Students Want to Know Emily Beaver

Emily Beaver head shotWhen I was told about Emily Beaver and her debut novel Slipping Reality, I knew my students would love interviewing her.  They were touched by her story and amazed that she wrote this book at such a young age (she was 14!).  Thank you, Emily, for answering my students’ questions!

Summary of Slipping Reality (From Goodreads): In a time of hardship and heartbreak, sometimes, reality just isn’t enough. Slipping Reality is the story of fourteen-year-old Katelyn Emerson, who, when faced with the glaring reality of her brother’s illness, rebels against the truth by slipping away into the depths of her own imagination. There, she finds the kind of support and comfort she feels she deserves. There, she does not have to feel so alone. And yet, as Katelyn’s grasp on reality begins to unravel, so too does the story of a girl who grew up too fast and fell apart too soon. Emily Beaver’s debut novel is a coming of age story that deals with the trials of young grief, insight, and growth where it’s least expected.

** Emily’s Website **

** Emily’s Tumblr **

** Follow Emily on Twitter **
Slipping Reality Cover


  • Did your brother ask you to write a book about him or just a normal book?
    Hi, Ethan! Nope, he didn’t ask a single thing of me. I wrote the book on my own, and he just supported it. I never told him it was about him or had anything to do with him – at the time of his death he was still reading my first novel, which was significantly different from the type of book Slipping Reality is. I did tell him about Slipping Reality, though, I just didn’t mention the plot. He told me he hoped it was published, and here we are now!


  • How difficult was it to write while your brother was sick?  Did it encourage you more or make it harder?
    Hi, Chris! It was actually not difficult at all – I needed it like I needed air. To have a place to go outside of my world was just what I needed. It only was difficult when my brother had actually died, and I had to go back and write the book like he was still living. I’ll never forget how it felt to fill out the rest of the dedication page to him – I had left it with his birth date and a dash mark, and waited until his actual dying day to fill the rest of it in with the year of his death. That really put things into perspective for me, about how important the story was and that definitely encouraged me a lot.

Rebecca R.:

  • Do you ever feel like if your book doesn’t become popular, you’ll disappoint your brother?
    Hi, Rebecca! That’s a good question. I like to believe no matter what I do my brother will be proud of me, so long that I continue to live my life the way it was meant to be lived – happily, making smart choices and having a great time. I like to think he’d be happy with the book whether it’s read by one person or the entire world. Success isn’t measured in how many people read (or, by extension, like) my book. It’s measured in what you do with what you love and the feeling that you’ve put yourself out there and made a difference. Even if that difference is only in your life alone.


  • How accurate is this story when it comes to the truth of what you went through?
    Hello, Jessica! There are moments throughout the story that are completely accurate. It would take a while to list them all, but I do have a best friend named Lauren, I do have a dog named Rocket and I used to have one named Anna, and most of what Matthew went through in the book Matthew went through in real life as well, if not all of it (just not necessarily in the same order as my memory went numb from time to time writing it). The scene right before Katelyn finds out Matthew’s going to die and refuses to go to sleep is actually based on a true story, except without the Tristan part. The night before I found out my brother was going to die for certain I refused to go to bed and wouldn’t stop sobbing, and when my dad asked why I told him I didn’t want to face tomorrow, and that I had a really bad feeling about tomorrow. It turned out I was right, and I felt that was important to include in the story. But the visions, Tristan and Cedric, and those sort of things are not true – only the love Katelyn had for her brother, some of the elements about her and her life, and the decline of Matthew’s health is true.      
  •  Did you feel a lot of pressure to write a really good story, considering the circumstances?
    Of course! I don’t think there’s a single writer that wants their story to be bad. I guess I had to prove myself even more, though, because I’m young and because I wanted so badly to honor my brother through this novel. There were times where I felt like giving up completely on my story because I believed I couldn’t get it to the kind of love and emotion I felt. There were times where I felt like my story wasn’t good enough in any aspect. But the beautiful thing about writing, and any kind of art, is that it’s subjective. One person may love my story and another may find it boring and overdramatic. Who knows? It’s all opinion. I try to think about that rather than defining the actual quality of my book.


