Friday, November 10, 2017

Author Interview and Giveaway! With Emily Suvada and This Mortal Coil

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I have a new YA from Simon Pulse for you, This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada. She is offering a copy to one lucky follower in the US or Canada. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it click 'read more'.

About the book-
In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Author Interview-
1. Tell me about your book in your own words.

THIS MORTAL COIL is set two years after the outbreak of a plague that kills its victims by detonating their bodies into towering plumes of infectious mist that spread through the air, infecting everyone in a mile-wide radius. The majority of the population died in the outbreak, and most survivors now live in underground bunkers run by a shady organization called Cartaxus. Our heroine, Catarina, has been told by her father to stay away from Cartaxus at all costs. He was kidnapped by the organization during the outbreak, so she's spent two years surviving alone in a remote cabin in the Black Hills. Like her father, Catarina is a genehacker - in this world people have the ability to rewrite their DNA, downloading and using ‘apps’ to change their bodies. You could download an app that will make your hair grow in blue, or sprout feathers from your back, or hack your metabolism to digest grass like a rabbit. Catarina's father was taken to "code" them a vaccine, and is the world's last hope for an end to the plague. When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with the news that her father has coded a vaccine, but that only Catarina can decrypt it, she embarks on a journey across the country to release the vaccine and end the plague.

2. What is your writing process like?
For novels, it's awful - just awful. I've tried to change it, but I'm starting to accept that this is just how it is. I tend to write my novels at least three times - each time sticking to a similar skeleton, but changing almost all of the text. Plot points from the third act move to the first, characters and threads appear and disappear - tightening the structure and adding more exciting content in every time. And then I have a huge amount of editing to do once I'm happy with a draft - small-scale revisions where I might rewrite whole scenes or chapters. I take structure, pace and foreshadowing really seriously, and most of my rewriting is my way of finding more exciting ways to present every new piece of information, or make my scenes and transitions work better. My drafts are clunky, lacking voice and atmosphere, but then I throw myself into line editing and somewhere along the way the book just kind of... appears. I don't recommend my process to anyone!

3. How do you balance daily life with writing?
Well, I'm lucky enough to be a full-time author as of recently, but this is a question I'm still trying to answer. I've been on deadline at the same time that This Mortal Coil is releasing, so lately I haven't really been able to maintain much of a balance - writing is my life. My husband is incredible, and he's the only reason I haven't melted into a pool of stress. However, I'm hopeful that I'll be able to work out more of a balance soon. One thing that makes a huge difference is that my husband and I take one day a week off, as "fun day" where we'll ride our bikes to a cafe or out along a trail, get a meal out and watch a movie. That one day off a week can make a huge difference.

4. What about your publishing journey?
It's been a journey! This Mortal Coil isn't my first novel - I wrote one several years back that has since been 'trunked'. I started writing in 2011, and I decided early on that I was writing to get published. I wasn't very good, but I found a critique partner, and joined writing groups, and slowly improved. The concept for This Mortal Coil had been in my mind for a while, but I thought it was too wild to sell. However, when my first novel didn't work out, I decided to just go for it, and wrote This Mortal Coil as a passion project. When I queried it, I sent it to my now-agent, DongWon Song, who said he stayed up until 2am reading it. That was when I had a feeling it was going to work out! We went through a big revision together, then a smaller line-edit, and then submitted it. Two weeks later, I got a call from him to say we had a pre-empt on the table from Simon Pulse, and after some quick negotiations we were sold! Since then, the book found a wonderful UK and Commonwealth home with Puffin, and my edits with my publishers were a wonderful experience. Now I'm working on the sequel!

5. Do you have advice for aspiring writers?
Don't spend too long on your first book. Even if it is publishable, it probably isn't anywhere near the quality you'll be demanding of yourself in the future. Take it as a learning experience and move on. Open it up in a couple of years and you'll see what I mean. Also - find critique partners and groups. Giving critique is as useful as receiving it, and every step you can take to thicken your skin and understand that your book can be better, and that other people are the key required to make it better, is to the good. If you want to be published, you need to learn to think of the reader constantly - will this scene bore them? Do they care about this plot element? Have they seen enough of your character's good side to like them? When they've had a long day and have Netflix waiting for them - why should they bother continuing with your book? It's a mindset that can be hard to put yourself in, because you're no longer writing for yourself - you're writing for readers you've never met. It's hard. But books are for readers, not writers! Don't let yourself forget that.

6. For fun- 
What was your favorite book growing up?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Salted caramel

Favorite candy bar?
Milky Way!


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