#authorlove: The Darkhouse by Barbara Radecki

Hey guys!

I’m so excited to kick of my #authorlove series today! Each week will feature a different author Q&A, along with their latest book, so you can get to know more about all the amazing novelists out there. For my very first post in the series we have The Darkhouse by Barbara Radecki. The Darkhouse has been described as “…a young adult thriller unlike any other… Radecki’s work developing Gemma’s character through the first person narration is masterfully done…” Let’s get to it!

So B, give us a snapshot of what The Darkhouse is about.

The Darkhouse is about a 15-year-old girl named Gemma, the only young person in a tiny community on a remote Maritime island, whose life unravels when she discovers the terrible truth about who she really is.

Fans of who/what will like this book?

The Darkhouse melds a few different genres—mystery, coming-of-age, the dark undertones and shocking discoveries of speculative fiction. Another definition I’ve come to love is that it’s an original fairy tale for adults and young adults. The heroine basically walks into the mysterious woods alone and discovers that the world isn’t the safe or predictable place she thought it was. To survive, she has to mine for resilience and courage she doesn’t know she has.

What inspired you to write the book?

The idea for The Darkhouse came to me while I was weeding my garden one sultry summer day. I was working on another novel at the time, so I wasn’t really searching for another story idea. But out of nowhere, I heard this young girl’s voice in my head—and she told me the secret that lies at the heart of the story. And I knew I had to find out what happens to her by writing it.

Young Anna Paquin in “A Walk on the Moon”

Any thoughts on if you had to cast the movie? 

Coming from an acting background, I’ve thought about this a lot! I’d love to see a fearless young actress play Gemma, someone like Anna Paquin when she was a child in The Piano. I’ve also pictured Casey Affleck or Joaquin Phoenix as Jonah, and Emily Blunt or Michele Williams as Marlie.

Do you have any writing quirks?

Well, I do like to write with my feet up, say, lying on a couch or lounger. Somehow my body doesn’t suffer so much from the hours at the computer if I switch up sitting at a table and reclining. Also, I get so many ideas or thoughts in the shower or as I’m falling asleep that I have to keep Post-it pads and pens in my bathroom and bedroom.

Can you tell us about the cover?

This is one of my favourite Darkhouse stories! When Cormorant/DCB acquired my book, I was also scheduled to appear at a few comic-cons—I have a small fan-base because I dubbed the English voice of Sailor Neptune in the original Sailor Moon series. My agent, Sam Hiyate, suggested I print up some postcards announcing the upcoming release so comic-con fans could look for the book when it came out. I needed some artwork for that postcard, and it was way too early for Cormorant to commission a cover design. My daughter, Stefanie Ayoub, is a professional designer and illustrator and I asked her if she would design something. She was amazing—taking careful notes about the story and Gemma’s character (and, of course, she’d read a few drafts along the way). Then she created this incredibly evocative, textured image, which I used for the postcard. Later, when my editor was beginning his search for the cover designer, I suggested they consider Stefanie’s artwork. Before he saw it, he was understandably sceptical—do you know how many authors have family or friends who’ve “designed a cover,” only for them to be terrible or unusable?! But he was open to considering it, and when he saw it he was blown away. The cover you see on the book today is only a few tweaks from her original creation.

Barbara Radecki

What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

I’m a voracious reader and have been all my life. This is the hardest question to answer because I don’t dote on one writer, but read so many different books that I feel it’s unfair to land on a writer or book as my “favourite.” The only exception to this rule is, in fact, my fairy tale collection—these are the only books I’ve read and re-read over the years. In general, I’m most drawn to evocative literary fiction with a strong story. Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy, Toni Morrison, David Bergen, Richard Wagamese, Austen, Eliot, Tolstoy. Standouts for originality and emotional power after all these years are Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juno Diaz, and The Outlander by Gil Adamson (not the British series). Oh, and I can’t forget A Prayer for Owen Meany and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Any plans for future projects?

I’m writing my next book right now! Briefly, it’s about a 16-year-old girl who gets a message in the middle of the night telling her she’s the next messiah, and her first mission is to save the runaway sister she hates. But is she the next messiah, or is she just a messed-up kid from a dysfunctional home looking for love?

