Scaredy L. Marie

This is one of those days when I had to put my Scaredy Squirrel hand puppet on and point the finger at myself. 011

Don’t worry. I don’t do this in public much. But once again, a post at Nancy Hatch’s blog hit me where I live. It’s this one: https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/calm-self-awareness/

She featured a video that I won’t post here, since you can find it at the end of her post. Feel free to head there and check it out. I won’t mind. Honest. It reminded me of something that has plagued me for years: status anxiety. Can you relate?

In the video the narrator discusses the question most of us ask each other: “What do you do?” Jobs I’ve had with regular paychecks like book or curriculum editor at various publishers, senior project writer at another, or production editor at the American Bar Association made that question a lot easier to answer. But when the regular paychecks stopped, well, I squirmed a lot when people asked me, “What do you do?” Even the answer, “Um freelance writer” seemed lame, especially when it gained me follow-up questions like, “Oh? What are you working on? Do you have a contract? When will the book be published?” I’ve had work-for-hire projects, so the assumptions behind the questions are valid. But when I lack a project, I get rather tongue tied.

I wish I didn’t find a response like, “I’m writing my own books” or “I don’t know when they’ll be published” so difficult to utter. All due to pride I guess, and the status thing that the video points out. After all, both responses fail to point to a tangible source of income. Yet I love the stories I write and the characters I’ve gotten to know. And I betray them every time I keep silent out of fear.

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Status seems a silly thing to stress over. But we do anyway, don’t we?

Another thing I’ve squirmed about is where I live—an apartment. Over the years, I’ve faced the “why rent when you can own” remarks or even disdainful looks because I’m not a homeowner. Really, the fact that I’m here and not homeless is an answer to prayer. I love where I live, though, because I can look out and see this tree.

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For some reason, I think of this tree as Wesley. I’m not sure why. (And it has nothing to do with The Princess Bride.) Wesley reminds me of me. He’s old and has a broken limb due to a bad storm. But he’s still standing and producing leaves. I’ve been broken by life’s storms too. But who hasn’t been? Maybe you have too. But we’re still standing. . . .

So I can’t make a proper pretense at status. Even my car gives me away. It’s as old as Methuselah. But I still zip around in it. I even give dudes revving their engines in the lanes next to me a run for their money. (Never challenge a Honda Civic—especially one driven by me. I didn’t get three speeding tickets in one year for nothin’.)

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Um, this is not my car. But it has the same make and model.

Let’s see what else I’ve been afraid of. Oh yes. In the past, I’ve worried that this blog isn’t “status-y” enough. I don’t have the readership that many bloggers have. I don’t have a plan for it. Don’t want a plan for it. I love the randomness of it, though some readers might run for the hills. I can write nonsense about hand puppets whenever I get ready or post interviews and cover reveals to support authors.

By the way, I’m giving away a number of books in June. The fact that I can do so thrills me to no end.

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So that’s me. I’ve got a load of clothes in the dryer, so I’ve got to skedaddle soon. If I have a takeaway to add to this, I would say that if you and I meet, I won’t ask you, “What do you do?” As if you have to prove your worth by that question. Instead, I’ll just say, “I’m glad to meet you.” Because that’s what it’s all about, really, isn’t it? Who we are, not what we do.

After I take my clothes out of the dryer, I might get all fast and furious on the road in my old Civic. The sun is out and I have a horizon to find. (Yes, that is an allusion to one of Captain Jack Sparrow’s lines in the first Pirates of the Caribbean.) Maybe I’ll see you on the road. But if you rev your engine at me, watch out.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this.

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While the others at the party discussed who was who and what was what, Gandalf took a nap. I can so relate, Gandalf.

Honda Civic from cargurus.com. Book stack from blogs.mtu.edu. Other photos by L. Marie.

Slow Dance

thBack when I was an undergrad (and humans had just learned how to work the sundial), I didn’t dance on a slow song at dorm or frat parties with just anyone. The dude had to meet at least a couple of the following criteria:

(1) Hotness
(2) Someone with whom I’d made significant eye contact during the evening (and by significant, I mean 15 seconds)
(3) Hotness
(4) Three Greek letters on his T-shirt (or at least be the leader of his own fake fraternity)
(5) Enrollment at the school
(6) Hotness
(7) Cigarette-less. I didn’t care if he smoked. Just put it down for five minutes, please, wouldja?
(8) Someone I thought was cool
(9) Hotness

Ah, those were the days when my shallowness was at its height. (I can’t say I’m very deep these days.) But the selection criteria often depended on the song. If it was a favorite, I was not so choosy about my companion in the dance. Getting to dance was all that mattered.

