2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: THE LOST GIRL by Sangu Mandanna

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 Sangu Mandanna—her first novel, The Lost Girl, came out on August 28 from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. Read on to see how Sangu answered my Q&A…

…And be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win her book!

THE LOST GIRL came out August 28 from Balzer + Bray!

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.)

Sangu: It’s about love and loss. It’s about a world in which death can (almost) be cheated. Weavers stitch echoes, copies of real people, and those echoes grow up learning to be just like their original. One day, when the system is perfect, it will be different: echoes will be bodies, nothing more, and the soul of the original will reawaken in the new body when their first one dies. And that’s what everyone who asks for an echo of their loved ones hopes for. But the system isn’t perfect yet. The Lost Girl is about a girl called Amarra, who dies, and her echo Eva, who falls in love and risks her life just for the chance to be herself.

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? 

It misbehaved all the time! Most of that is Eva’s fault, though. I’d try to write her story one way, but she would insist on taking me another way. She got herself into all kinds of trouble and left me to try and figure out how to get her out of it again. She sulked when I didn’t do what she wanted and I’d spend weeks struggling with a single scene. But, you know, I liked being inside her head. I loved writing her story. The book wasn’t easy, and sometimes I wanted to give up on it, but it wouldn’t let me.

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 the book at a desk in a university bedroom, looking out at a gorgeous landscape of hills and trees and sky and, that winter, snow. The north of England is absolutely beautiful, and I was lucky to spend so much time there, so I don’t actually wish I’d written the book anywhere else.

(I’ve included a photo here, though it’s not the best one. I really should have thought ahead and been all hmm. I might need a photo of The Lost Girl’s birthplace someday. Alas.)

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.

This has opened quite the can of worms. Now I’m imagining all kinds of amazing readers. And I’m torn. Mostly between a) a random stranger, someone I’ve never seen in my life, sitting nearby and reading my book with tears streaming down their face (yes, in public. Yes, I’m horrible, wishing tears upon someone) and b) JK Rowling just holding my book in her hands.

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?

That moment only came a few weeks ago.A box of finished copies arrived, and I took them out and stuck them on one of my bookshelves, and suddenly it hit me. They were real. And sitting on my shelf next to other real books. Until then, I was so busy working on the book, and thinking about other projects, that it never really hit me, properly hit me, that my book was going to be out there.

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?

I’d go on tour right here (Britain) or America, with JK Rowling (I know, that’s the second time she’s come up. But I’m such a Harry Potter addict and I would seize the opportunity to pester her with all kinds of questions) and Emily Bronte. And I would make sure there were scones with jam and clotted cream. You can’t have too many of them. (If you’re wondering, yes, I do have one stuffed in my mouth right now.)

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.)

Oh, nooooo. But my favourite sentence may not be the most enticing! Okay, here we go anyway:

“You’ve always been our monster,” says Adrian. “Don’t ever forget that.”

The Lost Girl was published on August 28, 2012, by Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins. Read on for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Sangu Mandanna was four years old when she was chased by an elephant and wrote her first story about it and decided that this was what she wanted to do with her life. Seventeen years later, she read Frankenstein. It sent her into a writing frenzy that became The Lost Girl, a novel about death and love and the tie that binds the two together. Sangu now lives in England with her husband and baby son.

Visit her at www.sangumandanna.com to find out more. 

Follow @SanguMandanna on Twitter.

Read the first chapter of The Lost Girl for free! Just click here.


You could win: a finished copy of The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna!

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 Wednesday, September 19 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!

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