Thanks to Barbara for joining me today and make sure to grab a copy of her book if it sounds like something you’d be interested in. If you’re an author who’d like to be featured on #authorlove, send me an email!

Happy Reading!

xoxo

Alisha

This May, Give Love Away…

Ahhhh, May. Flowers blooming. Birds chirping. Summer on the way…

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to Kim Turrisi of Just A Normal Tuesday and Lindsey Summers of Textrovert!

With spring now in full session, comes renewed energy and life, and a letting go of the darkness of winter. It’s time to blossom and I’m committing the next year to helping my fellow authors and writer friends do just that. Not having a book of my own out this year is blissfully freeing! I can promote others instead of myself – the necessary bane of a writer’s existence – as we continually harass encourage our friends and family to “buy our book” or “please leave a review”. (Though, seriously, if you have a writer in your life, you have no idea how much reviews count for in the Amazon world, playing into intricate mysterious algorithms, etc., etc. 😉 ).

In addition to giving out tons of #authorlove, I also want to give out maximum #readerlove, and am making Kissing Frogs available on Wattpad – an amazing app that lets you read books for free on your phone or tablet a chapter at a time, as well as putting it back up on Amazon.

I also encourage all my writer friends out there to take part in a fun Instagram challenge put on by fellow KCP-Lofter, Cheyanne Young. As a matter of fact, I’m crossing #2 off my list right now – “A writer’s morning” (which usually isn’t as productive as this one has been – I’m writing a blog post and everything – and typically involves a lot more banging of the head on keyboard 😉 ).

With so much going on, I know it’s going to be a magical May! So if you’re an author and want to be featured on my blog, drop me a line. And to all future readers out there, looking forward to meeting you!

Lots of love,

Alisha

New Book Deal with KCP Loft

20161017_C2123_PHOTO_EN_797249A writer’s life is filled with endless cups of cold coffee, hunched shoulders and chronic sciatica from all the sitting, and of course there’s the ample amounts of self-doubt and criticism, but occasionally there are times when it’s all worth it. (Just reread that and excuse my facetiousness, it’s always worth it 😉 ).

I am just a wee bit excited to announce my latest book deal with the award-winning Kids Can Press, a parent company of Corus Entertainment and an incredible publisher (some of my mommy friends may be familiar with their Franklin the Turtle series).

Kids Can Press recently started a new Young Adult imprint called KCP Loft, to be “expertly curated” by respected editor Kate Egan  (also maybe familiar: Kate was the editor of a little series called The Hunger Games, and is a rad author in her own right).

I am over the moon about working with such a fabulous editor and press and can’t wait for all of you to read Summer Constellations, due out in Spring 2018. I’m having a swell time working on the edits (currently at the point where I want to throw the computer out the window – fellow writers will be familiar with this stage of the process), and am having fun peppering the names of friends and family through the book ;).

Thank-you to all for your support and a special shout-out to my agent Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory for all her hard work and bearing with me in all of my most neurotic-writerly moments.

With much love and gratitude,

Alisha

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Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”. You have to listen.

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Video dropped this morning (Jan 23/17)

So I’m sitting here working on my novel, Spotify playing in the background, the Discover Weekly playlist on mid-volume. I’m enjoying the music but not thinking too much about it, as I’m currently waist-deep in the Nile in the middle of Ancient Egypt. And there’s a crocodile just off to the left, lurking amongst the papyrus reeds.

When suddenly, this song comes on and damn if it doesn’t pull me right out of my book. It’s about watching the sunset over the castle on the hill. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that?” (For us small-town gals who didn’t have a convenient castle nearby, that’s equivalent to watching the sunset on the water towers. Or silo. Or whatever).

It’s about a boy going back to his hometown where he grew up and all that goes with it. I think to myself, “This is the male equivalent to Taylor Swift.” Someone whose power for telling a story in three minutes has launched her into current global domination.

Unable to resist looking at my phone, I see that it’s Ed Sheeran. And then, of course, the whole castle thing makes sense, him being British and all. And the T-Swift connection, of course.

