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How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake Blog Tour | Author Interview + GIVEAWAY!

Hey, y’all! It’s Lila! Today I’m so happy to welcome Ashley Herring Blake to the blog to have a conversation with me on diversity and her sophomore novel, How To Make A Wish! Ms. Blake is also the author of Suffer Love, which was released in 2016! Stick around to read our conversation and you’ll also find a giveaway at the end! So let’s dive in…

Ashley Herring Blake Interview

Hello, Ms. Blake! I’m so happy to welcome you here today on The Bookkeepers’ Secrets and to have a chance to speak with you! Your much anticipated second novel, How To Make A Wish, is released on May 2, 2017 and I’ve seen so much praise for it already! I, myself, along with many of my readers are really anticipating the book! So let’s dive right in!

1. To start off, can you give us the simple elevator pitch for How To Make A Wish?

Oh, I am so awful at these, but I’ll try! A girl must decide if she can break free from her toxic relationship with her mother while navigating friendship and falling in love with another girl. Eh? I don’t know, I told you I was awful at these. ☺

2. Diversity is a big issue in the community at the moment and How To Make A Wish is an incredibly diverse story, as well an #ownvoices book. Why do you write diverse books and why do you think they’re important?

Well, I’m not even sure I’d say I write diverse books—I just try to write books that reflect our world. Diversity is our reality. It’s not a trend or a marketing ploy—it is our world. I want to write inclusively because I want to provide readers with opportunities to find themselves. That being said, some stories are not mine to tell. I very much believe in #ownvoices stories and, as a bi woman, those stories will always be the ones I gravitate toward to tell for my main characters. I often write in first person, and I don’t think that being in the head of a person with whose experience I could not even beging to communicate well is my story to tell. However, I do believe in writing characters that reflect our world, which why, I try very hard to include characters who are not only cishet-white-abeled-neurotypical. And, in doing so, I see that as a vast responsibilty to do no harm and to do the work to create a relatable, multi-layered character.

3. One of the things that has me, a multiracial reader, excited for the book is some snippets I’ve seen concerning a biracial character that I really identified with. I’ve also seen other bi/multiracial readers who received ARCs say that the rep was incredible. In writing a biracial character, you were writing “out of your lane” (writing characters whose identity and/or heritage you don’t share) yet you’ve managed to write the rep so well and in such a way that many of us (bi/multiracial people, that is) can agree and identify with the character. Given this, what is what do you think it is that allowed you to write something that rings true for so many of us that are bi/multiracial, even though that was/is not your experience?

Ha, well, I answered a bit of this in the question above, but honesty, in writing Eva, I had a LOT of help. I had several biracial readers check her, I listened when biracial people talked on social media, and I strived to give her a backstory and a current struggle that felt real and multi-layered. I’m so glad that she resonates for biracial readers—I can’t even express how glad—but I absolutely have to send myriad shout-outs to my first readers, as well as those who are generous enough to share their experiences on social media and blogs.

4. There’s obviously a diversity of experiences within a marginalized group of people. How do you make the story you’re telling such that if people can’t relate to every aspect of it, they can at least empathize with and respect the story you’re telling?

Well, it’s true that one story cannot be all things to all people. However, I think that, as human beings, if I’ve done my job correctly, people should be able to find something, some nugget of truth or detail, to which they can relate, as you said. Specifically writing a bisexual character, I know that Grace’s experiences is not going to be all experiences. Her experience wasn’t even my experience. She knew she was bi at 14! Oh, the envy! It took me almost twenty more years to figure that out for myself. However, the ways in which I did figure it out are very similar to how Grace did. And, again, a lot of that comes from listening to other bisexuals talk about their experience. As you said, no identity is a monolith, and there are problematic views and opinions even among marginalized communities. I had to be on the lookout, personally for internalized biphobia! I had five bisexual readers on this book to double check Grace. But, when it comes down to it, I think writing a character to whom people can relate comes down to two main things: 1) Listen to other people of that identity, even if it’s your own identity. Just shhhhh, and listen. 2) Write a damn good character. By that, I mean, I have to do my job as a writer which means creating multi-faceted characters who feel real. If I do that, I think reader will be able to find something to relate to.

5. Let’s take a break from heavy questions and have a bit of fun! If your characters were transformed into animals reflective of their personalities, what would they be and why?

