Today, I’m excited to feature author J.M. Sullivan on the blog. She’s a YA writer and also the host of #authorconfession over on Twitter. Check it out. It’s a lot of fun to play along! She’s also a friend and fellow-publishee (is that a word? It is now!) at Pen Name Publishing (publisher of my debut Chasing Eveline!)
Her debut Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles releases next week (May 16, 2017). NEXT WEEK!!! I was fortunate to read an ARC of her novel, and it was quite a thrill ride. I’m normally a YA contemporary reader, but this Alice in Wonderland retelling made me think that maybe I should expand my interests! So read on to learn a little bit about this fantastic author and her book (and how you can buy it!)
What do you think all books should have?
There are a lot of things that go into making a really great book, but foremost, I’d say that books need good characters. After all, they are who the whole story is about! Without them, there isn’t much of a point to the book. I’ve read stories before that didn’t have the strongest plotline, but still absolutely loved it because the characters were amazing. On the flip side, I’ve been really disappointed in books I thought I would love because of lack of characterization. They are the heart and soul of the book and what ties the reader to the story. If you don’t have great characters, it’s impossible to have a great book.
What is your biggest writing challenge?
Finding time! Right now all of my writing is done as a part-time ‘job’ aside from my work as a teacher and mom! Figuring out the right balance to make sure I dedicate enough time to my work, passion, and family is really challenging and I’m still trying to figure it out! So if anyone has figured out the magical formula for that one, please let me know. J
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t writing?
With my family! I’m so busy most of the time that when I’m not doing one of the bajillion things I have to do every day I really just enjoy sitting back and spending time at home. My kids and I have rocking (read: horrifically bad) dance parties, experiment with baking, and watch Disney movies on loop. If it’s just my husband and I the movies take a darker turn in our search for the best horror movies available. It’s the little things in life, lol.
What scares you most about writing?
Since I write retellings, there’s always this fear that I am going to incredibly disappoint the fans of the original. It comes with the genre, though. You’re working with stories that people have grown up on and have cherished memories of. Even though you’re creating a new, re-imagined version, you still have a responsibility to it’s integrity, and it’s intimidating!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Be kind to yourself! I think more often than not the reason we writers feel the need to give up is because we beat up on ourselves so often! Having an inner critic can be good to help stretch your work and yourself, but don’t give the nasty little guy so much reign that he completely derails you. Just remember, someone needs your words. To get them out there you have to write them!
Who’s your favorite character?
In Wanderland my favorite character would have to be Chess. Based off the Cheshire Cat, Chess was so fun to write. His snarky personality brought a new energy into every scene. Even though Wanderland is a zombie book, I wanted there to be a fun aspect to it to, and Chess definitely delivered. Whether he is roaming Wanderland or tormenting Alice with another terrible nickname, his carefree attitude and quick wit made every scene more fun.
What is Alice’s worst habit?
Alice has a terrible habit of talking to herself! She’s a terrible introvert and tends to keep herself entertained, a fact that her sister Dinah never hesitates to call her out on!
What was the hardest scene for you to write?
The hardest scenes for me to write were definitely the fight scenes! I AGONIZED over them! I wanted so desperately to make them as exciting as they were in my head and finding the right balance between being descriptive and overloading the reader was difficult. It was definitely a challenge!
Can you tell us one of your favorite parts of your book?
Hmm… I don’t know! There are lots of parts I like (which is why Alice isn’t buried in a closet somewhere, lol), but I have to say I’m really excited about the end of the book. What’s even funnier about that is it wasn’t my original! Alice’s ending (and epilogue) were completely re-written during editing to try out a wild idea we had that basically answered the question ‘what if?’ The answer was so good, it booted the other ending and made it into the book! (You’ll have to tell me what you think after you read it!)
Tell us a secret about your writing.
I love Easter Eggs! I’ve hidden several in my book. There are a few references to my favorite stories and television shows as well as a special surprise that I can’t tell yet, but my publisher and I are very excited about it. Some of the references are more obvious than others, but there is one line in particular that none of my readers have picked up on yet. I’m looking forward to see if anyone finds it!
Want to know more about J.M. Sullivan? Join her on social media and her blog:
“Always protect your queen.”
Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.
Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.
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Remember, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles releases May 16! Get your copy and follow J.M. on Twitter for some release day fun!
J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.