Anyways, it inspired me to write this post about music and writing. The first one has the power to transform the other. I only recently started listening to music when I write, having previously found it too distracting. But I’m loving this new addition to my routine. The feelings Sheeran’s song evokes brings me right back to that small town where I grew up. And I love it and every single person from there, as fiercely as he does in his song. When it comes to the edits on my new Young Adult romance, Summer Constellations, also partially inspired by where/how I grew up, I will be sure to have this song on repeat.

Coincidentally, Ed’s other song, which debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last week, “Shape of You”, has just come on as I finish writing this post…also a good one if you need some fresh tunes. Hey, I write books for teens (and older people who secretly love them), it’s really all just research 😉

What songs make you think about being a kid? Leave a comment below.

Alisha

PS. Always knew Ed was one to watch – featured him in a post back in 2014 when Kissing Frogs came out called 5 Kissable Frogs 😉

 

 

 

New Year, New Start

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Book research in ROM’s private stacks!

A blank page. That is what the new year is to me. As someone who works hard to live in the moment, I love what a fresh year means. A chance to move on. To forget about past mistakes and disappointments. After all, dwelling on these things wastes our energy. It is best if we merely learn from them and then let them go.

2016 was the year I learned to have more patience. The year I learned to cut myself some slack. The year I understood that worrying about things doesn’t help, and so I try to do less of that (though it is still a struggle some days).

IMG_0222I am so excited for 2017 and the possibilities it represents. And whatever your hopes and dreams, I’m excited for you to achieve them too. Whatever your goals and ambitions, as long as they are framed by love and hope, the world is a better, brighter place. Let’s shine together.

xoxo, Alisha

PS. I have a few big announcements in store, so stay tuned!

Happy Young Readers Day!

imageIn honour of Young Readers Day, I’m giving away 2 signed copies of Kissing Frogs! All you have to do to enter is follow me on Instagram @alisha7e and tag a friend. The contest closes Nov. 13th.

Last week I had a great time speaking with the grade six classes at McMurrich JPS here in Toronto.

The students weimagere incredible! Not only was I impressed by their passion for books and the environment but also their insightful questions and boundless enthusiasm.

imageReading is such an important part of a child’s life, indeed it’s where my love of writing was born!

If you’re a teacher in Toronto and enjoy having authors in to visit your students, please feel free to contact me!

xo Alisha

 

 

 

Hot Yoga, Hot Summer Nights, Hot Book Signings!

IMG_5269Whew – summer has been busy!

On top of completing my hot yoga teacher training, I’ve been focusing on new projects which I’ve had the privilege to receive grants for, (thanks Owl Kids and Ontario Arts Council!), as well as travelling and spending loads of scrumptious time with the family.

There were some fun book signings at Chapters Indigo in Waterloo and
Eaton’s Centre here in Toronto, where I met some amazing fans (shout-out to DJ Sam!).

SubstandardFullSizeRenderFullSizeRenderI’ve also started getting back to my other love: substantive editing, and am now offering in-depth manuscript assessments for fiction and non-fiction writers looking to find an agent and get published, either through the traditional route, or in the rapidly emerging world of self-publishing.

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My new WIP received a grant based on a blind jury of peer assessors. (Not that I didn’t believe my Mom when she said she liked my writing 😉 ).

My new book, Summer Constellations, is currently going out on submission (cross your fingers it finds a great home!) and there are a thousand other ideas brewing around up there that I’m anxious to get out and into the world.

Of course, all is not always sunshine and rainbows. My incredible Canadian indie press has closed up shop, which is sad for KisIMG_5255sing Frogs and for YA fans everywhere. Hopefully, it too will find a new home.

Looking forward to soaking up these last few weeks of summer! Drop me a line and let me know how yours has been!

xoxo,

Alisha

 

Spring Events

unnamed-1Last Friday I spoke to my toughest audience yet: my daughter’s JK/SK class at Jackman Public School! We read the original Frog Prince fairy-tale by the Brothers Grimm and students asked some great questions about frogs and conservation. My favourite comment was when one of the boys emphatically raised his hand and shouted, “There’s a ‘P’ in my name.” Well said, Jasper, well said.

ChT8qWbXEAELMSqOn Saturday, April 30th (in addition to Save the Frogs Day), it was Authors for Indies.

