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Happy Monday Everyone! First, I have great news. No, it's not agent or book publishing news. But just as good. I have a job! And it involves writing. I'll be writing attorney webpages, library articles, blog posts, etc. for a web marketing firm. It doesn't pay great but I can work at home and control my schedule. As I get into the job, I'll decide whether to do it full-time or combine it with another part-time job. I'm excited and very relieved to have a new job. And amazed that it involves writing. Sometimes life takes you where you don't expect.

It's going to take me a bit to get up to speed with all the writing I need to do and meeting my writing deadlines. So I hope you understand if I'm not stopping by your blog quite as much as usual.

And I have a winner to announce:

The winner of A WICKED THING is Valentina!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send yo 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 debut author Victoria Aveyard here to share about her YA fantasy/dystopian RED QUEEN that released on February 10th. I loved the mix of fantasy and dystopian and the conflicts between the Reds and the Silvers in the world Victoria created. And Mare is such a fantastic character trying to sort out who she is, not being quite Red or Silver. And there were twists in the plot I didn’t see coming. Always love those.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Hi Victoria! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

“Becoming a writer” was never a conscious decision for me. My parents are huge readers and movie lovers, so I’ve had stories around me for as long as I can remember. Beyond that, I’ve been telling stories, in backyard games or with poorly spelled crayon words, since I physically could, and the compulsion never went away. I wrote all through childhood, middle school, and in high school, I figured out I could turn my love of stories into a college major and hopefully a career. When I was accepted into the University of Southern California’s screenwriting program, I knew I had to go. While there, I wrote a mess of screenplays, my first finished works, and by the end of my senior year, I realized I had matured enough as a writer that I might be able to finally finish a novel as well.

2. I bet learning how to write screen plays really helped when you wrote your novel. Where did you get the idea for your story?

After I decided to start brainstorming ideas for a novel, RED QUEEN really kicked off when I pictured a teenage girl who could control lightning. It really entranced me, and I constructed a world, story, and characters around servicing this visual and making it possible.

3. I’ve read that you love world building. And I loved the world you created with the Reds and the Silvers. And all the powers the Silvers possess. Share about your world building process.

My worldbuilding process on RED QUEEN was actual the least amount of work I’ve ever done for any attempted novel. It’s no coincidence then, that this was the first I’ve finished. I had to rein myself in and maintain a spark of inspiration, rather than use it all up worldbuilding. But I do have about ten pages of hard building, detailing the different abilities, houses, locations, characters, and backstory. There are some maps as well, my favorite part of the worldbuilding process. As for more intensive novels (I’ve got another fantasy series on the backburner), that one has whole journals and folders of work. So it really depends on the project, and how much energy I need to keep up for the story itself.

4. Wow! You definitely put a lot into your world building. I’ve also read that you’re a combination of plotter and punster. And that this is the first manuscript you completed. Wow! What’s your plotting process like?

I always go into a manuscript, or screenplay, knowing my first and third act down cold. The second
usually comes together in the work, and I usually end up going off my outline pretty soon into the murky area. My outlines are usually 5 to 6 pages long, and I force myself to write them, even though I know I won’t stick to them. I can’t religiously write to an outline or beat sheet – I think it takes a little magic away, if I know where every road leads. I’m a sucker for structure, though. I almost always use 3 act, 8 sequence.

5. I like to know the general idea of those acts too. I can’t quite decide the genre of your book. It has a fantasy and a dystopian feel. What genre do you think it is? And what advice do you have for other authors about mashing together more than one genre into a story? It’s something I always enjoy reading, but am not sure how to tackle.

I think this is a fantasy with dystopian flavor. The dystopian angle is, at this point, window dressing. It’s a setting, but not the story, in my opinion. But I won’t presume to dictate what anyone else takes from the work. As long as you’re entertained, you can call it a Western for all I care. As for genre mashing, I’m a huge cheerleader. It’s hard to do, but so much fun, and such a treat to experience. I’m indulgent, more is more with me, so I usually end up melding genres in my work. I guess my advice would be to take from your genres, but not to try to honor both too closely. That’s nearly impossible. Find the tropes you love, twist them, make them work for you.

