What if saving 1500 lives from the past meant losing the one person you love in the present?
And here's a few links:
Today I’m excited to have debut author Stefanie Gaither here to share about her YA sci-fi thriller FALLS THE SHADOW that releases on September 16, 2014. I was immediately hooked from the first few pages where we learn about Cate and her replacement sister Violet. I found the whole concept of creating a replacement in case the first child dies very intriguing and I kept turning the pages wanting to learn more about Cate’s world.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.
At least, that’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.
In a thrilling debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together?
Hi Stefanie! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
Hmm, let’s see…I’m a twenty something former small-business owner who, when a sophomore in college, decided she could become a published author. And I’m also very, very stubborn. So, a lot of bad poetry, four novels and 100+ rejections later, here I am!
But seriously, I’ve been filling notebooks with words since I was a teen, and devouring books since long before that. And running a business was fun, but writing is really the only thing I’ve ever consistently thought I could be happy doing for the rest of my life. So it’s what I kept doing, even on the bad days, until I got here.
2. Sounds like you’ve done a lot already in your life. Where did you get the idea for your story and the whole idea of replacement children?
I think it’s hard to pinpoint an exact place of origin for any idea. At least for me, it’s usually a collection of quotes and songs and other stories I’ve seen. And in the case of FALLS, I’ve always been interested in stories that center around family and loss (true story: almost everything I’ve ever written begins with a death). So I decided to combine these themes with my love of sci-fi, and then this book just…happened.
3. That’s cool how you combined the themes you love focusing on. Share about your world building and the considerations that went into creating your futuristic society.
Worldbuilding with this book was tough, because I knew I wanted it to be set in the near-future, and not in
4. I did enjoy the combination of what felt normal with the new technology you created. Cate is a great character and very loyal to her sister Violet, even the replacement one. What was her character development like for you? Share a bit about her.
Kind of an interesting fact: when I first started thinking about writing a “clone book”, the main character was going to be a clone. That seemed like the natural choice, but when I started to brainstorm, I kept getting flashes of the story from an outside character’s perspective instead, and I began to wonder how a person (Cate) would deal with having this new replacement sister thrown into their life.
And I guess it was easier for me to relate to—and therefore write— Cate, since I experienced the loss of several family members at around the same age she did, and I also gained step-family members when I was a teen, who I guess you could say were would-be “replacements” for things I lost. Though none of them were possibly-murderous clones, as far as I know. But I’d definitely say my own experiences shaped Cate’s development probably more than any character I’ve written, even though I didn’t really set out to write a character like me at all.
5. I’ve had a lot of losses of family members too, so very sorry for your losses. It’s great you could turn the experience into your great story here. I know this wasn’t the first book you wrote. What had you learned from the prior manuscripts about the craft of writing that helping you in drafting FALLS THE SHADOW? Was the drafting process easier for FALLS THE SHADOW?
I’ve learned that I’m not a super fast drafter, and that’s okay. I move slowly and I edit as I go, which I hear so often is the “wrong way” to do it, because “all first drafts should be crap”. But I don’t like writing crap if I can help it, lol. I’m a perfectionist, and I’m more productive when working on a scene if I feel like everything that came before it is at least *close* to being decent. That way, there’s less work to do when I type “The End” for the first time. This is also part of the reason that I started working from an outline with FALLS, which I hadn’t done previously—less work on the backend; it makes getting that initial draft down a slower and more grueling process, but for me it’s less daunting than having to do ten rounds of edits once I “finish”.
6. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only really slow drafter. Sara Megibow is your agent. How awesome! Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.
Nelson Literary was the first place I queried with every book I wrote, including FALLS THE SHADOW; it had become a sort of tradition—a rejection from Nelson meant I was officially in the querying trenches again :) So when I received a response to FALLS’ query within a couple days, I was shocked to see it was a partial request, and then even more shocked when Sara wrote back the next day asking for a full. A week or two later, I got “the call”. I ended up with four offers of rep from some seriously amazing agents, but in the end, Sara was the one I personally connected with the most, so she’s who I went with. But yeah, I was a cold query—no references, no prior publishing credentials, none of that. I just wrote the best query and book that I could and let fate handle the rest.
7. What an awesome way to get an agent that gives us all hope. What’s something that’s surprised you about the year leading up to your debut book’s release?
There haven’t been too many surprises, since I’ve been trying to break into the publishing world for a few years and so I’ve read A LOT of books and blogs about how things work, and also because I’m fortunate enough to have an agent who is very communicative and good about letting me know what to expect in each part of this crazy journey. But it’s still surprising when my book shows up on someone’s blog as a featured title in say, a Waiting on Wednesday post. Or on a blog post about “Most Anticipated YA books”. It’s still weird to realize that complete strangers are excited about reading my book. And there’s no way they’re all my mom in disguise like I thought at first, because there is no way she has that many blogs and Goodreads accounts.
8. Those are cool surprises. I’ve read your advice to use the social media avenues you feel most comfortable with, not ones just because they were successful for someone else. What’re your favorite social media networks and what ways are you most excited about using to spread the word about your book release?
I have sort of a love/hate relationship with social media. I go through fits where I love Twitter and Tumblr, but a lot of the time they wear the introvert in me out; I admire authors who manage to both write books and write several witty tweets a day—and I love following them! But the social avenue I probably use most regularly is Pinterest; I loved creating visual inspiration boards for books like FALLS, and I’m looking forward to creating a board to pin photographs of it “in the wild” in different places, as I’ve seen some other authors do.
9. What are you working on now?
Lots of different stuff! Nothing real definite to talk about at the moment, though. (boo for boring answers like this, I know)
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Stefanie. You can find Stefanie at
Stefanie generously offered a copy of FALLS THE SHADOW 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 September 20th. I’ll announce the winner on September 22nd. 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. International entries are welcome.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Monday I have a guest post by PJ Hoover and a giveaway of TUT, her MG story with mythological themes. I’m a huge fan of PJ’s and am excited to see how her books have been both traditionally published and self-published.
Next Wednesday I have a guest post by long time follower and debut author Joshua Bellin with a giveaway of SURVIVAL COLONY NINE, a YA sci-fi story.
And next Thursday I'm doing a Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great book choices to choose from and will continue offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card if you don't like my choices. Look for this to post Thursday afternoon.
The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Kendall Kulper and a giveaway of her YA historical fantasy SALT AND STORM. I really liked the 19th century setting and Avery is a great heroine.
The Monday after that I’ll be interviewing debut author Elissa Sussman with a giveaway of STRAY, her YA fairytale retelling. I really enjoyed her unique spin of fairy godmothers.
And don’t forget Casey’s Thursday Agent Spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!