportunity to dialog with people, and hopefully, leave as friends. It was a great little faith exercise.

Q: AZfS picks up a few years after AViS and many of the characters are still the same. Who was your favorite character to write?

Two of my favorite characters were new ones. I don’t want to spoil too much, but one of them is a friend of doctor Darly’s. He’s a bit of a wit.

Another favorite was Jeb and Sarah’s son, Isaac. It was neat to put my mind into “boy mode” again. To try to experience the world as a child again. Science fiction should have a good dose of marvel and wonder. What better way to present that than through the eyes of a child?

(Darly’s friend ended up as my favorite character as well, although I have always had a soft spot for Jeb.)

Q: Both your books do a great job of portraying the Amish and their love for a simple life, and you use them to sprinkle theology throughout your books. People who haven’t read your books might think you have no regard for the Amish or Christianity in general. Have you had any throwback from the Amish loving community over your books?

There was some of that initially, yes. People saw the cover and the title and assumed I was bashing the Amish. I even had one author tell me I couldn’t write about the Amish because I hadn’t been Amish. <sigh>

My goal all along was to be as realistic as possible. To keep everything plausible. That required portraying the Amish as faithfully as I could. Most of the criticism went away after people started reading the book.

Q: So, what’s in store for the next book – werewolves? 😉

Not sure yet. I’ve been working on Amish-something for nearly three years now and mentally I need a little break. I might circle back to some of my earlier characters and their worlds. See what excites me.

There will need to be another Amish book at some point, though. Werewolves seem to be the most commonly requested antagonists, so I would be foolish not to consider them. I need to find a way to make the concept interesting scientifically—to not travel paths I’ve already travelled.

We’ll see. Hopefully, the answer will come right when I need it. 🙂

Kerry’s doing something different with this book. In addition to the print, and eBook versions, he is also doing a serial version (3 parts). It’s cheaper to buy the entire eBook, but Part 1 is discounted for those who might want to try before they commit.  If, like me, you enjoyed AViS, why not show Kerry some love and puchase a copy of AZfS today?

LET US HEAR FROM YOU: Where are you on the Zombie fan scale from 1 (burn them all) to 10 (eat my brains)?

AZfS shirt

Angelhood – Interview with A.J. Cattapan

Amy Cattapan is the latest inductee into our author hall-of-fame with her debut novel, Angelhood. And as you know, we non-adults at the Scriblerians do our interviews old-school slam book style.
Amy writes – So excited to join the slam book! Here are my answers:
AJ in The Man Who Came to Dinner

AJ in The Man Who Came to Dinner

Nickname:
I write under the pen name A.J. Cattapan, but nobody really calls me by my initials. I just like following in the footsteps of other children’s writers like J.K. Rowling, L.M. Montgomery, and C.S. Lewis. I’ve had a few close friends who have occasionally referred to me as “Ames.” An even smaller circle of friends in high school who ran cross country with me could get away with calling me “Bulldog.” Our coach gave me the nickname. I asked if it was a reference to my looks. (I was very self-conscious of my pimples, frizzy hair, and thick glasses.) But Coach said he called me Bulldog because I wouldn’t quit, so I was okay with the nickname.
 
Genre:
YA Supernatural
 
Personal Philosophy:
I like the philosophy of the character Auntie Mame by the play of the same name: “Life’s a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Auntie Mame didn’t believe in starving, and neither do I. God has given us a beautiful world with many wonders to behold. Why not appreciate all He’s given us?
 
Favorite scripture:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.”
 
Favorite quote:
See Auntie Mame quote above. 🙂 Side note: It was also a favorite quote of my high school theater teacher, and for those who’ve read Angelhood, you can guess what she meant to me.
In high school I was a…
theater geek! But we can discuss that more in your later questions.
 
