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Author Interview: Mary Lindsey

I am so happy to have author Mary Lindsey stop by the blog today to answer a few questions about herself, her writing and her upcoming and completely amazing book, Shattered Souls, as part of The {Teen} Book Scene‘s blog tour.

Shattered Souls is one of my favorite new books releasing in 2011 and I was so happy to have had the chance to read and review it back in August.

Q. I have to ask – you got your undergraduate degree in English Literature with a minor in Drama, both on the creative side, but then you went to law school. What made you decide to pursue a legal degree? And did you graduate or did you run screaming when you had to write your first year brief?

I come from a long line of lawyers, so that was a natural progression. Since any undergraduate degree works in terms of admission to law school as long as your grades are excellent and you do well on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), why not major in things that appeal? Reading and acting had always been my favorite things.

Did I run screaming from my first year briefs? No. I’d done primarily technical writing and literary analysis in undergrad, so it was an easy transition. I enjoyed law school very much, but missed my more creative endeavors. Halfway though, a friend called me and told me that an amazing job teaching acting in a local high school had opened up and she had recommended me for the job.

It had never crossed my mind to teach. On a whim, I met with the principal and realized it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I could get a leave of absence from law school (at the time, you had six years to complete the three year J.D. Degree) and go back later. I became “emergency certified,” which they could do at the time if a job candidate was extremely qualified for the job but didn’t have a teaching certification.

I loved teaching. I was hooked. I got my certification and that was that. I never went back to law school. Why haggle over terms of other people’s divorces when I could teach teenagers about a field I loved? I’ve never regretted letting my leave of absence lapse.

Q. Is there anything more you can tell us about Annabel, your current project for Penguin? I understand it’s based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” but I – and I’m sure all your fans – would love to know more!

You are correct. Annabel is a modern gothic YA based on Edgar Allan Poe’s last poem, “Annabel Lee.” There are elements from Celtic mythology thrown into the mix, but I’ve stayed true to the voice, tone, and storyline of the poem, with nods to other Poe works throughout the story.

Annabel is what some folks would call a “book of the heart.” I’m passionate about it. It has it all for me: murder mystery, gothic elements, horror, a painfully intelligent protagonist trapped by his past, and an impossible love affair. It’s not a typical YA romance and writing it is a thrill.

[Fiktshun: Oh, I can’t wait for this book to come out in 2013! It really does sound like it has it all for me, too!]

About the Author

Mary Lindsey’s debut young adult novel, SHATTERED SOULS, is scheduled for release December 8, 2011 from Philomel/Penguin.

Having received a B.A. in English literature with a minor in drama from the University of Houston, she currently teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.

Mary lives with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter’s pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon, and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Q. When you first started writing Shattered Souls, did you have a very specific ending in mind or did that develop for you as you began to write? Did you know who your characters were from the very beginning or did they grow and change along with the story?

The ending is about the only thing that did not change. It was the second scene I wrote. I knew the essence of both characters from the start. Lenzi was harder to nail down than Alden, but both were set from the get go.

Q. Your website mentions that Shattered Souls was originally written in the third person. What made you change it? Do you feel that anything was lost by not being able to see things from Alden’s perspective or were you able to capture everything through Lenzi’s point of view?

I changed from third to first person point of view in the hopes of making Lenzi more likable. The full story can be found on a previous tour stop and you can read it by clicking HERE.

Do I feel anything was lost? Yes and no. I knew Alden much better than I would have if I’d written it in first person from the start, so that wasn’t lost. Lenzi is so much stronger, it makes up for this loss. Still, because of Alden’s unusual past lives, he had a fascinating take on things that are missed in the current version. I’m thinking about posting some of the cut scenes from his POV on my website at some point. He’s a cool guy. Cooler even, when you can get in his head. Pushing Lenzi away is the hardest thing in the world for him and you really get a feel for that from his POV.

[Fiktshun: Oh you have GOT to post cut scenes from Alden’s POV. I would love to see those!]

