Heya, TWNers!! Welcome back to another post! Today, I am just sosososososoSO honored to be able to participate in this blog tour for this newly released MG fantasy novel!!! Before, we get into today’s post, let’s just talk a bit about An Apprentice Escapes!
At least we still had each other…until they came.
Thirteen year old Lyla is on the run, simply because she and her mother had an underground apothecary’s practice—the last in the whole province. Now, with Mama in jail, Lyla must escape the Daviron city officials who are bent on catching her. Befriending a runaway street boy, Lyla sets out for the only refuge she knows: the forest. Yet danger lurks in every dark shadow, and seemingly friendly people could be enemies in disguise.
Will her mama’s final words be enough to guide her forward and lead her to the safety of the forest? Or will Lyla be caught and sent away to an unknown fate?
Now, you guys, this is probably the most emotional blog tour I’ve ever taken part in. Like, I am just SO proud of Lily and what she’s accomplished here!!!! If you don’t know this awesome, girl, lemme brag on her for a moment. Lily and me met, waaaay back in the day in like October? November? I don’t remember it was around that time last year. And of course, we became instant friends cuz we both loved the false prince!! (Isn’t it amazing how books brings people together?) Anyway, Lily didn’t have a blog at the time (but she does now, so I HIGHLY recommend checking her out here!!). I remember Lily was one of the first people to ever comment on TWN. She commented on my post sharing some of the opening chapter of Into the Lamp, and ever since then, I always got the hugest smile on my face when I see her comments come in. So, long story short, Lily, I am SO proud of you and happy for this huge milestone you’ve crossed. I wish you many more publishing opportunities to come. And before I start crying happy tears 😉 let’s just jump straight into this interview!!!
Heya, Lily!!! Thank you SO much for joining me at Teen Writers’ Nook today. Here take a seat and have some virtual tea and chocolate. Now, I have come to understand that you have an epic book for middle graders that JUST released and I’d love to know, what first inspired you to start writing and why did you choose the MG fantasy genre?
Hi Issabelle! Thanks so much for having me here! I’m super excited to be doing this. Oh, and thank you for the tea and chocolate! *sips and tries to raise pinky* Ah, good question! I’ve been telling and creating stories my whole life; for me, writing is like breathing. I can’t ever imagine not writing! However, I didn’t take being an author seriously until I reached the end of highschool, where I needed to decide what to do after graduation. My mom and I talked about it, and I knew I wanted to take the writer’s path and craft stories for others to read. As for why I chose to write MG fantasy, well, I first fell in love with the medieval fantasy genre after reading The Runaway Princess by Millie Howard; then it was The Squire’s Tales (Gerald Morris), Chuck Black’s Kingdom series, Medallion (Dawn Watkins) Chronicles of Narnia, Chronicles of Prydain…. You get the idea XD. I also grew up reading a lot of middle grade books, even as a teen. Probably because my most favorite stories were in that genre. I love the adventures, the characters, and themes these stories have. Many times have my friends and I been inspired to play games based off of Narnia or Little Women(abridged version)! I just knew I wanted to write some of my own middle grade books to inspire kids.
Aaah Chuck Black’s books are AMAZING and of course you can’t go wrong with Narnia!!!!
What are you currently working on now?
I have a couple middle grade WIPs that I’m going over; one is a sorta ‘contemporary’ genre (think of the Penderwicks; that’s how my sister describes this story) and another fantasy MG novel about a lost phoenix.
You have sold me at phoenix, girl!!!
What has been the craziest thing that has happened during your writing journey?
Hmm. Let’s go with the time I saw a flyer in the local library about a teen writer’s contest. It was for ages 13-18 and all the entry info was on the paper. I spotted the flyer just as I was leaving the library with some books; intrigued, I grabbed it at the last second and decided to enter. I already had an idea of what I wanted to write, and after my mom helped edit my story, I sent it in via the library’s website. Then I waited. And waited. And then an email came saying that….the library had trouble opening the file I sent them. Would I please try sending it again? So I did, but I knew that there was little chance of winning because the contest was closed and the judging was probably already halfway done. Still, it was a good experience to try. And it was a good thing I re-sent the story, because not too long after I received another email saying that I won second place! It was so surreal. I read and reread what the judge had to say about my story and it gave me a lot of encouragement.
