YA author Stephanie Thomas is joining us for this Sunday session!
Welcome, Stephanie! How do you take your coffee?
STEPHANIE: I don't drink coffee often, mostly because I stick with lattes. So, when I do drink coffee, I put a crap ton of creamer or milk in it to make it more like a latte. I much prefer a grande mocha latte with skim milk, though!
Ally: My magic pot can handle a latte. While I'm whipping that up, please show readers your bio.
Stephanie Thomas has been writing ever since she could put letters together to form words. When she was a small child, she would present her mother and father with self-made newspapers filled up with make believe stories and pictures. Her love for writing followed her all throughout her schooling, where she entered and won writing contests of all sorts. Stephanie decided to become an English teacher and completed her B.A. at The Pennsylvania State University. While teaching, she later went on to get her Master’s in writing from The Johns Hopkins University. She completed her very first manuscript during her graduate studies, and by the end of the program, she had completed two more. Stephanie is quick to tell anyone that she’s a born and raised Philadelphian, and her heart will always belong there. She moved to Baltimore with her husband, and they’ve been living there with their son and their doggie.
And you asked for something unique: I am crazy artistic and love to teach myself new crafts. I've taught myself how to paint and crochet, and just recently how to sew. Right now, my new hobby has been sewing baby items.
Contact the author:
STEPHANIE: I write because I don't know how not to write. I've very honestly been writing since I knew how to make words, and it's always been a passion of mine. I can confidently say that as I advanced through each grade in school, every one of my teachers encouraged me to keep writing. One of my classmates told me that I should write jokes and become a comedian, and sometimes I wonder if I really should have, since I find myself thinking "that would have made a great standup joke" all the time.
I am a big nerd at heart, and as I grew into reading (since I didn't always love to read), I gravitated toward sci-fi and paranormal. First, I bought up all the X-Files books, and then I switched to Ender's Game and all those types of sci-fi. Eventually, I ended up in George R.R. Martin's world of fantasy, which isn't really Sci-Fi, but I feel like Sci-Fi and fantasy are siblings.
As for switching to YA, I wasn't always a YA author. I was published as a historical fiction author first (my second favorite genre), and then I switched to YA because I needed a break from all of the research. I am a high school English teacher full time, and my students inspired me to write something geared toward them. It's always been a goal of mine to make a high school reading list. We'll see if that happens!
Ally: Tell us about your scifi/fantasy settings and your world-building process. ie, did you brainstorm with someone? did it come to you in a dream? was it inspired by a book or movie?
STEPHANIE: LUCIDITY's main setting is the city of Aura, which is where the Dreamcatchers live. Aura is a very sunny and golden place, a stark contrast to LUMINOSITY's setting, the City, which was inspired by Gotham City and is very dark and shadowy. I wanted to play on the ideas of dark places and light places, and how in both settings, both good and bad things happen. My husband helped me to brainstorm. We spent many dinners talking about ideas, settings and plot development.
Ally: Where and when do you find time to write? Do you have a writer's cave?
STEPHANIE: I am a full time teacher, and when I am not teaching, I'm being a mommy to a one year old. So, finding time to write is difficult. I do have a writing cave, my office, but to be honest, I hardly ever write inside the house anymore. I usually go straight from work to a coffee shop to write before I pick up my son from daycare, and I do this two to three times a week. My writing goal is 2000 words a sitting, if I don't have promotional tasks to get through first.
Ally: Since they don't always go hand in hand with writing or publishing, do you aspire to be a literary giant or a best selling author?
STEPHANIE: You know, I used to. I really wanted to be "successful." And then, after being traditionally published and realizing that the publishing world is difficult, stressful and sometimes just plain unfriendly, I had to sit down and redefine what "successful" means. It is a stigma that an author is only successful if he or she is traditionally published in print. Very slowly, this stigma is being broken...but it is a very, very slow transformation. More and more traditionally published authors are taking to self publishing on the side, because they have stories they want people to read, but these stories don't necessarily fit the market at the time. Because this is happening, and because more authors are realizing that "successful" is defined by finishing manuscripts and getting ANYONE (read: not everyone) to read them and not by print book sales, the industry is changing to something much more writer-friendly.
That's a long answer just to say that no, I don't aspire to be a best selling author anymore. I aspire to have people read my hard work. I aspire to tell a story and let that story live in someone's mind for a short while.
Ally: Let's try some get-to-know-you quick answer questions:
- a. Who would you most like to accompany you on a shopping trip? I would love to go shopping with Jennifer Lawrence. I love her humor, wit and attitude, and I bet going shopping with her is fun. I hate shopping in the first place, and it always stresses me out, but who can be stressed out with J-Law by their side. Am I right?
- b. What's your favorite social media? Ooh, good question. I enjoy Twitter! I've been on Facebook since its inception, but Twitter is fun and fast!
- c. Have you taken a selfie? Put it on the internet? Oh goodness, yes. I'm pretty sure I have some silly ones up on twitter at @stephthomasbook
- d. an item on your bucket list: I want to live in another country, preferably Italy...in Florence.
