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Author Interview with Jessica Brody and Alexandra Monir + Giveaway!

Author and recording artist Alexandra Monir broke onto the scene in her early twenties with the release of her popular debut YA novel, the paranormal romance Timeless (Delacorte Press/Random House). The book caught on quickly, landing on the Barnes & Noble Bestsellers chart and being named one of Amazon's "Best Books of the Month." The sequel, Timekeeper, was published in 2013. Both books in the series have been featured in a variety of media, from USA Today to teen magazines and websites such as J-14, JustJaredJr, Teen.com and Justine Magazine. Suspicion (Random House; December 9, 2014) marks Alexandra's first novel outside of the Timeless series, as well as her first foray into the mystery genre. Her fourth YA novel for Random House will be published in April 2016.

 

 

 

 

"There's something hidden in the maze."
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor. For seven years, images of her parents' death have haunted Imogen's dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake--including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford's aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.
Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, "Suspicion "is an action-packed thrill ride.

 

 

 

 

 

1. SUSPICION is a modern-day twist on REBECCA. Can you tell us a little about the original story and how your novel pulls inspiration from it?
Rebecca is the story of a young woman who marries a widower from a noble family and suddenly finds herself thrust into the spotlight as the new lady of the manor, and struggles with following in the intimidating shadow of her husband's first wife, Rebecca. I fell in love with Rebecca when I was thirteen and have reread it many times in the years since. I've always loved the idea of a character who is someone else's successor, with seemingly impossible shoes to fill, and I wanted to try my hand at that premise in a brand-new story.
2. Imogen becomes a duchess, what kind of research into the life of a modern day duchess did you have to do?
I did tons of research, first and foremost by reading plenty of nonfiction about the British peerage. Once I felt really well-versed in the history of the British aristocracy, I focused on the modern-day by reading plenty of British society magazines, particularly Tatler. There's tons of coverage in Tatler on the lives of today's young lords and ladies, from the boarding schools they attend to their parties, country houses, romances, etc. By the time I was writing the first draft of SUSPICION, I was completely immersed in this world!
3. TIMELESS and TIMEKEEPER were both paranormal stories and SUSPICION has paranormal elements. Would you consider writing something outside the paranormal genre, or do you believe you’ve found your niche?
I do love the supernatural, that's for sure! But I'm a fan of all types of stories and genres, and am eager to try others. Actually, the new novel I'm working on now, a mystery, does not have any paranormal elements (yet!).
4. Is the Rockford Manor based off of any famous buildings you’ve visited or did you craft it from your own imagination?
Yes, I based Rockford Manor on the real-life Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the centuries-old home of the Duke of Marlborough. I got to spend an amazing day at this jaw-dropping palace, researching and touring with my mom on a trip we took to England after I got the book deal for SUSPICION!
5. Are any of your characters based off of people you know in real life?
Not specifically, but I'm sure certain elements of people in my life have found their way into my fictional characters. :) And my protagonists always have a piece of my personality as well.
6. If SUSPICION were made into a film, who would you like to see cast?
I picture Lily James as Imogen and Nicholas Hoult as Sebastian.
7. If you weren’t an author, what career would you like to have?
I started my career as a recording artist/songwriter and I still regularly write and record music- so I suppose if I weren't so (happily!) busy with my books, I'd be on the road performing. :)
8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I'm an In-Betweener! I always start by writing up a synopsis, which outlines the main points of the story. Then I dive into the manuscript in Pantser mode, but after I have a first draft I'll put together an outline so I can get organized and see what the story needs.
9. Coffee or tea?
Neither. Diet Coke!
10. Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
West Side Story, Downton Abbey and ahh, I can't pick a band- probably The Beatles! I have vintage taste. :)

 

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples and electrical tape.
After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

 

 

 

 

 

