Welcome to Worlds of Wonderment Susan, it’s great to have you here!
You’re book Something Strange and Deadly releases later this year. Can you give potential readers a rundown?
It’s 1876, and Philadelphia is hosting the first American World Fair. It’s also hosting rancid corpses that refuse to stay dead. When one of those decomposing bodies brings Eleanor--a 16-year-old with a weakness for buttered toast and Shakespeare quotes--a hostage note for her brother, she resolves to do anything to rescue him. But to face the armies of Dead that have him, she’ll need a little help from a rag-tag ghost-fighting team called the Spirit-Hunters.
Is Something Strange and Deadly going to be part of a series? If so, what do you foresee for the series?
Yes, Something Strange and Deadly is the first book in a planned trilogy. Book 2, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, leads Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters to Paris, and book 3 takes them to Egypt.
Can you describe your main characters in five words?
Do you mean a sentence of five words? Or five adjectives? I’m going to go with the latter. ;)
Eleanor is brave, overly curious, too impulsive, hungry-for-carbs, and fiercely loyal. Okay, that was WAY more than five... Sorry!
What do you think sets Eleanor and Daniel apart from other YA couples?
I think they’re different because they aren’t necessarily meant to be together. There is no love-at-first-sight, soul-mate love between them. In fact, they aren’t even remotely interested in each other at the start. Their romance is a gradual thing...but even in books 2 and 3, there’s a lot standing in their way--specifically themselves and their own emotional readiness for love.
What makes a swoon-worthy rogue attractive and why do think we swoon over these rogues?
Ah, it’s the arrogant charm. A good ol’ Han Solo or Howl makes me go weak in the knees. There’s just something about their self-confidence...and also their tendency toward sarcasm. The key is figuring out which rogues are actually worth being with and which are just self-centered jerks. ;)
Is there a song that you think encompasses Something Strange and Deadly? Why does it fit your book?
For Something Strange and Deadly, it would be “Septimus” from the Stardust score. It’s just full of tension, and I can so vividly see Eleanor and Daniel running for their lives as they flee a dynamite factory on the verge of exploding!
Was there one defining moment when you realised you wanted to be an author?
Well, I wanted to be a writer when I was growing up, but when I went to school to study creative writing, I wound up sidetracked by marine biology. But when my husband and I got engaged, we realized if I continued to pursue science and he continued to pursue engineering, then we would be apart for many, many, MANY years. At that point, I decided to re-examine that old life goal of mine. But this time, I was older and willing to approach it without the rose-coloured glasses of childhood. This time, I was going to approach it as a profession. And...well, that’s what I did!
What has your journey been like to become published?
It was definitely not what I expected! When I started querying, I was actually on vacation and barely had access to the internet. I figured I wouldn’t hear from any agents for a while, so I sent out my queries and then went to the south of France for a week…only to get my first offer of representation a few days later! I can’t explain to you how stressful that vacation was.
A few weeks after I signed with the amazingly fantastic and astonishingly wonderful Nancy Coffey Literary, I became an official HarperTeen gal!! :)
Honestly, I feel like my luck with SS&D all boils down to two things: how much I revised the book before I even began querying (I totally over-revised! But maybe my perfectionism paid off…er right?) and timing. The premise for Something Strange and Deadly was exactly what my editor was looking for at that exact moment, so it was all very “stars aligning”.
Is there one thing you wish you had the talent for (besides writing)?
Oh goodness yes! There are so many things I wish I had a talent for--long-distance running, playing an instrument, promoting myself. ;) But if I had to choose one skill I really, really wish I had, it would be drawing. Being able to sketch the characters in my head or draw out a scene--that’s something I would love to be able to do.
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