“A complication just showed up. Mmm, a beautiful complication.”
Juggling assignments and missing her old life inBritannia Beach, Derian Lafleur’s first year at university has beenoverwhelming to say the least. A sun-filled, all-expenses-paid, springbreak getaway with her best friend, Sophie Sakamoto, is exactly what she needs. Or so she thinks…
Until the last person in the world Derian expected to see shows up at the Acapulco resort, and her already stressful life suddenly becomes a million times more complicated. When the girls’spring break takes an unexpectedly dangerous turn, they find themselves lost and injured in the Mexican wilderness, and Deri is the only hope they have for getting out alive. If only she can figure out what to do next.
I read book 3 immediately after ‘What are the Chances’ because I wanted to see what happened to Derian and Trevor. You won’t be disappointed if you’re a romantic but this story has lots of surprises and adds suspense and drama to the romance and self-development of the previous books. The Britannia Beach series is worth reading and book 3 provides an exciting and satisfying conclusion.
Now at university, life is a little ordinary, Deri and Trevor are together but Deri is still unsure of her place in his life, although he is number one in hers. A surprise invitation leads to reunion, unexpected danger and a maelstrom of emotions for Deri. Friendship and love are centre stage in this story and it’s often poignant.
The ending is suspenseful and well written and a perfect ending to a lovely young adult series.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Dystopian Cinderella tale aimed at the Teen and Young Adult market. Told from America’s point of view, one of the selected, this portrays a young girl’s emotional journey, in rather unusual circumstances.
This is an introductory novel and mainly catalogues the first part of America’s journey as a ‘selected’. She is a likeable character, mindful of others feelings but definitely a free spirit. The other girls in the story have interesting personalities. There is a love triangle of sorts, which I guess will be explored later in the series.
This book has been around for four years and has attracted a phenomenal amount of very mixed reviews. Whilst, I’m not engaged enough to read anymore in the series, if you enjoy a modern day take on fairy tales with a definite dystopian setting, this should appeal.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins- Children’s via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.
A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around.
Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy.
Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war.
The story’s vivid imagery draws the reader into the world of London’s street gangs. Sean Harker has many commendable qualities, despite his criminal intentions and is an easy anti- hero to identify with, whatever your age but particularly for the intended late teen, young adult audience.
This is a hard-hitting story. The reality of Sean’s life as a gang member is often sordid but when his luck runs out, the chance to start again beckons but will he survive it? The scene setting of the first few chapters is so important for the rest of the story, as Sean’s new life collides with his old with alarming consequences.
Although Sean makes some questionable choices and friends, these illustrate his naivety, despite his former life as a gang member. The plot is simple to follow but the strong characters make it exciting and page turning and Sean is definitely a character who could have more adventures in future books.
‘Street Soldier’ is great storytelling with a realistic edge. Fast paced action with a true hero and an overriding theme of hope, whatever the challenges.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
‘Did you miss me?’
Returning home to Britannia Beach a year after her life was shattered is bittersweet for Derian Lafleur. Although some things settle back into place, others don’t click like they used to…especially her friendship with Trevor Maverty.
Derian suddenly wishes the boy next door would see her as more than just a kid sister type. She tries to be everything she thinks he’s looking for— bolder, more experienced – but is that who she wants to be?
With the fate of her family’s historic inn on the line and Trevor making life more complicated by the day, Derian struggles to manage her unexpected feelings, and deal with a past she’s not quite ready to leave behind.
Derian returns home a year after her father’ death, to find some things always stay the same, whilst others are subtly different. Derian has a gift, which confuses her. She matures emotionally in this story, as she accepts past tragedy, copes with change and discovers her inner strengths.
Romance or the lack of it dominates Deri’s life. Finding it where she least expects, leads to mixed emotions and false starts. When she accepts who she wants, they are annoyingly reticent.