  • How did you come up with the title?
    Hi, Torey! I came up with the title the second I sat down at my computer to write Slipping Reality. It just came to me. I liked the sound of it, especially the word ‘slipping’, because it made me think of myself and how I was slipping from my comfortable place as a teenage girl into this world and tragedy that no one should ever go through. The title kind of has two meanings to me – one being the literal slipping of reality that Katelyn goes through, and the other of the way that reality kind of slips away from you when things don’t go according to plan. I always consider it a good omen when I can think of titles right away, because it usually means I’ve got a book I can finish.
  •  Being so young, how did you get your book recognized?
    By just that – being so young! And sending it to lots and lots of people. I was very lucky to have been noticed, and even more lucky to have such wonderful people supporting and believing in me. I can’t ever know if my book will amount to anything near a bestseller, but the possibility is unreal to me. My book is definitely not that recognized – yet – but maybe one day it will be!

 Thanks for all of your questions, guys! Very good questions and most of them I haven’t been asked before! What fun for me. 🙂

Students Want to Know Megan Bostic

After telling my students about Megan Bostic’s debut Never Eighteen, they were looking forward to interviewing her.  Like many teens, my students are drawn to road trip books and stories dealing with cancer.  I’m very happy to add Never Eighteen to my class library.  Thank you for participating with us, Megan!

Summary of Never Eighteen (From Goodreads):

I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will.

It’s probably hopeless.

But he has to try.

** Megan Bostic’s Website **

** Megan’s Blog: The Angsty Writer **

** Follow Megan on Twitter **

** Never Eighteen released in January, so make sure to get a copy 🙂 **


  • What’s your favorite memory from when you were eighteen?

 So many good memories, it’s hard to pick just one, but I think I will go with a road trip weekend.  Two girlfriends and I drove from Tacoma, Washington to Portland, Oregon to visit my future college, University of Portland.

 My sister attended school there, so we had a place to stay.  We checked out the campus and journeyed through the dorms, meeting people and acting crazy.  On Saturday night, my sister had a party to introduce us to some of our future classmates.

  It was a lot of fun, and was nice to meet some people in advance, so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed starting college the following school year.  And of course, there is nothing like blasting the music and laughing with friends on a three hour drive.

 1987 Road Trip Playlist:

BEASTIE BOYS – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)
R.E.M. – The One I Love
INXS – Need You Tonight
U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN – Lips Like Sugar
SMITHS – Girlfriend In a Coma
LOVE AND ROCKETS – Ball of Confusion
THE CURE – Why Can’t I Be You
THE CULT – Love Removal Machine
COMMUNARDS – Don’t Leave Me This Way

 Jessica T.:

  • Was there someone in your life that had a terminal disease that inspired you to write about this topic?

Yes.  Late in 2001, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  By the time they found it, it had coursed throughout her body.  At the time, I had a home day care.  My husband and I decided to close up shop, and take her into our home to do hospice for her.  I saw firsthand the effects of the disease, chemo, and radiation on her body.  She’d also had a stroke a couple years earlier, and lost the ability to speak and eat. 

I had to feed her through a tube in her stomach.  I sat and “talked” (I talked, she wrote notes) with her.  I watched movies with her and sang to her.

The doctors gave her 6 months to a year to live, but sadly, she lasted just under three weeks, dying just before her 60th birthday.  Being a witness to the disease made me think about my own mortality, how I would feel, and what I would want to do if I only had a short time left to do it.  So the experience I had taking care of my mother-in-law definitely inspired me to write this story.


  • Did you use any symbolism in your book?

 To be honest, I don’t normally set out to use symbolism when I write, but I suppose subconsciously it just happens.

 At the beginning of the book, Austin can only stomach an apple for breakfast, he then tells Kaylee that’s what she should name her beloved Ford Mustang.  An apple normally suggests wisdom or knowledge.  Austin, though only seventeen has a wisdom beyond his years because of his disease, and he’s hoping to use that over the weekend to show the people he loves the value of life.

 The story takes place in autumn.  Autumn is a symbol for death as the leaves on the trees change, fall, and eventually die.  The cancer has changed Austin, physically, emotionally, mentally, and soon he will be facing death.

 Austin and Kaylee take a hike up Mount Rainier to see Comet Falls.  Mountains are the place where heaven meets earth, the closet we can get to God, so it’s only appropriate that Austin would make a pilgrimage up the mountain.  Water (Comet Falls) many times symbolizes rebirth, or purification.  Austin’s weekend journey is in a sense a cleansing of his soul.  He’s doing everything he can to help his loved ones see the value of life before his own life ends.

  •  What’s your favorite quote?

 So many, I’ll share a couple.

