Weather Witch Blog Tour: Interview and Giveaway


I’m thrilled to be part of the Author’s Taproom’s blog tour for Shannon Delany’s new series the Weather Witch. I was a huge fan of Shannon’s 13 to Life series and am really enjoying her new series. My review for the book should be up sometime soonish. Check out my awesome interview with Shannon below, as well as learn about how to win some awesome prizes and learn more about this awesome new book series.


About the book:

In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!

Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!

But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.

Trailer:


Interview with Shannon Delany

Describe your book in five words or less.
A storm of strife.

How does writing the Weather Witch series differ from writing the 13 to Life series? Do you find writing one harder than the other?
The voice and POV of Weather Witch is vastly different than 13 to Life. In 13 to Life you were Jessie, or Alexi… It was 1st person and you saw through their eyes only. Weather Witch is more removed in some ways. I’m tackling hard topics (again) but in a way I hope makes readers ask themselves questions. 13 TO LIFE was easier to write because (having done 5 books in 1st person POV) I have more experience writing that way.

Which character in the Weather Witch was your favorite to write and why?
Oh, wow. I actually enjoyed writing Bran the most. He’s dark and troubled and there’s just so much to him (even beyond the series’ pages). He was like 13 TO LIFE’s Max–a character who was only supposed to be cardboard–a tool to the story’s progression or, at most, another character’s foil, but he wouldn’t settle for that.

Do you outline or just write and see where it takes you? Did you know the how the series was going to end before you started writing?
I don’t really outline. I’m sure I should–I think it’s what grown-up writers really do–but I tend to jot down my promotional ideas, do a synopsis, a few sketches and then I start writing. The most amazing thngs happen when you just write and let them happen. Pieces puzzle together and the “aha! moments” pounce on you.

What is harder to write, the first sentence or the last?
Honestly, everything in between is the hardest to write! I often know the beginning and the end and only need to tweak and tighten them a few times before I’m happy with them, but what many authors call “the soggy middle” is the area of a book where the plot bunnies roam and distractions catch the eyes of your characters.

What is your strangest writing habit?
The fact I don’t currently have any writing habits? I used to, but writing has been a bit haphazard for me recently–many things beg for my attention so my schedule is all wonky and the only thing I do regularly is open the document I’m working on, skim a few paragraphs and dive in to the new writing.

I love the world you created in Weather Witch. What served as your inspiration for this series?
Thank you! I’ve always been fascinated by clouds and thunderstorms and the power they have. Connect that to my early memories of being on a sailboat with my mom and day and my love of history and places like Philadelphia, Herkimer, Bangor, and Salem and my hatred of slavery and torture as a means of gaining a person’s compliance and BOOM you get Weather Witch.

If you could spend a day with a character from any book who would it be and why?
Hagrid from the Harry Potter series. He’s a good-hearted guy, a bit of a bumbler, but tremendously intriguing. Plus he has interesting pets and a garden. I’m cool with all that.

If you had a time machine and could travel to any time and place, where would you go?
I used to say if I had all my immunizations up to date, water purification tablets and Purell aplenty I’d go back to the Renaissance and hope to meet Queen Elizabeth I, Grania O’Malley, and maybe see a Shakespeare play at the Globe. But now? I don’t know. I’m finally starting to like the here and now. Or at least feel like I’m part of it.

What YA book do you wish had been published when you were a teen?
There are actually quite a few. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed Harry Potter then (though I love it now) but I might have connected to The Hunger Games. I loved The Blue Sword and anything else with female heroes.

About Shannon Delany:

Shannon Delany has been writing fiction since she was a child. Inspired by a teacher in 4th grade and the creative endeavors of her parents, she was frequently encouraged to find her voice. First published in 8th grade in a short story anthology, she caught the writing bug for good and used her teen friends as beta readers but it wasn’t until after being a middle school teacher that she pursued writing seriously. She freelanced for magazines and newspapers and then won the first-ever cell phone novel contest in the western world with 13 TO LIFE. An agent and a press release followed quickly and she was snapped up by St. Martin’s Press where she has happily remained through 5 novels in the 13 TO LIFE series and three novels in the WEATHER WITCH series. She also contributes to charity anthologies, has a small heritage farm and a blog talk radio show called BOOKED! with Shannon Delany.


