Interview with M.J. Austin

February 3, 2015 Blog Tours, Interviews 0

Interview with M.J. AustinBright Fire by M.J. Austin
on 1-17-2015
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eBook
» Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Delfia thought she was a normal girl about to turn sixteen until her adoptive parents are murdered by creatures from the underworld. Her life gets thrown into chaos as she teams up with her best friend, a strange guy, and a prophetess. She soon discovers her biological father, Hades, ordered the attack on her and her family because a prophecy names her as the one to take him down. She must first complete a set of tasks to free Persephone, her mother, from the underworld and defeat Hades. Will she be reunited with her mother or will she get sucked into the underworld?

Interview

Can you talk a little about what the book is about?

The book is a YA fantasy novel that tells about the journey of a teenage girl, Delfia, on her quest to follow through with a prophecy. It’s Greek Mythology meets modern day times meets teen angst, with a little comedy thrown in.

What makes your book unique?

The book is unique in that it weaves in Greek Mythology with today. While the myths and legends back stories are similar to those in history, there are side stories and additions built onto them to fit with the plot.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I was actually in a YA underworld reading phase and read Everneath by Brodi Ashton and I thought, wow here is a book that takes certain aspects of mythology but completely different. It was like a spark, I wanted to take a previous set of stories and make them my own.

Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?

I want my readers to think, wow here is a normalish girl who was given not so great cards and carries on with her responsibilities.

How long did it take to write the book?

It took me quite a while. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears. Lots of tears.

Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?

My favorite character is Alec, mostly because he was a challenge. Writing a male character for me is tough.

Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?

I did do some outlining. First, I sit on my balcony with ear plugs and kind of daydream about the book in movie form. After that it’s pretty straight forward. I write snippets per scene and then expand on that. Definitely changes in directions. The entire ending changed once I realized I didn’t like the first one.

If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?

I would say probably the character Lyla. I love her don’t get me wrong. I just feel like she was in the background too much. I would loved to have had her personality grow more. Luckily I have more books I will be doing to remedy that.

How did you come up with the cover?

I held a contest on Freelancer.com. It was a disaster at first, some of them were god awful. I was so frustrated and then one contestant uploaded a semi-ok one and with direction everyone started uploading better ones.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’d say I’ve known since I was about 16. I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters. My older sister didn’t really have time for a little kid and my little sister is 10 years younger than me, so I spent a lot of time reading as a child. I love reading a book that pulls me in so deep that I feel everything, yah know. I want to give that to readers.

What was the first story that you ever wrote?

That I wrote? or that I finished? The first book I wrote was a biography of sorts. Then a book on freelancing. I am great with non-fiction. Bright Fire is my first fiction novel.

What is your favorite genre, and why?

YA Fantasy and crime/mystery are tied. YA because I love fantasy worlds and mythical characters. It brings a little magic into my day. I love mysteries because I cannot walk away from a puzzle.

Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
The number one book that inspired me in life is A Child Called It by David Pelzer. To see a human being suffer to the extreme and overcome what he did is awe inspiring and I can only hope to be one tenth of the awesome he is. My background is nowhere near as tragic, but I took the hard road and his story pushed me. The writer that inspired me the most to actually write is Amanda Hocking. Cliche I know, but she started from scratch with nothing but a story and just broke through the barriers of self publishing.

What are you working on next?

I am working on a novella revolving around Cass from the series. The working title is Prophetess. I am also working on book 2 of Bright Fire. I don’t have a title yet for that one.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

My advice would be to try, fail, try again, fail some more, and then succeed. I was so discouraged by the statistics of self publishing that I held off for way too long. While I am not a Best Seller, yet. Keyword being yet. I decided not to let fear hold me back and just try. At the end of the day as long as I can say I took the risk, I am happy.

How do you juggle writing with family time?

Wow, that’s a tough one. With a full time job, 3 kids, and a household, I have a hard time with getting in writing. I survive on caffeine, long nights, and ear plugs. During NaNoWriMo I feel like I didn’t see my family at all. Now I make sure I eat dinners with my family, spend time on homework, and I try to take at least half of the weekend just hanging out.

Excerpt

Mondays are the epitome of all evil. It’s just a fact.

Do you ever get those feelings deep in the pit of your stomach? The ones that make you feel all queasy and anxious? Well, that’s how I feel right now. I am standing at my locker at a way too early hour, and I am in Dragon Bitch mode; which is surprising because today is my birthday.
Normally, I love my birthday. I officially turn 16 at 11:59 tonight, and instead of reveling in the excitement, am I staring at my locker without really seeing it. I just keep trying to figure out what’s causing this annoying pinch in my stomach. I jump when I hear the locker next to mine slam shut.

Lyla.

“Jeez, Lyla,” I huff. “How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? Now excuse me while I find a doctor to remove my heart from my nasal passage.” I’m not in the mood for the early morning antics of Lyla Browning, even if she is my best friend.

