What inspired you to write this book?
So, EoB is actually a really long time coming. A lot of the characters have been with me since I was a kid; I made them up and was constantly reworking them until I found their story. Chloe did a lot of growing up before she got to where she is now. Anyway, I sort left Chloe & co. off to the side for the end of high school/beginning of college because I was busy with so much life, but towards the end of college I picked them – and their stories – back up again. (Shout out to Megan for forcing a chapter out of me every day.)
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
‘Pan’ and ‘Damonos’ are the Greek root words that formed ‘pandemonium.’ Together, they literally mean ‘All of the Demons,’ which was the working title I had for the book.
How did you choose your title?
Echoes of Balance wasn’t what I originally chose, because I’m actually the worst at coming up with titles. Seriously. I get too close to the details and I just can’t name the big picture. But the folks at REUTS are totally amazing and we had a group e-mail brainstorm chain – EoB came out of that.
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
Again, the REUTS folks are amazing. I think Kisa and Ashley wrote a pretty cool cover art blog series on the REUTS website a while ago, but they have a great process. They asked for my input, then we brainstormed together. I actually have a fine art background, but my work is pretty abstract, so they were a big help in getting something down that’s more concrete and genre/age appropriate.
About the cover: The dress is one that Chloe wears towards the end of the book (spoiler alert) and the knife gets a lot of play in the story.
Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?
I went with a brand-new super-awesome experimental publisher. Because I’m an art student and that feels right.
What is your writing process?
I need to be well removed from distractions, so I will either write at this little desk in my room or my living room, where technology goes to die. I have a decent sized apartment (don’t believe the lies – there are places in NYC that this exists) and for some reason, wifi and cell service just hates our living room. It’s the best place to write. Then I stick it all in a google doc.
I pace A LOT when I write, especially when there’s dialogue involved. I’ll stand up and walk around while repeating the phrase over and over with slight tweaks until it feels right for the character, then I put it down.
When I edit, I like to be in my bed where I’m comfortable. I have a pretty sweet lap desk I got on sale at Target. (It’s like the only big box store allowed in NYC aside from the kmart that lives in Penn Station.)
How did you get started writing?
I’m an only child (not counting my best friend of ten years who I now also live with), so I was always kind of making up stories and reading to entertain myself. Eventually I started writing them down. When I was like 10 or 11, my mom – who is super techie – built a computer and gave it to me, except it was pretty grim and only did the internet (NETSCAPE. SUPER SLOW. DIAL UP.) kind of and word processing. And MS Paint. But that gets old fast, so I did a lot of typing in the text edit-y program – sometimes it was nonsense, and eventually it started being stories that were RIDICULOUS but got longer and longer, especially by kid standards. I think my first novel was like 60 pages or something.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I like to keep it in a 3:1 ratio. I enjoy plotting – I like to know where things are going to end up eventually, because I like to know the motives of my characters – but I also enjoy trying to work my characters into life moments* and integrate that into the story. Some are totally not feasible (‘What would it be like if Chloe and Aurelia were in my zumba class?’) but some I try to work into the stories (‘What would it be like if Chloe got stranded somewhere ala the week after Hurricane Sandy?’).
*Finding moments that are actually logical was a big exercise in growing up. As a kid, I think I’d just go with all this silliness and the plot was just crazy town.
What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
Just push through it. Open a blank document and start writing whatever comes in your head – even if it’s nothing, just write the word over and over until something else occurs to you. Don’t think about writing good. Think about writing anything, and eventually work your way back to your story.
Alternately, those not-feasible situations, like what if Chloe went to a zumba class and Ducante was an instructor? Write silly. Put it aside. Never show it to anyone but your best friend when she has a bad day. But use it as a spring board to get yourself somewhere better.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
I have the most perfectly trained Pandora station, it always knows what I wants. It cycles from like ratchet nonsense (A$AP crew, Tyga, etc) to old school jams (Destiny’s Child, TLC) to indie stuff (Postal Service, Her Space Holiday) and into electronic (Diplo) and back again. I love it.
If I have iTunes on, I almost always listen to stars.
Who is your favorite character from a book?
I love Cloud 9 and Dondi from Rage is Back. (Ya heard, youngblood?) Actually, I love Adam Mansbach characters overall – he gives them such great voice.
Real talk, I also love Holly Golightly. No shame.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Oof, well, I work a real life job that takes up –a ton- of time, especially because I care about it a lot, so I spend a lot of time trying to be better and do well and be responsible. I’ve been on a ‘lets get in shape!’ kick lately, so lots of gym time, and I live with some awesome people, so I spend a lot of time chilling with them. Sometimes there are video games involved.
What's your next project?
So, Chloe’s world has spawned a lot of characters. A lot, a lot. Chloe’s book is a trilogy, so my most immediate project is to finish those guys (book two is maybe a quarter to a third of the way done), and then there is another trilogy that completes Chloe’s story that includes a character named Liadan as the protagonist. Maya also has a book of her own that’s half started, and I have another fantasy book that’s half started and has been living on the back burner for a while.
Echoes of Balance will be released on December 17th via Reuts Publishing. Stay tuned for buy links!