January 26, 2015 ~ Interview by Caudia Y. Burgoa
January 27, 2015 ~ Interview by Janet Fox
January 28, 2015 ~ Book Review by Sherry Gammon
January 28, 2015 ~ Spotlight On Reader Girls by Laurie Treacy
January 29, 2015 ~ Interview on Bridging The Journey: Theresa Nichols Schuster
January 30, 2015 ~ Spotlight by Debra Chapoton
January 31, 2015 ~ Spotlight on Norma's Novels
February 1, 2015 ~ Interview by Mrs. Menagerie
February 2, 2015 ~ OFFICIAL BOOK BIRTHDAY ~ Help me celebrate by purchasing your own copy
February 3, 2015 ~ Interview by Author Tifani Clark
February 3, 2015 Online Book Launch Party
February 4, 2015 ~ Book Review on Unshelfish by Melinda Hence
February 5, 2015 ~ Interview by Annette T Dodd
February 6, 2015 ~ Spotlight by Creative Prose Publishing
February 8, 2015 ~ Spotlight by Sugar Shack Books
February 9, 2015 ~ Interview by Cindy Bennett
February 10, 2015 ~ Interview by M.M. Roethig
February 12, 2015 ~ Author Reading and Signing @ Lewis & Clark Public Library
Susan and I crossed paths back in September at the SCBWI conference. At the time, I wondered why her name was so familiar to me. Only when I returned home and started to do some updates on my social media did I realize we were following each other on twitter. Lol.
I am so excited to have Susan Adrian with me today, especially since her debut novel, TUNNEL VISION, will be out in just a few days. Five days to be exact. So lets dig in, get to know Susan, and find out more about her fantastic YA thriller.
Stephanie: One of the tried and true, good ol' questions. Have you always dreamed of being a writer? And how long have you been writing?
Susan: I've been writing poems and stories since I was a kid—I remember having a story about my cat posted in the local paper when I was 10 or so. I didn't try my hand at a book until about 14 years ago, though. I just didn't ever think my ideas were original enough. More life was needed!
Stephanie: Tunnel Vision has taken quite a few turns in getting to where it is now. When you first envisioned or were struck with the idea for Tunnel Vision, did you have any idea it would turn out to be what it is?
Susan: The story of TUNNEL VISION is an unusual one. I actually quit writing completely after about 10 years of frustration and not-quite-getting-there. I decided I was tired of banging my head against a brick wall, and gave myself permission to just stop it all. But my brain couldn't stop telling stories. To get myself to sleep at night, I started telling myself a story in my head, carrying over from night to night, about a boy who had an ability the government wanted. When it got so exciting I was staying awake until 3 am imagining it, I finally gave in and wrote it down. That story became TUNNEL VISION. It's developed more, and the ending point changed. But much of it is the same as I imagined it to be.
Stephanie: How long after you returned to writing, did you get started on Tunnel Vision and how long did it take you to finish it?
Susan: I returned to writing FOR Tunnel Vision, and once I started writing it down I finished a rough draft in about 10 weeks.
Stephanie: I am so glad you didn't quit writing, though I do understand your feelings. I was getting there myself. If you hadn't returned to it, we would not have this great story to look forward to. When I first heard of Tunnel Vision and that you were from Butte, my first thought was something to do with the mines. It is definitely way cooler than that, but have you ever thought about doing a story of the mines?
Susan: No, not really. The topic just hasn't appealed to me yet. I start with a character in a situation, and go from there. But I won't rule it out—maybe someday a miner character will inspire a story.
Stephanie: We met in September at the Montana SCBWI 2014 Fall Conference. You actually crashed it with your agent Kate Testerman, which was a treat to have you there with her and see the author/agent relationship and actually have you to answer our questions. During this, you stated the title changed along the way. What was your original title?
Susan: The original title was THE TUNNEL, which is the project name DARPA uses for Jake, my main character. When he uses his power, he "tunnels" to another person. But TUNNEL VISION fits so much better.
Stephanie: What does DARPA mean?
Susan: DARPA is an actual government agency. Website here: http://www.darpa.mil/default.aspx (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
Stephanie: So speaking of acronyms, are you a member of the SCBWI (Socitey of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)? If so, how long have you been a member? Do you feel it helped you get where you are?
Susan: I am a member, and have been since 2009. I attended a very stimulating SCBWI conference in New York when I was just getting into the industry, and I think the SCBWI Book is very useful. I haven't availed myself of too many of the resources there, but I greatly appreciate what they do.
Stephanie: The SCBWI is an amazing organization. Without it, I think many authors would have given up. What is your current profession?
Susan: I'm a scientific editor, and have been for almost 20 years. I'm the Publications Editor and Chief of the Information Services department at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, the state's geologic survey. We're part of Montana Tech in Butte.
Stephanie: 20 years is quite a long time. The history of Butte is an amazing one, fraught with sadness, greed and corruption because of the mines. Recently my family visited the Mining Museum there at the tech and I have a niece currently attending Montana Tech. What brought you to Montana?
