Alexandra Adornetto: Angel Aficionado (Part 2)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post:

ME:  So Alex, what should we expect from Book 2 in the Halo series?

AA: A lot more action and drama! As you can tell from the title (Hades) Book II is a bit darker in terms of themes and part of it takes place in Hell. There will also be a big twist at the end, but I have to keep that a secret!

ME: Halo has a definite romance to it – what do you believe are the elements of writing a good romance story?

AA: I think having personal experience of dating, physical attraction and heartbreak are very useful tools for writers to draw on in a romance novel. Usually, in all good romances, the protagonists are desperately in love with one another, but there are obstacles which have to be overcome before the lovers can be together. These obstacles test their commitment and add tension to the story. There is usually a threat or some imperfection in an otherwise perfect scenario. I think that’s what makes a good romance, the struggle for two people to be together in the face of any adversity. 

ME: Some think that angels are just trending, the same way vampires are. What do you say to that?

AA: Well everything has phases of popularity. I think the supernatural genre in general will always have a strong appeal. Anne Rice originally drew people to the idea of vampires and then Stephanie Meyer brought it back into fashion. JK Rowling rekindled our interest in magic. The same thing is happening with angels right now. But in five years it could be zombies or mermaids that dominate the scene.

Now for the most important questions…

ME: Best smell in the world is?

AA: My Chihuahua Tinkerbelle after I’ve just given her a bubble-bath. Otherwise she smells pretty bad.

ME: Your favourite curse word, that isn’t actually a curse word?

AA: Hell and fudge.

ME: OK, it’s the ‘if you were alone on a desert island’ question…which 3 books would you take with you, and why?

AA: “Wuthering Heights” because it’s an all time favourite, “Peter Pan” because then I could pretend I’m a lost boy and the Bible because it would keep me occupied and offer some hope of getting off the island!

ME: Which character from Shakespeare is most like you and why?

AA: Probably Juliet, given the way she falls in love so quickly. I tend to think with my heart not my head just like her.

ME: Savoury or sweet?

AA: Definitely savoury. I love anything salty.

ME: Favourite TV show as a child?

AA: The one with the hippos called George and Martha. Can’t remember what it was called…actually I think it was called George and Martha. 

ME: What do you think about the future of e-books? Should we embrace them; will they take over the world; should we stage a rebellion on behalf of poor paper- and hardbacks?

AA: It really depends on the person. For some people e-books will never replace the feeling of holding a book in your hands, but for those who for use the internet regularly and don’t have time to sit down with a book then it works really well.

ME: Tell us one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you.

AA: Probably my taste in music. I’m a huge fan of old-school American country music (outlaw country/Bakersfield sound.) I love artists like Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, David Allan Coe and Johnny Cash. I play it 24/7 at my house and it really gets me the right mood to write.

ME:So what’s next for Alexandra Adornetto?

AA: At the moment I’m working on HADES and HEAVEN, the next two books in the HALO series. But I’m passionate about acting and performing so I would love to pursue that in the future. 

ME: Imagine you had a very specific time machine that could only take you ten years into the future. Describe what you see of yourself, and what you’re doing.

AA: Hopefully married with children and working as an actor/writer. I’d like to live on a ranch in Nashville or Austin, Texas and have a horse named Brandy.

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If you’d like to keep tabs on Alex, you can check out her Facebook page. I’ll also be doing a book review on Halo here in the near future, where Alex will also be talking about her gruelling tour routine in the U.S.! Thanks to Alex for her valuable time, and HarperCollins for the opportunity!

Alexandra Adornetto: Angel Aficionado (Part 1)

This girl really needs no introduction, but I’ll give her one anyway. Way back in 2006, publishing giant HarperCollins took to the ‘slushpile’, gave some attention to a 14 year old’s unsolicited manuscript – and the rest is history.

