Saturday, July 20, 2013

Author Interview: Michelle Lowery Combs

Author Interview

Michelle Lowery Combs

I had the pleasure of reading Ms. Combs' YA novel HEIR OF THE LAMP, Book 1 in "The Genie Chronicles" series. HEIR TO THE LAMP by Michelle Lowery Combs is an exciting new spin on a genie tale. The characters are what made this story come to life for me. Virginia is a feisty main character who I would love to have as a friend. Each of Virginia’s siblings has a distinct personality and are relatable. The mystery that surrounds Virginia’s heritage drew me in instantly. The legend of “djinns” in history was captivating! I look forward to reading more of Ms. Combs’ work.

A family secret, a mysterious lamp, a dangerous Order with the mad desire to possess both. Ginn used to think she knew all there was to know about how she became adopted by parents whose #1 priority is to embarrass her with public displays of affection, but that changes when a single wish starts a never-ending parade of weirdness marching through her door the day she turns thirteen.

Gifted with a mysterious lamp and the missing pieces from her adoption story, Ginn tries to discover who…or what…she really is. That should be strange enough, but to top it off Ginn’s being hunted by the Order of the Grimoire, a secret society who’ll stop at nothing to harness the power of a real genie. Ginn struggles to stay one step ahead of the Grimms with the help of Rashmere, Guardian of the lamp and the most loyal friend a girl never knew she had. The Grimms are being helped, too—but by whom? As much as she doesn’t want to, Ginn’s beginning to question the motives of her long-time crush Caleb Scott and his connection to her newest, most dangerous enemy.


Interview with Michelle!
(My comments in red.)

Michelle Lowery Combs

When did you start writing Heir to the Lamp?
The entire first draft of Heir to the Lamp was written in 2009 in a couple of notebooks at my sons’ pee-wee football practices:  two hours per evening, four nights a week for four months that would have killed me with boredom had I not had a novel burning inside me to get out.  Some of the other parents must have thought that I was the most antisocial person they’d ever met.  I shudder to imagine what I looked like hunched over those notebooks scribbling like a mad woman. (I love this! I've felt the same way when I've been writing and other people are around!) 

What was your biggest motivator to finish the story?
I wanted the story to be complete for my children…something for them to read later in life and have a laugh because of all the little anecdotal stories of our family life I’d peppered into the broader adventure of a teenage genie.  I had no real goal of publication in the beginning.

How many drafts did you go through to get to the final product?
I did three complete rewrites—the first draft was in third person; the second in first, but included an ending that just kind of petered out with no real resolution; the third felt right and was very close to the final and published version.
Between rewrites I did a lot of revising:  I cut some characters, reworked scenes and dialogue.  The manuscript was rejected 13 times over three years, and every time I received a rejection letter I sat down with the work anew.  There was validity in each of those rejections, and I used them to make the story better.

Who is your favorite character in the story? Why?
I’d have to say Rashmere, main character Virginia’s guide and guardian of the lamp, is my favorite.  He’s thousands of years old and has witnessed the rise and fall of empires.  None of that has prepared him for 21st Century America, however.  He’s a loveable misfit that does everything in his power to prove himself to be the best friend a girl never knew she had.

What are your future plans for the book series?
In the second installment, Solomon’s Bell, Ginn is attempting to come to terms with her new identity, learning whom she can and can’t maintain a close relationship with as her true nature becomes known to more and more people, and all while confronting a new enemy—one older and more sinister than even the Order of the Grimoire! 

How does your family play into your story writing? (I have two boys and they enjoy helping me name characters and create “dire” situations for my main characters!)
(How fun!  Some of my children run screaming from the room whenever I want to talk plot.)  The Genie Chronicles series is heavily influenced by my family; we are as eclectic as Ginn’s family.  I have three biological children, two step-children, and maintain a close relationship with a now adult cousin that I informally adopted when he was a teen.  Each of these young people are represented as characters in the book and much of the banter, teasing and torment of one another that happens in the book can be witnessed on any given day around our house.
Similarly, Daddy’s Girl, another manuscript I’m working to complete, is largely based on my mother and her siblings, growing up in 1960’s Alabama in the years after their father’s sudden death.
I’m a “write what you know” writer for sure. 