Do you see yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?
This is a tough one. I didn’t set out to write a Christian book. In fact, when I wrote Angelhood, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Christian fiction. My faith just seems to seep into my writing one way or another, whether it comes out pretty directly or symbolically. That being said, I guess I’d consider myself a Christian author, meaning that I’m a writer who happens to be Christian, and if that influences my writing, so be it.
Angelhood is about a girl who commits suicide. What inspired you to cover this tough topic?
In the eighth grade, we had to write a research paper. We could write about anything: the history of our favorite sports team, an important event in history, our favorite animal. I could’ve written about the legend of the unicorn or how rainbows are formed. But no. I chose teen suicide as my topic. Seriously, I don’t know what was wrong with me. Or maybe nothing was wrong with me. Maybe when we’re young we just have morbid fascinations. I’ve seen plenty of my middle school students reach for the books about teen suicide and child abuse. I guess I just wanted to offer a book about suicide that also offers hope. So many contemporary books on the topic end simply with more sadness. I always have to believe there’s hope for something better.
 
Nanette is into drama. As a former theatre geek, (GEKE) I have to know is this something you share with your heroine?
As mentioned above, yes I was a theater (or should I say theatre?) geek in high school. My fascination with the theater began in the sixth grade when my mom took me to see Guys and Dolls at our local high school. It was all so magical to me. When high school rolled around, the theater program was the one thing to pull me out of my shy shell. I worked stage crew, acted in many plays and skits, and even directed a one-act play my senior year. After college, I did a number of community theater shows and even performed a small role in a professional production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, so I can cross “Get paid to act” off my bucket list. 🙂
 
Warren is an interesting character. Is there something you can reveal about Warren that doesn’t appear on the pages?
Oh, I know how you love Warren! Okay, here’s a couple little tidbits. I picked the name Warren because it means “Guard.” Good name for a guardian angel, right? And then for his looks, I went to Google images and just started looking up pictures of guys named Warren. I found a photo of the actor Warren Beatty when he was young, and I thought, “Yep. That’s it! That’s my leading man.” LOL! That’s why Warren has such a throwback look. He’s based off a 1950s photo of Warren Beatty!
 
Speaking of Warren, is there a chance we’ll get his story?
My, you really do love Warren! Oh, Gretchen, if God ever sends me the right story idea for Warren, I’ll write it just for you! In the meantime, as I told a teen who interviewed me on a podcast, I’m not going to write a sequel just to write a sequel. I’ve seen too many authors write bad sequels just for the sake of “cashing in.” If the right story idea comes along for a sequel, I’ll write it. In the meantime, you may have to use your imagination for Warren. 🙂
 
How long have you been writing?
I have evidence of stories I wrote back in the third grade (really bad stories), and I’ve written a variety of things (poems, screenplays, stories) here and there over the years, but I would say that I’ve only gotten really serious about publication for the last 10-11 years. That’s when I started taking classes on writing for children. That eventually led to a few magazine pieces being sold, and that led to trying my hand at novel writing. Angelhood was my third novel. I have four in total, but only Angelhood has sold so far.
 
Angelhood takes the perspective of a person dying and becoming an angel. This isn’t scriptural and yet the story is otherwise orthodox. Without spoiling it, what would you tell a reader to who wants to put the book down because of this?
This is a tough but excellent question, and I’m glad you asked. Even my oldest brother, who wrote to me after the first few chapters to tell me he was enjoying it, said that he could “nit-pick the theology” because people don’t really become guardian angels, but hey it worked for “It’s a Wonderful Life,” right? Yes, you have to take my story as it is . . . just a story. If people are willing to go along with Clarence Oddbody becoming an angel for the sake of that story’s message, why not play along with the same idea for mine? In the end, my story is fiction. It’s not meant to be a nonfiction explanation of angels. Rather, it’s a symbolic story of God’s unending mercy and His unfailing presence in our lives–if only we’re willing to seek Him.
Angelhood2 500x750
Thank you A.J. for sharing some details about Angelhood! I loved Angelhood. It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie. Anyone who likes this movie will like Angelhood. While the plot is different, it’s a similar story showing the value of every life.
What is your favorite book and/or movie about angels?

