Gettin’ Lucky: An Interview with Mindee Arnett, Author of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR

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Today we are happy to interview Mindee Arnett, author of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR (Book One of the Arkwell Academy Series), which releases today!

Here’s the blurb:

16-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough, but when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing.

The Nightmare Affair

But it does.

Eli is dreaming of a murder. The setting is Arwkell.

And then his dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues–both within Eli’s dreams and out of them–to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Can you tell us a bit about your road to publication? Anything particularly surprising happen along the way?

I guess it started in the sixth grade when I wrote my first short story. Well, I wrote more like half a dozen shorts. And I kept on writing them all through high school, and by the time I started college, I began submitting them to literary magazines. Eventually, I was able to get a few published, and I decided I was ready to try my hand at novels.

Yeah, I so wasn’t ready.

But that’s okay. I wrote the book, start to finish, and learned a lot along the way. Nevertheless, the book still sucked, and I set it aside and moved onto the next one. This one sucked a little bit less, and the third one held even less suckage. The fourth one was actually kind of decent, enough so that I decided to start my agent search in earnest (I had sent a handful of random queries for some of the other books but without any real conviction about it). I queried around fifty agents, received a couple of partial requests, and one full request that nearly broke my heart when it was eventually rejected.

Bearing fresh battle scars, I started work on The Nightmare Affair. And this go-round I swore that I would take my time with the book, revising carefully, and making sure I produced the best story possible before sending it out. I started in August 2010 and was finally ready to query by late May. By June 9, I had an offer of representation from Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. We went on submission around a month later, and within 17 days I had a 3 book deal on the table from Tor Teen.

By far the most surprising thing was how fast everything went from query to book deal, especially after so many years of trying and failing. The second most surprising thing is my agent was able to sell a second YA series for me to Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins). Within a span of one year, I went from an aspiring writer with four trunk novels to an agented writer with five books on contract.

What’s a typical writing day for you? Do you have any special writer’s fuel (coffee, candy, music, etc.)?

I don’t really have a typical day, because most of my writing is done whenever I can make time around my crazy, full life. Between my day job, family obligations (including 2 young kids), and the care of all our four-legged critters, I write whenever, however I can.

My fuel of choice—aside from regular doses of chocolate—is simply reading. I do my best writing when I’m able to find time to read.

Where did the idea for THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR come from?

The Story Fairy left it on my pillow.

Kidding. The primary inspiration came from the Henry Fuseli painting “The Nightmare.” In it, a demon, “the nightmare,” is sitting on the chest of a sleeping woman. I found myself wondering what it would be like if the nightmare weren’t an ugly monster but an ordinary teenager girl. And presto-chango, I had the idea.

Of course, everyone talks about how crowded the YA paranormal market is right now, and one thing I loved about THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR that kept it fresh was the use of humor while still retaining a dark undercurrent. Your main character is a Nightmare, which is pretty cool and unique. What direction do you see YA paranormal novels taking?

So glad you enjoyed the humor. That’s one of my favorite aspects as well.

As for the future, I think we’ll see more stories about new paranormal creatures like nightmares. There really are so many folkloric creatures out there. It’s just a matter of adapting them.

When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your days?

 Hanging out with my husbands and kids and riding my horses.

How do you plan to celebrate your release day?

With a book launch at Books & Co. in Beavercreek, Ohio at 7:00! The event to be followed up with celebratory cocktails. Although not too many, because I fly out early the next day for the first stop on my book tour.

What’s up next for you? 

Aside from the sequel to The Nightmare Affair, I’m very excited for my YA sci-fi thriller, Avalon, due to hit shelves Winter 2014.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

The three books that inspired me most as a kid were:
SHAPECHANGERS by Jennifer Roberson. This was my first foray into the world of adult fantasy and it was completely galvanizing. The writing was beautiful, the romance breathtaking, and the story strong. I go back to this book (the entire series, actually) every couple of years and reread it. They’re still great all these years later.
THE WIZARD OF OZ by Frank L. Baum. The wacky, wonderful, and wild world of Oz still lives in my imagination. These books were easy to read and fun. I haven’t reread them as an adult yet, but I will eventually.
THE BLACK STALLION & ISLAND STALLION Series by Walter Farley
These books were perhaps my first love. I was born horse crazy, and I wanted nothing more to be Alec Ramsey.
Thanks for inviting me here and best of luck to all the fabulous 2014 debut authors!
Sarah Bromley likes the quiet time at dawn when she can drink coffee while staring into the woods behind her house and wondering what monsters live there. She lives near St. Louis with husband, children, and dogs, and volunteers at a horse stable for disabled riders when she isn’t writing. Her debut novel, TINDERBOX (Month9Books, LLC) will be released in Fall 2014.
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