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Friday, February 10, 2012

An Interview with Indie Legend Laura Eno

Today we are very lucky to be able to bring you an in-depth interview with the stellar writer Laura Eno. Laura is the author of the amazing Realms of the Red Rabbit and several other books for young adults.

The first big questions burning a hole in my mind are:
Where did you get the idea for the Red Rabbit story? Was Dante an influence?

Although there are a few Alice in Wonderland references, Dante was my main influence for the story. Not many people caught that, though. His version of Hell fascinates me. I like the darkening shades of gray—the punishment fitting the crime, so to speak.
As for the idea behind Red Rabbit… I can only say I grew up an avid reader of science fiction/fantasy and it punched holes in my brain. Now stories leak out of it.

Do you have a classical education? What is your background that you use to draw upon in your writing?

In college, I took every English literature and composition course I could find, reading everything from ancient Greek stories to Shakespeare, as well as mythology.
In regards to Dante, I had a stern, librarian-type professor who asked for a synopsis of the book. I presented mine in the form of an epic poem. She was not amused. I still have it, though!

Yes I think that is what impressed me the most, your very powerful and original imagination. Even though the story concept is familiar the elements of the story are so fantastically unique. Which brings me to my next question. Regarding your writing process, are you a meticulous planner? Do you create moral needs and revelations, identifying and separating needs with desires and weaving it all together under a design principle? Or Do you just let the creative juices flow and the story and characters develop themselves as the plot unfolds? I.e. a planner or a seat of pantser?

Other than knowing how I want the story to end, I'm pretty much a pantser. My imagination runs in an unbridled fashion as I write. I will jot down notes of future scenes as they come to me but I don't outline, except for a few bullet points. I've tried planning before but it kills the story. I used to design jewelry the same way—strictly free-flow, without a pattern.

So we know your background in literature, and some of the influence that sprung from that have been examined in two of your great stories we have reviewed previously. But what about modern influences? Who do read and aspire to emulate? Who are your writing role models? Are there any Indie Authors in the list?

Actually, I try very hard not to have role models per se, as I'm afraid of losing my own voice by emulating anyone. Some of my current favorite authors include L. K. Rigel, Lauren Oliver, and Maggie Stiefvater.
I would say that 80% of all books I read these days are Indie Authors, so I'm definitely influenced by the Indie trend. The wide variety of imagination and genre blending by Indies step outside of the rigid protocol of legacy publishing and that's a refreshing thing to me. Indies charge less for their books as well, making it affordable to feed my passion for reading.

In terms of your own writing Laura, do you think it's important that your stories have a message for your readers? In the realm of the red rabbit there is a clear tone about the consequences or amoral behavior, the moral code isn't as clear in tempest child, however. In other words do you like to write fun and exciting stories with a definite message?

I do like messages, but I've changed it some. Whereas in Realms of the Red Rabbit it was about amoral behavior, in Tempest Child the message is about believing in yourself and making the hard choices. YA is a hard market to compete in with the current popularity of vampires and werewolves, neither of which I write, so I've chosen to take my message in a more positive direction—softer, if you will.

It's also been amazing to see the polarizing effect Red Rabbit has had on reviewers. They either love it or hate it, with poison arrows slung at my "repetitive plot device." I suppose those people don't like Dante either.

Being an indie often means going it alone, being cut off from the powerful marketing machine of big publishing house like penguin and random house. It is especially difficult for those of us who write for younger children. Whilst older teens have twitter and Facebook and even credit cards, most Tweens don't, and many aren't aloud on the Internet at all. How do you reach out to your audience and engage with them? How do you get your message out there and get heard against the white noise of today's Internet?

Word-of-mouth is still the biggest marketing tool out there, even for the big publishing houses. Unlike twenty years ago, if you're a mid-list author with a big house today, you only get one chance to prove yourself and your book before they dump you. An author has to be proactive in social media, no matter how they're published.

Getting reviews and interviews on blogs geared toward the appropriate age group is vital, which means a lot of research and contacting on the author's part. There are also happy surprises, like when you picked up my book! I've found that the lasting friendships made over the internet are special to me—not only as an author, but in a personal sense as well.

