Today, I have once more the chance to present you an amazing author which I maybe wouldn´t have found if I wouldn´t be blogging. Please welcome Anne Osterlund, writer of YA books "Aurelia" and "Academy 7"!
I had the honor of asking Anne a few of my sometimes very nosy questions and she was kind enough to answer every single one of them! So, without any further ado, give it up for Anne!
Can you describe Academy 7 in your own words?
Yes. Here is my personal pitch, the one I wrote before I even had an editor:
AERIN is a scarred fugitive in search of a better life. DANE is a self-destructive rebel driven by revenge. Despite her defensiveness and his pent-up anger, they quickly establish themselves as the top new students at the most prestigious school in the universe. But they must strip away their inner barriers and brave the scalding secrets of the past in order to meet the true challenge of Academy 7.
Is it a stand-alone book or the first in a series?
I would love for there to be more! In my head, Academy 7 is the first of a trilogy. But we will have to see if enough people love Aerin and Dane’s story as much as I do.
Why do you write Young Adult books?
Because I love to read young adult books: Tamora Pierce, S.E. Hinton, Ann Rinaldi, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, John Marsden, Sally Watson, and on and on and on.
I love YA because the characters, like most teenagers, have minds of their own. They make their own decisions and their own mistakes. They don’t have to be happy. Or funny. They’re free to express an entire range of emotions. They get in trouble and change their minds and have the ability to grow. They don’t know everything. And they don’t know they don’t know everything. And there is always hope.
Are the ideas for your books something you deliberately choose, or do the stories just come to you?
Both. At first they just come. I sit down at a notebook and start writing. Sometimes from a writing exercise, but often just cold. And the story comes. I write the first line. The next line comes from that and the next from that. Sometimes this will bring me all the way through a chapter or three. By which point, I usually have to stop scribbling and do something else. Which means, if there’s a story there, the rest works itself out in my head.
Later, I deliberately choose which one of the umpteen stories in my head I would like to try to get published.
Who is your favorite character from your own books?
What are you trying to do? Start a war within my head?
Which book was the hardest to write?
Oh, they are all challenging. For different reasons.
With Aurelia, my first book, which is a young adult fantasy about a princess who should not be a princess (think Cinderella inside out and with an assassination plot), I had to learn how to revise. So there were pages and pages and pages that had to be cut. And then umpteen pages that had to be fleshed out. None of which I realized was going to be necessary. I still do all this work, but now I know what to expect.
Academy 7 was intense. Dane and Aerin are so traumatized that nothing is ever easy. It’s like, how much emotional baggage do you have to carry with you just to describe a room? But with Aerin, there’s a lot.
Exile, the sequel to Aurelia, was an odyssey. Literally. Most of it is a journey. Remind me to try to avoid journeys in the future. I love to build build build a chapter toward its climax. And then leap forward in time. You can’t do this with an odyssey! Because the characters are forever having to say goodbye. But we made it! And oh, there is quite the glory in reaching the desert!
And Salvation, that’s the book I’m writing now. Well, it turns out Salva is stubborn. I just spent six days trying to convince him to go home. And mission accomplished! But it required a little divine intervention.
Do you do a lot of research for your books?
This depends upon the book and the genre. My first book, Aurelia, and its sequel, Exile, require a lot of research because they are set a world roughly similar to our 18th century. For them, I spend a lot of time checking details online. I’ve also been known to call up family members and hound them with vital questions like “How would someone in the 1700’s pitch a canvas tent in a sandstorm?” and “Can you plunge a sword under someone’s ribcage and up into their heart?”
For Academy 7, which is set in the future, online research would be next to useless, because you simply can’t type in “Space Ship, 5021” and find out how one works.
Can you share something about any upcoming books of yours? A little teaser or hint? Or just a tiny detail? :)
Sure. The pitch for Exile, which is coming out in April:
Exiled. From the weight of others’ expectations, the responsibilities of being crown princess, and the pressure to marry, AURELIA is finally free to travel the kingdom and meet the people of Tyralt. If only ROBERT, her expedition guide, would stop pestering her about her safety and just kiss her. But then their journey erupts in a fiery conflagration, and with both of their lives and the fate of the kingdom at stake, she and Robert must determine whether they have the strength, and the will, to complete their mission. And face the darker side of exile.
