First I have a few winners to announce:
The winner of the Spooktacular Giveaway is Erica who picked ALL OUR YESTERDAYS!
The winner of KEEPING THE PEACE is Christina Rains!
The winner of THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US is Holly Leston!
The winner of THE HERO’S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE is Martha Ramirez!
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I’ll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m thrilled to have Meagan Spooner and debut author Amie Kaufman here to share about their new book, THESE BROKEN STARS, which releases December 10, 2013. Meagan is also the author of SKYLARK and the recently released second book in the series, SHADOWLARK, a YA fantasy/dystopian series.
I loved THESE BROKEN STARS! It really put me in touch with how the world building for sci-fi can be so much like fantasy world building. And you know I love fantasy. Meagan & Amie create a fantastic world both on the spaceship Icarus and the planet it crashes on. And OMG, they keep dishing out more and more bad things for Lilac and Tarver to deal with that kept the plot fast paced with twists I wasn’t expecting.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.
Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.
A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.
Hi Meagan and Amie. Thanks so much for joining us.
Thank you! It’s lovely to be here, Natalie—thanks for having us!
1. Tell us how you became writers and how you began writing together.
Meg: We’ve always loved books, and like many book-lovers, always harbored dreams of one day writing them, too. But we actually began writing together through a collaborative role-playing game, rather like a round-robin writing group where one person writes a paragraph from one character, then hands it on to the next. Amie and I clicked right away, and continued to “play” together in that way long after we’d stopped playing the games.
Amie: We came across the idea of These Broken Stars when we were looking for something to write about next. I wanted to write something around a shipwreck, and Meg was interested in space, and…voila! These Broken Stars started out as a project just for fun, and it was a while before we realized it could be a book.
2. That’s an amazing way to come up with a story idea. I’ve always been curious about how authors collaborate on a book and make it seem like it’s written by one person. And you have the challenge of Meagan living in the U.S. and Amie living in Australia. Share about your collaboration process and any tips for other writers thinking of co-writing a book.
Meg: It helps to be extremely familiar with the other person’s writing and creative process before
Amie: There are definitely advantages, too! Being in different time zones, we can hand off the manuscript before bed. When you wake up, it’s like elves worked on it overnight! In terms of tips, we’d say you need to communicate extremely well, and set out your expectations clearly in terms of timeframes, contributions and everything else you can think of. Make sure you’re on the same page, so you don’t get tripped up later!
3. I don’t think many writers would be as dedicated as you two to write for fun together for so long before starting a project like this. And it’s even more amazing that you live in different countries and write together. What was your world building process like? And Meagan, did you find the world building different than your fantasy series?
Amie: At first our world-building was pretty organic (no pun intended), as we got to know the characters and the world all at once. Then the research began, and by the end of our revisions, our editor had us putting together what we call the Starbound Encyclopedia (Starbound is the series title), dozens of pages of everything from government to ecosystems to social boundaries, terraforming and education. It’s proving truly valuable for the sequels!
Meg: In some ways, world-building for TBS was very different from SKYLARK, but in other ways it was exactly the same. For SKYLARK, I used a lot of real-world tools like Google Maps and botany textbooks and so forth to make sure the wilderness felt like a real place. For TBS, we had to be a little more creative and think about what the universe would be like in the future. But we still had to make the planet feel like a real place, despite all its mysteries, so there was a lot of geography and other sciences that went into making it accurate and real.
4. That’s a great idea to write out an encyclopedia-like document about the important aspects of your world. I loved both Tarver and Lilac. Lilac especially goes through so much and changes tremendously as a character. And the story is mostly focused on only them with no other characters, which is hard to pull off to keep interesting like you did. How did you plot out the character arcs for Tarver and Lilac?
Meg: Thank you for saying we pulled it off! I mainly wrote Lilac, while Amie mainly wrote Tarver. With Lilac, I always knew I wanted to write this spoiled, bratty girl, because it’d be fun, and be so different from my other series. But I also knew that the brattiness was only one layer to a much more complicated character, because two-dimensional characters are not interesting over the long haul. I definitely believe that times of intense challenge peel back the superficial layers and reveal a person’s true character, and that’s definitely what happens to Lilac in THESE BROKEN STARS.
Amie: Meg’s right about intense challenges revealing who someone really is, and distilling them down to their essence. I spent a lot of time thinking about who Tarver was, and about his past experiences—over the course of the book you learn about his family, and we already know he’s been to war, fighting in the border planet rebellions. I thought about what those experiences would do to him, and how that would reveal itself at each stage of the book.
