Interview: Jen Malone, MG & YA Author

JenniferMalone1 - Version 2Jen Malone is a middle grade and YA author whose debut novel AT YOUR SERVICE publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X in August 2014. Jen is a recovering world traveler who spent her early career planning movie premieres for Hollywood celebrities. These days she caters to a much more demanding clientele: her identical twin boys and their little sister. Luckily her husband handles all the cooking, but he loses some points for not agreeing to a pet hedgehog.

You can visit Jen online at www.jenmalonewrites.com.

Let’s see how Jen answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Pajamas. the fuzzier, the better. The proportion of time writers get to spend in them factored largely into my choice of career paths.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Wait, just one? Yikes! I’m way too complicated for that. I’ll give you a favorite mellow one and a favorite upbeat one, how about that? Favorite mellow one: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. I’d like to think I heard it before the Shrek credits because that would make me way deeper and possibly even hip, but… probably not. Favorite upbeat song is Sweet Home Alabama. Likely my first time hearing it was at a dueling piano bar which, right away, gives it bonus points! This song makes me happy dance and sing loudly in my car.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to play the guitar like a boss (if I could do it while speaking fluent Italian, all the better). I took a few months of lessons a few years ago, but did you guys know you have to put real, actual work into mastering a musical instrument? Yeah, me neither. So now I’m back to just wishing I would magically wake up with this talent and/or that the nice people at ChordBuddy would make a version for left-handers. Someone start a petition, please!

On what occasion do you lie?
Um…young children of mine, if you’re reading this, Mommy never, ever, ever lies because lying is so very wrong and would also land me on Santa’s naughty list. If Mommy WERE to lie, it would probably be to get out of going somewhere she committed to before realizing pajamas would not be an acceptable dress code.

cvr9781481402835_9781481402835_hrWhat is your present state of mind?
Controlled Chaos.

What is your motto?
Be vulnerable.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Roll-with-it-iveness (that’s totally a word, right?). I’m an introverted extrovert, which means that sometimes I get itchy to be out and about, scheduling coffees and workouts, and write-ups galore, but other times I retreat to my cave and wait for all that over-stimulation to pass. My closest friends are those who alternatively understand when I go radio silent and also harass me to get back out in the world!

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Just. Just. Just. Also… just.

Your favorite painting?
At the moment, it is one done by the very talented Kate Birch. Oddly enough, I had it pinned at Ballard Designs to buy for such a long time and never got around to pulling the trigger. One day it disappeared from their site, which made me all kinds of sad. Then, probably more than a year later, I followed a debut author on Twitter and noticed that her wallpaper on her Twitter page matched the painting (it’s still there at @katejarvikbirch). When I DM’d her to compliment her awesome taste in art, she wrote back to say that SHE was the artist. Not only that but she insisted on sending me a print of the very painting I’d drooled over at Ballard Designs. And a week later it showed up in my mail. She wouldn’t even accept payment because that’s how fantastic she is. Now the print is framed and hanging in my bedroom and every time I look at it (in addition to admiring it) I’m reminded of the magic of serendipity and the ways of the universe and ALSO of how freaking awesome members of the kidlit community are. Not bad for one painting!

What is your favorite journey?
Easy peasy. When I was twenty-three I had a round-the-world plane ticket that let me stop as many times as I wanted as long as I continued moving in a westward direction. By the way, these tickets cost less than your average European plane ticket and are freaking awesome. So I took off on a solo round-the-world trip that took my to forty-four countries in the span of ten months. I tried to get by on  $25 a day to stretch my savings as long as possible, which led to quite a few adventures in frugality, including one unfortunate night spent catching sleep in an ATM booth during the Running of the Bulls in Spain.

When I ran out of money, I took a job strolling the beach in southern Portugal, peddling sunset cruise tickets to visiting Brits. But my favorite part of my favorite journey would have to be Nepal, where I bore witness to a funeral pyre on the river and was awakened every night by New Orleans jazz band fronted wedding processions through the streets. My takeaway from that trip is that 99% of the people in this world are decent and caring individuals who will go out of their way to help a total stranger. The rest are douchcanoes, but they can suck it.

