Author Interview: Amanda Reilly

I was at Word on the Street in Toronto a few week’s back. It was my first time there and it was more than I could have ever imagined. I met lots of great people in the publishing biz and I met quite a few fantastic writers. One of the coolest parts of the day was getting the chance to talk to the may independent, self-published authors selling there stories and sharing the stories of their friends.
Pretty early on in the day I came to a both and met Amanda Reilly. We got to talking and she told me about her book, The Shadows of My Hair, a story about schizophrenia. I passed my card along to Amanda and we reconnected later. Today you’ll read the conversation that I had with her via email and what she had to say about her book and her experience as a self-published author. I want to say a personal thank you to Amanda for taking the time to talk to me about her book. I’m happy to share with you a great Canadian author with a story that I’m fascinated by.
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Title: The Shadows in My Hair
Author: Amanda Reilly
ISBN: 9781478179580
Publication Date: 2013
Hi Amanda! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. Do you mind starting off by giving a quick overview of your story?
The Shadows of My Hair is about a girl with Schizophrenia. The story is written through the perspective of the protagonist, Tia. Tia creates an alternative reality for herself and then loses herself between the two. She can no longer distinguish between the reality she’s created and the one we share with her. What readers seem to love about this story, is that you are really thrown into her psyche, you feel as if you are experiencing the erratic nature of her brain as if it were your own.
How did the idea to write come about? You mentioned you were quite young when you wrote this — What was the writing process like for you at that age?
Well I wrote the majority of the story when I was 16. At the time, and I believe this is true for a lot of teens, there were so many moments in my life where I felt utterly disconnected either from who I thought I was, or the expectations people had of me. Writing The Shadows of My Hair wasn’t intentionally to write a novel, that wasn’t the goal. It started out as journal entries and scribbles. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me.
You went through the process of self-publishing, didn’t you? Why did you decide to go that route?
I decided to self publish I suppose out of frustration. I googled for hours about publishing houses, agents and manuscript solicitation. What I found was either that the publishers I was really fond of or hoped would pick up my book, weren’t accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and the ones that would I knew little about or felt no connection with. Ultimately self publishing offered me the highest royalty, the most control and creative freedom. It’s definitely not an easy route as it may be construed of being I format and design the book myself down to the page numbers. It’s a labor intensive process, but for my first publication at 18 it is exactly what I needed to do to get my work out there.
Can you briefly walk me through your self-publishing process? What was the best part of this project?
The publishing process in brief will sound very simple; Write a story, edit story endlessly, format the interior of the book, design cover, and submit for review. Even though I self publish, the book is published through Amazon, they ultimately decide whether or not to accept it.  After that it becomes available for major distributers to pick up if they so chose. I was fortunate enough to have Shadows picked up internationally by several distributers such as Barnes and Noble, as well as many smaller distributers around the world. I was even more fortunate when the latest book I published was picked up within twelve hours of its publication. The best part of this process is the formatting process, although tedious, I love using the design software.
What advice can you give to other writers who may be looking into self-publishing?
The only advice I can give to people looking to self publish is to make sure you are happy with your final product. If you’re rushing through the process out of an eager attitude mistakes will be made. Make your book look like something you would want to pick up at a bookstore.
What was the most difficult thing you had to face with this project?
The most difficult part of writing and publishing for me is that I am too close to my work and often will miss something really small, and notice it later. I’m a perfectionist so seeing an error in my work really irks me. That or not being happy with the story… I wrote three entirely different versions of Shadows before I settled on the one I liked the best.
What are you doing to get your book out there, now that it’s finished?
Getting the work out there is about being out there. I can’t be hesitant to put myself and my work where it needs to be. At the Word on The Street festival this year in Toronto, I was on writers block with a booth signing and selling copies. I had to be willing to invite people over to check out my books, otherwise they wouldn’t know my books exist.
Are you writing again? If so, what kinds of things are you working on?
I am writing! I’m currently working on a sci-fi trilogy entitled Sebastian Blaine, the first instalment will be subtitled Life In Death. In addition to the trilogy I am writing some children’s books, which I may choose to publish traditionally.
For more about Amanda Reilly you can look on her website: www.amandareilly.com.
You can also like The Shadows of My Hair on Goodreads:  The Shadows of My Hair