As far as tweens go, this last Christmas saw a huge jump in ereader sales, many of them now in the hands of tweens and even younger children. It's a trend that will continue and make it easier to connect with that age group…or at least with their parents.

What are you working on now? Can you tell us about it? Why will we want rush out to buy it as soon as it hits the eShelves?

I just published a YA fantasy called My Enchanted Life last month! Its 'theme', if you will, is acceptance—of others, of oneself, of looking beyond the surface, of making the most of your destiny within the confines that you're given and accepting the things you cannot change. It's also fun!

Here is the blurb:

An American teen finds herself thrust into a world she never knew existed in England's magical community of Wode Gate. While dealing with gnomes, a cranky dragon, murder and mayhem, Emma tries to cope with her unwanted duties as Sentinel and fights to get back home again.
She finds that things aren't always what they seem, people aren't who they pretend to be, and someone wants her dead. The king of the underworld wants her too, but he may be the least of her problems as Emma struggles to control her powers—while losing her heart to a demon.

I love high fantasy! Dragons and Gnomes, sounds exciting I cant wait to have a look. 

Since the world of publishing has been opened up to virtually anyone with an idea and a computer, there are now many more aspiring young authors. What advice do you have for the next generation of young people out there?

Some people will tell you to write what you know, which I think is ridiculous. I would change that to write what you love. It's the author's passion that will come through the story. Having said that, it's imperative that a writer learn the craft. Get your story edited as well. Nothing kills an indie's chance for success like a poorly edited story!

Keep writing, no matter what. It's your tenacity that will cause you to succeed. Don't treat writing as just a hobby.

That's some great advice for all our aspiring young and talented writers out there! Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I'd like to thank you, Dale, for taking the time to interview me and featuring it on your blog. The same goes for the book reviews you've done. A lot of time and effort goes into those and I appreciate it.

I am humbled and honored each time a reader chooses one of my books out of the millions available. My hope is to continue to entertain people with my words for many years to come. In this age of ereaders, the possibilities are endless! Thank you all for sharing a few moments of your time with me.

Thank you Laura for taking valuable time out of your writing to connect with your devoted readers! I'll be checking in from time to time to check out your newer creations as time goes by, I'm sure we will see Laura's fantastic book on here again soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shadow Rising by Jamie Sedgwick

Jamie has shared the cover art from his upcoming new book Shadow Rising. The sequel to the Shadow Born that we reviewed here previously. 

I love the bold orange colour of the sun, in contrast to the menacing blackness of the castle and surroundings. The small airship in the background looks cool too. Hinting at a lot of movement in the story again I guess. Jamie is such a talented story teller I can't wait to see this book launched. Wont be long now. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Shadow Born by Jamie Sedgwick

Blurb: When Gabriel appears on a dark and stormy night, he seems just like any other twelve year-old... except for the scars that cover his back and the fact that he has no memory of his past. The wealthy couple who rescue Gabriel promise to help him find his parents, but their mysterious behavior soon leads him to wonder if they really are who they appear to be.

Review by Dale:

I love adventure stories, I remember the excitement I felt when I first saw the Indiana Jones stories back when I was a kid. It was a thrill a second as the story smashed one high-action scene into the next. It's all terrific and thrilling stuff.

It's always difficult, I think to maintain that kind of momentum in a story. It can also leave you feeling drained as you saunter out of the movie theatre at the end of the show, having emphatically experienced all the action as you ducked and weaved in your seat right along side Indie.

So it is with Gabriel, as he lurches from crisis to crisis. You barely have the time to digest the development of the story before it carries you off to another part of the world to once again fight evil in a hopelessly outnumbered capacity. Unreliable weapons, double agents and an almost unbeatable enemy. What more could a young boy want in an action story? No kissing, not even a forlorn look between characters. So if you are well tired of romance or just want an old fashioned thrill a minute ride, then I suggest you try this, the first book in the Shadow Born Trilogy.

Format: eBook
Available from Amazon
Link to Download: Here
Price: $0.99c (at time of review)
Word count: Unknown
Author: Jamie Sedgwick