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MoAA Interview #14: Lea Nolan

Today, MoAA is proud to present YA author Lea Nolan!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Lea NolanLea Nolan: Making stuff up! In my other life, I’m a part-time health policy researcher and college instructor, which requires precision and very strict attention to details in law and policy. Borrrring! Trust me, it’s much more fun to create wicked flesh-eating curses and soul-sucking monsters.

My other favorite thing about writing is when I’m chugging merrily along, drafting a scene and something unexpected pops up. These magical little nuggets often end up being pivotal elements for later plot points. I’ve learned not to second guess them so I let them flow and see where they take me.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

LN: Pounding out the first draft when I don’t completely know the story. I’m a plotter at heart so those black holes make me anxious. I try to remind myself that the unwritten manuscript is a giant jigsaw puzzle and I’m just fitting the pieces together. If I don’t have all the pieces at once, eventually they’ll come to me. And sometimes, they appear as those magical nuggets I just talked about.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

LN: …giving birth. It’s hard and takes a lot of labor, but when you’re done, you’ve got a beautiful baby.

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

LN: Actually, I already have the perfect writing situation. I spend most days at a Panera Bread Café sitting across the table from my best friend and fellow writer, Laura Kaye. We kick each other’s butts in gear, bounce plot points off each other, laugh, cry and fret about our characters together. It’s the best! I am very, very lucky. And there’s plenty of bread, pastries, hot chocolate…

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

LN: These cover ALLURE, the second book in The Hoodoo Apprentice series:

Darker, Twistier (I don’t care that it’s not actually a word, I’m using it!), Creepy, Succulent,  Revelatory

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

LN: Short (I’m 5’2”), Analytical, Arthritic, Funny, Happy

Conjure AK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

LN: Dogwoods. Not only do they remind me of my grandmother, but my husband is a huge horticultural hobbyist and he’s planted a beautiful collection of white and pink dogwoods on our property.

AK: What were you like in high school?

LN: I was the original Rachel Berry. A classically trained singer, I could belt out any Barbra Streisand tune on command and was the class actress to boot. And, as much as I hate to admit it now, I was probably just as annoying as Rachel, too. Sadly, I did not date a football hottie like Finn.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

LN: I try to live my life, and teach my children to live by the three R’s, which are commonly attributed to The Dali Lama, but actually come from Life’s Little Instruction Book written by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.:

Respect for self.

Respect for others.

Responsibility for all your actions.

I think these pretty much cover everything you need to be a good human being.

AK:  The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

LN: 1) Write more books, especially ones that stick with readers and make a difference in their lives.

2) Raise happy, healthy, and successful children.

3) Travel abroad with my husband.

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Lea Nolan writes the kinds of stories she sought as a teen—smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and has spent nearly twenty years as a health policy analyst and researcher. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children. You can learn more about Lea on her website, on Facebook, Twitter and on GoodreadsCONJURE is available at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon, the sequel, ALLURE will be released in October 2013 and is available for preorder on Amazon.

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MoAA Interview #13: Fran Wilde

Today, MoAA is proud to present author Fran Wilde!
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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?
Fran Wilde
Fran Wilde: Being swept up by the story.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

FW: Distractions.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

FW: Writing is like painting a mural while running a marathon, while baking a pie, all while knowing that you’re only going to use a very small section of the mural in your final project, that there’s a big hill coming up, and that guests are on their way to enjoy the pie.

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

FW: On a boat, so I could dodge this question by sailing to new locations.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

FW: High-flying, secret society, myths, and monsters.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

FW: Curious. Numerically challenged.

AK: What’s your favorite type of tree?
FW: Giant ferns. And The baobab tree from The Petit Prince.

AK: What were you like in high school?

FW: Always looking for the bookshelf that concealed the hidden room.

AK:  If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

FW: If the going gets tough, keep going.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

FW:Tell a good story, and then another. Leave the place a little better than I found it.

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Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. She can tie a bunch of sailing knots, set gemstones, and program digital minions. Her first YA novel is represented by Russell Galen and Rachel Kory, of SGG Literary. Fran hosts a monthly column, Cooking the Books, about food and genre fiction, at her website: www.franwilde.wordpress.com. She’s fran_wilde on the Twitter.