Meet Mitali Perkins

 

When I last took a turn posting in Scriblerians, I featured Mitali Perkins as an author who uses wise parents as characters in her books. I hoped to bring you an interview for my next post. Mitali very graciously agreed to said interview, and I’m delighted to share what she has to say about writing stories that appeal to young readers. With a first glance at Mitali’s infectious smile, I was eager to learn more about her. I hope my enthusiasm is contagious, and you, too, will want to read her books.

Mitali is now an Honorary Scriblerian!

 

Mitali_Perkins_2007

 

Nickname: “Zommie,” which is what our dogs call me.

Genre: Children’s/Young Adult Fiction.

Personal Philosophy: I love Jesus.

Favorite Scripture: Philippians 2: 1-4 is my vocational banner verse. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Favorite Quote: “The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress.” — Katherine Paterson

In high school I was… the Asian nerd, fresh off the boat.

 

 

Mitali Perkins

 

Thank you, Mitali, for agreeing to take time out of a busy schedule for the Scriblerians.

In my last post here I expressed how I found it extremely refreshing to read your teen fiction because the main characters have GOOD parents! These are intact families with both Mom and Dad loving each other and watching out for their children. Chiko and Tu Reh and Sparrow all experience growth by making their own decisions and relying upon the good examples of their parents. This goes against the grain of many books in the same genre. Did you have any trouble convincing an agent or editor that a broken home or a foolish parent is not required for teens to be good hero material?

Mitali: Thanks so much. No, none at all. My editors have all been supportive of my characters’ loving parents.

 

Without getting preachy, you create characters who are Christians. Do you consider yourself a Christian author or an author who writes Christian fiction?

Mitali: I think of myself as a follower of Jesus who writes books for kids.

 

In the writing process for Bamboo People, what was the balance between researching Burma’s recent history and your own experiences in the country?

Mitali: I mostly relied on research because I had lived there a while ago. I also interviewed missionaries who are currently living and working there.

Have you worked with people on both sides of this conflict?

Bamboo PeopleMitali: Not firsthand. But we love and support close friends who do.

 

 

 

First_Daughter_Extreme_Makeover

 

I loved the names that you gave to Sameera/Sparrow in First Daughter, Extreme American Makeover. I could see Sparrow gradually grow into the more grown up Sameera. How do you come up with names for your characters?

Mitali: They just come to me, and then they stick.

When I see your smile in photos, I can imagine that your family may have also called you Sparrow or something similar when you were a child. What percentage of Mitali Perkins makes up Sparrow’s character?

Mitali: Most of my main characters are like me. But I wasn’t a petite child; I was hefty! I was the fattest baby ever born in Shebashodon General Hospital in Kolkata, India. I made headlines!

 

Since I don’t want to go too long in a blog segment, I’m saving the rest of the interview for next time. Mitali will share a little of her own childhood, and we’ll talk about her experiences with the publishing process.

If you have already begun reading her books, let us know what you think of them. If you want to learn more about Mitali, you can find her at http://www.mitaliblog.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Praise for Moonfall

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It is with great excitement and pride that I am interviewing my fellow Scriblerian, Vanessa Morton, after her YA novel Moonfall was released last week. I’m a newbie with the Scriblerians, so I was not in on the critiquing process the book went through with the rest of the crew, so I was able to read Moonfall for the first time last weekend.

And I loved it!

Vanessa has intertwined her historical research into the story seamlessly. I’m always up for a romp through the biblical era, and I felt immersed in her richly depicted environment, characters and compelling plot. I liked how Vanessa used artistic license with the story, but held true to biblical themes and morals.

So who is Vanessa Morton?