My, how things have changed … they grow up so fast, don’t they? Now, with the Strangest Adventures series under her belt, Alex has hitched her writing harness to a very different idea with Halo, a YA fiction focusing on a bunch of angels who get in touch with their ‘human’ side.

ME: Hi Alex, thanks for the fabulous opportunity to chat to you about your upcoming novel, Halo, and letting readers in on what’s happening in your life at the moment. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being ‘not very’ and 10 being ‘super, uber’) – how excited are you to have Halo published and ready for the public?

AA: Um…11? Super-uber excited sounds about right. I’ve been working on the HALO project with my publishers for a long time now and it’s been a very intense process. We’ve gone through so many different drafts of the manuscript and numerous cover ideas, so it’s wonderful to finally have the book out there on the shelves. 

ME: What’s the biggest difference this time around as compared to your first publishing experience with The Strangest Adventures trilogy?

AA: HALO is a YA novel and completely different to my first series. I’ve also been in the publishing industry for five years now so I’m familiar with all the processes. I’m working more closely with my publishers in terms of marketing and promotion as well as the editorial side of things. I’m writing as a teenager about the world of teenagers – that is the biggest difference.

ME: For all the potential readers out there who haven’t had a chance to learn what Halo’s all about, let them know…in limerick form:

AA: Three angels descend from above  

They represent heaven’s white dove

But the youngest one

Who God may now shun

Goes and falls head over heels in love….with a human

 That last bit doesn’t really fit but it’s essential to the plot-line! A battle between heaven and hell breaks out and Bethany and Xavier (our two lovers) are caught in the crossfire. 

ME: Bethany, as the protagonist, is what I’d politely term as a ‘goody-two-shoes’. She’s incredibly sensible most of the time – did you have someone in mind as you wrote her character? Was there a sense that your character should be a good role model for YA readers, for instance?

AA: Bethany is actually based on me (apart from that fact that’s she’s an angel) so I guess that makes me a goody-two-shoes! I’m a teenager so it’s not hard for me to imagine the life that Beth finds herself thrown into. In fact, most of her feelings for Xavier and her interactions with family and friends are based on my own personal experiences. Being a teenager is a time of drama and heightened emotion and I’ve tried to convey that to my readers.  

ME: What made you decide to go against the grain, and write about angels that are actually, erm, angelic?

AA: I had a religious upbringing so in my mind I view angels as classic, righteous, biblical creatures, who are both graceful but also formidable when they want to be. To me, fallen angels are too similar to the idea of vampires. I wanted to stick to the classic ideas of Heaven and Hell that I’m familiar with and I find that the bible is an amazing reference-point. Throughout history angels have been icons of hope and salvation. They’ve been used in literature, art and film and I think they’re very powerful symbols.

ME: You’ve been fairly outspoken in the media in the last couple of years about your political/ religious/ personal views – how do you feel about the myriad of reactions you’ve received in relation to those articles, and does it deter you from voicing publicly any ‘controversial’ opinions in the future?

AA: I realise that I have fairly conservative beliefs and they’re not going to be shared by everyone. There have been some very strong reactions to my articles, but I think those people forget that I am only expressing my personal opinion on various subjects. I am definitely not deterred from expressing my beliefs – we all have a right to do that.
***

I like a girl who speaks her mind! Itching for more, blog readers? I promise you Part 2 tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled!

Angels versus Vampires – Alexandra Adornetto Weighs In

You may remember me discussing author Alexandra Adornetto’s new YA book Halo in an older post – and now Halo is released in Australia! Whoohoo! Check it out here.

 Since Halo signifies a rather grand departure from her Strangest Adventures days, I thought it might be nice to have Alex’s thoughts on the celestial beings occupying her brain…particularly since that other paranormal author Anne Rice has totally blown her cover and ruined my theory altogether (erm, thanks Anne).

So what does Alex think of angels in teen literature? Are they the next big thing…or has it already happened?

AA: Angels in teen literature are being hailed as the new vampires but that’s not entirely true. After all, they are two entirely different creatures. Vampires were once human; angels have never been human. Whilst vampires have a deadly and seductive nature – angels embody perfection to which humans can only aspire.