Deri’s friends and family are interesting, realistic characters, who bring Britannia Beach to life. The language and heat level are appropriate for the intended readers. The ending completes this chapter of Deri’s young life but leaves un- answered questions for the next book in the series.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Now Available in Paperback
Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen
reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically “unfriend” her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns what modeling is really like, how to deal with frenemies, meets a new crush named Vladi, and that a true friend see you for who you really are and likes you
because of it.
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem,
fitting in, frenemies, the celebrity world, values, and self-image in True Colors and Best Friends…Forever? Landry in Like, Next Door to a Star and Competing with the Star. Best
Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen
& Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction and True Colors is an international bestseller. Her work has been
featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal,
the Bellbrook Times, the Grand Haven
Tribune, and on the talk show Living Dayton.
Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.
But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.
Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.
Science fiction and dystopian stories are not my usual read but ‘Flawed, aimed at young adults is compelling. Celestine is seventeen. The story she tells is both innocent and horrific. The shocking events depicted in this story, are implied, rather than graphically described, making it appropriate for the intended audience. The society she lives in has strict moral rules that divide the population into ‘flawed’ and ‘perfect’.
The characters are complex and the world building realistic and vivid. The ideas explored in the story are not new, but the interpretation of them is original and well written, giving this story a wide appeal. The plot appears simple initially, but as the story progresses there are lots of twists and reveals that make reading the sequel to ‘Flawed’ a must. You need to know what happens next to Celestine.
I received a copy of this story from Harper Collins Children’s books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Did a specific event or person motivate you to become a writer? Can you tell us what happened?
As a primary school teacher, I once taught a class of 6-7 year olds. They were at an age when their baby teeth would become wobbly and fall out – often during the school day. They used to love telling me about it although it did drive me a little crazy at first. It got me thinking as to what a tooth fairy might do with the teeth, but as there were a few tooth fairy books out already I didn’t pursue the idea. But I couldn’t leave it alone so decided to put a different spin on it all using teenagers in the main character roles.
Are you a full time or part time writer?
Having taught in primary schools for 20 years, I am now happy to say that I write full time. Before, I worked through the day and early evening making it difficult to find time for writing. I had to squeeze in time after marking each evening which could result in very late nights. Weekends were wonderful though and meant I could find a little extra time during the days to write. I did try getting up very early to write, but that didn’t work for me. I’m just not a morning person.
What are the three best things about writing for you?
Tricky question as writing brings so much to writers. Okay…
I love how the stories in my head start to come to life as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard. Breathing life into a new character is so amazing. It’s great to see just how much they develop as the plot unfolds.
Writing brings me a great feeling of accomplishment. I was never an ‘A’ student at school so it gives me so much pleasure when my books are read and enjoyed. To think that the crazy characters in my head are being let loose on the world feels so good.
Being a writer is a somewhat lonely profession, but it has actually opened up a great social network for me. I belong to the SCBWI which means I get to talk to other writers about what I’m doing and attend numerous events where I can meet agents, publishers etc. I’m also a lively participant on Twitter where I to chat to other paranormal writers mostly, but also take part in YA chat hours.
You write books for children and young adults, what made you pick these genres?
Because I worked in a primary/elementary school, writing for children seemed a natural start to my writing career. I was able to try out my ideas on my target audience each day and they gave me great feedback. It wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, but that’s the whole point and it made me reconsider some plot points and refine my character development.
I had read a lot of young adult books and wondered if it was an age range I could move into. I’d always wanted to write a ghost story too. I thought it might be too scary for an MG audience, but not scary enough for adults so YA seemed to be the right range. In a way it was a gamble, but the story has been received well by the target audience. And because my previous MG readers are now older, they are forming a fanbase for my YA books.
Can you tell us about the books you have written?
I have three children’s fantasy novels published for the 8-12 year range although I have sold a lot to teenagers and adults. In fact, my oldest reader for these books is in her sixties! They are stories about a group of stroppy teenage tooth fairies and how they try to save their world.
Here’s the blurb for the first book:
Aggie Lichen faces the same dilemmas as any other thirteen year old; what to wear, how to keep out of trouble at school. But while other thirteen year olds are doing their homework or settling down to watch T.V., Aggie flits from house to house in search of prize pilps. That’s where Aggie is a little different. You see, Aggie Lichen is a pilp collector – a tooth fairy!