  • “Do or do not. There is no try.” ~Yoda
  • “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things–trout as well as eternal salvation–come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy. ” ~ Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
  • “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”~ Mahatma Gandhi


  • My friend is an amazing writer, but doesn’t know what to do with her books.  Do you have any advice?

My first piece of advice would to get some constructive criticism.  She could join a critique group of like-minded writers and share her work.  Sometimes others are more capable of seeing the problems with our work.  She should also revise and edit make sure it’s to a point where it’s publishable. Perhaps hire an editor.  At that point she can decide whether to self-publish, which many are doing these days, or seek out an agent to help her get published traditionally.  A great resource for finding agents is

Students Want to Know Caroline Starr Rose

My students and I enjoyed getting to know the Class of 2K11 and the Elevensies, so we’re very excited to meet the Class of 2K12!  To kick off the new year of debut authors, my students interview Caroline Starr Rose, the author of May B.  Her book released last month, so make sure to look for a copy!

Summary of May B. (From Goodreads):

I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

** Caroline Starr Rose’s Website **

** Caroline Starr Rose is on Facebook **

** Follow Caroline Starr Rose’s Blog **

Nicole B:

  • Why did you decide to write May B. in verse?

Don’t tell anyone, but I’d only read two verse novels before writing my own. May B. didn’t start as verse. I was very frustrated with the distance between what I wanted to write and what ended up on the page. When I returned to my research, I noticed there were patterns in pioneer women’s writing. Much of it was matter-of-fact and spare. There was a similar tone used whether someone was writing about the laundry or a death in the family. Seeing this really showed me how to write my story.

It was in mimicking the voices of real frontier women that I stumbled into verse and found the most authentic way to speak for May and share her world.


  • How did you feel when you saw your book on shelves for the first time?

My book came out the same day as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. My local bookstore had dozens of copies of his book on the same shelf as mine! It was completely surreal to see my book in the first place, but to see it next to the likes of John Green? Unbelievable.

Jessica P:

  • Why did you choose the prairie as the setting for the book?

I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books and have always been struck by how strong and courageous frontier women were in the midst of their everyday lives. I wanted to dig into that world. I also wanted to write about solitude and was curious how to write a story where for most of the story the main character is alone. The prairie is often described in literature as this open, endless, vast place. I thought it would be interesting to examine being closed off — as May is when trapped in her snow-covered soddy — in the middle of this vast expanse. The contrast intrigued me.

Mackenzie B:

  • What’s your most & least favorite ice cream?

I’ve rarely met an ice cream flavor I didn’t like, though I’d have to say the ones with toxic-looking neon colors gross me out. Anything with peanut butter is an instant favorite. I also love peppermint ice cream covered in hot fudge.

May B. with John Green!

Students Want to Know: Kathy McCullough

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Kathy McCullough’s debut, Don’t Expect Magic, this summer and I really enjoyed it.  It’s a cute and humorous novel that I know teens and tweens will enjoy.  If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy, I definitely recommend reading it.

Summary of Don’t Expect Magic (From Goodreads): Delaney Collins doesn’t believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she’s stuck in California with “Dr. Hank,” her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.

Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he’s a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there’s a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone’s fairy godmother.

But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?

** Kathy McCullough’s Website **
** Delaney’s Website **
** Find Kathy on Facebook **
** Follow Kathy on Twitter **
** Check out the trailer for Don’t Expect Magic **


  • Why is the title Don’t Expect Magic?  Doesn’t it contradict the plot?
    Great question! It seems like a contradiction, but it’s meant to reflect Delaney Collins’ attitude about having inherited these magic powers. She’s dark and sullen, and therefore the typical image of a sparkly, cheery fairy godmother goes completely against how she views herself. She feels that none of her own wishes in life have come true, so she resents being forced to help others achieve theirs. The title applies in a more literal sense too, because Delaney discovers that she only has limited powers initially and she’s not very good at performing them. Ultimately, she discovers that it’s not magic that makes dreams come true, but accepting who you are—and letting others see the real you.


  • What was your motivation to write a book?
    I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old, when I wrote my first book: an illustrated collection of poems. I wrote stories all through junior high, high school and college, but I loved movies and decided to get my graduate degree in screenwriting. The challenge in writing scripts is that you have to include a lot of other people’s ideas into what you write. You also run the risk of having someone be hired to rewrite you. I decided to go back to writing books so that I could protect my ideas and my words. Not that I didn’t do a lot of revision for my editor! But it was me doing the revising and not someone else.