This an amazing event, where local authors support independent bookstores. The ladies at Ella Minnow were wonderful and I met some really great fellow authors – such a fun day.

On May 28th I’ll be with my best gal Angela Misri of the fabulous Portia Adams series, at Waterloo Chapters if you want to come get some books signed or just hang out.

Happy Spring!

Author Chat with Meaghan McIsaac of MOVERS

Today we have the lovely Meaghan McIsaac, author of the supercool time travel book MOVERS, here to talk about a few of her favourite things (which do not include girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes).

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CDN Cover

1) Can you give us a brief description of what your book is about?

Movers is about a not too distant future where some people are born with the illegal ability to “Move” people from the future to the present. The future isn’t all that great, so there are plenty of people who want to come to the present, and it’s only Movers who can get them there. When a particularly violent Move opens up over Pat’s school, it’s up to him to save the class reject everyone thinks is responsible. Not just from BMAC (the Bureau of Movement Activity Control) but from the dangerous man who’s just arrived from the future who is bent on catching them both.

2) It’s such a cool concept – how did you get the idea?

Some of my favourite movies are time travel stories. Terminator, Looper, Back to the Future. I wanted to try to do my own. But I wanted my characters to travel through time in a different way. As much as I love time machines – and I do – I wanted to see if there was another way for my characters to move through time. That’s how the idea of being born with the ability to Move people came about. Once the world of the story had people born with this power, the rules and problems and politics that would surround that kind of gift started to take shape, which really ended up influencing the direction of the plot.

3) Fans of who/what will like this book?

imagesThat’s tough for me to say. I guess if you’re a time travel fan, then give Movers a go. Action/adventure fans will find plenty of action here too. If you enjoyed the Terminators, Looper, Back to the Future, then hopefully you’ll find some room in your heart for Movers too!

4) What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

I have so many! And the list is changing all the time. If you ask me again tomorrow, it could be different, but hey, here’s today’s answers!
The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. The writing is breakneck speed and the story is so different from anything I’ve read. The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. Epic fantasy about necromancers so that’s awesome. And boy does it make me want to collect antique keys.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Classic. Is there a more alive, leaping-off-the-page character than Anne Shirley? I collect copies wherever I find them. That’s how much I love it.

Stephen King, I’ll read pretty much anything he writes. But especially Carrie. I read that in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down! The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Blood-thirsty water horses. Do I need to explain why this is awesome? Marie Lu’s Legend series. Dystopian sci/fi with two main characters from completely different worlds, told in chapters alternating between their points of view. I loved being able to be inside both these characters’ heads and experience the story from two completely different points of view.

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UK Cover

5) Any interesting writing quirks?

I like to have music on, or nothing at all. I especially like to put on movie soundtracks, like the score to star wars or something. Nerd, I know. But you’d be surprised how much it helps!

Diet Pepsi is pretty crucial to the writing operation.

A window. I’ve only recently learned this about myself. I really like to write near a window. Why? I dunno. Feels less lonely that way, I guess.

6) Last question: If you could cast your book who are some of the actors you would choose to play your characters?

OH NO! How do I answer this? My characters are always made up people inside my head so it’s hard to put someone else’s face on the ones I made up. For Pat, Maggie and Gabby, they just have to be unknown actors. New faces! That’s how I feel about that. As for everyone else…. Danny Glover would make an awesome Leonard — that voice! Rosamund Pike for Agent Hartman, she can be scary as Gone Girl has shown us. And Roth, maybe someone like Dominic Purcell?

A special thank-you to Meaghan for hanging out with us today! If you’d like to learn more about her or her books, check out her website or on social media.

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay Blog Tour

Natalie's ideal cast. Jennifer Lawrence as Emily.

Natalie’s ideal cast. Jennifer Lawrence as Emily.

So after a brief blogging hiatus I’m stop excited to be back and with such an amazing book! Natalie Corbett Sampson’s It Should Have been a #Goodday is a compelling read that will drop you right back in high school, whether you want to be there or not. Today we’re doing a Q&A with Natalie, who tells us a bit more about the book and her writing process.

1) Can you give us a brief description of what your book is about?