Great question! Grace would definitely be a cat. She’s a bit prickly at times, but also cuddly when she wants to be. Luca would absolutely be a puppy. Eva, I picture as a cheetah—graceful and lithe.

6. What do you hope readers take away from How To Make A Wish?

That sometimes, being selfish is the only way to survive. By that I mean, sometimes you have to choose yourself before you choose anyone else and, by doing so, tha is loving someone.

About How To Make A Wish

book cover.jpegAuthor: Ashley Herring Blake

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, GLTBQIA

Synopsis: All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

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About Ashley Herring Blake

AshleyAshley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

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April 26

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Becca @ Lost in Lit– Review + Favorite Quotes

April 28

Boricuan Bookworms– Guest Post

April 29

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Afire Pages– Guest Post

May 1

Vicarious Bookworm– Review + Favorite Quotes

May 2

Daffodilsreads– Review + Favorite Quotes
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INTERVIEW WITH KENDARE BLAKE + GIVEAWAY! | Three Dark Crowns Blog Tour

Hey y’all! Boy oh boy, do I have something special for y’all today! Today, I’m happy to have Ms. Kendare Blake, author of the Anna Dressed in Blood duology, the Antigoddess trilogy, and the upcoming Three Dark Crowns, here on The Bookkeeper’s Secrets! Shall we get rolling?

The Interview

Hello Ms. Blake! My readers and I are so happy and super ecstatic to have you here on The Bookkeeper’s Secrets! I know that, personally, your upcoming book, Three Dark Crowns, is one of my most anticipated releases of the year, so I am very excited to get to talk with you! So without any further ado or fangirling on my part, let’s get this show on the road!

So really quickly, can you tell us what Three Dark Crowns is about?

Sure! Three Dark Crowns is about triplet queens on a magical island. Only one can wear the crown, and in their sixteenth year, two must die so the third can be crowned. Which sister will rule?

What was the inspiration behind the story of Three Dark Crowns?

A swarm of bees, actually. They were in a tree at a book event, and I started talking to a beekeeper. Hey, what’s that ball of bees doing up there anyway? And she said they were protecting their queen, who was snuggled in the middle of the ball as they look for a new hive. I said, What happened to the old hive? And she said that the old queen had probably laid four or five queen eggs, and when the new queen daughters hatched, one would murder the others and take over. I loved that idea. On the drive home, the concept that would become Three Dark Crowns was born.

Did you have a favorite aspect of Three Dark Crowns to write?

I really loved writing the poisons, all the poisoned food, etc. I love to write food! It was also a lot of fun to create the three cities, and the cultures within the three dominant gifts of the island. But my first love is character, and these girls and women managed to surprise me several times, which is always a pleasure.

What do you hope readers take away from Three Dark Crowns?

I hope they have fun with the scheming. All the scheming and the plots. I hope they enjoy the matriarchal aspect. I hope they find a queen (or several) to worry about J

What made you fall in love with writing?

Reading! I was a reader first. I read so much as a kid. Voraciously. Spent hours in bookstores as a teen, and in the library as an elementary schooler. The world of words has always been my second home.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Being able to write! To live these stories that find their way through my fingers onto a page. The act of writing feels pretty damned magical, at least when it’s going well. Like channeling. Like I’m along for the ride, Bastian Balthazar Bux trying to keep up with a tale that’s really happening in some other dimension. That probably sounds kind of hokey but what the hell.

What are some of the challenges you face as a writer and how do you face them?

Challenges, let’s see. Well, there’s the dreaded middle of a manuscript. And there’s juggling story vs what you think readers want or expect, and there’s the pressure to stay in the game and continually write better and better…but in the end the story is the story, and you just have to get through that manuscript middle, and you can’t predict reader expectations/desires because they differ with practically every reader (individual tastes, ftw) and pushing yourself should be exhilarating. So…you just have to do what you can do.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Read, read, read, and write, write, write. Learn to finish something. That’s important. Whether it be a short story or a novel, learn to finish.

Now on to the fun portion! First off, can you describe Three Dark Crowns using only song titles?

Shadowboxer, Fiona Apple. Caught a light sneeze, Tori Amos. Breath of life and Ship to wreck, Florence and the Machine.

You come across your main characters at midnight. What are they up to?

Arsinoe is practicing blood magic. Katharine is petting her snake, Sweetheart. Mirabella is running along the cliffs, calling down lightning to illuminate the sea.

