On Friday, October 3, Quail Ridge Books [Facebook] welcomes the NY Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia, for Unmarked, the second novel in her “The Legion” series which began with Unbreakable, where “a supernatural murder leads a young woman to join a secret society, the Legion of the Black Dove.” Joining Garcia for the event is Charlotte author Carrie Ryan, author of the chilling The Forest of Hands and Teeth series. Quoth the bookstore: “Join us as they converse on writing and paranormal lit. Ages 14+.” Here, Sharon Stogner interviews both Garcia and Ryan about their books, superstitions, writing for young adults, their favorite North Carolina spots, and, of course, Friday’s event.
Interviews by Sharon Stogner
Q: Hello, Kami and welcome to NC. You currently live in Maryland so I’m guessing you’ve been to or at least passed through NC before. Is there something you would like to do or a place you would like to visit here? Have some yummy eastern BBQ, visit a haunted spot?
My momther’s family is from a small town in North Carolina called Ahoskie. I also have family in Wilson, Greensborough, and Raleigh, so I’ve spent a lot of time here. My mom and stepfather have lived on the Outer Banks since I was in college, and we have more than a few Tarheels in the family. North Carolina BBQ is definitely one of my favorite things, and a few of my favorite places in NC are Wilmington, Chapel Hill, and Asheville. I’m too superstitious to visit any haunted places on purpose, but I’m always up for a trip to Bojangles.
Q: Your newest series is The Legion Novels. Besides plot, how does this series differ from the Beautiful Creatures? Is it darker, more/ less romance or suspense, etc?
The Legion Series is definitely darker, since it deals with demons and spirits. In UNBREAKABLE, there are also several haunted locations, which adds a layer of creepiness. But the Legion series also shares similarities with the Beautiful Creatures novels—a group of friends who are all different, but depend on each other; unexpected twists and turns; distinct settings; and, of course, romance. But in the Legion series, there are two hot guys who also happen to be identical twins.
Q: What are your plans for The Legion Novels? Do you already see the final book or is it still an open page (see what I did there? <G>). And are you a dedicated plotter or do you let your muse take the wheel?
I’m definitely a plotter. I start with an inspiration board—in my new house, it’s actually a wall—then I create a beat sheet and, finally, an outline. But my outlines are not super detailed, which I prefer because it leaves room for creative detours while I’m writing. I definitely have a plan for Book 3, but it changed slightly while I was writing UNMARKED. As you work on a series, the characters do unexpected things that can take the story in a different direction. The one thing that rarely changes is the ending of my books. I usually know how the story will the end before I figure out how it begins.
Q: Your bio says you are superstitious. What kind of precautions do you take? Do you have a funny story about them?
I am incredibly superstitious, and I have tons of charms, protective symbols, and blessed items all over my house and office. When I travel, I wear a long necklace with charms from holy sites all over the world, and I also carry a Chinese good luck charm from my friend Lissa Price and a necklace blessed in a temple in Thailand from writing partner, Margie. I’d never own a cat (if you read UNBREAKABLE, you’ll understand why). There’s a video on my YouTube channel about my reaction when I checked into a hotel, and they put me in a room with 13 as part of the room number. Margie said I should switch rooms right away, but I was determined to stay in the room—which I did long enough to record a five-minute video. Then I went downstairs and begged the concierge to move me.
Q: You are very active in the YA book community. It has been growing at a tremendous rate and we are seeing more adult authors move into YA. Do you have any thoughts on what brought on the YA explosion in recent years?
Young Adult is just a shelf in the bookstore. Twenty years ago, novels like The Outsiders and A Separate Peace were shelved in the adult fiction section, though by today’s criterion, they are technically YA. One of the reasons YA novels appeal to adults is because most of us remember our teen years so vividly, and the experiences we had as teens shaped the people we are today. YA novels also have an authenticity and honesty that’s more difficult to find in adult novels. But at the end of the day, I like to say: A good book is a good book.
Q: You are doing a joint signing with YA author Carrie Ryan at Quail Ridge Books. How did that come about? Are you two doing multiple signings together or just this one?
Carrie Ryan is a good friend of mine, and she critiqued UNBREAKABLE while I was writing it. Her Forest of Hands and Teeth novels are also some of the best writing in YA, and I think readers who enjoy the Legion series will love Carrie’s novels—and hopefully, vice versa. Joint events are a lot more fun for authors and readers. Carrie is only with me in Raleigh. Brendan Reichs, co-author of the Virals series with Kathy Reichs, will be in Charlotte with on Saturday, October 4th; Jennifer Armentrout, author of the Lux novels is hanging out with me in Tyson’s Corner, VA, and Melissa de la Cruz, author of THE WITCHES OF EAST END and the Bluebloods series is kicking off the tour with me in Los Angeles.
Q: Thanks for talking with me and since you are a fellow Supernatural fan (Team Dean!) I’ll work on forgiving you for your Diet Coke drinking habit since everyone knows Pepsi rules <G>.
I have a life-sized standee of Dean in my office, so I’m Team Dean all the way. But if Den gets thirsty, I think he’ll ask for Diet Coke.