Q. Your main characters have unique names which make them really memorable. How did you come up with them? Did Lenzi always feel like a Lenzi? And was he Alden from the moment you met him?

To find my male main character’s name, I looked up English baby names. I wanted him to have British lineage, so that was the starting point. The first one I came across that I liked was in the first page of the names.  Alden stuck. Nothing else worked once I saw that name.

As for Lenzi, I needed a contemporary name to contrast with Rose, her name in past lives. Lenzi is named after on of my students. The story of her name can be read by clicking HERE. The origin of the name, Rose, is explained in a short video, which can be viewed by clicking HERE.

The story behind the names Horace (Race) and Maude (Maddi) are HERE.

Q. Lenzi is one of my favorite female main characters. I’m partial to sarcastic and humorous female mains, and Lenzi was just the perfect amounts of each. She had so many great lines. How did you come up with them all? And did you base Lenzi’s character on anyone you know?

Lenzi, for the most part, has my voice. We are not much alike other than speech patterns and humor. I actually toned her sarcasm down a bit over the course of the edits because it affected her likability.

[Fiktshun: If she was more sarcastic it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit! But that’s just me. I totally understand that not everyone likes a snarky, sarcastic female main quite the same way I do!]

Q. Do your characters feel like real people to you now that the book is finished? Do you miss them or are you happy to set them aside for a bit while you focus on writing Annabel?

The characters feel completely real to me. I wrote this book over 4 years ago, and it has been though a lot. I’ve spent plenty of time with Lenzi and Alden. If you take into account the discarded third person version, I have deleted scenes in a 4 to 1 ratio with what you see in the finished manuscript. I miss my characters sometimes and find myself thinking, “Lenzi would like this restaurant,” or “Alden would love that painting.”

Annabel has made setting aside my characters from Shattered Souls much easier. I’m fascinated by Liam and Anna and am thrilled to uncover them layer-by-layer. Liam is broken and complex. I love a challenge!

[Fiktshun: Oh Liam! I’m in love already. And broken. I love broken. I can’t stop thinking about this book. I’ll be as crazed as Poe by the time it’s released!]

About Shattered Souls

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions – gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can’t help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she’s a reincarnated Speaker – someone who can talk to and help lost souls – and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn’t make a decision soon.

Thank you so much, Rachel, for having me on your blog today. I loved the questions!

[Fiktshun: You are welcome any time! And if you’d like to come back and bring the wonderfully sarcastic Lenzi for a visit, I’d love to have her too! I can’t wait for Shattered Soul’s release in less than two months. And I am so excited for Annabel which sounds so unbelievably perfect.]

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Mary Lindsey’s website

Mary Lindsey on Twitter

Shattered Souls on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Shattered Souls at Penguin

Shattered Souls on Goodreads

Advance Praise for Shattered Souls

“Drawing readers into a world where the past holds secrets that can offer salvation or destruction, with spirits haunting every nook and cranny, Mary Lindsey crafts a tale that is frightening, beautiful, and wonderfully memorable.”

–Andrea Cremer, New York Times bestselling author of Nightshade

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Be sure to check out all the awesome stops on the Shattered Souls tour to find out more about Mary Lindsey, her characters and to read the early reviews of her amazing debut novel Shattered Souls, which will be releasing in the U.S. on December 8, 2011. Just click on the image below!

Leave a comment by October 16th, for a chance to win a swag pack sent directly from the author – which will include a necklace and bookmarks with charms. There will be one winner.

Thanks everyone for your comments and for checking out my interview with the amazing Mary Lindsey. I’ll be choosing a winner via Random’s number generator and announcing it here in just a moment. Stay tuned…

Well, Random has randomly chosen number 1 as the winner. Vicki, congratulations, you won the swag from Mary Lindsey. I’ll be contacting you for your details which I’ll forward to the author to send you the prize directly.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and I will be giving away a few copies of Shattered Souls when it’s closer to release date in December if you’re looking to grab a copy.

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