If you were to plan a road trip in the world of Three Dark Crowns, what would be your must see stops?

The Breccia Domain, in Innisfuil Valley. The Black Cottage at the base of Mount Horn. The capital city of Indrid Down, with a special tour of the Volroy (the queens’ castle). I would want to buy clothes, jewelry and glassworks from the elemental city of Rolanth. And I would want to have lunch at Wolf Spring market.

If you could give one gift to your readers, be it physical or otherwise, what would you give them?

Oh wow, how much power do I have? What can I bestow? And it would depend on the reader, because some gifts could turn some readers evil. I could accidentally make a villain. Like, you wouldn’t want to give just anyone the power to teleport. I can think of certain readers right now who would so abuse it in and out of bank vaults.

But I suppose if I was to give one gift to all readers, it would be one day in Hogsmeade. The real Hogsmeade. Because I’m a genie in this scenario, right?

That’s all! Thank you again Ms. Blake!

 More About Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

unnamed-2Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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More About Kendare Blake

unnamed-1Kendare Blake is the author of several novels and short stories, most of which you can find information about via the links above. Her work is sort of dark, always violent, and features passages describing food from when she writes while hungry. She was born in July (for those of you doing book reports) in Seoul, South Korea, but doesn’t speak a lick of Korean, as she was packed off at a very early age to her adoptive parents in the United States. That might be just an excuse, though, as she is pretty bad at learning foreign languages. She enjoys the work of Milan Kundera, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bret Easton Ellis, Richard Linklater, and the late, great Michael Jackson, I mean, come on, he gave us Thriller.

She lives and writes in Kent, Washington, with her husband, their two cat sons (Tybalt and Tyrion Cattister) and their red Doberman dog son, Obi Dog Kenobi.

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Cargo Blog Tour | Interview With Jen Castleberry And GIVEAWAY!

I’m so super excited to have to opportunity today to interview Ms. Jen Castleberry, author of Cargo! Definitely check out this awesome book, guys! Let’s jump right in!

Interview

1. Hi Ms. Castleberry! Thanks for stopping by my little patch of internet today! So what were some of the inspirations behind Cargo?

Thank you for having me! Cargo actually began as a fun side project in the midst of another piece I was working on. It was just meant to be something quick and fun, something to reenergize my creativity, but it took on a whole life of its own!
For inspiration, I drew on my own introspective experiences as a teenager. Cass is a character I identify with closely. I think, if I were to face Cass’s world at her age, I would carry a lot of the same insecurities, I would make the same choices she makes and perceive things the way she perceives them. The emotional baggage that accompanies such an abrupt change of pace is something I can relate to. So I pulled a lot of inspiration from my own flaws and my own tendencies, especially those that were identifiers for me when I was a young(er) person.

2. If you had to choose three songs to describe Cargo, what songs would you choose and why?

Your Heart Is an Empty Room, by Death Cab for Cutie. This song makes me think of Cass as a child, the young version of her that we meet in the prologue. In the midst of the assault, all she wants is to abandon the hostility of her household and find a friend. There’s a certain sense of liberation in being chosen for bunker life. She’s disparaged her home for so long, and she’s certain that a better life must await her elsewhere.
When the Morning Comes, by A Great Big World. This song makes me think of Nathan. He’s someone we’ll get to know quite a bit better in book two, but I think we see enough of him in book one to make an estimation of his character. He’s someone who keeps moving forward, no matter what ensnare him. He’s courageous, and he’s a protector, but he’s not someone who will save a person who could just as easily save themselves. In his own subtle way, he insists that Cass be courageous, too.
This song also calls to mind the budding romance between Nathan and Cass, how it’s blossoming in spite of her hang ups about him, and how it’s stunted, too, by the way she thinks he’s mistreated her. She hasn’t got a broad enough perspective, yet, to understand that he’s been giving her opportunities to be brave.
Thistle & Weeds by Mumford & Sons. This song has such a dark tone, and yet, it talks about holding onto hope in the midst of death. For me, it calls to mind Cass’s desperation and her sorrow, wondering what’s happened to Nars wondering if he’s made it out of the desert alive, and knowing that no amount of hope will provide the answers she seeks. She’s living in a world where life and survival are exceptions to the rule. The likelihood that Nars has either been killed by the sun or murdered in the caves is a difficult thing for her to face. The most she can do is hope that he’s okay, or be swallowed up by her suspicions and all of the associated despair.