Jessica P.:

  • Why did you choose to write about a young girl?
    I’ve always gravitated toward family stories and stories about kids of all ages. I tend to identify with younger characters and I also think kids and teens are more interesting and complex than adults. Younger people tend to be more passionate about their beliefs and they also feel things more deeply, whereas adults have learned to tamp down or hide their passions and emotions in order to get along.

Jessica T.:

  • Do you plan on writing more books like Don’t Expect Magic?
    I do! I’ve completed a sequel to Don’t Expect Magic, in which Delaney faces off against a rival teen fairy godmother – an “f.g.” who is the pink, sparkly type. I’ve begun a new book, which, like Don’t Expect Magic, is a mostly comic novel with a touch of fantasy, and which uses the fantasy to propel the protagonist’s emotional journey.


  • Has your family read the book yet?
    I know my mom has read it and she liked it a lot. I’m not sure about Dad (he’s not a big reader; maybe if it comes out on audiotape…) My brother and sister-in-law bought a copy for their sons, but I don’t think any of them have read it yet. My cousin Paula, who is a big inspiration to me, has read it and I know at least one aunt has. Because the book just came out, many members of my family are giving it to other members for Christmas, so by January, everyone will have probably read it.


  • What do you do during your down time?
    I don’t have a lot of down time. Really! I’m trying very hard to juggle writing projects, both books and screenplays, and I also work part-time reading scripts and books for film production companies. I volunteer at the library (I guess that’s down time) and have been trying to keep up on all the promotional work of having my first book come out. Promotional work like this interview! – and also, visiting bookstores and libraries to introduce myself, doing school visits, etc. When I do have a bit of free time, I love going to the movies with friends. And, of course, I love to read for fun.


  • How would you feel if you were put in your character’s situation?
    I probably would be more thrilled with having magic powers than Delaney is initially, although I think I’d also be more nervous about them. Delaney’s not really afraid of screwing up, but I’m always worried about screwing up.
  • Was the publication process different than you thought it would be?
    Yes, in a lot of ways. I expected to do some revisions, but I ended up doing a lot – all of which made the book much better. I learned that there are many more revision steps than I realized, even after copy edits are done. Also, when I wrote the book, I had no idea that there were even book bloggers at all, much less book bloggers who write just about YA books! So that was an amazing discovery. The best thing I learned was that despite all the hard work and challenges involved, I really do enjoy the publication process.

These were excellent questions! Thanks so much for the opportunity to be on your blog.

Students Want to Know: Helen Landalf

I’m excited to post this interview between my students and debut author Helen Landalf.  I really want to read her novel Flyaway, but I didn’t see it at NCTE so it looks like my students and I have to wait until it releases on December 19th.  I love a good contemporary novel and this one sounds like a great addition to the genre!

Summary of Flyaway (From Goodreads): Fifteen-year-old Stevie Calhoun is used to taking care of herself. But one night, her mom, who works as an exotic dancer in a downtown Seattle nightclub, never comes home.

That’s the night Stevie’s life turns upside down.

It’s the night that kicks off an extraordinary summer: the summer Stevie has to stay with her annoyingly perfect Aunt Mindy; the summer she learns to care for injured and abandoned birds; the summer she gets to know Alan, the meanest guy in high school.

But most of all, it’s the summer she finds out the truth about Mom.

FLYAWAY is the story of a teen girl’s struggle to hold on to what she’s always believed, even as her world spins out of control.

** Flyaway releases from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on December 19th, 2011 **
** Follow Helen on Twitter @helenlandalf **
** Helen’s Website **


  • How long did it take you to write this book?  Did it take a lot of attempts to write it?
    It took me about a year to write the first draft. Then I rewrote it completely two or three times and revised it several more times – a total of six times before I submitted it to an agent. Then my agent helped me revise it two more times. Then, once it sold to a publishing house, my editor had me revise it yet again. So it took about ten attempts over five years to get to the version that will end up on bookshelves later this month.


  • Why did you become a writer?
    As a kid, I loved to read. I also loved to tell stories – I used to get all the kids in the neighborhood together and tell them ghost stories. That love of reading and telling stories stuck with me, and it just flowed naturally into my becoming a writer.