A dance comes to mind as I contemplate the relationship between the heroine of my novel and a would-be love interest who also is a point of view character.

PrideandprejudiceposterDance is the metaphor often used for two people moving toward love. So I appreciate authors who incorporate relationship-building dance sequences in their works. Take Jane Austen. I can’t help thinking of her, because Professor VJ Duke mentioned Pride & Prejudice on his blog recently. (Waves to the Professor.)

In Pride and Prejudice—and I’m thinking not just of the book, but of the 2005 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen—dance is not only an opportunity for social commentary, it is a declaration of war.

Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (2005)If you’ve seen that movie, cast your mind back to the scene at Mr. Bingley’s mansion. Mr. Darcy (Macfadyen) has asked Elizabeth Bennet (Knightley) to dance. But this isn’t just a dance—it’s a battle. She’s thinking of how much she dislikes him, but can’t snub him—an act of social suicide. He’s thinking of why he shouldn’t like her. After the opening salvo, their conversation is polite but barbed—a thorny rose. The tension continues as each retreats to his or her side. I love this dance, because during that sequence the others in the scene fade away, leaving just Darcy and Lizzie. Neither looks happy, because neither will give in.

Instant_OatmealAh, I love that stuff, though some might judge such a scene as too subtle. But I love the slow build toward romance—a delicate pas de deux. I tend to lose interest in stories where the love is as instant as oatmeal. I’m not debating an author’s right to go there. However, if I already know true love is in the room the moment a pair of eyes meet another, I’m outta there.

I’m not talking about chemistry. You can be attracted to someone in an instant. But in a novel, I like roadblocks. And since my novel is not a romance but contains romantic elements, I can throw all the roadblocks I want into the mix as long as they fit the plot. But I have criteria for the roadblocks standing in the way of true love.

(1) Hotness/Chemistry

I started to write Just kidding as if I were referring back to my earlier dance criteria. But as I think about it, hotness is an issue. If I write about someone who is conventionally hot (and my hero and heroine actually fit this convention, contrary to another novel I wrote), looks will not be the golden ticket that gains him or her his/her desires. Sorry. I’m quirky that way. This is not to say that I dislike books where the hero and heroine are both hot. On the contrary, I’ve loved many books with this feature. But what’s huge for me in this book is to show what lies below the surface. So physical attraction is something my characters seriously wrestle against.

(2) Misunderstanding

The tension between Person A and Person B must go beyond the tiff that a five-minute conversation can solve if only they would stop glaring at each other. There has to be a fundamental reason why Person B is the last person on earth (or at least the semi-last person) Person A would fall for. In fact, Person A considers several compelling reasons why Person B might need to be executed for the good of humanity. And I need to keep raising the stakes against their relationship. But there’s a third criterion.

(3) Abuse

I draw the line at physical or sexual abuse as a step in the dance toward love. Sorry, but that’s my preference as an author and a reader. I’m not talking about the physicality of a battle-trained hero and heroine engaged in a battle to defend himself or herself or because he/she follows a commanding officer’s orders. Books about warriors need battles. If both are warriors, they know the stakes. I’m talking about books where the misunderstood bad boy shoves or punches the heroine or a rape occurs, but they fall in love within the space of 100—200 pages. I’m old school, so please don’t write me and complain if your book fits this description. I’m talking about my preferences here. Physical abuse or rape is a hurdle I’ve never been able to jump over as a reader and I refuse to try as an author. I’m of the belief that rape is not a crime of passion, but a crime, as is physical abuse. Sorry. Won’t go there.

I’m getting off my soapbox now and will return to my slow sizzle story. And now you can tell me what criteria you have if you include romance in your book. What books with romance do you love as a reader?

Knightley and Macfadyen dancing photo from kootation.com. Pride and Prejudice movie poster from Wikipedia. Instant oatmeal photo from talkhealthytome.com. Couple slow dancing from gograph.com.