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MoAA Interview #12: Delbert Hewitt, Jr.

Today, MoAA is proud to present my friend from Heroes*Con, artist Del Hewitt Jr.!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s your preferred medium?

Delbert Hewitt JrDelbert Hewitt, Jr: My medium of choice is ole pencil and comic book board lol! I do paint with acrylics from time to time. I usually do all my commissioned portraits in acrylics on watercolor paper. I’m dying to get my hands on a cintiq!

AK: What’s the best thing about art?

DHJ: Art is freedom! It’s so relaxing and fun that hours has passed without me realizing it. I love that art is so free that you can make happy mistakes. I mean that you could spill water on your piece and all of a sudden you have created by accident something so cool.

AK: What’s the worst thing about art?

DHJ: It takes time! I wish I could create art faster but I’m slow L. It’s hard but time is very valuable and I have to schedule everything. That way I don’t wastetime. Having a wife and three kids makes you really value your time.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Art is like…”

DHJ: Art is like a mango. A young and unripen mango is hard and uneatable. With time a mango will ripen. A mango will become soft and juicy ready to be eaten by peeling off the skin. Art is like that it takes time and many hours of work to be ready. As a painter of acrylics, I work in layers so each hour I do a layer at a time until all the elements are ready to be viewed.

AK: If you could draw/sketch/paint anywhere in the world, where would it be?

DHJ: U.S. Virgin Islands where I grew up is a awesome place. My entire family is still there and I would love to go back where I first started drawing and creating. It doesn’t hurt they have one of the top ten beaches in the world! Korea is a close second, where they make animation. I love Anime and that was my inspiration for my web comic Kings of the Wastelands. I want to see place where they produce such gorgeous work. The place itself is beautiful.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

DHJ: Action Movement Fluid Chaos Wildlife

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

DHJ: Quiet Nice Respectful Playful Polite

Kings of the WastelandAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

DHJ: Gooseberry tree

AK: What were you like in high school?

DHJ: Gentle Gaint I have always been tall quiet soft spoken to myself. I’ve grown a lot since then lol.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (artistic or otherwise), what would it be?

DHJ: Create art. If your 6 years old or 100 years old and you love art? Then don’t wait for classes just do it all the time. Draw till your fingers fall off. The only way you get better is to practice. Whatever you want to do just do it and do now. Get your degrees and get your schooling  but ultimately it comes down to how bad you want it. If your hungry then it doesn’t matter what hurdle lies in your way. You will never win the race if you don’t run in the race. Artist run that race and win!

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

DHJ: Never thought about that before.1 Lets see I would love to win eisner awards! It would mean a lot to be recognized by my peers at some point.2 See my wife and kids grow old and look back laughing at all things we did along the way.3 build my dream house in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Delbert Hewitt, Jr. was born in New York and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He got into art after picking up a Punisher War Journal penciled by Jim Lee. Then his eyes were really opened by John Byrne’s X-men run! Following his dream of getting into Comics he went to the Atlanta College of Art in 1994. He Graduated from the Atlanta College of Art in 1998 with a BFA in Illustration. He has worked freelance since his graduation date. He has completed work in acrylics, sequential art, and character designs. Currently he has 12 pages in The African American Superhero Anthology called Analog. He has a web comic called The Kings of the Wastelands which has a kickstarter running for issue one. Raising funds to get the first book printed. He wrote, penciled and inked the entire issue. He is looking forward to creating comics for a longtime to come.

Check out my Kings of the Wastelands Kickstarter here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1011146139/the-kings-of-the-wastelands-issue-one

This is currently a webcomic here: http://thekingsofthewastelands.com/

Webcomicslist link here: http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/p/23148/The-Kings-of-the-Wastelands

Topwebcomics link to vote here: http://topwebcomics.com/vote/15095/default.aspx?id=15095

My deviant art page here: http://delhewittjr.deviantart.com/

The Kings of the Wastelands facebook fan page link: https://www.facebook.com/KingsOfTheWastelands

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MoAA Interview #11: Heather Brewer

Today, MoAA is proud to present Fabulous Gentleperson Extraordinaire: HEATHER BREWER.

