Meet the Newbies- Nicole Castroman Author of Blackhearts

Meet the NewbiesMeet the Newbies is hosted by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and is a way to get to know the latest debut authors and get a glimpse of their books. Check out all the authors and blog on the tour here.

I’m featuring the wonderful Nicole Castroman, author of Blackhearts, today. I’ve read Blackhearts and let me tell you- it’s awesome. AND there’s going to be a sequel.

Author Most Likely to Wear a Corset to the Grocery Store
Nickname: Nicole (I’ve never been a nickname kind of person.)
First Day of School: February 9, 2016
Homeroom: Simon Pulse (S&S)
Grade: Historical (Romance)
Extracurricular Activities: Talking on the phone to Becky Wallace, Admiring Aidan Turner pics online, Reading, Visiting as many tropical beaches as humanly possible
Favorite Class: History
Favorite Quote/Motto: These change constantly. It really depends on my mood. Right now, it’s “To thine own self be true.”
Author: Nicole Castroman

About the Author

NicoleCastromanNicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend…she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.

At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.

She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.

Social Media Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

The Book

BlackheartsCoverBlackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Book Buy Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

The Interview

In your debut, Blackhearts, you venture into the backstory of a nearly mythological pirate, Blackbeard. You take a look at what his life might have been like prior to his pirating days and what would lead the son of a wealthy merchant to venture into the unsavory life of a pirate. What first drew you to Blackbeard?
Just the fact that there isn’t anything known about his earlier life. It was a blank slate of one of the most notorious pirates to sail the seas. What compelled him to leave everything he knew behind to live such a rough life?

It is obvious from your writing and the inclusion of historical details that you did a good amount of research about the time period, etc. Could you tell us some of the most interesting things you stumbled upon in your researching?
I found all of it fascinating. From the way they dressed to what they ate. I read several books about what life was like in the 17th century. It’s no surprise that women didn’t have many opportunities at the time, but there were always women who refused to be limited. That’s why I wrote Anne like I did.

You have created some incredibly developed and well-rounded characters. Was there one you related to the most?
What I love about Anne is her indomitable spirit. She simply refuses to give up. What I love most about Teach is his ability to accept people for who they are. He doesn’t see color or race. It’s people’s actions that determine whether he wants them in his life or not.

I always imagine that when writing a book your characters at times surprise you and decide they want to take their story somewhere a bit different than you had planned. Did you find this to be true?
Somewhat. I always had the ending in mind, but it was a windy road to get there. And of course, working with an editor helped make the story tighter. I’ve learned to love the revision process because that is where the story truly comes to life.

Sort of related to the above question- what is your writing process? Do you plan things out or let the story take you where it wants to go (or a mix)?
I usually like to have an idea of the ending. It’s important for me to know where I ultimately need to go, but the characters can take a different route than the one I have planned for them.

The Giveaway

1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies

International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
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Extras

InstagramBlackhearts

 

Interview with Mindy McGinnis + INT Giveaway

NotaDroptoDrink InaHandfulofDust AMadnessSoDiscreet

There is no other author I know that can wreck your heart and destroy your dreams of love as well as Mindy McGinnis. Her prior novels, Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust are gripping, raw and heartbreaking. With these companion novels, Mindy created a world lacking in water and characters that epitomized survival. These two novels were startling and terrifying because of the ease in which the reader can visualize and imagine our (not so distant) future without access to water.

Next month Mindy will be venturing into a new genre, a historical thriller, with her novel: A Madness So Discreet. I’m beyond excited to read this…check out this little tidbit from the summary on Goodreads:

“In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.”

Today I am honored to have Mindy here to answer questions about her books and give us some insight into what we can expect with A Madness So Discreet

Interview

I was incredibly impressed with the depth you went into with portraying how life would be in a world with little water in Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust. You explained water purifying techniques and dowsing for water as well as firing rifles and traveling miles over land. What type of research did you do to learn so much about these subjects and to approach them so realistically?
The honest answer is that a lot of those things were just part of my childhood. I live in an extremely rural area, and I grew up knowing how to handle firearms safely. When someone was getting ready to build a house, you called a dowser to see if there was a legitimate water source to tap into. It’s just how we live. The purifying techniques involved in both DRINK & DUST were definitely research based. I strive for realism. The method from DRINK involving plastic water bottles and exposure to the sun is called the SODIS method. You can read more about how it works in the paperback of DRINK, which has an essay from me in the extra content about the science behind it.

