Thanks so much for having me, Gabbi! I'm thrilled to be here!
2) Before reading your book, I had never heard of hoodoo. How did you come across it?
I had already decided the book would have a pirate and would somehow feature the Gullah, but it had been years since I researched either back in college. In the midst of refreshing my knowledge about the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Gullah, I stumbled upon hoodoo and nearly jumped for joy! It felt like the universe had handed me this perfect combination of elements to write about. And bonus--no other YA books featured hoodoo at that time (this was waaayyy before Katie Crouch's The Magnolia League and its sequel, The White Glove War came out) so I knew I had to write about it.
3) What are three songs you feel best sum up CONJURE?
Without a doubt, Colbie Caillat's Bubbly perfectly sums up Emma Guthrie's feelings for Cooper Beaumont. I listened to that song about a million times when I was writing CONJURE just to make sure I knew exactly how he makes her feel. He's just about the perfect guy and boyfriend, so it totally makes sense that Emma would feel (as Colbie sings)...
I get the tingles in a silly place
It starts in my toes
And I crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes
I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while now
Just take your time
Wherever you go
~Bubbly, Colbie Caillat
Whenever I thought about the flashbacks that feature Bloody Bill Ransom, the 18th century pirate that committed the crimes that caused the heinous curses in the first place, I listened to The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil. There's something about that rhythm and Mick Jagger's snarling vocal that made me think of a lusty and very naughty pirate.
And for the final climax, I listened to Elton John's Someone Saved My Life Tonight. I love this song so much. I'm listening to it as I write this now. There's something so beautiful about this anthem that fits perfectly with the emotion I tried to instill in that scene.
4) What do you love most about Emma, Cooper, and Jack?
I love, love, love Emma's strength and determination to save those she loves. She risks everything for her brother, Jack and for Cooper, too and I can't imagine anything more heroic or admirable. And she's a kick-a$$ hoodoo apprentice, which is pretty dang cool.
I adore Cooper's pure heart. He's so good, and his destiny is so unspeakably horrible, you want Emma to do everything possible to save him from it. I know I'm rooting for her! And Cooper's rock hard abs and massive biceps don't hurt either.
Jack. Ah, my cocky, pain-in-the-butt, Jack. I know some folks get frustrated with him in this story, but I've got to be honest, I really love him. But that's because I understand what's happening to him throughout the novel so I cut him some slack. And I know that deep down inside that crusty, sometimes jerky exterior, he really loves Emma. He just doesn't have to show it as effusively because they're twins and he knows she'll always be there for him. Plus, he makes me laugh. I promise, you'll see a different side of Jack in CONJURE's sequel ALLURE which comes out in October 2013.
5) Do you have any writing rituals or must-haves to make the magic flow?
As sad as it sounds, I need to kick myself off the internet because I. CAN'T. RESIST. THE. INTERWEBS. Pathetic, I know. I had to buy the Freedom program (http://macfreedom.com) which is an "Internet blocking productivity software." Best ten bucks I ever spent. I also participate in #1k1hr writing sprints on Twitter to pound out words when I'm drafting a book. How do I get on Twitter when I've turned on the Freedom program, you ask? Simple, I log in on my iPhone! Hahaha! So I don't completely stay away from the Internet, but it's not nearly as easy as when I use my lap top. Finally, I need my Panera ice tea, otherwise known as my elixir of life.
6) Curses play a huge role in Conjure. If you could curse your arch nemesis, what kind of curse would you put on him/her?
Ooh, this is a diabolical question--I LOVE it! Um, let me think...uh, I've got nothing. Here's the thing. I don't think I actually have the stones to curse someone for real, thought there are a couple people I might make an exception for. *strokes chin menacingly like Uncle Olaf*
Seriously I think the worst thing that could ever happen is for someone to never know true love and contentment in their life. And for the most part, I think most people who suffer that fate usually bring it on themselves, which is more tragic than anything I could ever wish on them. So, I guess what I'm saying is that I tend to follow the motto of "live and let live" which sometimes also means "live and let people screw up their own lives."
7) Who are some authors that inspire you to write?
I love to read great prose. And by that I mean, reading, then re-reading and savoring specific lines and phrases, then feeling sick to my stomach because I know I'll never be as good. Two writers who do that to me are Maggie Stiefvater and Markus Zusak. I'm also madly in love with Meg Cabot, Tera Lynn Childs, Alyson Noel, and so many others I can't recall at this moment because you've put me on the spot.
8) Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
READ!!! There's no better teacher than a professionally edited book written by a fantastic writer. It will teach you the basics about mechanics but also how to structure a story, how to tap into emotions, how to create character and story arcs, etc. It's important to read widely within a genre and read lots of different things, too. Also, I highly recommend joining writer's organizations like the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Savvy Authors, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and their local affiliates and online special interest chapters. This is where you'll interface with a writing community, meet other writers, gain access to classes, critique partners and other workshops to further your writing craft and knowledge of the publishing business. And of course, WRITE!!! Don't let knuckleheads tell you that you can't. If your writing needs work, work at it, learn the tricks of the trade and you'll improve. But don't let anyone crush your dreams.
Thanks so much for having me! This was a blast!
Lea Nolan couldn’t read until the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it and quickly learned the best way to get out of doing chores was to tell her parents she was reading. Soon she was hooked, devouring books by Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis, and anything with a shiny Newberry Award sticker on the cover. Books provided a portal to enchanted lands where anything was possible and characters relied on their wits to wiggle out of sticky situations. Today, even though she’s all grown up, Lea writes the kinds of stories she sought as a teen--smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and spent fifteen years as a health policy analyst and researcher. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, who’ve figured out how to get out of doing their chores.
Series: The Hoodoo Apprentice #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Be careful what you search for...
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever. (Summary from Goodreads.com)