Q: Hello! You are a southern born woman currently living in the Charlotte, NC area. I’m right down the road in the Triad. What do you like most about living in NC? Where would you suggest travelers visit?
I’ve loved living in Charlotte – it’s the best of all worlds! We live two miles outside a thriving city with tons of opportunities, and you’d never know it given the tree-lined streets of our neighborhood and the community park behind our house. Both my husband, JP, and I grew up in South Carolina and it’s nice being so close to home… without being too close! And of course… the food.
I have a special place in my heart for the NC mountains – I love Asheville and if you want an even smaller town that has the same spirit, Brevard is wonderful! The food, the art, the scenery (Pisgah Forest is right there!) – it’s perfect!
Q: You are co-writing a new middle grade series starting with the book The Map to Everywhere with your husband. First, where did the idea of the Pirate Stream come from? Secondly, I’m married, and can’t imagine trying put a piece of IKEA furniture together with my husband, much less write a book! What kind of dynamic have you created to get this done?
The Map to Everywhere began as a short story JP wrote years ago in a weekly story game with his brother. I loved the characters and the world and immediately wanted it to be a book! For a long time, all we did was talk about it – during long walks we’d come up with crazy worlds and plots and characters. And then in 2012 we decided to take the plunge and actually try to write it. At first, we had no idea if we’d be able to work together and I think we’ve both been surprised at just how well it’s gone! We really feed off each other – it’s amazing to see how the kernel of an idea can morph and grow as we bat it back and forth.
I’m not saying we haven’t had our moments assembling IKEA bookshelves! Fortunately, being married we’re used to compromising and listening to what matters to each other – we’re each other’s biggest supporters.
Q: You are doing a signing at Quail Ridge Books with author Kami Garcia. I asked her this same question. YA has been growing at a tremendous rate and we are seeing more adult authors move into YA. Do you have any thoughts on what brought on the YA explosion in recent years?
Young adult novels can’t spend a lot of time navel gazing – they have to quickly capture a teen reader’s attention and keep it. This paciness is really appealing to readers of all ages who are looking for a good story that isn’t going to lag. More than that, I think teens face the same challenges we all do, but they’re just facing them for the first time. As adults, we’re still concerned with figuring out what kind of person we want to be, meeting friends, deciding what to do in life. These are universal themes – just as teens read books to know they’re not alone, adults also crave that same assurance.
Q: I’ve got to ask, where did you come up with the awesome title “The Forest of Hands and Teeth”?
I wish I could take full credit, but my husband came up with it! Now you know why I wanted to co-write with him!
Q: What are the aspects of a YA and/or middle grade story that make you want to write them? Do you have an itch that can only be scratched through writing an adult fantasy series someday?
I love the purity of story in middle grade. When JP and I first began talking about The Map to Everywhere, we thought about the books that made us fall in love with reading as kids: big adventures with crazy worlds and interesting characters. These were the books that sparked our imaginations and more than anything else in the world, we wanted to pass on that spark of imagination and possibility.
To a certain extent all books are about the “What if,” but with middle grade, there’s still the belief that the “what if” is actually possible. How wonderful is that?
Q: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. And because you are a fellow North Carolinian, I will try and forgive you for also being a Blue Devil…Go Heels!
If it makes you feel any better, my first allegiance is to my undergrad alma mater whose mascot is the purple cows.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures, which is now a major motion picture. The instant New York Times bestseller Unbreakable was her first solo novel and the first book in the Legion series. Kami lives in Maryland with her family and her dogs, Spike and Oz, named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can find her online at www.kamigarcia.com and on Twitter @kamigarcia.
Carrie Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy and Infinity Ring: Divide and Conquer as well as the editor of Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction. Currently, she’s working on The Pirate Stream, a four book middle grade series co-written with her husband, JP Davis, the first book of which, The Map to Everywhere, will be out from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in November 2014, and Daughter of Deep Silence, a romantic thriller, which will be released by Penguin Random House in June 2015. Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time. She lives with her writer/lawyer husband, two fat cats and one large rescue mutt in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not at all prepared for the zombie apocalypse. You can find her online at www.carrieryan.com or @CarrieRyan.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Kennedy Waters lives in a world where vengeance spirits kill, ghosts keep secrets, and a demon walks among us-a demon she accidentally set free. Now Kennedy and the other Legion members-Alara, Priest, Lukas, and Jared-have to hunt him down. As they learn more about the history of the Legion and the Illuminati, Kennedy realizes that the greatest mystery of all does not belong to any secret order, but to her own family. With the clock ticking and the life of someone she loves hanging in the balance, Kennedy has to ask the question she fears most: what is it about her past that has left her Unmarked?
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Sharon Stogner is the co-creator of the quirky multi-media reviews and interviews site I Smell Sheep and a freelance editor though her Devil in the Details Editing Services. A stay at home mom for a 12 year old daughter and an 18 year old daughter (who will be going off to college in 2014) and married for 21 years, she has a BS in Biology from UNC Chapel Hill and a Masters in Microbiology from NCSU. She and her family currently live in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro area of NC.