Meet the Newbies- S. Jae-Jones Author of Wintersong

Meet the Newbies

Meet 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.

From the moment I heard about Wintersong my heart skipped a beat and I knew I must, MUST, read this book as soon as humanely possible. It pulls from so much I love (Labyrinth, David Bowie as inspiration? SOLD). Sometimes, we run across a book summary it is so ‘us’ we feel completely connected having never read a word. That’s me and this book. I was HONORED when asked if I wanted to host the author, S Jae-Jones.

Author Most Likely to do a Dance, Magic, Dance
Nickname: The Great Miss JJ
First Day of School: February 7, 2017
Homeroom: Thomas Dunne
Grade: Gothic Fairytale
Extracurricular Activities: Piano, visual arts, fencing, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, dressing up for movie premieres, obsessing over fictional characters
Favorite Class: English
Favorite Quote/Motto: “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” -Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

About the Author

13414088S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is a voracious and indiscriminate reader, an avid traveller, and something of an adrenaline junkie.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Social Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GR

About the Book

24763621Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Book Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads


The most obvious question and thus I must ask it, why the Goblin King? How much of the movie Labyrinth can we expect?
Why not the Goblin King? 🙂 To be honest, I don’t really have an answer for that, or at least not a straight one. Labyrinth obviously had a huge effect on me as a little girl (my name is Sarah, after all), but when I watch it as an adult, some of its storytelling flaws come through. Part of me wanted to fix some of the thematic dissonance and logic problems of the movie, but writing WINTERSONG wasn’t as conscious as that. I like Underworld stories, I love the trope Death and the Maiden, I love Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkoenig, I love David Bowie, glitter, and goth things and all of that came together in this book.
As for how much of the movie you can expect to find in the book, well, my editor did make me scrub out a lot of the direct references. 🙂 (And she was right for doing so; we want the book to stand on its own, after all.) However, there are two direct homages to the movie I couldn’t bear to remove. Easter eggs for my readers! Oh, and my Goblin King has mismatched eyes. Just like David Bowie.
I’ve read that your novel was first geared to an adult crowd but has been altered for a younger audience. Can you tell us how that changed the book?
The biggest (and only) change is the editing of the sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes. They are still in the book. They are still on the page. (When I was drafting WINTERSONG, my joke title was 50 Shades of Labyrinth.) But YA and adult sex scenes are treated differently and my editor and I worked to edit them to make them appropriate for a teen audience. Other than that, there has been no actual substantive change. In fact, I initially queried WINTERSONG as YA, but yanno, adult content. 🙂
From the summary and your website I can see that Mozart has a large influence on your work. Are you a musician? What about him and his music captivate you?
I am a musician insofar as I’ve been trained in music since I was very little. I do love music of all kinds: classical, pop, rock, country, hip-hop, etc. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my family’s old Yamaha upright piano, my feet dangling off the bench, picking out how to play Yankee Doodle by ear with just the black keys. I asked my parents for piano lessons when I was three; they told me to wait until I was four. I am a musician insofar as I am someone who can play a vast array of instruments competently (many self-taught), but without any true genius. In other words, I am just musical enough to love it fiercely, but not enough to be anything but passable.
As for Mozart…why does anyone connect to a musician? Why do I love Mozart? Why do I love David Bowie or Marc Bolan or Lady Gaga or Yeezy or the Dixie Chicks? My exposure to Mozart did come at a young, impressionable age; my mother loves his work, so I grew up listening to him the way other children grow up listening to Bob Dylan. But if you were to ask me what I connect to in Mozart’s SOUND, that ineffable quality that is uniquely his, I suppose you could say his transcendence. There’s a clarity and sprightliness to his voice (even in his unfinished Requiem) that’s almost magical.
On a personal level, I find him as a historical person very interesting. He was a child prodigy who grew up to be an adult genius, only to have that genius cut tragically short at the age of 35. But I also love that he was a genius who also liked to make fart jokes and write ditties for his friends called “Lick me in the ass.” (Yes, it’s true!)
As a reader I always hope to deeply connect to one or more characters while reading- as a writer did you find yourself connecting deeper to one of your characters? If so, which and why?
This is tricky for me to answer because all my characters are in some part me. I suppose it’s almost easier to answer which character I aspire to be. Well, maybe aspire isn’t the best word, but there’s a goblin in my book named Thistle, and her contrary, spiteful, spiky personality was really fun to write.
With your book being scheduled to release in early 2017 what part of this journey has been the most surprising?
To be honest, it’s hard to surprise me, mostly because my previous career was as a YA editor in a Big 5 publishing house. I’ve more or less seen it all. 🙂


