Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcome Judith Graves and Under My Skin

Today I'm welcoming Class of 2k10 co-prez, Judith Graves, whose YA paranormal, Under My Skin, has just released from Leap Books! Judith and her cohort in crime Kitty have been my mentees (is that even a word?) this year. (Oh, yeah, cause 7 1/2 months of a book on a shelf makes me a freakin' expert!) But I digress. And once I un-digress, make sure to read to the bottom because we're doing a VERY COOL giveaway in honor of UMS!! Check. it. out below!

First, a little about the book - and check out the simply gorgeous cover!

All her parents wanted was for Eryn to live a normal life... Redgrave had its share of monsters before Eryn moved to town. Mauled pets, missing children. The Delacroix family is taking the blame, but Eryn knows the truth. Something stalks the night. Wade, the police chief's son and Redgrave High's resident hottie, warns her the Delacroix are dangerous. But then so is Eryn--in fact, she's lethal. But she can't help falling for one of the Delacroix boys, dark, brooding--human Alec. And then her world falls apart. A normal life? Now that's the real fairytale.

Here's what I found out when I picked at Judith's quite fertile and creative brain!

1. Welcome Judith! First, a little about you. How did you get here? I'm always curious about debut author journeys. Some highlights and basics of yours?

I started off as a rather nerdy (yet cool!) kid playing her guitar in the hallway by her locker when she should have been in physics class. I joined a few bands, recorded a few indie CDs. Went to college, got hitched, played in said bands – toured around Alberta, worked full time – but always….I wrote. Short stories, flash fiction, lyrics, poetry, and eventually novels.

I lucked out and landed a contract with a small press for my first book, Under My Skin (UMS), but it had to go through some major edits. There came a time when writing fiction, working full time, and performing as a musician brought me to the breaking point. I might have seemed pretty together on the outside, but inside I was a trainwreck, a run-away mining cart from The Temple of Doom. Since I needed my day job to help my hubby feed and house our three fur kids (it’s all about our two labs and our blond bombshell tabby!) – I had to choose between writing and music.

Since I made that decision (and it was a heartbreaker – I LOVED being a part of a five-piece band), I have two more books in the works, I’ve joined the Class of 2k10 and will be touring NYC with them in May during Book Expo America, I’ve been booked for writer workshops and conferences, and will be touring schools and libraries across Alberta – possibly Canada in 2011.

Wow. I just shake my head at all the opportunities that have opened up. It’s like a dream. Follow your passion, people!

2. Why werewolves? And wolven - what exactly are they - and is there a difference? Tell us about the alternative world you've created for Under My Skin.

UMS is an exploration of different mythological creatures vying over one small town on the edge of civilization. The beasties in UMS are fairly traditional and follow the usual lore. Where things get interesting is in the mixing of humans and paranorms – or paranorms with other creatures of magic, etc. Most of the main characters in UMS are mixed bloods trying to deal with the limitations and abilities of their dual natures. Throw in a battle for the town and the humans in it – and there’s loads of conflict, romantic tension, and dark humour to be had.

That being said, in UMS, werewolves are soulless beasts at the mercy of their master (they are created not born), while wolven are wolves with the ability to shapeshift into human form (they are born not created). Eryn, the main character in UMS, is half human / half wolven.

3. Having read your first couple of chapters, I'm really liking feisty Eryn McCain. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with her as a character? Is she influenced by any other characters that came before her? And a fun question - If I rifled through her purse, what would I probably find?

Eryn arrived on the set pretty much as is. Her dry humour and sarcasm, her sass, her inner turmoil. I wanted a female lead who was strong, yet vulnerable – a girl who could take care of herself, but one who hoped that someday she would have others in her life to help shoulder her burdens.

Eryn doesn’t have purse – that’s too girly. But she does carry a backpack to keep up appearances – it’s filled with schoolbooks she never opens and a smattering of makeup – just the essentials. All Eryn needs is her silver athame tucked away in its leather shoulder holster and she’s ready to rock and roll.

4. Why fantasy? What do you like about writing the genre? Is this the only genre you write?

I love paranormal fiction, both adult and YA. As a library technician in an elementary school, I’ve even found some amazing gothic-ish picture books and MG novels to adore. I am fascinated by the mysterious, the supernatural, the unexplained.

