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I am still looking for authors for the end of the year so if you see this and are interested, hit me up 🙂
Now to the good stuff. We are kicking off the ATO with a pretty fantastic author, Shawn McGuire, and her debut book: STICKS & STONES. To tell you a little more about herself and her book, here is a fun interview I did with Shawn:
- Were you good at English in high school?
I was good at English. In fact, I got my best grades in English. I remember thinking always thought sentence diagramming was fun – although I’m not sure I could describe what dangling participle is anymore. I remember a creative writing class I took. The teacher would give us free writing time now and then. Sometimes she’d give us a topic, other times not. There was one day we were on our own and I sat there for the half the period and couldn’t come up with a topic. I ended up writing about not knowing what to write about. I got an “A!”
- What inspired you to write Sticks and Stones and what can you tell us about the main characters?
I actually wrote the very first draft of S&S about eight years ago so I honestly don’t remember what the initial inspiration was. It was a middle grade novel then and it was a hot mess. The story focused on three girls – Mandy, Brooke, and Crissy – and how their friendship was falling apart. I put the story away and it would speak to me periodically. I finally took it out again about three years ago. The same three girls are still in the book but the story has grown up a lot. Mandy is the main character and she wants what everyone wants, to simply be a happy person. She thinks that she’s unhappy because her friendships with Brooke and Crissy are falling apart. As the story progresses she realizes that it’s normal for friendships to change and that the thing that’s really making her unhappy is something that goes much deeper.
Lexi is another central character. She is Mandy’s childhood imaginary friend who comes to life to help her deal with this deep-buried secret Mandy has been carrying around. There’s also Desiree, the genie/wish granter, and she has a small storyline that we follow as well.
- Your cover is fantastic! Who designed it and do you think a good cover is vital to getting readers attention?
Thank you! I am so, so, so in love with my cover! Karri Klawiter (www.artbykarri.com) is the genius designer I was fortunate to be working with. I sent her the blurb, a description of how I envisioned Mandy, and some links to covers I love and she went from there. Yes, absolutely, a good cover is crucial. This past weekend I attended the UtopYA conference (www.utopyacon.com) in Nashville. I brought postcards with my cover on one side and the blurb on the other. Not many people know my name yet, but many of them said that they remembered seeing my cover on various blogs. I was thrilled every time I heard that! Karri will be designing the cover for book #2 in my series soon. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up next.
- As a writer, we have to do a lot of research to make sure our stories are rooted in facts. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever researched?
I was just talking with someone about that this weekend. Most recently while working on book #3 (Never Hurt Me) I needed to know how to get a fake passport and how much one would cost. After I’d found my answer I realized how that could look and sincerely hoped I didn’t end up on some government watch list! I swear, it’s just for the book.
- If you had to choose one author as your idol who would it be?
It will probably sound cliché but easily J.K. Rowling. I remember reading one of the Harry Potter books and being so completely absorbed in the world of the story that at one point I looked up from the page and seriously could not figure out where I was for a good 10-20 seconds. I’ve been a writer and a reader for as long as I can remember, but that was the first time I’d ever been that immersed in a story. Right then and there it became my goal as a writer to give a reader that kind of total immersion experience.
- And finally, what is your favorite quote AND scene from Sticks and Stones?
Great question! It’s easier to choose my favorite scene. It’s chapter five where Mandy finds out that her wish has been granted and meets Desiree for the first time. I had a lot of fun writing all of the scenes where the two of them were together, but the first one is my favorite.
As for the quote, that’s an amazingly hard question! I’m not sure I can choose a favorite so instead I’ll give one that kind of sums up Mandy’s situation.
Compared to some people, my life was far from horrible. I knew that. Still, I wasn’t happy. When was the last time I had been?
With Brooke and Crissy? Yeah, but I’d always had to do what they wanted. I’d played the games they wanted to at recess. Watched the shows they wanted to watch when we had sleepovers. I’d spent my golden birthday at the party they wanted to go to.
And then it came to me. The last time I’d been happy was when Lexi was here. Oh my God, how pathetic was that? My last truly happy time had been with an imaginary friend.
Like a lot of us, she’d been expecting happiness to come from something external when really it had been inside her all along. She just needed to find it and let it out.
BOOK BLURB/AUTHOR BIO
Everyone has a dark side. Mandy’s just moved in with her.
The last time sixteen-year-old Mandy Matteo broke a rule, her sister died. Since that day she has done only what is expected of her, but life as a goody-goody has made Mandy so boring her friends have all but abandoned her. And she’s given up on ever getting Ethan, the boy she’s liked forever, to notice her. Desperate, Mandy makes a wish to simply be happy.
Her wish is granted and happiness arrives in the form of Lexi, her childhood imaginary friend come to life. Magical wishes have conditions though: Once started, the wish cannot be altered or stopped. And once Mandy is truly content with her life again, Lexi must go back to where she came from. But Lexi loves being alive and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay that way.
Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid: she couldn’t wait for the next one so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. She grew up in the beautiful Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota, the small town that inspired the setting for Sticks and Stones and Break My Bones. After graduating college she moved to the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) where she lived for many years. She and her family now call Colorado home and when not writing or reading, Shawn enjoys cooking and baking, crafts, interior decorating, and spending time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.
So what did you guys think? Pretty cool right? And this book sounds amazing, it’s definitely on my TBR list! Leave us a comment and tell us you opinions and enter in the giveaway!
Drop by next Tuesday to see our next author on the ATO and what she has in store for us! HEHE No spoilers will be given 😉
<3 always LH
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