Interview: Elle Daniels, Romance Author

Elle DanielsElle Daniels grew up in a quiet, suburban town in Central Massachusetts – a town so lacking in excitement she was forced to live vicariously through novels. One day, discontent with her reading options, she took the matter into her own hands. So began Elle’s journey into all things romantic and fantastical. Still in her early twenties, she remains in that same small town, tagging along with her heroes and heroines on their madcap adventures.

Her debut novel, Escape to Gretna Green, is the first of three regency romances set to be released in the Spring of 2014 with Grand Central’s Forever Line. It follows the adventures of Danielle Strafford, a noble woman living in the Regency period who resolutely believes in true love, as she assists the horrid and scarred Marcus Bradley, Marquis of Fleetwood, to kidnap a bride, rescue said girl from brigands, and fall in love with the very man she is supposed to hate–the rude Marquis himself.

More details can be found here.

Let’s see how Elle answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
A cup of coffee, a black ink pen, and college ruled paper.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I have a rather eclectic taste in music–from Black Veil Brides to Little Mix–so it’s hard for me to pick just ONE song as my favorite. What I like, I like. :) As for my “at the moment” song, it would have to be Runnin’ Out of Air by Love and Theft.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Playing the piano or speaking another language. Unfortunately, I don’t have the patience or time to learn either.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I was younger, I used to pin the blame for everything on my brothers and in my early teen years, I would lie to avoid drama with my friends. Nowadays, I really try to avoid lying. It always more trouble than it’s worth. I also won’t keep a secret that can be harmful to someone.

What is your present state of mind?
Contemplative.

What is your motto?
“Never Forget”–who you are, where you’re from and where you are going. I actually have this tattooed in German on my shoulder.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Honesty and Communication are pretty high up there. Also, some one who can appreciate my, often frequent, spaced out moments. It usually happens when I’ve thought of something for a book.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I mean” and “Ya know?” My dad always points them out when I’m talking to him. It drives both of us crazy.

Your favorite painting?
That’s tough. I love art and draw on occasion myself. The Kiss by Francesco Hayez and The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano are some of my favorite overtly romantic pieces. But my number one has to be the Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by the German artist Caspar David Friedrich (1818). It reminds me of the beginning of every story I write.

Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (1818)

Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (1818)

What is your favorite journey?
All the ones I want to take!

What is your favorite time of day?
Midnight, aka the Witching Hour. Everything is so quiet and still. It’s also the time I was born.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Dr. William Chester Minor, the man who contributed to the Oxford English Dictionary and a main character in the book The Professor and the Madman. He’s not a fictional character, but I feel like a conversation with him would be…eventful.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Writing full-time.

Who or what is your first love?
Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught. It was the first romance novel I ever read and I haven’t stop reading the genre yet.

What’s the last dream you remember?

Most of the time, I don’t remember my dreams. The only one that comes to mind is from years ago. I think I had watched Disney’s Tarzan before bed because in the dream, Tarzan and I were running through the jungle. Clayton–the bad guy who wants to sell the gorillas in the movie–was chasing us with his gun. Suddenly, Tarzan gets shot through the heart and turns to stone.

Yeah, I don’t really get it either.

What’s your madeleine?
The shower. Or even just sitting in the bathtub. It sounds weird, but I’ve gotten some of my best ideas there.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Unscripted.

Interview: K.M. Walton, YA Author

KMWalton (2)K. M. Walton is the author of Cracked (Simon Pulse ~ Simon & Schuster 2012), Empty (Simon Pulse ~ Simon & Schuster 1-1-2013) and the co-author of Teaching Numeracy: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking (Corwin Press 2011) for mathematics teachers K – 8. She is a graduate of West Chester University and a National Writing Project Fellow. As a former middle-school language-arts teacher she’s passionate about education and ending peer bullying. She gives school presentations on the topic “The Power of Human Kindness.” She lives in PA with her husband, two sons, cat, and turtle.

Find out more about K.M. Walton on her website, her S&S author page, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her blog. And follow her on Twitter!

