Tell us about your recent Riptide release. What was the inspiration behind it?
Nemesis closes out the story that started in Discord, but with a new pair of eyes to look through. Blake Marks, a teen who identifies as “mixed race, multiethnic, allergic to more things than I want to name, intersex because of partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, expressively gender-fluid but mentally agender, and panromantic graysexual” takes over for Kindra here, and for the first time we get to see the Calvers and Kindra from a civilian’s point of view. We follow Blake and the Calvers’ team through deadly danger, massive conspiracies, and the upheaval of everything they thought they were fighting against. The end of Discord revealed a new, more dangerous foe, and Nemesis is the story of what happens when they try to fight an enemy they’re not even sure how to find.
Writing this story was hard, especially given the events of the past year. Terrorism and violence isn’t just a fictional threat today, and creating more of it, even on the page, was painful. However, I think there are important lessons we can learn by looking under the surface of events like these, and I hope that readers walk away from the book and the series with far more hope than grief.
What can readers expect when they read a story from you? What would you like potential readers to know about you and your books?
I change. My style, the point of view, the tense, the genre, the heat level—it all changes from project to project for me. So far, the only consistency is that all the books I’ve written or even had vague plans for have been young adult, and all of my series have and will include at least one asexual character. I identify as asexual myself, a label I only discovered in 2014, and since then I have worked to include the representation I never saw growing up. Oh! Long and complicated. That also seems to be a commonality between my books. Long. And. Complicated. Because, apparently, I enjoy making my own life difficult. ;)
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing your latest release?
I am even worse at gauging how long a project will take me to finish than I thought. 2016 was an incredibly busy year, and I had book deadlines through all twelve months. Bless my editors and both of the publishers I’ve been working with for their patience as things started getting later and later!
How long does it take you to write a book?
It changes with each draft! The shortest time is a month, the longest is on and off over more than a year. It might one day be a longer span than that if I ever go back to finish one of the incomplete drafts languishing in folders on my hard drive. On average, though, if I’m able to work on it consistently, I can finish a draft in about three to five months.
Describe your workspace.
Random. If I have my laptop, I can work anywhere with a power outlet! At home, though, I tend to either end up in my living room enjoying a very comfortable recliner, or in my bedroom where I have two desks shoved together to create an office corner. One of the desks is an adjustable stand-up/sit-down, and I have a treadmill to go with it; it’s a great setup that allows me to avoid sitting in one spot for ten hours straight.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to cure it?
I definitely get stumped, especially once I hit the middle of a book. First I’ll try jumping to a different section of the book to see if I can figure out a solution myself. If that doesn’t work, I find a friend to try talking it out with. Then, I usually switch formats—try writing by hand instead of on a computer, for example. After that, if I’m still stuck and I’m on deadline with a contracted book, I go crying to my editor and hope like hell they can help me!
What can readers expect from you in the future?
A little bit of everything, all of it within young adult. My debut series was paranormal (The Dream War Saga), my second a contemporary (Laguna Tides), my third a thriller (Assassins), and my fourth a fantasy (The Ryogan Chronicles). Coming next will be a sci-fi series (Pax Novis) I’m very excited about, but after that? I’m not sure! I guess we’ll have to see.
Do you have a favorite quote?
From Nemesis, I’d have to pick either “Nothing is inevitable. The most we can do is try to be the people who change things.” and “Change will be slow and arduous. At times, it may appear not to be happening at all.” because both quotes are reminders a lot of people—including me—need right now.
In general, I have an immense love for Emily Dickinson’s Hope is the thing with feathers—
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.