 

Review: Famous in Love

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*I received this title on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Famous in Love

Author: Rebecca Serle

Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Publication Date: October 21, 2014

ISBN: 9780316366328

Famous in Love

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.
In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

Famous in Love is not really the kind of story that I generally pick up, but the synopsis sounded fantastic. So I gave it a try, and I (surprisingly) really enjoyed it! It’s a light, fast moving story about the struggles of celebrity: the lack of privacy, the lies that affect your personal life, falling in love. Paige is plucked out of obscurity for the lead role in a movie that’s captured the world’s attention. She shoots from her normal life, straight into stardom. She struggles under the pressure of meeting the expectations of the thousands of fans, as well as the cast and crew. In all of this stress she finds love. Rumours cloud her judgement of others, but when the truth comes out, Paige questions where she’s placed her affections, realizing that she was too quick to write certain people off.

I really like how Serle focused on Paige’s struggle and stress. She delves into the demanding and isolating lifestyle that Paige lives, uncovering the strain of her workplace and the effort it takes to be “on” all the time. Paige, a 17 year old far removed from her family and friends, is brave in this new world, but she relies on the kindness of others like Rainer to show her the ropes and to help her adjust. I usually take issue with the young women in young adult novels who find themselves in the inevitable love triangle, but I actually enjoyed Paige a lot. She doesn’t throw herself at the boys, but instead is somewhat uncomfortable in Rainer’s public displays of affection. Paige’s first concern is her work and performing to the best of her ability.

I would have liked to see Serle spend more time on the character Jordan. Paige severely misjudges him, but he’s not the person she expected. He’s actually one of my favourite characters in this whole story. He’s passionate about his lifestyle and his work. He’s endured hardship and is grateful for the fortunate world he’s living in. He works hard for his family and himself. He wants to share his passion with everyone he works with. Jordan is painted by the media as the bad boy and nothing could be further from the truth. He does reveal the truth to Paige eventually, but I would have loved to see more of him. He’s so interesting, there wasn’t enough of him in the book for me.

I was also slightly frustrated with the ending of this story. Paige’s final decision didn’t sit well with me entirely. I wasn’t particularly in support of the reason behind her decision, but things do work out for the best and the story has the happy ending that we all want to see in light novels like this one.

Overall, Famous in Love was a surprisingly enjoyable read and I’d definitely recommend it. Serle’s writing is captivating. I started and finished this novel in the same day. Serle is observant and thorough, while keeping things light and enjoyable. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Funky Cover Friday

I just finished reading The Walled City by Ryan Gaudin the other day and I wanted to share with you an older cover (not the actual cover), because, personally I prefer the previous cover to the one that is going to be printed. Below is the old cover, one that I feel captures the tone of the story: ominous in the red, tragic in the dark colours and the sad androgynous face, and the looming symbol of the Brotherhood drug gang. The contract of the light and dark on this cover signifies so clearly the stark difference between the Walled City and the world beyond the walls. I wish this cover had been kept. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Below you can see the new cover…no comment…. *shifty eyes*…..

 

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Which do you prefer?

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The Walled City | Ryan Graudin | Little, Brown and Company | November 4, 2014 | ISBN 9780316405058

Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

18406862Title: Sinner

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: July 2014

ISBN: 9780545654586

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

I have not read the other books in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series so picking up this stand alone book, I had no knowledge of the novels that precede it. Sinner is fantastic because it’s a werewolf novel that does things differently. It’s not about being a werewolf. It’s about celebrity, a struggle with addiction, the turbulence of love, the loyalty of friendship, and the effects of loss. Maggie, as always, is a strong and gripping writer with captivating prose and confident statements. Her writing is like curling up in a warm, familiar blanket in the car on a road trip: comforting and familiar, but exciting and new.

