Author Spotlight: Nerd Girl Books Blog Tour & Giveaway!
I'm thrilled to be participating in the official Nerd Girl Books Blog Tour! Check out the interviews below with Meg Eden (Author of POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST), L.C. Barlow (author of PIVOT), and Deborah Schaumberg (author of THE TOMBS). And be sure to read through to the end for instructions on how to enter the Girl Nerd Books Giveaway!
Can you tell us a little about your book and the inspiration behind it?
MEG EDEN: My latest release is Post-High School Reality Quest (PHSRQ for short), a novel in the form of a classic text-adventure game--that is, those old games before graphics where the game would narrate what was happening, and you would type in commands to interact with the game (e.g., “You are in a room. There is an axe. Exits are: out.” and to move out of the room, you’d type “out”). This idea came from a friend, like a lot of my writing ideas. He was really into text-adventure game spin-offs and had the idea of me writing a novel in that form. I didn’t have much familiarity with text-adventures except through live-action games like “Action Castle,” but I gave it a shot and became hooked! There was a lot of room for voice and sass from the Text Parser (the game itself), which led the narrative in some really interesting, surprising directions.
L.C. BARLOW: PIVOT is the first book of a trilogy I have been working on for about six years. The second and third books, PERISH and PEAK, will be released in 2020 and 2021. PIVOT is about a young girl named Jack Harper who is adopted by the leader of a cult, Cyrus Harper, and turned into an assassin against all who oppose him or blaspheme. As it turns out, Cyrus, the charismatic and maniacal mentor (think Charles Manson meets Lucifer from Supernatural), does indeed have extraordinary powers, as he claims. Half of them come from a creature he has locked in his basement, and the other half… well, you will have to read to find out.
Jack’s well-being is precarious in such an environment where ruthlessness is relentlessly required of her, and so she both curiously and desperately pursues the creature in the basement. When they finally meet, her world is turned upside down, as he offers her more than she could have ever expected―the possibility of escape and her own secret, magical power.
The inspiration behind this book arrived many, many years ago. A friend of mine in high school who was – at least at that time – a Lutheran, invited me to come to a special event her church was having, where an “ex-Satanist” came and spoke about her experiences to the youth group. Looking back on it, I doubt that the woman was an ex-Satanist and strongly suspect it was a scare tactic to make sure the youth group didn’t veer from being Lutheran. At the time, though, it sparked an idea in me, and that idea grew over a decade into something entirely different.
DEBORAH SCHAUMBERG: The Tombs is the story of a young welder growing up in a gritty, industrial, 1882 New York. She thinks she’s going mad, but is actually a seer of energy. When she discovers that her mother, among others with this magical ability, is being held and experimented on in an asylum called The Tombs, she must stop the madman behind the nightmare.
The inspiration for The Tombs came to me while on a trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal. I was reading a book about universal energy surrounding all living things, and started to imagine a girl who could not only see this energy, but affect it as well. From there my imagination took off creating a dark and atmospheric setting and a plot that incorporates real historical events. But it all started with my main character, Avery Kohl, and her unique ability.
What is your favorite thing about your main character?
MEG EDEN: My favorite thing about Buffy is that I was able to channel all my insecurities in writing her: my anxiety, my nostalgia for the past, my insecurities about decision-making and change, my struggle to trust in and be obedient to God’s direction. I was able to pour myself out on the page, and it was a really cathartic experience. I hope readers can relate to Buffy’s struggles the same way I do.
L.C. BARLOW: My favorite thing about Jack is her genuineness in all things. Although she commits terrible acts, she is also fully genuine in doing them. She doesn’t know right from wrong, based on her upbringing. She is dangerous but innocent, as well. In other words, she comes at everyone on as equal of terms as she can understand. Though she fits into a psychological horror type of villain at times, she is not necessarily a psychopath, as every psychopathic trait she has is a learned attribute, a second nature, rather than a choice. And each time she is given a choice, she chooses to step beyond this and become something else. Nevertheless, when she has to for survival’s sake or for the sake of saving others, she calls on her dark skills. Basically, she is the-obedient-and-well-trained-servant-who-turns. She is more than willing to create her own code, apart from what she has been taught. Jack is always thinking, planning, plotting, reconsidering, and she is always analyzing what comes her way. She is often calculating – she has to be to achieve what she achieves – but there are also times when she revels in what she does and her unearthly experiences.
DEBORAH SCHAUMBERG: My favorite thing about Avery is her loyalty. She will do anything to help her family and her friends, including putting herself in harm’s way. Her loyalty is also a source of great pain, like when a friend turns her back on her, but Avery always wants to see the good in people.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing this book teach you?
MEG EDEN: I absolutely agree! I think writing PHSRQ gave me the lens to view my experiences from a new angle. I found that as I wrote this game format, I began to process my spirituality, my relationship with God, and how He gives direction whether I want to take it or not. I wanted it to be that you could interpret Buffy’s experiences in a variety of ways, not giving a clear-cut answer so the reader could decide for themselves what happened, and what’s most meaningful to them. But for me it was definitely a very spiritual process, where I realized my own human limitations, and how often what I perceive as best is not in fact best.
L.C. BARLOW: As this was my first book, I learned so many things from the creation of it – character development, plotting, and the fact that you “can’t cheat the grind.” To make progress, to do well, you have to work hard. It’s not romantic, though there are romantic elements. But you can’t cheat it. People will notice when your heart isn’t in it or you have skipped days of work. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that the things worth having are usually difficult. It has helped me to accept difficulty – it’s a sign of something good, something worthy.
While creating this book, I also came to learn that, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” If you really want something, I mean really really want it, then you won’t stop working until you have achieved/produced it, and no one can get in your way – even if they’re bigger than you. There are so many people out there who will try to convince you not to write, that it’s a waste of time, that the book won’t get published. To pursue your own path in the face of that is difficult, but it is also essential, if you want to write… and if you are to become your own person.
Lastly, I also learned that plotting isn’t everything. After figuring out how to plot, I realized that there’s just something about letting the novel develop organically that is so important. Really, if you sit down and say exactly what you wanted to say when writing, you’ve kind of failed. It’s only by writing something beyond which you knew to write that you have succeeded – when you write more than you thought you knew.
DEBORAH SCHAUMBERG: Such a great question - one that I’ve not been asked before. I’ve learned so much from writing this book, but if I had to pick, there are two things that stand out. The first is that you can make your dreams a reality with consistent and every day practice and passion. Sometimes, when my alarm went off at 5:30am, I had to remind myself how important writing is to me!
The second is that although I had an idea of certain themes for The Tombs, like what I hoped the reader would walk away with after reading it, I was wrong. I learned that every reader interprets books in their own personal way. It has been amazing and fun to hear the different ways in which people have connected to The Tombs, and what it means to them.
Many thanks go out to Meg, L.C., and Deborah for sharing a bit about their books, as well as discussing their own writing journeys! Check out their titles on Goodreads now:
And for a special bonus: click the image below to enter for a chance to win these amazing Girl Nerd Books!
And, as always,