Hey everyone! I’m beyond excited to share this Author Spotlight with you! Today, I have Jen Brooks (In a World Just Right – April 28th 2015, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), Lori Goldstein (Becoming Jinn – April 21st 2015, Feiwel & Friends) and Lee Kelly (City of Savages – February 3rd 2015 by Saga Press) here for an interview and a giveaway! First, here’s more about each book:
High school senior Jonathan Aubrey creates worlds at will. In Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend, he’s given himself everything he doesn’t have in real life-–the track team, passing grades, and his dream girl–-until one day he confuses his worlds and almost kisses the real Kylie Simms. Now his girlfriend Kylie and the real Kylie are changing, and Jonathan must solve the mystery of his own life to save his love from a gruesome fate.
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Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.
To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.
Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
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It has been nearly two decades since the breakout of the Third World War, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp ruled by island native Rolladin, who controls the city’s survivors with an iron fist. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the Central Park POW camp is the only home she’d ever want.
When strangers arrive in the park, carrying a shocking message, Sky and Phee discover there’s more to Manhattan—and their family—than either of them had imagined. As disturbing secrets about the island begin to surface, Sky and Phee have no choice but to break the rules to uncover the full truth of their long-shrouded history. When their search for answers erupts into violence, the girls must flee into Manhattan’s depths, where their quest for a better future will force them to confront the island’s dark and shocking past.
Lee Kelly’s gripping debut novel is a pulse-pounding journey through a city that’s as strange as it is familiar, where nothing is black-and-white and buried secrets can haunt.
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And now here’s the interview! Enjoy!
Question: What are you reading right now?
Jen: Now that tour leg #1 is over, I’m about to finally start Chandler Baker’s Alive!
Lori: I’m reading my critique partner, N.K. Traver’s March release, DUPLICITY. So fun to read this fantastic book in final form!
Lee: I JUST finished Lori’s BECOMING JINN (so much voice, and so much fun) and started EMBER IN THE ASHES last night. I’m also listening to Tana French’s THE SECRET PLACE on audiobook.
Question: What TV show are you obsessed with?
Jen: I have a six-year-old. I don’t get to watch TV. Unless it’s Transformers or five minutes of HGTV—the big reveal at the end, if I can!
Lori: Game of Thrones!! And The Vampire Diaries, of course.
Lee: It changes every season! Right now, my husband and I never miss GAME OF THRONES. I’m also crazy about AMERICAN HORROR STORY and TRUE DETECTIVE in the fall, and HOUSE OF CARDS in the winter.
Question: Last movie you saw in theaters?
Jen: I think mine was Paddington. The six-year-old controls all the screens in my life.
Lori: Egads, I haven’t been to a movie theater in years. I prefer to watch at home, so it was probably the first Hunger Games movie.
(Jen: Did Lori just say “egads”? *teases*)
Lee: Yikes, it’s been quite a while. I think INTERSTELLAR would have to be the last (which I LOVED).
Question: What Hogwarts House would you be in? What would your Patronus be?
Jen: I have actually worn the real Sorting Hat and was put in Gryffindor. My patronus would be a Pegasus.
Lori: I’m pretty sure I’d be a Ravenclaw. My Patronus? Definitely a monkey. I was always obsessed with monkeys when I was little.
Lee: So I finally formally took this quiz hahah and I’m in Ravenclaw! And I’m pretty sure my Patronus would be a bird of some sort, maybe an eagle or condor or something along those lines.
Question: Would you survive the Hunger Games?
Jen: I doubt it. I can’t kill an ant, never mind a human being.
Lori: Yes, because I’m small and I could hide really really well in the tiniest of spots.
Lee: YES! I’m no archer, but I hope I could hold my own in scrappy fighting and hiding/camouflage.
Question: If you could live in one fictional world, which would it be and why?
Jen: Star Wars. Because, well, it’s Star Wars.
