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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Katya De Becerra here to share about her debut YA fantasy/sci-fi/horror/thriller WHAT THE WOODS KEEP. It sounds like a really unique story that is also fast-paced and hard to put down.

Before I get to my interview, I have a few things. First, you can read the tips of other writers and me on how to overcome Writer's Block on Freewrite.

Follower News

Elizabeth Varadan's new MG THE CARNIVAL OF ANIMALS was just released. Here's a blurb: A collection of 13 tales for children, ages 7 to 60, set in different countries and based on Camille Saint-Saëns' musical fantasy, The Carnival of the Animals. And here's a buy link:  https://www.amazon.com/Carnival-Animals-Elizabeth-Varadan/dp/172581546X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538934161&sr=1-1&keywords=carnival+animals%2C+elizabeth

Now back to my interview. Here’s a blurb of WHAT THE WOODS KEEP from Goodreads

What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She's getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it's all catching up with her: her mother's mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father's outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden's own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden's mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

Hi Katya! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me, Natalie! I’m very excited to be here! From a young age, I’ve always been writing something (poetry, short stories, etc.), but I haven’t really started writing longer fiction until about five years ago. I fell in love with YA books again just around the time I started working on my PhD in anthropology, and from then on, I’ve been doing two things simultaneously: writing YA books while working at a university.

2. That's great that you could juggle the two. Where did you get the idea for WHAT THE WOODS KEEP?

I gravitate toward darker, spookier stories and I’m obsessed with mysteries and unexplained phenomena. I’m also a huge fan of forests, imagined or real. So for my debut, all these things naturally came together, resulting in this strange, spooky book about one determined girl’s quest to find out what really happened to her mom the night she disappeared into the local woods ten years ago.

3. That's one of the things that intrigues me about your book--that you incorporate so many different genres. You have a background in science and work in research now. How has this influenced this story and your writing process in general?

I’ve been either studying or working in social sciences for almost twenty years now, and have a PhD in anthropology. I also love all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) and, of course, physics. It helps having this background when I work on my YA books because I generally love doing research! I even still peruse my old college notebooks for information. Because in WHAT THE WOODS KEEP I draw various scientific concepts, it also helped having access to my university’s library and digital archives when I needed to make sure I got some stuff right.  

4. WHAT THE WOODS KEEP is described as new and unique and a real page turner that readers couldn’t put down. It’s not easy to get someone to say your story is new and unique. So tell us how you made yours so different and your tips on creating a fast pace like in WHAT THE WOODS KEEP.

You’re making me blush! I’m so happy and incredibly relieved to hear that so many readers couldn’t put down my weird little monster of a book.

I guess it’s the genre-blending aspect that makes my debut at the very least peculiar – and hopefully, engaging. While WHAT THE WOODS KEEP combines elements of science fiction, mythology, mystery and dark fantasy, in its core it’s all about rational thought clashing with something unexplained and possibly otherworldly; and it’s also about facing up to one’s primeval fear that can’t be rationalized or ignored. I find all that personally fascinating and hope readers will feel that way too!

5. You work full-time and sound committed to your day job too. What is your writing schedule and how do you stay productive enough to feel confident you can meet your writer deadlines while doing so in your other job too?

I’m at work five days a week and it’s usually pretty busy (I teach and do research). I only have my
commute to and from work and my lunch hour to write. Evenings are trickier but I can find time then if I’m on a deadline. I tend to jot down ideas while I’m on the train and then I sit down to write properly on weekends. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is at the moment. When my day job gets particular tough and demanding, I completely escape into writing whenever I can, and vice versa, whenever I experience an existential crisis as a writer, I throw myself into work.     

6. Okay, you're giving me hope that you can have it all even if you have a full-time job. Share a bit about your main character, Hayden and her growth as a character as you wrote her story.

Hayden starts off as a logical, rational person who (thinks she) can explain everything, even the strangest of things, with science and reason. However, the deeper into the eponymous woods she ventures, the more she starts to open up to the possibility that there are some things out there which perhaps escape – or bend – rational explanation. Another dilemma Hayden faces has to do with doing what’s expected of her versus making her own choices. She’s got a lot on her plate from the very beginning of the book, but it only gets more complicated the more time she spends in her strange hometown and begins to truly understand the real implications of what happened to her mom ten years ago and what this means for her now.

7. Your agent is Amy Tipton. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I’ve queried Amy the old-fashioned way and she offered representation. After first doing some minor revisions with her, WHAT THE WOODS KEEP eventually went on submission, got lots of rejections, but also a few R&Rs. Of course, I did the necessary revisions, resubmitted, and – DRUM ROLL – got a 2-book deal with Imprint at Macmillan. I couldn’t be happier! Sadly, Amy has now left agenting to pursue other ventures (*sobs forever*), but I’ve got a wonderful new agent now and the future is looking ever-bright once more.

8. You live in Australia and your book is being published in Australia/New Zealand, U.S./Canada, and later in the Czech Republic. How are you marketing your book in countries where you don’t live, especially in the U.S.?

