1) Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for joining us here at The Teen Book Guru! Your debut novel, Black City (which I can’t WAIT to read!), is being released soon. Can you tell us a little about it?
Hiya! Thanks for having me. Here’s the official synopsis for Black City, which I think sums it up really well:
A dark and tender postapocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war
In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love.
Bonded by a mysterious connection, that causes Ash’s long dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
2) Where do you normally draw inspiration from when you are writing? Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write Black City?
I get inspired by so many things – a painting I’ve seen, a song I’ve heard, a film I’ve watched , you name it. It’s rarely just one thing, although in the case of Black City, the idea formed when I was watching an indie movie called Charlie Bartlett. The character of Ash just popped into my head and I started weaving this story around him. Immediately after watching the movie, I wrote a scene between Ash and Beetle. At that time, I didn’t know the plot or setting, I just knew I wanted to write a story about a supernatural boy whose dormant heart started to beat once he met his soul mate.
3) What do you want readers to take away from Black City?
I really hope readers feel invested in Ash and Natalie’s story and be curious to know what happens next. To me the best books are ones where you feel a strong connection with the characters and you really care about them. I want to the story to linger with readers long after they’ve finished the book.
4) Describe Black City in three words... go!
Dark, romantic, thrilling.
5) How did you come up with your characters? Do you see yourself in any of them?
The character of Ash came to me fully formed. I never really had to work him out – he was always just Ash: dark, broken, sarcastic, courageous, vulnerable, a reluctant hero. He’s not perfect, he makes mistakes, but that’s what I really like about him. Natalie’s character has developed and changed as I’ve revised the books, but at her heart she has always been this confused, damaged girl searching for answers and wanting to understand her place in the world.
I guess all authors see parts of themselves in their characters, as you write what you know. I’m sarcastic like Ash, strong-willed like Natalie, bookish like Day and liberal like Beetle.
6) How hard (or easy) was it to develop the relationship between Ash and Natalie, the two main characters in your book? Can you tell us a little about it?
It was surprisingly easy to develop the relationship between Ash and Natalie. It’s quite a classic romance, in the sense that the protagonists are immediately attracted to each other but can’t admit their feelings (either to themselves or each other), for various reasons - in their case, it’s because it is illegal for them to date and they are natural enemies (Ash is a twin-blood Darkling and Natalie is the daughter of the Sentry Emissary – the very woman who is advocating the permanent segregation between their species).
7) What are your writing habits?
Generally I wake up each day around nine-thirty, head downstairs and check my emails, Twitter and Facebook accounts and deal with any marketing. This usually takes a few hours. Then I start working on my book – I usually write in my living room, but when I’m on deadline I go to the library so I can focus. I tend to write until about 7-8pm, spend some time with the hubby, then carry on working between 11pm-2am, then go to bed. My hours are a little hectic, but I tend to find there are periods of the day where I’m more productive so it’s better to write during those moments, then force myself to work when I’m distracted. Plus, because I’m UK based but my publisher is in the US, we do have a 5 hour time difference, so I do often stay up late to deal with emails.
8) Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you get past it?
Oh yes, all the time. The way I get over it is to go and do something mundane, like cooking or doing the dishes. As soon as I stop thinking about the book and concentrate on doing those chores, ideas start rushing into my head and I can’t wait to get back to work!
9) Could you briefly describe how you found a publisher, and the journey to the publication of Black City?
Oh gosh. My road to publication has been quite a turbulent one. Black City was actually the second novel I queried – the first one (a contemporary YA book) got a lot of interest but sadly in the end no one wanted to take it on, so the novel got trunked. I was devastated at the time, but it was a great learning experience.
After I’d licked my wounds, I got back on the horse and wrote Black City. It took around 6 months to write and then I started querying agents shortly after. There were rejections, rewrites, lots of dark days and at times I thought it would never happen. But then one magical day, I got The Email from Ayesha, offering me representation! That has to be one of my Top Five Days of All Time. That whole process took around a year.