Awwww, girl, that is AMAZING!!!! I’m just surprised you didn’t win first!! 😉
What would you say was your biggest accomplishment?
I’d say being able to get my story published in book form and being able to hold it in my hands is my biggest accomplishment. I’ve always wanted to see my stories as paperbacks, and I was so excited at how official it felt to flip through the pages. And then, of course, being able to set it on our bookshelf with our favorite books!
Girl, I can definitely relate!!!! I think there’s some thing so incredibly moving about getting to hold your own words in your hands, especially if it’s something you’ve been aiming for for a while!!!
What was your main reason for going the self-publishing route, and is this something you plan to further pursue?
My main reason for self-publishing is that I liked having the freedom to publish on my own schedule with the stories I want to tell others. Also, another important reason is that my audience is more of a niche audience, so big publishers may not be as willing to pick it up. It was still hard, learning all the in’s and out’s of self-publishing, but now that I have a fair sense of how it works, I’d like to continue doing so.
That’s awesome!!!!!! I definitely agree that having a lot more freedom is such a high perk for self-published authors!
What is your strongest and weakest area in writing?
I’d say my strongest area in writing is creating a strong plot (with characters coming in second); my weakest would be nailing the ending to a story. I tend to rush the story’s ending because that’s when I start to hit the wall and I just want to reach the end; so I just summarize it all up, and then come back to fix it once my head clears.
Oh, yes, those story endings can be quite frustrating at times!
What’s your favorite genre to write/read in and what would be your favorite and most challenging part of writing it?
My favorite genre to write in would, of course, be fantasy, especially medieval fantasy. As for my favorite reading genre, well that actually varies across the middle grade spectrum from dystopian to historical fiction. Fun fact: the author who actually inspired me to write deep, emotional stories (Elizabeth George Speare) was an MG historical fiction writer! But circling back to writing in the fantasy genre, I’d say the most challenging part is to be yourself. I’ve seen a lot of authors on the Barnes and Noble shelf that try to mimic Harry Potter and such; which isn’t bad, but I’d like to break free from too many cliches and try to take a new approach to the fantasy genre like John Flannagan or Jennifer Nielsen. I just love it when I stumble across a new approach to a fantasy cliche.
YES I AM THE SAME WAY!!!!! Fantasy has the potential to be so unique and creative, why not make it such? And Mrs. Nielsen DEFINITELY nails it when it comes to a new approach to the fantasy genre!!!
Who would you consider to be your writing mentor and why?
My mom! No seriously, she would have definitely been an editor at some big publishing house in her other life. She’s been my teacher since forever (I’m a homeschool grad) and she’s encouraged me in my writing and challenged me to go deeper with my stories as I got older. And she always gives me an encouraging, but also very honest critique of my work, which has helped me become a better writer.
Aww, that’s so amazing!!!
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Again, from my mom XD. She told me that authors write because they have something on their heart to say. We should never cheapen our work, but stay true to ourselves because the written word is powerful and it does have an impact on people. Whether it’s for the better or worse, we as authors need to decide that.
Wow, like that is deep!! That is honestly so inspiring to me!!
And finally, do you have any encouragement or advice for my fellow aspiring teen authors reading this?
Writing is hard, and publishing is harder. But if you are passionate about getting your stories out into the world, especially in book form, then keep persevering. Sometimes, I just wanted to pull my hair out because it felt so out of reach. But learning to enjoy the journey while persevering has been a great lesson for me. Because on this journey, I’ve learned to be patient, and I’ve also learned that I’m not content with just writing for myself. I want my stories to go out and bless and impact people. And if that’s your dream too, then don’t give up. One song that I really love is ‘The Climb’ (written by Jessi Alexander; that’s the only song I’ve heard her perform, so I can’t recommend any of her other songs). It beautifully describes how it’s about the journey we’re on and not about the destination or goals we’re trying to reach. Totally check it out!
Wow, this interview was fantastic!!!! THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH Lily for joining me today!!!!!!
And don’t miss the rest of the blog tour:
Oct. 5th: The Pencil Sisters (Blog Tag)
Oct. 6th Hannah Gaudette (Author Interview)
Emily Begren (Blog Tag)
Oct. 7th: Teen Writer’s Nook (Author Interview)
Keep on being awesome and never stop writing!