5. You did a great job making both Lilac and Tarver complicated characters that grow through the story. Share a writing challenge you faced in writing THESE BROKEN STARS and how you overcame it.
Amie: In between each chapter, we get a snippet of a scene in which Tarver is being interrogated—though we don’t know why. We soon realize he’s not telling the truth, but as his story and the facts diverge, the mystery of what he’s trying to hide grows deeper and deeper. Writing those was definitely a challenge, but absolutely worth it!
Meg: As you already mentioned, there are really only two characters in this book. It was definitely a challenge to put so much weight on their shoulders. There was no one to come in and impart information, for example—they had to learn everything themselves. There was no one for them to talk to about their feelings for each other, so we had to show their relationship with actions and thoughts. It was a challenge, certainly, but it’s also why this book is unique, and I’m so glad we kept it as is!
6. I did like all those interrogation scenes. Tell us how Tracey Adams became your agent, Amie. And Meagan, how did Josh Adams become your agent? I’d love to have either of them as my agent.
Meg: My agent story is pretty straightforward. I studied for quite a while how to write a good query letter, based on success stories and advice from other writers, and I compiled a list of agents who I felt, based on their clients and whatever interviews I could find, would be a good match for me and my work. I did a ton of work before querying, so once I finally sent the letters out, I got responses right away. Josh was one of several agents to offer, but I chose him because of his business savvy and his obvious enthusiasm for my book. You want your agent to be competent and well-connected, but above all, you want them passionate!
Amie: When it came time for me to hunt, Meg and I were already working on These Broken Stars together, so it was a natural choice for me to check in with Josh and Tracey. They knew the book was in the works and they were interested to see it. Fun fact: I got Tracey’s email offering representation in a hotel room in Madrid while my husband and I were on holiday. I was so excited I cried—and since I was also so sick I had literally NO voice, my husband thought something terrible had happened!
7. That’s a funny story, Amie. Sorry you were sick though. I know you’re going on a blog tour. How was that set up and how are you splitting up the marketing of your book? Do you have any tips on marketing for the rest of us?
Amie: The amazing Wendy Darling over at The Midnight Garden is running our blog tour, and our fab publicist Jamie Baker has been heaps of help as well. There’ll also be an Aussie blog tour coming up – keep your eyes on our Twitter feeds or subscribe to our newsletter for lots more details!
Meg: When it comes to divvying up the marketing tasks, we tend to go each by our strengths. I’m a bit more visual and introverted, so I tend to handle things like designing swag, compiling our monthly newsletter, creating banners for our websites, etc. Amie, on the other hand, is a champion extrovert, and super charismatic! So she’ll often do a lot of the outreach to bloggers and industry professionals, all the stuff that makes me want to hide under my desk. It works out pretty well! As far as advice is concerned, I’d tell people to do what they enjoy doing. The possibilities for marketing are limitless, and it’s hard to tell what works and what doesn’t, so you should concentrate on the stuff you like. That passion and enthusiasm will come through, and attract your readers!
8. That’s great you balance each other so well. What are you working on now?
Meg: Well, we’re just finishing up revisions on the second book in the Starbound trilogy, and working on the first draft of book three. We’ve each got other projects in the works, too, but right now, they’re all top secret!
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Meagan and Amie. You can find them at:
Sign up for their newsletter here, and get the latest dish before anyone else!
Meagan and Amie’s publisher Disney Hyperion generously provided an ARC of THESE BROKEN STARS for a giveaway. 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 through November 16th. I’ll announce the winner on November 18th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US/Canada residents only.
Here’s what’s coming up:
Tomorrow I have a Tip Tuesday by S.J. Lomas and a giveaway of her YA novel, DREAM GIRL.
Next Monday I have an interview with a 9th grader for my ASK THE EXPERT series and EARTHBOUND and UNTHINKABLE giveaways.
Next Wednesday I have a big Indie giveaway. I'll have lots of great book choices by our followers. I'll also be announcing a new feature to help all of my followers on their writing journey and will be asking for some advice on promoting our Indie authors.
Next Friday I'll be doing a Gratitude Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great choices of YA books I've either read or am dying to read.
The following Monday, I’m interviewing debut author and follower Crystal Collier and giving away a copy of MOONLESS, , her fantasy she describes as “Jane Eyre meets supernatural.”
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!