Heather is one of my soul sisters. I honestly can’t remember if I met her in person first (Dragon*Con) or online, and I feel like I’ve known about her Slayer Chronicles series forever. Once she was in my life she was always there, with her Gargy and her optimism and her awesome hair, and I’m not sure how I existed without her.

She and I emailed each other about the Less Than Three anti-bullying conference on the same day. Needless to say, I’ll be there with bells on. And I believe she’ll be at Dragon*Con again this year, hopefully long enough to stop by for more than a hug.

Auntie Heather is just 100% wonderful, and I don’t get to spend enough time with her. But this time, when she offered to stop by, I wanted to make sure I shared a little of her sunshine with you.

Also, she has incredible taste in trees.

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Heather Brewer: I LOVE THIS FACE. Heather Brewer: For me, the best thing about writing is that when I sit down to do so, the rest of the world falls away, leaving me in another world, another life, where my problems are no longer my own. Much like reading, writing provides me with a sense of escapism.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

HB: Having to stop in the middle of an intense scene to deal with mundane tasks (errands, laundry, etc.). Sometimes living in the pretend is just better than reality.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

HB: Therapy. 🙂

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

HB: An abandoned asylum. I’ve always had a crush on them.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

HB: (THIRD STRIKE): Santa Carla, Henry, killer, Em.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

HB: Funky, silly, loyal, honest, real.

Third StrikeAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

HB: It’s a tie, actually. I love white birch trees, but there’s something to be said about a good, sturdy oak.

AK: What were you like in high school?

HB: I was pretty quiet, very misunderstood, and lonely. Very lonely.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

HB: You are better than you think you are, and capable of more than you give yourself credit for. Trust me, and go do awesome stuff.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

1. Meet Stephen King (I do have a first edition copy of CARRIE, autographed to me, but still).

2. Travel extensively (meeting Minions everywhere I go as I explore the world).

3. Get behind the wheel of a ’67 Camaro.

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Heather Brewer (www.heatherbrewer.com) doesn’t believe in happy endings, unless they involve blood. An anti-bullying advocate and dynamic public speaker, Auntie Heather has connected personally with her fans, who call themselves her Minions. She lives near St. Louis, Missouri with her family.

Look for The Slayer Chronicles: THIRD STRIKE (release date February 20, 2014)

In the final book of THE SLAYER CHRONICLES trilogy, Slayer Joss McMillan is assigned to his hometown to track down and take out a murderous vampire. But vampires aren’t the only things Joss has to deal with this summer: his girl-crazy cousin Henry is staying with him, and hates Joss for trying to kill his best friend Vladimir Tod. Sirus, former mentor and supposedly dead vampire, is casting a shadow on Joss’s every turn. And Kat, Joss’s old friend, is in town and bent on revenge for past wrongs. Yet none of this even compares to the devastating secret Joss discovers about the murder of his sister, Cecile.

In a story full of unexpected revelations, it is up to Joss to protect the ones he loves and discover the truth about his sister’s death – even if it means paying the ultimate price.

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MoAA Interview #10: Sarah Hans

Sarah HansToday’s MoAA features the lovely and talented Sarah Hans, editor of the fabulous new cohort-anthology, SIDEKICKS.

Sidekicks: We know them, and we ignore them. They sit courtside, they wait in the shadows, they ride on the coattails. They have nothing to offer.

Or do they?

Heroes and heroines perform world shaking deeds, but sidekicks? Sidekicks are the unseen glue holding those powerhouses together. They are the backbones. They are the voices of reason.

It’s long past time for them to shine.

Here, the fangirls, the trusted associates, the loyal assistants, and the imperiled wards have their moment in the spotlight. Join them as they shake up the world in unexpected and understated ways.

Let the heroes sit this one out. Celebrate the Sidekick!

I, for one, am really looking forward to this anthology. Take it away, Sarah!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Sarah Hans: Exploring the world from the perspective of someone else, usually someone who is completely unlike me. It’s the closest I can get to living someone else’s life once in a while. I also enjoy acting for the same reason.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

SH: The echo chamber of self-doubt.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

SH: …showing everyone your underwear. Even if they think it’s the cutest underwear ever, it’s still kind of jarring to realize everyone is looking at it. (Thanks to editor Janet Harriet for this most apt of metaphors.)