Vanessa Morton

Vanessa Morton

Vanessa Morton is an archaeology junkie and virtual time traveler. She holds a BA in History and studied writing at UCLA. When she’s not writing stories or exploring ancient ruins, she can be found with her husband and two daughters at their vineyard in East Texas.

And what is the story about, you ask?… Here’s an appetizer…

When 16-year-old Rachav drinks the Moon Temple’s forbidden wine, she hardly expects it to result in the death of a priestess. But when King Nur orders Rachav to serve the Queen of the Night—the kingdom’s powerful goddess—as restitution, Rachav’s identical twin, Zaron, has her own reasons for joining the priesthood and offers to take her twin’s place. But choices have consequences. Now Rachav’s family is in danger. As she uncovers the shocking reason why, she finds an ally in Salma, a brooding nomad who wields an ancient force powerful enough to destroy the entire kingdom. While the epic showdown rages above the city, Rachav plays a dangerous game of her own. Can she rescue her sister and right the wrongs of that fateful choice? Or will the king succeed and trap her in the doomed city?  

I had some questions for Vanessa after I read the book.

1)   Your research is amazing. I felt so immersed in the era with all your details. How long did you spend on the research before you wrote the book?

Vanessa – I spent about three years interviewing scholars, researching, and even touring the ruin—now known as Tell es Sultan—which was an amazing surreal experience! Studying historical weather patterns helped me picture the fantastical lushness — is that a word?—of the Bronze Age Levant and place the twins into that vivid world.

  2)   Your book is inspired by the scripture in Joshua, where Rahab hid spies from Joshua’s army, and followed through to the destruction of the walls of Jericho. Your main character, Rachav, is based upon Rahab. I like how you introduced a twin for Rachav that wasn’t in the bible. What was your reason?

Vanessa – First of all, I’m glad you mentioned names. In lieu of a ‘westernized’ translation, the reader will find proper names and nouns, such Rachav, Yericho, Shekinah and so forth written to be historically and culturally authentic. In answer to your question, Joshua did not say there was a twin, nor did he say there was no twin. I gave the Bible equal weight alongside the many other historical sources in Moonfall’s way-too-long bibliography. My intent was to take poetic license only if it did not contradict historical sources.

  3)    Your characters are rich and believable. Have they been inspired by anyone you know?

Vanessa – Many characters were inspired by the fascinating historical people I discovered during research, combined with the usual writerly observations of both myself and others. 😮  

4)   Now that your research is done, will we see these characters in another book?

Vanessa – I’m always researching and probably will be the rest of my life. Curiosity: the writers’ curse! There are two more books in the Tales from the Levant trilogy. The second book reprises one of Moonfall’s most intriguing characters with surprising new twists!

  And now that I’ve got you all primed, here’s an excerpt!

Although it seemed pointless, he fired again and again. A few feet away from the cool shade of the Shekinah, the riders halted. The center rider dismounted and swaggered toward Salma, but the edge of the Shekinah crackled and threw him backwards onto the ground. The other five dismounted. They all pressed forward in silence. This time, pure white light exploded when they touched the edge, and Salma and the girl were thrown backward, toward the encampment, as though pushed by an invisible hand.   Acrid sulfur burned his nose. In the haze of smoke, he reached for the girl. He’d lost his sling. Must have dropped it when the Shekinah crackled. He could barely make out his own feet in the dense smoke. Bracing himself in front of the girl’s limp body, he unsheathed his long knife, and waited for the expected attack.  

Vanessa, thanks so much for chatting with us about your novel Moonfall. Readers, if you are like me and would enjoy being immersed into biblically-inspired fiction with action, political intrigue, romance and sibling rivalry, then have a look at this book. But start it with some free time ahead. You might not want to put it down.

Contact Vanessa:
Www.vanessamorton.com
twitter   @VMorton
Meet the characters in Moonfall: http://www.pinterest.com/vrtmorton/moonfall-tales-from-the-levant/