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Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?
This was actually my first time writing Young Adult. Part of why I was drawn to it in this case was a few years ago, likely ten years since I’d started the series, I finally read the last book in the Rainbow Boys trilogy by Alex Sanchez. I was also watching Teen Wolf at the time, and between the two, it made me think of one of my favorite movies growing up, My Best Friend is a Vampire. All of those things together created Life as a Teenage Vampire, my newest novel. I was also very inspired by my teenage readers, those who read my adult books and my fanfiction online. I’ve become very active on Tumblr the past few years, and engaging with the younger side of fandom has been very rewarding for me. It definitely inspired me toward this book, and their response to it so far has been wonderful. There’s a part of us that is always our most vulnerable teenage self even when we’ve long since graduated high school, filled with insecurity and the need to belong. I love delving back into that mindset and pulling out something positive for the next generation.
Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?
Emery would have a poster inside the door for the Spring Play since he has one of the lead roles; a tacked on piece of paper to the outside of the door that says ‘If you see someone talking to a wall, they’re probably in Speech; a smattering of photographs of him and his friends, particularly him and his best friend (and love interest) Connor, who would likely be showing off his newest prosthetic arm design; a very organized stack of books so he can switch things out for classes quickly and not carry everything in his backpack; and the aviator sunglasses Connor gave him for when he’s feeling particularly sensitive to the sun.
What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
Time Windows was one of the first books that really drew me in and caused the rest of the world to fall away. It had time travel, parallel dimensions, a ghost story – everything I love – with a protagonist who had just moved to a new town, which was just like me at the time. I also started reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles when I was 12. Anything horror was my bag, and I had a serious love of vampires. It amazes me that this is the first time I’ve actually written a vampire story.
,br> What would you write in a letter to your teen self?
Every year you will feel happier than the last. Power through, be thankful, don’t settle for that special someone but don’t be afraid to accept the right one when they do show up, and listen more than you talk. Take a breath. Take another. Always be open minded and listen to other people’s stories. Especially if you disagree with them.
What superpower would you love to have? Why?
I’ve often said I would want pyrokinesis, because I am a fire girl through and through, but to be honest, I’d love Mystique’s power to change my appearance at will. I change my hair all the time, different styles and colors, change my glasses constantly, love getting new clothes – even when playing video games, one of my favorite things is getting new armor – and being able to just will myself to look how I wanted each day would save so much money and be loads of fun, especially when it comes to wanting to cosplay.
What book is on your nightstand currently?
The Bell Jar. I never read that title in high school. I read Catcher in the Rye, and mentioned to a friend recently that it was one of the few mandated books in high school that I enjoyed (other than Shakespeare, which I loved). She said that if I liked that I’d love The Bell Jar because it’s similar but from a female perspective. I’m halfway through…and I despise it to my very core. So I have to finish it. I don’t feel it right for me to criticize something unless I’ve given it it’s fair shake, so I’m going to see if it gets better, see if the protagonist has any redeeming qualities. If not, I may have my new most hated novel of all time, and I never thought anything could beat out my hatred for The Great Gatsby. Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?
Neither. I do not like either of those series. And while I love Harry Potter, if I had to throw out another series to trump those two, for me the best Young Adult series I ever read was The Dark is Rising. I bring up Harry Potter because The Dark is Rising in some ways was Harry Potter forty years before Harry Potter. An eleven-year-old boy discovers he’s actually from a magical race on his birthday and embarks on a journey to save the world. It’s fantastic, to this day one of my favorite book series. It has a sort of Narnia feel to it as well, but with Arthurian legend, which I’ve always been a sucker for, as I adore fae lore. It has rich characters, amazing action, and truly inspired ideas for magic. Twilight for me had too bland a protagonist and too abusive a romantic relationship. It didn’t do vampires the way I like my vampires, as someone who grew up on Anne Rice. And Hunger Games has a very unlikable protagonist to me, and dystopian has never been a genre I enjoy reading.
Favorite TV show from your childhood?
Choosing one is tough, because I was such a TV child, but I think I have to say Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was just on the cusp of being a teenager when it started airing, and it ended my senior year of high school, so it really was my young adulthood beginning to end. I laughed, I cried, I got angry. I mourned characters, and felt something truly inspiring and fulfilling when it ended. It’s one of the few shows that has a (near) perfect ending for me. The humor, the relationships, the clever writing, and well, use of vampires and so many things I love, it really encompasses childhood for me, especially since I loved the original movie as a child too.
Who was your teenaged crush? Why?
The actor Jonathan Brandis. There’s always something bitter sweet about remembering him, because he very sadly took his own life when he was only in his late twenties, but he was one of my first and longest lasting crushes. First in Neverending Story 2, then older in SeaQuest, and even later as the voice of Mozenrath for the TV version of Aladdin. He just captivated me in everything he did. He could play hero, villain, and burdened hero equally well, and had this mischief about his smile that drew me in. I really mourned his passing, but I try to remember the ways he impacted my life in how he brought characters I loved to life.
Favorite class in high school. Why?
Senior Year, AP Literature and Composition. So many reasons. The teacher, Mr. Krall, was a favorite of any student who had him for his humor and energy. We read some of my favorites, like Shakespeare, and were encouraged to read novels of our own to do papers rather than just the usual fare the school pushed. I also had already aced my AP test for Language and Composition the year before, and since my college of choice would only accept one English AP credit, I didn’t have to take the test for Lit and Comp. It took the edge off, and allowed me to just enjoy what I read and wrote that year.
Check out this excerpt:
It was a trick. Emery had made it all up, knowing that the details would lead Connor to vampires. These were just Halloween fangs. Connor wasn’t really hypnotized into submission; he was just stunned, believing his own crazy imagination. He’d longed for years to have Emery this close, after all, crowding him into a corner, lips descending. He’d just imagined them descending a little closer to his mouth, though his neck wouldn’t be so bad…
…if not for the sharp sting, the breaking of the skin and rush of blood sucked out of him so fast he felt dizzy, and then—wow.
It didn’t hurt at all. It felt like Emery was tucked into his shoulder intimately, fully aware of the pleasant buzzing he caused in Connor’s gut every time they touched. Connor had dreamed of this, imagined it just like this, and felt lulled by Emery’s body being so close, and the way he shivered feeling those lips on his skin. He almost thought he heard Emery’s soothing voice whispering affirmations he’d always wanted to hear.
“Em…” Connor breathed out, barely audible.
The room was dimming, but he felt cozy where he was. His arms were limp and heavy as he lifted them to pull Emery closer, feeling the soft fabric of the sweater against his somewhat numb right palm. He pulled tighter, twisting flesh and plastic fingers alike in the fabric, pulling…with the faint sense that he should be pushing instead.
“Em…” he choked out like a whimper, like he was crying. Why was he crying? This was everything he’d ever wanted…
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