  • How many books do you want to write?
    That’s easy: as many as I can before I die! I’m not a fast writer, but hopefully I can get in another twenty or thirty books before I finally kick the bucket.
  • Why does Stevie take care of birds?  Is there a story or reason behind this?
    I knew I wanted to write a novel about a girl who remained loyal to her mom, in spite of the fact that her mom didn’t deserve that loyalty. I had also decided that the girl’s mom would be a drug addict. Still, I knew I needed something else to make the story complete. Then one day, as I was walking down the street, thinking about my book, I noticed a baby bird lying on the sidewalk. It had no feathers, and it looked so vulnerable and helpless. I decided right then that injured and orphaned birds would be a perfect metaphor for Stevie’s plight.


  • How did it feel when you found out your book was going to be published?
    It was a dream come true! I laughed and cried and screamed and danced and generally acted like a crazy woman.


  • If you were stranded on an island and could only take one book with you, what would it be?
    I think I would take a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Reading the same story over and over would get boring, but I never fail to be inspired by poems.


  • Is this story personal or did you make it up?
    I made it up, but certain elements of it are based on the experiences of people I know. In some form or another, writers always end up writing about their own lives.

Students Want to Know: Kiki Hamilton

My students have been passing The Faerie Ring around quite a bit.  One of the girls even had her mom read it (love that!) 🙂  If you haven’t already read Kiki Hamilton’s debut, I hope you do soon.  Now that I FINALLY have a copy back in my possession, I can read it as well.

Summary of The Faerie Ring(From Goodreads):

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger. 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

** Find Kiki on Facebook **
** You can follow Kiki on Twitter too! **
** Kiki’s blog **

Kayla H:

Hi Kayla and Anisa, Thanks for reading THE FAERIE RING and for submitting your questions!

  • Why did you make the main characters orphans? I wanted a character that was trying to survive on her own and in Victorian London that wasn’t an uncommon state.  I also wanted Tiki and the other orphans, who thought they had lost everything, including their families, to realize that “family” doesn’t have to be blood relatives.  People you love can be as much your family as people related to you by blood.
  • Did you have fun writing this book? I loved writing this book.  I had just finished reading a faerie story that I didn’t really like – so I decided to write what I wanted to read.  I didn’t outline THE FAERIE RING so I had to keep writing to see what happened next!  I wrote the entire story in 30 days.
  • Will there be a sequel? Yes, there is a second and a third book. Who knows? Maybe more. 🙂


  • Why did you choose the setting of London in 1871? I like the mystery of the Victorian era.  There was a real mix of technological advances and a strong belief in the occult, the Otherworld, and magic. I love the idea that there are stories from that time that got lost in history, sort of fell through the cracks, and if we knew the *real* story, everything would change….
  • When you were growing up did you want to be a writer? Not really. I enjoyed writing – I wrote a lot of poetry in high school, and I always said I would write a book one day, but I didn’t feel compelled to write fiction.
  • What inspired you to start writing? When The Goblet of Fire came out about 5-6 years ago, everyone was talking about Harry Potter and I didn’t know who he was. So I started the first book when my family and I left on a driving vacation. We arrived at our destination and I wasn’t done with the book yet so I made my husband keep driving until I was done. 🙂  I read all four books in that week and I remembered how much I *loved* the magic of reading – of being someone else – of living in another world. So I decided to write a story for my daughter, who was nine at the time.
  • How did you come up with the idea of the ring, like the fire dancing in it and all? Can you keep a secret? I’ve actually only told this to one of my dear friends – but I was sitting on my couch working on THE FAERIE RING. Tiki had just stolen the Queen’s ring and I was thinking about what happened next. I was staring down at my left hand and my wedding ring has a number of beautiful diamonds in it – they were sparkling with a rainbow of prisms and suddenly I knew that a fire burned in the heart of the Queen’s ring and that the ring held a secret…..
  • Do you think The Faerie Ring will be turned into a movie??? Haha! That made me laugh out loud! I can’t really imagine such a thing (I’m just so grateful it’s actually a BOOK!) but it would be pretty cool if it was. I know I would like to go see it!! 🙂  What do you think?

Thanks again for your questions!  If you and your classmates would like some signed bookmarks, just have Mrs. Andersen email me with the school’s mailing address!



Students Want to Know: Trinity Faegen

Have you read Trinity Faegen’s debut The Mephisto Covenant?  A few of my students read it to prepare for this interview and they really enjoyed it.  Trinity has written a fresh paranormal romance full of tension, mystery and good vs. evil. Thank you, Trinity, for participating with my students!

Summary of The Mephisto Covenant (From Goodreads): Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

** Trinity’s Website **
** Follow Trinity on Twitter @TrinityFaegen **
** The Mephisto Covenant released last month so look for a copy at a nearby story or library **

Love this cover!