All of those elements can still be found in contemporary fiction – the magic is more internal – the bond between family, friends, and the odd experiences we go through in this crazy life. That’s why I also write edgy YA contemporary fiction and hope those stories will soon find homes.

5. Loved your book trailer! Can you give us any hints about the Eryn/Alec romance?

Thanks! Madison at M2 Productions created it for me. All her trailers are marvy.

There’s actually a love triangle in UMS. Eryn is attracted to Alec, a human hunter, but is also drawn to Wade, a vampire with magical abilities. They represent her duality. The light and the dark….but there are shades of gray in all the characters. Falling in love is not always an easy breezy thing.

6. Writerly influences?

Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, L. M. Montgomery….and sooooo many more.

7. Chocolate or peanut butter?

Oh…I usually ask a similar question – crunchy or smooth PB? (I’m smooth, BTW) But this question can only be answered like this…BOTH! ;)

8. Buffy or Edward? Who'd win that smackdown?

Lol….oh, Buffy would kick Eddy’s sparkly ass. (Not that there’s anything wrong with sparkly).

9. Where do you write? Can you describe a typical writing session for us?

What my writing day looks like: wake up at 5:30am, get coffee, take dogs out, write until 6:30, go to work, write on lunch break (jot ideas down in notebook always by my desk. Toilet paper also works.), get home, burn supper, revise stuff I wrote that morning. Go to bed at precisely 9:07pm. REPEAT.

10. Advice to those who'd like to have their own book on a shelf some day?

Writing is an emotional outlet, yes. Writing involves some kind of inspiration, yes. But if you want to get published, you have to push through times of emotional upheaval and can’t wait around for inspiration to strike. You make it happen – every day at your laptop or writer’s den.

You must be sooo excited! Cheers to Under My Skin! And okay, I agree - chocolate AND peanut butter. (have you ever put a dollop of peanut butter on top of chocolate pudding?) And yes - Buffy would indeed kick Edward's sparkly ass. Just sayin...

Thanks Joy – I can’t wait to read Haunted and see how Anne and Ethan’s romance develops….cause they get together, right? Right?!

AND NOW!!! The giveaway!! Judith has graciously donated some swag related to the novel: a choker set AND a set of character cards, both of which are pictured here. Thus we will have TWO winners. So here's the contest and let's get wolfy and creative about those answers!

Other than Twilight's Jacob Black (yes, I'm taking him out of the running; it's just too easy and too obvious. And it's my contest so stop griping!), who's your favorite pop culture werewolf and why? (tv, movies, songs, comic books... everything's game but you know who) Post your answers on my blog between now and Monday night 4/26 and I'll put you in the contest hat. Remember there will be two winners, one for the choker set, the other for the character cards!

Til next time...


Janet Fox said...

Hey - great interview, Joy and Judith! Lots of fun stuff, including peanut butter and chocolate (lived on Reese's in high school.)

Does Wolverine count? Cause he'd be my choice in a heartbeat. Even if he doesn't count...

Heather said...

I just got UNDER MY SKIN and cannot wait to dig into it! Let's see, my favorite pop culture werewolf would have to be Oz from Buffy!

Mundie Moms said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read the rest of Judith's series. I enjoyed reading Under My Skin.

My favorite pop culture werewolf-I'm going to take it back to the 80's and say Teen Wolf. LOL

Jessica Kennedy said...

Since I just finished The Reckoning (Darkest Powers, Book 3) by Kelley Armstrong I'm going with Derek. He's super protective, adorable, huge, and yet needy. Loved that boy.

Can't wait to read UMS. :)

Lynsey Newton said...

Excellent interview! Looking forward to reading the book. I'd say my favourite wolf is Sam from Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater :)

Caitlin said...

My favorite pop culture werewolf would have to be Sam from the book Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. They way he interacts with Grace is just so sweet and romantic.

I also like Ares from the book Artemis Lupine: Song of the Moon. It's not a very popular novel but I like him just the same.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea -- werewolves don't always get the good press like vamps.

He's not exactly a werewolf, but I must confess to a certain amount of furry lurve for one Sam Merlotte from the first season of the TV series of True Blood.

I also admire Sgt. Delphine Angua von Uberwald in the Discworld novels. You don't meet too many female werewolf characters. Under My Skin is definitely going on the must read list.