I think the current interest in angels reflects an interest in the paranormal in general. Angels have always been fascinating celestial beings who make appearances in the Bible to either deliver earth shattering news or warnings. They act as mediators between God and those on earth. Any being that transcends the limitations of mortality is bound to fascinate us.

HALO explores what happens when angels are sent to live and interact with humans on a daily basis. It describes the intensity of human emotions and how that can impact on these creatures that are supposedly completely impartial and detached from anything that might interfere with their heavenly duty. The aim of the novel is to show that humans can be so complex and so enthralling that even an angel falls in love with one.

Me: I’ve been definitely noticing a turn from the ‘dark angels’ idea to characters which are more ‘heavenly’ . Do you think this change represents a transformation in the YA generation’s psyche? A need to be closer to God, or religion/spirituality in general, perhaps?

AA: I think we’ve had a huge surge of vampire novels recently where the primary themes are blood, sex and violence. Maybe readers are just ready for a change. Also, I think there’s something refreshing about a book that doesn’t spell impending doom for all of humanity. Messages of hope and redemption are really important for young people. I think we all have a spiritual side, whether we associate it with religious belief or not and that’s what I’m trying to tap into.

***

Stay tuned for my extended interview with Alex, where we talk all things Halo…and random other stuff.

Interview with Charlotte McConaghy (Part 2)

One thing I love about Charlotte, writer of the Strangers of Paragor series, is that she doesn’t shy away from being totally girly and romantic. Book 2 of the series was released just last month, I was fortunate enough to read it, and I came away dreaming about faraway lands and dashing princes. But for the boys (and the more violent-natured femmes among us) there’s a stack of adventure and some rather bloodlusty scenes as well…

Charlotte, in Descent, the six Strangers are reunited. Why did you decide to reunite them in Book 2 of the Strangers of Paragor, halfway through, rather than at the end (Book 3) or at the very beginning (Book 1)?

For starters, I didn’t want too many characters in the first book, otherwise it becomes hard for the reader to keep track of them – there’s already quite a few! And by bringing Jack and Mia into the second book, it still gives us characters we can relate to without feeling like everyone has just settled in and knows what’s going on. They couldn’t come in too late though, because then they wouldn’t be properly involved in the bigger story-line that runs through books 2, 3 and 4.

What can readers expect from the all-important book 3? Any spoilers you can give us?

Think: Angels!! Books 3 and 4 are going to have a much bigger focus on the archangels, and the Strangers’ connection to them. A big spoiler…. One of the main characters is actually going to become an angel! The books are also very relationship-py, because by that stage everyone has become totally embroiled in each other’s dramas – lots of ‘will they get together or won’t they?’ ‘who will end up with who?’ and ‘who is going to get married?’

Hooray for angels! *clearly loves angels* Do you believe angels are the new vampires? Why/why not?

Yeah, I think we can move into the angel phase – it’s the same concept – an immortal/inhuman creature with human-like features and emotions is hot. Simple as that. Creatures that can do cool stuff (like flying or being super strong) are just more fun to read about. And people are going to get sick of vampires eventually. Pretty soon there will be something else altogether – after angels my prediction is faeries. I’m loving the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr about dark and violent faeries who feed off dark emotion – very creepy, very cool.

I seriously need to read some Melissa Marr. If she’s anything like Holly Black, I am so in. What books are on your bedside table?

I just finished Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead which was cool. I love heroines who can kick butt. I reread all of Guy Gavriel Kay’s stuff whenever I can’t find anything else to read (he’s an adult fantasy writer). I looooove The Time Traveler’s Wife – most romantic book in the world.