Let’s see how K.M. answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is being okay with who you are, allowing yourself moments of pride for work accomplished, surrounding yourself with people you love and who love you back, and lots of laughter.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Jeff Buckley’s LOVER YOU SHOULD’VE COME OVER. It is one of those songs that I wouldn’t dream of turning off if played randomly. It’s haunting and magnificent. I had to have heard it from my husband, I’d say around ten years ago. Todd is into music more than any other human being I know.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’ve always wished I could skateboard, snowboard, and surf, because girls who know how to do those things are total badasses. I’ve tried all three, and, my reality means that things moving underneath my feet = major injury. To give you an idea, my first time attempting to ski ended up with me in a wheelchair for a week at school. My badassery must be cultivated in other ways.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I can word something in such a way that it won’t rip the other person’s heart out. However, a time I refuse to lie is if the lie would get me out of trouble. I’d rather tell the truth, face it head on, and move on with a clean conscience.

What is your present state of mind?
Anticipatory. Truthfully, there has been a consistent flow of anticipation running through my veins since as long as I can remember. I’m a dreamer and I tend to dream big. It feels like I’m always thinking about what’s next. I have to remind myself to enjoy the now, savor the fruits of my labor, be okay with where I am. I’m not very good at those things.

walton-CRACKEDWhat is your motto?
“If you want it, make it happen.” This motto came front and center during my two and a half year query journey. I racked up 148 agent rejections on three novels, but because I wanted “it”, I plowed onward. By “plowed onward” I mean: attended conferences, took classes, put my query and my first page out there for public flogging, researched anything and everything that could help me land an agent, created a mantra (It is my destiny to be a published author), and visualized. Yes I cried. Yes I felt defeated at times. Yes I gave up twice. But the wanting of “it” always rose to the top, fueling my drive. Whatever your “it” is, if you want it, make it happen!

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty. I am fiercely loyal – it’s the Scorpio in me – so when friend shows loyalty in the stickiest of situations, my heart soars. And on the flip side, when disloyalty rears its head, and I feel betrayed, it is very difficult for me to move on. It takes a long time for me to wrap my head around a friend or family member not showing me the same loyalty I would show them. It’s heartbreaking.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Amazing” and “Cool”. Weird fact: I don’t use the word “amazing” that often when I speak, however, it’s my go-to word in emails and blog posts. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself – at least they’re positive words.

K.M. Walton and Bam Margera

K.M. Walton and Bam Margera

Your favorite painting?
My most favorite recent painting is one painted by Bam Margera (yes, that Bam from Jackass and Viva La Bam). I’m a massive fan of modern abstract art and that’s what Bam has been painting. My husband and I got invited to an art show he had at his house, and I fell in love with the painting in the photograph, so I bought it. It’s hanging in our dining room and makes me happy every time I look at it.

What is your favorite journey?
The first time my husband and I went to Ireland. I know it’s cliche to say it was magical, but no other word describes it better. The sights, the lands, the people – incredible. My favorite place: The Cliffs of Moher. I had never been so awed by a place (it still holds the number on spot in my heart).

What is your favorite time of day?
Dusk at the beach. It’s perfection.

walton-EMPTYWith which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Judy Blume. I credit my love of contemporary fiction to her. As a teenager I devoured her books and was blown away their realness. As an adult, when I reflect on why her books affected me so deeply, I realize in addition to their realness, it was also their honesty. She didn’t hold things back. She was fearless in her storytelling. I strive to be the same in my books. I think I would most likely babble incoherently and blink a lot and spill coffee all over the table if I met her. I’m a spaz like that.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
For one of my books to have a feature review in Entertainment Weekly. Not one of the tiny, blurb-like reviews, oh no, the main one. I told you I dream big. This dream isn’t what you think though. I don’t want the review for the fame (the book fame would be a wonderful side effect though), I want the review because of my deep love for the magazine. See, I have read Entertainment Weekly since its first edition – I have crates in my garage filled with years and years of the magazine. Why? Because I love it so much. I have never missed reading a single week. So to see one of my books in my beloved EW would quite literally blow my mind.

Who or what is your first love?
My husband Todd. We met when I was nineteen – he was my next door neighbor in the dorm. I loved him then and I love him now, twenty six years later. We celebrate our twenty year wedding anniversary this summer. Yay for love.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Strange that this question is being asked today. I don’t remember my dreams that often, but I remember last night’s dream. It was of my dad and he gave me the biggest, tightest hug. I lost my dad to cancer when he was fifty-one, sixteen years ago. When I opened my eyes this morning I could see his face and feel his hug – he gave excellent hugs. I miss him.

