LOST CROW CONSPIRACY Blog Tour: Interview with Rosalyn Eves

I am such a huge fan of Author Rosalyn Eves and her Blood Rose Rebellion series and am thrilled to be a part of the LOST CROW CONSPIRACY Blog Tour hosted by the publisher.

I may have already participated in an earlier tour and shared my thoughts about this incredibly awesome sequel, but I was a part of this one first and was totally stoked to be able to ask the author 10 questions about her book, her series, her characters.

If you haven’t yet heard about this amazing series that is rich with history, filled with magic, brimming with action, and completely and totally captivating, be sure to check out the books’ descriptions below – though to avoid any spoilers maybe just read the one for BLOOD ROSE REBELLION. And if you haven’t yet “met” the author, Rosalyn Eves, her bio and places to find her online are also below.

But if you’d like to know her thoughts about this second book in the series, about which scene was a favorite, which one was a challenge, what advice she’d give to her character, what she might have done differently if she were in her character’s shoes, and more, scroll down for the interview.


About LOST CROW CONSPIRACY

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: LOST CROW CONSPIRACY (Blood Rose Rebellion #2)
Author: Rosalyn Eves
Release date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBooks

Description…

Sixteen-year old Anna Arden was once just the magically barren girl from an elite Luminate family. Now she has broken the Binding–and Praetheria, the creatures held captive by the spell, wreak havoc across Europe. Lower-class citizens have access to magic for the first time, while other Luminates lose theirs forever. Austria and Hungary are at odds once more.

Anna thought the Praetheria were on her side, grateful to be free from the Binding. She thought her cousin Matyas’s blood sacrifice would bring peace, equality, justice. She thought her future looked like a society that would let her love a Romani boy, Gabor.

But with the Monarchy breathing down her neck and the Praetheria intimidating her at every turn, it seems the conspiracies have only just begun.

As threat of war sweeps the region, Anna quickly discovers she can’t solve everything on her own. Now there’s only one other person who might be able to save the country before war breaks out. The one person Anna was sure she’d never see again. A bandit. A fellow outlaw. A man known as the King of Crows. Matyas.

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The Interview

Q. If you had to describe LOST CROW CONSPIRACY in 15 words or less, how would you describe it?

Anna fights with Viennese court politics and wrestles with what it means to be monstrous.

Q. Aside from Anna, who is (or was) your favorite character to write about – and why? Who is (or was) your most challenging character – and why?

Mátyás is always a fun character to write—his outlook on the world amuses me and he gets to say things Anna wouldn’t let herself think. Because he is Romani, Gábor is my most challenging character to write, as it requires a lot of research and care to present his perspective accurately and respectfully. I’ve had a Romani reader and experts in Romani culture help me, but I’m still not certain I get everything right.

Q. What was your favorite part about writing this sequel? And did you find it more or less challenging to write than BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, the first book in the series – and why?

I loved coming back to a world I already knew (and bringing a beloved character back to life 😉). I didn’t have to rewrite this book quite as many times as BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, but it felt like it took longer to catch the overall vision and heart of the book. I wrote nearly 70k and then had to start over because the story wasn’t working right. I finally had an epiphany about second books in a trilogy (that is, the middle leading up to the dark night of the soul is essentially a tragedy) that helped me figure out how to resolve the story. The biggest challenge was finding a way to wrap up the story in a way that felt satisfying while still leaving enough open for book 3 to resolve.

Q. How did you decide how much history versus fantasy to include in your series? And what were the challenges of including as much as you did?

I love historical fantasy—there’s something about the combination of real historical detail and magic that never gets old to me. That said, I’m not always good at deciding the balance of historical detail—this is why  I have an editor and readers, who say, “you know, we don’t really need quite this much detail.”

Q. If you could change the fate of one character in your series, who would it be? And if it’s not too spoiler-y, why would you change their fate?