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

SH: Scotland, because it’s cool and near the ocean. And there are Scottish people there.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

SH: Inclusive, enjoyable, thought-provoking, unexpected, fun.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

SH: Writer, teacher, silly, smart, busy.

sidekicks coverAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

SH: Definitely the willow.

AK: What were you like in high school?

SH: Pretty much how I am now, nerdy and silly! Only skinnier, and unmedicated. So I had a lot more anxiety and a lot less self-control. And I lacked any confidence whatsoever. Fortunately, confidence can be learned!

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

SH: Luck is really a matter of outlook. If you look at every failure and rejection as an opportunity to learn, and keep an eye out for the unexpected, you see opportunities everywhere. No effort is wasted, even the stories that never sell.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

SH: Visit India. Publish a novel. Ride a dragon.

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Sarah Hans is an author, editor and educator whose recent projects include the anthologies Sidekicks! and the forthcoming Steampunk World. You can read examples of her work and follow her adventures in steampunk at http://sarahhans.com/.

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MoAA Interview #9: Jane Porter

Today’s MoAA interview is with the fabulous, magical, and zen Jane Porter.

I met Jane when she gave her talk at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat. I think it was a discussion we were all taken with — so many I’ve been forced to witness talk about e-publishing and self-publishing…Jane’s was one of the first I’ve been to in a long time that spoke of traditional publishing with a sense of optimism. She wasn’t unrealistic in any way — just inspiring.

May Jane be your breath of fresh air this morning!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Jane PorterJane Porter: I get to create a world with people and loves and lives that readers love, too. I’m a magician and a storyteller and I believe in the magic of story-telling.  We need stories for entertainment, but also, for meaning.  Stories can heal hearts and offer hope. I love that.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

JP: The isolation.  To write a book, you have to spend a lot of time alone.   I can’t write well with distractions so its tough pushing the kids and family away so I can have quiet and concentrate.  I’ve also found that my books now need more time, not less, so that adds to the guilt that I’m always walking away from everyone to work.    Fortunately, my family is proud of me, and very supportive.  They understand that yes, writing is how I pay my bills, but its also my passion.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

JP: …climbing Mt. Everest.

It is not an easy thing, and it gets more difficult the higher you climb, but it can be done.  You need a plan, and to work on getting conditioned. During the climb, pace yourself,  understanding that after this mountain, there’s another.  And another.  So enjoy the struggle, the effort  the view, and after the descent, rest, so you’ll be ready for the next adventure, knowing its not a cruise, but an expedition.
AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

JP: I’ve done this.  I’ve traveled around the world thinking I would write, because I would be so inspired, and I’d have free time, but it backfires, every time.  I actually can’t write when traveling or experiencing new environments.  Travel and new places so stimulate me that I can’t settle down, and go inward to find the story, and the words.   So the best place for me to write is at home, in my office, which has space, good lighting, and a door I can shut to keep it quiet.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

JP: Emotional, Compelling, Intense, Poignant, real.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

JP: Driven, Loyal, Passionate, Funny, Emotional

The Good WifeAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

JP: I’m a tree lover.  Does it have to be just one kind?  Jacaranda trees and dogwoods are two of my favorites.  Japanese maples that turn firey orange and red in Fall and tender green in Spring would round out my top three.

AK: What were you like in high school?

JP: Smart.  Over achiever.  Book worm.  Intense.  Passionate.  Emotional.  Hmmm…I don’t think I’ve changed much since high school.  Same crazy Jane.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

JP: Writing is a craft, an art form, and a muscle. You’ve got to develop the craft—and work that muscle. And sometimes we will write with more confidence, and other times we will battle for our story, but don’t ever quit. Don’t ever give up.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

JP: I’m very blessed.  I’ve done virtually everything I’ve ever wanted to do.  Now I just want to make sure I spend more time with the people I love, not less.

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Jane Porter is the bestselling author of over 40 novels (including six for Grand Central Publishing) Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from Romance Writers of America in 2002, 2003, and 2008. Jane’s July ’06 release, Flirting with Forty, picked by Redbook as it Red Hot Summer Read, went back for seven printings in six weeks before being made into a December 08 lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear.

