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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Justina Ireland, author of VENGEANCE BOUND

13643222Hello readers! I am super excited to brighten your Thursday with an interview starring debut author Justina Ireland, whose book hit shelves this week! Said book, VENGEANCE BOUND  has been pitched as The Goddess Test meets Dexter. And yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds, and yes, you should totally buy it, read it, and love it. Just in case you aren’t convinced yet, here’s a full blurb:

 Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.

Intrigued yet? Yeah, I thought so. So without further ado, on to the interview!

The mythology in VENGEANCE BOUND is so cool! I loved reading about the furies, but if you were to write something else mythology-based, what other myths/creatures/etc… would it be about?

I’m kind of glad you asked this, because my next book is actually about a Harpy.  Greek mythology has so many untapped legends/stories that I wasn’t quite ready to let it go yet.  My character in my next book, Zephyr (snerk) is a Harpy, which in my story are a kind of mercenary clan of female human-bird hybrids (the boys get to live somewhere else).

But Zephyr is a really terrible Harpy, because she isn’t ruthless or violent or really Harpy-like.  Her world is also populated by a whole bunch of other creatures from Greek myth, all of which live in this small town in the middle of Virginia, kind of hiding in plain view.  The Greek pantheon of gods also make an appearance.  The mythology is a lot bigger in this next book, and I loved building this world based around these old stories and making them just slightly different than what we all know.

Your main character Cory is such a badass—kicking butt and taking names, and dealing death and punishment to people. I LOVE that. But how challenging was it to write what is essentially a very violent, almost anti-hero type character? Any tips for other writers who might be trying to do the same?

One of the biggest complaints I get from people (and will probably continue to hear in the future) is that Cory is hard to connect with.  Well, yeah.  She’s morally reprehensible.  She’s selfish and maybe a couple of baby steps away from being a sociopath.  She spends her nights hunting down men so she can kill them.  She makes mistakes and doesn’t do the things she knows she needs to do.  And that’s frustrating and maybe a little off-putting.

But I think the connection people do have to Cory comes in recognizing she’s still human and being able to relate to something in that.  Even though all these terrible things are going on in her life she still very much has this wry sense of humor.  And she’s terribly awkward in social situations.  I think when writing an anti-hero people can’t relate to what the character does, because nine times out of ten it’s pretty reprehensible.  So readers have to be attracted to a character’s vulnerabilities.  We’ve all felt awkward and uncomfortable in our own skins at times, and this is what makes Cory a little more relatable.

So if you’re writing an antihero, give them a soft underbelly.  It’s the softness that readers will gravitate towards.

Cory has two furies quite literally living in her head; when developing this (awesome) element of the story, did you see them all as separate  characters? All facets of Cory? That is, how did you approach writing such a unique perspective/POV?

I originally wanted to write Cory as having Dissociative Identity Disorder (which is now the proper name for Multiple Personality Disorder) as a result of a childhood trauma.  The problem is that DID is rare.  Like, sparkly rainbow unicorn rare.  After some research I learned that while TV loves talking about DID, the reality is there is actually some discussion about whether it’s a real thing or not.

So I just copped out and went with the easy answer: paranormal twist!

In the book the Furies, and their appetites, are very much tied to Cory and her past.  This went along with my original intent to make Them facets of Cory’s personality, but also gave me an interesting quirk to work with if I ever went back to the well and wrote companion novels.

VENGEANCE BOUND, while being a fast-paced thrill ride, at the same time raises some interesting questions about justice and judgment, among other things. What role does the developing of themes like these play in your writing? Do you deliberately focus on them when writing, or start out thinking of themes you want to explore or anything like that?

Ummm, yes?  LOL.  I wish I could say that there’s a conscious effort to explore any kind of theme when I’m writing.  The truth is that some days it’s hard enough just to write coherent dialogue!  Themes?  That’s like the bonus round!

I tend to believe an author’s beliefs will bleed through a story, and that’s what happens with me.  My editor or agent will point to something and mention that we need to strengthen this theme or subtext and I’ll smile and nod while I’m thinking “Wow! I have subtext? That’s awesome!”

I really think it’s just that an author’s beliefs tend to come through in their writing.  Good, bad, or otherwise.