One nightsgritch – a tooth collecting evening – Aggie is attacked by a bright, mysterious light. Is it just a low flying glow worm or a bad tempered giant bluebottle? Or, as Aggie and her gang suspect, is it something more sinister?
Unknown to them, Aggie and her gang have just thirty days to solve the mystery and save their kind but time is not on their side … neither are the Sprites or the Grublins …
I also have a Tween/YA paranormal novel out, Marvin’s Curse. It tells the story of a 17 year old boy who has inherited the gift of speaking to ghosts from his dead dad. Here’s the blurb for it:
How would you handle the dead?
After losing his dad, 17 year old Marvin finds he can see and talk to the dead, an inherited ‘gift’. Bonus, you might think, but Marvin hates it. It makes him different and he just wants to be ‘normal’. He meets Stella in the graveyard that backs onto the house he’s just moved into.
‘My name is Stella, Stella McCartney. It says so inside my trousers.’ (!?!)
A mysterious business card reveals that Stella has lost her memories and all signs point to Moghador, a gateway to hell where a pawnbroker holds the answers. Oh, and she’s dead!
Do you follow a set process to write your books? If so can you share it with us?
Not really a process as such. I tend to jot down ideas in a kind of mind map and add to that when other things come to me. I scribble notes as I go in a carefully selected notebook for that particular book. I’m very much a person who just writes things down when watching TV or in the car (not driving, of course!). I usually write the first draft, have a read through then move on to structural editing. For the first time, I’m using an editing workbook (Darcy Pattison – Novel Metamorphosis) to try and improve the process by using the exercises suggested. I have used a freelance editor for all my books to ensure that I haven’t missed any issues before the books are unleashed on the world.
What’s your favourite time of day to write? Why do you enjoy writing at this time?
I prefer to start writing around mid-morning. I’m not a particularly early riser and need a few cups of coffee before I can begin. It’s a time when I feel most awake and able to tackle the writing challenges of the day. I’m quite happy to write early evening too depending on where I am in my story. If I’m at a difficult part, I like to press on to see if I can solve the issue, if not, it waits until the next day – after the coffee though.
Do you have need to be alone to write?
Yes, if I am at home and I need quiet too. I like to keep the door shut on my study to keep any form of noise out. This can often be my dog barking for attention or music blasted out by my husband. But I also enjoy writing in cafes on cruise ships which is a complete contrast as there can be around 2000 people at any time on these ships.
Do you have a favourite writing space?
I write mostly in my study which looks out on to trees and greenery. It has a firm chair which means I have to sit up straight and focus. In a softer seat I tend to slouch and fall asleep… zzzzzzz!
What are you writing at the moment? What do you plan to write this year?
I’m currently editing another YA book, The Iron City. It’s kind of a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hunger Games – with dragons. In the book, it falls to a geeky teenage girl, Rae, to save the world from dragons. Here’s a snippet!
‘I am George, the original George as in George and the Dragon?’ said George, taking a Peter Pan stance. ‘And this is my trusted friend, Ascalon.’ He pulled a small wand like stick from his pocket. ‘…the dragon slaying lance.’
Rae stared hard at George then transferred her fierce look to the stick/lance he was holding. Then she burst out laughing. ‘Oh, please! George and the Dragon?’ She fell back against the tree. ‘Are you for real?’
George shook the stick several times. ‘It does that sometimes. It gets stuck. I think it’s all the crap it’s collected over the last few hundred years.’
‘Oh my god. You’re still talking, George,’ said Rae. ‘And it’s still just a stick. Look!’
Today I have author Krysten Lindsay Hager on my blog, talking about her books, writing and her writing plans for the rest of the year. Krysten writes young adult and teen novels. It’s lovely to have you on my blog today Krysten.
How did you become a writer? Do you write full time or in your leisure time?
