Don’t forget to scroll down to the CONTEST at the end of the interview!
What drew you to YA Fantasy? Have you always wanted to be an author?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always read fantasy. From Roald Dahl to JRR Tolkein, I yearned to be transported from my daily life to fantastical lands where anything could happen. After I grew up, I still read, but not nearly as voraciously as I once had because my career and babies took up much of my time. But then I read Twilight and—bam!—I remembered how powerful first love could be and how much I loved to read when I was a teen. It drew me right back into YA fiction and made me want to try writing.
Writing wasn’t totally foreign to me, but I never thought I’d actually become an “author.” I did some writing in junior high, high school and college, but after a horrific experience in a creative writing class—a nasty fellow student said my writing was “trite” and tossed my story across the table—I decided I wasn’t talented enough to pursue fiction. Instead, I became a health policy researcher and wrote lots, and lots, and LOTS of reports, publications and papers that very few people read. Take it from me, writing fiction is way more fun!
What types of books do you like to read? Why?
I still love fantasy and paranormals. I read lots of YAs, including contemporaries, but I’m especially drawn to those with supernatural elements. I think it’s because I still primarily read to escape. Who doesn’t want to live in a fantastical world if only just for a little while?
Do you have a favorite author or one whose work has influenced you?
I have a variety of favorite YA authors including Alyson Noel, Tera Lynn Childs, Kiersten White, Maggie Stiefvater, Susan Collins, and of course, the queen of every thing, JK Rowling.
Do you have any writing rituals? Do you prefer to write during the day or at night?
Since I’m a mom with youngish, school aged kids, I do most of my writing during the hours they’re at school. That’s a little tough though because my brain doesn’t really start popping until about 10:00 am at the earliest. But it’s a job and I’ve got to make it work so there’s a bit of mind over matter.
As for rituals, I do most of my writing in a Panera Bread Café across the table from my best friend and fellow writer, Laura Kaye. I don’t usually write with music, unless there’s a particularly loud fellow patron nearby chomping away with their mouth open. That totally grosses me out, so when faced with such an obnoxious mouth-offender, I usually toss on some ear buds and listen to classical music to drown them out. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics otherwise I’ll lose my concentration.
What inspired Conjure?
As bizarre as it sounds, the story idea came from a Chick Fil A kids meal bag. We’d just gone through the drive-through and my daughter was reading the little educational factoids they print on the bags. Her little voice floated up from the back seat. “Mommy, did you know pirates used to send messages in a bottle?” No, as a matter of fact, I’d never heard that. As I drove down the road I wondered, why would a pirate need to send a message in a bottle? An answer popped into my head: Maybe his ship and crew were cursed. But what could he have done to land in such trouble? The questions and answers snowballed and before I knew it, I had to set aside the novel I’d been planning to write this one instead.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about Emma Guthrie?
She’s smart, sensitive, and an excellent artist. And she’s especially gifted when it comes to botany and recognizing plants. She’s also fiercely loyal and dedicated to saving her brother, no matter how dangerous things get. I adore her.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about the yummy Cooper Beaumont?
Hmm, Cooper is yummy! Not only does he have killer abs and fantastic biceps, but he’s got the most gorgeous eyes that appear to shift color depending on his clothes. Sometimes they look green, other times blue and they always keep Emma guessing. But aside from his obvious gorgeousness, he’s also a great, dedicated friend who puts himself in harm’s way to defend Emma and his best buddy, Jack.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite scenes to write?
I have to say that the events that occur in chapters 15 and 16 were some of the most fun to write. I’d be more specific, but I don’t want to give too much away. When I sat down to hammer it out, I knew generally what had to happen, but I didn’t know how it would all play out. It was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the characters and I had a ball watching it all unfold in my head. And of course, it’s hard not to love what happens in Chapter 22. *Sigh*
If you could have dinner, coffee, or drinks with one of your characters, who would you choose and where would you go?
Oh definitely Miss Delia, the hoodoo root worker who takes Emma on as an apprentice. I love her madly. She’s 97 years old and is the sole receptacle of ancient knowledge about hoodoo charms and spells that have been handed down for fifteen generations. I’d love to pick her brain and to learn just a smidgen of what she knows.
I loved this book and can’t wait for the next one. Can you tell us when book 2 comes out and maybe a sneak peek into one of the storylines?
Allure, the second book in the series is slated for a late spring or early summer 2013 release. I can tell you things get darker and more twisted in Allure and well, let’s just say poor Cooper goes through the wringer. *Sniff*
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry—hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
But when a strange girl appears bent on revenge, demon dogs become a threat, and Jack turns into a walking skeleton, Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends—are lost forever.
Lea Nolan writes the kinds of stories she sought as a teen—smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She’s holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and spent fifteen years as a health policy analyst and researcher. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children. Her debut YA novel, CONJURE, book one in The Hoodoo Apprentice Series is a new release from Entangled Publishing under the Entangled Teen imprint. You can learn more about Lea on her website, on Facebook, Twitter and on Goodreads. CONJURE is available at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.