  • How did you come up with the title?
  • What inspired you to write this story?

Courtney Wo. & Courtney We. (They both read the book & came up w/these questions)

  • How did you know about Anabo, the daughters of Eve?  Did you come up with it yourself or did you have to research it?
  • Are you going to write a second book?
  • Where did you come up with all the different names for your characters?

These are great questions! Thank you for reading The Mephisto Covenant, and many thanks to Mrs. Andersen for having me here on her blog.

Anisa, Mephisto is from Mephistopheles, a name that’s been associated with a minion of Lucifer for centuries, but is best known as the character who tempts a man to wager his soul to the devil in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play, Faust, which was written in the late eighteenth century. Faust is based on a German legend, which Goethe used as the basis for his play.

I was inspired to write this story after someone very close to me was sexually assaulted. I thought a lot about evil. Why does it exist? Are we all capable of evil? The attacker got away with it and that bugged me in ways I can’t describe. I guess you could say this book was my way of dealing with the anger, grief and frustration.

Courtney Squared! I totally made up the Anabo, but it’s an intriguing thought, don’t you agree? Imagine if there were people who weren’t tempted to dark thoughts and emotions. I didn’t want Sasha to be a Mary Sue, however, so I worked hard to make her as real as possible, without the negatives that tend to hold back the rest of us, but fully realized as a girl with genuine needs and wants. As for research, I read Genesis again, and for elements of Hell and the dark side, I read a book called The History of Hell by Alice K. Turner. Fascinating!

I turned in Book 2 of this series about a month ago and am (im)patiently waiting to hear from my editor with revisions. This book is about another Mephisto brother and the Anabo he finds, who happens to be the First Daughter. I did a lot of research on what it’s like to live in the White House and about the Secret Service. What I couldn’t discover, I made up. I think I’m okay unless a child of a President reads it. I suspect they might find some inconsistencies between reality and what I invented to fill in the gaps.

I love the question about names! I think they’re so important to any story. Sasha is a common nickname for Alexandra in Russia, and, as you know, because it’s spelled out in the book, Alexandra means defender of men, which fits Sasha’s character. The brothers’ names are all of Greek origin, and each has its own unique meaning, which fits with their personalities.

Kyros means leader, or master. Ajax means powerful warrior. Phoenix means rising bird, based on the legend of the phoenix that rises from the ashes, which fits our Phoenix, I think. Xenos has several meanings, including ‘stranger’, and Zee’s definitely strange. Titus means giant, and Ty is the tallest of the brothers. Last is Denys, which is a derivative of ‘servant of Dionysus’, who was the Greek god of wine. Denys has issues with alcohol, which will play a part in his story. As for other names in the book, they come to me as the character does. The name simply pops into my head and there it is. I have friends named Melanie who are lovely people, so I don’t give names of people I dislike to characters who are ‘bad guys’. I knew a girl named Terry in middle school who was just awful to me, but I’ve yet to name a mean character after her. Although, now that I think on it…. Ha! Just kidding!

 Thank you again for having me here, Mrs. Andersen! It’s an honor and a privilege. Happy reading to everyone!


Students Want to Know: Jessica Martinez

Have you had an opportunity to read an advanced copy of Virtuosity?  If not, then read this interview with the debut author, Jessica Martinez, and then hurry off to your local bookstore or library and get a copy to read 🙂 (I swear I’m not trying to be pushy.)  I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of Jessica’s book and I LOVED it.  I was hooked from the opening pages to the very end.  (Read my review here)

A couple of the girls in my YA Lit class volunteered to read Virtuosity and then come up with interview questions for Jessica.  Both girls really enjoyed this wonderful debut.

Summary of Virtuosity (From Goodreads): Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot…what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her–and riles her up–like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….