I started out as a journalist and was writing fiction on the side, but now I do fiction full-time. I’ve been writing stories all my life and I think that stems from daydreaming a lot in class back when I was in grade school.
You write young adult and teen stories, which emphasise family values and the importance of friendship. What made you want to write in these particular genres?
I took the advice of, ‘You should write the book you’d want to read,” and went from there. I loved reading YA when I was a preteen and teen and those were the books I turned to when I was going through difficulties in my own life, so I kind of want to give back to the genre and do for someone else what amazing writers like Paula Danziger, Ann M. Martin, and Judy Blume did for me.
Can you describe your writing process if you have one?
I don’t have a regular process, but I edit as I go because it helps me get back into the flow of the story.
Can you tell us a little about your latest release ‘Competing with the Star’, part of your ‘Star series’? Are there going to be more books in the series?
Competing with the Star deals with Hadley Daniels having her first boyfriend and all the insecurities that go along with that especially when his ex-girlfriend is still interfering and then finding out he once had a huge crush on teen TV star Simone Hendrickson—who just happens to be their neighbour and who is also into him. I put myself into Hadley’s shoes and imagined how I’d react if I found out my boyfriend now had a chance with his dream girl.
I’m finishing writing the follow-up book to it which will be titled: Aligning with the Star. There are some changes coming up for Hadley as she gets a chance to meet and be in a music video with her rock star crush. Can you imagine meeting your crush and he’s everything you imagined and more?
How important is writing in your life? Why do you enjoy it?
I can’t imagine not writing—it’s just what I do. I’m lucky to be able to have five books published, but even if I never got published I would continue to write. It’s a way to express myself and to help others deal with feelings they are having as well.
Do you have a dedicated work space? Can you describe it for us?
I do my writing on a desk that is usually littered with pages that have been edited and need to go into the computer along with toys and little presents people have given me which cover the surface.
How important is an author’s social media presence? Do you have a favourite social media platform and why?
I think it’s a great way for readers to be able to connect with writers. I enjoy it. I love getting messages and comments from readers. I’m on all the social media sites.
Have you a favourite author, book or genre that you like to read?
I read a lot of non-fiction—lately I’ve been on a real non-fiction kick. I have been reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s work this past month. I lost my dad a few months ago and I tried grief books and honestly, those made things worse and I found her books to be helpful in dealing with my grief.
Apart from writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I like reading, shopping, watching TV and sports, and traveling—I can make anything into an adventure! Going for groceries? Let’s make it fun.
What’s next for Krysten Lindsay Hager?
I am finishing my book Aligning with the Star and also working on another teen novel that’s part of my Landry’s True Colors Series. In this one, Landry goes to New York City for a modelling job. I’m also working on a
new adult novel.
The perfect guy, the perfect location. What could go wrong?
Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect…
Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams—Nick Jenkins. He’s the kind of guy every girl swoons over, and it isn’t long until Hadley discovers some are still swooning.
A famous ex-girlfriend makes matters more complicated…
After some time dating, Hadley and Nick form a deep bond. But insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson.
The past is the past—or so they say…
Hadley confronts Nick, who confesses about his history with Simone. Though he claims to only have eyes for Hadley now, it’s hard to believe—especially when she’s blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school.
Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth. Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs soap opera drama when you’re busy competing with a star?
Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.
THE WAY TO HER HEART by Amy Reece
YA Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Will a mysterious disappearance bring two broken hearts together…or tear them apart?
No amount of counseling can bring Josh Harris back to his old self.
After a tragedy that changed his life forever, eighteen-year-old Josh has lived in a year-long fog of medication and confusion. It’s all he can do to not think about his dad—a culinary genius who raised him in the kitchen. Thankfully, Josh inherited his golden palate and sixth sense for cooking, which is the only thing that makes sense anymore.
For a seventeen-year-old girl, life can’t get much worse…
Bernie Abeyta is a senior in high school and lives with her drug-addicted mother, but has managed to keep her grades up so she can get into college. With her father in prison and her mom’s sleazy boyfriend getting too close for comfort, Bernie turns to her best friend Gabby Rodriguez for help, but discovers Gabby has gone missing. Distressed over her friend’s sudden disappearance, Bernie resorts to living out of her car while she looks for answers and tries to avoid foster care.