There’s a secondary character in LOST CROW CONSPIRACY (I won’t name them, as that would be a spoiler) who dies during a fight scene. I was sorry to kill them, but I needed someone to die to show the stakes of the situation, and it needed to be someone that mattered (at least a little) to readers.

Q. If you were in Anna’s shoes, would you have broken the Binding spell, even with the chaos that resulted?

I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to do that! Anna is far braver than I am, particularly in situations where physical courage is required. Also, I think because I’m older than Anna and have a better perspective on how far reaching her decision would be, I think I would have hesitated for those reasons too. But then the story would have been much less interesting.

Q. If you could give Anna a piece of advice or words of warning, what would you tell her?

In several of the books I signed for BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, I wrote, “you are enough.” Anna struggles, much as I did as a teen, to believe that she has value independent of what she can contribute to society, and in LOST CROW CONSPIRACY this struggle becomes acute, as everything she thinks she achieved in book 1 gets taken from her. If I could tell her one thing, I would tell her that she’s enough, just as she is. (But this is something she has to learn).

Q. What was your favorite scene to write about in LOST CROW CONSPIRACY? And why was it a favorite?

I’m going to cheat and pick two, one for each POV. I enjoyed writing the ballroom scene at Schönbrunn, just before the climax, because I got to indulge in some vivid descriptions and banter. (You can read an excerpt at Owl Always Be Reading.) And Mátyás has a run-in with highwaymen that was also a lot of fun to write, mostly because Mátyás says what he thinks without much care for the consequences. (You can read an excerpt of this at A Dream Within A Dream.)

Q. If you could visit any point in time in history and any place in history, would you have visited Anna’s Hungary or would you have gone somewhere and/or sometime else – and why?

Much as I love Hungary and the 19th century, I’m not sure I would have wanted to visit anywhere in Europe then. Even though technology was improving, a lot of private life was still fairly primitive by today’s standards and in 1848 they were just starting to understand you could prevent the spread of disease in hospitals and clinics by washing your hands. (In fact, it was a Hungarian doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, who discovered this in Vienna in 1847). If I could do a very brief visit, I’d love to have seen some of the balls in Buda Castle and in Vienna. I’d also love to have seen Istanbul at its height in the late 18th, early 19th century—it was much more cosmopolitan than many other European cities.

Q. In what ways is Anna your “ideal” heroine? In what ways would you like to see her improve?

I think a heroine has to be brave, which Anna usually is. But she also tends to act without thinking through the consequences, and sometimes that ends badly for her.


About Rosalyn Eves

Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle.

She has a PhD in English from Penn State, which means she also endeavors to inspire college students with a love for the English language. Sometimes it even works.

Rosalyn is represented by Josh Adams of Adams literary.

Her first novel, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy, is out now from Knopf/Random House. Her second, LOST CROW CONSPIRACY, comes out March 27, 2018.

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About BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: BLOOD ROSE REBELLION (Blood Rose Rebellion #)
Author: Rosalyn Eves
Release date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

Description…

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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SPINNING Blog Tour: Interview with Author Tillie Walden

I am super excited to be today’s stop on the SPINNING Blog Tour and to share my five question interview with the incredibly talented and creative and courageous Tillie Walden.

SPINNING is a gorgeous and moving and engaging read – and experience. The illustrations are amazing. They’re beautiful and expressive and tell the story in ways the words alone can’t. You can see just how Tillie feels at every moment of the read. You can see and feel the highs and lows, the anguish, the frustration, the sadness, the envy, the fear, the joy, the anxiety.

Each picture enhances the story, is an integral part of the story. The illustrations can tell the tale on their own, without any words to accompany them. But together they paint the complete picture, making this a story that is captivating and sad and sweet and delightful and wonderful and brave and a must read.

SPINNING released this week, so if you haven’t yet had the chance to experience this graphic memoir, its description and links to find it online are below.

And if you want the nitty gritty on how Tillie Walden would describe SPINNING, what she enjoyed most about creating SPINNING as a graphic memoir, who had the biggest impact on her decision to skate or not to skate, and more, check out the interview which follows beneath the book’s details.

