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Interview with Sigal Samuel, author of The Mystics of Mile End


Please welcome Sigal Samuel to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Mystics of Mile End is published today by William Morrow. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Sigal a Happy Publication Day.



Interview with Sigal Samuel, author of The Mystics of Mile End




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Sigal:  I started writing — mostly journals — when I was about 10 years old. It was how I made sense of the world then, and it still is. In my childhood bedroom, I have a whole bookshelf that’s entirely taken up with those journals.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sigal:  I’m definitely a plotter. I’ve lost track of how many outlines and beat sheets I made while writing The Mystics of Mile End. That said, the most enjoyable part of writing is when the story surprises you and takes control, and something comes out that’s beyond anything you could have planned for.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sigal:  When I decided to write The Mystics of Mile End from the perspectives of a little boy, a middle-aged professor, a female college student, and an old man, I thought the hardest part would be accessing an authentic voice for each. But no — the trickier thing was staying “in the zone” of any one voice long enough to finish writing that character’s section. For a while, I actually had to give up reading fiction that was written in a vastly different voice from the one I was trying to create.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Sigal:  I am influenced by contemporary Jewish magical realist writers like Etgar Keret and Jonathan Safran Foer, and by South American surrealists like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Some of my favorite authors include Miranda July, for the sheer originality of her voice, and Zoe Whittall, who writes LGBT characters that are gritty, brave and believable.



TQDescribe The Mystics of Mile End in 140 characters or less.

Sigal:  A dysfunctional Jewish family in Montreal grows obsessed with climbing the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life — even though they don't believe in God.



TQTell us something about The Mystics of Mile End that is not found in the book description.

Sigal:  In the final version of the book, the story is told from four distinct perspectives. But in the first draft, it was all from one perspective — that of the daughter, Samara. Ultimately, I decided it would be much more interesting to tell this story from multiple vantage points, especially since there’s always more than one side to a story when you’re dealing with a family.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Mystics of Mile End? Why focus on the Kabbalah?

Sigal:  I grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community and, as a girl, wasn’t allowed to show an interest in the more mystical legends in the Jewish tradition. Luckily, I had a dad who was a professor of Jewish mysticism and was willing to share its secrets with me. His after-school Kabbalah classes started when I was 12 and continued around our dining room table throughout high school. Years later, those lessons inspired me to write The Mystics of Mile End.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Mystics of Mile End?

Sigal:  I brushed up on some of the mystical legends I’d learned as a kid, and turned to scholars like Aryeh Kaplan to deepen my knowledge of them. I also spent a lot of time walking around Mile End — the half-hipster, half-Hasidic neighborhood of Montreal where the story takes place — to capture the details of how people dress, talk and behave.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sigal:  The easiest character to write was the family patriarch, David. That may seem odd since, on the surface, I don’t have much in common with this middle-aged, male, atheist professor. But I find it relatively easy to inhabit the mind of an adult like that.

The hardest character was 11-year-old Lev. Writing in a kid’s voice is tough because you have to remember that all kids, even precocious ones like Lev, are self-centered — they think the whole world revolves around them. I read Lev’s whole section out loud to myself to make sure every phrase sounded like something he would really say.



TQWhich question about The Mystics of Mile End do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sigal:  What do you hope readers will take away from The Mystics of Mile End?

I think that some of us are so hungry for meaning that we get obsessed with certain ideas — often these are seductive religious or mystical ideas — and we forget that pursuing this obsession comes at a cost to the people around us. Without making any moral judgment about this, I wanted readers to consider the question: What’s the value of devoting yourself to some notion of holiness if it means leaving behind those who love you most?



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Mystics of Mile End.

Sigal:

“I may have been hearing God’s voice, but my interest remained at the level of the sublime, sky-scraping Tree of Life; I was not about to get down in the mud of thou-shalt-and-shalt-not Judaism.”


“Don’t see signs in everything. It makes it impossible to live.”



TQWhat’s next?