Blog Giveaway Information

Leave a comment on this post, including a method of communication, to be entered to win a mini-prize pack. Contest open internationally. Mini-prize pack includes:

  • a signed mini poster
  • a signed postcard and more story-related goodies

Tour-Wide Giveaway Information

Shannon Delaney will be giving away the following to a few lucky winners:

  • a signed copy of Weather Witch
  • a Weather Witch coffee mug with special goodies (all connected to the story)
  • signed copies of 13 to Life and Secrets and Shadows
  • a handcrafted mask
  • a special metal and crystal bookmark
  • a mini top hat
  • a silhouette of their own profile cut and matted by me (it’ll take a few weeks after getting their profile before I can get it to them, of course).

Just fill complete the raffelcopter below to be entered to win. Giveaway open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry + Q&A + Giveaway!

Pushing the Limits

Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 9780373210497
Pages: 384
Websites:

Rating: 4 Stars

“My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has…welll…issues.  How do you think I am doing?”  – opening line of Pushing the Limits

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that  horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude   and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. Echo and Noah couldn’t be more different, but they find themselves united by a common goal: to sneak into their court- ordered social worker’s case files in order to learn the truth about themselves and their families. What they didn’t count on is falling in love — and now Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.


Oh god, this book. This book gave me all the FEELS. I knew this book would be dealing with some serious stuff but I didn’t expect to feel such a wide range of emotions. I laughed, I bawled my eyes out, and even got angry. So many feelings that I wasn’t expecting.

Pushing the Limits was so much more than a romance story. While the romance was smoking hot, I have to say I enjoy learning more about Noah and Echo as characters and seeing them overcome their struggles more than the romance. Both Echo and Noah are very trouble characters and have dark secrets they have kept buried inside. Katie McGarry was not afraid of tackling the nitty gritty and serious issues, which I really liked. She was able to capture the emotional struggles Echo and Noah were facing so well that I was in tears for these poor, poor characters.

Normally I am not a fan of alternating points of view, one of the characters always seem to come off as weaker or it just does nothing for the plot, but in the case of Pushing the Limits the alternating point of view worked perfectly. I loved getting into both Echo and Noah’s head. The writing helped create these characters who you come to care about and get emotionally attached to. Katie McGarry wrote these fabulous characters and as a reader you were truly was able to get into each of their heads. When a chapter ended and switched characters it didn’t feel awkward, the story flowed and it didn’t feel like head jumping (thankfully!).

Now Noah and Echo, man, I just wanted to give them a hug. And boy, do they need one. Noah is the boy everyone warns their daughters against, but he’s so much more. While he has the tough, bad boy exterior, Noah is one of the most caring, motivated, strong teenagers I’ve seen. Despite all the struggles he’s had to face, like losing his parents and growing up in foster care, he’s extremely dedicated to his two brothers who have been separated from him. Noah’s devotion to his younger brothers, oh god. It was the sweetest thing. The scenes with Noah and his brothers made me tear up so much, I’m not afraid to say it. He loves them so much and will do anything for them. Noah gives everything to those he loves and will do anything to protect those he loves, such an admirable trait. I loved that aspect of his personality so much. I loved how he grew as a character over book. 

And then there is Echo. That poor poor girl. She definitely has it rough. Her father is overprotective and overbearing, she is not allowed to see her mother because of an event Echo cannot remember but left her with horrible scars over her arms. Despite everything, Echo still wants to remember the horrible event that almost killed her and still cares for her mother. Her struggle to learn the truth about that night was hard to read. All she wanted was to know. When she finally learns the truth, I was in tears with her. Like Noah, she grew so much over the story. She was willing to come to terms with what happen and open up to those around her, thanks to Noah. While they might be the two messed up character ever, they were so adorable and perfect together.

The romance in this book was electric. Noah and Echo’s chemistry jumped off the page and you couldn’t help but want them to be together. They needed to be together for each other. But the romance did not define this book. Yes, it might be how they market it, what with the cover and all but it was so much more. The emotional struggles in the book are what really made me love it. The romance was a nice bonus.

If you read one book this year, it definitely should be Pushing the Limits. Its such a great read that captivates you with its amazing characters and draws you in with their struggles. I’m super excited to see what Katie McGarry writes next because she has me next. A companion book staring a secondary character for this book is being published so I’m super excited for that! Hands down, Pushing the Limitis a must read.

P.S. I think these lines from the Broadway show Next to Normal define what Noah and Echo both are ultimately working toward in their struggles: “I don’t need a life that’s normal—/ That’s way too far away, / But something…next to normal / Would be okay. / Yeah, something next to normal— /That’s the thing I’d like to try. /Close enough to normal / To get by…”


Q & A with Author Katie McGarry


Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?
A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s,  I fell in love. Echo,  to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.

Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have un-fortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.

Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The peopleI grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willing- ly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and con- gratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?
A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even strang- er to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

Check out the book trailer!


About author Katie McGarry:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and she remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. Katie loves to visit schools and talk to teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach.



Giveaway Information

I’m giving away one copy of Pushing the Limits. Information about the giveaway is listed below. US and Canada only.
  • Fill out the form below completely!
  • Open to US and Canada ONLY
  • Must be 13 years or older to enter. If under 13, parental consent is required. 
  • One entry per person. Multiple entries will be deleted.
  • Ends September 5, 2012

Blog Tour: Character interview: Tiki from The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Welcome to today’s stop in the Faerie Ring blog tour hosted by the lovely Mundie Moms. I’m super excited to share with you guys an interview with Tiki, the main character of The Faerie Ring! Kiki’s debut novel is in store NOW and I highly recommend you go pick up a copy. To find out more about the blog tour you can go here.

And don’t forget to go to tomorrow’s stop at Girls in the Stacks with a guest post from Kiki. To find out about all the stops on the tour go HERE.



Hi Tiki thanks for being here today. How would describe yourself in five words or less? 

Hallo Dani, thanks for inviting me over. I guess I would say this: sixteen, orphaned, caring, some say clever and perhaps a bit sneaky at times.
Tell us two truths and a lie.
Do I have to tell you which is which? Since you didn’t say so, I think not. Let’s see if you can figure it out.
1. My parents died two years ago and I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle.
2. My mum would tease me as a little girl and tell me I’d been marked by faeries.
3. Rieker taught me how to pick a pocket.
I know you are an avid reader. If you could live in any book, what book would it be? 
There’s a book called Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen, a writer from Bath, that is quite enchanting. Mr. Darcy seems the prig, but in the end is rather charming.
What is one of your favorite childhood memories? 
I used to love when my father would read faerie stories to me. We’d sit before the fire and he’d read out loud. My mother would do her fancy work in a nearby chair and my cocker spaniel, Scotty, and I would sit on the floor and listen. I loved that time.

What is your favorite place in London to escape from the chaos of daily life?
St. James Park is about 15 minutes from Charing Cross. And then beyond that there is the Queen’s Park and Hyde Park. I love all those parks – the trees and the water – it’s like visiting another world.

What is your biggest fear? 
That I’ll be caught and thrown into the workhouse and separated from the others. That I wouldn’t be there to help care for the little ones.


About the book:

The Faerie Ring
Kiki Hamilton
Publisher: Tor Teen
Released: September 27, 2011

Synposis:

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…

Trailer:

Author Interview: Kiki Hamilton

I’m super thrilled to have Kiki Hamilton, author of The Faerie Ring, here on the blog today! If you didn’t know, Kiki’s debut novel comes out TOMORROW and it’s one of my favorite books this year. In order to celebrate the release, I’m devoting most of this week to The Faerie Ring. Make sure to stop by later in the week for a giveaway!


Describe your book in five words or less. 

Victorian London, pickpockets, faeries, mystery and romance.
Who is your favorite character to write? 
 Well, you don’t see a whole lot of her in this book, but I love Larkin. She is so complicated. We haven’t even peeled back the first layer yet.
My favorite time period is Victorian England, the era which the Faerie Ring is set.  What is one of the reasons you were drawn to this era for the setting of the book? 
I love the mystery of Victorian London. The dichotomy of knowledge between great technological advances and the deep belief in mysticism. I also love the idea of not knowing all the ‘facts’ of history – of the untold stories that have either slipped through the cracks or not been told because if they were, everything would change…
What type of faerie myths and lore did you draw inspiration for the Faerie Ring from?
I did a lot of reading of general faerie lore as well as myths from the British Isles. There are parts I like and others I don’t, which is partly why I wrote this book – it was the book I wanted to read, but couldn’t find.
What was your favorite scene to write in the book?
I have to admit one of my very favorite scenes occurs when Tiki is in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace and involves William Richmond and Prince Leopold.  I still laugh at the expression on Leo’s face.
(That’s my favorite scene as well!)
Do you outline or just write and see where it takes you? Did you know the how the series was going to end before you started writing?
I would love to outline, but I don’t.  When writing fantasy I start at the beginning and write straight through. So far, I haven’t even written scenes out of order – and while I know a few things that are going to happen, for the most part I just follow my characters.  Oddly enough, I just finished writing a YA contemporary and my process was completely different. I had a playlist I listened to when I wrote, I wrote the ending when I was only 1/3 through the book and wrote scenes out of order. 
What is harder to write, the first sentence or the last? 
The first sentence changed a few times. The last sentence was always the same.
If you could spend a day with a character from any book, who would it be and why?
I’m probably so predictable but it would totally  be Harry Potter. SO MANY places to explore! Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley,  the Burrow, the Dark Forest…  and of course, there’s magic and flying brooms!
If you had a time machine and could travel to any time and place, where would you go?
Well, it would definitely be someplace in Europe and most likely in England.  When I visited London a couple of years ago we visited Windsor Castle, which has been inhabited by English royalty for 1,000 years. I’ve read lots of stories, and watched lots of movies set in England and as I stood on the parapet of Windsor Castle, in the footsteps of kings, and looked out over England  – I totally got it. It was fantastic!
What YA book do you wish had been published when you were a teen? 
I would have loved Harry Potter at any age and I certainly would have been thrilled to read those books as a teen.
Thank you so much for inviting me over, Dani! 