Did you experiment with any of the survival techniques you wrote about?
I do garden and can a lot of my own food, so that’s all speaking from experience. I also own a pond, but I’ve never drank from it, SODIS method or not. But if I HAD to – of course. And as a matter of principle I always inform people that I’ve never shot anyone. I think that’s an important baseline to establish.

From the summary your next novel looks to focus on mental illness and criminal psychology. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see you explore both of these topics. Can you tell us a bit more than the summary provides us about your story?
Sure! I’m very excited to get A MADNESS SO DISCREET out to my readers. My main character, Grace, has been a victim of abuse in her home, and is pregnant as a result. She’s from a wealthy, politically influential Boston family, so it has to be swept under the rug. In the Victorian era, inconvenient pregnancies were sometimes handled by sending the girl into an insane asylum until the delivery of the baby, explaining away their absence by saying they were abroad. This is Grace’s fate.

She’s been cursed with an eye for detail and infallible memory, along with a mother who won’t listen to the truth. When we meet Grace she’s a selective mute in the asylum, having given up on language after it failed her. Asylum conditions are… pretty horrible. Grace loses her child, finds her voice in a burst of violence that lands her in the darkest corners of the asylum, and there meets a young doctor who spots her talent, knowing it will be influential to him as he moves into a new career dabbling in criminal psychology (criminal profiling).

He helps her escape the asylum, and effectively removes her from the reach of her father. But faking insanity in order to live as an inmate at the Ohio asylum where the doctor works takes a toll, and she starts to question how much of her act is a farce. Combined with dark nights chasing killers – and one in particular who is targeting young women – Grace has to struggle with the fact that the life she’s escaped to isn’t exactly beautiful… and she kind of likes it that way.

Could you tell us a bit about the research you did about the asylum that helped inspire your setting, Athens Lunatic Asylum?
As an aside- you MUST check out Mindy’s Pintrest board here.
I researched for an entire year before writing a word of this book. There was much to learn – the beginnings of criminal psychology, the history of asylum medicine (both the good and the bad), and of course historical details in general. What kind of lighting would be in a room in 1890? What would an asylum inmate be wearing? I’m very particular, and there were days when I couldn’t finish a sentence without doing half an hour of research in order to make sure I got it (hopefully) right.

The specific setting – the Athens Lunatic Asylum in Ohio – has an amazing history. You can do a quick Google and learn about how it’s one of the most haunted places in the world and hear horror stories about the graveyard. And while I’m a fan of the supernatural, I’m also a fan of data. That type of history doesn’t interest me, because most of it quite frankly, just isn’t true.

The Athens asylum was actually an amazing model of humane treatment for the insane. If you were crazy (or just unlucky enough to be deemed so) in 1890, it was a good place to land. One of my best resources for the history of the asylum was Asylum On The Hill: History of A Healing Landscape, by Katherine Ziff. If you’d like to learn more about the actual history of the Athens Lunatic Asylum give it a shot.

I also toured the buildings, which are now part of the Ohio University campus. You can’t go into the patient wards for safety reasons (they are literally crumbling), but some parts of the building are currently in use as staff offices as well as an art gallery. The gallery is open to the public, and when you visit you can see original floors, staircases and woodwork from the insane asylum years. Definitely hit up my Pinterest board if you want to see some pics from my tour!

You can most definitely repost some of my pics from Pinterest, just make sure if you use any of the older ones that you use the attribution that I did, b/c some of those actually belong to University Archives.

Grace Mae, your main character, is battling with mental illness- did this make it more difficult to write her character?
Ha – no. It made her much, much easier to write than a person with no issues at all. Those people don’t exist.

Criminal psychology is a fascinating practice- how has it changed over the years and what resources did you use to incorporate it into your story?
What’s interesting is how some things have changed – and some really haven’t at all. Methods of crime can change, but motivations essentially don’t. We’re just as human now as we were in 1890. Some of the crime solving methods from back then were incredibly spot on even today, while others are just not. And just like today, people argued within their own fields about what was and was not accurate. Phrenology, for example is something that comes up in the book.

Do you listen to music while your write or for mood setting inspiration? If so what type of music did you listen to while plotting/writing A Madness So Discreet?
I usually don’t, although sometimes that can change from book to book while I’m writing. With MADNESS I definitely did not. I had to be very conscientious of every detail while writing this book. There was no “flow” with this one. It was work. Every word. No room for distractions.