Lori: It’s got to be Harry Potter. I write about magic, and so living at Hogwarts would my nirvana.
Lee: Oooh, great question. Without a doubt, the Star Wars world. That said, my favorite book of all time is THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, so I might pick the Kingdom of Wisdom as a close second.
Question: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Jen: A teacher, because I was a teacher and miss it terribly. Or maybe an archaeologist.
Lori: A chef.
Lee: I’d be an entertainment lawyer, which was my last job prior to taking a sabbatical to focus on the writing and my son for the next few years.
Question: Quirkiest writing ritual?
Jen: I am not quirky. Am I?
Lori: I listen to the soundtracks to Downton Abbey on repeat all day long. It’s become the soundtrack to my writing life.
Lee: This is hard. I guess I can’t really talk while I’m writing – I’m not a social writer AT ALL, as every time I lift my eyes up from the screen, it takes me a few minutes to find my place and train of thought again. So on our writing retreats, I tend to hole up in a corner rather than do the whole community writing thing (don’t get me wrong, that’s fun too, I just know that no writing will happen!)
Question: Favorite thing to eat/drink while writing?
Lori: Tea, hot or iced.
Lee: My favorite FAVORITE combo is a skim latte (hot or iced) and some kind of sweet treat – candy preferred over baked good.
Question: If you were handed an untitled manuscript of each other’s latest novels, would you be able to identify whom it belonged to? How?
Jen: Lori has the awesomest use of voice in her work. She makes me laugh out loud, and I am green with envy that she has the ability to write humor. Beyond their humor, her characters and their plights are moving and meaningful. Lee has this way of cutting to the heart of what makes a character tick. She’s been talking in workshops about how she creates characters who are opposites, and I love how she uses those opposites to drive theme as much as plot in her work.
Lori: I love this question! Yes, I think so. A writer’s voice comes through on the page. Stories, plots, characters will change. Voice won’t be exactly the same in every book but there’s an underlying component of storytelling that is very much distinct from person to person. I think this encompasses both language, style, voice, concept, and theme. I know Lee’s work is going to have strong family relationships and action and thrills as well as a unique new world. And Jen’s is going to have high-concept ideas presented via superior writing with a down-to-earth character who is likable, accessible, and makes you want to be his best friend, kind of like Jen herself!
Lee: Absolutely. Lori and Jen have wildly different styles and preferences – Lori likes analogies, Jen likes metaphors. Lori’s prose is interspersed with humor and her narrators are always accessible and relatable. Jen’s narrators usually have a palpable loneliness or yearning about them, and the prose feels literary. Lori prefers female narrators, while Jen prefers males. After reading some of a writer’s work, it’s crazy how you can really start to hear the cohesive voice that links their novels, even if the novels and narrators themselves are very different.
Question: Any funny tour stories? What about funny stories about the Freshman Fifteen?
Jen: I have been sworn to secrecy on our most hilarious exploits.
Lori: Jen and I got locked in an underground parking garage after a library event because we were too busy planning our next tour day. Jen, Lee, and I almost missed our first writing workshop this week because Lee’s hometown has decided to rip up every road in a two-mile radius of her house. The Freshman Fifteens got our rental car stuck in the mud at our last writing retreat. Huh, a theme is coming through her. Clearly we are better writers than we are drivers!
Lee: When you spend so much time with people, you get to know their eating and sleeping habits and everything hahah. I’ve got a son who wakes me up around seven, and so I’m used to rising pretty early. But without fail both Lori AND Jen are always up before me – I think Jen said sometimes she’s up around 5:30?!?! Every retreat and tour, I’m somehow the late riser.
Question: Thing you miss the most when you’re traveling for signings/events?
Jen: My family. I got a half-hour hug-fest when I got home after our most recent week on the road.
Lori: My bed. And salad. I eat too much junk food and I’m not a junk food eater. They are bad influences on me.