6. That's great advice. Your road to publication is really unique. You pitched this for a movie first and it sounds like it’s optioned. And you didn’t really query and landed one of my dream agents Suzie Townsend. Tell us all about your road to publication and what’s going on with the movie option.

RED QUEEN was never pitched as a movie. I imagined it as a novel, pitched it as a novel, and wrote it as a novel. I was, however, in contact with an LA-based management company, and I worked in the entertainment industry beforehand, so I basically came through the process backwards. I started on the film side and ended up on the lit side, and now go back and forth. After finishing the original RQ manuscript, my management contact sent it along to a friend in publishing, who gave it to his colleague who happened to be Suzie Townsend. From there, the road turns traditional. We edited, she signed me, we went on submission, and HarperCollins bought the manuscript. After that, the film side went to work and we’re currently optioned by Universal Pictures. A screenplay is in development, written by the dream that is Gennifer Hutchinson, and now that the book is officially published, we can start moving forward.

7. That's an amazing road to publication story. So your book was published about a month ago. And I saw on your website that you did a number of book signings. What was that like and what advise do you have for the rest of us on book signings and marketing a debut book in general?

I’m probably not the person to ask about marketing a debut since HarperTeen really took the wheel on that one, and did a smashing job. Most of my marketing work is on Twitter, and that is shaky at best, since I mostly just talk about television, football, and waiting for Star Wars VII. I do some self-promotion, but try and fail to keep it from being overwhelming. But the book tour was so much fun, of course. We were exhausted by the end, but every stop was worth it just to meet readers and be able to chat with them. I’m not one to get mushy or emotional, but it was really rewarding to see readers face to face.

8. Awesome how your publisher did so much of the marketing for you. What are you working on now?

Book 2 in the RED QUEEN series is about to go to copy edits, and I’ve kicked off outlining book 3. There’s the aforementioned fantasy series still kicking around, and I’m also a working screenwriter, so I’ve always got a mind open for my next screenplay. Oh, and House of Cards Season 3 is out this week, so I’ll be working on that too.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Victoria. You can find Victoria at:


Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday I have an interview with agent Alex Slater at Trident Media Group with a query critique giveaway. And he has great advice for self-published and small press authors too!

On Friday I'm participating in the Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great new releases for you and an Amazon gift card if you don't like my choices.

Next Monday, I'm interviewing debut author N.A. Traver and giving away DUPLICITY, her YA cyber thriller.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Stacey Lee and agent Kristin Nelson with  a query critique giveaway by Kristin Nelson and an ARC giveaway of UNDER A PAINTED SKY, Stacey's YA historical fiction novel.

Wednesday that week I have a giveaway of FLUNKED FAIRY TALE REFORM SCHOOL, a MG fantasy.

And the Monday after that I have an interview with debut author Erin Entrada Kelly and a giveaway of BLACKBIRD FLY, her multicultural contemporary MG  novel.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Patchi said...

Congrats all around. This book sounds amazing and I'm so glad you got a job, Natalie. Best of luck!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Woohoo, Natalie! Congrats on the new job.

That cover for Red Queen is creepy looking. I'm listening to the audiobook for Dove Rising right now, and I have the audiobook for A Wicked Thing. All because you've highlighted them here. :)

Kristin Lenz said...

What a great post full of good news! Congrats to Victoria on her debut and dream publication journey. And of course you found a job Natalie - you are so skilled and personable. So happy that it involves writing!

Beth said...

Congratulations, Natalie! So thrilled to hear you have a new job.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations, Victoria! Love the cover of your book! And congratulations on your job, Natalie! It sounds like something you can really enjoy.

Greg Pattridge said...

A new job is exciting and one from home double exciting. Super interview as I'm always intrigued by other author's writing process. Best of luck to both of you.

Rosalyn said...

Congrats on the new job, Natalie! And I've been hearing lots of interesting buzz about the Red Queen. (Also, I can't wait for your interview with Stacey Lee--she's a classy lady!)

Karen Lange said...

Nice to meet Victoria! Appreciate the introduction. Congrats on the new job! Excited for you. :)

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congratulations, Natalie! So happy you found a new job and that it involves writing. Plus you get to work at home. That's excellent.