Check This Out: Believe

Because of an episode of Call the Midwife, the song, “Catch a Falling Star,” is going through my mind. And if you know the song, you probably have it in yours now. Anyhoo, with me on the blog today is a rising star to catch—the energized and engaging Sarah Aronson. (And yes, I know Sarah from VCFA.) Sarah is represented by Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency.

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Sarah is here to talk about her latest book, Believe, which is available right now, thanks to the good folks at Carolrhoda Lab. She also is the author of Beyond Lucky and Head Case.

believeHere is the synopsis of Believe:

When Janine Collins was six years old, she was the only survivor of a suicide bombing that killed her parents and dozens of others. Media coverage instantly turned her into a symbol of hope, peace, faith–of whatever anyone wanted her to be. Now, on the ten-year anniversary of the bombing, reporters are camped outside her house, eager to revisit the story of the “Soul Survivor.”

Janine doesn’t want the fame–or the pressure–of being a walking miracle. But the news cycle isn’t the only thing standing between her and a normal life. Everyone wants something from her, expects something of her. Even her closest friends are urging her to use her name-recognition for a “worthy cause.” But that’s nothing compared to the hopes of Dave Armstrong–the man who, a decade ago, pulled Janine from the rubble. Now he’s a religious leader whose followers believe Janine has healing powers.

The scariest part? They might be right.

If she’s the Soul Survivor, what does she owe the people who believe in her? If she’s not the Soul Survivor, who is she?

What a ride, huh? I’m giving away a $20 Amazon card this time with the stipulation that you must purchase Believe. More on that later.

El Space: Hey, Sarah! Congrats on the release of Believe. Please share four quick facts about yourself.
Sarah: I never read manuals. I once won a state sanctioned power lifting contest. I could deadlift 320 pounds. When I’m drafting, I also cook a lot. I delete all my first drafts. My mottos are “Try everything,” and “They’re only words. Re-imagine!” I met my husband when, thinking he was someone else, I kissed him. About the time when my lips hit his cheek, I realized I had no idea who he was!

El Space: Wow. Cool facts! I would never try to arm wrestle you! What inspired you to write Believe?
Sarah: Faith, fame, and family are themes I write and think about a lot. These themes, in some way, are important to all my stories.

camera_09I started thinking about Janine’s story when I was at the salon, reading People! There was a story about the woman who was once known as Baby Jessica. She was the baby who fell into the well. I was surprised to find out that one of the men who saved her had killed himself—he couldn’t deal with his life after his fifteen minutes of fame was over. I was also surprised how judgmental I felt about her adult life. This was a person who never asked to be famous. She didn’t seem to want it either. I decided to explore the nature of celebrity in our world today. I knew right away that I was taking a big risk making Janine a figure in the faith community. But I also knew that faith was something that would present itself no matter what I did. The more I wrote, the more I understood Janine’s skepticism and doubts and her selfishness. She lost her parents! She would naturally wrestle with the nature of faith.

El Space: What was most exhilarating or challenging about writing Believe?
Sarah: The voice. The challenge of creating a character who was not all that likeable, but still interesting, who grew up a celebrity, was a lot of fun.

El Space: What strength does your main character have in common with you?
Sarah: She’s determined. She loves her family. She’s impulsive and skeptical and can be pretty impatient. She wants to be admired for who she is, not what people want her to be.

3188580El Space: What authors/books inspire you?
Sarah: There are so many! I love books that take chances, that explore a darker side of life. When I first decided to write and was finding my own voice, these were the authors and books that inspired me: Nancy Werlin’s books. The prologue of Killer’s Cousin. The risks she took in Rules of Survival and Impossible! I was thrilled when she blurbed Believe. Walter Dean Myers, especially Monster. That book! The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier. That ending! Carolyn Coman’s Many Stones and What Jamie Saw. I still strive to write sentences as perfect as hers.
44184Of course, there are many other books that continue to inspire and motivate me! I could give you a long list!

El Space: What do you hope readers take away from after reading your book?
Sarah: I hope that people will talk about faith and how it divides us, when it should bring us together on every level. I hope that we can begin to have more interfaith conversations. Skepticism is normal. I would love it if this book gave young adults a chance to have that discussion.