Part love, part mystery, part cookbook—and all heart.
During economics class, Josh finds himself captivated by his new project partner, Bernie. As they grow closer, he insists Bernie move in with him and his mother. Furthermore, he offers to help look for Gabby.
Bernie refuses to believe Gabby ran away, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery—no matter how great the danger to herself.
Will Bernie’s gritty life be too much for Josh to handle? Or will he fight for The Way to Her Heart?
Thrown together by a school project, social opposites, Bernie and Josh share a background of pain and heartbreak, from different causes. Told through two points of view, the reader gets to see how the emotional attachment between Bernie and Josh grows, experiencing their ups and downs.
Bernie is a lovely character, who like so many teens today, comes from a background of abuse and neglect. Revealed in a poignant but not graphic way, this story is perfect for the intended age group.
Recovering from a devastating loss Josh withdraws from the world until Bernie’s needs force him to live again, to help her. His special talent gives the story authenticity and draws Bernie into his world. The recipes at the end of the book are a lovely touch; I was hungry all the way through this story.
The suspense element could be stronger but there is enough mystery and menace to add an interesting dimension to the story. The characters complexity and development make this enthralling and I loved the supernatural twist.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
She cut her hair. Josh realized he was staring at the girl in the next row and pulled his gaze back to his notebook as the teacher droned on about supply and demand curves. I don’t care for short hair on girls. Yet he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He didn’t even know her name. On Friday her hair had been long, the silky black tresses reaching below her shoulder blades. Today, he could see the back of her neck. He could see how long and slender it was and watched as she reached around to feel it, seeming surprised, perhaps still unused to the short cut. She pushed the long front layer behind her ear. The purple streak is kind of cute, though. He once again forced his gaze back to his notes, reminding himself that he had a girlfriend; a beautiful girlfriend with long blonde hair. Focus, Harris. Get your mind off the pretty girl with the short hair. She was pretty. He’d always thought so, even though he didn’t know her name. He’d heard it; wasn’t it something weird? Enough! Supply, demand. That’s all you need to think about.
“So, for the next few weeks you will be paired up with one of your classmates as we launch a new project designed to help you experience some of what it takes to create and stick to a household budget.” Mr. Griego picked up a stack of index cards from his desk. “I have created a scenario with careers and incomes for each couple. Some of you have children, and some don’t. Every few days you will get a new financial situation you have to deal with. Each week of this project will be the equivalent of one month for your budget. You will turn in a complete six month budget, along with a written report at the end of the project. Each couple will also give a five-minute oral presentation.” He started calling names and handing out index cards. There were groans and titters of laughter as the names were called because some of the couples were same-sex. “Josh Harris and Bernie Abeyta.” No one in the class said anything or laughed at the pairing. Josh wasn’t surprised; he had pretty much fallen off the radar over a year ago. He stood and walked to the front of the room to retrieve the index card.
“Who’s Bernie Abeyta?” he asked quietly. Great. I’m paired with a guy. Just what I needed.
The girl with the short, purple hair raised her hand. “Me.” She sounded bored.
“Okay. I’m, uh, I’m Josh.” He stood in front of her desk, awkwardly shifting from side to side.
“Yeah. I’m Bernie.” She glanced up quickly, meeting his gaze, then looked away.
“You have the last fifteen minutes of class to exchange contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, whatever you need to get in touch with your partner. Most of the project work will need to be on your own time as you will need to visit grocery stores and do some online research,” Mr. Griego said.
Josh sat down in the newly vacated desk in front of Bernie. “So.” He waved the index card. “One of us is a teacher and the other is an attorney. Which do you want to be?”
Bernie shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter to me. You choose.”