To hear what else Tillie Walden has to say about herself, about creating SPINNING, about the world of graphic novels/memoirs, be sure to follow the tour. The schedule, with direct links to all the stops can be found at the end of this post.


About SPINNING

Add to Goodreads

Title: SPINNING
Author: Tillie Walden
Release date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook

Description…

Figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing in glitter and tights. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as Tillie’s interests evolve, from her growing passion for art to a first love realized with a new girlfriend, she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits in.

Poignant and captivating, this powerful graphic memoir captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

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The Interview

Q&A with Tillie Walden

Q. If you had to describe SPINNING in 25 words or less, how would you describe it?

Figure skating. Synchronized skating. Competitions. Lesbians. Bullying. Coming out. Coming of age. Texas. Graphic memoir. How many words is that?

Q. What did you enjoy most about creating SPINNING as a graphic memoir? And what did you find most challenging about telling your story in this way?

I really enjoyed finishing it. That maybe sounds silly, but that was such a huge accomplishment and relief. And the whole thing was challenging. That isn’t necessarily a negative (I love a good challenge) but it really was all hard. The writing, the drawing, the remembering. It was a fight to create. And thank god I won.

Q. In your memoir you’d touched upon a number of different events and people who had an impact on your life – from your first skating teacher, to the various bullies at school, to your indifferent mother, to your successes and failures in competition. Looking back, what (or who) would you say had the biggest impact on your decision to remain a skater for as long as you had (or your inability to leave skating until you did)?

Ah that’s easy, it’s me! I was the one who kept myself there. At the end of the day, it always comes back to me. I didn’t know how to quit. I didn’t know you could leave something you were good at. And I didn’t realize how much there was in the world outside of the rink. I kept myself there, and I got myself out.

Q. In the afterword, you talked about how SPINNING became a very different story than the one you’d initially thought it might be. If you’d stayed with your original storyline, how might your illustrations have differed in order to tell that story?

I guess it wasn’t that I had an original storyline, but more that I went into it really expecting this entire book to be about ice skating. And it surprised me that it went so far beyond that. I think if I had been more strict with myself to keep the book ice skating focused, it would have lost a lot of it’s power. I imagine the drawings would have been relatively similar ultimately, but the content and style would have changed quite a bit.

Q. What was your favorite memory to share in SPINNING? And what was your most difficult memory to share?

It’s brief, but I love the moment where I’m on the ice with Lindsay and we’re both cheerleaders. That was when I was doing a Glee on Ice routine, and we were Quinn and Brittney. I laugh now because I believe one of the cheerleaders in the show is either gay or bisexual. I wish I had known that then, I would have played the character with a lot more gusto. And the most difficult? Lord. I’m just going to go with every single other scene besides the cheerleader moment.


About Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden is a two-time Ignatz Award–winning cartoonist from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Her comics include The End of Summer and I Love This Part, an Eisner Award nominee. tilliewalden.com

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The Tour Schedule

9.11.17 | Tales of the Ravenous Reader

9.12.17 | Love is Not a Triangle

9.13.17 | The Book Rat

9.14.17 | YA Bibliophile

9.15.17 | Fiktshun

9.18.17 | The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

9.19.17 | Book Crushin’

9.20.17 | YA Wednesdays

Follow along at Fierce Reads

Interview with MURDER AMONG THE STARS Author Adam Shankman

I am so thrilled to welcome the very talented and amazing Adam Shankman to the blog today for a Q&A about his latest novel, MURDER AMONG THE STARS which he co-authored with Laura L. Sullivan. MURDER AMONG THE STARS is the second LuLu Kelly Mystery and is even more exciting than the first with its interesting and delightful cast of characters and its incredible setting – Hearst Castle.

Author Adam Shankman talks favorite characters, favorite and challenging scenes, favorite book in the series, which character type he would be, just what Freddie adores most about Lulu, and more!

I love why he chose the setting for this novel, I love how he differentiates Lulu and Lucille, and I love that he is entertained by his characters. And I love this series.