- e. Will you still be writing in 5 years? I surely hope so. My plan is to transition to a full time mom and a part time writer next year.
Genre: Dystopian YA
Release Date: February 7, 2015
Beatrice never thought she'd find herself in the middle of Aura, the city of her sworn enemy, the Dreamcatchers. Nor did she never think she'd abandon everything she'd ever known and everyone she'd ever loved to blindly follow Echo, the Dreamcatcher Prince. Gabe would never forgive her, if he lives, and nor will any of the Seers. Upon arriving, Beatrice is quickly thrown into the Dreamcatcher Queen's self-serving plot to save Aura from a disastrous plague, and Bea's anticipated return to the City is becoming less likely every day she is held captive and subjected to the epidemic. Her Visions are the key to the cure, but when her Seer friends show up in Aura as well, Beatrice must learn to balance her precarious friendship and loyalty to both her people and the promise she made to help Echo's people. As Beatrice navigates these new people and customs, she learns that there are more than just the Seers, Dreamcatchers and Citizens left in the world...and whomever is out there wants to eliminate all of their competition -- including her.
Buy Link: Amazon US
(Buy Link Book One, Luminosity: Amazon US)
Excerpt from Lucidity:
Echo was right. I hadn't seen anything yet. As the limousine cruises up to the gates of Aura, I can't do anything but stare out the window in complete awe. Aura is the complete opposite of The City. I immediately understand where it gets its name from, with its golden-hued buildings and sparkling, translucent glass windows. Everything glitters, even the sand as it whips around the tall walls that protect the city from the dry gusts of wind.
I place my fingers on the limo's window and press my forehead to the glass to get a better look. I can feel Echo's eyes on me as I react probably as a child would at the first sight of something they've never seen before. There are no skyscrapers here, no crowded, jumbled row homes with sooty exteriors. The buildings are no more than two floors high, allowing for a precious view of the almost purple mountains that peek up in the distance.
"Echo...this is beautiful..."
"Thank you. This is the home of the Dreamcatcher. After The City banished us, we had to travel a long way to find a place where we'd be safe from attack. We chose this area because it's so dry, hot and humid, that we don't know who'd willingly want to come out here. Besides us, of course." Echo scoots over on the leather seat to sidle up closer to me. "It is beautiful though, isn't it? This is my first homecoming, to be honest. I've never been out of Aura for this long."
The gates into the city proper click secure when they are fully-opened, and the limo pulls forward once more. As soon as we are moving again, I can see the crowds of people who line the main street, which leads directly to an impressive palace that stands center of Aura, just like our Institution does in the City. The people are all dressed in white, some with different colored trims on their robes. They reach out for the car, calling for Echo, wanting to see their prince.
As we pull around a circle in front of the Palace, the courtyard is also filled with Dreamcatchers, cheering for Echo's arrival. He brushes a hand down his robe, smoothing the wrinkles from the soft fabric. "Are you ready?"
Then, a sudden fear grips me. "Do they know I am with you?"
Echo's gaze meets mine. "No."
I want to slap him, and it takes everything in me not to lose my temper. "What?"
"They don't know you are with me. I did not tell anyone I was bringing you home. It is a part of my strategy."
I lock the limo's doors. We stare at each other for a long while, my chest rising and falling in anger. "How could you put me in this situation, Echo? I am The Keeper. I'm the leader of your enemy. You are putting me in great danger, and you know you are."
Echo, in his ever-calm way, reaches out and helps pull the hood of my robe up over my head. "You will be fine, because you are my guest. And it is a law in Aura that we must treat our guests with utmost respect." He pauses. "Not that we get any guests...ever."
Now, I do smack him. My hand makes contact with his arm, and I scowl. "You better not get me hurt."
"Listen to them. They are too happy to see me. I doubt they'll even take notice of you. No offense." Echo unlocks the doors and slides across the seat to the other side, where he can exit first. "Driver, we are ready."
The chauffeur exits the vehicle and appears again beside Echo's door. As soon as he opens it, the sound of cheering rushes into the car and Echo sucks in a deep breath. He steps out, and when I see his hand lower back into the limo, I reach for it and gently rest my palm against his, using the offered support to help me out of the car.
As my feet touch the floor, my robes fall all around me like darkness covering the day, and I'm free of the limousine. Lifting my chin, my eyes move from the ground to the people, and I swallow as the cheering comes to an abrupt stop when they see my violet irises. Almost all at once, they take a step back, and no one makes a sound.
I tighten my grip around Echo's hand, sure that in the next moment, they are going to rush us and kill me where I stand. Here I am, their sworn enemy, the representation of The Keeper before me who persecuted them, ran them out of The City and killed many of them, including their princess. I stand before them as if none of that had ever happened. I know, if I were in their place, I'd certainly want to see myself dead too.
Muttering very quietly to Echo, I tug on his hand, "Let's go."