What is your favorite time of day?
About fifteen minutes after the sun goes down. I love the indigo color the sky turns and the sense of the world tucking itself in for the night. Though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my second favorite part is the moment the school bus pulls away from my house each morning and I flip on my computer.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Jo March from Little Women. Does everyone say her? How could they not. We’d talk books for hours and then we’d co-author a gossip article on Amy for the Pickwick Portfolios. Then she could dish to me on how I could best win over Teddy.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Totally serious answer on this one: I need to see my kids through the teenage years and into adulthood. I mega-love reading children’s literature, but all those dead parents and scarred-for-life main characters really freak me out.

Who or what is your first love?
Barry Manilow. I wish I was kidding, but I’m definitely not AND I have the fan club membership card to prove it. I was also totally convinced he would wait for my five-year-old self to reach marrying age. Turns out he did, but also turns out, I’m not his type:)

What’s the last dream you remember?
Last night I dreamt I had lice because, just before bed, I read a notice in my daughter’s backpack that a child in her class had been sent home with it. The mere mention of those critters had me scratching my head like crazy.

What’s your madeleine?
A wooden beam in my grandparent’s beach cottage in Maine that has been used as a homemade growth chart for four generations. I love seeing all those little tick marks with the names and years scribbled next to them.  Adding each summer’s new growth spurts on there is such an affirmation of the present and a poignant acknowledgement of the past. Plus, I never fail to smile at the marker with “Lou Ferrigno” at the tip top of the beam because it captures my dad’s sense of humor perfectly.

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

Interview: Lincoln Agnew, Illustrator

AGNEW_BIO_PICLincoln Agnew is an award winning artist who holds degrees in both design and photography.  He has worked with numerous clients including Time, ESPN, Penguin, Candlewick, Random House and Le Monde.

9780803736948_p0_v1_s260x420I never had the best grades in school, I left that to my sister.  Therefore, if I wanted any attention for my academic accomplishments I needed to rely on my limited artistic ability. Not so much for drawing, more so to turn an “F” into a “B” and a “C into a “Congratulations, your son is a genius!” 

On the weekends he likes to drink milk, eat crayons and dress up like dead rockstars.

His latest book RUNAWAY TOMATO will be released by Penguin in June 2014.

Keep up with Lincoln on his website.

006.MAIN_STREET_BLEEDLet’s see how Lincoln answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
The progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
“With or Without You” by U2.  This answer has very little to do with the quality of the song and a whole lot to do with nostalgic innocence of what i thought love must be like.  I’m not sure when i heard it first but i’m guessing it involved an awkward school dance, low self esteem and a non-alocholic beverage.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Musician.  Not in a “rockstar” sorta way, more in a “sit by the campfire with some friends” sorta deal.  I imagine at one point somebody might ask, “Hey… do you know With Or Without You by U2?”  followed by slow dancing at arms length and an uncontrollable craving for McDonald’s Orange Drink.

H&H_HOLD_ONOn what occasion do you lie?
On the rare occasion that I am caught.

What is your present state of mind?
Sow.

What is your motto?
Don’t sweat the technique.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Kindness.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“See, what Bono means here is that he can’t live with or without you”

“No, I will not turn it down.”

“Yes, i know this is a place of business.”

“Please don’t break my ghetto blaster”

“Yes, i have heard of iPods.”

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Hobbes.

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo (1512)

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo (1512)

Your favorite painting?
Sistine Chapel. Hands down the most beautiful painting in the history of eye sight.

What is your favorite journey?
The Hero’s.

What is your favorite time of day?
Dusk through dawn.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I am happy right now.

Who or what is your first love?
004.PLAIN_LAYOUTCatherine Bach.

