Raina Telgemeier is the author and illustrator of the graphic novels Smile, Drama, and Sisters, all #1 New York Times bestsellers. She also adapted and illustrated four graphic novel versions of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-sitters Club series, and has contributed short stories to many anthologies. Raina’s accolades include two Eisner Awards, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, a Stonewall Honor, and many Best Of and Notable lists. Her newest graphic novel is Ghosts. Raina lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake — and her own.
Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.
Oh boy, what do I say? I’m a freelance writer by day, a fantasy author by night, and a massive nerd all the time. I play lots of RPGs—mostly video games, although I am hoping to do more tabletop role playing this year—and read less books than I should, but more books than a lot of people I know.
What types of books do you write, and why?
I write alternate world fantasy, both YA and adult books, usually with a darker bent. Why I write these books is a bit more complicated. First and foremost, fantasy is the genre I’ve spent the most time in and these are the stories that pop into my head, often in my dreams. But when I’m building my world, fleshing out my characters and adding details to these stories I am also focusing on something bigger: challenging fantasy stereotypes.
To challenge these stereotypes I write strong female characters with true agency. I create worlds where strong women are accepted, not an anomaly. Many of these worlds also have very different attitudes towards sexuality, gender and relationships. Most importantly, I show my characters having a wide range of relationships, both sexual and otherwise.
All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.
From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.
Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.
Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.
Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.
Emily R. King is a reader of everything and a writer of fantasy. Born in Canada and raised in the USA, she has perfected the use of “eh” and “y’all” and uses both interchangeably. Shark advocate, consumer of gummy bears, and islander at heart, Emily’s greatest interests are her four children. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an active participant in her local writers’ community. She lives in Northern Utah with her family and their cantankerous cat.
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Visit Emily at emilyrking.com.
The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen Series Book 1)
by Emily R. King (Author)
In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.
As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood in the ancient Tarachand Empire, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.
But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.
Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.
Caroline Lentia is from the small European country Austria. She started writing when she was thirteen when a school-homework, a one page essay in German ended up as a twelve page fantasy story. Still full of ideas for this story she spent every day at home continuing to write and after four months several exercise books were full of fantasy worlds, aliens, kings and queens from other planets and mysterious creatures. Keep on reading!
E.V. Jones lives in Geneva, Illinois with her husband and 6 children. She was born and raised in Northlake, Illinois and is one of seven children. Her love for writing has followed her throughout her life as she started at a young age writing poems. Once she had children, her love for story telling went from making up bedtime stories when putting her kids to sleep at night, to inventing worlds and putting it on paper.
The writing of stories on paper though didn’t necessarily come with the intent of ever getting those stories published. This occurred due to her oldest son George, who was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder at age 7. Because this disorder most often will cause a delay in speech, it was her son’s teachers that suggested he write stories down and then practiced reading them out loud. Due to his delay in speech, writing stories and then telling them was a form of therapy. So, one to two nights a week, after putting her other children to bed, E.V. would write stories with George. Sometimes they would make up stories together, but most times they would just sit and write their own stories. She has always been drawn to Ireland, its customs and stories. From this fascination came the makings of The Clover. It was a short story that ended up taking on a life of its own years later, when out of the blue, it resurfaced in her mind and she pulled it out of her files on her computer. Characters were born from people she knew, assuming many of the characteristics, sayings, and physical attributes from those in her life. After almost a year of writing her story, The Wish was finished!
by E. V. Jones (Author)
The fate of two worlds rests on the shoulders of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary secret as an ancient evil is on the hunt for him and the final gift. The Wish is Book One of The Cloverleaf Chronicles, where family, bravery, magic, and Celtic lore mingle to reveal the dramatic adventures of Jack Shannahan, a teen whose life is changed forever because of a single wish.
Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost–a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world.
Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon’s Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the Dragon’s Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.
Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publishers Weekly and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost as well as many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Her books have also topped the USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and have been published in more than twenty countries.
A former fashion and beauty editor, Melissa has written for the New York Times, Marie Claire,Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, the San Francisco Chronicle,McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and Fox News.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from the Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English. Today she lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her husband and daughter.
Maneater: A Valdosta Pynes Novella (The Clean Blood Series Book 2)
by W. Charlene Ammons (Author)
Life as the undead ain’t always easy in the Big Easy. Just ask Valdosta Pynes…
After being turned into a vampire by a fallen angel, Valdosta left the only home she’d ever known to start her life over on the haunted streets of New Orleans. Using her Dark Gift to help others, she is hired as a hit woman by a shady organization known only as The Conservancy. While on a mission, Valdosta’s life takes a dramatic turn when the target of her assassination survives the attack. Now, not only is she at the top of Heaven’s terror watch list, she’s being tracked down by a seasoned investigator with a nose for blood, and stalked by werewolves who may or may not have her best interests in mind.