Being based in Australia means I can do lots of local face-to-face promotion, which is great – I get to have a book launch, attend festivals, host signings, etc. Sadly, I can’t have these things in the US/Canada (or in Czech Republic) right now, but I hope that will change in the future. The good thing is that most of book promotion happens online anyway. Things like blog tours, writing various features and mini essays, running giveaways and contests on Twitter and Instagram and just genuinely engaging with readers and bloggers can all be done from the comfort of my home. And the more I do engage in book promotion, the more I learn what I like and dislike doing: for example, I love doing interviews and guest blogging as well as just chatting with readers and fellow authors on Twitter, but I find that giveaways can be exhausting if I run them myself. One key thing that I’ve done for my debut is run a pre-order campaign. Because I can’t mail swag like bookmarks and such (it’d cost me a fortune from Australia!) to reward those who preordered my book, I offered lots of digital exclusives, one mega top prize to one lucky winner, and query critique to everyone who wants it.   

9. What advice do you have for other writers about being a debut author and plans they should make leading up to their book release date?

Be ready to invest your own money into promoting your book. Unless yours was a major book deal (and even then!), you’ll have to help your publisher promote your work. Also, do more of what you like and what makes you excited and happy. If social media is your forte and it comes to you naturally – do that! If you’re really good at making short videos or cool graphics – make that the focus of your debut campaign. Play to your strengths and don’t force things. Debut year is a very stressful time. Self-care is very important. And just try to enjoy things – after all, you’re a debut author only once!

10. Those are all great tips! What are you working on now?
I’m working on revisions for my second book, OASIS, a standalone horror adventure set in Dubai and Melbourne, my Australian hometown. I also have a non-YA adventure novel I’ve been writing on the side for a while as well as my next YA book, a supernatural thriller about obsession and bodily autonomy.  

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

What The Woods Keep can be bought wherever books are sold: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250124258 or check if your local bookshop/library has it.
Add What The Woods Keep to your Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29748448-what-the-woods-keep  
Find me on:
Twitter: @KatyaDeBecerra​ ​(https://twitter.com/KatyaDeBecerra)
Facebook​:​ @KatyaDeBecerra (https://www.facebook.com/katyadebecerra/)
Instagram​:​ @KatyaDeBecerra(https://www.instagram.com/katyadebecerra/​)​

Katya has generously offered an ARC of WHAT THE WOODS KEEP 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 October 27th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either 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 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International.

Monday, October 22nd I have an interview with author Sherry Ellis and a giveaway of her MG BUBBA AND SQUIRT'S BIG DIG TO CHINA

Monday, October 29th I have an agent spotlight interview with Wendi Gu and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, November 7th I have an interview with Melanie Crowder and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LIGHTHOUSE BETWEEN THE WORLDS and my IWSG post

Monday, November 12th I have an interview with debut author Melanie Sumrow and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE PROPHET CALLS

Wednesday, November 14th I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 19th I have an interview with debut author Megan England and a giveaway of her YA space opera THE DISASTERS

Monday, November 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Weronika Janczuk and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!


nashvillecats2 said...

A great interview Natalie, my you are going to be busy.
most enjoyable post.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I bet she likes shows like the X-Files.
There's a lot she can do online to promote in the countries she can't visit.

Megan said...

Thank you for the chance to win :)
GFC: Megan S.
Tweet: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1051885768250134528

Joanne R. Fritz said...

What a terrific interview. Makes me tired just reading about Katya's amazing schedule of work and writing and promotion. Such energy! You sound really busy too.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie, thanks so much for the mention of my new book. I'm very excited about it, and so appreciative of your shout out.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

On another note, I really enjoyed this interview. I'm intrigued by the genre blending Natalie does. This sounds like a fascinating read. And I have to applaud her ability to work full time as a teacher and still squeeze in the kind of writing that led to a two book deal! Kudos to her.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Ah, more new books to check on. Congratulations, Elizabeth. And, Katya, great interview. Best wishes with your book. Sounds fascinating.

Tonja Drecker said...

This does sound like an interesting book. Congratulations to Elizabeth too!

Candice Conner said...

Congrats on your debut, Katya! It sounds amazing—science fiction, mystery, & mythology all in one, wooo-hoo!
(And thanks for the chance to win the ARC! I tweeted the link as well)

Candice Conner said...

Email is camarley2001atyahoo

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! Congrats on the new book! The title is perfect and makes me want to read it, but with trepidation, because you know the WOODS are keeping something (or someone). Best wishes!

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the interview Finding time to write is always my biggest challenge. I can't wait to read this book and I shared on tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/179119390637/katya-de-becerra-interview-and-what-the-woods-keep

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, she sure has a ton on the go. Having a background or interest in so much sure must make it fun to research and mix in too.

Natasha said...

Great interview!
This one sounds like an amazing read!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Rosi said...

Thanks for another interesting interview. I always learn something reading these. I will pass on the giveaway. Buried in books here.

DMS said...

What an interesting interview! I love the woods too and they make a great setting for a story. Wishing Katya the best of luck. Thanks for the giveaway. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I love both the covers of Katya's books. What the Woods Keep sounds fascinating.

mshatch said...

ooh, this sounds like an excellent read. I love houses with secrets :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pat. I look forward to reading this!

Debra Branigan said...

What an in-depth interview, thank you for the effort on everyone's part. I so look forward to reading this book. On my TBR, and ready to move it to the top!