You wrote your prior books in third person, is AMSD also in third person?
It is. I don’t plan my books at all, so I don’t walk into any book knowing how it will be narrated. I just let the first line happen, and that usually dictates person and tense.

Is A Madness So Discreet a standalone, series or will there perhaps be a companion novel?
As of right now it is a standalone. But I’m alarmingly ready to revisit this dark nasty world.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?
I do have a book coming from Katherine Tegen in 2016. It is a dark contemporary… and guess what? It’s a multiple POV in first person

About the Book

AMadnessSoDiscreetA Madness So Discreet
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: October 6th 2015 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 

Summary:
Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

Giveaway

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Blog Tour- The Accident Season Interview with Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Accident Season-socialassetsYou might have seen my review last month for The Accident Season and seen how much I enjoyed this story because of the strong characters, inventive plot and magical realism. I was completely entranced from the first chapter and I’m honored to have the author, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, here today to answer some of my questions.

About the Book

TheAccidentSeasonCoverThe Accident Season
By: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Release Date: August 18th 2015
Publisher:  Kathy Dawson Books

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Interview

One of my favorite aspects of The Accident Season was the eerie atmosphere and haunting scenes you created (especially with the things that happen at the tree by the river). How did you come up with these creepy ideas? Did you pull from any folklore, dreams, etc?
A lot of the clearing-by-the-river details were poached from a short novel I wrote when I was sixteen, which had a character that ended up being a sort of precursor to Elsie. That story was actually a good bit darker than The Accident Season, so clearly I’ve always been a fan of eerie scenes. Also it’s funny you should mention dreams because the frozen river scene is something that almost happened to me, or that happened in a dream, or a daydream, or not at all (dreams and reality tend to intermingle a lot for me). It was the middle of a heatwave some years ago and I walking down to a lake by my grandparents’ house that I’d walked on when it was frozen over the previous winter. Something about the heat haze and the afternoon light made me think it was frozen that day too. It made me wonder a lot about time overlapping and ask myself what memories could get trapped under ice. Which is why something like that made its way into the book – and of course the water is so important for Cara and her family, and I loved the idea that the river itself could become something far more unexpected than just a river.

For me, I never exactly knew what was real and what was not which made my reading experience that much more incredible. Do you intend for the reader to be left in the dark for portions and to rely on their own conclusions about some of the events?
That was one of the most important things for me: letting the reader do most of the work. Whether it’s magic or madness, curse or coincidence depends entirely on the person reading the book, and I love so much hearing from people who are convinced I wrote it to be clear one way or the other. It means I’ve done what I set out to do, so thank you!

Your characters suffer from physical ailments during their ‘accident season’ a month once a year where the members of the family are more vulnerable to physical harm. This was something I’ve never read before and I loved it! Did anything in particular spur the idea?
I’m a pretty accident-prone person (I’ve broken five bones since I was seventeen – to say nothing of sprains and bumps and bruises) so that must have influenced the idea, although to be perfectly honest the concept of the accident season kind of just came out when I sat down to write.

Was there a certain character you found easiest to write or relate to?
I found Bea easiest to write because she’s the least secretive of the characters, and so reveals herself quite easily. For all her eccentricities she’s a fairly straight-forward kind of person. I think Alice was the trickiest because I wanted to be very subtle and stay true to her character while still filtering her entire personality through Cara’s arguably biased point of view. I suppose I find Cara easiest to relate to, but that’s not completely fair to the other characters, because after all I did give Cara the narrative voice.

I desperately want to read more from you can you give us any hints to what are you working on now?
Oh, thank you! I’m working on my second novel now, which is another stand-alone set in the west of Ireland. It’s about lost things in the same way that this one is about accidents – which is to say that they feature but ultimately aren’t entirely what it’s all about.

Thank you so much Moïra!

Blog Tour- A Book of Spirit & Thieves Interview + Giveaway

BookofSpiritnThieves-blogtour

With Morgan Rhodes latest, A Book of Spirits and Thieves, she brings the magic of Mytica into our present day world. We follow the story through two modern points of view as well as one from Mytica, 1000 years prior to the events of the Falling Kingdoms series. Not only was it incredibly interesting to incorporate a modern element into this well known and loved fantasy series it also gave me further insight into Mytica prior to what we’ve already read.