"So many secrets are buried within these compound walls. ""I used to be one of those secrets."After returning to the Diotech compound and undergoing an experimental new memory alteration, Seraphina is now a loyal, obedient servant to Dr. Alixter and the powerful company that created her. Happy and in love with Kaelen, another scientifically-enhanced human designed to be her perfect match, Sera's history with a boy named Zen is just a distant memory from a rebellious past she longs to forget.But as Sera and Kaelen embark on a nationwide tour to promote Diotech's new product line--a collection of controversial genetic modifications available to the public--Sera's mind starts to rebel. She can't stop the memories of Zen from creeping back in.As more secrets are revealed, more enemies are uncovered, and the reality of a Diotech-controlled world grows closer every day, Sera will have to choose where her true loyalties lie, but it's a choice that may cost her everything she's ever loved.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Where did your idea for the UNREMEMBERED TRILOGY come from?
A few years ago, I read a newspaper article about a teen girl who was the sole survivor of a plane crash. I was instantly fascinated by the story. Namely because they had no idea why she survived when no else did. I started brainstorming reasons as to why she was so lucky. One particular reason (a rather intricate, science-fiction-inspired one) stuck in my mind and refused to leave. It continued to grow and blossom until I had an idea for an entire trilogy. A trilogy that starts with a mysterious plane crash and a single survivor.
2. What would be your first reaction if you woke up without any memory of who you were or where you came from?
I don’t think I’d be as calm about it as Seraphina was in the book! I think I’d be totally freaking out!
3. UNCHANGED deals with cloning and DNA coding. What kind of scientific research did you have to do for this novel?
This book definitely required the most research of any book in the trilogy. Mostly because it takes place 100 years in the future and I needed to figure out what that looked like. I relied on my imagination a lot but I also relied heavily on futurists’ writing about what we can expect in the next 50-100 years. A lot of the technologies I incorporate into this book are technologies that will most likely be real. The whole science of synthetic biology and creating human beings from scratch in a science lab is very real and very possible. They’re already creating single-celled organisms basically from scratch. It won’t be long until the creation of perfected people is possible. Whether or not anyone actually does it is a whole other question…and debate!
4. Are any of your characters based off of people you know in real life?
I think every character I write is an amalgamation of myself, people I know, and characters I like on TV. For me, it’s impossible to write a character and not infuse him/her with characteristics of real people in your life. But there’s really not one specific person that is reflected in one specific character. I like to pick and choose traits from my friends and family and cut and paste them into characters in my books.
5. If the UNREMEMBERED TRILOGY were made into films, who would you like to see cast?
Well, since Unremembered is currently in development as a movie, I’m actually not allowed to comment on casting anymore! But I’m sure whoever the producers cast will be amazing!
6. Maintaining continuity through three novels must be tough. What do you do to remember everything you’ve already written? Do you use maps, charts, pictures, etc?
I have a MASSIVE spreadsheet timeline that incompasses the entire Unremembered trilogy, which spans over five centuries! It’s quite a beast! I used to be a financial analyst so I lived in spreadsheets. Now they’re the most logical tool for me to use to keep track of things like plot, timelines, etc.
In writing the third book, Unchanged, which takes place on the futuristic Diotech Compound, I actually had to sketch a very crude map of the layout of the compound for me to follow along. I later sent that map to a professional map designer with some direction and he created the following blueprint map which is being printed on the back of Unremembered trilogy posters. It’s WAY better than my map!
7. If you weren’t an author, what would be your ideal career?
Professional poker player!
8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Total plotter. I never start writing a book until I have the majority of the plot worked out. I use a very specific plotting method called Save the Cat. It originated from a screenwriting book called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, but it can easily be applied to novels as well.
9. Coffee or tea?
Coffee when I’m writing, tea for everything else!
10. Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
Movie: Sliding Doors; TV Show: How I Met Your Mother; Musician: Taylor Swift! Yup, I’m a swiftie!

And don't forget! Alexandra and Jessica will be at Books Inc. Laurel Village on February 26th at 7pm!
And enter our Alexandra Monir and Jessica Brody giveaway HERE!

New Releases for the Week of February 24th!!

Happy Tuesday lovelies!! There are some FANTASTIC titles out this week, including Sophie Jordan's UNLEASHED and Rihannon Thomas's A WICKED THING!
But we have to give a special shoutout to Jessica Brody's UNCHANGED!
Remember, Jessica Brody will be at Books Inc. Laurel Village THIS THURSDAY at 7pm! Yeah, we're kind of excited.


  
   
   

 

Giveaway - Jessica Brody and Alexandra Monir are coming!


Jessica Brody (Unchanged, My Life Undecided) and Alexandra Monir (Suspicion, Timeless) are coming to Books Inc. in Laurel Village!
Join us in celebrating this event by entering our giveaway and spreading the word!

The Deets:
* One lucky winner will receive a package of ARCs!
* Entries must be submitted through the Rafflecopter form.
* Must be 13 or older to enter.
US ONLY
* Prize will be shipped via UPS, PO Box addresses not accepted.
* We are not responsible for any lost, stolen, or damaged packages.
* Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond.
* Prize will be shipped in 2 weeks - a month.

ENTER HERE

Author Interview with Dan Gemeinhart!!

Dan Gemeinhart lives in a small town smack dab in the middle of Washington state with his wife and three young daughters. He’s lucky and grateful to be a teacher-librarian in an elementary school, where he gets to share awesome books with awesome kids. He loves camping, cooking and traveling. He also plays guitar (badly) and reads (constantly). His house is always a mess. He is really pretty darn happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier--even if it's the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

 

 

 

 

1. What was your inspiration for The Honest Truth?
I wrote The Honest Truth in memory of a friend of mine who died of cancer. He was also named Mark, and he was my sister's fiancee. He was a wonderful guy - the kind of guy that would drop whatever he was doing to help someone else. He loved books (he worked at an indie bookstore) and mountain climbing; he climbed peaks all over the world, including Mt. Rainier (which figures prominently in the book). I wrote this book in his honor, but I really tried to make it a triumphant adventure story, not a morose tragedy. I didn't want it to be a "cancer book," because cancer isn't what I think about when I think about Mark. I think about his spirit, about loyalty and friendship and living - and that's what I wanted the book to really be about.