Of course, I also hope readers think about our world and our obsession with fame and an unending stream of information. We idolize celebrities and at the same time, we love to watch them crash. We are a nation of rubberneckers! I hope Janine’s struggles with her celebrity get people talking!

El Space: What advice do you have for an author who wishes to write about a provocative subject?
Sarah: Be brave. Be determined. Take out an index card and write down what you want your book to say. Find a supportive reader and don’t worry about the politics. Explore your character. Be true to your story. There’s an audience for this, and they need your book.

Thanks, Sarah, for being my guest!

If you’re looking for more about Sarah, you can find her at her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Oh, and also here too. Believe is available here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
The Book Stall
Powell’s Books
Indiebound

One of YOU will receive the Amazon gift card just by commenting. This giveaway is for followers and regular commenters. Eligibility has reset, so past winners are now once more eligible.

POST UPDATE: The winner will be announced on Thursday!

Book covers with the exception of Believe, are from Goodreads. Camera from cliparthaven.com.

A Writer’s Process (2b)

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We’re back for round 2 of the writer’s process discussion with the marvelous Miriam McNamara. And thanks to Dreamland’s Insurgents, you can hum along to the suggested theme music here. Meanwhile, I’m really wishing I had a bagel right about now.

For those of you just tuning in, this is part two of the discussion, so you might want to refer back to part 1 if you haven’t already done so. You’ll find Miriam’s bio there. And as a reminder, Miriam’s young adult novel is The Unbinding of Mary Reade. Thanks to all of you for your comments. They really mean a lot. Now, on with the discussion.

El Space: Tell us about your main character. How is she like you? Different from you?
Miriam: Mary is raised as a boy—her dead half-brother Mark—in order to scam money out of Mark’s relatively wealthy grandmother. This deception keeps them out of utter poverty, so their lives really depend on Mary pretending to be someone she isn’t from the time she is very young. This shapes her character in a profound way. She yearns to be like other girls, but her upbringing ensures that she is like no one at all.

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She’s not a boy, but she’s not a proper girl either. Her desire for the neighbor boy, and eventually for Anne Bonny, push her to explore different identities throughout the novel as she tries to figure out who she is.

I gave Mary my own confusion about who I was when I was a teenager. I also spent many years as a young adult trying on different identities/presentations in my quest to figure out who I was. I’ve also given her the strength of my desire and my imagination; the way she fantasizes and desires authentic love and belonging comes straight from my own heart. And I’ve given her a fluid sexuality like mine; she is attracted to boys and girls. But she’s very different from me, too.

I based some elements of her character on boys and girls I know that struggled even more with gender identity than I have. Her childhood was radically restricted by having to pretend to be a different gender than she knew she was inside, similar to the experience of some transgender and genderqueer people. She falls a lot closer to “boyish” on the gender spectrum than the average eighteenth-century girl, but she still identifies as female—the sex she was born with. She isn’t transgender, but she does fall somewhere that isn’t easily categorized. I love that complexity.

El Space: And the more complex the character, the more compelling the story. Intriguing, Miriam! Okay, we all know about the success of Pirates of the Caribbean. How did the success of this series affect the way you approached your story? Was it more or less difficult to write because of characters like Elizabeth Swann (played by Kiera Knightley) and Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp)? Why?
Miriam: You know, the pirate captain in my story is the very pirate that the character Jack Sparrow is based on. Isn’t that insane?

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His name is Jack as well, and I’ve had people tell me that I need to change his name, and make him less flamboyant. But those are two things I just can’t change—that’s who the real Jack Rackham was! I didn’t base my character on the movie character at all—so in my head, at least, Jack Rackham is a very different person than Jack Sparrow.

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El Space: Johnny Depp showed such complexity in his performance. He definitely marked this character as his own. How did you shape Jack’s character in your novel?
Miriam: In the first scene that Jack appears in my novel, he makes a very flamboyant entrance—but as the novel progresses, he becomes more and more intricate and human, while I think Jack Sparrow remains that flamboyant, fantastical character throughout the movie series. My story is not fantasy, which POC and most well-known pirate characters are.

El Space: Your Jack sounds colorful and alive in the way of great characters in great fiction. Awesome! To wrap up, any advice for someone about to use a well-known trope in a story?
Miriam: There are reasons that we are attracted to tropes and use them in our stories over and over again. Strong desire and powerful conflict are embedded automatically. For me, I was attracted to pirates in general, and Mary and Anne in particular, but the initial reasons were shallow. Romance! Adventure! I didn’t know what I really wanted to say. But as I started exploring these characters and their world, I realized this story communicated important ideas that I hadn’t read before.