Susan: That job! My husband and I had both been laid off in California during the recession, and we did a nationwide job search. I hit first, we loved Butte when I came for the interview, and we've been here ever since. My parents followed us here too.
Stephanie: Well, I for one, and very glad you made it to Montana. I never would have met you otherwise. How did you find Kate?
Susan: I've been on Twitter for a long time, and I was aware of Kate there—and when it came time to query a new agent, I checked out her client list. I had read and loved so many of them, I knew she was a good match. I queried, and it worked out!
Stephanie: It definitely pays to do your homework. I remember Kate talking about how impressed she was with your query. What advice do you have to aspiring authors about this crucial yet terrifying step in the process? Do you mind if I include a link to your query letter?
Susan: Absolutely! The query letter, in a joint interview with Kate, is here: http://www.yahighway.com/2014/07/query-series-author-susan-adrian-and.html
My advice is to read TONS of queries, from a site like Query Shark, and see what works and what doesn't. Then write one and run it by your writer friends. My friends vastly improved mine, and some of the language that they contributed has made it through all the way to the book cover.
Stephanie: When it comes to queries, writing a book is the easy part. And it definitely pays to have good writing buddies. Can you tell us about TUNNEL VISION?
Susan: TUNNEL VISION is the story of Jake, who just wants to lead a normal life and get into Stanford, but he slips up at a party and shows off his secret ability, and the government finds out. Jake can hold any personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, and sense not only where that person is, but see what they're seeing and hear what they're hearing. He's a perfect, invisible surveillance unit, and the government "recruits" him to be a spy. But it gets more complicated when bad guys get interested too, and then when Jake isn't sure who the bad guys are anymore…
Stephanie: On your website, you tell us you are currently working on the sequel to Tunnel Vision. Can you tell us what dangers Jake is going to face and how are you going to up the ante? When can readers expect to see the sequel and do you have a name for it already?
Susan: The current title is TUNNEL VISION 2. I'm a titling genius. I can't say much, but I will say if you've read TV you know that it doesn't exactly all end with a pretty bow. Jake has a lot of work to do if he wants to be free and clear of all the mess that's happened. In the sequel he's free of the mess for about two pages, I think, before it all gets worse.
Stephanie: You are a titling genius :-) Very straightforward, lol. Your sequel sounds just as exciting as the first book. What else are you working on?
Susan: I'm also on submission with a middle grade book, a magical realism about a girl who gets to be Clara in the Nutcracker, and a new thriller about two sisters from Spain, and what happens when one of them pushes a stranger off of a cliff.
Stephanie: Where do you get your ideas?
Susan: I think ideas come from everywhere. They are a conglomeration of all the things you notice in your daily life, have experienced, and observe in other people…set off by a spark of an idea. I see where my imagination goes from there, and always, always, try to go the unexpected route. I think writers have to read enough to know what the expected route is, and avoid it!
Stephanie: When not reading and writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Susan: I like to travel with my family, and watch movies and TV on down time!
Thanks for this, Stephanie! It was great to meet you and hang out with other Montana writers!
Thank you so much Susan. It was great to learn more about you and I hope to see you at many more writing events around the state. We are planning a lot of changes and additions within the Montana SCBWI Chapter and will have some great spring events. Look for my spotlight on Susan's debut novel on January 20th. Can't wait to see what Jake does!
I am grateful to have Tifani on my blog today. I met Tifani through the internet. And maybe met is not the right word, since we've yet to meet in person. The first time I heard about her was through her sister-in-law who I attend church with. I'd been invited to a Facebook book launch party. Of course it piqued by interest, being an author myself, and it was actually through this that I found my publisher, Creative Prose Publishing. So thank you to Tifani for writing a book and getting it published and to her sister-in-law, Natalie, who without her invite I would not be where I am, soon to be published. But this isn't about me, its about Tifani. :-)
A brief bio about her before we go into some fun questions.
Tifani Clark grew up on a farm in southeastern Idaho (yes, that’s where they grow all the potatoes) as the middle of five children. She had a lot of space to imagine and daydream and often pictured herself as a character in one of the many books she read. She was habitually found pretending to be Scarlet O’Hara. Tifani loves mysteries and hates it when one goes unsolved. She is married to the love of her life and is the mother to four fabulous children. When not writing, she enjoys playing the violin and piano and traveling to new places. She especially enjoys visits to national parks and places of historical significance.
Stephanie: I too grew up in southeastern Idaho and even have a mangled finger to show for my work among the potato fields. And I am the middle of five children. Similarities abound. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Tifani: I can't remember a time that I didn't want to be an author--it just took me a long time to gather enough courage to try. I officially started writing in 2012.
Stephanie: Wow, and already with two published books to your name. You are inspiring. What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Tifani: You'll never know if you can do it if you don't try. Set a deadline for yourself to begin writing and just go for it. And, don't give up. Rejection is all part of the game.
Stephanie: Great advice. Can you describe for us your writing process?
Tifani: Each time I start a new book, I spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months mulling the idea over in my head. Then, I sit down and write a brief plot synopsis and character description so I know where I'm headed. After that, I start writing and let the story take me where it will. When I'm deep into writing a book, I dream about the characters or wake up with a plot problem on my mind almost every morning. Sometimes I'll lie in bed for hours writing dialogue in my head before I finally get up and put it on paper.
