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Today I’m excited to interview Jen Nadol about her new book, THE VISION, which was released on September 27, 2011. The first book in the series is THE MARK. I really enjoyed reading about Cassie’s special ability to see when someone will die and to watch her struggle to decide what to do with that knowledge.

Here’s a description of THE VISION from Goodreads:

Cassie Renfield knows the mark tells her when someone is going to die and that she can intervene and attempt to change fate. But she still doesn't understand the consequences, especially whether saving one life dooms another. With no family left to offer guidance, Cassie goes in search of others like her. But when she meets Demetria, a troubled girl who seems to have the power of the Fates, Cassie finds the truth isn't at all what she expected. And then there's her heady new romance with bad boy Zander. Dating him has much graver repercussions than she could ever have imagined, forcing Cassie to make choices that cut to the essence of who she is and what she believes.
Jen Nadol offers readers a romance with big stakes and an ethical dilemma with no easy answers in this riveting sequel to The Mark. Paranormal fans who love the psychological thrill of Lisa McMann's bestselling Wake trilogy will flock to these books.

1. Tell us about yourself and your series.

Me.: I’m from PA, live in NY, write YA novels, read anything except really depressing stuff and hardcore scifi/fantasy, love good food, hate pantyhose and am forever pining for an extra hour of sleep.

The series: Cassie is sixteen at the start of THE MARK when she realizes the light she sees around certain people means they’re destined to die that day. The series follows her as she tries to figure out what to do with her “gift”. Should she tell or not? What’s ethical? What can she live with? Why does she see it? Can she change things? If so, should she? Are there others like her? There’s also some philosophy, comparative religion and romance in there. And morticians.

2. I can so relate to needing more sleep. Cassie is very independent for a teenager. She lives on her own in an apartment with a friend in THE VISION. How did you decide that she needed to be so independent and how did that influence your decisions about her as a character?

A lot of the story in both THE MARK and THE VISION is about Cassie’s self-discovery – the regular coming of age stuff along with piecing together the family history behind her ability. I really wanted her to solve the mysteries on her own, bringing the reader along on that journey, rather than having family who could/should fill her in on it.

As for her character, she’s mature, introspective and independent and with such a grave ability, I couldn’t really see her being any other way. How could you be so aware of death and not distance yourself from others a little? And grow up a lot? So I think some of who she is comes from being on her own, but mostly she’s become that way as a result of her “gift”.

3. That’s so awesome how you tied her independence to her “gift.” You’ve changed the setting in THE VISION to near Chicago and Cassie had already been in Kansas and Pennsylvania. What made you decide to have her move and what research did you do to create realistic settings?

In THE MARK, Cassie learns the source of her ability, but not what she’s supposed to do with it. The next logical step was for her to try to figure it out…test, research, look for answers. “Home” – that safe place with familiar places and people – is really important to her, probably because she has so few touchstones in her life. I didn’t feel like she’d be comfortable or willing to explore there so I moved her to a place without those connections. I did my initial research online, looking at photos and reading about neighborhoods. Then, after the story was drafted, asked a bunch of questions to people who’d lived there to get the details right.

4. One of the things I enjoyed about THE VISION was that you gave me enough backstory so I could understand the story without having read THE MARK. And you sprinkled it in. Can you give us some tips on how to do this in the second book of a series?

I should probably refer you to my editor for this because if I remember her notes right, she kept telling me to cut the backstory! It’s so tempting to play catch-up with an info dump in the first chapter or two so you can just move forward with what you want to tell, but the most important thing is to focus on the STORY of this book. Write it like everyone in the world already knows what happened in book one (or two or three). Focus on hooking your reader with the things that are always important – conflict, action, compelling characters. Then, go back and decide the key things your reader has to know for the conflict or motivation to make sense. Give it to them in a sentence or two – not a paragraph. And leave plenty unsaid. People who’ve read the earlier books don’t want them re-hashed and people who haven’t don’t need to know everything that happened. Save it so they have a reason to go back and read!

5. Your editor had great advice. I wouldn’t have thought to assume the reader would know the first book, at least in the second book of a series. And you certainly did a good job just giving us the right amount of backstory with just a few sentences. I read that after you wrote THE MARK and it was in production that you discovered two similar books already on the market. What’s your advice on handling this situation?

Ignore them and focus on your story. Nothing productive can come of fretting about those other books and the reality is that your story is probably different in about a thousand ways.

6. Let's move onto the business aspect of writing. Tell us about your road to publication.

I started writing “for serious” when my first son was born over seven years ago. It took me about two years to finish a terrible manuscript. Then another year or so to realize it was terrible. After that I wrote The Mark. I queried, was rejected, revised. Again and again. Fifty plus rejections later, I got an agent. Within a month, it sold. That was awesome and there were more awesome moments after.

