THE CRYSTAL RIBBON through February 18th
SIREN SISTERS through February 18th
FROSTBLOOD AND SUZIE TOWNSEND QUERY CRITIQUE through Febrary 25th
THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE through March 4th
Linda Camacho Query Critique through March 11th
Upcoming Agent Spotlights With Query Critique Giveaways:
Kristy Hunter, Wednesday, March 22nd
BREEANA SHIELDS INTERVIEW AND POISON’S KISS GIVEAWAY
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.
Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.
This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Hi Breeana! Thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks so much for having me!
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since elementary school, but a few years ago, I finally realized it was never going to happen until I made the time. I kept thinking I’d get to it someday, but really, I was letting the years pass without getting any closer. So, I decided to get serious and start writing toward publication. The first novel I finished got very close to getting me an agent, but it wasn’t quite ready. My second manuscript was Poison’s Kiss and I’m happy to say it found both an agent and a publisher.
2. That's awesome that you got so close to getting an agent with your first book. Where did you get the idea for your story, including the idea of the poison kisses?
I got the idea for the book while listening to a lecture series on espionage. The instructor mentioned a legendary figure in Indian folklore called a poison damsel (visha kanya in Sanskrit). These were women who were fed bits of poison from birth until they were immune, but deadly to everyone else. It was just a tiny portion of the lecture, only mentioned in passing, but it made my imagination take off in all kinds of different directions. When I couldn’t stop thinking about it a few months later, I knew I had my next story idea.
3. Love where you got your idea. It shows how ideas for stories are all around us! What was your world building process like and did you base it even loosely on a country like India?
Because the legend of the visha kanya came from India, it was important to me that whatever fantasy world I built reflected that. I did quite a bit of research, including reading dozens of folktales from all different parts of India, as well as researching its various cultures and languages. That provided a good jumping off point for the rest of my world-building. My goal wasn’t for Sundari to be an exact replica of India—there are many differences—but for it to pay homage to the origins of the visha kanya.
4. I met my husband in India so have a soft spot for all books set there. 😍 Reviewers have described this as a fast-paced story that they read in a day or two. It sounds like a page turner. Describe how you set the pace of the story and how you kept it up so that the reader wants to keep turning the pages.
Elmore Leonard advises writers to “skip boring parts”. I think it’s a great tip and it’s pretty much how I approach pacing. As a reader, I don’t like to be bogged down with too much info-dumping and scenes that don’t move the story forward, and I tend to write the same way.
5. I don't like boring parts either. Share a bit about Marinda. She sounds like a complicated character.
Marinda is full of contradictions. She’s deadly, which makes her enormously powerful, but she’s also
6. Your agent is Kathleen Rushall. Tell us how she became your agent.
I found my agent (who is fantastic and wonderful!) through good old-fashioned querying. Kathleen requested the full manuscript and was in the process of reading when I got an offer of representation on the book from another agent. I informed all the agents who had the manuscript that I had interest and once Kathleen finished reading, she called and offered as well.
I spoke with several different agents before I made my decision—all of whom were amazing—but Kathleen’s vision of the manuscript was really spot on. She understood so well what I was trying to do and how to make the book better, that I knew she would be the perfect partner.
7. Good to know how old-fashioned querying still works. What was your submission process like?
Submission requires copious amount of patience and chocolate! In some ways it’s easier than querying—you finally aren’t going it alone because you have an agent on your side—but in other ways it’s harder. You have to cede control of the process to someone else and trust her to have your back. Luckily, my agent is amazing and kept me in the loop through every stage of the process. Getting the phone call that we had an offer was one of the best days ever.
8. Yes, the loss of control in the whole process of getting a book published can be challenging. What’s something that has surprised you about this last year leading up to your debut?
How easy it is to get bogged down in stress and promotion and forget to really enjoy the fact that this lifelong dream is actually coming true. My advice to any debut author would be this: while you’re trudging up the hill toward publication, don’t forget to turn around occasionally so you can see how far you’ve come and enjoy the breathtaking view that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
9. That is such great advice. What is something about the way you’re promoting your book that you’re excited about?
I don’t know if it’s anything I’m doing, per se, but one of the most exciting things about the promotion period leading up to publication has been having Advance Reader Copies go out to bloggers and reviewers and then having many of them respond well to the book. Not every novel is every reader’s cup of tea, but the readers who really love Poison’s Kiss, make it all worth it.
10. What are you working on now?
I’m in the final stage of editing the sequel to Poison’s Kiss, and then I’m turning to another fantasy set in a totally different world that I’m very excited about.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Breeana. You can find Breeana at breeanashields.com or follow her on Twitter at @BreeanaShields.
Breanna has generously offered a copy of POISON'S KISS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through January 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.
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. The giveaway is for U.S.
Here's what's coming up:
Monday January 30th, debut author Celeste Lin will be here doing a guest post with her agent Rosemary Stimola and a giveaway of Celeste's MG THE BRIDE FROM HUNAN
Monday February 6th, debut author Dana Langer will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG fantasy SIREN SISTERS
Monday February 13th debut author Elly Blake will be here doing a guest post with her agent Suzie Townsend with a giveaway of Elly's YA fantasy FROSTBLOOD and a a query critique giveaway by Suzie
Monday February 20th debut author Ali Standish will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE
Hope to see you on Monday!