He looked at her, a half-smile on his face. Close-up he noticed that she had beautiful, smooth, light-brown skin and her eyes were so dark they looked black. She didn’t wear much makeup; she didn’t need to. “Fine. I’ll be the teacher. You can be the attorney.” She looked up quickly. “Is that okay?”
She shrugged again. “Sure. It doesn’t matter. Do we have kids?”
“Yeah, we have two: an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. So, I guess we should exchange phone numbers and email.” He scrawled his information on a page of his notebook and tore it out, handing it to her.
She took the page, staring at it blankly for a moment before tearing a piece of paper out of her own notebook. “Here’s my email.”
He looked at it. “What’s your cell number?”
“I don’t have one. Just the email.”
“Oh. Okay.” Josh had never heard of anyone his age who didn’t have a cell phone. “So, do you want to get together tonight to get started on this? We could meet at my house. Or yours. Whatever you want.”
“Yours. Here.” She pushed the paper back at him. “Write your address. I have to work until seven. I can be there around seven-thirty. Is that okay?” She didn’t meet his eyes.
“Uh, sure. That’s fine. Here.” He handed the paper back. “Do you need a ride or anything?”
“Oh. Great. So, I’ll, uh, see you tonight. I guess.” He had never been so tongue-tied around a girl.
“Yeah.” She turned her attention back to her notebook, clearly dismissing him.
Josh returned to his seat, chagrined. I seem to have lost my touch. Then again, he hadn’t really been trying very hard for a long time. He used to be much better at this whole thing: friends, girls, talking. Now he simply didn’t have the energy anymore. It was October of his senior year and he was biding his time until he could graduate and move on with his life. She’s really pretty, though. He groaned inwardly as he packed his notebook and shouldered his backpack. He knew he had no business noticing how pretty his new partner was; he should be thinking about how gorgeous his girlfriend had looked in her cheerleading uniform that morning during the pep rally. She was beautiful, sweet, and had stuck by him through a seriously dark time in his life. He had really been phoning it in lately with Kayleigh. Jeez, he could do better. He merged with the flow of humanity in the hallway, determined to do right by her, starting tomorrow at lunch.
Here’s my interview with Amy, who was great fun to interview.
Have you always enjoyed writing? Why do you enjoy it?
I have definitely always enjoyed writing, but for many years I was focused on academic writing as I did two master degrees back-to-back. I don’t know why I did that. It was one of the more idiotic things I’ve done. Can you say stress? Fiction is so much more fun! As to why I enjoy writing, I guess it must be because I feel like the puppet master when I create my own stories. I can make everyone do whatever I want (insert maniacal cackle here) until the characters rebel and do his or her own thing.
Did any one person or event make you decide to write? If so, can you tell us why?
This is a bit of a mixed bag. There were two events really: NaNoWriMo and my youngest daughter leaving for college. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2013, which was also the year my youngest chick spread her wings and flew away to college in Texas—10 hours away from her momma! We won’t talk about how I was filling a hole with writing, but I wrote the first (terrible) draft of ‘Seeker’ that November and discovered I LOVED to write.
What influenced you to write Young Adult (YA) stories? You have written a YA paranormal series and now a YA romantic suspense. Which genre do you prefer and why?
I started writing YA because I was doing NaNoWriMo with my high school English class—I am a teacher in my day job—and I wanted to write something I would feel comfortable with them reading. Plus, since I spend every weekday in a high school, I have lots of great material! I really enjoyed both genres—paranormal and romantic suspense—and don’t have a real preference. I approach my projects through the characters and whatever seems to need to happen in their lives is what I write. Sometimes that’s paranormal and sometimes not. So far everything I’ve written and am writing includes a mystery, however, so I think that is where my strongest preference rests.
Do you have a writing den? Can you describe your writing space?
Part of me really wants to describe my dream writing den, which I will someday create in the spare bedroom, but honesty compels me to tell the truth. My writing den (I’m sitting here now) is the left half of the love-seat in my family room. It is a huge brown love-seat (Hagrid would love it) that I can curl up in with my laptop. I have a side table piled high with books, notebooks, heating pad, lip gloss, nail polish (for writer’s block), and whatever I happen to be drinking at the moment. Right now it’s a chocolate/peanut butter/banana protein shake. The health kick will almost certainly be over by noon and will never make it to the workout stage.