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay is simply about one day at high school told through four narrators who each have a very different perspective. Their days are separate but intertwine at moments, and then come together at the end. It’s about how the truth changes with perspective, how everyone has a different story and their own challenges and demons.

2) What inspired you to write the book?

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Colton Haynes as Brogan

I started with one of the characters and then the idea grew from there. I remember high school as being very stressful, trying to figure out where I fit in, and what everyone else’s game was. I had a good experience for the most part, but I think even teens with great experiences face stress and unknowns and trying to figure out what’s really going on.

3) What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?

Making sure that each character was it’s own voice, that they were distinct enough without slipping into caricatures. That was really tricky and required a lot of help from my editors. As a writer I put a lot of myself into the characters, even if they’re nothing like me, but that means when I’m writing different ones sometimes the strain of me running through them all makes them too similar. That’s a tough thing to see as the writer but good editors help point that out.

4) What was the easiest or most interesting of part of the process for you?

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Michael Cera as Henry

Henry was my favourite to write. I’ve worked a lot with people with autism and I am always fascinated by what makes them tick. Part of my job is trying to figure out what they are trying to communicate and how to help them and their families be more successful at it, that takes a bit of getting in their heads – which always makes me wonder. Obviously I can’t say Henry is real or accurate, but it was a very interesting process to try to create him from the inside out.

5) Your book has several characters telling the story from their point of view – did you have a favourite “voice” in which to write?

Henry for sure. Brogan was interesting, actually, because originally I only had Emily, Thomas and Henry. Brogan was going to be the ‘bad guy’ in the shadows or wings, someone they all interacted with but who wasn’t in the story himself. But I just couldn’t get the story out without his perspective too – I never believed that whole ‘characters talk to us’ thing until I was fighting with him. So I decided I’d write his part just to get it straight in my head, not to include it… and in the end of course, he needed to be there too. I had to be careful that he wasn’t just a ‘bad guy’ – again with more help from the editors.

6) What made you decide to self-pub and how did you find the process?

It has been a great and fascinating process – an excellent way to see how the publishing world really works. Who knew you had to CHOOSE the colour of the book pages??? I mean really! I have published two the traditional way with a small publisher. I thought it would be interesting to give self-pub’ing a try. There’s a lot more freedom and control, which comes with expense of course – a higher risk, but I wanted to see what the payoff would be in terms of money, accomplishment, learning the trade and process, etc. It’s been very rewarding and I’m definitely game to do it again. I used to see it as a ‘last resort’ after x-number of rejection letters, but not any more. It’s a viable and rewarding choice.

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Robert Sheehan as Thomas

7) What would you say to writers who are trying to decide whether self-publishing is for them?

Hm, good question. It’s overwhelming to take all at once, I’d say if you’re going to go that route make sure you set up smaller tasks and deadlines. And talk to people who have done it or work in the business, they’re the best source of information. As for deciding, it’s such an individual choice when it comes to resources, time, reasons, even the type of book… I guess my biggest thought would be not to rule it out. Self pub’ing has come a long way.

8) What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

Gah I hate this question! I can never nail it down. When I look back at my answers to this question it usually reflects directly on what I’ve just read. I don’t typically read books just because it’s written by a specific author. I used to think Stephen King was a quick read, pulp fiction type author. I loved his book on JFK but figured that was different b/c it wasn’t horror. Then I read The Stand and realized how genius he really is. I like books that carry a message or tell a story with meaning and emotion – usually heavy reads. Every once in a while my brain gets tired from reading them, though and I need a light, funny book, like a chickflick on paper… Did I evade the question long enough?

9) Any interesting writing quirks?

I prefer to write at my desk, in quiet – no music, no tv, nothing. I like to have my desk light on, even if it’s not dark. I save parts I should cut b/c I don’t like to see them go – putting them in another file and tricking myself that I’ll use them later lets me take them out of the story. I never use them later but I haven’t figured that out yet.

10) If you could cast your book who are some of the actors you would choose to play your characters?

I tried to do this a bit ago and realized how old I am and how old Hollywood is! All my favourites – even the actors I consider ‘young’ are way too old to make this movie. I came up with: Colton Haynes for Brogan, Jennifer Lawrence for Emily, Robert Sheehan for Thomas and Michael Cera for Henry.