Interview with YA Author Frankie Brown

The book!

Until We End

It’s been nine months since the virus hit, killing almost everyone it touched. Seventeen-year-old Cora and her little brother, Coby, haven’t left home since. Not after the power cut out; not even after sirens faded in the distance and the world outside their backyard fence fell silent. But when a blistering drought forces Cora to go in search of water, she discovers that the post-apocalyptic world isn’t as deserted as she thought when she meets Brooks, a drop-dead sexy army deserter.

Fighting their way back home, Cora finds her house ransacked and Coby missing – kidnapped by the military for dangerous medical experiments in the name of finding a cure. Brooks knows exactly where Cora can find her brother, except he says it’s a suicide mission. Cora doesn’t care. But Brooks can’t let her go…

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The questions!

How long have you been writing?

I’ve always written, but I’ve only had my mind set on writing novels for about two years.

What’s your writing process?

Stare at blank screen -> panic -> browse Twitter -> stare at blank screen -> browse Tumblr -> panic -> turn internet off -> write.

I wish I was kidding! Writing anxiety is a very real problem for me, so my “writing process” sometimes resembles a slow-burn panic attack. But when I have a plan (when I know exactly what I’m doing with a certain scene), nothing’s better than writing. Preparation beats anxiety every time.

What sparked the idea for this book?

I was watching a lot of Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic channel last year. The people on this show were all convinced that world was going to end, and they’d prepared for it. Some of them were clearly a little crazy, but most of them were brilliant. And then I started wondering… what if one of them was right about the world ending? That’s what sparked UNTIL WE END.

Did you know how the book would end when you started it?

Nope! This goes back to my “writing process.” I tend to figure out each scene, and how the scene will impact the plot, as I go. So when I got to the ending, it was a big Oh! moment. And I think it’s more fun to figure out how a book ends the same way a reader will.

Which character are you most like?

This is an interesting question, because it’s like asking, “What kind of person would you be if the world ended?” And I think I wouldn’t handle it well. In a lot of ways the apocalypse brought out the best in Cora, my main character, because it emphasized a protective instinct toward her brother, Coby. She had to be strong for him. I think I wouldn’t be like that.

I’m most like one of the antagonists in UNTIL WE END, Lu. The challenges of the world ending brought out the worst in her, but she’s really not much different than Cora. They just reacted to the same set of circumstances in very different ways.

If your book (or MC) had a theme song, what would it be?

I love this question! “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM. I imagine that if my book was a movie, that would be the song playing over the credits.

What’s your favorite line/scene in the book?

The first line: “Dad always knew the world was going to end.”

Was there anything (e.g., the introduction of a character or plot twist) that surprised you when you were writing?

Every plot twist was a surprise to me because of the way I write. And I really like being surprised. That’s all I’ll say!

What are you working on now?

The sequel!

The author!

Frankie Brown writes, sells and hoards books in Athens, GA, a funky little town famous for its music scene. But, as anyone who’s ever heard the fruits of Frankie’s musical endeavors can attest, her talents lie elsewhere. She’s turned her creative energy to crafting stories and can typically be found hunched over a keyboard in her neighborhood coffee shops.

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Interview with NA Author Jen McConnel

The book!

IsobelLou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.

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The questions!

How long have you been writing?
Forever! I loved writing poetry and stories when I was younger, but in college I wandered away from creative writing (despite being an English major). I started seriously writing fiction almost six years ago.

What’s your writing process?
I’m a total pantser when I draft; I attack a new idea and worry about editing later. I also like to have more than one project going (at different stages) at a time; I rotate between them, using revisions on book A to take a break after drafting book B. My editing process is really drawn out, and actually involves outlining and other planning; I can spend years revising!

What sparked the idea for this book?
In 2007, I traveled to Scotland, and while I was there, the history (particularly of the witch trials) fascinated me. I didn’t plan to write a book about it, though; in 2009, when I sat down to my first NaNoWriMo, this story began to take shape.

Did you know how the book would end when you started it?
Not at all! I love it when my characters surprise me!

Which character are you most like?
Each of the characters shares something with me, but they are each distinctly different, too. I guess in my early twenties, I was most like Tammy, Lou’s best friend: loud, driven, and a bit oblivious to other people.

If your book (or MC) had a theme song, what would it be?
Hmm. I guess I’d have to say “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles. 🙂

What’s your favorite line/scene in the book?
That’s a tough question! Without giving anything away, I really love the last line: “But secrets do not stay buried forever.”

Was there anything (e.g., the introduction of a character or plot twist) that surprised you when you were writing?
So many things, but lots of them are plot spoilers. I guess one of the biggest surprises was that the book ended up becoming a mystery; that’s one of my favorite genres to read, but not one I ever thought I’d write.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on revisions to the sequel to ISOBEL, coming out early next year. It’s so fun to revisit these characters!

The author!

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.  Her debut NA novel, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, is coming December 2013 from Bloomsbury Spark . Visit http://www.jenmcconnel.com  to learn more.

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