The Debut Dish: Laurel Gale and Lindsay Francis Brambles (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 27, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 3 Comments

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale
September 29, 2015 from Crown Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship – and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.

Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.

Together they investigate the mysterious Meera – a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.

The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Funny, sweet, but also maggoty.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Dead Boy has a lot of adventure in it, but it also has plenty of heart and more than a little dark humor. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun middle grade read. (Okay, I’d recommend it to anyone period, but I’m possibly just a tiny bit biased.)

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Having such a talented artist illustrate the things that used to exist only in my heart.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My feet.

Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles
October 1, 2015 from Switch Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alternate history dystopian mystery mashup.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It would be pretentious of me to suggest I’ve written something that is unlike anything else out there, but if you enjoy a book with a plot that contains numerous unexpected twists and turns, that makes you think it’s going in one direction and then unexpectedly yanks you in another, then this may be the book for you. It’s an alternate history where the path that history took during World War II is markedly different from that of our own world, resulting in a dystopian setting in which the main character, Sophie Harkness, gets drawn into a mystery and conspiracy generations deep — one that has at its core a secret that will shake the very foundations of her perceptions of the world she lives in.

I wrote Sophie to be seriously flawed; I wanted her to be believable. So she starts out a naïve, seventeen year old woman who has lived a somewhat cloistered life, and because of this she’s unprepared for what confronts her. As a consequence, she makes a lot of foolish, frustrating choices. But she’s also determined, stubborn, a bit impulsive, and full of a moral certainty as to how the world should work — all traits that work for her and against her. So if you want a book in which the main character is far from perfect and doesn’t end up perfect at the end but does end up altered by her experiences, then you should enjoy this.

BECOMING DARKNESS is a mashup of genres, so you not only get alternate history, but also dystopia, some vampire and gothic horror, a touch of romance, dashes of action-thriller and a healthy dollop of mystery. I was inspired by Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Philip K. Dick’s THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and real life events — including some elements of my own life. At the same time, I tried hard to make the book as original as possible. And while there’s nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes, I do hope readers will find this different from anything else they’ve read.

Of course, I also want people to get other things out of the book besides a rollercoaster ride of entertainment. I’d like it to challenge their notions of what is and isn’t morally right — without making that choice for them. If readers come away thinking about that sort of thing, then that’s great. However, I won’t be disappointed if they finish the book feeling nothing more than entertained. A book if successful, after all, should be many different things to many different people. Each reader will take away from it something uniquely personal. In that respect, the book becomes the reader’s and is no longer the writer’s.

As a writer, I don’t expect to change the world with a book. But if I can generate some sort of emotional response from a reader, then I’ll feel I’ve achieved something. Ultimately, I believe, that’s the objective of all art, regardless of form.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Well, of course, I’m new to all this, so I’ve had a lot of experiences in the last few years that have been pretty incredible. For me, from my relationship with my agent to my dealings with Switch Press, everything has been simply fantastic and a really joy. But hands down the greatest reward has to be the readers.

For years I basically wrote for myself and turned out a lot of books I never had any intention of seeking to publish because I just didn’t think them worthy. But after I finished BECOMING DARKNESS, I thought I finally had something others might actually like to read. So now that the book is out there and I’m getting feedback from people I don’t know (as opposed to friends and family), the feeling is sublime.

I realize that not everyone is going to like my book, but whenever someone does and expresses that, I am overwhelmed. Each time it happens, it’s like opening a present and finding inside the very thing you so passionately wished for. It makes all the long hours spent alone writing more than worth it.

The only thing that may come close to that is when I finally see my book sitting on the shelves at a bookstore. That’s a dream I’ve had since I was a kid, and I’ll definitely savor it. But the readers are still number one, and they should be. After all, what is a writer without readers? Readers make a writer who he/she is; they’re responsible for a writer’s success or failure — in the sense that once a book is released, it’s out of the writer’s hands and the readers have control. If they buy the book and like it, then as a writer I may get the chance to write another, which is what I really want to do.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I have a weakness for Reese’s Pieces. I’m afraid I could consume copious amounts of them if I wasn’t disciplined. Fortunately, I am (disciplined), otherwise I’d probably be the size of a house.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’d love to be able to say a tyrannosaurus rex tooth or a canopic jar from ancient Egypt or something equally intriguing, but it’s a little more mundane and considerably less exotic than either of those.

Right now my desk is littered with notebooks full of ideas and roughed out scenes, reference books, some electronic stuff, a soldering iron, and a toy tin rocket that’s a replica of one I had when I was about four years old. Not exactly a plethora of esoteric, so I guess the rocket would have to constitute the oddest of this lot.

The rocket is one you rev up by rolling it a few times on the ground, then let it go. When it hits the wall the metal probe at the tip triggers a release that makes the rocket stand upright on its fins. A door in the side pops open and a ladder comes down.

I’ve loved space since I can remember, and rockets have always been a big thing with me. That toy is a reminder of some great times I had as a child — a connection to a past I recall with increasing fondness as I get older.

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