There's been so much buzz about this book. I really need to read it. Such a great premise and Victoria's road to publication is impressive.

David Powers King said...

Many congratulations, Natalie! And it's a pleasure to read your interview with Victoria. Red Queen is everywhere! :)

Alison said...

So happy to hear your news, Natalie!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congrats Natalie on landing that job. Hope you get some time to write as well. Red Queen sounds super.

cleemckenzie said...

That's wonderful news, Natalie. It sounds like 2015 just might be treating you very well. I do hope so.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's awesome your book might become a movie. Congratulations on your 'Western.' (Just kidding.)
And such awesome news, Natalie! You have a writing job. And one you are so well suited to do.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

First of all, congratulations, Natalie on your new job. How nice that it involves writing.

The Red Queen sounds like a good read. I love Victoria Aveyard's writing process - the idea of knowing the first act and the third act (of her screenplays) before trying to write the middle. I would imagine the equivalent would work for novels as well. (the first third, the last third, before the sagging middle.) Definitely something to explore.

DL Hammons said...

Congrats on the new job. Working from home and controlling your own schedule is a WIN-WIN! :)

dolorah said...

I'm jealous Natalie, I'd love to be working from home, getting paid to write.

Thats quite the writing journey Victoria. Congrats on all your successes, and I wish you more in the future.

Angela Brown said...

Three cheers to Victoria for the releas of her novel. It sounds like it should make strikingly wonderful movie. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this.

Jemi Fraser said...

That's some intense work on world building! Sounds like fun :)
Congrats Natalie on the new job!!! So happy for you :)

Jenni said...

Congrats, Victoria! I really enjoyed reading about how you do world building and your process of leaving the middle not outlined.
Congrats, Natalie, on your new job! So glad that you'll get to put your writing skills to work!

Stephen Tremp said...

It's great to meet Victoria. I can relate writing screenplays helps transitioning into writing novels. My first books were screenplays. Once it became clear they would go nowhere, I simply made them into books.

Good luck with Red Queen and everything else!

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations on the job! :) And congrats to Victoria. I love the sound of the book and the cover is awesome. You're lucky that your publisher took the brunt of marketing. Most places have you do it yourself these days.

Brenda said...

Congrats on the new job Natalie. Working at home and writing sound like a wonderful mix for you. Also congrats to Victoria on her debut. Your book sounds amazing and I've always enjoyed the look of the cover, with the inverted crown and dripping blood. Very eye catching.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

congratulations, Natalie, on your new job. They are lucky to have you.

Michael G-G said...

Hooray on the job news front, Natalie. I love that you can combine your writing talent with your legal experience, and can also work at home.

Thank you for the interview with Victoria Aveyard, too. Her book has been getting a lot of buzz!

Rosi said...

Great news, Natalie. I'm so pleased for you. Thanks for this interesting interview. That cover is stunning. I'm sure this book will do well. I am thinking maybe I should take a screenwriting course.

Jessica Lawson said...

Natalie! Congratulations on the new job! Being able to work from home is great and it sounds like it's suited to both your skill set and passion :)

RED QUEEN sounds like a must read!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Red Queen will be my next book buy! Sounds absolutely AMAZING!! And what an inspirational story for a debut novel . . . I'm making my 14yo read this. She'd like to write novels and screenplays, too :-) Probably b/c her mom is an author, and her dad is an executive producer of a morning television show! Thanks so much for taking the time to do the interview, Natalie & Victoria!!

Robin said...

I just finished Red Queen, so it's fun to read this interview about how the book came about. The cover is to die for and I LOVE the concept and how she put that idea on paper. Great book! I look forward to reading the rest of the series!

Anonymous said...

That's wonderful about your job. :)

Congrats to Valentina.

Red Queen looks amazing. I'd like to build a fictional world one day.

Mary Warth said...

Congrats on the new job! All the best. And thanks for another great interview.

Unknown said...

Huge congrats on your new job! It's so great you get to work from home. Congrats to Valentina for winning the book!

World-building is hard, time intensive, but so worth it. I really enjoyed Victoria's interview and her info about how she was inspired to build Red Queen's world. And congrats to her on the movie option!