“Soooorrry, but it seems to be the only way to get your attention. I say ‘Happy birthday, Dell’ and what do you do? You ignore me and stare at your locker. What is up with you?”

“Nothing, just a funny feeling.”

She eyes me for a minute, then shrugs her shoulders and in a matter-of-fact tone tells me, “It’s probably PMS.”

“Yeah, maybe I dunno…” I trail off, the feeling still bugging me. I understand that she is trying to snap me out of it so I muster up some enthusiasm and sing, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.”

She perks up instantly, and before I can clamp my hand over her mouth she starts bellowing out “Happy Birthday” in the middle of the hall that is seriously starting to fill up. By the time she finishes, everyone is staring at us, and my face is burning red.

“Aww come on, you love me and you know it,” she beams.

I smile because I do love her. Lyla and I have been best friends since forever. We first met in kindergarten when this little twerp, Zach Moreno, decided to pull my hair, and she punched him square in the nose.

We’ve been joined at the hip ever since then.

“But hey, you should be thrilled you’re turning 16.” she nudges me in the ribs a little.

“Yeah, I know, but my parents still won’t let me get my permit till I’m 18.”

“No offense, but your parents are a little…intense.” She says.

“What do you mean by that?” I ask getting a bit defensive.

“Well, it’s just that lately they seem to be taking your safety to the extreme. You can’t have sleepovers anymore, a car or a life. I mean it’s sweet that they care, but I thought parents got more lenient the older you get.” She fidgets with her wavy blond hair, afraid that she has gone too far.

The truth is she’s not wrong. My parents are great people, and I love them, but lately they have been too over-protective. When I ask them about it they just tell me, “the real world is full of dangers, kiddo.” and that’s the end of that conversation. “Yeah, I know, I’m sure that is just their way of showing me that they care.”

“By the way, are we still on for binge night Friday?” She sees right through my attempts to change the subject. Binge night has been happening every Friday since the 6th grade. We start off at the roller rink and end up at my place with a large bag of cheddar popcorn, candy, and cokes.

“Uh, duh.” She says rolling her eyes. She grabs her stuff out of her locker. “Come on, we have homeroom.”

I turn to grab my bag out of my locker when the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Everybody gets those feelings now and then, but it was so intense I had to shiver to shake it off.

“Dude, what is your problem? Take a picture it lasts longer.” Lyla clicks her tongue, her usual reaction when something annoys her.

I whirl around to see who she is talking to and meet the gray eyes of Alec Hales, who is staring at me intensely like he’s waiting for something to happen. He would be the hottest guy in school if he weren’t so weird. He continues to stare at me unabashed. I can’t help but stare back.

“Come on,” she grabs my arm. “This guy is freaking me out” She throws him the stink eye, and we head to class.

I spend the rest of the morning stumbling through class in a daze worried about that creepy stare. I’ve never seen anything like it.

What’s worse is that I’m pretty sure he’s the reason I had a chill that ranked 100 on the creep factor. OK, Dell get a grip, I tell myself as I walk into the cafeteria.

I do my normal scan and Lyla’s waiting for me at our usual table in the corner of the room, trays in tow. We are not the least popular students, but we are definitely not a part of the in-crowd. Lyla could be, but she sticks with me. Aside from her slightly crooked nose, she is the picture perfect replica of a Barbie doll, with her blond hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs. You get the picture. Me, on the other hand, my height is OK, not too short or too tall, but my drab brown hair and beanpole body are nothing special. The only thing I have going for me is my clear blue eyes. Lyla always calls them hypnotic.

“Ugggghhh,” she whines as she rolls her shoulders back and forth. “I think the teachers are secretly evil demons sent to torture teens with tests on Mondays. Seriously, who wants to take tests on Mondays?”

“Who wants to take tests at all?”

She throws a piece of lettuce at me. With a mouth full of food she asks, “What are your birthday plans?”

“Dinner with the family.”

“Same old, same old,” she laughs “maybe we can do something special for binge night like go shopping before the roller rink.”

“Yeah, that would be…” I trail off instantly when I feel the same eerie feeling I had by my locker. I lean into Lyla and whisper, “Is Alec staring at me?” She lifts her head up, and I pull her down. “Can’t you be discreet?” I hiss.

She subtly does a sweep of the cafeteria and relaxes, “Nope; nowhere in sight. Why do you ask?”

“I just got this creepy feeling earlier and again just now. I thought maybe it was his intense stare earlier.”

“Wow, I hope your weird doesn’t rub off on me. Do you think it happens to everyone when they turn 16?” she jokes.

I laugh half-heartedly unable to shake the strange feeling.

About M.J. Austin

M.J. Austin is the author of the Bright Fire series and NaNoWriMo 2014 winner. She has always found the world of fantasy preferable to the real world. She channels this love of mystical worlds and creatures into her writing. She is an avid reader and proud bookworm. She has a Master’s Degree in Project Management, but her true passion is writing.

When she isn’t working or writing she is diving into random projects as often as possible. She lives in Tennessee with three children, husband, and three dogs.

Comments are closed.