I am so super-duper happy to introduce to you all the author who has written two of some of my favorite books this year, Sophie Littlefield! Littlefield is the author of the Bad Day series and the Banished series. Her most recent dystopian debut Aftertime, has a sequel coming out in two weeks called Rebirth. And Littlefield has been sweet enough to offer that amazing sequel to one lucky winner. So please give a warm welcome to Ms. Littlefield!
SL: I’m a nice middle-aged mom from Missouri who used to spend her time sewing and gardening…but who always not-so-secretly wanted to be a writer. Actually, I guess I was a writer, all those years, just not a published one.
OBVB: When did you make the decision to become a writer?
SL: I’m not sure I made the decision so much as the decision was made for me the first time I picked up a book. The thing I remember most about my childhood is that I had a book in my hand all the time. Picture books, chapter books, classics; Nancy Drews, comic books, “adult” books – anything and everything. I read in tree houses, at school when I was supposed to be paying attention, at recess, late at night, early in the morning. And all the while I was forming the impression that the most exalted job on earth would be to create a book.
OBVB: Are there any authors that inspired you?
SL: I’m inspired by authors nearly every day. Early on my passions were C. S. Lewis, the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew creators, and the authors of fairy tales. Now, I’m impressed by anyone who can hold my attention especially if they can do something I can’t. For instance, I’ve been bingeing on Kristan Higgins books because she is such a gifted romance author. I don’t write romance, but if I did, I’d want to grow up and be her; and the lessons I learn from her books will make it into the relationships I write in my own work.
OBVB: So you have any favorite authors/books? Any contemporary favorites?
SL: I can’t answer that question! I have a new favorite every day :) I read with my daughter a lot, and often we’ll find a new book that we can’t put down. We fight over it, stealing it from each other’s rooms….last night we started BLISS by Lauren Myracle and I can already tell we’ll be fighting over it.
OBVB: Do you have a routine when you write or do you just write whenever possible?
SL: Writing is my full-time job, so I do write every day, including most weekends. My routine includes spending time with my kids before and after school, and taking care of our house. Other than that, I’m on the computer pretty much all the time. Of course, not all of that is writing time – the administrative side of being a contemporary author is staggering.
OBVB: You are so dynamic with your genres. You write Crime Fiction, Young Adult and now Dystopian. Is there a genre you like most? Any easier than the other?
SL: Yikes, I love them all. I don’t make a big distinction between genres. To me, they are all different ways of telling human stories, or maybe different facets of the human experience. I will confess that it’s a challenge to me to get the voice right in young adult fiction. I strive to respect the readership and get the language right, and I feel like I’m still learning to do that job. Otherwise, every time I start a new book I feel like I’m just loading up the palette with a whole new array of paints – different from anything I’ve done before, and exciting for that reason.
OBVB: For those who do not know, can you give us a bit of information on the Aftertime series?
SL: AFTERTIME tells the story of a young recovering addict who has lost her daughter due to the choices she makes. Then, the world falls to war, famine, and zombie-like cannibals, and she has to search for her daughter amid all this terrible chaos.
OBVB: I am such a huge fan of Aftertime and just finished Rebirth. Was it more of a challenge writing book 2 or was writing the debut of the series harder?
SL: Honestly, this series has practically written itself. I wrote the first book on a rush of creative adrenaline. I loved learning about the story world as I created it, imagining the characters into life. Then, once the series sold, I started working with a fantastic editor, Adam Wilson at Mira, and it became a collaborative project. I remember sitting down with Adam in New York last year to discuss the direction of the series. We sketched out books two and three over burgers and beers, and having his input broadened my view of where we could go. The series is truly a result of me, Adam, and my agent Barbara Poelle working together to take the germ of an idea and turn it into a larger vision that could sustain several smaller story arcs and still come to a satisfying overall conclusion.
OBVB: As others know who have read Aftertime, it is more than a book about zombies, it is so heart wrenching and emotional. When writing it did you ever have a moment where you needed to catch your breath?
SL: Well….my friends and I say that when you make yourself cry, it’s a good writing day. I’ve done that a few times with this series. I think that as I’ve matured as a writer I’ve become more willing to stop holding back, to let all the emotion out onto the page. It’s what I look for in other authors’ books, and it’s what I try to do in my own. Yes, sometimes it can send you spinning on your axis to open a wound, even a fictional one, but if it makes the story more compelling it’s so worth it.
OBVB: Do you have a favorite character from Aftertime?
SL: Oh wow…I love them all for different reasons. I love Lyle from the first book because he’s a guy I’d love to have as a friend and neighbor. I love Feo, the little boy introduced in Survivors, for his spirit and his vulnerability. Most of my characters are cobbled together from impressions and bits of real people, and that makes me feel attached to them.
|Out July 19th!|
OBVB: How many books are you planning for the Aftertime series?
SL: There are three in the series. The third and final is HORIZON, which will be out in March 2012.
OBVB: Can you give us any information on Rebirth? What is new for Cass this time?
SL: Cass and Smoke have settled into a version of domestic tranquility at the start of REBIRTH. That is shattered when Smoke and Dor get news of an attack by the Rebuilders on people they both hold dear.
OBVB: For those that don’t know, your first book A Bad Day For Sorry (from the Bad Day series), won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel! What was your first reaction when you got the news?
SL: When I found out that my first novel had been nominated for several industry awards, I was thrilled beyond measure. In some way I felt that it cemented my place as a “real” writer. Standing shoulder to shoulder with authors I’d admired for years was both humbling and overwhelming.
OBVB: How many books do you plan for your Bad Day series?
SL: That series will continue as long as there is a readership interested in more books. My publisher has been very encouraging about the future of the series.
OBVB: What about your Young Adult series Banished? How many books have you planned for the series?
SL: That is a two-book series that will be completed this fall with the release of UNFORSAKEN.
OBVB: Anything you are working right now that you can share with us?
SL: I am currently working on a new standalone young adult novel, also for Delacorte – but it’s early in the process so I’m afraid to jinx the book by saying too much about it!
OBVB: For any aspiring authors like me, do you have any advice to give us beginners? Anything for the fans?
SL: I think it takes a long time for aspiring authors to build confidence in their work, and the only way I know to deal with the fears and doubts that attend the creative process is to come to the table every single day. Even if it’s only a few paragraphs, if you constantly return to your work in progress, you will build the belief inside yourself that you are a writer and you will complete your manuscript. Once that first very important milestone is reached, the challenge changes somewhat as you turn into your own editor, but by then you’ve conditioned yourself to work through obstacles and to believe in yourself.
And for fans – you may never know how much impact you have on an author. I’ve received letters from people that just happened to come on difficult days, that made me recommit to my work. Rejection and doubt can really sap a writer’s energy, but knowing that someone has been touched by the words can rejuvenate and encourage her. Before I was published, I used to send emails to authors I loved, letting them know how much their books meant to me. I still do that, but occasionally now I get to do it in person!
OBVB: Thank you so much for visiting Offbeat Vagabond!
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One winner will win a paperback copy of Rebirth (Aftertime #2).
*To enter all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address
*Winner will be chosen randomly by random.org*Please be 18 or older
*Contest ends July 18th
*Contest ends July 18th
*Open to US residents only