2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: BLIND SPOT by Laura Ellen


Welcome back to my Fall 2012 YA Debut Interview series! I’m excited to feature these debut novels from the fall season, and I hope you’re as intrigued to get your hands on them as I am. Today’s YA debut author is Laura Ellen—her first novel, Blind Spot, comes out October 23 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Read on to see how Laura answered my Q&A…

…And be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a signed ARC and bookmarks!


BLIND SPOT comes out October 23!

Nova: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Laura: Ugh, I am so bad at the “elevator pitch.” :) Quick version: Blind Spot is a YA thriller about sixteen-year-old Roswell Hart, who is legally blind and desperate to prove she is just like everyone else. When her special-education classmate Tricia Farni is found dead six months after the night she disappeared—the night Roz fought with her, the night Roz can’t remember—Roz finds herself in a desperate race to clear her name and find a murderer.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave? 

Blind Spot was that novel that had to be written; the one that wouldn’t let me give up on it no matter how many revisions it took to get there. I based Roz on my own experiences growing up with a visual impairment and there was just so much I wanted to say and so much I was afraid to say. I struggled quite a bit at first. I found as I wrote that there was a lot I had never actually dealt with—stuff that was bottled up inside, neglected, forgotten, ignored—and delving into that was difficult. On top of that, I wanted the focus to be this kick-ass, can’t-put-it-down thriller NOT Roz and her visual impairment, and I found those two plot aspects butted heads—A LOT! I had to write several versions—even switched from first to third and then back to first person—in order to find the right balance between the two.

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.

I wrote Blind Spot in my old home office (since then we have moved and I have a new office). At that time, it was the den and both my desk and my husband’s desk were in the room. Many times I’d be writing and my husband was a foot away watching some YouTube video or reading some joke email to me, so finally I asked if I could kick him downstairs and have the den to myself—of course, being the sweetheart he is he obliged. :) Once I had it all to myself, I filled the space with all that inspires me—wall-to-wall books, artwork and pottery by my kids, music readily available, and an area to sit by the window. My new office is very similar.

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

It is dark, 3 or 4 a.m. and just a small table lamp is on. My ideal reader is huddled in bed, hunched over Blind Spot, its spine clutched in her hands. She is dog-tired, eyes barely open, but she cannot put the book down because she has to see what happens next. (I say she, but it could be a dude too, Blind Spot is definitely guy-friendly.)

What was the moment when the upcoming publication of your novel felt “real” for the first time—when you got your editorial letter, when you saw the cover, when you held the ARC in your hands… or something else? Or if it doesn’t feel “real” yet, when do you think it will?

This still doesn’t feel “real” to me—maybe when I see it in the bookstore? When I got my ARCs though and saw my words on the pages inside a book, that definitely was a feeling I can only describe as surreal. And weird. Very weird!!

Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

Hmmm, okay this would be a really strange combination for a book tour, but my ideal book tour companions would be Jane Austen and Holly Black. I know. I told you it would be strange! But I love everything Jane Austen and Holly Black. As far as locale, I would be totally selfish and choose Italy because I have always wanted to travel there. And food? I’d love to serve chocolate fondue even though it would be super messy and would probably get all over the books….but I could sign with chocolate fingerprints instead of my name.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

My first line. I LOVE that line:

“Winter stopped hiding Tricia Farni on Good Friday.”

Blind Spot comes out October 23, 2012, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Read on for a chance to win a signed ARC and bookmarks!


Laura Ellen spent many nights reading thrillers, horror stories, and mysteries into the wee hours of the morning in her hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, when she was growing up. She still loves the draw of the mystery, the suggestion of a conspiracy, the hint of the unknown and tries to infuse those aspects into whatever story she may be writing. Laura is a former language arts teacher and now writes full-time from her new home in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she lives with her husband, children and, yes, a dog :). Laura is represented by the awesome Jill Corcoran of The Herman Agency.

Visit www.lauraellenbooks.com to find out more.

Follow @lauraellenbooks on Twitter.


NOW ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

You could win: a *signed* ARC of Blind Spot plus bookmarks!

BLIND SPOT comes out October 23!

How to enter:

1. Just leave a comment on this post, or

2. Fill out this entry form.

If you do both, you will be entered TWICE!

And to gain another entry, just tweet about this interview and giveaway—and let me know you did in your comment or on the form—and you’ll be entered THREE TIMES.