Blue or pink?  Blue
Computer or Television? Television…on the computer.
Pizza or Potatoes?  Potatoes.  Having six children has ruined pizza for me…possibly forever.
Coke or Pepsi?  Coke
While writing: Noise or Silence?  Noise.  There’s nothing so deafening as silence when you’re accustomed to a houseful of kids.
Batman or Superman?  To date:  Superman.  He’s a journalist, after all, and smokin’ hot.  To be:  Batman.  He’s a billionaire with all those cool gadgets.
Summer or Winter?  Winter.  Summers in Alabama can be BRUTAL!
E-mail or Text?  Email.  I hate “text speak”. (Me too!!)
Mouse or touchpad?  Mouse.  I am 5’10” tall with giant, man-sized hands.  Touchpads hate me. (Ha! I'm 5'9" and I know what you mean! My hands are almost as big as my husband's.)
Science or English Literature?  I’m fascinated by science…so many potential story ideas there.  I also love English Literature, especially modern English Literature.  Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling are two of my favorite authors.
Mind control or invisibility?  Mind control.  I have teenagers. (Bahaha!)
Have a maid or have a gardener?  A maid.  I have teenagers.
Roller coasters or lazy river?  Lazy river—it’s like lolling in a giant bath tub.  The best!
Favorite Disney princess?  Rapunzel from Tangled—she isn’t looking to be rescued and actually saves her prince. (This is why she's awesome, folks!)

-Other questions of randomness-
Last movie you saw in the theater?  Oz the Great & Powerful
Last book you read?  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Last book you read that you cried while reading it?  This is Not a Drill by Beck McDowell
If you could dress up as anything, what would it be?  An expectant mother—no need to hold in your stomach when the world believes you’ve got a passenger in it.
The area of the bookstore you spend the most time in?  The children’s and Young Adult section.
What did you want to be when you grew up?  A teacher.
What is the next place you want to travel to?  New Orleans, Louisiana.

You can connect with Michelle on Twitter - @miclowery77.

Book Giveaway!
For the giveaway - one (1) free ebook of HEIR TO THE LAMP by Michelle Lowery Combs for the Kindle or Nook. Winner will be chosen by and will be contacted. If winner does not respond in 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. To enter: leave a blog post comment below! (Yep, it's that easy!)
(Giveaway now closed)

Comment on: if you had a genie, what would you wish for?

--WINNER IS: Leslie!--

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ATONE: A FAIRYTALE by Jessica Grey

The second book of the fairy tale trilogy by Jessica Grey is now available!



Becca Ward knows that magic is real...

Two years ago not only had she and her best friend Alex found a real-life Sleeping Beauty in the middle of Los Angeles, they also discovered that they were powerful in their own right. They’ve managed to keep both their fae powers and their friend Lilia’s identity as a medieval princess a secret and live a normal life. Now their normalcy is threatened by the return of their former advisor at the Gem and Mineral Museum—and Becca’s least favorite person, Nicholas Hunt.

...and she’s about to find out that more than one fairy tale is true.

Nicholas has been obsessed with proving Lilia’s identity and the existence of magic. While working on an archeology dig he discovered an ancient fae artifact—a mirror that is imbued with a powerful protection spell that twists his obsession, and his body, until he is more beast than man. In order to protect her friends, Becca is forced to help him, and she is surprised to find that in spite of his outward appearance, Nicholas is no longer the beast she remembers. Will she let herself be the beauty that breaks the curse, or will she let her prejudice against him stop her from discovering true love?

I just finished reading this book and I LOVED it! It's the right mix of fairy tale magic, strong female main character, and brooding man-turned-into-a-beast-with-smoldering-eyes. This story picks up two years after book 1 in the series (AWAKE: A FAIRYTALE). I'd recommend reading AWAKE first but you can read this one on its own. Grey has an amazing way with words and connecting the reader to emotions of the characters. Watching Becca and Nicholas fall in love but resisting it is heartbreaking but also SO great. ("The path of true love never did run smoothly" - Shakespeare) I love that Becca learns more about her magical fae abilities and seeks to use her abilities for good. There are also laugh out loud lines in the book. I really enjoy books that have that mix of fun with seriousness.

If you enjoy fairy tales set in our contemporary world, check out ATONE!