Please help me welcome author Em Shotwell to the blog today 🙂 She’s agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her writing. I also think you’ll enjoy learning about her release BLACKBIRD SUMMER 🙂 The cover is awesome, and so is the blurb and excerpt.
Grab a copy today and don’t forget to enter her wonderful giveaway!
Let’s get started …
Tell us about yourself tweet style 🙂 That’s right, you get 140 characters!
Night owl. Coffee & Redbull addict. Mama. Wife. Sister. Friend. Pizza destroyer. Foster care advocate.& I write books about lovable weirdos!
Awesome, you packed a lot of info in there! What’s the last food you ate that had bacon in it?
Probably just bacon, lol. Does that count? We go through way, way too much bacon at the Shotwell house!
Bacon is amazing no matter how you eat it! What are 3 goals you have for 2016?
Learn to balance my time.
Finish my current WIP.
Make healthier decisions (like laying off of the bacon and caffeine, Lol)
lol. I hear you about making healthier decisions! When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I have always wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember, but I never thought that it was something that was a real possibility. I started really taking the goal of writing a book seriously in 2013. I wrote a several articles for magazines (one a national publication) that managed to get published—and that gave me the confidence to pursue writing fiction.
I love naming my characters. Tell me how you came up with the character names in Blackbird Summer.
I absolutely love naming characters. Choosing the name of my MC was easy. Tallulah was on my list of baby names if I ever had a daughter. Two little boys later, and I realized that if I ever wanted to use the name it would have to be for a character in my book.
As for my other characters, well, I am a huge plotter. I have character profiles and back story that never made it into my actual book. Once I have a sense for the character as a person, it is easy to name them. My husband teases me that I give everyone “old people” names.
What was your first reaction when you saw the book cover for Blackbird Summer?
It was so different than anything I had pictured in my mind, that I was stunned—but in a totally good way. I love how the girl, Tallulah, is sitting under the tree staring off the page at something that we, the readers, cannot see. For me, it invokes that creepy feeling the seems to take hold for no apparent reason when you are home alone. When you know you are perfectly safe—but the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, anyway. Blackbird Summer is a story of first love, but it is also about fighting for your place in a world that fears you for being different. I think my cover does a great job of conveying that feeling.
Do you prefer to write with music playing, the tv on, or peace and quiet?
I am so super A.D.D. I do best if it is absolutely quiet or with some faint background music. I can’t get anything done with the T.V. on, it is just too hard for me to focus. Usually, I will turn on some music to get my mind in the right place, but when I actually start writing, I will turn it way down.
Why do you write the genre you do?
Believe it or not, my first outline for Blackbird Summer was straight contemporary. Magic just kept seeping into the story. Finally, I gave in. I think magical realism is such a fun genre. It takes our everyday world and interjects the impossible. As long as I don’t break my own rules, then anything can (and usually does) happen.
Who was the first person you told when you were contracted for Blackbird Summer?
I was sitting on my couch, checking my emails while my kids were watching Doctor Who. So my sons were the first ones to hear about the offered contract. The first person that I called was my husband.
Care to share what you’re working on now?
Certainly! I have the sequel to Blackbird Summer outlined, and plan on starting it as soon as I wrap up my current project. The planned sequel will give us a better look at things through Delia’s eyes. I am excited about this because she seems to be many people’s favorite character. I can’t say too much because of spoilers—but there are several characters who maybe made bad choices in Blackbird Summer that we shouldn’t all together write off as bad.
What I am working on at the moment is actually a women’s fiction story with the slightest touch of magic. It is about a girl whose entire world is uprooted and turned upside down because of a decision her mom makes. The book explores how one bad decision can change a person’s entire life, and even change who they become. It sounds ominous, but the heroine of the story is a lot of fun. She has a no-nonsense snarky attitude that I adore.
RANDOM FUN: FINISH THIS SENTENCE
The last vacation I took … was to Pensacola Florida.
My car is … a wreck! I should really clean it out.
The next book on my tbr pile is … the latest Patricia Briggs novel, FIRE TOUCHED. I got it for my birthday and can’t wait to start it!
I will never … say no to cheesecake (even though I have a dairy allergy).
My favorite movie is … aahhh! I don’t know! I know that is terrible—but my Dad owned a video store when I was growing up, so I have so many favorites. My favorite is probably The Princess Bride…although I adore Guardians of the Galaxy.
Dessert should always … be served first and never skipped.
When people fear the unknown, being Gifted is a curse.
In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.
No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.
An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.
Again, I waited for the laughter. Instead, Logan nodded, encouraging me to continue, and I realized that while part of me may have wanted him to bolt, but mostly, I really, really wanted to trust him.
I took a sip of my water to wet my dry throat. “So there’s my Grandma. Hers is the most important Gift. It is called Vigour, and it is pretty rare. Death and sickness are slower in her presence. She even ages slower. It drives my Mama crazy that Grandma has less wrinkles than she does. She’s also why our fruit trees are able to produce all year, and why our produce stand never has to close for the season.”
I plunged ahead, afraid that if I gave Logan one second of a chance, that I’d get that laugh or snide comment I’d been waiting on earlier. “Speaking of Mama, she can talk to birds. Crows are the chattiest, always gossiping and getting on her nerves. Daddy can call down the weather. He’s been known to shield the town from a few close calls with tornados. My sister Delia, and also my cousin Jack, they are Charmers. With a little eye contact they can convince anybody of anything.” I paused, looking down to my hands and smiling. “When we were little, Delia was always stealing candy. If a store clerk saw her, she’d just smile at them straight in the eye, and they would smile back, letting her take whatever she wanted. It’s also the reason Myrtle is so scared of her—but that’s a story for another time. I have a cousin who can see two minutes into your future just by touching you, and an Aunt who can—”
I stopped talking, suddenly aware that Logan was staring at me, open-mouthed. “Look, I know it sounds crazy. I do. But I swear I am telling you the truth.”
Here it comes, I thought, suddenly aware of how much his rejection would sting. I’d shared too much. Now it felt personal.
“I didn’t say that I think you are lying. It’s just— it’s a lot. What about you? What’s your Gift, Tallulah?” He asked, straight-faced. The look made me suspicious, fearful the skepticism was coming.
“Mine isn’t that clear cut. But it’s another reason—on quite a long list—of why this has to be our one and only date.”
Logan narrowed his eyes. “That I don’t understand. If I said that I believe what you are saying, then why couldn’t we at least have a chance at getting to know each other? Let’s just say that I bought into all this,” he said. “That I believe you come from some kind of motley band of rural super heroes—then why would I need to stay away? I would know what I was signing up for.”
I smiled. Motley band of rural super heroes…
“You believe me?” I asked. The possibility never occurred to me, not really. I had never, not once even imagined that he would believe me at face value. I mean, I’d hoped it. Really hoped. And I knew he would hear the rumors, but to an outsider they would sound like small town legend. It was actually something that my family had counted on over the years. One of the ways that we remained hidden in plain sight.
Logan shrugged. “I think I do,” he paused. “What if I told you I had my own secret? That there was something that I never really talked about because it made me sound crazy?”
I stared at him, my eyes narrowing. What could he possibly have to say, after hearing about my family, that he wouldn’t want to say for fear of sounding crazy? I think I had just covered enough crazy for the both us.
Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer with City Owl Press. She believes the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that the smallest towns often hide the biggest secrets.
Em’s characters will bless your heart between sips of sweet tea- but be warned! There is often more to them than meets the eye. She loves to craft stories around outcasts and weirdos with a spark of magic and a penchant for finding trouble.
She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. When she isn’t writing about misfits and oddballs, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten year old.