Here’s an easy one (maybe): what is YOUR favorite part of this story—and/or, what was the most fun to write?

There’s a part where a certain character gets his comeuppance.  I love that scene.  That, and all the kissing scenes. Action and kissing are always my favorite to write.

One last question! As this community is “All for One and OneFour KidLit,” we’d love to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid!

That’s hard!  I was an advanced reader, so my children’s books may not have been everyone’s.  My three favorite books were:

  • My Brother Sam is Dead
  • Wait Till Helen Comes
  • DIfferent Seasons

I read and reread these in elementary school.

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 AuthorPhoto1

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. Vengeance Bound is her first novel. Visit her at JustinaIreland.com and follow her on twitter here!

Where to buy her book:
Indiebound
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Powell’s
Books-A-Million

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Stefanie Gaither (blog)Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. Her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014.
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Stefanie Gaither: FALLS THE SHADOW

We have a lot of fantastic authors here on OneFour Kidlit, and we’re excited to introduce them to you! Today we’re talking to Stefanie Gaither, author of FALLS THE SHADOW, coming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

The short version: I wrote a book. It was terrible. Agents rejected it. I wrote another book. Same thing happened. I wrote another book. Agents started saying really nice things to me, but ultimately still said no. So I wrote lucky book number four. And then lots of agents started saying really nice things to me, and several of them even used the words “I’d like to offer you representation.” One of the users of those words was Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary. There was acceptance, and much rejoicing, and some revising, and then off on submission we went, and then one day a magical email with the magical word OFFER floated into my inbox, and then I drank lots of celebratory margaritas. The end.

The shorter version: A crap ton of hard work, an unhealthy level of stubbornness, and the developing of a skin so thick that you could bounce knives and ninja stars off of it.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

FALLS THE SHADOW is about a girl, Cate, in a near-future world where cloning backup copies of “just-in-case” children is a common–though hotly protested– trend among the parents wealthy enough to afford it. Her whole life, Cate has had to deal with anti-cloning crazies and orginizations harassing her, and with lies about her family being splashed across every tabloid website in the nation. Things go from bad to worse when her sister, Violet, dies and is actually replaced by her “just-in-case” clone.

And then things go from worse to completely catastrophic when the new, cloned Violet ends up the prime suspect in a gruesome murder.

Now, while dodging protestors, police questioning, paparazzi cameras and more, Cate has to try and discover the truth about what really happened. Easier said than done, though, in a world filled with copies and lies, where nothing and no one is completely what they seem.

Oh, and of course there are also a couple swoon-worthy boys (bromance included!), fast cars, and cool weapons. And a bodycount. Because really, where’s the fun without all that? 😉

The title, though it could very well change, comes from one of my favorite poems– “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot, which shares a lot of similar themes with my book (at least as I interpret it).

What are you most excited about in the debut process?
All of it. No, seriously. This is all so surreal, still, that I feel like I will love every little moment that makes it feel that much more real. The first look at potential covers, the first time holding a completed book in my hands, the first positive review, the first negative review, the first time seeing my book on a bookstore shelf, the first gushing email from a reader, the first email from a reader who thinks I am a complete and total hack, the first time seeing someone reading my book (my book!) out in public, etc…

Really, I’m just an excitable person in general.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • I live in an apartment behind (what used to be) a coffeeshop that my husband and I ran for a few years. It’s now been transformed into a different restaurant with a different manager, but I scored a commercial espresso machine in the process. It is gigantic, and it now takes up half my kitchen counter, and I love it.
  • I legit cannot snap my fingers. Many, many people have tried to teach me, all have failed. I’m a kick-butt whistler, though.
  • I have a dog named Shakespeare. He controls our home, and everyone in it.
  • I changed my major no less than six times in college before settling on English/Creative Writing. At one point I even majored in Spanish.
  • I don’t speak a word of Spanish.
  • I can, however, recite the entirety of the LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring movie, and most of the other two LOTR movies, more or less from memory. I’ve put this useful skill on a resume before (and yes, I did get the job).
  • I have a strong affinity for giraffes. Strong as in, my house is decorated with giraffe pillows, giraffe statues, giraffe pictures…etc… I mean, have you ever looked at a giraffe? They’re just so fantastically awkward.
Stefanie Gaither (blog)Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. Her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014.