I want to so thanks so much to Kiki Hamilton for stoping by and providing such lovely answers!

You can find out more about Kiki Hamilton over at her website: http://www.kikihamilton.com. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Don’t forget to check back this week for a review, a character interview and a giveaway of The Faerie Ring!

The Near Witch Sekrit Project + Epic Awesome Giveaway

Today is a very special day. Not only will you get to see me make a fool of myself, but also it is 3 months until a very special book called the Near Witch comes out. The Near Witch is Victoria Schwab’s debut novel and it is AMAZING. If you don’t know anything about this incredible book here’s a little summary:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Sound good right? So, recently a bunch of my blogger friends and I got together to work on a sekrit project to express how much we love the Near Witch. The lovely Danielle B. of Frenzy of Noise wrote us a rap to go along with the book thus the NWsong was born. Now, I just want to say all of us are in no ways rappers so be ready for the giggles.
Thanks to the lovely Erica (The Book Cellar), Gail (Ticket to Anywhere), Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books), Danielle B. (Frenzy of Noise) and Ariane for doing this rap together and thanks to the lovely Jen (The Secret Life of a Bibliophile) for filming it. Now we can all feel like fools together since everyone can see the video now. Just kidding. Making this video was so much fun and I’m glad we can show everyone how awesome this book and video is.
I had the opportunity to ask Victoria a few questions so here they are:
What books do you wish had been published while you were a teen?
I actually think I have been so incredibly lucky because I grew up with HP. Those books literally WERE my teen years, I was the right age, I grew up with them, and they shaped me.

What is your favorite cartoon crush?
Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon. Oh yeah. Old school.
For more questions, visit the blogs of the other members of the NWsong:
Gail – tickettoanywhere.net

Danielle B. – frenzyofnoise.net
And what would be a sekrit project without a giveaway. Victoria is doing an EPIC GIVEAWAY on her blog starting today and each member of the NWsong will be doing a giveaway as well, including some of Victoria’s favorite things. I will be giving away a copy of one of Victoria’s favorite YA books Fire by Kristin Cashore, a heat changing mug and syringe pen featuring Victoria’s favorite TV show Dexterand then a mystery item related Victoria’s favorite scent petrichor.

Along with giving away Victoria’s favorite things I will be giving away a *signed* finished copy of theNear Witch. This prize, however, will not arrive until closer to the publication date since it is being sent out from the publisher and will not be mailed out until closer to August when the finished copies are available.
To enter to win Victoria’s favorite things and a signed copy of the Near Witch, fill out the form below. The contest runs from today, Monday, May 2 until 9PM EST on Saturday, May 7th.
Don’t forget to visit the other members of the NWsong to enter to win some of Victoria’s facorite things along with a signed finished copy of the Near Witch. And don’t forget to check out Victoria’s blog for an EPIC Giveaway as well! And if you do not win this giveaway, on June 2 and July 2, all the NWsong members will be hosting more giveaways to win signed finished copies of the Near Witch.
Links to the other members of the NWsong:
Danielle B. – frenzyofnoise.net

Author Interview with Sarwat Chadda

I’m excited to introduce Sarwat Chadda today on the blog for an interview. Sarwat Chadda is the author of Devil’s Kiss and it’s sequel Dark Goddess out in the United States tomorrow, January 25, 2011. Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess follows the life of Billi SanGreal, the first female in the Knight’s Templar, as she kicks butt out of supernatural Unholy creatures. Sarwat Chadda lives in London. You can visit Sarwat Chadda on the web at http://www.sarwatchadda.com/.