In Maneater, the much anticipated sequel to Absconder, W. Charlene Ammons lures the reader back into the world of Valdosta Pynes. Unlikely alliances will be formed, family secrets will be revealed, and Valdosta learns the preternatural, much like humans, are not always as they seem.
Q: What draws you to the Science Fiction & Fantasy / Horror Occult Genre?
A: I’ve always had a love for the strange and supernatural. I love the idea that life is not bound by just the things we see. I want to believe there’s more than just us, living here for 80 years and then going to nothingness. There must be something more.
One of the things I’m working on next is a steampunk children’s book dealing with time-travel. That’s something new to me, but I’ve always loved the idea of time travel…Ever since watching the show Quantum Leap as a kid.
As far as horror goes, I studied criminology in college and took a class on serial killers. I was obsessed with learning why they acted the way they did. My goal at the time was to become a profiler with the FBI. I wanted to be Clarice Starling. So, I suppose my roots into horror start there. After all, the real monsters are human, not some creature hiding under the bed.
Q. Where did the story Maneater come from?
Maneater is the sequel to the first novella I wrote, Absconder. In this second installment, the protagonist, Valdosta Pynes, moves to the big city in an attempt to hide from Heavenly assassins and to begin her life anew as a vampire.
I’d been playing with the idea of a sequel for some time after writing Absconder. Fans who read it said they wanted more. I thought I wanted to transform Valdosta from a run of the mill vampire to one who uses her strength to help those who were like her (abused). She wanted to be the hero she didn’t have. So, I created her as The Maneater.
I’d have to say that of all the stories I’ve written, Maneater is by far my favorite. It has a comic book, superhero quality to it, and that makes me very happy.
Q. Are Valdosta Pynes experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?
I think every character an author writes has a little bit of their souls tucked away in them; horcruxes if you will. As for Valdosta, her attitude toward life mirrors my own in so many ways. Some of the experiences with abuse hit home with me. In my former career, I was a law enforcement officer. I saw domestic violence first hand, far too often. Valdosta’s approach to eliminating crime is deviant, yet satisfies a need for all of us to see the bad guys receive an outlaw type of justice.
Q. Have you ever had a Paranormal experience or an encounter with the Dark Gift?
Unfortunately, no experiences with the Dark Gift, although I had a guy ask me one time if I was a vampire ;). I have, however, had several paranormal experiences. Some very strange things happened right after my father’s death. Pictures and clocks flying off the wall, some of my father’s belongings being moved, fans and lights turning off and on. I have no doubt it was my Dad trying to communicate with us.
I also get strange feelings sometimes when I touch old things, especially in old houses. I’m very drawn to antiques, old home places and the cemetery.
Q. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I think so. I think writing can save your soul. When I say it can save your soul, I mean that not in the Christian way, but that it is therapeutic, saving a person from losing their mind. It’s a release. A ventilation system of sorts. If I’m depressed, I find it helpful to write. Angry? Get to typing, sister!
Writing is chicken noodle soup for the soul.
Q. What research did you do on the City of New Orleans; if any was it shocking to you?
I visited New Orleans a few years back and fell in love. I’ve only been there once physically, but I revisit it in my mind day after day.
So, some of the material I got first hand while traveling, either through tours or books I bought. The other part came from researching on Pinterest or the Internet. For example, I knew about the carousel bar, but I researched the history of it and the hotel on the website. While looking on Pinterest, I found a beautiful painting, which just happened to be hanging in the same bar. I quickly decided to tie it all together, making the lady posing in the photo the current owner of the hotel.
Another idea I had was to take the fleur-de-lis and give it an alternative history. I researched it, gave it a twist, and it quickly became the symbol of the supernatural.
W. Charlene Ammons
Charlene Ammons was born and raised in Northwest Florida as the daughter of the local chief of police. After a twelve year career in law enforcement, Ammons left the field to pursue her writing career full-time. She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Library Science.
In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, dancing around her kitchen to the Delta Blues and chasing down ghosts on the Chipola River. She currently resides in the Florida Panhandle with her husband Brian.
Ammons has penned three novels: The Plan, The Lesson, and Gypsy Soul, all of which are a part of The Honeysuckle Chronicles series. She has plans for one more book in the series.
Her first novella, Absconder, was released in 2014 and the follow-up, Maneater, will release in November 2016.
She has also worked on a collaborative piece of fiction with local authors titled Tales From Beyond. Ammons’ short story included in the book is called The Crossroads. It was published in 2013.