INTERVIEW: Salla Simukka on AS RED AS BLOOD

In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood.

Lumikki lives alone in a studio apartment far from her parents and the past she left behind. She transferred into a prestigious art school, and she’s singularly focused on studying and graduating. Lumikki ignores the cliques, the gossip, and the parties held by the school’s most popular and beautiful boys and girls.

But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Suddenly, Lumikki is swept into a whirlpool of events as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Events turn even more deadly when evidence points to dirty cops and a notorious drug kingpin best known for the brutality with which he runs his business.

As Lumikki loses control of her carefully constructed world, she discovers that she’s been blind to the forces swirling around her—and she’s running out of time to set them right. When she sees the stark red of blood on snow, it may be too late to save her friends or herself.

as red as blood by sala simukkaOlivia: Salla, welcome! We’re here today discussing your novel, the Snow White-inspired thriller AS RED AS BLOOD.  You have a long career, but this is the first chance for English readers to get to know you, yes?

Salla Simukka: As Red As Blood is my first novel to be translated in English. I have written altogether 13 novels and my debut novel came out in Finland in 2002.

OH: Let’s talk about Lumikki Andersson.  How did you two first meet?  What makes Lumikki the perfect character to tell this story?

SS: We met first already in 2011. I was in a book store in Frankfurt when I got the first idea for the whole trilogy. I had never written a thriller before but I thought it would be interesting to write one for young adults. And in that book store I thought to myself: As Red as Blood would be a great title for a thriller. Instantly I knew that if I was going to write a book called As Red as Blood, I would also have to have a book called As White as Snow and a book called As Black as Ebony. So I had titles for three books and I just knew that I would have to write them.

Lumikki Andersson came to me soon after the titles. I wanted to have a Snow White in the story, so that is how she got her name: Lumikki means Snow White in Finnish. Lumikki came to me as a whole person: I somehow knew everything about her even though she is not based on a real person. It was as if I had met her on the street and she would have said to me: Hi, I’m Lumikki Andersson, would you like to write three books with me?

Lumikki is in many ways not your average girl. She can run very fast, she can hide, she can stay really quiet. She is strong, she likes her solitude, she is a lone wolf. And she also kicks ass. All of these are qualities that make her a great main character for a thriller.

But as a writer I’m never interested in characters that are just strong. I want to know, what has made them strong and what are their weaknesses. Lumikki has suffered severe bullying in school and there is also a dark secret in her family. That is why she is so independent but that also means that she doesn’t usually trust people that much.

OH: Your novel has been compared to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO!  What sets Lumikki’s story apart from other YA thrillers?  What will readers find that is unique to this tale?

SS: I think the combination of a thriller plot set in a real world and fairy tale elements in language and as references is quite unique. And even if the novels are thrillers, they have much more in them and for me as a writer the whole trilogy is about Lumikki, her personality and secrets and fears and desires and sorrows and choices. I also believe that it  is interesting for readers all over the world to learn something about Finland which can be quite an exotic country for many.

The Snow White trilogy is said to be thrilling, lyrical and witty at the same time.

OH:  What non-book influences (films, television shows, music, plays, etc) helped spark this story?

SS: I was actually nearly shocked when I was writing the first book, because I just then learned that there would be not one but TWO big Hollywood movies based on Snow White (Snow White and the Huntsman & Mirror, Mirror)! There was definitely something in the air… I didn’t go to see the movies because I wanted to keep my story pure. But because of the first film I got to know the band Florence and the Machine which has really influenced my writing of the trilogy. Florence and the Machine and Massive Attack are the soundtrack of these books.

OH: When you were a teen, what was your favorite book (YA or otherwise)?  Now that you’re an author for teens, what is your favorite contemporary YA?

SS: There was a time when I read mainly fantasy and scifi. So I was a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien and David Eddings and Douglas Adams and Isaac Asimov and Philip Pullman.

Nowadays I really like John Greens The Fault in Our Stars, the Swedish Circle by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. As for Finnish authors, I’m a huge fan of Siri Kolu. Her YA novels have not yet been translated to English but I’m really hoping they will be some day.

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Author Salla Simukka. Photo: Lars Kastilan

OH: This is the first in The Snow White trilogy.  Tell us a little more about this next story in the series?

SS: AS WHITE AS SNOW takes place in Prague, in very hot summer heat. Lumikki is backpacking there and hopes to have some days just to herself. But then a young woman comes to her saying: Hello, I think I am your sister. Lumikki has never had a sister and she has to try to find out, if the woman is telling the truth or not. Lumikki also comes in contact with a dangerous religious sect – and has to run for her life once again.

OH: This novel has been translated from its original Finnish language.  What have been the best parts and the most challenging parts of working with a translator to see your work reach international audiences?