What inspired you to write a series about a modern, female Templar knight?

Firstly, I love action heroes. Secondly, I have daughters, so I thought it would be far more fun to write something inspired by them.
A lot of hero myths centre around a son following in his father’s footsteps. Star Wars of course,  but also in the Arthurian legends and even in comic books, the Batman / Robin dynamic replays this theme constantly.
But hey, what about daughters?
It was far more interesting with Billi being a girl following her father, who is a very macho warrior. Arthur [her father] symbolises the grim, brutal and single-minded male view; it clashes beautifully with Billi’s. The father-daughter dynamic is a found relationship for all girls, and of course is highly personal to me.

In Dark Goddess, Bill and the Templars head to Russia. What type of research did you have to do for this book?

I’ve read about Russian mythology for many, many years. The first draft of Dark Goddess was written in 1994, so this has been a long time in coming. I studied the Russian Revolution at school and politically, Russia casts a long shadow over Europe, so I’ve always had some awareness of it.
But when I knew I was writing Dark Goddess, I went out there and spent a week in Moscow. Nothing beats walking the streets to get that down low feel. I love exploring cities and Moscow is something else. The biggest city in Europe, a very different culture to Western Europe, and the architecture is of a monolithic scale. Since Devil’s Kiss was written in my home city of London, Dark Goddess had to have the same level of detail. I couldn’t just rip my information out of Wikipedia!
The same applies to my new project, which is set in India. I had to go out there to absorb the atmosphere and pick up the minute details that you can’t get any other way. Talking with the locals gives the story far greater depth. I hope to be able to tell you more about that soon.

What scene was the most difficult for you to write? 

The romance, as ever! It’s getting easier but it’s the area I have to work the hardest in. Action, battle scenes and moment of high tension are easy in comparison. Part of the problem is it’s not a genre I’m familiar with. I don’t know how far to go without it sounding cheesy or overly melodramatic. I’m learning it’s more in the small gestures than the grand.
I’m really proud of the scene with Ivan and Billi in the forest. They’re both exhausted, scared and at the end of their endurance. But they share a common past, both isolated and lonely. Billi’s been brought up to be hard and tough, but with Ivan she let down her guard and allows herself to be tender, which is a brand new territory for her.

What was the most difficult part of writing a sequel?

What to cut out. I’d done years, years of background research and there was so much I wanted to put in. I’d read the Master and Margherita by Bolgakov and want to put in a homage to that, I wanted to add Rasputin, more on the supernatural creatures out of Russian myth. The book could have easily doubled in size.
But the story is paramount. My job is to tell the tale as best and as economically as possible. It’s my style, I suppose. There’s a risk that an author’s vanity gets in the way of telling the tale. That must be avoided at all costs! Readers and editors will see it immediately and it will kill the story stone dead.

If you could live anywhere during any time period, where and when would it be and why?

I’m pretty keen on the 1960’s. The music, the fashion and the excitement of politics, the Kennedys, King, Malcom X and the Civil Rights movement were something I studied years ago. I’m a huge Sean Connery fan so it would have been cool to have been part of that period when Bond was all fresh and new. How awesome it would have to see the Beatles and the Stones at their peak? Plus the moon landing. Even now I get an electric thrill watching it.
I love the Mad Men series, so it would have been great to be suited and booted in that era.

What book do you wish had been published when you were growing up?

My first answer would have been His Dark Materials but I wonder if I would have enjoyed it as much as a child, maybe not. In which the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeves. Steam-punk terminators, kick-ass heroines and the motion cities. It’s the best, most original fantasy world I’ve come across since Tolkien and the characters are incredibly vivid. Reeve’s combines the grand scale with the personal perfectly. My favourite kind of tale.

What is your favorite part about being an author?

The writing and the sense of freedom launching into it. There are no limits. I love history and fantasy, so I feel I can go anywhere I want. I’m no limited to writing domestic kitchen sink dramas or by budgets. I write want I want, I write what I love. No matter how bad the day’s been, once I enter the story I am lost. It’s so clear in my head, so real, it’s a whole world I have to explore. An infinite number of dimensions open up before me. It’s an immense privilege being able to earn my living this way. I know how lucky I am.

Thanks so much Sarwat!! Come back later this week to enter to win finished copies of Dark Goddess in stores tomorrow!