Category Archives: Interviews

Tea Time! With IMAGINARY GIRLS and Nova Ren Suma

Hey lovelies,

I’m busy typing away on VAGABOND PUPPIES (not real title) while I wait for edits on THE ARCHIVED (real title), and planning the next giveaway (it’s hard because it’s the Fourth of July, and I don’t know how many people will be online) but today I have a treat for you!! Nova Ren Suma, author of the beautiful IMAGINARY GIRLS, has stopped by to say hello, have a cup of tea, and answer some questions.

Let’s give her a warm welcome! Settle in with tea, coffee, cookies, or whatever you have on you, and enjoy :)

1. Give us the essence of IMAGINARY GIRLS in as few words as possible.

A surreal story about the love held and secrets kept between two sisters.


2. Tell us a bit about YOU.

I’m a big sister. I have a baby sister, Laurel Rose. (I also have a younger brother, Josh, and younger half-siblings.) To understand me, you’d have to know that I’m the big sister first. This is why I can be protective, why I worry, and it’s also why I’m such a loner. I was the oldest and had to try everything first—and I didn’t have anyone older to look out for me. So I got used to doing things on my own and hated asking for help. But if my baby sister needed something from me, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

3. The journey is different for everyone, so much so that I don’t think there is a normal path to publication. Give us a glimpse into yours: How long did it take to write IMAGINARY GIRLS? Any surprises a long the way?

I was writing IMAGINARY GIRLS a long time before I even knew it would be a novel. It started off as a short story that I took to a summer workshop and then put aside, knowing it needed work and not sure how to do it. The work it ended up needing was a complete overhaul into a novel and a push into magical realism. So if you count the short story, and knowing there were long pauses in between, including a whole draft written of the book that I lost in a hard-drive crash and a whole other novel written in between (my middle-grade novel DANI NOIR), I guess I’ve been working on pieces of this book since the beginning of 2007.

All of this is a surprise. This moment, everything. The original short story was for adults. It was realistic fiction. I didn’t see this coming, even though I look back now and realize I was surrounded by hints.

4. What has been your favorite part of the publication process?

There have been wonderful moments that were thrilling pieces of time I will never forget: getting calls from literary agents, the day my book went to auction and I hid in my office at my day job with the door closed and afraid to come out, the moment I saw my beautiful cover and cried, my first editorial lunch with my editor when I realized she knew my characters as well as I did, my first starred review when I screamed, the moment I gave a copy of the book to my mom… But I think my favorite moment after all these crazy things is more recent. I’ve been avoiding reviews online—blogs, Goodreads, etc., I’ve just been in too fragile a place to be able to read reviews—but one day recently I was feeling weirdly thick-skinned and I Googled my book’s name. One of the first things I saw was a YouTube link and, curious, I clicked it. It turns out this was a vlog review of IMAGINARY GIRLS by a teen reader and blogger. She was so excited about the book. She clearly loved it and had thought deeply about it and understood it.

I watched her talking about my book and I just felt like everything had happened for this reason. To find a reader like this. THIS. This is why I’m writing.

I don’t expect to be seeking out reviews again anytime soon, but I’m so glad I happened upon that one on the one day I went looking. I needed to see it. It meant everything to me.

5. What was your favorite part of writing IMAGINARY GIRLS?

This sounds sick and wrong, but I loved revising this book. It took a lot out of me—IMAGINARY GIRLS went through five rounds of revision, my editor pushing me to new heights each time—but there is such beauty in carving out the layers of a story. The deeper you go, and the more work you do, the better and truer it gets. Revising, though frustrating and so intensely humbling at times, was also magical. Something new would end up on the page that I wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn’t revised my way toward it. It was during revision that I fell in love with my book all over again.

6. Villains. Really, what more do I need to say? They rock. Even though there’s not a classic hero/villain relationship in IMAGINARY GIRLS (there is an amazingly complex and oft unnerving sister relationship), give me your favorite villain.

The Snow Queen in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

7. Most important question of all. Favorite kind of cupcake?

This might come as a surprise to those who know how much I love chocolate, but when it comes to cupcakes, the first thing I’ll look for is a strawberry cupcake with strawberry icing on top.