What’s your madeleine?
Being handed Christmas ornaments to hang on a tree. The simple transference immediately takes me back to my childhood when my father would sit and hand out ornaments, one at a time, to each of his four daughters (me included). Christmas was steeped in traditions in our house, and the handing out of the ornaments was one. There wasn’t a mad dash, oh no, our tree decorating took time and thought.

The first Christmas after my father’s death, when my husband handed me a shiny red ball, I fell apart. The realization that my father would never again hand me an ornament crashed into me with a fierceness that only death can produce.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Happy.

Interview: John Corey Whaley, YA Author

John Corey Whaley is an American author of realistic fiction novels for young adults. His first novel, Where Things Come Back, was published by Atheneum Books in 2011 and won the Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association. Whaley was born and raised in Louisiana and splits his time between there and Los Angeles.

Visit him on his website.

JCWAuthorPicLet’s see how John Corey answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
My idea of happiness is right when I get a new idea for a story––especially when I think I’ll never come up with anything I like again. Then it hits me, some new, weird idea, and I become obsessed with finding a way to make it work.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Singing.

On what occasion do you lie?
On any occasion where lying spares someone else’s feelings.

What is your present state of mind?
I’ve just gotten done with revisions for my second novel, which has been a long time coming, so I’m relieved, but also nervous. I’m anxious to see how the risks I took with this new book, which is quite a departure from the last, pan out. Not anxious, actually. Terrified is more like it.

What is your motto?
Learn how to say no. The world expects more of you than you can give it, but if you learn how to say no without being a jerk, then it’s yours for the taking.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it? 
Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie. I’m obsessed with many songs, but no matter how many times I hear this one, I have to stop everything I’m doing and sing along with my eyes closed. I saw Death Cab in concert a couple of years ago just to hear it live. Of course it was the last song they played, but it was worth it.

The first time I heard it, I was in college and it came on my school’s local radio station and I was hooked.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Humor. If you can make me laugh, you’re my friend for life. Even if that laughter is sometimes at my expense.

wtcbpbfornjWhich words or phrases do you most overuse?
I say “cool” more than I should. I’m always afraid it makes me sound too young or stupid. And as much as I hate it, I use “like” when it’s completely unnecessary. In my writing, I overuse “just,” “maybe,” and “so.” My editor (just) has to circle them and I know exactly what I’ve done.

What is your favorite journey?
For so long, I felt like I wasn’t moving at all. College, teaching school, trying to get published. But now, this one I’m on right now since my first book came out, that’s my favorite journey. I hope it never ends.

What is your favorite time of day?
I like when it first gets dark out and the world gets just a little bit quieter.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. No question. 1) He would make me laugh 2) He would probably teach me more about writing and life in one chat than I’ve learned in 29 years of living, and 3) His is the one autograph I never got and always wanted.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
This one’s tough. I used to think it was being a published author. Then I thought it was being a full-time author. And even though these things have made me a LOT happier, I’m not sure I could die happy tomorrow. I think when I get to a place where I wake up every morning and feel as if there’s nothing left to say, then maybe I’ll be ready.

Who or what is your first love?
As much as I’d like to say books were my first love, because that would make me appear smarter, I can’t. Movies were my first and true love. And still are. I fell in love with storytelling because of my childhood preoccupation with movies and this pushed me toward books and writing.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai (1833)

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai (1833)

Your favorite painting?
Maybe it’s cliche or whatever, but I’ve always been in love with Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa. There’s just something about it. I get lost in it every time. I’ve still never seen it in person (because the Met never has it out when I’m there). But, I just added a scene with it in my next book so at least I’ll have it there.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Oddly enough, I was telling my editor about putting The Great Wave painting in my book and she was telling me she hated it. I’m serious.

What’s your madeleine?
Okay––there are these porcelain figurines that sit on a white, painted shelf at my grandparents’ house. And when you pick them up (if they haven’t been moved in a while), they make a little popping sound. I do it every time I go over there and have for as long as I remember.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Absurd.