Today, I have a very awesome,wonderful and talented author of In The Arms of Stone Angels, Jordan Dane for an interview. I really enjoyed reading In The Arms of Stone Angels and very thrilled and honored to have her here in my blog today. The book is just been released this April 1st, so grab your copy now! You can read my review HERE.
In celebration of the release of Jordan Dane's In The Arms of Stone Angels. This is my very first author interview and giveaway! That's right! So stay tuned for that! The giveaway is also part of my special celebration this April here in my blog, The Month of Giveaways! Without further ado, let's start.
About the AuthorJordan Dane makes up stuff for a living. She hears voices in her head and considers that to be a good thing. Her stories weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Her debut book, No One Heard Her Scream, was named one of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. She shares her home in Texas with her husband, two cats of high-born lineage, and a rescue dog that makes her laugh every day.
"In The Arms of Stone Angels has a very unique and thrilling plot. How did you come up with the story? Where did you get the inspiration on writing this book?"
JD: Being part Hispanic, I faced bigotry in many ways and wanted to tell a story with the harsh realities of that. And for me, it wasn’t until I faced it down in a school yard and fought back, defending a smaller shy Hispanic girl, that I realized you can’t sit on the fence and do nothing, even if the bigotry is not directed at you. Brenna is more of an angry soul when it comes to fighting back, but White Bird takes a gentler path. Both ways can be effective in making changes, but first the change must come from inside you. It’s never easy dealing with bullies, but we all must find a way to get help when we can’t do it alone.
"What kind of research did you do for this book? Especially the part of the Indian concept."
JD: Unlike the Cherokee who are flourishing despite the tragedy in their history, not as much is known about the Euchee, the tribe featured in my book. I wrote what I could about the tribe to draw attention to them, but I was limited in my research, except for the help of Oklahoma librarian, Susan Johnson. She is in charge of the Native American cultural resources at her library and is part Native American herself. She was familiar with my adult books and wanted me to write something set in Oklahoma about Native Americans. I loved that idea because paranormal elements go well with the compelling mysticism of Native American beliefs.
"Are the characters are related on someone you know or you just made them all up?"
JD: The characters I create are deeply rooted in my life’s experiences—people I’ve met, things I’ve seen and heard, from imagery springing from song lyrics or favorite movies, etc. From the infinite number of possibilities floating around in my head, it’s my job to find the threads that lead me to the character. Once I wrapped my head around Brenna and who she was to me, then I listened real hard for her voice. (There’s always a party goin’ on in my head. I’m never truly alone.) Brenna is a loner and is content in her solitude. I can relate to that, although I never had her fashion sense. In that department, I’m trip dip vanilla to her Rocky Road extravaganza with sprinkles and gummy bears. And Brenna knows she’s different and is content with that too, even if it makes her confrontational at times. She’s capable of red-faced fury as well as long hours of silence, comfortable to be alone. Unfortunately I can relate to this too.
And after I researched my book through Susan Johnson, my librarian friend, and I described my teen boy to her, she said, “I know this boy.” She told me about her friend, White Bird. Yes, there is a real White Bird. And similar to my fictional boy, he was in the foster care system and only recently was released. Now we’re friends on Facebook. I only used his name in my book, with his permission, because I liked the symbolism of it. But my story is pure fiction.
Susan told me that the real White Bird is smart and as adaptable as a chameleon, looking for a place to fit in and belong. And although he is struggling to find an identity of his own as a young man, his Native American roots are very important to him. Although I might have wished that he had grown up with a more traditional family and had things easier, White Bird is the person he is because of everything that he has gone through, good and bad. And I hope that the admiration and good wishes I have for his spirit shows in my book.
JD: I read an article in the Wallstreet Journal about the trend toward edgy YA and the books really resonated with my crime fiction background and the darker subject matter. I immediately bought many of the books that they said were most popular for edgy gritty content and intriguing social issues for teens and I was blown away by the authors writing these types of books. These books are also cross genre and encompass many elements in one story, which is how I like to write too. The YA genre really appealed to me on many levels and I wanted the writing challenge. The only limitation for an author is their own imagination. Plus writing for this age group forced me to revisit my teen years and filter my life’s experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly) into my writing. YA novels today can have real crossover appeal for adults. In the Arms of Stone Angels has a cold case murder mystery at the heart of the slightly paranormal suspense coming of age story, so I didn’t stray far from my crime fiction comfort zone. I also hoped my adult readers might discover YA through my writing or that younger readers could grow into my adult books when they are willing to try them.
"Are there anything you find particularly challenging and as well as the best part on writing this book?"
JD: Writing YA was the first time I had ever used first person point of view. That was definitely a challenge, but one that really opened my eyes to writing emotion in a scene. You have to be truly in the head of your character when you write first person and pull no punches with emotional honesty. I found myself going back over scenes over and over to add layers of new things I had learned about the character. In adult books, pacing is vital and those books have less character introspection to slow things down, but in YA, it’s the opposite. The character’s personal journey is very important and the plot must accentuate the character’s obstacles to show why they deserve a major role in the novel. In my adult books, I also had characters come into my head first, while in YA, I’ve found that it’s more important to create the plot idea first so you can tailor the right character to put into that story. Writing YA is not easy, but I love it—as a reader and as an author.
"There is this amazing twist in the climax of the story that totally knocked me down in surprise and the suspense is amazing! While writing that part of the book, what are the things running through your mind? How does it feel writing it?"
JD: Of course we can’t talk about what happens without giving it away, but I will say it’s not easy writing a mystery where the ending twists or comes as a surprise to the reader. An author can’t just write something out of the blue either. It must come from clues threaded throughout the story. If the reader goes back to re-read the book, they will see the clues more clearly, like seeing the movie The Sixth Sense over again. Many times I will set up a story with quite a few suspects and flip a coin on who is guilty. That’s when it works best—when even I don’t know who did it.
"What are you currently working on? We would love to know a little about it."
JD: I’ve also got my next YA coming out in 2012. It’s already completed and turned in to my editor at Harlequin Teen. ON A DARK WING is a standalone story set in Alaska. (I had lived there for 10 years and still love to write about that extraordinary locale.) The story is about a 16-year old girl who cheats Death and lives past her expiration date, but her lucky break comes at a heartbreaking price. She is stalked by Death’s Ravens. And when an innocent boy, someone she has a secret crush on, starts his climb to the summit of Alaska’s Denali, his life is on the line. The Angel of Death is with him because of her. And she finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.
And I’ve got a YA paranormal trilogy proposal with my agent. That’s a little top secret, but I can’t wait to write these books. I’m in love with the characters and the storyline.
"Do you have anything to say to your readers?"
JD: I’m bringing my thriller writer style to YA books, which means my books might be a little different. I believe in strong smart characters, good pacing, dark humor and really nasty bad guys or adversaries or subject matter that may get the reader riled up or feel uncomfortable, such as the bigotry at the heart of In the Arms of Stone Angels. And the emotional triggers must be genuine. In order for White Bird and Brenna to deserve a starring role in my book, they had to earn that spot by facing down insurmountable odds and overcoming them, but that’s my job as an author, to make that happen. I hope readers will find my books are different in a good way.
Thank you very much for stopping by here in my blog Ms. Dane! It's a great honor! I really enjoyed reading the interview as well! I am glad that I found out some of the story behind writing this book! Congratulations on your first YA novel Ms. Dane! And we'll be waiting more from you! :]
In The Arms of Stone Angels Giveaway!
This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be announced on April 23, 2011. Thank you for participating on this contest.