If you’re new to the series skip the description for MURDER AMONG THE STARS but feel free to check out the interview as it is non-spoiler-y. The information about GIRL ABOUT TOWN, the first book in the series, can be found at the end of the post.

If you’d like to learn more about the authors be sure to follow them on social media – links follow their brief bios. And if you’d like to check out the Blog Tour Interview with Author Laura L. Sullivan, CLICK HERE.


About MURDER AMONG THE STARS

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: MURDER AMONG THE STARS (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
Release date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

A murderer is picking off the young Hollywood starlets gathered at the swanky Hearst Castle, and Lulu Kelly might be next—unless she can find the killer first in this glitzy, glamorous, and cinematic sequel to acclaimed film producer/director Adam Shankman and coauthor Laura Sullivan’s Girl About Town.

After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has earned a rest. Unfortunately, there is no rest in Hollywood for a rising starlet. Lulu and her boyfriend Freddie are invited to posh Hearst Castle, where Lulu will be competing against other young actresses for the role of a lifetime. But what’s a house party without a little murder?

After a rival actress is found dead under the dining room table, Lulu makes it her mission to solve the mystery. But illusion is this town’s number one export, and it’s hard to tell the ambitious from the truly evil. As the clues pile up, Lulu and Freddie race to find the killer, even as Lulu becomes the next target.

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The Interview

Q&A with Author Adam Shankman

Q. Who is your favorite character to write about in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries series – and why is she/he a favorite?

I would have to say that my favorites are the actually Freddie and Lulu. Certainly Lulu. They are both in a great hurry to be adults, and take on the world, and they feel VERY BIG feelings! They entertain me endlessly.

Q. What was your favorite scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a favorite?

I liked the party scenes. I’ve always had a great fondness for Agatha Christie style gatherings, when people are all in a room together, and you know SOMEONE there is a murderer, but you don’t know who. The darting eyes, the mistrust, the booze and dancing, and the tension of not knowing. I love writing that stuff.

Q. What was your most challenging scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a challenge?

For me, the challenge of these books are to try and keep them from becoming too twee and precious. They are homages to giants that came before us, and a period I have great unbridled respect and enthusiasm for. I guess, given that, the part I personally struggled with the most, was the reveal of the killer! Laura and I wrote one idea originally, than completely rethought it, and made it a completely different idea. More satisfying I think. But I don’t like endings! I like process, so endings are a bit sad to me.

Q. Which book in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries was your favorite to write – and why?

I actually thought writing Girl About Town was much more fun for awhile since I enjoyed creating the lives of our characters. Mysteries are a bit of math, what with the plots, subplots, misleads, laying out clues, etc… I tend to favor character related work. Getting to know these people. Hanging out with them. I’m terrible at math by nature, so as to that, I was so grateful to Laura for being such a stalwart guide and soldier. She had a great deal of patience with me.

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing a mystery/mysteries?

See above!

Q. What made you choose the setting for MURDER AMONG THE STARS?

I’m a native Angeleno, and as a child my mom took me to Hearst Castle, and I’ve never forgotten what an extraordinary impact it had on me. I imagined all of the movie stars, and luminaries of the time cavorting in that gorgeous setting. When I was small, it was HUGE to me. In fact, the bedrooms are rather small by todays standards, but the history is honey running down the walls there. When we were thinking about the next book, this was the actual setting I immediately suggested, and Laura went all in for it! I think it’s a pretty darn perfect location for glamorous mayhem, which is frankly what Freddie and Lulu are all about!

Q. If you could describe Lulu Kelly in 15 words or less, how would you describe her? AND if you could describe Lucille O’Malley in 15 words or less how different would your description be?

Lulu Kelly: insatiably curious, head-strong, brave, and ambitious. She’s a glamorous trouble maker and a hopeless romantic. I counted head-strong as one word.