Sigal:  My children’s fantasy novel, Infinity Hotel, tells the story of Zeno, an eleven-year-old boy who discovers a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. This action-packed adventure challenges readers aged 9–12 to explore the deliciously mindboggling idea of infinity. I’m currently working on a second draft.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Mystics of Mile End
William Morrow Paperbacks, October 13, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Sigal Samuel, author of The Mystics of Mile End
Sigal Samuel’s debut novel, in the vein of Nicole Krauss’s bestselling The History of Love, is an imaginative story that delves into the heart of Jewish mysticism, faith, and family.

“This is not an ordinary tree I am making.

“This,” he said, “this is the Tree of Knowledge.”

In the half-Hasidic, half-hipster Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer is discovering that there may be a place for Judaism in his life. As he learns about science in his day school, Lev begins his own extracurricular study of the Bible’s Tree of Knowledge with neighbor Mr. Katz, who is building his own Tree out of trash. Meanwhile his sister Samara is secretly studying for her Bat Mitzvah with next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Glassman. All the while his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is a non-believer.

When, years later, David has a heart attack, he begins to believe God is speaking to him. While having an affair with one of his students, he delves into the complexities of Kabbalah. Months later Samara, too, grows obsessed with the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life—hiding her interest from those who love her most–and is overcome with reaching the Tree’s highest heights. The neighbors of Mile End have been there all along, but only one of them can catch her when she falls.





About Sigal

Interview with Sigal Samuel, author of The Mystics of Mile End
Sigal Samuel is an award-winning fiction writer, journalist, essayist, and playwright. Currently a writer and editor for the Forward, she has also published work in the Daily Beast, the Rumpus, BuzzFeed, and the Walrus. Her six plays have been produced from Vancouver to New York.

Sigal earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Originally from Montreal, she now lives and writes in Brooklyn. The Mystics of Mile End is her first novel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @SigalSamuel

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Sigal Samuel

The Mystics of Mile End
William Morrow Paperbacks, October 13, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel
Sigal Samuel’s debut novel, in the vein of Nicole Krauss’s bestselling The History of Love, is an imaginative story that delves into the heart of Jewish mysticism, faith, and family.

“This is not an ordinary tree I am making.

“This,” he said, “this is the Tree of Knowledge.”

In the half-Hasidic, half-hipster Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer is discovering that there may be a place for Judaism in his life. As he learns about science in his day school, Lev begins his own extracurricular study of the Bible’s Tree of Knowledge with neighbor Mr. Katz, who is building his own Tree out of trash. Meanwhile his sister Samara is secretly studying for her Bat Mitzvah with next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Glassman. All the while his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is a non-believer.

When, years later, David has a heart attack, he begins to believe God is speaking to him. While having an affair with one of his students, he delves into the complexities of Kabbalah. Months later Samara, too, grows obsessed with the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life—hiding her interest from those who love her most–and is overcome with reaching the Tree’s highest heights. The neighbors of Mile End have been there all along, but only one of them can catch her when she falls.

Interview with Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters


Please welcome Ellen Herrick to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Sparrow Sisters was published by William Morrow on September 1, 2015.



Interview with Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Ellen:  Now, this might make you go “Whaaaaaat.” I used to work for a big publisher in New York. I read all the time, I read great stuff and not so great stuff and I did publicity for all the books. When you read and write for a living it is hard to think about telling a story. So, when I moved to London with my family I…OK, truth: I did dookey until the year before we came back to the States. My youngest basically dared me to write a novel. I had NEVER considered such a thing but as soon as my daughter set off on a ten day holiday with her brothers and my husband (leaving me alone to eat ice cream out of the carton, sing into my hairbrush and read), I sat at my kitchen counter and began The Sparrow Sisters, or something very like it. As President of the REALLY Late Bloomers’ Club let me say, Shwew, I did it.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Ellen:  Total pantser! I literally start every new writing day with “Once upon a time…” and hope for the best. I do lie around at night or while I driving start to play out where the story might go but my teeth start to itch if I try to outline.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ellen:  Finding a clean, well-lighted place, as Virginia Woolf said. And, acknowledging that what I do has value so I deserve the time and space to do it. I know, it’s a lot about confidence, I’m working on it.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Ellen:  In no particular order, and all influences: Laurie Colwin, John Irving, Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, Marisa de los Santos, Richard Russo, Anne Tyler, Stephen King….wait, wait I’m not done!