Jane’s next release is The Good Wife, coming out September 3rd. To learn more about her visit her website: www.janeporter.com.

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MoAA Interview #8: Erin Dealey

Erin DealeyErin Dealey is a bright star who shines in the same sky with me at the East/West Literary Agency.

She and I hit it off very recently because she manages the @EastWestLit Twitter feed…and I’m quite the prolific Tweeter myself.

Turns out, Erin was a Math major who graduated with a degree in English. I was a writer who got a degree in Chemistry. Two different paths…but with a very similar mind set! (And we both love Children’s Theatre…but what’s not to love?)

The more I learn about The Divine Miss Erin, the more I positively adore her. I have no doubt you will, too!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Erin Dealey: Not having to do report cards.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

ED: I’m still correcting papers!

AK: Finish this sentence: Writing is like…

ED: …training a puppy.

Sometimes you think it’s so cute and clever.

Charlie

And sometimes you want to give it to the neighbor.

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

ED: Hmmm…at Sharon Creech’s house? Wouldn’t that be cool? I’m a huge fan. Actually, I want to be Ms. Creech when I grow up–but I’m still in my Bloomability stage.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

ED: Kid’s table + holiday dinner = fa-la-la-frolic!

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

ED: (I had my family answer this one): optimistic, spunky, creative, dedicated, fun

OR: perspicacious, energetic, original, entertaining, and redonkulous

(They couldn’t decide…)

Deck the Walls cover by Erin DealeyAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

ED: Apple–great climbing, healthy fruit, mmmm-delicious pies.

AK: What were you like in high school?

ED: Younger…

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

ED: For those who say they want to write a book someday: “Someday” is NOW.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

ED: You’re killing me here! Oh–wait–ok:

1. Finish all my projects!

2. Find the Dealey family in Ireland. (We’ve traced them to Abbeyleix.)

3. Be the best grandma ever. (No pressure, kid.)

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Erin writes in many genres, from board books to YA. Her picture books with Atheneum, Goldie Locks has Chicken Pox and Little Bo Peep Can’t Get to Sleep, have taken her to school visits as far south as Brazil and as far north as Tok, Alaska.

She is a Language Arts/ theater teacher with decades of classroom experience and has lived to tell about it.  In the summer, she’s “Drama Mama” aka the head of the theater department of Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp, which is where she is right now. As a member of the Area 3 Writing Project (UCDavis), Erin leads writing workshops for teachers and students of all ages.

If you’re wondering why she looks familiar, Erin was co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI CA North/Central, and has presented at SCBWI conferences, reading associations, school library associations, and the California Kindergarten Conference.

If you’re still reading this (thanks!), you can find her full bio and Writer’s Rap at http://www.erindealey.com and Twitter: @ErinDealey.

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MoAA Interview #7: Leah Bobet

The Princess and LeahWow, Leah Bobet is Gorgeous and Tall.

This is the thought that popped into my mind when I first spotted her across the room at this year’s Nebula Awards weekend. We’d become friends online after our nomination for the Andre Norton Award, but matching a real-life face to an avatar is always a lovely surprise. (I Tweeted Leah and told her so.)

During the magical weekend, Eugene, Sarah, Leah and I became a close-knit pack of Lost Kids…and we had a great time doing so. Eugene might have taken the award this time, but we are ALL winners. I can’t recommend Leah’s work enough!

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Leah BobetAlethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Leah Bobet: The audible click in your head when something from fifty pages ago and something from yesterday come together into a whole new set of implications.  Stories are funny things: Even when you don’t put something into them planning to use it later, they always find ways to make even the smallest details important.  And when you find those ways too, it’s like discovering a trail you laid for yourself without even knowing it.

And it feels good.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

LB: …y’know, I can’t really say.  Which is kind of startling to me, as I’ve just finished a draft that basically woke up and beat the life out of my brain every morning for six months, and I should legitimately be able to say something nasty about it.  I might be in a fit of loving my job right now.  Go figure!

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

LB: …learning to grow up over and over and over again.  There’s always more to do.  There’s always more to understand about yourself, and a way you could communicate it better.