And the pitch for Salvation which comes out the following year:
SALVA (Salvador) RESENDEZ is at god a Liberty High School. Quarterback. National Honor Society Member. ASB President. His Mexican immigrant family has high expectations, and Salva is prepared to fulfill them—mostly—but what he really wants is to blend in with his friends and enjoy his senior year. A goal bound for destruction when an asinine requirement forces him into AP English with the teacher from hell. And with walking disaster area, BETH COURANT. Who may be his salvation. But what neither Salva nor Beth knows is that the cost of salvation is mortality.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Music, books, TV shows, or real life?
My characters introduce themselves. When I first met Aurelia, on a yellow notepad, she was complaining about being stuck at a party with an itching ankle. Aerin, on the other hand, was gazing in a mirror, removing her headband, and contemplating the vast question of whether she could scrub away the person she had been in order to become someone different. And Salva, well, he was checking out the pretty girl at church. All my characters have their own voices. My job is to listen.
A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or are they all purely fictional?
LOL, see above. My characters are always themselves.
What do you like most about being an author?
The characters, of course! And the discoveries. Every draft—every one—is full of discoveries. For example, yesterday I learned that Beth likes blueberry lemonade. I had no idea! Didn’t even know there was such a thing as blueberry lemonade until yesterday, but she is really quite fond of it.
And what annoys you?
Not being able to write all the time! Or at least as much as I would like.
Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?
I have far more ideas than I have time to write about them. That said, when I am working my way through a manuscript, it isn’t always fun or inspiring. I deal with the tougher sections in three main ways: 1. I have a scheduled time for writing, and I make myself stick with it. Generally, once I sit down, the section I have been worrying about works itself out. 2. I write down the questions I have been struggling with. I find that once I actually make myself write them down, I often know the answers. 3. I try researching about the topic with which I’m struggling. An hour or so on the internet or reading the encyclopedia can give me all kinds of ideas I did not know were available.
Tell us something about your favourites:
Tamora Pierce, Sharon Shinn, S.E. Hinton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Sally Watson, Walter Farley, and on and on and on . . .
Favourite paranormal creature?
Sheesh. That’s a new one! Actually, I LOVE Falkor, from The Neverending Story.
Favourite all time hero/heroine?
Favourite all time villain?
I have to say that Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is pretty purely evil. Though, of course, then there’s Cruella. Probably a toss up.
Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader?
Books! I spend all day typing on the computer. I don’t want to read on one.
Cats. Cats are always the number one priority. Especially a particularly stubborn one named Dance who likes to sit right on top of whatever page I’m revising.
( :) I can so understand that one. Remeber the furry and sleepy beast from my When I´m not Reading post on Wednesday? He likes to do that as well. Plus, he always tries to lie down on the keyboard of my computer.)
Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life?
When I was four I used to recite the Disney version of Peter Pan and Captain Hook to anyone who would listen. In third grade, I read the real book. I’ve read it countless times since then, including twice for my students. And a few years ago, I forced my sister to drive several hours off the main tourist route in Scotland just so we could go to Kirriemuir, James Barrie’s birthplace. Which, by the way, was fabulous! We found The Little White Bird at one of the bookstores. We saw the desk where he wrote Peter Pan. And the Wendy house! We got to see the Wendy house!
Was being an author something you´ve always wanted or did it just happen?
LOL, well, I wanted to be an author. And a teacher and a singer and a gymnast and a figure skater and an actress and a circus performer. So, sure, you could say I’ve always wanted it. And no, it definitely didn’t just happen. I took off a full year from teaching in order to revise Aurelia and learn how to submit to publishers. Writing is a huge commitment.
What are you reading at the moment?
Ivy by Julie Hearn. And Senrid by Sherwood Smith, which sadly, was left on my best friend’s coffee table last weekend, and is therefore—I hope!—in the mail.
What are you planning to read?
A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist, followed by Catching Fire, Twice a Prince, and Rules of Attraction.
What are you waiting for to be released?
For Mockingjay, of course. And Mastiff by Tamora Pierce, though what I REALLY want is the book that comes after The Will of the Empress.
And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?
Come visit! The opening scenes from Aurelia and Academy 7 are posted on the excerpt pages of my website: www.anneosterlund.com
And the cover photo for Exile is coming soon!
You can find me at my site or on my blog: http://anneosterlund.blogspot.com
Thank you Anne so much for stopping by my blog and answering my questions! It´s been such a pleasure!