2. Is Mark at all influenced by how you were as a kid?
Not really - Mark is a pretty angry kid (for lots of good reasons), and he's bold and brave and pretty darn tough. I was very much a shy, quiet, introverted kid. If I'd ever turned up missing like Mark it is infinitely more likely my parents would have found me curled up in a quiet place somewhere reading - not climbing a mountain in a blizzard. I had to imagine how a kid in Mark's shoes would have felt, what traits he would have to have in order to pull this adventure off, and then I tried to construct a character that was inspiring but believable and "real."

3. Mark’s dog is incredibly loyal to Mark throughout their entire journey. Did you have any pets like his when you were a kid?
I'm a total animal lover, and I kind of define the different eras of my childhood by what pets we had at the time. But, boy...Beau is pretty darn special. He's definitely not based on any one dog that I've had, but in some ways I think that almost every dog has that kind of greatness inside them. If you treat them right and give them your love and loyalty, they give it right back tenfold. It's pretty amazing. So although Beau is not cut whole-cloth from a dog I've known, you could definitely say he's kind of a stand-in for the greatness of all the dogs I've known. 

4. A portion of your book is written from Jessie’s point of view, what made you decide to include her story as well?
I really struggled with how to write this story. I started (from scratch) three different times, trying different voices and perspectives, and I just couldn't figure out how to tell Mark's story in an immediate, emotional way but still tell the story of his friend and family back home. I thought that home piece was really important to the heart of the story, and to its themes.  Without the perspective of Mark's parents and Jessie, the story just didn't sing; it was too dark and constant, and it felt unbalanced. Mark is angry, but we need to see why he's angry, and we need to see him through the eyes of the people that love him so we can better understand him. Finally I hit on this split chapter idea: the main chapters from Mark's perspective, with shorter "half chapters" between them (in 3rd person) showing what was happening at home. As soon as I tried it, I knew I'd finally found the way to tell this story.

5. Have you ever climbed Mt. Rainier yourself?
I have not! I do a lot of camping and backpacking and I've visited Mt. Rainier several times, but I've never actually summited her. I have climbed Mt. St. Helens, but that's really just a long, steep hike in bad weather. 

6. If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream job?
I'm lucky in that I already have both my dream jobs: I'm a writer and an elementary school teacher-librarian. I get to work with books and kids and kids' books all day  (and all night, sometimes), so I'm pretty darn happy. My third dream job, though, would be to work at a great bookstore. So, either way: I'm with books. 

7. If The Honest Truth were turned into a movie, who would you cast?
Hmmm...fun question. For the two main parts (Mark and Jessie), I'm not sure...I don't know too many child actors. Let's just say definitely not Justin Beiber. Although, if we had a time machine at our disposal, wouldn't a 12 year old Leonardo DiCaprio be amazing? And for Jessie (also with a time machine), Shelbie Bruce (the girl from Spanglish) would be perfect. And for Wesley, a small but important minor character, I always pictured him looking exactly like Sam Elliott.

8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I'm an unhappy mix. I'm a half-pantser who wishes he plotted more, and/or a lazy plotter who wishes he would just relax and let the story flow. I usually make a pretty rough outline with lots of holes (like, the entire middle third) and then it starts to fall more rigidly into place as I write. I'd say that at the time I sit down to start writing a book, I know about 50% of what's going to happen - then it's just a matter of finding the flow and connecting the dots of the parts you know. It's a weird process, for sure.

9. What’s your ideal writing ambiance?
Night time. Dark. Everyone else in bed. Sometimes some mood-appropriate (fast, or pensive, or sad, depending on the scene I'm writing) instrumental music playing - never any music with words, and a lot of times just silence. I sit on my couch with my feet up, my computer on my lap, and maybe one lamp on for some dim lighting. I love it.

10. Who was your literary crush growing up?
Oooooh...literary crush, huh? I went through some serious binge phases: Hardy Boys, Louis L'Amour, Narnia, Stephen King, Narnia, John Steinbeck, Hemingway. My hands-down favorite poet is e.e. cummings (he owns a fair amount of real estate in my soul). I became enraptured with A River Runs Through It in high school - a vastly under-appreciated book - and read it seven times. Since college, my favorite "grown up" author has been Jose Saramago. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Basically, when it comes to literary crushes, I'm a really promiscuous serial monogamist. 

And head over to Books Inc. Palo Alto on Sunday, February 22nd at 6pm for a special evening of truths with Dan!

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