SS:  I think the best part is that both the translator and my publishers in US and UK have wanted to preserve as much of the original feeling of the novel as possible. The names are the same etc. I believe that the translation is good and I trust the choices he and my editors have made.

OH:  Are there pieces of Lumikki’s culture and world which might interest English readers to know are inside jokes or pop culture references in your country?

SS: There are quite a lot of references to Finnish music and literature in novels that are hard to spot, if you don’t know the culture. In the first book there is for example a reference to Väinö Linnas Unknown Soldier but also direct quotes of a poem by Edith Södergran. I hope that the books can wake an interest towards Finland and Finnish culture.

OH: If you could cast the Dream Film of AS RED AS BLOOD, who would be in the lead roles?

SS: Actually I think that because all of the most important characters are young people, it would be best if this would be an opportunity for young, rising actors to show their talent!

OH: What’s up next for you in YA land?  Any pet projects you can tease us about?

SS: Of course I have some projects all the time because I have the mind of a writer. But at this point nothing with a deadline yet, which is great! But I can say that the next thing I’m going to do is going to be in some ways very different and in some ways same…

OH: All right, last one!  If you could spend one day with Lumikki, what would you do together? What would advice would you give to Lumikki about her past or future?

SS: I think we would go for a long walk and then have some strong coffee. I would tell her that everything is not going to go as planned but it will still be good. Life isn’t a path. It is a mixture of different paths and roads and rails and rivers.

OH: Thank you very much, Salla!  And again, congratulations on AS RED AS BLOOD!  We look forward to hearing a lot more from you in years to come!

~*~


Readers, be sure to check out Salla Simukka at her website. Or follow her on Twitter @SallaSimukka.

AS RED AS BLOOD, published by Skyscape, is now available at your favorite retailers, local independent bookstores, and Amazon.com!


Interview by Olivia Hennis, originally published 11/10/2014 on YoungAdultMag.com

http://youngentertainmentmag.com/young-adult-books/as-red-as-blood-by-salla-simukka/

Follow me on Twitter @OliviaHennis!

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INTERVIEW: Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl get DANGEROUS

Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she’s a bad girl. She’s Dark. She’s a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she’s around. Lucky for her, Wesley “Link” Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley.

 When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn’t hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

"Dangerous Creatures" by Kami Garcia & Maragret Stohl
“Dangerous Creatures” by Kami Garcia & Maragret Stohl

Olivia: Kami, Margaret, welcome!  What a wild and crazy ride it must have been for you two these past few years.

OH: Let’s talk about Ridley.  How did you two first meet?  What drew you two back to tell her and Link’s story?

Margaret Stohl: Ridley is a hot mess–we always knew there was more to her than just being the bad girl. Our readers loved her odd-couple romance with goofball Link, and we all knew Link was headed to NYC to become a rock star after high school. So it was a natural story to tell.

Kami Garcia: Ridley and Link were reader favorites from the moment they appeared in Beautiful Creatures. Though Ridley is the quintessential bad girl and Link is loyal to a fault, they are both more complex than that, and we wanted to give readers a chance to learn more about them.

 

OH: What sets Ridley’s story apart from other supernatural romances?  What will readers find that they can’t anywhere else?

KG: Ridley is a unique heroine because she isn’t afraid to show us her dark side—or her mistakes. As a reader, I think it’s interesting to see how that kind of character perceives herself versus what she chooses to show the world. By writing parts of Dangerous Creatures from Ridley’s POV, readers get to see what’s really inside her head (and it’s not always pretty).

MS: I think of ​Ridley and Link’s story as the opposite of Lena and Ethan’s. In some ways, Rid and Link are our most relatable, most modern couple of all. As Rid says on page one, this is not a fairy tale. And it’s not.

OH: What non-book influences (films, television shows, music, plays, etc) helped spark this story for each of you?

Margaret  & Kami
Margaret & Kami

MS: My daughter goes to school in NYC, and I’ve been there quite often as a result. So I wrote much of the NY story while physically being in NY, which helps. I think nobody can write about teens in NY and not have Chuck from Gossip Girl in their head, but there were lots of musical influences here as well.

KG: Music has always been one of my primary influences, and Link and I just happen to have very similar musical tastes. Classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd have a huge influence on Link, but he also loves metal bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest, which gives him an edge. I grew up in Maryland, right outside of Washington, DC, and I spent a lot of time in DC clubs like the 9:30 Club, which made it easier to write about the Dark Caster band Link joins. In college, my best friend went to NYU, and I spent more than my share of weekends in New York hanging out in clubs like The Tunnel, which inspired aspects of Sirene.

 

OH: When you were teens, what was your favorite book (YA or otherwise)?  Now that you’re authors for teens, what are your favorite contemporary YAs?