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

LB: The Arizona desert.  I spent a week there with a bunch of the other Shadow Unit authors a few years ago, and it was utterly unlike anywhere I’ve ever been, and wild, and beautiful, and amazingly peaceful.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

LB: Melancholy; complicated; stylized; heartbroken; bright.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

LB: Curious; passionate; ridiculous; practical; and (frequently!) tired.

AK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

LB: The old, gnarled kind that’s Seen Things, and which makes for good climbing, or a good backrest while you read.

aboveAK: What were you like in high school?

LB: Quiet.  Angry.  Clinically depressed, and still scrupulously well-behaved.  An absolute perfectionist in everything I did, and not able to take much joy in landing a lead role in Oklahoma!, or editing the school paper, or being named a National Book Award scholar.

I fixed that, later.  It’s hard to remember the actual day-to-day of being there, or being that person.  My head’s too different, and has been too many places since.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

LB: To enjoy things.  Even if they’re small things: the way light hits tree leaves, or the smell of barbeque, or someone’s goofy dog running around the park.  Actually, especially if they’re small things: Life’s nothing but those little moments.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

LB: Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok.  Have a child, and spoil them with good books, Lego sets, and kitchen science experiments.  Have a clean kitchen for a whole week for once, ever.

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Leah Bobet’s first novel, Above, was nominated for the Andre Norton Award and the Aurora Award.  She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she edits Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, picks urban apple trees, and works as a bookseller and civic engagement activist.  Her second novel, On Roadstead Farm — a literary dustbowl fantasy where things blow up — will appear from Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in late 2014. Visit her website at http://www.leahbobet.com, or her Twitter at @leahbobet.

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MoAA Interview #6: Emily Jiang

Emily JiangI met Emily Jiang in San Jose at this year’s Nebula Awards Weekend. The group we were with all hiked to a restaurant for lunch and Emily and I sat across from each other.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes to fall in love with a person.

The minute I found out Emily wrote (and sang!), I asked her to take part in this month’s Interview Extravaganza. Please enjoy!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Emily Jiang: Creating characters that are from you, perhaps similar to you, but definitely not you.  Creating worlds where these characters love and laugh, fear and fail, and try, try again.  Playing with words and images and sounds until everything sings with Truth.

Connecting the minds

of the writer with readers–

the magic of words.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

EJ: Facing a blank page

and seeing nothing, hearing

silence, feeling void.

It’s when your characters refuse to talk to you because they decided they didn’t like the Great Exciting Plot that you had spent hours carefully planning for them, and then they decide to take off on Their Own Greater Adventures and all you can do is follow and take copious notes.  This happens more often than I would like to admit.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

EJ: Writing is like eating a bigger-than-your-head bowl of ice cream, only without brain freeze and the consequences of calories.

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

EJ: My ideal writing space would be secluded up in a tower with a window facing a gorgeous lake bordered by lush trees. However, realistically, I write in the transitory, in-between spaces, on the train or subway, in a library or café.

With paper and pen

I’ll visit the moon and Mars

on my way to stars.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

EJ: hybrid format, whimsical, musical, Almost-All-Asian-All-the-Time

Summoning PhoenixAK: Pick five words to describe you.

EJ: painter of words and sounds

AK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

EJ: The kind that I can climb to hide from the sun and clouds above and random wanders below. The kind that bears fruit so I could stay in the tree as long as possible.  The kind that comfortably supports my entire weight yet sways gently with the wind.

A tree strong enough

to swing me from its branches,

leaves shaking laughs.

AK: What were you like in high school?

EJ: I always carried at least three books and my journal, in which I scribbled poems, stories, and epiphanies.  I am naturally quite shy and introverted, and high school was a difficult time for me.  It was a time when I began to interact with more and more people.  Instead of learning sonatas and concertos, I played piano in chamber groups, where I learned how to listen.  Instead of studying alone, I became part of the Academic Decathlon team, where I learned how to improvise speeches.  Instead of singing solely in the shower, I auditioned for and sang in the State Honor Choir, where I learned the concept of creating art in community.  I was, still am, always will be, a total geek.

