Author Spotlight: Julie Eshbaugh talks Obsidian and Stars
Today I'm excited to welcome author Julie Eshbaugh to the blog! In addition to her own writing, Julie is a regular contributor over on the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog (an AMAZING resource for writers!), and she's also had success in filmmaking and online video. In fact, a web series she produced for teens became an early YouTube hit and received several honors from the Webby Awards. Her debut novel Ivory and Bone was called the most unique YA novel of 2016, and she's about to follow it up with the sequel, Obsidian and Stars (out tomorrow)!
Hi, Julie! Congrats on Obsidian and Stars, book 2 in the Ivory and Bone trilogy. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?
Hi Megan! I would love to tell you about the story, but let me start by saying that the Ivory and Bone series will now be a duology. Originally I had planned for it to be two books, but decided I wanted to write three when I fell in love with the world and didn’t want to leave it. But the process of writing made me realize that this series was always meant to be two books—one from Kol’s point of view and one from Mya’s point of view. So as much as I would love to stay in their world, I know that a duology serves the story best. Obsidian and Stars picks up where Ivory and Bone left off, but it is told from Mya’s point of view. It wasn’t easy getting into Mya’s head—in Ivory and Bone she’s a guarded, private character—but once I got her talking she turned into a very dynamic narrator. I think readers will really love her.
Set in prehistoric times, Obsidian and Stars must have required a very specific mindset since the world is so different from ours. What aspect about writing about pre-history did you find most challenging?
You’re spot-on when you say that it’s a mindset. The funny thing is, the world my characters live in is one I’ve always loved to go to in my imagination. Growing up, I played outside along the creek at the bottom of my backyard, and I loved to pretend I was living out in the wilderness. So while I was writing, I definitely enjoyed going back to that place in my mind. The biggest challenge was to strike a balance between the historic setting and a tone that was still relatable. It was important to me that the characters sound like they belonged in their own time, but didn’t sound stilted or a clichéd version of “primitive.”
Who was your favorite character to write? And which character gave you the most trouble?
Kol was my favorite, I think. He’s so earnest and sincere, and he takes his role in his family very seriously. Mya was definitely the hardest. Though she has a lot of me in her, her voice was the hardest to hear, especially since she’s such a private person. But once I got her talking, I found her words definitely flowed.
Did music inspire you while writing Obsidian and Stars? If so, what might we find on the novel soundtrack?
There are definitely songs that sound like they “fit” the story. One of my favorite songs is from a 90s album by the Cure called Wish. The song is called From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, and it’s about loving someone you may not be able to keep. That song could be the theme song to the book. Another two songs that fit Obsidian and Stars in my mind are No Ones Gonna Love You by Band of Horses and Lazuli by Beach House.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently obsessed with?
I’m reading An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, and I’m loving it. I’m also working my way through the new season of Master of None. I love Aziz Ansari, and I think this season’s as good as the first one.
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
I’ve done a few school and library visits, and I’ve really loved meeting students who have read Ivory and Bone and want to talk about it. Teen readers are so enthusiastic, and as a new author, just hearing that a reader loved your characters means a lot.
And finally, what’s one steadfast piece of advice you would give to writers working toward publication?
Write because you love it, and be patient. Rejection is a part of writing—every writer experiences rejection—so keep doing it for the love of it, and don’t take the rejection personally. I know that’s not easy, but when someone passes on your book, that’s all it is—they are passing on that book. The editor who bought Ivory and Bone had passed on the book we submitted before it. A pass is a pass, not a permanent judgment or a ban. Keep writing because you love it, believe in yourself, and you will get there!
Thank you to Julie for taking the time to give us a glimpse into what went into creating Obsidian and Stars, as well as sharing some really great advice on how to look at/handle rejection. Be sure to add her harrowing book to your Goodreads list, or pre-order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
If you benefited from any of Julie's interview, or if you're excited to dive back into the Ivory and Bone world with the release of Obsidian and Stars, please head on over to Twitter to tweet Julie directly at @JulieEshbaugh. And for more information, check out her author website at www.julieeshbaugh.com.