Stephanie: What books inspire you? What do you enjoy reading?
Tifani: I like to read a wide variety of books, but I get excited when I find a good suspense novel. I like to get scared. If an author can scare me, I'll stay up all night to finish the book.
Jamie Peters plans to spend the summer before her junior year with her nose stuck in a book—not saving lost souls. Usually the girl that blends into the crowd, Jamie’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious ghost begins to follow her.
But Sophia isn’t just any ghost.
A hundred years earlier, Sophia’s disappearance sparked a national mystery that remained unsolved. Jamie knows the legends surrounding Sophia’s disappearance, but she never dreamed she would find out what really happened . . . or that her family might have had something to do with Sophia’s disappearance.
Determined to set Sophia free, Jamie blows the dust off her family’s past and unearths clues to discover what she must do to save Sophia’s soul. She enlists the help of childhood friend—and secret crush—Peter Ashby as she sets off on a dangerous quest to find a missing map. Spending the night in a graveyard, crawling through a dilapidated barn, and staring down the barrel of a gun aren’t enough to deter Jamie from helping Sophia. But can she find the answers she needs before another ghost gets revenge on her and Sophia?
Stephanie: Shadow of a Life is your first published work and is part of a series. How long did it take you to write it?
Tifani: Shadow of a Life took 6 weeks to write. Before I ever wrote a work, the entire story was written in my head. I just needed to put it on paper.
Stephanie: Your most recent book, Haven's Waiting, was just released Monday, January 3. How long did Haven Waiting, the sequel to Shadow of A Life, take you to write?
Tifani: Haven Waiting took longer than the first for a few reasons. I spent a lot of time looking for a publisher for my first book and doing things to improve my writing so my time was limited. Then, school got out for the summer and with 4 kids at home, writing was put on hold. I finally wrote the ending about 6 months after I started it. That was a year ago.
Stephanie: How many more are in the series?
Tifani: Because each book tells the story of a ghost from an important time in history, the potential number of books could be really high. Almost from the beginning I had three distinct stories in mind. The third--still untitled--is almost finished. I have many more ideas, but sometimes I have to let my characters lead the way. Sometimes they surprise me.
Stephanie: It's amazing to see how, as an author, your characters really do seem to have a mind all their own and that they can surprise even the author.
I've read Shadow of A Life. It was very entertaining and fun to read. I loved Peter the most of all the characters. And you nailed Camille, jealous and a bit self-absorb, but truly a good friend. The main character Jamie, was hard for me to get into at first, but I think it was because she was so unsure of who she was as a person in the beginning of the book, it was hard for me to know who she was. But she really came through in the end. And what a twist you brought in with Haven's Waiting. A witch. Wow! How'd you decide that?
Tifani: I've always been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials and what would possess people to act the way they did back then. I read many books as a child, but rarely re-read anything. One of the few exceptions was "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." When the idea to center Haven Waiting around the Salem Witch Trials first came to me, I thought Haven's unfinished business would be proving her innocence. However, before I even started writing, her character insisted that she wasn't as innocent as I thought she should be. Her story took off from there.
Stephanie: I don't know anyone who wouldn't be interested in that part of our country's history. What else are you writing? What's next for Tifani Clark?
Tifani: I have three stand-alone books that I've been sitting on for a while. They are all YA Suspense novels without any paranormal aspects. I grew up in a small town and all three books take place in rural areas of Montana, Idaho, and Arizona. It felt completely comfortable and natural to write them. I also have an idea for a women's fiction that might be the next idea to make it onto paper.
Stephanie: How does your life influence what you write?
Tifani: Like I mentioned earlier, I grew up in a small town and many of my characters have as well. I feel like I can relate to them. I don't purposely pattern characters after people I know, but sometimes they resemble people from my real life.
That makes sense. I find a lot of my characters are based on people I know. Some I model on purpose and others just come out organically on the page and then I realize later that they are based on someone I know. Thank you so much Tifani for taking the time to do this interview and I can't wait to read Haven's Waiting.
Fifteen-year-old Jamie Peters is a Soul Saver. She helps ghosts finish their business and move on. When a mysterious map comes into her possession, she knows a new adventure is waiting. With the help of her friends, Peter and Camille, she follows the map. Her friends hope to find treasure, but Jamie suspects there is more to the map than riches. She never imagined the map would lead her to Haven—and a book of spells.
Haven Mills was accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Unlike the other women hung during the trials, Haven wasn’t as innocent as she claimed to be. In one moment of weakness and desperation, she did something sinister—something that has been bringing evil to the world for centuries.
Jamie promises to help Haven, but the reality of what that promise entails comes back to haunt her as she fights not only for Haven’s soul, but for her own as well.
IMPORTANT LINKS FOR AUTHOR TIFANI CLARK
Haven Waiting on Amazon
Shadow of a Life on Amazon
Haven Waiting Blog Tour (and my blog)
Stephanie N. Pitman, Author
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