This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah Mandell will be awarding 5 of her handmade laser etched wooden pendants that she is launching as a new collection in conjunction with the release of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
What is the most memorable book you have read?
Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall. I bought it nearly 10 years ago to have something to occupy the time during a flight to visit family, and really enjoyed the story, but the reason it’s so memorable to me is because it’s the book that turned me into a bookworm. Prior to reading this book, I didn’t read for pleasure. I never liked to read growing up, and only did the minimal required reading in school to get by, but never for fun. I was in my mid twenties when I finally realized how much fun reading could be! Daughters of the North was such a quick read, and I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed it so much I finished it just a few days into the trip, and went out to buy another book by the same author (which was The Electric Michelangelo, also a very good read) so that I’d have something to do on the return flight home. Ever since then, I’ve read anywhere from 20 to 30 books each year. I’m making up for lost time!
If you could travel through time but could only go one way, would you choose the past or the future and why?
I’d choose to go forward in time, to the future. As much as I love history, and am always getting sucked in to learning about the past, I’m just a bit too curious about what’s to come. I’m not sure I’d like what I’d find, but even still, the unknown is just too tempting.
If you won a trip to a fantasy destination, where would you go?
I’d love to go to New Zealand for a few weeks. It looks so beautiful and almost unreal, and it’s one of those places you only get to go once, if you’re lucky. As much as I have enjoyed seeing Europe, and have a long list of places I’d like to go back to, I’d choose New Zealand for a fantasy vacation.
What did you want to be when you grew up? If you wanted to be a writer, what inspired that desire?
I wanted to be an interior designer when I grew up (which is what I do now!) and I never even considered being a writer until a few years ago. I caught the reading bug in my mid twenties, and started writing my own stories shortly after that. I was inspired to write because I finally felt it was time for all these stories I had floating around in my head to come out. As an only child, I always had stories bouncing around my head, it was how I entertained myself as a kid when my family took long road trips, so I had a lot of practice using my imagination!
What do you do to relax especially when writing is giving you a bit of trouble?
There’s a lot to be said for taking a long walk or going for a jog when your writing seems to be stuck. It really clears my mind! I also enjoy working with my hands, and spend a lot of time creating handmade items and art. All of these things are a great way to keep busy, and use a different part of my brain, so that when I got back to my writing later on, I have a whole new perspective.
If a genie granted you one wish free and clear, what would you wish for?
I’d wish to have my mom back. I didn’t get nearly enough time with her and I miss her every day.
What do you find is the most challenging part of writing?
The ending! For some reason, I’m always able to blast out 75% of a novel with little trouble, but the last part of the book is always a major struggle for me. I never like to have predictable endings, and I always want to throw in some unexpected twist, but at the same time, I know I need to tie up all the loose ends too. It’s a lot of pressure! I want to leave the reader with some satisfaction at the end of my books, but I also want to surprise them. That balance is no easy thing to achieve. For my first novel, Celia on the Run (2012, Untreed Reads), I had 75% of it done, and it took me 7 months of thinking about it before I knew how to end it. So frustrating! For my new novel, Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe, I didn’t have as nearly as much trouble, but it was a rare thing. I can’t begin to tell you how many unfinished manuscripts I have that are sitting here, waiting for an ending.
If you could invite any famous person over for dinner, who would that be and why?
This is a very selfish answer, but here goes: I’d invite director Rian Johnson to dinner so I pitch my new book to him, in the hopes he might use his incredible talent and turn my story into a movie. He’s the director of some of my favorite movies (The Brothers Bloom, Brick), and his style is a perfect fit for my quirky novel.
If you could invite any fictional character over for dinner, who would it be and why?
I’d invite Cy Parks from Sarah Hall’s The Electric Michelangelo to dinner, because I feel like I already know him. He’s like a long lost friend or something. The story is so well told, and the character development is incredibly deep, I really feel like I’ve been there with Cy his whole life, and he’s just a regular guy with a fascinating background. I’d want to hear more about his childhood in England, and about his time as a tattoo artist on Coney Island at the turn of the century, and about the girl he was enamored with who kept her horse in her apartment.
And last but not least a couple of favorite questions –
Favorite food: Sopa de Pollo
Favorite drink: Earl Gray tea
Favorite dessert: vanilla cupcake
Favorite place: Copenhagen, Denmark
Favorite genre: YA fiction
Favorite season: fall
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite TV show: Arrested Development
Favorite movie: Chocolat
Lost in Nebraska without a plan, clueless how to care for the ornery old beast in the back of the trailer, the well-meaning brothers stop to rest at an abandoned-looking barn. A pretty redhead with a snappy temperament and a shotgun discovers the boys and their sixteen-foot stowaway. Her name is Josephine, she lives on this farm with her father who is spoken of, but never seen, and her root cellar has more locks than a bank vault. She’s got a way with animals and plenty of secrets, not to mention the interest of two brothers who swore they’d never let some girl come between them.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Daniel and Dylan McElroy snapped their eyes open only to be blinded by a billion-watt flashlight aimed in their faces. It might as well have been the sun. They scrambled to their feet, unable to see who or what was behind that blazing white light. They shielded their faces, begging for mercy.
A female voice came from behind the painful brightness. She managed to get out, “What in the hell…” before the beam of light shifted upward, illuminating Millie’s unimpressed face. The giraffe’s long eyelashes blinked downward, inspecting the people below. Her nubby horns cast strange shadows on the ceiling of the barn.
While the beam of light from the girl’s torch shown upward still, locking Millie in the spotlight, Daniel got a good look at the person holding it. She was a teenager with fiery red hair all mussed up from sleep that fell well below her shoulder blades. Her eyes were pale in color, but he couldn’t be sure if they were blue or hazel in this severe lighting. She had delicate features, a snobby little nose, and a pair of pink lips parted in astonishment as she gazed upward at the out-of-place creature. This girl, a member of the Larsen family perhaps, was a pretty thing, but she was not in good spirits being woken in the middle of the night only to find two strange young men and a reticulated giraffe in her family’s barn. She had a shotgun at her side, which she now raised up and aimed at Dylan.
Daniel cleared his throat, ready to say just the right words to save young Dylan from certain death. Again. “We didn’t mean to cause no trouble,” Daniel explained, palms open with vulnerability. Daniel had always been the spokesperson when trouble found them, or more likely, when Dylan found trouble. He was the explainer of the mischievous pair.
“Am I hallucinating, or is that a giraffe?” the girl demanded to know.
“That?” Daniel asked, glancing upward in hopes she was referring to something else. “Uh. Yeah. That would be Millie. Millie the giraffe.”
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