Lucille O’Malley was infinitely more humble, burdened, fearful and didn’t know she could really ever raise herself up. Her shame about how she got everything that her “new life” has offered her will likely never stop plaguing her conscience. She’s simply too moral.

Q. What is it about Lulu Kelly that Freddie van der Waals adores the most?

This question makes me want to use a million old fashioned words that seldom get used these days! Moxie, pluck, wiles, spunk, guts, nerve, and fearlessness. I think he’s terribly drawn to everything about her that he compains about! Her impetuous nature drives him bonkers, but it’s also what endlessly intrigues and endears her to him.

Q. If you were a character in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries who would you be – hero/heroine, villain, victim, suspect, someone else? And why would you choose to be that type of character?

I will always and forever see myself as the goofy sidekick. I’m probably Charlie, the dog in these books. I’m not handsome or dashing enough to be the hero, or female and girlish enough to be the heroine! I’m the funny narrator. The wise cracking pal. And I love that character. They add a fresh perspective to things, and usually take the edge off of the leading folks. Also, not for nothing, they so seldom get killed!


About the Authors

Photo credit: Frank Meli

Adam Shankman is the director and producer of the exuberant musical remake of Hairspray, the producer of the top-grossing Step Up films, the director of the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore, and the director of Bringing Down the House starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. Adam has also directed episodes of Modern Family and Glee, and he was a popular judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

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Photo credit: Andy DeLay

Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker, and deputy sheriff who writes because storytelling is the easiest way to do everything in the world. Her books include Love By the Morning StarDelusion, and Ladies in Waiting. Laura lives on the Florida coast.

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Other Books in the Series

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: GIRL ABOUT TOWN (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
Release date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Not too long ago, Lucille O’Malley was living in a tenement in New York. Now she’s Lulu Kelly, Hollywood’s newest It Girl. She may be a star, but she worries that her past will catch up with her. Back in New York she witnessed a Mafia murder, and this glamorous new life in Tinseltown is payment for her silence.

Dashing Freddie van der Waals, the only son of a New York tycoon, was a playboy with the world at his feet. But when he discovered how his corrupt father really made the family fortune, Freddie abandoned his billions and became a vagabond. He travels the country in search of redemption and a new identity, but his father will stop at nothing to bring him home.

When fate brings Lulu and Freddie together, sparks fly—and gunshots follow. Suddenly Lulu finds herself framed for attempted murder. Together, she and Freddie set out to clear her name. But can they escape their pasts and finally find the Hollywood ending they long for?

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MURDER AMONG THE STARS Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

I am super excited to be a stop on the MURDER AMONG THE STARS Blog Tour and to share an interview with Author Laura L. Sullivan in which she talks favorite and challenging scenes, favorite quotes, which character she would be, and more!

I also have a copy of MURDER AMONG THE STARS for giveaway. So if you’re in the U.S. and you’d like the chance to win this second book in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries, be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter.

As a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, I adore this series about Lulu Kelly. The authors made murder a lot of fun to read about. (And I have to admit that it’s pretty awesome that it’s co-authored by the very talented Adam Shankman.)


About MURDER AMONG THE STARS

Add to Goodreads

Title & Series: MURDER AMONG THE STARS (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
Release date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

A murderer is picking off the young Hollywood starlets gathered at the swanky Hearst Castle, and Lulu Kelly might be next—unless she can find the killer first in this glitzy, glamorous, and cinematic sequel to acclaimed film producer/director Adam Shankman and coauthor Laura Sullivan’s Girl About Town.

After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has earned a rest. Unfortunately, there is no rest in Hollywood for a rising starlet. Lulu and her boyfriend Freddie are invited to posh Hearst Castle, where Lulu will be competing against other young actresses for the role of a lifetime. But what’s a house party without a little murder?

After a rival actress is found dead under the dining room table, Lulu makes it her mission to solve the mystery. But illusion is this town’s number one export, and it’s hard to tell the ambitious from the truly evil. As the clues pile up, Lulu and Freddie race to find the killer, even as Lulu becomes the next target.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | GOODREADS


The Interview

Q&A with Author Laura L. Sulliva

Q. Who is your favorite character to write about in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries series – and why is she/he a favorite?