Interview

After reading ABoSaT I felt that even new readers would be able to jump in and read it prior to the Falling Kingdoms series. Was it difficult for you to make it tie into the original series so well yet be assessable for new readers?
Thanks! I must give credit to my editor for this. Originally, I had imagined the “fantasy world” in ABOSAT to be that of King Arthur. Then my editor said “what if it’s Mytica?” And – BAM – the exact way to tie the two series together, yet still keep them separate, came to me; a way to bring more clarity to the myths and legends told in Falling Kingdoms by seeing these legends play out on the page, yet not infringe on the plot and characters in the original series.

I absolutely loved seeing bits of Mytica brought into a modern setting. What benefits or struggles did you face in overlapping the worlds?
My main challenge when writing ABOSAT’s “modern day” chapters was to keep it from coming off like a cheesy “door to another world” story where anyone could use this magic to travel to Mytica and check things out. I knew the rules for this magic had to be very specific. I did know from the beginning how I wanted everything to tie together in the end, but unraveling the method to get to that end was the challenge. I tend to write complicated mythology and I wanted to make this as clean and simple as possible.

For this book you’ve introduced a wonderful group of characters: Maddox, Farrell and Crys, each had chapters told from their point of view. Of the new characters who was the most difficult to write?
Surprisingly, to me, the most difficult character to write was Crys. As a modern-day teen who discovers dangerous secrets that exist all around her, I struggled to keep her from being an character who just learns information for the benefit of the reader. I ended up writing her chapters in first person to really get deeper into her head, then I rewrote them in third to match the other characters. Maddox was a character who was easy to write – it’s like he always existed for me. And Farrell… well, it’s always fun to write the bad boy. 😉

Farrell and his family are involved with a secret society – did you do any research to help aid you in creating a realistic depiction to what that might be like?
I did lots of online research about secret societies, such as the Illuminati, the Freemasons, Skull and Bones, and others. I also tried to steer away from expected/clichéd secret society behavior as seen in movies and TV shows when it came to their meeting place and society motivations.

I’m so excited that the ending of ABoSaT allows for more books with these characters. How many have you planned for? What can we expect next?
I’m excited too!! There are three books planned and I’m currently writing book two, which will be out next June. In book two, Becca’s POV is added to the mix, and we will also meet a dangerous, magical character who could control the fate of both our world and that of Mytica. Also, both “spirits” and “thieves” continue to play a very large role in this series in new ways!

About the Book

A Book of Spirits and Thieves Cover

A Book of Spirits and Thieves releases today from Razorbill

Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her mother’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart.

Giveaway (US)

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Visit the Other Tour Stops

The Social Potato– 22nd June (Review)
My Friends Are Fiction– 23rd June (Interview)
Vi3tbabe– 24th June (Review)
Two Chicks on Books- 25th June (Would You Rather)
Effortlessly Reading– 26th June (Book Playlist)
A Dream Within A Dream– 29th June (Guest Post)
SciFiChick.com– 30th June (Giveaway)
Bookiemoji– 1st July (Interview)
Dark Faerie Tales– 2nd July (Review)
Young Adult Hollywood– 3rd July (Top 10 YA Boyfriends)
Alice Marvels– 6th July (Review)
The Fandom– 7th July (Interview)
Icey Books– 8th July (Guest Post)
Once Upon a Twilight– 9th July (Interview)
Chapter By Chapter– 10th July (Review)

Extras

  • Interview with Morgan Rhodes about the Falling Kingdoms Series
  • Review of Falling Kingdoms book 1
  • Review of Rebel Springs book 2

Blog Tour: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey- Interview

Melissa Grey’s debut novel The Girl at Midnight released a couple of weeks ago and has been widely anticipated and buzzed about.  I’ve had the joy of reading it already and found it to be such a fun read with so many elements I adore in urban fantasy.

Beyond Melissa’s talent for writing she is also an incredibly skilled artist- she creates the most beautiful nail art inspired by books. I had the pleasure of asking her about her book as well as her art.

About the Book

GirlatMidnightCoverBeneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Available now from Delacorte Press

Interview

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to answer my questions.