TQDescribe The Sparrow Sisters in 140 characters or less. 

Ellen:  Three beloved sisters in a seaside village find themselves at the center of a modern-day witch-hunt. Please don’t make me count that…and can I include ‘oh, crap’?



TQTell us something about The Sparrow Sisters that is not found in the book description.

Ellen:  Sorrel has wanderlust and is the only one of the three who would really like to leave, at least for a time.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Sparrow Sisters

Ellen:  First, I was living in London (I lived there for nearly twenty years) and, frankly, was homesick for New England vs Olde England! Next, I am lucky enough to have a house on Cape Cod so all around me are plants and flowers, and salt and sea and those elements are a major part of The Sparrow Sisters. Then, there really are some Sparrow Sisters living in my town (they are VERY different from my girls)! Finally, I wanted to read a book about some mysterious sisters in a slightly magical town by the ocean and since Alice Hoffman was busy, I wrote it!



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Sparrow Sisters?

Ellen:  I am a keen gardener myself but in terms of all the knowledge Patience Sparrow has about herbs and flowers, I spent many (usually rainy) afternoons in the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk. It was founded in the mid-17th century and is one of the oldest botanic gardens in Europe. Walled and quiet, secreted away only a few streets away from my house, I did a lot of damp note-taking there!



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Ellen:  Perhaps Matty’s father was the hardest. Rob Short is already so fragile and then events simply tip him into a million, angry pieces. Making him still worth knowing and saving was hard.



TQWhich question about The Sparrow Sisters do you wish someone would ask? Ask it
and answer it!

Ellen:  Probably the hardest is “do you think herbs and plants are magical?” And yes, I do. Perhaps not quite as magical as Patience can make them but I know that when I am in my garden or when I eat the herbs and veggies I gown I am absolutely transported. I also count on some herbal remedies including Stinging Nettle, Mint and Kelp!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Sparrow Sisters.

Ellen:

“They were both so frightened of losing the other that, through silence, they did.”

“Her eyes were glazed, and as Henry brushed her hair away from her face, she leaned into his hand like a cat.”

“Be quiet, you over-emotional oaf!”



TQWhat's next?

Ellen:  You know, readers have asked my about Sorrel, will her story be told? I know that I want to tell more tales about the town of Granite Point and I know there are lots of other characters that have stories to tell. So, I have been thinking about Sorrel, but I have also been thinking about some villagers we haven’t met yet. And, I have been noodling about the connection between New and Old England. Sorrel certainly deserves her own adventure!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ellen:  Thank you so much. Can I say Qwillery a lot?

(TQ:  Yes, please do!)





Ellen Herrick

The Sparrow Sisters
William Morrow Paperbacks, September 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters
With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of Eastwick, Ellen Herrick’s debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible, if you aren’t afraid to listen.

The Sparrow Sisters are as tightly woven into the seaside New England town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.

Patience is the town healer and when a new doctor settles into Granite Point he brings with him a mystery so compelling that Patience is drawn to love him, even as she struggles to mend him. But when Patience Sparrow’s herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three hundred year old history resurfaces as a modern day witch-hunt threatens. The plants and flowers, fruit trees and high hedges begin to wither and die, and the entire town begins to fail; fishermen return to the harbor empty-handed, and blight descends on the old elms that line the lanes.

It seems as if Patience and her town are lost until the women of Granite Point band together to save the Sparrow. As they gather, drawing strength from each other, will they be able to turn the tide and return life to Granite Point?

The Sparrow Sisters is a beautiful, haunting, and thoroughly mesmerizing novel that will capture your imagination.





About Ellen

Interview with Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters
Ellen Herrick was a publishing professional in New York City until she and her husband moved to London for a brief stint; they returned nearly twenty years later with three children (her own, it must be said). She now divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a small town on Cape Cod very much like Granite Point.


Website

Facebook

Twitter @ellygg

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Ellen Herrick

The Sparrow Sisters
William Morrow Paperbacks, September 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of Eastwick, Ellen Herrick’s debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible, if you aren’t afraid to listen.

The Sparrow Sisters are as tightly woven into the seaside New England town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.

