My author guest this week is the lovely Yvonne Woon!
Her debut book 'Dead Beautiful' left me captivated and I am extremely eager to read the sequel, 'Life Eternal'.
I hope you all enjoy getting to know the author and her books via this interview.
Make sure you check out the contest at the end and you could win a copy of Dead Beautiful
Amber - Welcome back to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here as a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your second book, Life Eternal?
Yvonne – Life Eternal takes Renée and Dante’s story and twists it. Renée has changed—she looks differently, she feels differently, and she has strange visions of people just before they die. Dante has changed, too, though she barely gets a chance to see him before she is sent to a boarding school in Montreal, Canada. There she learns of an ancient sisterhood, and the century-old secret they were trying to protect. She follows the trail, trying to unearth the past, but ends up finding a lot more buried there than she imagined . . .
Amber - How did you come up with the idea for the Dead Beautiful? Was
it a long process or did it just come to you?
Yvonne – I came up with it while I was in grad school. I was in the library, reading a book by Descartes for class when my mind started to drift, and I began to wonder what the world might be like if the theories I was reading about were actually true. What would happen if the body and soul were separate? If the soul lived forever? Dante and Renée came naturally from that, and I slowly filled in the rest.
Amber - Dead Beautiful could have been just a one off story. Was it hard to write a second book and keep things going?
Yvonne – It was hard. I had always planned on writing a second book, so I had the plot in mind, but even though I knew what was going to happen, it was still difficult to make Life Eternal read like a fresh story. I didn’t want the sequel to just pick up where Dead Beautiful left off; I wanted the sequel to have it’s own unique tone and feeling. That was the hardest part—making the characters and the world feel new. I hope I succeeded.
Amber - How do you pick the names for your characters? Do they have any special meanings?
Yvonne – They do! Well, some do. Renée, Dante—they were both named for very specific reasons, which readers of Dead Beautiful will know. For the others, I tried to choose names that would somehow evoke their characteristics. Clementine LaGuerre was one of those, as was Noah Fontaine. Though I have to admit that many of the passing characters I named after my friends!
Amber - What kind of research have you done for your books? Anything interesting or is the research boring?
Yvonne – I’m actually quite lazy when it comes to research; I think that’s why I like fiction—because I can use a bit of fact, and make the rest up. For Dead Beautiful, I read a decent amount of philosophy: Descartes, Plato. I also tried to teach myself Latin, though that lasted about one week before I gave up. For Life Eternal, I went to Montreal and traveled around the city (which is the best kind of research!), and did some *very* light reading on 19th and 20th century French history.
Amber - Did you always wanted to be an author? Why did you pick Young Adult & paranormal?
Yvonne – I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, though I never imagined I would write Young Adult books. I always grew up wanting to write comedy or science fiction—all for adults. It wasn’t until I was graduate school for fiction that the idea even crossed my mind to write YA. It was over winter vacation, and I was bored with my short stories for school, and decided to write a horror-romance, just for fun. A few weeks later, I had the first few chapters of a book that would later become Dead Beautiful. I sent it to my friend, who was working at literary agency at the time, and by the time I was back in school, he had sold it. So I sort of just fell into it, and have been writing for YA ever since.
Amber - How much say do you have in the book publishing process? Eg. Do you get to pick the cover, title?
Yvonne – I have the last say on everything, and I suppose I could give more input if I wanted to, though so far, I haven’t been very involved. I vetoed a few covers before Hyperion designed the final Dead Beautiful cover. I wasn’t involved at all in designing the Life Eternal cover, other than approving it at the end. I don’t know much about art and design, so I try to leave that to the art directors, who have done a great job so far. As for the titles, I brainstormed with my agent to come up with Dead Beautiful, and then with my editor to come up with Life Eternal. Everything else I try not to micromanage, as the thing I’m best at is putting words together.
Amber - I am sure that being an author has its ups and downs. What experiences have you had so far?
Yvonne – For me, there are far more ups than downs. Most days, I feel so lucky that I can just roll out of bed, go to my desk with a cup of tea, and start working. And the work is to make up stories, which is (I think) the best job in the world. The hardest part about it is being alone all day. It’s a very solitary profession.
Amber - There has been quite a wait between the first and second books. Will there be more books in the series and will we have such a long wait again?
Yvonne – I know . . . I’m sorry! I’m a slow writer. It takes me a long time to piece the plots together, and then an equally long time to write the novel. I’ve always envied writers who can get words on the page quickly, without feeling too much anxiety. Speaking of which, I’m in the middle of writing the third and final book of the series now. I don’t have a working title yet, or a release date but I’m guessing it will be released in fall/winter of 2013. This is all to say that I apologize in advance for another long wait, though I think the final book will not disappoint.
Amber - What are you listening and watching lately? Is there any music or other media that influences your writing?
Yvonne – I think the main media influence on my writing is music. I always listen to classical music while I write. It helps me set the mood. Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Stravinsky and Philip Glass, though I also have Tchaikovsky, Liszt, and Bach on rotation. I also love watching dramatic television series—I think they’re really good lessons in how to plot and how to build characters and a storyline. Some of my all time favorites are The Wire and Friday Night Lights.
Amber - What books do you enjoy reading? Do you have any favourite authors/series?
Yvonne – Oh gosh. I think I’m going to have to be boring and admit that Harry Potter is probably my favorite series of all time. I also love the Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, and anything by Junot Diaz or Kurt Vonnegut.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Yvonne – I wish I could say I’d be a fierce lady centaur or something, but I think I’m a lot closer to a witch, especially one that’s a bit crafty and evil. The thing about writing is that it isn’t that different from witchcraft. You always have to have tricks up your sleeve. Casting spells, spinning plots of deception, cursing people into tragedy and trying to control the future—these are things I spend a lot of time doing (in my books!) already.
Amber - Thank you so much for being on the blog! I hope you will stop by again sometime!
Would you like to win a copy of Dead Beautiful?
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