KG: I grew up reading fantasy novels like The Hobbit and A Wrinkle in Time. But as a teen, I gravitated to poetry and grittier contemporary fiction (which would today be considered contemporary YA) like The Outsiders, The Bell JarThe Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Eventually I discovered Ray Bradbury, Anne Rice, and Stephen King—three of my greatest literary influences. There are so many young adult books that I love on the shelves right now, but a few of my favorites are: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel, and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. I’m also really excited to read Four by Veronica Roth, because I’m a fan of Divergent (and Four is one of my literary crushes).

MS: I loved classic fantasy – CS Lewis, Susan Cooper, Ursula Le Guin, Diana Wynn Jones. I still love fantasy and sci fi, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Gayle Forman’s If I Stay at the movies this summer. That book captivated me.

OH: What is the story behind the title DANGEROUS CREATURES?

MS: I think that was sort of how we thought of the project in its most basic terms – dangerous, wicked, not your mother’s protagonists – and it stuck.

 KG: Definitely.

 

OH: What has been the most difficult part of returning to the world of Casters?  What has been the most enjoyable?

KG: Writing the final Beautiful Creatures novel, Beautiful Redemption, was so bittersweet. I missed the Caster world and writing with Margie. So writing Dangerous Creatures has been pure fun.

MS: I think it’s only been enjoyable. We so missed these characters and this world–and each other! It’s a privilege. 

 

OH: Your first novel together, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, was adapted into a feature film last year.  What was it like to see your characters on screen, played by such a talented cast?  Are there any talks of bringing DANGEROUS CREATURES to the screen as well?

MS: It was amazing to see the Beautiful Creatures brought to life. We loved the entire cast, but especially our teens. They really held their own, surrounded by Oscar winners! As for Dangerous–who knows!

KG: It’s crazy to see imaginary people and places brought to life in such detail. The teen cast was remarkable. And since we’re talking about Dangerous Creatures, Emmy Rossum gave us such a sexy and layered portrayal of Ridley.

OH: What’s up next for you in YA land, either separate or together?

KG: Right now, we’re revising the sequel to Dangerous Creatures, which is a welcome distraction while I wait for Unmarked (the sequel to my solo novel Unbreakable) to release on September 30th. Luckily, Margie’s sequel, Idols, comes out first, so cheering her on will keep me busy.

MS: Just finishing the sequel to Dangerous now! And then my Icons sequel, Idols, comes out July 8, and Kami’s Unbreakable/Legion sequel is out in the fall. Busy girls!

 

OH: Last one!  If you could spend one day with Ridley and Link, what would you do together? What would advice would you give to Ridley about her past or future?

MS: I think I’d send Rid straight to therapy. And then maybe I’d help Link with his lyrics…

KG: I’d go shopping with Ridley. I have a serious jewelry obsession, and Ridley would be the perfect shopping partner. Link and I would probably just hole up in my office and listen to Black Sabbath and talk about how much we both love Magneto. I’d give them both the same advice I give everyone, including myself: Be yourself. Fitting in is overrated.

OH: Thank you very much, Kami and Margaret!  And congratulations on the latest addition to your world, DANGEROUS CREATURES!

~*~

Readers, be sure to check out Kami Garcia at her website www.KamiGarcia.com and Margaret Stohl at her website www.Margaret-Stohl.com. Or follow them on Twitter @KamiGarcia and @MStohl.

DANGEROUS CREATURES, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is now available at your favorite retailers and local independent bookstores!


Interview by Olivia Hennis, originally published 6/16/2014 on YoungAdultMag.com

http://www.youngadultmag.com/authors-kami-garcia-and-margaret-stohl-get-dangerous.html 

SYKOSA Blog Tour – Author Guest Post

Hey guys! Take a moment to enjoy this guest post by Justin Ordoñez, author of the YA novel (for 18+ readers), Sykosa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

Marketing, Or how I Proved the Existence of Hell.

Self-publishing requires either A) no skills and being totally deluded as to the reality of success in the book market, or B) no skills and the reality you’re going to have to learn a lot. And that’s a simple fact. Between writing, editing, formatting, choosing a printer, choosing retailers, web development, content generation, typesetting, book trailers and the fifty other things I’m forgetting, you’re certain to encounter a challenge for which you are in no way prepared, and not only are you not prepared, your desire to become prepared hovers somewhere near the axis of zero.

I discovered mine on January 11, 2012–Marketing.

Marketing’s an entirely deceptive term. When a thing is so multi-dimensional and other-worldly abstract, we expect it come coupled with Continue reading

EDENBROOKE Blog Tour – Interview & Giveaway

Today, I’m proud to be part of Julianne Donaldson’s first ever BLOG TOUR! You’ll even find that I’m giving away an ARC copy! It could be yours! Read on to find out more!

Julianne, welcome! EDENBROOKE, your first novel, arrives on March 27th.

    Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

    From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

Olivia Hennis: This historical romance set in 19th-century England is in the unique position of being BOTH a Romance novel and a Young Adult novel; a genre crossover. What in EDENBROOKE transcends those genre barriers, to appeal to fans of YA?

Julianne Donaldson: I think Edenbrooke has a lot of elements that appeal to fans of YA–a strong heroine facing adulthood who is searching for her place in the world, a lovable hero, a first love, suspense, twists, and a happy ending.

OH: When you began writing “Edenbrooke”, did you have a particular audience in mind?

JD: I actually wrote Edenbrooke thinking it was a YA novel. It surprised me when my publisher wanted to market it as a general romance. But I think it’s a story that women of every age can relate to.

OH: I noticed on the cover (which is lovely!), that there is an extra note about the book at the top: “A Proper Romance”. This is new to publishing… What can you tell us about it?

JD: A Proper Romance is Shadow Mountain’s new brand of romance that is smart, engaging, romantic, clean, and will never make the reader embarrassed. I think there are a lot of people who want a clean romance without it being “inspirational” in nature. We felt like Edenbrooke needed to stand out from other romances, both of the inspirational genre and the “sexified” genre, and the term “Proper Romance” seemed to convey that. It is full of flirting and sexual tension, but it does not revolve around physical attraction. It’s an intelligent and emotional romance rather than a physical one.

OH: Your blog hosts a lot of information about the 19th-century. And I have seen your writing compared to Jane Austen. Where would you say you pulled your greatest inspirations from–in life and in fiction–for “Edenbrooke”?

JD: I owe a lot of my inspiration to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, who are the undisputed queens of the Regency romance. But, like most writers, I draw from real life experiences when I give my characters problems to overcome. I feel like I delved into the most vulnerable parts of my soul to write Marianne’s story. She faces a lot of insecurities in her journey to grow up, which I think we can all relate to.

OH: After “Edenbrooke”, what is your next YA project?

JD: My next project will be set in the same world as Edenbrooke, but with different characters at a different estate. Kate is a young lady who dreams of going to India and is in an eternal battle of wills with her mother, who only wants to marry her off as soon as possible. There is a boy-next-door romance, a great house with too many secrets, and a smuggler.

OH: When you were a teen, what was your favorite book (YA or otherwise)? And now that you’re an author for teens, what is your favorite contemporary YA?

JD: I loved the clean romances of Dorothy Keddington and read them over and over. I also loved Madeline L’Engle and I read Georgette Heyer voraciously. But the YA book world was much, much smaller in my day than it is now. Teens have so much great literature now, I often feel envious of them. It’s hard for me to choose my favorite contemporary YA–there are so many good ones! But one of my recent favorites was Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.

OH: All right, last one! April Fool’s Day is coming up! If you and Marianne were to play a fun practical joke on one of her co-stars, who would it be? Why? And what would the two of you do together so that the Fool knew it was you?

JD: On one of their morning rides, Marianne would shorten Philip’s stirrups. And of course he would know it was her, because she would be laughing at him as she finally beat him in a race.

OH: Thank you again for stopping by the blog on your tour! I’ll be certain to point my readers towards your other locations, to learn more about you and EDENBROOKE! (Like her website!)

JD: Thank you for the wonderful interview! This was fun!

OH: Guys, Julianne’s novel is absolutely worth the read. And she’s a lot of fun too! Follow along with her blog tour:

March 19th http://ya-sisterhood.blogspot.com/
March 20th www.theallureofbooks.com
March 21st http://mermaidvision.wordpress.com
March 22nd http://chicklitreviewsandnews.com/
March 23rd http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/
March 24th http://bookblather.net
March 25th http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
March 26th http://bookchelle.com
March 27th http://www.brazenbookworm.com
March 28th https://oliviahennis.wordpress.com
March 29th http://aliseonlife.blogspot.com
March 30th http://trippingbooks.wordpress.com
March 31st http://harmonyradiantreads.blogspot.com
April 1st http://kbgbabbles.blogspot.com/
April 2nd http://moonlightlacemayhem.blogspot.com/
April 3rd http://ireadtorelax.blogspot.com
April 4th http://awordsworth.blogspot.com
April 5th http://www.novelthoughtsblog.com
April 6th http://www.readitseeit.net/
April 7th http://dreaminginbooks.blogspot.com/

Want to win a copy of EDENBROOKE by Julianne Donaldson?

[EDIT] Since Rafflecopter, WordPress, and I are not getting along at the moment, let’s make this simple!

JUST ENTER YOUR EMAIL (use “dot” and “at” to avoid spammers!) in a comment below and you’ll be entered to win an ARC of EDENBROOKE! :D Tasty!

Entries close April 11th!

My review will be coming soon! I finished my copy a few days ago! I’ll probably Raffle off that copy too when I post the review!