Sixteen year old Wendy never knew the world before the Starvation. She’s learned to put her trust in her knives, and her confidence in her fighting ability. When the Skinnies attack her compound, she’s the lone survivor.
Injured and near death, Wendy is rescued and nursed back to health by mysterious strangers. Her saviors offer her a place among them, but trust has never been one of Wendy’s strengths, and suspicion soon leads to evidence that these people might be the group who killed her family.
The decision to get her revenge, and take the settlement down from the inside out is easy. Keeping her distance from those she must befriend in order to make it happen proves to be much more difficult.
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What does your writing process look like?
Imagine a desk, and at one end is a neat, little pile of papers. Next to that is another pile, this one not quite so tidy. Maybe one paper is slipping off the stack, which leads the eye to an array of notes that may have been, at one time, in a pleasing fan shape, but now looks like someone gave it a noogie. This is usually where you will discover the discarded wrappers of whatever snacks I could find. A glass with the glazed on remains of a Diet Coke will be sitting on a Dr. Who coaster, and the little cup for pens will be empty, because the pens are now hiding under the papers. When your eyes reach the keyboard, you’ll see that everything has been pushed aside to make room for me playing of Facebook.
What book do you wish you could have written?
Ender’s Game. That book has captured so many people’s imaginations, I would love to have been the person to have written it. Plus, Ender’s Game sits somewhere in the middle of commercial fiction and literary fiction, a place I hope to venture someday.
How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any other name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are very important, and I’m sometimes horrible at finding just the right one. Ages ago, I bought a baby name book–a book that my fiance packed up when we got married and moved in together and was a little concerned about–and I often use that to find names. Sometimes I look at meanings. Often I will end up with names that all sound the same (one syllable for instance) or all start with the same letter. When that starts to happen, I find a letter I haven’t used and I flip open the book. Sometimes I use the web too. Especially if I need, say, legitimate last name from Africa .
In my first novel, New Sight, I couldn’t think of a name for the bad guys, so I named them the New until I came up with something better. By the time I got finished writing the book, the New had stuck. It’s a dumb name, but now it’s theirs.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
This one is easy, and maybe you’re expecting me to say “Finishing my first manuscript!”, but that’s not it at all. While writing isn’t easy, it’s something that I can do. What I struggled for six years to get is my black belt in Shaolin Kempo. I’m a round girl–always have been–and I had to put some seriously hard, physical effort into every single thing I did at the dojo. I can write all day, but ask me to do a push up, and I still inwardly roll my eyes and do them from my knees. So yeah, black belt. I’m pretty proud of that.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors.
Years ago, I was at a little, tiny writing/Sci-fi/Fantasy convention and I went to a class by a guy I’d never heard of. A guy named Brandon Sanderson. His first Librarians book was about to come out, and he was talking about magic systems. I don’t really remember what he said about that. What I do remember is one simple statement he made, “Don’t be afraid to suck.”
I’ve lived by this creed ever since. Don’t expect to be the best author in the room, don’t expect to get everything right the first time, and don’t expect to wow every reader you encounter. What all authors need to do is keep writing. Find some people who will help you get better and listen to them. It’s okay to suck, as long as you’re willing to try again.
What made you want to write a book about a girl with PTSD?
Okay, so I’d written the story twice before I figured out that Wendy had PTSD.
Let me go back a bit. A few years ago, I was on my way to a writing retreat with two other writers. We’re driving on the freeway, and my sister calls. This is what came out of her mouth.
“I just finished Mocking Jay, and if you ever write a character like that, I will kill you.”
“Uh, hi, how’s it going?”
“I haven’t read it yet.”
“Don’t. I hate her. I hate the author. ‘l’ll disown you then kill you.”
After I read the story, I had to agree with her. Suzanne Collins is brilliant, and she totally got her point across, but I didn’t like the characters in the last book. This is not the reaction I want from my readers.
Fast-forward a few years, and I’m at a writing retreat. At the same place, coincidently. My friend runs it, and she was short a few people, so I’m pretty much there for moral support and to be a warm body. Plus, she’s a chef. Hello, delicious food? Yes, please.
There was an agent from New York there who was going to review whatever we sent her. I sent the first chapter of Fractured Memories, which I wasn’t really working on at the time. Not because I cared about what she said or thought about it, but because my friend told me to.
Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t care, because she ripped it to shreds. Most of her analysis was spot-on, the other part of it was complete B.S. Mostly because she’d skimmed it and missed stuff. I think she took my dispassionate reaction to her rant as offense, so she backpedaled and asked me a few questions about the story.
I told her about Wendy’s compound getting completely destroyed and Wendy waking up with strangers, alone and with a memory full of holes. She seemed interested in that, so I went on and told her that Wendy didn’t remember the attack and therefore didn’t know who betrayed them. She has flashes of memories, but nothing substantial.
This editor, bless her heart, look at me and said, “Have you read the Hunger Games?”
“I hate the third book.”
“Good, then you won’t be offended by this. Your character has PTSD. Katniss had PTSD, but the author didn’t do a good job of explaining it to the reader. Please don’t do that. Do your research and make sure your readers get it, or they’ll all think your character is as bad as Katniss.”
New Sight, my fist series, has undertones of addiction. I don’t have a history of mental illness, but lots of people around me do, and I think it’s an area that a lot of people deal with. It kind of fascinates me, and that comes out in my books.
Xpresso Book Tours is hosting a giveaway for an ebook copy of Fractured Memories. This giveaway will run until August 1st and is opened internationally.
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