Oh I know. I don’t think the movie did it justice, even though Eric Bana was pretty attractive as Henry! What about your favourite fantasy movie, and why:

I love ‘Hero’, ‘House of Flying Daggers’ and all those gorgeous Asian cinema films because they’re so beautiful and romantic and full of courage and passion and betrayal. I love Tristan and Isolde for its romance. Lord of the Rings, of course. More recently: Avatar, no matter what people say about it. And I love 300 because I’m really into Greek history and mythology.

Like I said last piece, it’s like you stole my movie brain. THIS IS SPARTA!!….
Funny you didn’t talk about the Twilight movies based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, especially with Eclipse blowing the box office to bits lately. A little birdy told me you’re addicted to the Twilight series …what do you think makes them so popular? Should they be elevated to ‘classic’ status?

Actually I’m not that fussed about them – I enjoyed them when I read them, but wouldn’t say I’m addicted. She’s done awesomely for herself though – good on her! However I definitely don’t think they should be classics – there’s heaps of other teen lit that’s just as good, if not better.

***

Again, Charlotte, agreed. Stay tuned for the final interview post with Miss McConaghy – apparently she’s sick of working retail!

Interview with Charlaine Harris (Part 2) – Angels Versus Vampires, and Life After Sookie

So we’re back with Charlaine Harris, chatting about her phenomenal bestsellers widely known as the Sookie Stackhouse novels, with her tenth in the series, Dead in the Family, released in Australia this month. Charlaine will be coming to Oz towards the end of September as a special guest at the Hub Productions True Blood events in Sydney and Melbourne. She’ll also be doing an author tour after that, details to be confirmed. To stay up-to-date on the haps, you can check out Hub Productions website, or Charlaine’s website.

Ok, cough it up Charlaine – where do you get the inspiration for all the hot love-interest supes (supernaturals)? Are Bill, and Sam and Eric all based on friends of yours? And I warn you that if you answer ‘yes’ be prepared for an invasion of lusty readers to your home town (Bill’s mine, ladies)!

Like most love interests in novels, all the men and women have a kernel of truth in them and a lot of fantasy.

A rather large perceived difference between most vampire novels out at the moment, and your vampire series, is that the female protagonist usually has to struggle with the temptation of becoming a paranormal being. I can’t see Sookie as a vampire myself, but do you think she could ever be truly tempted?

I think health and eternal life are always a bit tempting, but Sookie will never become a vampire.

The reader, in a way, has some of Sookie’s telepathic ability because we’re subjected to Sookie’s thoughts, emotions, dreams, weaknesses. Was there a particular reason you employed this voyeuristic technique?

It seemed the best way to tell Sookie’s story. I love knowing her so well.

You’ve been writing mysteries for decades, in fact you’ve been writing The Southern Vampire Mysteries series for about ten years or so…any pieces of advice for budding writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. That’s the advice so many budding writers can’t seem to follow.

What books are on your bedside table?

I have a whole bookcase beside my bed, and it’s full of things I want to read.

What do you think about the whispers around the traps that angels are the new vampires? Will vampires outlive the angel trend, or do you think there’s enough room for both in the supernatural world?

First it was zombies, now angels. I think the writers who were just writing vampires because they were current will start writing angels or something else. There’s nothing wrong with that. W e all have to make a living. I’m fortunate enough to be able to write what I want, at least at the moment!

And what’s in store for Charlaine Harris after she finishes the Sookie Stackhouse Novels? A trip to some tropical island to soak up the sun (far away from vampires), perhaps?

I have no idea. I’ve been writing other books alternately with the Sookie series, and I’m sure I’ll write other things. I love Sookie, so I don’t want to keep writing her if I have nothing to say about her. I’ll stop when I feel that way.

Charlaine, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions. I think I speak for a huge number of readers when I say we’re all super excited to have you visit our shores, and hope you have an absolutely fabulous time while you’re here in September. And if you get to meet any, I hope our Aussie vampires live up to your standards!

I’m sure they’ll be delightful.

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Actually, you’re right about that Charlaine. A big, mushy thanks to Charlaine Harris, and Hachette Australia for the interview opportunity.