And definitely some not-awesome moments.

I love writing. There is nothing like the feeling of finishing a manuscript or making the perfect revisions, seeing threads of a story come together just right…it’s pure amazing. And at this point on my road to publication, I really think that’s what you have to write for – the love of writing itself - because anything else we think it is or might be is sort of illusory.

7. Many authors have shared similar experiences where the first book is not “the one” and have to persevere after rejections before selling their book. Thanks for reminding us not to give up. What are you doing to market your books and do you have any advice for us aspiring authors?

All the usual stuff – I blog and link my posts to goodreads, amazon and facebook. I tweet about giveaways and random stuff equally though not terribly often. I try never to decline invitations to read/sign, do interviews or guest posts unless they would require superhuman effort to fit into my schedule. And I write new stuff which is the most important of all. No one wants to hear about any single book ad infinitum. The best thing you can do to market any book is write more of them.

8. It’s so true that you have to write that next book. So what are you working on now?

I’m doing a final pass on TOUCH, a companion novel to THE MARK and THE VISION in preparation for submission. Then, back to my rough draft of THE BOX, an unrelated YA novel that needs a good amount of work, but that I’m really excited about.

Thanks Jen for sharing with us. Good luck with your books.

Thanks for having me – good luck to you too!

You can visit Jen at her website and her blog.

Jen has offered an ARC of THE VISION for a giveaway. 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 October 15th. Please leave your e-mail address if it’s not on Blogger. I’ll announce the winner on October 17th. International entries are welcome.

And if you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

I hope you’ll stop by next Monday for my interview with Janice Hardy and giveaway of her book DARKFALL. The following Monday I’m interviewing a 9th grade aspiring author who follows our blog for my Ask The Expert series and giving away an ARC I know you’ll want.

See you next Monday!


buddyt said...

I like the fact that the backstory is esplained. Its often a problem if you haven't read the first book of a series.

The characters sound well drawn and I would like to read the book so please enter me.

Thanks for opening the giveaway to worldwide entries.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Unknown said...


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks so much Jen for letting me interview you and for sharing your advice.

brandileigh2003 said...

Thanks! I loved the first one!
tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/brandileigh2003/status/121578839506825216

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm not usually into romance, but this sounds like it's got interesting other subplots intertwined within. I'd probably have to read the first one, well, first.

R.A.Desilets said...

Great interview, loved the insights about your first finished piece (and how you knew it wasn't strong). More often than not, writers do not want to admit their failures (myself included).

So grateful for your honesty here, I would love to receive a copy :)

Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

Casey McCormick said...

Fantastic interview Jen and Natalie. I really enjoyed learning about this series and Jen's journey! Looking forward to reading THE MARK and THE VISION.

Stina said...

You just had to say psychological thriller and I was sold. :D

Jen Nadol said...

Thanks so much for hosting me, Casey and Natalie, and for the great, insightful questions!

@R.A. - I think that's one of the hardest things for a writer...not just learning to admit something's not ready, but even learning to recognize it. I still struggle with it - I'd revised the heck out of my current WIP, had critters read, revised, then ended up sitting on it for a bit. Re-reading now, after a few months' time, I'm amazed at how much still needs work that I just didn't seen before. We spend so much time with our work that I think sometimes we're truly blind to its faults.

Thanks to all for stopping by and commenting :)))

Vivien said...

I love a great psychological thriller. I need myself a page turner!
GFC follower

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Paula said...

I was freaking until I read your answer to question number five because my wip has similarities, but not (if that makes sense), to this tale.

I haven't read The Mark, but will definitely put in on my TRL. I love the philosophical questions this story explores.

Great interview. (And I hate panty hose, too : )

TimJasonWallis said...

Great Interview! I'll definitely check this series out!

Natalie said...

I've heard fantastic things about Jen Nadol! I love the description she gave about her querying process. I think a lot of people forget about just how difficult it can be to get a book published.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Mark. I think the parts I loved the most were the conversations and thoughts about a person who had the gift...his/her responsibility.

I can't wait to read Vision.

Anonymous said...

I forgot my email address up there: tracy.dickens@yahoo.com

Llehn said...

I'd love to play please.

GFC follower.


kah said...

How have I not heard about this one yet? Gonna add it to my TBR list. :)

No One said...

I'd love to win this book, and I follow this blog!


donnas said...

Looking forward to this one. Thanks for the chance!

Im a follower

tweet - http://twitter.com/#!/DonnaS1/status/123611890977996800

bacchus76 at myself dot com

The Read & Seek said...

I see this book everywhere on the blogs. I really excited and really want to read this.

Im a follower

I retweeted http://twitter.com/#!/jennadol/status/124924053726306304


Cordelia Dinsmore said...

This sounds like a very interesting read. I'll have to check out the first one before reading it, though.