I write books for kids

because as a kid, I read

and read and read and…

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

EJ: Embrace fresh perspectives because the glass is always full (half full of water + half full of air).

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

EJ: 1)  Visit each continent at least once.

2)  Write an opera and a musical, though not both in the same year.

3)  Learn the language of trees.

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Emily Jiang is the author of Summoning the Phoenix: Poems & Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments, illustrated by April Chu and published by Shen’s Books.  Emily holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California and a BA in English from Rice University.  Her fiction has won several awards, including Top Prose Prize in The Binnacle’s Ultra Short Competition, First Place in the Tom Howard/John Reid Short Story Contest, and the Sue Alexander Award for Most Promising New Manuscript from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Her poetry has been published in Stone Telling, Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and The Moment of Change anthology of feminist speculative poetry.  She wrestles with words everyday.  Sometimes she wins.  Other times, it’s a draw.  More details can be found at her website: www.EmilyJiang.com

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MoAA Interview #5: Justin Macumber

Justin MacumberI met Justin Macumber on a podcast. (Isn’t the 21st Century Wonderful?)

Justin was the guest host on Dave Robison’s Writers Roundtable when I was asked on as the guest author. Together we all workshopped a story by Lauren Harris.

I was really struck by Justin’s insight into the story–the comments he made were incredibly logical and seemed spot-on for what the story needed. He also introduced some very interesting lines of thinking that Lauren (and I) took to heart.

And with that, I took Justin to heart as well. I hope you do too!

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Alethea Kontis: What’s the best thing about writing?

Justin Macumber: Entertaining people. There is no better feeling than knowing I brought something good and interesting into someone else’s life. So many talented authors carried me through tough moments in my past. If I can do the same for others, then that makes me happy.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

JM: The isolation. I listen to a lot of discussion podcasts throughout my day as I clean house or take care of other chores (I’m lucky enough to have a spouse that earns enough money so I can be a full time writer), and I think I do that just so I can hear other people talk. Being alone so often can be difficult.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

JM: …performing an exorcism on myself. There are people inside me, and they want out!

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

JM: On the front porch of a cabin secluded on a mountain in Virginia with my wife. Virginia is a stunningly beautiful state, and the forested mountains stir my soul. But I’d have to have my wife there. Doing something like that all by myself would take all the joy from it.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

JM: Dark. Fun. Youthful. Surprising. Magical.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

JM: Procrastinator. Geek. Lazy. Romantic. Imaginative.

A Minor MagicAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

JM: Mesquite. I grew up with these trees all over my family’s property, and I spent a lot of my time climbing those branches.

AK: What were you like in high school?

JM: Gregarious. I wasn’t the most popular guy in school by any stretch, but I knew most of my classmates, and for the most part I got along with all of them. I had fun in high school. Facebook has given me back many of those friendships.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

JM: Never be afraid to fail. Instead, be afraid of never trying.

AK: The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

JM: Jump out of an airplane and skydive.

Cruise the Mediterranean.

Meet Stephen King and personally thank him for the Dark Tower saga.

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A MINOR MAGIC is a post-apocalyptic YA urban fantasy published by Crescent Moon Press. it is available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats from all fine online retailers.

Over the course of a single night, mystical fires tore through the sky and reduced most of Earth to ash. Ten years later magical fire burns again, but this time it’s in the hands of a young girl named Skylar. Exiled from her adoptive home, Skylar must now struggle through ruined lands and religious zealots who believe she’s an agent of the Devil. An even greater threat exists in the form of shadowy sorcerers from another world who covet her blood. Along her journey, she meets a motley band of outcasts who not only know the secret of what happened to Earth, but also of Skylar’s true origin. Will Skylar be able to accept this fantastical truth? But more importantly, can her powers and raging heart be tamed in time to stop those who once burned the world and now seek total domination?

My name is Justin Macumber. I’m the author of HAYWIRE and A MINOR MAGIC. When not hard at work on my next story I co-host the popular Dead Robots’ Society podcast. I and my lovely wife live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex along with our motley pack of dogs and cats that we think of as our children. I’m also a co-host on The Hollywood Outsider, a weekly podcast about movies and television. You can find me at www.justinmacumber.com

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