Monday, December 19, 2016
Interview with Merrie Destefano and GIVEAWAY
Book Title: Lost Girls
Author: Merrie Destefano
Release Date: 1/3/17
Genre: YA contemporary, YA psychological thriller, YA dark contemporary
Purchase Link: http://entangledpublishing.com/lost-girls/
I wanted to kick things off with a fun question, so what is your favorite book of 2016 so far?
A: Easy answer! Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I love that book so much!
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
A: That's a great question, because I actually hid an Easter egg in the names of some characters in this book. I happen to love the TV series Roswell. So I took the main character's name, Max Evans, and used in it in the last names of two characters. Rachel Evans and Lauren Maxwell. As far as the other characters go, first I figure out what year my characters would have been born. Then I go to a site that lists popular names for that year. I scroll through the lists and choose the names I like best. The trick is not picking names that sound alike or start with the same first initial. I break my own rules now and then, but try really hard not to!
Did you always want to be a writer?
A: No and yes. (Confusing, right?) I knew for years and years that I wanted to be a writer and an artist. Then for some bizarre reason, in eighth grade, I decided I had to choose—like right now. I tend to overthink things and, apparently, that's a trait I've had all my life. LOL. So, in eighth grade I decided to focus all of my energy into art. When it was time to go to college, I majored in Fine Art. After college, I started getting back into writing. At that point, I realized I could do both.
What inspires your writing?
A: I get inspiration from a lot of different things. I might randomly come up with what I think is a great first line, like this one from a story I started, "Are you going to get rid of that body?" And then I want to get to know that character better and figure out why they thought that. Like, get rid of what body? How did it get here? And are there MORE bodies nearby? With my first novel, Afterlife, I read an article about telomeres in a scientific magazine. There's a theory that if we could lengthen the telomeres in our DNA, humans could potentially live forever. From there, I started wondering what would our world be like if people could live longer, like what if we could live to be 500 years old? I've always loved social science fiction, like the stuff Philip K. Dick used to write, so it was a lot of fun to build a world based on this one small change: what if people can now live for 400 to 500 years.
What was the hardest part of writing “Lost Girls”?
A: I got very discouraged while I was writing this book. It had been a long time since I'd sold a book to a publisher, the market kept changing, and I kept hearing how people loved my work but not this particular project (about many different projects.) It got to the point that I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep writing. One of my best friends—Rachel Marks, author of Darkness Brutal—just wouldn't let me give up. Specifically, she wouldn't let me give up on Lost Girls. She was certain this book was special. Whenever I'd get depressed and say, I don't think I can do this, she'd say, you can't give up on this one, you just can't! To me, that's the sign of a true friend. They don't give up on you when you're down. They stay with you to the finish line, they root for you, and they want you to win. There's nothing in the world like a good friend.
What is your favorite thing about writing “Lost Girls”?
A: I loved Rachel. Loving (or maybe hating, depending on the kind of story you're writing) your main character is essential. I mean, you're basically together 24/7 for months at a time. Also, I loved that she couldn't remember what had happened to her. Because, honestly, I didn't know what had happened either. So she and I were on the same page, discovering things as we went along.
Do you have any habits while writing? For example: a specific snack food you have to have or maybe music playing in the background.
A: I am totally OCD when it comes to writing. I want incense burning and music playing—but it has to be the RIGHT music, which can take me forever to find. Sometimes I'll spend 45 minutes listening to new music on iTunes that I haven't even purchased yet before I can settle on my daily writing soundtrack. Then, I really, really want a Coke Zero, but I will settle for either an iced mocha latte or an iced tea. And yes, there should be a snack. A salty snack like popcorn or potato chips or Cheetos. Yarg! No wonder I keep gaining weight! LOL. One more really weird thing. I need a blanket. Doesn't matter whether I'm at home or a coffee shop, or whether it's winter or the middle of the summer. I get cold when I write. I guess all the blood goes to my brain. Ha.
What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing?
A: If I'm not careful, I can be incredibly lazy. So, I love to catch up on my fave TV shows, hang out with my German shepherds and Siamese cat, hang out with one of my writing groups, have lunch with a friend, go see a SF movie, or read a book. There should be ‘go for a hike in the mountains’ or ‘swim twenty laps in the pool’ on that list, but sadly they aren't there.
What or Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in Lost Girls?
A: There are several characters in the book that are similar to people I knew in high school. Lauren is a little bit like a girl who went to my school. She was beautiful, everyone loved her, and she even had really long blonde hair like the character Lauren. Fortunately, my real life friend didn't have a dark side or any hidden motives. Those were character traits that were grafted on to make Lauren a bit more dangerous. Likewise, Rachel's younger brother Kyle is very much like my son, when he was a teenager. For that reason, Kyle is one of my fave characters. I love that he's both silly and sweet. He can irritate Rachel, then turn around and melt her heart by doing something amazing that she doesn't expect.
What is your next project?
A: It's still in the planning stages, but I really want to write another book a little bit like Lost Girls. Something with suspense and romance, with a lot of danger, where the main characters have a lot to lose if things don't go right.
What do you think is the most special thing about this world you have created?
A: I have very strong feelings/opinions about the rights of children and women and animals, especially as it relates to abuse or the loss of freedom. So the fact that some teens were being kidnapped (you find this out in the first couple of chapters) made this a hot topic for me. It's just one of those things that I personally think is so wrong. So it made the perfect evil situation for my main character to go up against. To me, it gave Rachel the opportunity to be heroic in a way that I wish I was.
What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from Lost Girls with?
A: I'd like them to realize that there's always time for redemption, no matter how many mistakes you've made. You can still change and try to become the person you really want to be. Also, I'd like them to take the time to show how much they care about the people around them. Take a few minutes and let your parents or your siblings or your friends know you love them. None of us know how much time we have here on this spinning ball called Earth. Today is always the best day to show love to others.
If could describe your book in five words, what five would you use?
A: If they are five unrelated words: suspense, teen, kickass, amnesia, romance. If they are five words in a sentence: Fight Club meets Black Swan.
QUESTION FOR THE BOOK GIVEAWAY:
If you woke up and discovered you could do something—like play the piano or speak a foreign language or sing like a pop star or anything you can’t do now—what would that be and why?
Please comment with answer, will pick a random winner and email you for your full name and address, Merrie will be sending the winner the book! Good Luck!
Born in the Midwest, magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.