3. What astrological signs are your characters?

I love this question! It’s a bit tricky to choose, since so many constellations have full-fledged backstories of their own!
For Cass, I chose Europa, a pretty girl stolen from her home and given three gifts by her abductor: a guard to protect her, a dog to feed her, and a weapon to aid her in battle.
For Nathan, I chose Pegasus, a winged horse born of something beautiful and something monstrous, a brave helper who once made his rider feel utterly victorious, and a creature who spends its time fetching the instruments requested by Zeus.
For Adrienne, Callisto, a beautiful nymph whose love for her family nearly destroys her.
And for Nars, Centaurus, a wonderful friend and a terrible coward whose selfish, exclusionary tendencies backfire, leaving him to suffer the endlessness of immortality alone.

4. It’s midnight. What are your characters up to?

Adrienne’s probably searching for someone to snuggle with. She’s eternally one half of a whole. She’s not meant to be alone.
Nars is kicking a wall somewhere. Contentment will never come easy for him.
Cass is creeping through the launch station, and Nathan is watching her.

5. If you could ride Disneyland’s The Whirling Teacups with three of your all-time favorite authors, who would you choose?

Carl Hiasson. I spent a long time trying to mimic his style, before I learned to be proud of my own. He’s so clever and silly. Anyone who can write sixteen different characters and near as many competing and interweaving plot twists and maintain utter clarity is a genius; there’s no debating it.
Jane Austen. She’s a master of the understated romance and of thought-provoking, social-change-enacting humor.
Lauren Oliver. Her characters are so endearing, and her world-building is so vivid, maybe the Whirling Teacups will shake some of her talent into my hand!

6. What do you hope readers take away from Cargo? Any particular message or experience?

The Reservation Trilogy, as a whole, takes on a profoundly familial theme. We’ll see it repeated in new ways over the course of the next two installments. In book one, we get to experience the bond that Adrienne and Cass share, and that was a very special relationship for me to write, having two sisters of my own. I hope readers turn the last page on Cargo with a sense of just how impactful a friendship can be, whether it’s the friendship shared by siblings or spouses or schoolmates. Friendship is such a powerful force in the midst of self-discovery . It shapes us, but we shape ourselves, too, and I hope readers see that in Cass. She’s figuring out who she is, and who she wants to be, and she looks to Adrienne for courage and inspiration even though circumstances have separated them.

 

Thanks again to Ms. Castleberry for stopping by! If Cargo sounds like something you’re interested in, read more about it below and stick around for the giveaway at the bottom!

 

About Cargo (The Reservation Trilogy #1)

0342958f-1b77-4df0-85e3-66528ee0b28dThe earth has been reduced to a singular continent, governed by extra-terrestrials, collapsed by nuclear weapons residue and wracked with radiation sickness. Only one viable territory remains, and access there is restricted by a mysterious selection process. Everyone hopes to be chosen for transport. Everyone but Cass.
Seventeen year old Cassidy Hartinger has spent the past eleven years living in a government-maintained bunker. She should be thrilled when a handsome transporter arrives to take her to the Reservation. So why does she feel like he’s dragging her, kicking and screaming, straight into the anti-paradise?
Faced with gun-wielding survivalists and elemental catastrophes, will Cass make it more than two steps out of the bunker? Will her journey to peace and safety in the Reservation turn out to be the most perilous thing she’s encountered so far?
Fast-paced action and a tumultuous teenage romance will keep readers begging for more installments of The Reservation Trilogy!

About Jen Castleberry

dd70ebbd-2901-4e8a-a593-532713935bc8When she’s not writing, Castleberry works full-time as a Veterinary Assistant at a local animal shelter.
Her affection for all critters, large and small, comes home with her at the end of each day. She frequently lends her house and heart to homeless animals in need of foster.
Her own clan of silly creatures include an Akita, a Basset Hound, a Maine Coon, and of course, her active-duty husband.
At twenty-seven, Castleberry hopes to soon realize a life-long dream of writing professionally.
The first installment of her YA debut series premiered in January of 2016.

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Interview With J.A. George, Author of Gifted!

Heya my lovely bibliophiles!