***

Nova, thank you so, so much for making the time to stop by.

Lovelies, if you have any questions, comments, leave them in the comment place.

ALSO, tell me whether you think I should do a SMALL giveaway on the 4th, or a big one (whatever I DON’T do on the 4th, I’ll do on the 11th).

Week 7 of the 16 weeks to XVI blog tour (+ ARC!!!)

Please welcome to the blog the lovely Julia Karr, author of the upcoming book, XVI.

With 7 weeks until the book’s release, we’re all about the 7’s.

Julia, in your book, Nina has a charm with the number 7, a symbol for completeness. To me, a complete/whole character is one of the most vital elements in a story. I’d love for you to give us some insight into your character-writing process.


1. The trick of turning a character into a person is in the details. But we all start somewhere. When you set out to develop a character, where do you start? With details or broad strokes?

I get a vision (sometimes literally, like I did with Nina) of the physical characteristics and a bit of attitude. That’s a fairly broad stroke. But, I can’t get far into my story if I don’t know the details. I have to know not just what my characters look like, but what makes them tick. There are some great tools out there for characterizations, but I’m not so good at using them. I might make some notes of the character’s details, but usually I just sit back, close my eyes, and let them tell me who they are.

2. Do characters come to you with names, or do you have to search for ones that fit? If so, how did you come up with the names in XVI?

Usually my characters come pre-named from the naming factory, which is where I got Nina Oberon. But, let me tell you how one character in XVI got named. As you may know, XVI is a NaNoWriMo novel (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninformed.) I was at a write-in with three other NaNo-ers and we were discussing some of the particulars of our novels-in-progress. We discovered similarities in all of our books, except for names. So, we all agreed to put “Leroy” in our novels as a character. I named my Leroy, Leroy Jenkins. As fate would have it, Leroy (Jenkins or no) was not a good fit in XVI, but, Jenkins ended up being the last name of Wei Jenkins, who befriends Nina. So – my names can really come from about anywhere!

3. How much of your characters’ personalities comes from real people you know, and how much is pure fiction?

Ha! I love this question. And, I might answer it honestly – or – I might answer it, honestly. Sort of depends where the comma falls. (hee hee) Several characters have personality traits of friends (or friends I wanted in high school) and relatives. Gran and my grandmother (Gram) who raised me share many similarities. Mostly, my characters surprise me with how individual they are. They might have a pinch of one person and a dash of another, but for the most part, they are totally fictitious.

4. Aside from your main character, do you have a favorite? A secondary or peripheral?

Oh, I’m totally crazy about Pops! My grandfather died the year I was born, so I never had that granddaughter/grandfather relationship. I have it now!

5. What is your favorite *kind* of character to write?

Hmmm… sometimes this depends totally on my mood, but… I do like to write characters that I love to hate. I can really get into the confrontation aspects of an antagonist. Perhaps that’s because I’m pretty much the opposite of that, for the most part.

6. Readers want love interests. What, in your opinion, are the key components to creating strong love interest?

I think you have to show a strong attraction. Not necessarily physical, but a valid reason that two people are drawn to each other. It could be a shared interest or they could be total opposites who are thrown together through circumstance. But, the attraction has to be there – even if it’s a negative attraction at first.

Another thing… we all love (or have loved) someone. A writer has to draw from that place and bring it alive through words. It’s not always easy to do. But, you have to tap into those strong emotions and get them out into your characters. And, it has to be true to character – you can’t just throw two people together and expect sparks to fly. You have to show the reasons the sparks are flying. Some of the best love interests (scenes) ever written (IMHO) are in Jane Austen’s writings. Excellent study guides, her books!

7. What’s one thing we should know about your main character, Nina?

She is so much stronger and braver than she thinks she is.

*

Victoria, thank you so much for having me on your blog! It’s been so much fun talking about my characters.

This week’s prize is a signed ARC of XVI!

All you have to do is leave a comment. The comments will be open until next Thursday at midnight and the winner will be announced here the next day. And, remember, everyone who comments will be entered in the Grand Prize drawing on 1/6/11 (XVI’s release date!)

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