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Meet the Newbies- Heidi Heilig Author of The Girl From Everywhere+ Giveaway

Meet the Newbies

Meet 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.

Today I’m featuring the wonderfully talented and kind Heidi Heilig. I was blown away with her original take on time travel and how beautifully she wove mythology into her story.

Author Most Likely to Lose Her Voice/Mind at a Book Conference

Nickname: Maddog (this is true.)

First Day of School: February 16, 2016

Homeroom: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Grade: Historical Fantasy

Extracurricular Activities: Cheerleader for The Sweet Sixteens, Captain of the Internet Debate Team

Favorite Class: Alternate History

Favorite Quote/Motto: The world will be better for this/That one man, scorned and covered with scars/Still strove, with his last ounce of courage/To reach the unreachable stars.

About the Author

8167946Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.

She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.

Social Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | FB | Instagram | Pinterest | GR

The  Book

21979832Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Book Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Goodreads

The Interview

Your debut novel, The Girl From Everywhere, was beautifully executed, written and so original. It was obvious to me while reading that you dedicated a good amount of time researching mythological creatures, settings, and time periods. What were some of your favorite things you stumbled upon while gaining knowledge for this book?
Research is truly one of my favorite things, and as is always the case, so much of what I learned didn’t make it into the final draft. I spent a lot of time actually setting up hypothetical trade routes between eras and maps–things like going to Lerna to collect hydra’s blood, which is a deadly poison, as well as the blood of Pontus ducks which is a mythical antidote to poison, and selling both in 17th century France where there was a rash of political poisonings.

Something else I got to really dive into was sailor and pirate lore, especially surrounding women. I loved learning that while women were sometimes considered bad luck aboard, they were also often thought of as being the greatest navigators. And I got to read a lot about famous female pirates like Ching Shih and Grace O’Malley.

I’ve read my fair share of novels that included time travel but never have I read one with a similar method as you’ve created. How did the idea of your travelers only being able to use original maps to venture through time (and only once) come to you?
I’ve always loved old maps, both because the edges are populated with sea monsters, and because I’m obsessed with the idea that an incautious sailor could go too far and sail off the edge of the world. That was what prompted the idea of travel via map–the idea that the world ended at the neatlines. The limitation of only being able to use a map once both prevents potential paradoxes and also imposes an additional challenge on the characters, which makes for better drama.

Obvious question but I have to ask- if you could-where and when would you time travel?
Oh there are so many placed I’d go! My answer changes almost every time i’m asked, but recently I’ve become fascinated by the colonial era China, with the high stakes political and social issues of the opium wars. Plus I love old photographs of Chinese people in Victorian era outfits.

I really felt that one of the strongest features in this book was the character relationships especially between Nix and her father. When writing do you tend to have a favorite character yourself? If so, does it make that character harder or easier to write?
The relationship between Nix and her father, Slate, was definitely the most familiar relationship to me, because it’s reminiscent of my own internal struggle with regrets and bipolar and self-destruction. The fact that it was so close to heart did make it tougher to write. By contrast, Kashmir is my absolute favorite character, and he came fairly easily to the page.

Can you give us any hints as to what’s coming in the follow-up and conclusion to the series?
The second (and final) book of this duology is currently in my editor’s hands, and while I don’t want to spoil anything, I can tell you that it concerns a dire fortune for Nix, an infamous liar from history, and a mythical kingdom doomed to sink into the sea.



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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

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