Of course I delve most deeply into the main characters, but of the others, the gangster turned Hollywood mover and shaker Sal Benedetto is a favorite of mine. He’s not exactly an honorable character, but he’s far better than he could be in his situation. He’s the ultimate man of the era, expanding into the new opportunities of Hollywood. Plus, of course, he’s incredibly alluring…

Q. What was your favorite scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a favorite?

The conversation around the dinner table just before the first body was discovered is my favorite. Lulu has a fairly shocking misunderstanding that leads to the revelation!

Q. What was your most challenging scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a challenge?

It’s hard to go into any detail without giving anything away, but the scenes that make characters look absolutely guilty are among the most fun and challenging. You have to get so close… but not quite. Getting that absolute plausibility is difficult.

Q. What are your top three character quotes and/or passages from any of the books in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries?

Of Sal’s dark-bladed knife (and perhaps personality?):

Let the show-offs have shiny blades. Serious killers have dark weapons.

Of Marion Davies (could she have orchestrated the murder for her own entertainment?):

She’s bored! A gin-soaked bird held prisoner in a gilded cage. The whole thing smacks of one big spectacle for her personal entertainment.

I like this passage describing Hearst in a nutshell:

Hearst made a ludicrous figure, bearish and lumbering beside the effervescent Marion. But he put on a game show, laughing at his own clumsiness. Lulu thought it must be easier to accept being a figure of fun when his signature on a check could buy anyone or anything. That would numb the sting.

No, she realized a moment later. He was ordering them to laugh at him, just as he had ordered them to dance. If they’d done it on their own they might be banished, ruined. But he enjoyed having the power to tell people to laugh at him. Look, he seemed to say with his antics, I can be ridiculous and still be above you.

Q. Which book in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries was your favorite to write – and why?

I could never choose! The first was a joy because we were meeting these wonderful characters. In the second, they were old friends.

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing a mystery/mysteries?

I love the period when a friend is reading it and narrating their experience to me, when I realize that Adam and I set up exactly the right misdirections and red herrings.

Page 20: “I know the cat did it!”

Page 50: “Wait, no, it was the dog!”

Page 150: “No, it was the budgie, and he’s setting the dog up!”

Page 200: “But the cat doesn’t have an alibi!”

Page 250: “Could it be the gerbil? No way. But wait, maybe… How could he…. ohhhhh yeah, it all makes sense now! How did I not see that on Page 20?”

Q. What made you choose the setting for MURDER AMONG THE STARS?

I’ve always been fascinated with William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, and Hearst Castle. When Adam and I were talking about the era, we discovered we shared that fascination. Adam toured the castle extensively, researching every detail, to get the setting just right.

Q. What is it about Lulu Kelly that Freddie van der Waals adores the most?

I think he loves that she can inhabit both worlds. She can fit in with the glitzy kind of people he grew up with, but she has no pretension and none of their less desirable traits. Yet she can also slum it in a diner and can mend her own clothes. She knows both world, rich and poor, and takes the best from both – and holds onto her core character through both.

Q. If you were a character in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries who would you be – hero/heroine, villain, victim, suspect, someone else? And why would you choose to be that type of character?

I’d like to be Lulu’s publicist Veronica – smart, cynical, practical, and efficient but with real loyalty and heart. She’s got a killer sense of humor, and pushes Lulu to be successful with a mix of pragmatism and sympathy. (Of course, I’d like to be Anita Loos just so I could have written Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, though I don’t envy her personal life or the compromises she sometimes had to make in her career.)


About the Authors

Photo credit: Andy DeLay

Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker, and deputy sheriff who writes because storytelling is the easiest way to do everything in the world. Her books include Love By the Morning StarDelusion, and Ladies in Waiting. Laura lives on the Florida coast.

FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

Photo credit: Frank Meli

Adam Shankman is the director and producer of the exuberant musical remake of Hairspray, the producer of the top-grossing Step Up films, the director of the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore, and the director of Bringing Down the House starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. Adam has also directed episodes of Modern Family and Glee, and he was a popular judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

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Other Books in the Series

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Title & Series: GIRL ABOUT TOWN (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
Release date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Not too long ago, Lucille O’Malley was living in a tenement in New York. Now she’s Lulu Kelly, Hollywood’s newest It Girl. She may be a star, but she worries that her past will catch up with her. Back in New York she witnessed a Mafia murder, and this glamorous new life in Tinseltown is payment for her silence.

Dashing Freddie van der Waals, the only son of a New York tycoon, was a playboy with the world at his feet. But when he discovered how his corrupt father really made the family fortune, Freddie abandoned his billions and became a vagabond. He travels the country in search of redemption and a new identity, but his father will stop at nothing to bring him home.

When fate brings Lulu and Freddie together, sparks fly—and gunshots follow. Suddenly Lulu finds herself framed for attempted murder. Together, she and Freddie set out to clear her name. But can they escape their pasts and finally find the Hollywood ending they long for?

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The Giveaway

Courtesy of the publisher….

ONE (1) winner will receive a hardcover copy of MURDER AMONG THE STARS – US only

  • Must be 13 or older to enter
  • There will be ONE winner
  • Giveaway is US only
  • Giveaway ends on September 4th
  • Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and contacted by email
  • Winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen
  • Prize will be sent by the publisher

Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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The Tour Schedule

BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE by Margaret Stohl {Interview, Promo + Giveaway}

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Last week I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a group phone interview with Margaret Stohl about her upcoming release BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE (a wicked awesome sequel, btw).

We each got the chance to ask a couple of non-spoiler-y questions about the Black Widow series and I’m thrilled to be able to share a few of my most favorite questions and answers with you today (and reveal who I think might make a great Red Widow)!

I also have, courtesy of Marvel Press, an autographed copy of BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE for giveawayFor a chance to win just scroll down to the Rafflecopter for details and to enter.

In anticipation of the interview, I received a copy of the book to read and some super awesome swag thanks to Marvel…

A photo posted by Rachel Clarke (@fiktshun) on

…and let me just say that this sequel is even more action-packed, epic and out-of-this-world amazing than the first book in the series. So if you haven’t already grabbed a copy of BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED, now is the perfect time – BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE releases next week on October 11th!

To learn more about this book and series visit: books.disney.com.

And if you’d like to be a part of the conversation on social media, don’t forget to tag #RedVengeance!


About BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE

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Title & Series: BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE (Black Widow #2)
Author: Margaret Stohl
Release date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Marvel Press
Pages: 416
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Description…

Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.

But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.

While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.

Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike.

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The Interview Questions & Answers

We each got the chance to ask the author a couple of questions, but I’m also sharing a couple of my favorite questions asked by other participants and their answers.

Fiktshun:  What was it like incorporating new characters, particularly Ava, into the Marvel universe and what was it like getting into the heads of existing characters like Natasha and Tony Stark?

Ms. Margaret Stohl: Everybody who knows me knows that I have a wicked Tony Stark sitting on one shoulder at all times. I’m famous for writing Tony Stark banter. It’s the love of my life. I can’t not make terrible Tony Stark jokes. It’s sort of my alter ego.

Mostly what my Marvel editors do is cut 70 pages of Tony Stark out of all of my books because he has a way of growing all over every page. I love putting Tony’s banter in, particularly with Natasha and Ava because Natasha gets so cranky at him, and because Ava’s like– who is this old guy like, retching on me, like, what’s going on? So they both have a different response to him. I just love characters so I love it when there’s a dynamic showing of understanding between three characters.

It is amazing to create a character for the Marvel universe. As we finished doing the comic, the one shot for Ava, I got to see Alexei for the first time. Getting to see your babies in color is an amazing thing. I think I will never get over that.