This giveaway is open in the US only. This giveaway closes on Thursday, September 27 at 8pm EST. Good luck!


What’s the next Fall 2012 YA debut novel I’m looking forward to—and the very last book in the series? Come back tomorrow to find out.

…And stay tuned for Monday, when I’ll host an INTERNATIONAL giveaway to win the featured debut of your choice!

2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: FALL TO PIECES by Vahini Naidoo


Welcome back to my Fall 2012 YA Debut Interview series! I’m excited to feature these debut novels from the fall season, and I hope you’re as intrigued to get your hands on them as I am. Today’s YA debut author is Vahini Naidoo—her first novel, Fall to Pieces, comes out October 2 from Marshall Cavendish / Amazon Children’s Publishing. Read on to see how Vahini answered my Q&A…

…And be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a pre-order of the book!


FALL TO PIECES comes out October 2!

Nova: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Vahini: To be honest, I usually say something along the lines of, “Um…” Accompanied by a nervous laugh and shifty eyes. Which gets me some weird looks in response. I’m pretty bad at pitching my work in person. If pressed a bit more, though, I’ll usually say that it’s about a girl committing suicide in front of a garden gnome and how that affects her best friends.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave? 

Fall to Pieces wanted to be written nearly nonstop during a crucial exam period in my senior year of high school, which was a bit bratty of it, really. I appeased it by giving it its way—what can I say, I’m a bit of a pushover—and it rewarded me by drafting itself in a period of three weeks. Unfortunately, the bratty streak returned during revisions and I had to smack away at the manuscript until it would behave.

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.

I wrote most of Fall to Pieces while lying on my bed. I’m one of those bizarre people that likes to eat, sleep, study, read, write, play, etc. all on their bed. I do also write in cafes quite often, and if I wasn’t supposed to have been studying for exams and I’d had more money as a seventeen-year-old, I would quite like to have written the manuscript at a quiet, charming cafe with an interesting clientele and an excellent cappuccino.

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

Well, obviously my perfect reader is the most attractive person about. They’re decked out in gear that would make even the most ironic of hipsters shed a genuine tear of jealousy. He/she is sitting right up the back of the bus, and there’s a book in their hands. The book is anything but Fifty Shades of Grey or Freedom and they’re concentrating intensely enough that there’s a tiny furrow between their brows. They’re so lost in their story that they don’t even register that the guy beside them has farted and the entire bus has taken on the smell of rotten eggs.

What was the moment when the upcoming publication of your novel felt “real” for the first time—when you got your editorial letter, when you saw the cover, when you held the ARC in your hands… or something else? Or if it doesn’t feel “real” yet, when do you think it will?

It felt a lot less surreal when I first held the ARC in my hands, but I still don’t think it feels entirely real. I think it will feel entirely real once it’s realised. Or, if not, then when a friend gives me their likely overly candid thoughts on the book.

Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

Ooh, I’d like to tour all of the US, road tripping with Christopher Marlowe and JK Rowling and serving chocolate, orange and chilli tart at all book signings.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

“Sometimes when I fall, I don’t just remember. I forget.”

Fall to Pieces comes out October 2, 2012, from Marshall Cavendish / Amazon Children’s Publishing. Read on for a chance to win a pre-order of the book!


Vahini Naidoo is a University student from Canberra, Australia. She spends inordinate amounts of time consuming instant noodles and novels. Her debut, Fall to Pieces, will be released by Marshall Cavendish in Fall, 2012. You can read more of her rambly thoughts on her blog.

Follow @VeeNaidoo on Twitter.


NOW ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

You could win: a pre-order of Fall to Pieces!

FALL TO PIECES comes out October 2!

How to enter:

1. Just leave a comment on this post, or

2. Fill out this entry form.

If you do both, you will be entered TWICE!

And to gain another entry, just tweet about this interview and giveaway—and let me know you did in your comment or on the form—and you’ll be entered THREE TIMES.

This giveaway is open internationally—to wherever the Book Depository wil ship. This giveaway closes on Wednesday, September 26 at 8pm EST. Good luck!


What’s the next Fall 2012 YA debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back tomorrow to find out.

…And stay tuned for the end of the interview series, when I’ll host an INTERNATIONAL giveaway to win the featured debut of your choice!