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Agent Jennifer Unger Query Critique and EMERGE Giveaway through May 7th
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TESSA GRATTON INTERVIEW AND BOOK GIVEAWAY
First, I’m going to announce the winner of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL. The winner is:
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.
Today I’m so excited to interview Tessa Gratton about her debut book, BLOOD MAGIC. I loved the unique and dark magical system Tessa created in her book.
And on July 18th, I got to meet Tessa at her book signing with Maggie Stiefvater in Novi, Michigan. That was such an awesome experience and a highlight of my summer.
Here’s a description of BLOOD MAGIC from Goodreads:
It starts off simply.
Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...
Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.
The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.
Tessa Gratton's intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.
Welcome Tessa. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Your biography at the back of your book says that you wanted to be a paleontologist or wizard since you were seven. And that you were born in Japan and traveled a lot as a kid. I wish being a wizard was a profession too. How has your childhood and your love of fantasy influenced your writing?
The traveling was the biggest influence, I think – partly because moving around forced me to turn books into my best friends. I needed them, and even as an adult remember to strongly what it was like to yearn for a good story or amazing characters to keep my company. But on the writing level itself, traveling gave me the gift of experience and adventure – maneuvering in countries with different languages and cultures teaches you to understand people on all kinds of levels. It taught me especially to be curious about people and to empathize.
2. I turned to books for a different reason—I was incredibly shy. I bet you learned a ton about people from all your travels. I found the magical system based on blood to be very unique and kind of dark. What made you decide to base your magical system on this and is it influenced by any magical systems you researched?
Magic needs to have consequences, and I wanted my magic to be fixed to something hard. Blood is an important part of so many real-world mythologies and magical systems, that it was a natural place to start. Everybody has blood, but you have to make tough choices to access it.
3. Both Silla and Nicholas live in non traditional family situations and have parents with dark pasts. How did you decide to develop this and its relation to the main plot?
The magic is tied to blood, and besides eternal life, the thing blood symbolizes most in our culture is family ties. I wanted the story and the magic to be about family, about family history, and how power/ambition can follow kids from their parents.
4. You wrote the story from three POV characters—Silla, Nicholas, and Josephine—and all have distinctive voices. Did you have any challenges doing this and what advice do you have for authors wanting to try this?
It was tough sometimes to keep everything balanced, but in general I think multiple POVs is easier than a single POV, because you have more options. I worked hardest on making the voices sound separate during revisions – even up through the final round of copy editing. I recommend being sure you know how your characters would talk, and choose specific rules when you start out for how they’ll do things differently. Those can be fine-tuned as you go, but if you know that Silla uses lots of metaphors and Nick talks in shorter sentences, that can be a good place to start.
5. That’s really good advice to focus on making the voices sound different and to go beyond the words they might frequently use to the manner of how they talk. I read that you did not outline until after you wrote your first draft. Can you tell us how you outline and why that works for you?
I use outlines as a way to rearrange the pieces that I’ve already written – when drafting I need to be free to explore crazy other options, but revision is when everything gets tightened up and organized. I prefer notecards and character arc outlines.
6. You’re critique partners with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff. Tell us a bit about how that came about and some advice on how you help each others as critique partners that we should follow in our own critique groups.
Well, really we just met on the internet and started working together! It takes a lot of trial and error to find your perfect CP match. I tried in person groups, online groups, and critiqued for about 20 people before hooking up with Maggie. She introduced me to Brenna, and the rest is history! Don’t settle, either – and be honest all the time.
7. So cool how the Internet can lead to friends. You watched Maggie’s success once SHIVER came out (an awesome series BTW) and Brenna debut. How did their experiences influence your own marketing plan and tell us a bit about what you’ve done to market your book?
I don’t do a lot of marketing myself – not beyond my web presence. I’ve got my website, and I blog because I love it. I had bookmarks designed, but those are for me to give out when I go to conferences or libraries or bookstores, not for any big marketing plans.
8. Your agent is Laura Rennert. Tell us a bit about your road to publication.
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but took it seriously starting in high school. I broke up with it in college, but then after leaving grad school started writing again with the intention of making it my career. I wrote a book, queried about 5 agents, and after they all rejected my book, I wrote a new book, queried 5 more agents. They rejected that book, too, so I wrote a third book and that was the proto-Blood Magic. I only queried Laura that time, and she loved it, and signed me up! My philosophy was that if I wasn’t getting the agents I wanted, then my book wasn’t ready.
9. That’s so awesome how you kept going onto a new project. What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about your secret project that I’ve read you’re working on?
I can’t! Sorry! It’s all top secret for a while longer. What I can tell you is that there’s a companion novel to Blood Magic coming out next spring called THE BLOOD KEEPER. It takes place 5 years later, with new heroes, but most of the characters from Blood Magic will show up, as well as some of the more mysterious ones like Nick’s mom Donna and the Deacon.
That's okay. Can't wait for the companion novel. Thanks Tessa for all your great advice. Good luck with your books!
Thanks for having me!
You can find Tessa at her website, blog, and Merry Sisters of Fate.
I’m giving away one signed copy of BLOOD MAGIC. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on September 10th. I’ll announce the winner on September 12th. International entries are welcome.
And don’t forget you have until midnight on September 3rd to win a copy of THE GATHERING by Kelley Armstrong here. I’ll announce the winner on September 5th.
On September 12th, I’ll be interviewing P.J. Hoover and giving away a copy of her new YA book SOLSTICE.
Enjoy your last week of summer and see you next week!
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Monday, August 29, 2011