** Jessica’s Website (There’s even a section where you can listen to her play the violin!) **
** Follow Jessica on Twitter: @jlmarti1 **
** Other rave reviews: Pure Imagination, Chick Loves Lit **

Sara C:

  • How did you come up with the title?
    The word really just popped into my head, and I knew it was the right one immediately.  A virtuoso is a musician whose talent and skill puts them above the rest.  That’s definitely Carmen.  But also, virtue refers to high moral character.  That’s something Carmen has to grapple with and choose.
  • Why did you have Carmen kick her Inderal so early in the story?
    Carmen decides to kick the Inderal habit early in the story, but she continues to struggle with that need throughout the novel.  It was important to me not to minimize how hard it would be for her to overcome that kind of addiction.  I introduced that battle early so the reader will travel the road with her, and not just see her easily decide to stop medicating at the end.
  • In your mind, does Carmen choose to go to Julliard?
    I can’t tell you!  I want to, I really do, but I’m not letting myself.  And no, there isn’t a sequel to explain it.  I left it open for the reader to decide, not because it’s some riddle or trick, but because everybody comes to the novel with different life experiences and will learn different things from it.  Those two things together will determine Carmen’s future, so that’s going to be different for every single one of my readers.  But yeah, in my mind, I do know exactly what Carmen chooses.
  • Was it hard making Diana so harsh?
    What’s funny is that I don’t think she’s nearly as harsh as my readers do!  I actually really empathize with Diana.  I feel like she’s lost so much and she really does love Carmen.  Maybe the fact that I actually love her is one of the reasons that Diana comes across as real.  If I had set out to create an evil villain, she may have become more of a caricature than a real person.   


  • Is the Guarneri competition a real thing?
    It isn’t, but there are similar career-making competitions in the violin world.  The Tchaikovsky Competition is a good example of an international one. 
  • How do you know so much about the classical music industry? Did you research it? Or just making assumptions?
    No research, no assumptions.  I kind of lived it.  I started playing the violin when I was three years old and gave most of my childhood to it.  I did high school partially by correspondence because I had a competition season.  Virtuosity isn’t autobiographical (sadly, there is no Jeremy in my violin past) but my knowledge of that world is from experience.  I know what it’s like to perform with a symphony, and botch a performance, and nearly die of stage fright.  I knew teenagers and adults who took beta blockers to perform, and knew plenty of mothers like Diana (but my own mother is lovely!).  Oh, and I had teachers much meaner and crazier than Yuri.  I’m not kidding. 
  • Do you enjoy classical music, yourself?
    I love it to death, but I listen to popular music all the time too.  Actually, there are very few music genres I don’t love.
  • What inspired you to write Virtuosity?
    I wrote Virtuosity partly because of my own experience as a child musician, and partly just because I have this need to express myself artistically that won’t go away.  Whether it’s making music, or writing books, or baking cupcakes, I feel an impulse to create almost daily.  I’ve just finished editing my second novel and am well in to my third for this very reason.  I don’t want to sit still, to stop trying to create beauty.  At times it’s gratifying, and other times it’s frustrating, but having a finished product that I’m proud of makes pushing through the difficult parts worth it.

Students Want to Know: Kendare Blake

I’m happy to post this interview between Kendare Blake and my students, I only wish that I’d get the chance to read Anna Dressed in Blood.  My students holding the interview read Kendare’s book first and have been raving about it.  Courtney very excitedly told me that I HAVE to read this book.  The problem?  Now that Courtney and Christian have been talking about Anna Dressed in Blood, I can’t get my hands on either of my copies.  They’re hogging it!  ** Which I’m very happy about 🙂 **

Summary of Anna Dressed in Blood (From Goodreads):

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

** Kendare’s Website **
** Kendare’s Blog **


  • Where did you come up with the idea of the athame?
    When Cas showed up in my head, he had a knife in his hand. I knew he had to kill stuff, and I knew he was a very physical guy, so a knife seemed like the only way to go. But I didn’t want to just call it a knife. So I called it an athame. Which is a witch’s knife, or dagger.
  • What made you want to write?
    Well, I read a lot. I think it all came from that. I lived a lot of stories in my head, and I guess my brain just got used to it. Now there are stories in my head most of the time. I’m a freak like that.
  • Are any of the places in the book real?
    Yes! Glad you asked. Thunder Bay, Ontario is a real place. Morfran’s antique shop (and his antique shop dwelling Labrador) is based on a bunch of different antique shops in the area, and also one in Michigan. Kakabeka Falls, where they have the party at the beginning of the book, is real, and so are a lot of the ghost stories they tell.


  • Are you going to write a sequel? PLEASE!
    Of course! But I think just one. It’s called GIRL OF NIGHTMARES and it’s coming out next year. I hope you like it!
  • Did you have to research the “obeahman” power, or did you make it all up?
    Obeah is a real thing. I researched it as much as I could. But there really is an air of mystery around it. Obeah guards its secrets. And yes, whatever didn’t quite work for me, I tweaked.
  • Do you personally believe in ghosts?
    Sure. Why not? You can’t really prove that they DON’T exist. I guess you could say that I believe in them and don’t believe in them in equal measure. I’d love to have a ghost story happen to me though. I should start hanging out in more haunted places.

