Monday, December 12, 2011

Author Interview: Dawn Rae Miller, Young Adult author

Dawn Rae Miller

Today I have the pleasure of talking to Dawn Rae Miller, author of Larkstorm, a book I’m really excited about. Larkstorm is an amazing un-putdownable book, with an incredibly romantic and tense love story, edge of your seat action and high stakes fantasy. Ooh, and did I mention the awesome magic – and witches? Truly amazing, pick up your copy asap!

But before you do, read below for Dawn’s insights on writing, publishing and Larkstorm. Also, Dawn was kind enough to offer to answer any reader questions, so if you have anything to ask her, leave it in the comments and she'll stop by later to answer!

Here’s a brief synopsis of Larkstorm:

In the years following the destructive Long Winter, when half the world’s population perished, the State remains locked in battle against the Sensitives: humans born with extra abilities.

As one of the last descendants of the State’s Founders, seventeen-year-old Lark Greene knows her place: study hard and be a model citizen so she can follow in her family’s footsteps. Her life’s been set since birth, and she’s looking forward to graduating and settling down with Beck, the boy she’s loved longer than she can remember.

However, after Beck is accused of being Sensitive and organizing an attack against Lark, he disappears. Heartbroken and convinced the State made a mistake, Lark sets out to find him and clear his name.

But what she discovers is more dangerous and frightening than Sensitives:

She must kill the boy she loves, unless he kills her first.

Hi Dawn! Thanks so much for talking with me today. First, I’d like to talk a bit about your debut novel, Larkstorm. What was your inspiration for the story of Larkstorm?

My inspiration was boredom. My husband travels frequently and one evening I decided to try to write a book. From the beginning I knew I wanted to write an anti-instalove love story. I wanted to take two people who meant everything to each other and rip them apart. And I wanted to write about witches because my son believes he’s going to grow up to be a wizard.

You have an incredibly strong and intense narrator who slowly but surely learns tons about her own strengths as the book progresses. Tell us a bit about how Lark came to be. Do you share any of her qualities?

Lark came to me quickly. But what’s strange – to me, at least – is that Beck took shape simultaneously. I couldn’t write Lark without writing Beck and vice versa. I needed to know how they’d both react to situations.

As for similar qualities? I’m short. And very determined. 

Larkstorm has such a wonderful setting. Being in dystopian, snowy SF is fun to read, but it really came alive for me when they get to Summer Hill? What made you choose these two settings? Are they based anywhere real? I’d personally love to visit Summer Hill, well, maybe when Lark and Beck aren’t there together…

I live in San Francisco near the Presidio which is where Lark’s home is located. I love hiking through the eucalyptus, and the views of the Bay are breathtaking. The area is ringed with San Francisco mansions. It seemed like the perfect place to set a school and The State’s headquarters.

As for Summer Hill, I spend a large chunk of my summer in Northern Michigan. My house is at the top of a hill with a forest of trees at the rear and rolling farmland at the front. I love it there – you can come visit anytime :D

I don’t want to be spoilery, but some of the Sensitives have some pretty cool powers. If you could have one power, what would it be?

Transportation. I’d love to be able to travel any place in the world in seconds.

Also, if you were a witch in the Larkstorm society, would you be light or dark?

I’d absolutely be Dark.

And, I just had to comment on the unbelievable sexual tension between Lark and Beck. How did you keep them from jumping each other’s bones? Tee hee. My heart raced in more than one scene, waiting for them to kiss.

Lark likes rules, and the rules say no physical contact between minors. But if it were up to Beck, they’d kiss all the time. But he respects her, even if it means he doesn’t get what he wants.

What was your favorite part of writing Larkstorm?

Revising. I loved getting deeper into the story, finding a new idea and weaving it in.

Most challenging?

Figuring out the history of the Channing family and what caused the two sides to split.

Since there are probably some aspiring authors that will read this, can you tell us a bit about your road to publication? When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I toyed with writing when I was a kid, but never thought much about it. I wrote for my school newspaper in high school and college, and took a writing for publication course in college. But after graduation I set that part of me away and focused on having a career and raising kids.

Larkstorm is the first book I wrote (I’ve written three more since, and two rough drafts that will be complete novels shortly). I don’t think I’m a good example because I started writing Larkstorm at the end of January 2010. I had multiple offers on that manuscript by April 6th and signed with Kathleen shortly after.

We spent two months revising and went out on sub. I think everyone, myself included, thought it would sell quickly because of how fast I found an agent and how much interest there was at that level. But we did three rounds over 9 months and all I had were R&R’s and failed editorial and acquisition boards. After a particularly hard month where we thought the book was going to sell and didn’t, I wanted to put it away.

At the end of August, Kathleen and I discussed trying hybrid publishing. The agency was behind me and I had nothing to loose, so I decided to go for it. I worked with an editor on macro edits as well as line edits to get the book ready for the real world.

Tell me how you felt when you first saw your cover? So many aspiring writers dream of their first book cover. That must have been a great moment.

To be honest, I’d seen several versions of the cover so there was no one moment of “THERE IT IS!” It was a quieter, “Ahhh…I like how she changed this to this,” kind of thing.

That said, I LOVE my cover. Sarah Marino, the cover designer took an idea I had and transformed it into a stunning visual.

What is the best part of the publishing process?

Getting to know other writers. I love how social and supportive the YA community is – which is why I waste hours on twitter.

Can you give us any hints about what happens in book 2? Also, when can I read it?:D

Lark is a very different girl in book 2. And keep an eye on Ryker in book 1 – he’s a major player in the next book.

Thanks Dawn! I’m looking forward to reading more exciting books from you in the future!

Click the Larkstorm cover below to purchase your copy. Hurry, you won’t regret it, and clear a lot of hours to stay up reading.:)

1 comment:

  1. This is an awesome interview! I love Dawn's answer for why she chose witches. :) And I had no idea that Dawn got signed so quickly. Wow. Can't wait for book 2. :)