I’m back at it again with the wonderful Ms. J.A. George! Today we’ve got another exciting post in store for you–AN INTERVIEW!!! I know, I know. I’m excited too, but I’ll try to keep the squealing to a minimum! Before I begin, let me mention the Ms. George is going to be holding a giveaway on her blog  www.thejourneyofgifted.co.uk when the paperback version of Gifted is released, so definitely check it out! Now without any further ado, let’s get to the really, really exciting part: my interview with Ms. J.A. George, author of Gifted!!!

First off, can you give us the “quick pitch” of Gifted?

It’s about a nineteen year old university student who meets a woman a little on the strange side, and then meets a young man a little more on the stranger side. These meetings lead to the eventual discovery of Hayven – a city separated from the rest of the world where only those with gifts can go. She makes an eclectic bunch of friends, who, even though I’m biased, are just awesome. But Hayven has its dark side and they’re called Cliders; gifters turned rogue, Cliders are determined to see Hayven return to the way it was one thousand years ago when the city was under Madrina’s dominion.

Very cool! So what was the inspiration behind Gifted?

I suppose you could say, people. My characters are ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts and I believe that is what everyone is. Our gift doesn’t have to be supernatural! Just something we have or can do that makes us different and you’d be surprised to know how many people don’t think they have one.

What was your favorite moment of Ava’s development, where you just felt like cheering her on?

This published version of Gifted is my second edition and in my first edition Avery was completely different. I tried to write a novel and a main character that would make everyone happy, until I realised that was impossible. After two years, I made the decision to write for myself. Long story short, Ava was a bit boring, in my opinion, because I was trying to follow trends I’d seen before, trying to fit her into too many different boxes. So I chose to simply make her into a character I’d want to meet. Now, I just love her. She makes me laugh a lot. I hope she’ll make you laugh too.

Are there any specific characters in Gifted that you feel particularly connected to?

Probably Ava – my main character. I don’t know what it is about her, but I just connect with her the most, probably because of all the changes she’s gone through.

What is your favorite “deleted scene” that didn’t make it into the final cut of Gifted?

I don’t have one! During the editing of my second edition I took a lot of scenes out because I didn’t like them very much and I hated reading them over. Now, there isn’t one scene in my novel that I don’t like reading over! There are a few scenes that I wrote for book one that I’ve taken out to put in book two instead!

What made you want to be a writer? Have you always been a writer or was there a moment you realized it was a passion and the profession for you?

I just wanted to live my life being able to say, “I don’t work”. I don’t ever want to see my life defined by “work” and for me, writing isn’t “work”, it’s too enjoyable for that. You know what they say, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

I’ve always loved to write, but before I decided to become an author, I didn’t see it as something I could do as a future career; being an author isn’t exactly a financially stable job. But one day, I said goodbye to my carefully structured future plan, (more about that here, if you’re interested: http://www.thejourneyofgifted.co.uk ) sat on my bed, opened up a blank Word document and typed out a few lines. It was after those few lines that I brought myself a black journal and briefly planned out the storyline of all four books in the series. And the rest is history…

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or authors who inspire you?

Roald Dahl! I’ve only realised recently that his theme of extraordinary things happening to ordinary people (for example, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, George’s Marvellous Medicine) is something that has subconsciously stuck with me for many years.

What are some struggles you’ve faced as an author? How did you overcome them?

Writing for myself. My first edition of Gifted was not a book I wanted to read, but a book I thought would sell better. I remember starting this novel because I wanted to read a contemporary YA fantasy novel, but every now and again, I’d add things or take away things based on what I thought readers would and wouldn’t like, regardless of my feelings towards it. It resulted in a book I wouldn’t have picked up in a bookshop. My second edition is exactly the way I want it; it’s a book I would not only pick up in a bookshop, but a book I would buy and read over and over again. I’m so happy with it and I can now only hope that readers are too.

Is creativity something you have to be in the mood for or is it something you can just tap into?

Hmmm, I’ve never thought of it like that. I’m always thinking about Gifted – always! So I don’t feel as if I’ve had to tap into it. I’m not always in the mood to write, but when I’m not I won’t force myself. I just wait until I want to write again and it usually doesn’t take very long! Or I bribe myself with chocolate. That method gives incredibly fast results.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers, young and old?

Just keep writing. If you’re serious about being an author then I’m afraid to say you have no other choice. Life, eh?

What message do you hope readers take away from Gifted?

That there is something in each and every one of us that makes us different and discovering what that is tends to lead to a happier life.

What a beautiful message! Thank you so much Ms. George for the wonderful interview!