Mary ended up being a unique character that helped me explore my own thoughts on issues that matter a lot to me. I guess that’s the challenge: taking a trope—a ready-made, flat character—and making it into something that can surprise people and make them question the stereotypes they have. If you, the writer, can look beyond the trope and find a unique character, you can force your readers to look more closely at their own assumptions about the world.

Sadly, we’ve come to the end, as all good things do. Thanks again, Miriam, for sharing your process. This has been great! Give it up for Miriam, everyone! If you have questions or comments for Miriam about her process, please comment below.

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From LOL Cats

Photo of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is from mariouana.com. Mary Reade image from mrugala.net. Calico Jack image from thepiratesrealm.com. For more information on Mary Reade, click here and here.

A Writer’s Process (2a)

Good. You’re here. Hope you brought your own coffee. Now, let’s talk process. With me today is another friend from VCFA, the incomparable and incandescent Miriam McNamara!

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This discussion will conclude on Friday. We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

El Space: Bio please, for the curious.
Miriam: I have a B.Ed. in Elementary Education from Warren Wilson College and an M.F.A. in Writing from VCFA—oh yeah, and a Certificate of Cosmetology from Blue Ridge Community College, too. I am a hairstylist by day and a writer by morning and night. My favorite genres are historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy—I love exploring different worlds. I live in Asheville, North Carolina with my partner and our four fuzzy animals.

El Space: Awesome! And now, a brief synopsis of your young adult novel, if you please.
Miriam: The Unbinding of Mary Reade is the story of a girl forced to live as a boy to survive in early eighteenth-century London. When her obsession with the neighbor boy makes it impossible to lie any longer, Mary follows him to the New World on a pirate-hunting mission, determined to win his love. But her objective is sidelined when her ship is taken by a pirate crew that includes the seductive girl-pirate Anne Bonny. Mary’s new connection with a girl as unconventional as herself forces Mary to reject the falsehoods and fantasies that sustained her as a child—but as tensions between the law and the outlaws mount, will the person she is beneath the disguise be strong enough to survive without the lies?

El Space: Sounds great! What attracted you to the subject of pirates? What was your plan for making your concept fresh?
Miriam: Well, pirates have always been a trope that appeals to me. Real-life pirates are complicated, though; the whole steal-pillage-rape thing is hard to stomach along with all that romantic swashbuckling and adventuring, which I think is why a lot of people go for a more fantastical pirate. But I think that real-life complexity is fascinating.

In the early 1700s, when my novel is set, the European elite were pillaging and raping the New World, and the common people who worked in the Navies and on merchant ships led bleak and short-lived lives. Poor people, women, and non-Whites really had no rights. The Golden-Age Caribbean pirates, despite their flaws, were arguably forerunners of American democracy: every member of the crew got a vote and a fair share of the loot. Pirate captains were elected and, if they fell out of favor, replaced by someone else. I wanted to show the yearning for fairness and freedom, as well as the greed and violence.

I was drawn in particular to the real-life characters of Mary Reade and Anne Bonny, two women pirates that crewed the same ship and were eventually caught and tried for their crimes together. I wondered, what kind of woman would join a pirate crew? What would her life be like? What would drive her to take that kind of risk? It was surely that same yearning for fairness and freedom that drove men to become pirates, but I think that yearning and desperation would have to be even greater for a girl.

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I knew the girl-disguised-as-a-boy-on-a-ship thing has been done a thousand times, as well as the pirate thing, so I did have concerns that Mary’s story would lack originality. It’s the character of Mary and her struggles that make this story unique. Despite the swashbuckling context, the story is really about a terrifically unusual girl trying to figure out who she is, and if there is a place in the world for that person. It explores themes that are extremely relevant today: the intersection and divergence of gender, sexuality, and justice.

El Space: Very compelling! So, what pirate books have you read that you thought were done well?
Miriam: My favorite pirate book is nonfiction: The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard. It’s narrative nonfiction, so it’s a very engaging read. I think everyone who is intrigued by the romantic ideal of the Caribbean pirates should read it, to get the facts behind the fiction. It is extremely well-researched, and he still manages to keep all the romance and adventure while sticking to the facts.