Students Want to Know: Carrie Harris

Carrie’s debut novel Bad Taste in Boys released in July, so we waited to hold the interview until school started again.  I’m a big fan of both Carrie and her book (read my review), especially after meeting her at her launch party this summer.  A couple of my students, Ashley and Tristan, made it for the launch as well, so they came up with some questions for Carrie 🙂

Summary of Bad Taste in Boys (From Goodreads): Someone’s been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe–not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!

She’s got to find an antidote–before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town. . . and stay hormonally human.

** Carrie’s Website **
** Carrie’s Blog **


  • What conditions do you like to write in?
    I must have a two-liter of caffeinated beverage when I write. I LIKE to write in absolute silence, late at night in front of the picture window in my living room in case the zombie hordes start attacking—I’ll be able to see them coming that way. But that never happens. I usually find myself writing with kids’ television blaring in the background in the middle of the day. But still with the caffeine and still watching for zombies, because there are lines I simply must draw.
  • Do you ever write nonfiction?
    This is awesome. No one’s ever asked me that, and yes! I don’t do it much these days, but I spent a long time as a freelance writer. I wrote study materials for medical students, and sales materials for textbooks, and a long series of marketing materials for car transmissions, which is pretty funny because you could write what I know about cars on a postage stamp and still have room left over. I’ve got a scientific article coming up in Neurology, and it’s not even about zombies. I think nonfiction is a great way to learn to force yourself to get to the point when you write, and I think that shows in my books.
  • Did you do research for Bad Taste in Boys?
    Absolutely. I already knew a lot about zombie myths, but I did sit down and read up on them in detail. And then, I had an idea of how I would structure my virus because I used to manage the national center for research in the human form of mad cow disease. But I needed to think carefully about how it would work and then how someone would go about figuring it out. Most of the research stuff got cut from the book, because the average person isn’t going to geek out about all the lab work the way that I do, but I think it was good to know those things.
  • Do you and Kate share characteristics?
    Oh yeah. One of my friends always says that I’m Kate Grable in disguise. I’m definitely a geek, and I do have an interest in science, but nowhere near as extreme as she does. And I get really obsessively motivated like she does. Once I get a goal in mind, the only way to stop me from chasing it (and talking about it nonstop) would be to give me a lobotomy. Which I would prefer to avoid if at all possible.
  • Are all of your works of writing intertwined with humor?
    Yes, although I’ve just finished my third book, which is not a Grable book, and it’s a little more serious. I love to laugh, and I find it pretty impossible to be serious EVER, but I had this really emotional story that I wanted to tell. So I tried to blend the two, and I’m waiting to hear from my agent and eventually my editor on whether or not I sucketh or rocketh.

    BTW, my spell check does not like the work “rocketh.” Which sucketh.


  • Why do you like zombies so much?
    I love how zombies can be so ridiculously funny one minute and hecka scary the next. I prefer my monsters as campy as possible, and it doesn’t get much campier than a lurching corpse with a missing hand and a major craving for cranial matter. Unless he’s on roller skates. That would be the ultimate in camp. It’s funny, but still, I wouldn’t want him to catch me!
  • Do you think you’ll ever write a realistic fiction novel?
    Anything is possible. I like to play around and challenge myself with new things, like trying to write a short story that is completely serious (which for me was REALLY hard). I haven’t yet come up with an idea for a contemporary book that I’d like to write, but I love reading them. So I wouldn’t totally write off the possibility!
  • What did you read when you were younger?
    Late in elementary school, I was all about the romances. I had every Sweet Valley High book, and a whole series of romances about cheerleaders, and one called Couples in which every person on every cover wore neon. Even the guys. *headdesk* And then I got hooked on Tolkien and Stephen King and it all went downhill from there. If it had a monster in it or a guy with a sword and a funny, unpronounceable name, I was on it.
  • Do you like science, or did you just want Kate to?
    I do! I managed a lab for a few years, and a lot of the things that Kate does are things that I’ve done. I’ve been in animal labs in which you had to wear space suits because of the risk of infection and looked at brains under microscopes and seen autopsies and spun down blood into pellets and all kinds of crazy things. So I feel cool by association when the science geek saves the day. I totally admit it.

    Thanks so much for the questions! This was a load of fun!


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