Today I’m thrilled to be a part of Shannon Messenger’s Blog Tour for the release of LET THE SKY FALL, which releases on March 5th. I was very fortunate that Shannon let me read her ARC. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. And even though it’s 404 pages long and I had to go to work the days I read it, I finished it in two days. Okay, I confess I stayed up way too long one night because I couldn’t put it down.
Shannon creates a fantastic magical world around the power of wind that the sylphs control. I wondered if this would be enough of a magical power for a whole book, but I loved the different sylph group with their own special wind powers. And Audra and Vane are very different, but both great characters. I know you’re going to love this book.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.
Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.
When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.
Hi Shannon. Thanks so much for coming back her again and letting us help you celebrate your book release.
1. Your first awesome book, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, was a middle grade book. (Everyone, you can read my interview with Shannon here.) LET THE SKY FALL is definitely a YA book. What are some of the differences craft-wise in writing a middle grade vs. a YA book?
Aw, thank you so much for having me, Natalie! It's funny, I never really think: "This is a YA book" or "This is a MG book" when I'm drafting either series, because the "voice" of the stories comes so much from the characters themselves. Vane and Audra are both 17, and Sophie is12/13, so I spend most of my time really trying to think about what it felt like to be those ages, and then channel that feeling into the story. If the characters feel like they're truly their age, then the story will just sort of naturally fall into its proper age category.
2. Great tip to remember how it felt like to be your character’s age. I loved that Audra and Vane are sylphs and that they work with the wind. Tell us why you chose the wind and what your world building process was like.
Sylphs were a mythical creature I'd wanted to play with for a long time, mainly because they have very little actual mythology surrounding them (at least that I could find) so that left me a blank slate to do whatever I wanted. And I've always loved wind. It's something you can't see, but you can hear it and feel it and it's so unpredictable. It can be the gentle breeze that cools you off on a hot day or the raging tornado that destroys an entire town in a matter of minutes. So I spent a lot of time reading up on different wind related phenomena and then trying to decide how I could spin that into a "mythology" for a race of Windwalkers.
3. Your love of the wind definitely comes through here. And it is a great idea to pick a mythological creature with little mythology and then do what you want. I like that! Much of the story revolves around scenes between Audra and Vane. That could make a book a little boring, but your story was riveting. Tell us the challenges you faced in keeping the scenes so focused on them rather than including other characters more frequently.
Aw. *blush* Thank you! You know, this was another thing that really went back to the characters. Vane had such a BIG personality and had so much growing up to do, and Audra was so beautifully broken and complicated that the story didn't really have room for many other characters. It's really about THEM overcoming their pasts and figuring out who they are and how to survive the coming threat together. Once that's cleared up, then I can bring in a wider cast, which is exactly what happens in book 2. :)
4. Ooh, can’t wait for that! Okay, before I get to the next question, I just want to say that I loved that Vane was adopted. As an adoptive mom, I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU for handling Vane’s relationship with his adoptive parents so realistically when he found out about his hidden past. And I loved his mom the few times she was around.
So now on to my next question, whose point of view was more difficult to write in—Audra’s or Vane’s—and why?
Wow, that is a huge compliment--and one of my favorite things in the book, so I'm so glad you enjoyed it. As for your question, they were pretty much equally hard--but in totally different ways. Audra's voice is very wispy and lyrical, so I had to spend a lot of time polishing her prose and finding the right balance between her dark angst and the rhythm of her words. And Vane was really hard to keep serious. I had to go back and trim out a lot of jokes that were funny, but so not the time for that kind of humor.
My writing schedule is INTENSE. I write rather long books and my deadlines are very close together, so I pretty much work every day I'm not traveling for promo, and I pull a lot of all nighters. Which is why I've had to go dark online lately--especially when it comes to blogging. I stay a bit more active on Twitter, but mainly because tweets are short. Usually I sneak on during my daily writing breaks, respond to any @'s waiting for me, toss out a few new tweets of my own, and then sneak away and get back to work. But when I'm on a tight deadline I'll even be scarce on Twitter, mainly because my editor follows me on there and the last thing I'd want is for her to be like, WHY ARE YOU TWEETING--YOU OWE ME A BOOK!!! :)
6. It sounds intense. Hope it lightens up one of these days. I liked when you blogged more. Are your marketing plans any different for LET THE SKY FALL since it’s a YA book vs. KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, which is a middle grade story? Why?
Yes, very much so--largely because kids aren't online much. Having something like a blog countdown widget or a goodreads giveaway would be wasted efforts on a middle grade, since your readers aren't "there." Whereas YA readers are.
7. That’s true to a point. I think really it’s adults on blogs and maybe even Goodreads. But I agree no middle grade kids are there. Share your advice on the essential things you’d recommend an author do in marketing their book.
Try to remember that launching a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, you need to do a lot of promo leading up to the release of the book--but that's only the beginning. Every so often the book takes off from week one and goes huge huge huge, but most of the time it has to build. So do what you can to give your book as strong of a start as you can, but remember it's just a START, and save some of that energy for things after release.
8. That’s great advice to not put all your promotion to the release only. What are you working on now?
I just finished up the sequel to LTSF and now I have a few of those "in-between deadlines" (flap copy, first pass, etc) before I dive in to writing KEEPER 3. There's really no break when you do two series a year. Good thing I love my job! :)
True it’s a lot of work, but awesome to have two series out there. Thanks Shannon for sharing all your advice. I’m so excited for you watching you release another book. Good luck with it all.
Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She also regularly eats cupcakes for breakfast, sleeps with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and occasionally gets caught talking to imaginary people. So it was only natural for her to write stories for children. KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES is her first novel, with LET THE SKY FALL, a young adult novel, to follow in 2013. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.
Visit Shannon: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads
Shannon’s doing a pre-order giveaway HERE.
You can find the whole blog tour hosted by Mundie Moms HERE. And I really recommend you follow Mundie Moms' blog. It's SO awesome!
So there’s two giveaways today. First as part of the blog tour you can win 1 of 5 copies of LET THE SKY FALL by filling out the Rafflecopter below:
- US residents only.
(international fans can enter as long as they have a US address
Simon & Schuster can send the book to.)
- You must be 13 yrs & older to enter.
- You must be 13 yrs & older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And I’m giving away a copy of LET THE SKY FALL too because Shannon’s my friend and she’s been so supportive to the writing community. To enter, 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 March 16th. I’ll announce the winner on March 18th. International entries are welcome as long as you live where The Book Depository ships for free.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry.
And don't forget to enter my other contests. The links are at the top of the blog.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Monday, I have a guest post by Anna Staniszewski and a giveaway of her new book, MY FAIRY EPIC TALE FAIL, and her first book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE. She does a fantastic job of combining fantasy with humor.
Next Wednesday, I have a guest post with debut author Liesel Hill and a giveaway of her new adult dystopian, PERSISTENCE OF VISION.
The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Steven dos Santos and giving away an ARC of THE CULLING. It’s an action packed dystopian and trust me, Steven has no problem being hard on his characters.
Wednesday that week I’m super excited to share THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer Nielsen with you. I’ve been dying to read this since I read THE FALSE PRINCE last year, which just made the New York Bestseller list and won the Cybils. THE FALSE PRINCE is one of my all-time favorite books. THE RUNAWAY KING is fantastic and I’ll be doing a giveaway.
The following Monday I'm interviewing debut author Mindee Arnett and giving away a copy of her urban fantasy THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR. I loved the magical world Mindee created that was also grounded in our world. And there's a mystery to be solved, something I always love.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!