What’s your favourite time of day to write? Or, do you just write when you can?
I’m almost certain my favorite (notice my American spelling as opposed to Jane’s British—so much fun!!!)time of day to write is smack in the middle of the day, but my silly day job insists I teach impressionable young minds at that time. So I write in the late afternoon and evening. I’m fairly disciplined about it, which is surprising since I’m not disciplined about anything else.
Your paranormal series looks really exciting, can you tell us a little about it and the inspirations behind it?
Thanks for saying that! I, of course, agree. Like I said before, I start with characters and then see what kind of adventure they need to have. ‘The Seeker Series’ really started with Jack’s character and the inspiration behind him. I had a student a few years ago very similar to Jack—he returned to high school after dropping out and making some really questionable choices—and I admired him for his determination to turn his life around. I wanted to have my hero struggling against a bad-boy image and find a special girl who bothered to look deeper. Ally’s character was inspired quite a bit by my youngest daughter. She shares Ally’s vegetarian disposition as well as her sometimes snarky outlook on life.
What about your latest book, what’s that about and why did you decide to write a romantic suspense story?
‘The Way to Her Heart’ was inspired by another student who, like Bernie, found himself homeless for a large portion of the school year. It’s really tough to care about grades when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep that night or what you’re going to eat. Josh’s character was inspired by yet another student whose father died very suddenly in the middle of the year. Horrible things happen to kids and they are expected to move on and continue in school, getting good grades, etc. As to why it became a romantic suspense—I don’t know. I always gotta have a mystery.
Have you written any other types of books, or do you plan to in the future?
I have a featured story on Wattpad right now that is a YA romance called ‘Like Wildfire’. It’s a modern take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (I did say I’m an English teacher) and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a mystery, but it’s much more romance-oriented. My oldest daughter (also a high school English teacher) is working on revisions of it right now and we hope to turn it into a series called Shakespeare High or something like that.
My two current works-in-progress include a prequel to The Way to Her Heart—the love story of Josh’s parents—and an adult contemporary romantic suspense. It is my first foray into non-YA writing! Woohoo! I have no idea what I’ll do about the sex scenes. My mother reads everything I write, so…
I know you love reading, what do you read to relax?
I absolutely love Regency romances. There. I said it. Some day I’ll write one of my own. I also love just about anything by Nora Roberts. And Julia Quinn. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be one of those writers that people say, “Ooh! Another one by Amy Reece? Who cares what it’s about? I’ll read anything by her.” Dream big!
My tastes are pretty eclectic and I never know what I’ll be reading next. I’m also reading my BFF’s NaNo novel, The Red Boots, which is fantastic and she BETTER finish it! Limitless would love it.
What do you consider are the best things about being a writer and why?
The creative freedom is definitely amazing, but I also love all the writer friends I’ve made since this crazy journey began. Who would have dreamed I’d be answering author interview questions to be featured on Jane Hunt’s blog??? I love reading my fellow author friends’ books and talking to them about writing. This is a great community and I’m honored to be part of it.
All that is great, but never underestimate the power of holding your own book in your hands and knowing people—strangers—are reading and talking about your book. I had a book signing at Barnes and Noble on Saturday and a young girl came up to my table and picked up Seeker. She grabbed it purposefully and handed it to me to sign. I was a bit surprised and asked her if she’d read the back and knew what it was about. She said, “Oh yeah. I already know. My teacher told us all about it.” Wow. Just wow. And, no, I didn’t know the teacher. It was soooo cool.
I definitely agree with you there Amy that’s lovely. Thank you for such an entertaining interview, I really enjoyed it. 🙂
Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She believes red wine and coffee are the elixirs of life and lead to great inspiration. She is the author of The Seeker Series (YA paranormal) and The Way to Her Heart (YA romantic suspense).