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The “original” Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is my favorite pirate novel. I haven’t read any contemporary pirate novels that compare.

El Space: What aspects of writing historical fiction did you find most challenging? Why?
Miriam: Whew! The research was so much more complicated than I could have imagined. I knew a lot about the political milieu of the time, but when I sat down to write the story I was stymied again and again by the details. What did every little piece of the ship look like? How does one sail a ship? Where do they use the bathroom? What was London like? Where did poor people live? What did they eat and drink? Did they have cigarettes/glass windows/underwear? What did things cost? Details, man.

During this particular time period, the lives of the poor went mostly undocumented: most records are ship logs, trial and prison records. This was a blessing and a curse. I could make some stuff up, but I had to be careful that I didn’t make something up that couldn’t have happened. And since my main character was a real person, that made it even more challenging. I couldn’t change certain plot elements, but because of the unreliability of many sources of the time period, I gave myself permission to massage some of them a bit in the name of story.

We’ll stop here for today. Tune in tomorrow for more Q and A with Miriam. If you have questions for Miriam about her book or her process, please comment below. Thanks for stopping by!

Illustration of Mary Reade and Anne Bonny is from arrrpirates.wikispaces.com.

Check This Out: The Color of Rain

In my continuing quest to point you to quality entertainment, I would like to give a shout-out to a book by one of my fellow VCFA alums, the awesome Cori McCarthy.

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On May 14, 2013, the world will witness the debut of The Color of Rain, Cori’s young adult science fiction novel, published by Running Press Teens/The Perseus Books Group.

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Don’t you just love that cover? Here’s the synopsis:

     If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is “Touched,” and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her “willingness.”
     The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny’s ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny’s girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain’s quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.
     With intergalactic twists and turns, Cori McCarthy’s debut space thriller exists in an orbit of its own.

I don’t know about you, but that synopsis gives me chills. And Cori’s in the house, so please behave while I ask her a few questions.

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Cori: I was born on Guam. I have a J.R.R. Tolkien drawing as a tattoo. I lived in Dublin, Ireland for a year. I have a son named Maverick who definitely lives up to his name.

El Space: Love the name Maverick. And I’d love to get to Dublin someday. Also, let me just say that a Tolkien tattoo is awesome. Now, could you tell us who or what inspired you to write this book?
Cori: I got the idea to write a “prostitute in space” book in the middle of the night, but I thought it was a crazy idea. I wouldn’t have started writing it if weren’t for a dare on Facebook to write something for my graduating workshop semester at VCFA that might “frighten the incoming students.” Turns out that they weren’t frightened at all, and I ended up with a high-concept story idea out of the experience.

El Space: Your graduate reading was so powerful, I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since. What excites you most about the genre?
Cori: I love the fact that the young adult audience alters the sci-fi genre. My agent (Sarah Davies at The Greenhouse Literary Agency) encouraged me to embrace the fiction in science fiction, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the adult genre, like too much technology or scientific explanation. There are few gadgets in the novel and some starships, but I didn’t have to explain how humans withstand space travel or manufacture gravity—thank goodness.

El Space: You’re packing for a trip into space. What would you bring?
Cori: My favorite pair of boots: Dr. Martens Triumph 1914 Boots. I’m pretty sure I could take on every alien civilization out there if I were wearing ’em.

El Space: I’m pretty sure you could! Inquiring minds also want to know: what are you working on now?
Cori: I’m working on another YA novel—very different from Rain. It’s near-futuristic, another high-concept book. Beyond that, I’ve been advised to keep the pitch a secret!

El Space: Awww! Well, we’ll look forward to it! Now, any advice you have for aspiring writers?
Cori: Don’t be afraid to rewrite from scratch. If I didn’t rewrite this novel three times, well, I wouldn’t have a novel!

Thanks so much, Cori! Give it up for her, folks. (You can stop clapping anytime.)

You can find Cori at her website: http://www.corimccarthy.com/ or her Facebook author page.

The Color of Rain is available for preorder at these fine establishments:
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Powell’s Books
Anderson’s Bookshops

Check out the book trailer for The Color of Rain at Cori’s website or at The Compulsive Reader.