I look forward to seeing more Natasha and more Ava in Marvel comics. I love what they’re starting to do now with teen characters. And I also love that they’ve been so great about including me in their creative summit. They give me a monthly book and want to hear what a teen audience really cares about, which I think is amazing.

Captain Marvel is also one of my favorite characters of all time. But I really love what they do with characters that are Ava’s age, it’s great.

***

Fiktshun: If Marvel decided to add Ava to the cinematic universe, how stoked would you be, and if you could cast someone, who would you choose and why?

[Of course what I meant to ask was, what would you do if Marvel added Ava to the cinematic universe… Gah, nerves!]

Ms. Margaret Stohl: The answer to how stoked is obviously very stoked. And who I would cast, I don’t know, who would you cast?

Fiktshun: I think even I can’t even imagine it. I was looking through all the other actresses and I couldn’t find anybody as kickass as Ava has come to be, especially in the second novel. That’s the difficulty.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: I will have to think about that. I will really ponder that one. Even in Beautiful Creatures, I had no dream casting, and Kami really freaked out when Jeremy Irons was cast as Macon, because she imagined him in that role. I had never imagined anyone in that role other than Macon because he was Macon who lived in my head. That’s my approach.

Fiktshun Update: So after the interview I ended up binge-watching a TV series with an actress who I thought might be great for Ava (even if she is a little bit older than the character). I could totally see her as fierce, and as a redhead. (And I think visually she’d work really well on-screen with the actress playing Black Widow).

Yep, I totally could see Nicola Peltz as Ava Orlova. What do you think?

nicola-peltz

***

ComicBooked: My question is, for Natasha in this and the first book, I can kind of tell that you focused more on the comic character. However, did the movie version of Black Widow influence you at all in how you portrayed Natasha in the books?

Ms. Margaret Stohl: Yes, I always have Black Widow from the movies in mind because I think she’s done such a great job for so many of my readers in bringing the Black Widow character to life. Black Widow has been around for 50 years, she really has had so many creators. But I specifically think that her current cinematic version is incredibly successful with the book. I’m a fan.

***

ComicsWorthReading: Following up on what you alluded to with the extent of the character, did you find it daunting to deal with Natasha considering her long-existing continuity and such fan interest?

Ms. Margaret Stohl: I did but I love the Marvel fans, that’s really why I’m here. And I often say both Marvel and Disney are very good at finding the right spirit-partner for all of these franchises. It is actually so daunting that nobody should take these jobs if they don’t have a passionate conviction or love for those characters.

I particularly love the female heroes I work with, such as Black Widow, and then I had the honor of creating Red Widow. I just finished doing a one shot, my second Red Widow one shot, so a short comic that will come out called the– maybe that wasn’t announced. The Red Widow comic opens in conjunction with the release of this book.

That was my dream, right, to create a Marvel character, so that’s been wonderful. And then again as I take on Captain Marvel, this is, for me– I’m a Marvel fan in that this is reality to me and this is where I want to be in my life. So everything that makes it terrifying also makes it the greatest job in the world, if that makes sense. Every time I get to work with one of these iconic woman Marvel superheroes, that’s me feeling like I’m in the room where it happens. These things matter intensely to me, that mattered to me growing up, that mattered to many of my teen readers and also to my teen kids, so it’s an honor.


About Margaret Stohl

margaretstohl_authorphoto

Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times best-selling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels (also a major motion picture) and the author of the instant New York Times best seller Black Widow: Forever Red, as well as a contributor to multiple Marvel comics. Previously, Margaret was a veteran of the video game industry, working as a writer and designer before co-founding 7 Studios with Lewis Peterson.

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About BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED

BlackWidowCover

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Title: BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED (Black Widow #1)
Author: Margaret Stohl
Release date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Marvel Press
Pages: 416
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy… Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

Black Widow: Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

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The Giveaway

What’s up for grabs…

  • One (1) winner will receive an autographed copy of BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE by Margaret Stohl

** Giveaway is open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Marvel Press. **

Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

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