Friday, April 25, 2014

YAFest14 Part: 2 (Interview) (Giveaway)

Author of the Riders of the Apocalypse series:


Jackie Morse Kessler grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with a cranky cat and overflowing shelves filled with dolls and books. Now she’s in Upstate NY with another cranky cat, a loving husband, two sons, and overflowing shelves filled with dragons and books (except when her sons steal her dragons). She has a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature, and yet she’s never read any Jane Austen (with or without zombies). She also has a master’s degree in media ecology. (The living study of technology and culture. Which is cool, but she still can’t figure out how to use Tweetdeck.)

Jackie spends a lot of time writing, reading, and getting distracted by bright and shiny new ideas. (She just came up with a new idea right now.) She has a weakness for chocolate and a tendency to let her cat take over her office chair.  

YA Fest 14' Interview:

1. What drew you to YA and why do you enjoy writing it?

JMK: I had the idea for my first YA novel, HUNGER, for about 10 years. I'm a former bulimic, and it was important to me to write a book that took a hard-hitting look at eating disorders; because I love all things paranormal, it needed a supernatural twist. But I was going to keep waiting before writing the book; at the time, I was working on a superhero fiction duology with Caitlin Kittredge. But when I mentioned the plot of HUNGER to my agent -- an anorexic teenage girl becomes the new Famine, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- she strongly encouraged me to write the book. And so...I did!

At first, the main character wasn't going to be a teenager; Lisa was going to be in her early 20s, and the story was going to begin in the hospital, after a failed suicide attempt. But as I started writing it, I quickly realized that the protagonist felt younger. And I had the wrong start. It's hard to explain how to know when a story is off, but I knew. So I started over, made Lisa 17, and began it immediately after a half-hearted attempt that didn't succeed. And I was really happy with the new direction, and there I stayed for all four books in the Riders of the Apocalypse series. And my new YA fantasy series. And a book currently on submission (although that one is middle grade, aimed at 10 and up).

Why do I like writing YA? It's terrific having characters who aren't so completely set in their ways -- they're willing to grow and change. Even the ones who aren't willing, who fight the process, have so much potential that the journey they take to grow and change is utterly fascinating. Teens can be so much more fun, and more real, to write about than adults.
2. When you pick up a novel what type of stories are you looking for?
JMK: It depends. (Don't you have those answers?) Sometimes, it's about pure entertainment. Sometimes, I want something meaty for me to sink my teeth into. Sometimes, I want something thought-provoking. Usually? I want all three. :) I used to be a massive urban fantasy/paranormal/fantasy fan, but lately I've been reading more contemporary. And every now and then, horror. 
3. Who or what inspires you?
JMK: My biggest writing influence, hands down, is Neil Gaiman. I'm also very inspired by Christopher Moore. And A.S. King, a friend of mine, is utterly brilliant (and everyone should read everything she ever writes, always). But my inspiration to write? That's because I have to. If I'm not writing, I'm not complete. I feel like I'm here to write stories. I've got worlds inside of me, and I have to let them out.
4. Is there anything you want readers to take away from your books?
JMK: For the Riders books, if people talk about the issues in those books -- eating disorders, self-injury, bullying, coping when a loved one has Alzheimers, depression, suicide -- then I'll be truly pleased. That's my biggest goal with those four books: to help raise awareness. For my upcoming YA traditional fantasy, TO BEAR AN IRON KEY, well, that's all about the fun and being entertained. 
5. Do you have any upcoming projects that you're looking forward to?
JMK: Yes! I'm currently working on three projects (because I don't believe in sleeping): The first is the follow-up to KEY, which will be called TO MEND A HEART OF STONE, which I'm aiming to finish by the end of this June. The second is a book I'm writing as part of my MFA in Creative Writing thesis, but that won't be done until January 2016. And the third is a project I wrote for my sons, which is currently on submission, so I have my fingers crossed. Wish me luck! :)


New York Times Best-selling author of the Study series


Meteorologist turned novelist, Maria's been writing fantasy and science fiction since she was bored at work and needed something creative to do. A dozen novels and numerous short stories later, Maria's learned a thing or three about writing. She’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a half-dozen awards, and has earned her MA degree in Writing from Seton Hill University where she's been happily sharing her knowledge with the current crop of MFA students. She also enjoys creating new worlds where horses and swords rule, 'cause let's face it, they're cool, although she's been known to trap her poor characters in a giant metal cube and let them figure out how to get out. 

YA Fest 14' Interview:

1. Why do you write YA?

Why? Because it's fun! I like it
I like that I can kind of have a young voice and not take on real serious or adult problems because they're my problems and I'm not interested in exploring them. So I would rather go and find somebody younger whose new, and doing fun things like that.

2. What kind of stories appeal to you when you're reading?

I like stories where I care about the character. If I don't care about the character I won't finish the book. So, I have to have a character that I can really relate to and I can encourage, and I care about then it doesn't matter what happens in the story
I'm hooked.

3. Who or what inspires you?

My children are big inspirations. I mean, their both teenagers now so I get a lot of a whole teen thing going on. They inspire me all the time!

4. What do you want readers to take away from your books?

That anything is possible
that you can't give up, you have to persevere and keep going going and keep going and even though it looks like things are really dire you just have to power through it and you'll get to the other side. Like don't ever give up, ever.

5. What projects are you looking forward to next?

Well I have more books coming out in my Study series that I'm working on. And that is one of my most popular series and I get a lot of reader feedback from it and a lot of begging over the last few years for more books. So I can't wait till it comes out so I can say okay, there, now be quiet! They won't, they'll finish that first book in a day and say, "when's the next one coming out!"

Now, do you feel attached to that series more-so than the others? 

MVS: Yes. That was my very first book Poison Study. It was the very first book I wrote and I have the most attachment to it.

The real interesting part of the interview occurred once the recorder turned off! Maria had some pretty awesome things to say about writing and we had a great chat about how big YA has become and we talked a little bit about how her covers are constantly getting new looks to attract new readers
which I think, is fabulous!


*Important note: Jackie Morse Kessler's interview was conducted online and Maria V. Snyder's is transcribed from an audio recording. Some words were condensed but nothing was cut that changes the content, misquotes it, or alters the original context.*

Maria and Seirra (Me!) at YA Fest 2014 - Palmer Branch, Easton Library Event in PA!




It's giveaway time! While at the YA event I snagged some bookmarks from Maria and Jackie! Since I only have one of each I'll be sending them out to one winner. Instead of creating a rafflecopter all you need to do to win the swag is comment on this post with your answer to this question:

What are some of your favorite YA reads? & Are you a fan of either author listed above? 

Share your answer in a comment and be sure to include your name and email to be alerted if you've won!

I will be choosing one lucky random commenter on 4/28!
Bonus entry: Tweet about the swag contest and tag @RestlessReader


U.S. residents ONLY. (I'm sorry I don't have the money to ship internationally but I hope to throw together an awesome giveaway for you all SOON!)

Leave a comment with your answer to the above question(s)!


  1. Awesome! I had to miss this year b/c I was on vacation. I heard it was huge compared to last time! I can't wait to go next time! Looks like you had fun!

    1. It was a great event, sorry you couldn't attend! Hope you'll be there next year. :)

      Thanks for stopping by Brooke, have a lovely weekend!!



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