In The Girl at Midnight magic is present in the everyday world though just out of the reach of most people. This gives the reader the feeling that if they look close enough they might glimpse some magic in their own lives. Do you search your life to see little bits of magic and have you always been drawn to fantasy in general?
Fantasy has always been my jam, ever since I was a little kid being read bedtime stories about fairies and wizards and trolls that lived under bridges. I don’t think I’ve ever been content with the world we live in, the real world, so creating new and exciting worlds with fantastical elements has always had great appeal to me. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I do think there’s magic to be found in the everyday world (how you want to define magic is up to you!) if only we stop to look for it.

Your main character, Echo, was such a delight to read about. I loved that she had made her home in a library and surrounded herself with books. Though my life differs greatly from Echo’s I still found her to be very relatable. Which character was easiest for you to write and/or relate to?
As much as I see bits and pieces of myself in Echo (her love of books, her appreciation of food, her use of humor as a defense mechanism), I have to say the easiest character for me to write was Dorian. He’s just so Over It, you know? He’s tired of dealing with everyone’s crap and harboring inconvenient emotions that he just can’t shake, but under all the layers of curmudgeon, he’s actually pretty squishy. He’s more sensitive than he appears though he tries very hard to hide it. I definitely know what that’s like.

I loved that you created a world with dragon people (Drakharin) and bird people (Avicen). Could you tell us a little about each and which you are more drawn to yourself (if you could even choose between the two)
The Avicen have feathers for hair and they live beneath the streets of New York. They’ve been around longer than human beings have and they’re too stubborn to leave their home, even if cohabitating with humans drives them to live in secrecy. They’re a vibrant people, who believe in community over the needs of individuals. This is reflected in the structure of their society, where everyone has a role (Ivy is a healer, Rowan is in the military, the Ala is a seer) based on their strengths and their government which is run by a Council of Avicen elders. They don’t think power should reside with a single person because people are inherently flawed.

The Drakharin (who have scales the way humans have freckles which are faint and iridescent against the skin), on the other hand, have a more traditional power structure in some ways. They have a nobility that comes together to elect their monarch (kind of like the way Polish kings were chosen before that monarchy went kaput), who goes by the title of Dragon Prince. Qualities that are prized in Dragons Princes are strength, first and foremost, with wisdom and cunning close behind. Their use of the word Prince instead of King is important on a few levels. They don’t have a word for princess in their language (Drakhar) so anyone can be a Prince regardless of gender and “prince” implies that the position can be fleeting. Kings might cling to power with absolute authority, but prince implies something more ephemeral. It’s a title that be bestowed but also taken away if they find you undeserving of it.

In TGaM Echo can travel quickly between locations with the use of magic- this allows you and the reader to venture many places within your book. You did a wonderful job changing the atmosphere of each of these settings and really made each feel like a different place. Have you done a good amount of traveling to draw inspiration from or did you pull from research?
The book is pretty much a love letter to all the places I’ve been, even the not so nice ones (like the desolate train station in Appenweier, Germany when Echo and her friends head to the Black Forest). I’ve lived in Japan, England, and France, so I had to throw Kyoto, Paris, and London in there. I combined my own experiences with research to make sure I got things right (memory is a funny thing sometimes). I hadn’t been to Scotland when I wrote the book, but I modeled the Drakharin stronghold after a place that already exists — Eilean Donan Castle – so I relied on travel blogs and firsthand accounts from friends for that. The only place I haven’t personally visited (yet) is Taiwan, but that’s where Google street view comes in handy.

Can you give us any hints about the sequel to TGaM?
I can tell you that it’s called The Shadow Hour and it deals with the consequences of what happens at the end of Book One. Echo’s personal journey is only getting started in The Girl at Midnight, and I plan on putting her and her friends through the ringer before everything is said and done.

Those that follow you on Twitter (if not you really should be) have seen your beautiful nail-art creations. Can you tell us about how you got started doing this and share a few of your personal favorites?
Procrastination is the mother of invention. Seriously. I got bored one day and didn’t feel like doing the work I was supposed to be doing so I started painting my nails to look like the nearest book, which if I remember correctly, was The Ring and the Crown by Melissa da la Cruz.

I had a great time doing the character manicures for The Girl at Midnight and the video tutorial for nail art inspired by the cover. I think my favorite designs for books I haven’t written are the ones I did for Rainbow Rowell’s Landline and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap .

If you’ve not visited her Tumblr for nail-art you must do so (right now).

Giveaway

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