Oh wait….”IS” not “WAS”…. ummmm…. er…. nope, still Catherine Bach.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Flying over oceans, petting whales, seeing my house from here.

What’s your madeleine?
Mix Tapes.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
NOW!

Interview: Chanel Cleeton, NA Author

AuthorPhoto copyChanel Cleeton writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.

An avid reader and hopeless romantic, Chanel is happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband. Chanel loves to travel and is currently living an adventure in South Korea.

Keep up with Chanel on her website.

Let’s see how Chanel answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
My idea of happiness is feeling peace in my life. I’m never happier than when I’m at home with my husband and three dogs. I’ve learned that there’s so much in life that is unnecessary and so much that you can’t control. I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by the people I love the most and that’s really all that matters. If you add in a good book, it’s my perfect day :)

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I have way too many to list just one, but if I had to go by my iTunes playlist, my most played song is “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey. The first time I heard it was in an episode of Gossip Girl. Chuck was apologizing to Blair for pretty much everything and this song was so perfect for the moment. Honestly, a huge chunk of my library comes from Gossip Girl episodes. Besides being an awesome show, it really had some great music :) The second I heard the song I bought it. I love the lyrics. It’s so beautiful and full of emotion. I play it a lot when I’m writing and it really inspires me.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I want to be the best writer I can be.

On what occasion do you lie?
I hate lying and normally try to avoid it. That said, I also hate confrontation so I do tend to lie when I feel the truth could hurt someone. Sometimes I think that’s a good quality, but other times I wish I could be a little more honest and direct. I’m working on it :) The only exception is that I never lie to my husband. I’m a really firm believer in total honesty in marriage. Sometimes it’s tough to do, but trust is built on honesty and open communication. Without trust you don’t really have a relationship.

What is your present state of mind?
Stressed :) I’m a little over a month away from my book release and it has been a crazy ride. Preparing for your debut is a lot of fun and excitement, but it’s also a TON of work. Even with my crazy lists I’m still always forgetting something.

What is your motto?
Go big or go home.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
I love friends who are easygoing. I’m really not of fan of drama and I have a hard time dealing with pettiness. I love friends that you can just totally be yourself with. Friends who won’t be upset if life gets crazy and you lose touch for a bit.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
In writing, the word “okay” (seriously, such a boring crutch word- no idea why I use it so much).

In life, words like “fabulous,” “amazing,” etc. I tend to gush when I’m excited:)

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Your favorite painting?
That’s a hard one. It’s a tie between Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. I love Starry Night because there’s just something so breathtaking about it. It represents the ultimate adventure. The Kiss is SO romantic and full of passion. They both have a dreamlike quality to them.

What is your favorite journey?
The one I’m on right now :) This year has been a crazy one- full of lots of changes. I graduated law school, moved to South Korea, and signed a two-book deal with Harlequin. Through all of these life changes I’ve learned so much about myself and my priorities in life. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

What is your favorite time of day?
Evening. I’m a total night owl :)

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Probably Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. Her character is so witty and clever, she would be such an entertaining person to share a coffee with. She’s probably my favorite literary heroine.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I would like to be a mom. I want to watch my kids grow up and watch them have babies of their own. I can easily envision what my husband and I will be like when grow older and I’m looking forward to a long and happy life with my family.

I SEE LONDON COVERWho or what is your first love?
London is probably my first love. I moved there when I was seventeen and it was the biggest dream of my life. The years I lived there were some of the best years of my life. I found myself in London and I will always love it.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I never remember my dreams. I’m always envious of people who can describe these really vivid dreams. I wish I could have a cool plot for a book appear to me in a dream, but so far I’m still waiting :)

What’s your madeleine?
Honestly, I think my book, I SEE LONDON is my madeleine :) I miss London so much. I miss it daily. Writing I SEE LONDON gave me the ability to travel back in time and relive some of my memories. I got to write about my favorite places in the city and at times I felt like I was transported there. Of all my books this one will always have a special place in my heart for that reason. It really is my love letter to London.

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