Once I got my agent, it all happened very quickly. We spent two months revising the manuscript before it went on submission and within a few weeks I’d signed with Putnam, Penguin. It really was a whirlwind, and it’s been like that ever since. I absolutely love my editor and the Putnam team – they’re so awesome. I’m loving every second!
10) When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? What/who made you want to become one?
I got the writing buzz very early on – I think I was around nine years-old, and my English teacher set us a creative writing assignment – something to do with a journey to a desert island. As soon as I started writing the story, something in me awakened. I knew at that moment I’d discovered something very special.
After leaving university, I worked for a number of magazines and while I loved the experience it wasn’t quite what I wanted to be doing. I wanted to write novels, but I wasn’t certain what genre it should be. I toyed with adult crime fiction, contemporary, romance – you name it. But it never felt right. Then I started reading the Harry Potter series and my passion for MG and YA literature blossomed, and I haven’t looked back since.
11) There are a lot of aspiring authors out there today, and many children and teenagers who want to be authors when they grow up. What advice would you give them?
It’s really important to get some writing experience before you embark on a professional writing career. So join your school paper (and if your school doesn’t have one, start one!), write a book blog, enter competitions and get a work placement at a publishing house or newspaper.
Also, join a local writing group and get on forums like Absolute Write. I can’t stress how important it is to have a support-network around you, who can offer advice, Beta read your work, and be your cheerleaders when you’re feeling down.
And finally…write! Write, write, write. If you want to be an author you actually have to open your laptop and put some words on the page. It’s a lot of work and a big commitment, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
12) Are you working on any other projects that YA readers should look out for? And have you already started the next book in the Black City Chronicles? Is there anything you can tell us about what we should expect in the future?
I’ve just handed in Book #2 of the Black City Chronicles and I’m currently working on a new project, which is a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel with plenty of romance thrown into the mix. I can’t say much about Books #2 and #3 of the Black City Chronicles, other than the stakes will be raised, there will be plenty of twists and, of course, lots of kissing!
13) What are your favorite book(s), and who are your favorite author(s)? What authors/books are you currently reading?
My all time favorite books are the Harry Potter series, so it will come as no surprise that JK Rowling is my favorite author! Regarding what I’m currently reading, I’m in a very lucky position as I belong to an author group called the Apocalypsies (http://apocalypsies.blogspot.co.uk) – which is a group of around 150 debut authors, including the likes of Marissa Meyer (Cinder), Genn Albin (Crewel), and Kiera Cass (The Selection) – and we all put our ARCs on tour so we get to read each others’ books before anyone else. I’ve just finished What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton which was amazing! Honestly, it was such a beautiful book and it had me sobbing my eyes out by the end! I read it all in one sitting.
14) When you are not reading or writing, what can you be found doing?
I love to paint and draw. I find it very relaxing and it’s another great way to express myself. I’m also a total geek, so I spend a lot of time watching sci-fi and horror movies / TV shows, and going to conventions.
15) What type of music do you like to listen to?
I have a very eclectic taste in music – I love everything from Chopin to Swedish House Mafia! It really depends on my mood. But my favorite bands/artists are Tori Amos, Within Temptation, You Me At Six and Beyonce (yup, random, I know).
16) Pick this or that.
Sweaters or Cardigans?
Dogs or Cats?
Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt?
Rain or Shine?
Outdoors or Indoors?
And now the last question, The question I ask all of the authors I interview here at The Teen Book Guru...
17) If you could be one Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor, which one would you choose and why?
Oooh, that’s a good one! I think I’d be Sour Cherry, because I may look sweet and nice but I’ve got an unexpected bite.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for taking the time to answer some questions and for being here with us today. I wish you all the best!
Here's the blurb of Black City (Black City Chronicles #1) from Good Reads. Check it out!
Here's the blurb of Black City (Black City Chronicles #1) from Good Reads. Check it out!
Release Date: November 13, 2012
I don't know about you guys, but I am super excited for Black City!!