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Today, I'm excited to interview P.J. Hoover about her new e-book SOLSTICE that was released May 4th. I've become friends with P.J. through her blog and it's been so much fun watching her career grow. In SOLSTICE. I loved how P.J. combined a dystopian setting with Greek mythology. She's also the author of a middle grade series, THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and THE NECROPOLIS.
Here's a description of SOLSTICE from Goodreads:
But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she’s drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she’s ever known.
Hi P.J. Thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks so much for letting me be here! I am super honored!
1. Tell us a little about your book.
SOLSTICE is set in the future when global warming is basically killing the earth. This girl, Piper, gets a mysterious box as a present for her eighteenth birthday, and her entire world shifts. She discovers that, in addition to her global warming world, there’s this world of mythology, and somehow she’s deeply connected to it. Her mother is psychotic and won’t give her any freedom, so when Piper gets a rare opportunity for freedom, she seizes it. And the next thing she knows, her best friend almost dies, she visits the Underworld, and gods are walking the earth. And that’s only in the first eighty pages
2. I loved how action packed the story was and that you got us into the problems of the story right away. You’ve created a dystopian story with extreme global warming as the problem and chose Austin, Texas, as the setting. Having visited there twice in the summer, I could so see this as a setting that would be impacted by severe global warming. How did your background in science (for those of you who don’t know, P.J. was an engineer) help you develop the strategies to deal with global warming in your story?
From what I’ve seen, technical types tend to focus on world building, and I found this to be the case with SOLSTICE. I loved asking the what-if questions and trying to figure out the world. How would society be impacted? What would people do to cope? How would daily life be different? I attribute spending so much time on these questions to my engineering background and interests.
3. I loved the combination of the dystopian world and Greek mythology. Tell us how you decided on this combination and why you picked the Greek myth you chose.
Thank you! It’s funny, because I never intended to write a dystopian story. I simply wanted to write a “what happens after the myth” story (as opposed to a myth retelling). And I always wanted to focus on the Hades/Persephone story. The whole dystopian element kind of came by surprise and evolved into way more than I ever imagine.
4. I think focusing on what happens after the myth with the dystopian aspect is one of the ways you've made your story so unique. At least for me. Piper is such an interesting character. She’s sheltered by her mother big time, but rebelling a bit at the start of the story. And then she’s faced with all these hard choices and a hidden past. How did you develop her as a character and what were the differences in writing a YA main character versus the middle grade character in your first series?
I spent many, many hours revising Piper’s character. I wanted to make sure she changed over the course of the novel. I wanted to make her strong yet still susceptible to many of the issues teens face today. It was no easy task. Piper starts as an uber-controlled character, never making her own decisions in life, but she ends as a force to be reckoned with, with her own, definite, place in the world.
As for the differences between MG and YA in this respect, teens (the normal age for YA) face such intense issues. Not that younger kids don’t, but many of the tough issues are not talked about in middle grade novels. Facing harder issues seems to open more doors for character exploration.
5. You decided to independently publish SOLSTICE. What were some of the considerations in making this decision? Do you have any advice on the pros and cons of going this route after independently publishing your first book?
Lots of the decision was hitting the market window. SOLSTICE is heavy in mythology, and this spring seemed to be the season of the mythology book. I wanted to be in that season.
For the pros, timing is a huge one. There is no long delay when publishing an ebook which is actually wonderful. The book is formatted and published. And people can start reading. It’s all so cool (and very much like a whirlwind).
As for the cons, all marketing is all up to the author. That said, in today’s publishing world, authors have to market their books anyway and it’s good to learn how.
6. Your agent, Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary, and you are trailblazers in the independently published book field. In fact, you’re the first author Andrea Brown Literary Agency helped independently publish a book. Tell us a bit about how that came about and how Laura Rennert’s role as your agent changed through this process.
Laura was the one to suggest independently publishing SOLSTICE. I love that she is so forward thinking and is not afraid to try something new. It’s the way I want to be in life. Try it, and see how it goes rather than sitting around thinking about it for years.
As for her role as my agent, it’s only complemented that role. She is still my agent for traditionally published books, so nothing has changed in that respect.
7. That's awesome that Laura was the one to suggest this. You did a large two month blog tour in July and August to promote SOLSTICE. How was the tour organized and by whom? What did you learn from the blog tour that you’ll use when your future publications are released?
My tour was actually two separate tours. The first four weeks were organized by Pump Up Your Book Blog Tours, and the second four weeks were organized by The Teen Book Scene. Both were fantastic to work with.
As for future books, each individual project has to be analyzed and decisions made at that time based on the book, the audience, and how social marketing has changed. Even now we are seeing blogs read less and twitter being more popular. In a year everything could be different, so it’s always nice to keep one’s options open.
8. It is interesting to watch how social networking and publishing is changing. Over the past months, I’ve noticed you reaching out on your blog to more book bloggers and other authors independently publishing their books. Tell us how you networked with them and any decisions you made in deciding who to connect with.
I’ve met some indie authors through social networking who I’ve developed a bond with. Of these, Laura Elliott asked me if I wanted to be part of the YA Indie Carnival which is a group of indie authors posting on the same topic every Friday. I loved the idea, and the group is fabulous. Truly, the indie books I’ve been sampling and reading are authors who have reached out in friendship and those with whom I have common interests.
9. What are you working on now? What are your plans for publication of your future project?
I’m working on a middle grade and a young adult novel, both fantasy. I never talk much about unpublished works, but I am managing to keep myself busy. As for plans for publication, I am open to pretty much anything.
Thank you so much for letting me be on your wonderful blog!
Thanks P.J. I'm excited you're continuing to write fantasies, my favorite genres. Good luck with your book.
Here's P..'s bio:
P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.
P.J. has offered two copies of SOLSTICE for a giveaway. You do not need an e-reader to read her fabulous book. I don't have one so downloaded her book to my computer. 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 24th. Please leave your e-mail address if it’s not on Blogger. I’ll announce the winner on September 26th. International entries are welcome.
Next week I'll be interviewing a teenager who also blogs for my ASK THE EXPERT SERIES and also doing another book giveaway.
And on September 26th, I'll be interviewing Kiki Hamilton and giving away a copy of her debut book, THE FAERIE RING.
Hope to see you next Monday!