Lee: My son and my husband, hands-down. And also having down time to write or read or watch the occasional TV show.
Question: Best reader experience so far?
Jen: I’ve had a few bloggers write extraordinary reviews of my book. You know how when you meet someone for the first time, and you talk to them, and you know right away that you have enough in common that you can be friends? That’s how it feels when someone “gets” my book enough to write a review that appreciates all the parts of the story that are most dear to me. Books, like people, are different, and different people like different books, so it feels really good when my book finds a new friend.
Lori: In Massachusetts, “wicked” is an adjective used to mean “amazing.” It’s very, very New England. At one of my first events after release, a young girl, who was timid and shy, came up to me having finished the book already and said “Your book is wicked good.” I was wicked touched, and still am.
Lee: Getting my very first fan mail – it’s such a humbling and wonderful experience when someone takes the time to look up your email address and drop you a line about how much they liked your book. It’s positively day-making, so readers out there, if a book has resonated with you, consider emailing the author – we love it!
And now for the giveaway! Thanks to Jen, Lori and Lee, one winner will receive copies of all three books + some awesome Becoming Jinn swag!
-Giveaway is US only
-Winner has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.
-You must be 13 or older to enter OR have your parents’ permission.
-The authors and I are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
-I reserve the right to change any rules as I see fit for each individual giveaway
With that being said, I wish you luck! May the odds be ever in your favor!
About Jen Brooks:
Jen has a habit of being deeply moved by profound ideas, and her writing reflects her interest in exploring human goodness, relationships, and the feeling of being a part of something greater than oneself. She loves the science fiction and fantasy genres because of their dazzling possibilities for portraying characters and ideas. She credits her undergraduate experience at Dartmouth College, her MFA at Seton Hill University, and her fourteen years of English teaching with shaping her writing. She is grateful to her family, friends, and students for inspiring her to write.
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About Lori Goldstein:
Lori Goldstein was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016).
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About Lee Kelly:
Why hello, and thanks for dropping by! My name is Lee Kelly, and I’m a writer of young adult and genre fiction, a lawyer by trade and a new mom (my almost two year-old, Penn Joseph, keeps me very busy). And my debut, CITY OF SAVAGES, is coming in February 3, 2015 from Simon & Schuster (though I still can’t fully believe it — and saying and writing it never gets old :).
I was born and raised in Philadelphia, went to Georgetown University and, with the exception of a couple years spent in glorious Santa Monica on the west coast, I’ve been buzzing around New York ever since.
My debut, CITY OF SAVAGES, naturally takes place in New York City, in a not-too-distant future, where Manhattan has become a prisoner-of-war camp. While I know there are quite a few end-of-the-worlds on bookshelves these days, I like to think my story offers something new, by exploring this potential future NYC intimately, even tenderly, through the eyes of two very different sisters who have never stepped outside of Manhattan. The sisters’ relationship is also front and center, and told via a dual-narrative — and being one of three sisters myself, this was EXTREMELY fun to write. The book also has a very robust subplot which focuses on the secrets of the previous generation, as well as the city’s dark, twisty past. CITY OF SAVAGES was sold by my agent, the lovely and amazing Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services, to Navah Wolfe at S&S. Navah is witty, articulate, passionate… pretty much a dream editor. I am beyond thrilled to be part of such a great team.
What I’m currently working on? Well, I’ve recently teamed up with a fabulous group of 2015 debut authors called the Freshman Fifteens, and am blogging regularly about writing and revision over at Movellas. I’m also in the process of revising AMERICAN SHINE, my next novel with S&S, a magical realism crossover novel which follows two up-and-coming bootlegging sorcerers through an alternate Prohibition-era America.
In any event, always looking for good NYC-driven fiction (or any good fiction!), so please drop me a line or a tweet if you have any recommendations! And for Moms-to-be, check out my Baby Book reviews tab! I WISH someone had done this prior to me spending hours and hours reading some of the deadbeats :).
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