This interview was originally posted at Passionate Book Divas as part of the 2012 Stitch Blog Tour:
So, WOW... How in the Dickens did you get the idea to start out like a PNR and end up Dystopian? I had forgotten all about the blurb by the time I read the book so I was TOTALLY taken by surprise.
Oh yay, I think that’s the most fun way to read it! I’ve read A LOT of dystopian and paranormal romance, so when I was trying to think of an idea for a book, I kept rehashing a lot of the same old stuff and couldn’t figure out how to make it unique. And then it occurred to me that I should see if I could somehow merge those two genres that I love into one book, and Stitch was born!
There were times in the first third of the book that seemed a little slower, a little more mundane- like the 'preening' chapter; after I realized what was really going on, it seemed to somehow explain and justify the slow parts. Was that intentional on your part- or just a happy coincidence of my reading?
Yes, I’m so glad you picked up on that! I definitely didn’t intend for the first part of the book to be too slow (and based on review feedback it might be a little slower than I meant for it to be…), but I did want to use that part of the story to build the tension and explore who the characters are and the world they live in. There are definitely some mundane details, but many of them are either hints at things being slightly off (for example, my brother at one point while reading – before he knew the twist – was like, “I feel like everything about Alessa’s whole college experience is very stereotypical, but I’m not sure if you’re just being lazy or if you’re trying to tell me something…” I promise I’m not being lazy!) or are there to show you the extent of the “stitch” and just how deep the characters are lodged in what they think is reality (and what lengths the antagonists are willing to go to achieve this control over them). Also, I wanted the reader to get to know the characters so that when the whole story gets turned on its head at the twist, you would see that they are still the same people and you can understand how their internal struggles continue to play out on this new different (and more dangerous) level.
If I remember correctly, I believe Isaac lived around 1917(? please excuse my bad memory if I'm off on that date); why did you choose that time period to place Isaac?
Yup, you’re correct! I originally chose 1917 because it seemed like a reasonable time period in terms of the college’s history (enough time for the neighboring college to be established and grow and acquire the property for the sorority house, which once belonged to his family), and also because there was originally a subplot about Isaac wanting to join the WW1 war effort and the US entered the war in spring of 1917 (but that storyline was later removed because I felt it was too literal a translation between the real and “stitched” worlds, and therefore obvious and boring). And besides that, I just kept seeing Isaac in my head in clothes from that general time period, haha.
I'm trying to be somewhat ambiguous on this question to avoid spoiling anything: It seemed with the success/failure of a stitch within a subject, you always established an innate sense of self. Do you personally believe that regardless of what a person has been through, or endured, even in brainwashing situations that there will be some kernel of truth that cannot be stamped out?
Yes, I think there are definitely parts of ourselves that we are just born with (or which we develop very early on based on our experiences) and which make us who we fundamentally are. And that if you try to change or bury those things (whether through something dramatic like brainwashing or just trying to suppress parts of yourself to meet other people’s expectations), you’re bound to run into trouble. This is actually a real-life lesson that I’ve had to learn over and over again in the realm of relationships – you can’t fix people, you just have to accept them as they are – so that was definitely a deliberate decision I made with my characters, to know who they were and make them the same person no matter situation they encountered, since I think that in reality that’s how people are essentially wired.
There were many instances where I would think of other books, films, TV shows, etc.; Brave New World came to mind a few times, the movie The Island came to mind- were there any specific sources of inspiration that you meant to either reference or allude to or was your past reading/watching subliminally rolled into your writing?
I’ve read/watched SO many dystopian/paranormal stories that there was no way for me NOT to incorporate elements from other books/movies/shows, but it was definitely more subliminal than intentional. I just tried to bring the story around in whatever way felt most natural and realistic to me, instead of trying to force it to be different just for the sake of being unique. So I definitely drew from aspects of other stories to do that, but there wasn’t any one thing in particular that I used as a model or anything like that. And it’s funny because the more I read of other new sci-fi/fantasy series, the more I keep finding stories that are similar to mine (but which I hadn’t read before I wrote Stitch), so I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that it’s almost impossible to come up with anything that’s truly novel!
Do you have a specific number of books planned for this series? And will future books stick with the same main characters or have 'new' main characters? (Like following Lizzie, for example? Or maybe Janie?)
Yup, I’m planning to do two more books to make a trilogy. Alessa and Isaac will continue to be the main focus, but I am strongly considering adding more perspectives (like Lizzie and Janie, perhaps even a little Nikhil…) to give a little more depth to those characters and enable me to more easily explore different aspects of their world and the history of how that world came to be.
Do you use multimedia (pictures, music,or other) to assist you with writing?
In general, no, but there was this one picture I saw in National Geographic that was just absolutely terrifying (at least the way I initially interpreted it…) and which did inspire one aspect of the Stitch trilogy which has yet to be revealed… So you’ll have to check back with me on that after the next one!
Okay... enough of the heavy questions. Here are the FUN questions!
Okay, let’s do it!
What are you reading right now? (Other than this question....)
Haha, very clever! Before reading this question, I actually just finished the first two books of The Frost Chronicles series by Kate Avery Ellison, which I really enjoyed and blew through in two days. Next up I’m planning to read Cinder by Marissa Meyer since I’ve been hearing great things about that all over the place!
What's your favorite quote (from any source)?
“Havo dad, Legolas.” (from Lord of the Rings – Elvish that roughly translates to, “Sit down, Legolas.” Or more implicitly, “You’re being an ass, Legolas.”) So appropriate in so many settings.
Justice League or X-Man?
X-Men. I always thought Rogue was such a badass.
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Always more than either the pop or the Tootsie Roll center is worth – I always threw out the Tootsie Pops in my Halloween loot. Give me some damn mini Crunch Bars, people!
Do You Have any Hidden Talents? (Like speaking another language, double-jointed, etc.)
Not really – I have nothing talent show worthy! But I am super-efficient and organized, and I tend to prefer full-contact sports (rugby, roller derby, football, etc.), so perhaps I have a high tolerance for pain?
Zombie Apocalypse just started, what fictional character do you want by your side to fight the undead hordes?
Leon, Claire, Jill, or Chris from Resident Evil, hands down. Over the course of that series, those guys have seen (and killed) it all – I’d take any of them happily!
Thanks so much for putting up with my last minute crazy questions! And I have to say I am SO eager for book 2! I really, really enjoyed it much more than I anticipated. Pardon my 'french' but it was such a great mindfuck!
Awesome, ‘mindfuck’ is exactly what I was hoping to achieve with Stitch! Thanks so much for having me today! I’m SO excited to kick off the second half of the Stitch Blog Tour and even MORE excited to get started on Book 2! I’ll definitely be in touch once I’ve got details. :-)
Next up, the review at Alana's other blog, Dark Obsession Chronicles!
As you begin it seems an almost basic paranormal premise. Alessa has lost her family the year before, goes to college, joins a sorority … yadda, yadda, yadda… sees a ghost, gets sucked into the mystery of ‘who is the ghost’? Been there, done that, have the blog post. *BAM* That’s me all of the sudden getting hit over the head and putting on the special ‘They Live’ glasses. From ho-hum paranormal it suddenly gets launched into this dytopian conspiracy. My brain needed a cigarette after that reach around!
And don’t forget to enter the 3 e-book giveaway at both stops! HUGE thanks to Alana for helping us kick off round 2 of the tour (on not one but BOTH of her blogs)! You are the best!