I loved the character of Cole St. Clair. He’s a recovering addict and he’s struggling to survive in a world saturated with booze and Cocaine. Clearly he has a terrible past and he’s survived major tragedy and a lot of self-harm, but he’s in a stage of his life where he’s dedicated to staying clean. He’s open and truthful and very pure. He loves unconditionally and without reserve. He’s driven to make a change in his life. He doesn’t shirk responsibility. However, he struggles daily with the demons with his past. He is not without fault. As a character, I found him so real and fleshed out.

The use of the wolf as Cole’s escape and reprieve from reality is a vivid image and a unique treatment of the werewolf story. We’ve seen werewolves again and again these past few years and I’d have said we’ve exhausted that trope, but Stiefvater’s approach is so original. The wolf is a symbol of Cole’s struggle with addiction. He may have thrown off drugs, but he can’t cast aside the wolf. It’s his weakness. We don’t even really get to witness his transformation until later in the book.

I wasn’t as keen on Isabel and that’s why I’ve given this novel 4 stars. I’m not sure if the previous books in the series give her more context as a person, but as a stand alone novel, there was not enough to her story to excuse her awful behaviour. She’s self-centred and rude. She acknowledges herself as a “bitch,” but does nothing to change it. She does experience some character growth in the end, but I found her to be impulsive and needlessly mean. I love some cranky characters, but there needs to be a reason and a drive and I didn’t feel as though Isabel presented enough of that to justify her actions.

Sinner made for great reading material this weekend. I can’t wait to read even more of Maggie Stiefvater!

BookThug Book Launch!

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for BookThug‘s Fall 2014 titles, and boy, did I have a good time! I was joined by my man, Matthew. He’s not a bookish kind of guy, but he thoroughly enjoyed the event. Good food, good beer, a song about bacon…of course he had a great time!

IMG_2703Walking in, the room was dim (sorry for the dark pictures…silly iPhone 4S and it’s grainy pictures), but the stage was set with large posters of the beautiful book covers. We picked a table smack dab in the centre of the room. There were these awesome sweet potato chips that we vigorously consumed. Honestly, I couldn’t stop eating them! Servers walked around with appetizers like pinapple chicken and yummy spring rolls.

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You can see above, the view of the stage from our seats. I love theses covers. Do you think these posters might be for sale? Some of the artwork is definitely wall-worthy.

IMG_2701And thank you to BookThug and 49th Shelf for my copy of Marianne Apostolides Sophrosyne! I won this copy in a contest online and I cannot wait to start reading it. I also bought myself a copy of Universal Bureau of Copyrights by  Bertrand Laverdure and translated by Oana Avasilichioaei.

A super fun evening overall! We sadly had to leave early because we’re not cool enough to live anywhere near downtown Toronto and we had quite the drive ahead of us. But I’ve added quite a few more books to my TBR list, which in my opinion, is definitely not a problem at all!

 

Funky Cover Friday

I was having a hard time picking today’s cover. There are so many covers that I like, but there are rarely covers that I love. And I sometime get stuck in that spot where I can’t think of those covers that have really stuck out to me in the past. This week I had to resort to scrolling through my books on Goodreads. Going through pages and pages, nothing stood out, until I came across this version of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I immediately liked this cover because it’s quirky, fun, and artistic. I love the “s” as the skewed moustache and contrast of the black lettering of “Ulysses” with the white parallel to it. This cover plays so much with shadow and light that what first jumps out at you may not be what’s really important on the cover here. The key is in the details.

What does this cover say to you? Do you love it? Hate it?

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Ulysses | James Joyce | Vintage | June 1990 | 9780679722762

Funky Cover Friday

 

 

I keep seeing this book everywhere! Landline by Rainbow Rowell has made it onto my to-read list simply because of the cover. At first, I wasn’t totally sold on the image, but the more I see it and the more it jumps out at me from the bookstore shelves (more so than the other books around it) the more I’m driven to purchase a copy. I love the font used for the title and the way it spirals off the page like an old fashion cord phone, and how the style of the cover and image evokes that vintage feel. I’m definitely very inclined to pick this one up.
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Landline | Rainbow Rowell | St. Martin’s Press | July 2014 | 9781250049377