This interview was original posted at Bengal Reads as part of the 2012 Stitch Blog Tour.
1. When did you initially get the idea for writing Stitch and where did the idea come from?
I decided at the beginning of last winter that I needed a side project to help me pass the time until my wedding, since it was almost 10 months until the big day and I’d already gotten 80% of the work done for it (I’m a little overly efficient…). I love to read and I’d always dreamed of being an author, but I hadn’t given it a shot up to this point since I always felt like the idea of writing a whole book was a little daunting. But I figured with the amount of free time I had at that point in my life, it was now or never! So that was when I started trying to think of book ideas.
In coming up with the idea for Stitch, I really just took a look at what elements I loved from other stories – romance (particularly paranormal), ghost stories, dystopian societies, kickass female leads, genre-bending twists – and tried to figure out how I could fit all this into one story and still have it make sense. And voila! Stitch was born.
2. Why did you choose for Alessa to be a freshman in college?
For some reason I’ve read SO FEW stories (actually, I can’t think of any) with college-age protagonists, so it just seemed like an obvious choice to me. I think college is a pivotal point in any person’s life, and it’s also a time that a lot of people can relate to – high school age students because they’re looking forward to the experience, and post-college adults because we tend to get all nostalgic about it – and since I thought the plot of Stitch would appeal to readers across a broad age range, I decided to make Alessa college-aged to help draw in readers across the spectrum.
3. Could you tell us a little about how you chose the title Stitch?
There were a few factors I considered when choosing the title:
1. It needed to be easily searchable, i.e. short and sweet and easy to spell. (I also noticed that this tends to be the case with popular YA books, so I wanted mine to fit the mold!)
2. The word “stitch” ties in a few different ideas from the story. First, it literally refers to the "stitching" process (not going to elaborate on this to avoid spoilers!). More figuratively, it's about how the different elements of the character's lives across the different worlds they live in – and the characters themselves – are bound together (again, can’t go into too much detail here without revealing anything, sorry!) and also kind of symbolizes how everything comes together in the end. Finally, I also liked that it vaguely references the idea of a “stitch in your side,” that biting painful sensation you get from running and running, which is kind of emblematic of the characters’ struggles (always running from something, whether it’s one of their real-world enemies or their own insecurities and flaws).
3. If you search "stitch" on Amazon, nothing else popular comes up in fiction books. (In other categories there's a bunch of Lilo & Stitch merchandise and some books on knitting, but nothing I thought people would confuse with my book!) I figured this was important since, like most authors, Amazon will probably be my main sales channel.
4. What do you think makes Alessa such a strong female lead?
I think Alessa’s strength comes from her resiliency and determination. She’s been dealt quite a hand in life, but she always just keeps going at it to try to set things right. She definitely has her moments of doubt, but overall I think she knows who she is and what she’s capable of, and she’s willing to put herself on the line to try to make things better for the people she loves. She’s a lot like Katniss Everdeen or Harry Potter in that way – just not willing to give up, no matter the personal cost. I think that’s an admirable quality.
5. Is there any specific thing you drew inspiration from while writing Stitch?
I drew inspiration from ALL over for Stitch. I consume an enormous amount of media, whether it’s books or TV or movies, and I particularly love epic sci-fi/fantasy stuff, so I’m sure there are (unintentionally) bits and pieces of a ton of different things in there. I mainly set out to write something that fans of Twilight and The Hunger Games would enjoy, but I tried not to pull too heavily from any one source because I didn’t want to be a copycat! I love huge, out-of-left-field twists (e.g. Lost or Sharon Shinn’s Samaria book series), anything dystopian (Brave New World, The Giver, Hunger Games), and epic adventures with a little bit (or a lot…) of romance weaved throughout (Harry Potter, Eragon, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Twilight).
At first I kept trying to come up with something totally brand new, never-before-seen, but eventually realized that it’s all been done, so I decided that my strategy would be to make something new by combining things that hadn’t been put together before (like dystopian and paranormal romance). And since I drew from my imagination – which has been tainted by all these other amazing books/movies/shows – I definitely incorporated aspects of lots of different stories, maybe without even meaning to.
6. How have your readers been responding to Stitch?
Oh my God, readers have been AMAZING! I really was hesitant at first because I figured Stitch was a bit of a niche story – you have to like paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi and YA and romance, and I certainly love all these things, but I figured maybe I’m a bit weird. But it was just a story that I thought I’d love to read, so I figured some other people might like it too. And then all my beta readers loved it, which was incredible because it was a very diverse group of people in terms of age and gender and favorite genres, and I’ve been REALLY excited to find that readers in general seem to be really liking it as well! The vast, vast majority of reviews I’ve read have been really positive – readers seem to be connecting with the characters, appreciating the writing style, loving the big twist, and eagerly anticipating the sequel, so I really can’t ask for anything more!
7. What has been your favorite/best experience while being an Author?
Definitely sharing the book with readers! I’m not going to lie – it’s quite nerve-wracking to put your work out there, especially for the very first time. People on the internet can be brutal and I was hesitant to subject myself to that, especially since I’m self-published (so I didn’t have the backing of a professional editor/publisher to buoy my confidence!). But I’ve been pleasantly surprised! For every negative review, there’s been 10 or more people who’ve said that they LOVED the book and who really seemed to get it. Stitch is definitely not for everyone, but I’ve been so thrilled to find so many people who like it as much as I do! Every time I read a new review, it just absolutely makes my day. Wow, it’s just so cool to connect with readers like that. So thank you so much to everyone who’s read Stitch! You guys are amazing!! And HUGE thanks to Kayla for hosting the tour today!
Tomorrow we’ve got at Reading Between the Wines a giveaway AND an exclusive interview with… ISAAC! Don’t miss it!