Patience is the town healer and when a new doctor settles into Granite Point he brings with him a mystery so compelling that Patience is drawn to love him, even as she struggles to mend him. But when Patience Sparrow’s herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three hundred year old history resurfaces as a modern day witch-hunt threatens. The plants and flowers, fruit trees and high hedges begin to wither and die, and the entire town begins to fail; fishermen return to the harbor empty-handed, and blight descends on the old elms that line the lanes.

It seems as if Patience and her town are lost until the women of Granite Point band together to save the Sparrow. As they gather, drawing strength from each other, will they be able to turn the tide and return life to Granite Point?

The Sparrow Sisters is a beautiful, haunting, and thoroughly mesmerizing novel that will capture your imagination.

Excerpt from The Alliance by Shannon Stoker - December 16, 2014


Please welcome Shannon Stoker to The Qwillery with an excerpt from The Alliance, which was published on September 2nd by William Morrow Paperbacks.



Excerpt from The Alliance by Shannon Stoker - December 16, 2014




Chapter 1: The Alliance


Our enemy has been defeated and I am eager to return home. It has been three months since I have heard from Wallace and I hope he still wants to marry me when I arrive. I know he was scared about his fiancée heading to war, but once he sees my face I am certain all the old feelings will come flooding back.

—The diary of Megan Jean

Lightning crashed and Mia slid along the floor of the boat, clawing at the floorboards, hoping to stop herself from slamming into the opposite side of the hull. Her efforts did little good and she braced for impact. Pain exploded through her right arm, but immediately the ship straightened itself out again and Mia landed on her left side with a thud.

They had told her to stay down here for her safety, but she wasn’t doing a very good job of protecting herself from the effects of the storm. Another boom sounded from above and Mia couldn’t take her feelings of helplessness any longer.

She forced herself off the ground and headed toward the small set of stairs that led up to the deck. The boat continued to wobble, but she made her way to the railing and gripped it tight. Filled with resolve, Mia did the only thing she’d been instructed not to: she climbed the stairs and reached for the handle, determined to offer her help in saving the ship and the rest of the crew from the storm.

Little effort was needed to open the door. The wind pulled it and it started to drag Mia out of the cabin. She saw a wave crash against the deck and water rush at her feet. Not that the excess water would make much of a difference; the rain was coming down fast and Mia’s face felt like it was being pelted with pebbles instead of drops.

She saw several people trying to reinforce tarps over the center of the deck. Mia forced the door closed behind her and went toward them. She recognized Andrew. He was bent over, holding the tarp in place. She leaned down next to him.

“I want to help,” she yelled over the roaring storm.

He moved his head toward her and even in the dark she could recognize the anger on his face.

“What are you doing out here?” he yelled. “Go back under.”

He pointed toward the door Mia had just come through. She shook her head.

“I can help,” she said.

She reached down and grabbed the tarp from his hand. Another loud clap of thunder went off and Mia looked up just in time to see a wall of water ready to drop onto the deck. She raised her hands to protect her head and felt Andrew grab a hold of her wrist. The water hit and Mia fell back onto the wood. It felt like she was underwater and her body was being dragged away. Andrew tightened his grip and Mia was certain they were going overboard with the wave as it pulled back.

Suddenly they stopped moving. She wasn’t sure which direction was up but if Andrew let go Mia thought she’d never see the surface again. The water rushed away and Mia felt its pull on her weaken. She opened her eyes and gasped for air. The boat was upright again and Mia was dangling off the side, hanging from Andrew’s arms.

Mia tried to keep her grip on Andrew’s forearm, but he completely let go of her. Her skin was too wet, she was sliding down. She raised her eyes and tried to get Andrew to give her his free hand. She continued to grab at Andrew with her other hand, but he didn’t return her gesture. He looked down at her. His face wasn’t the bundle of nerves she expected. Instead his brown eyes held a vacant stare. In her confusion Mia let herself slip down. Her arms flailed in the air, but it was no use. She braced herself for the impact of the ice-cold water.

The cold water never came. Mia’s eyes flashed open as she sucked in a large breath. She started to cough since her inhalation of air came as too much of a shock to her system. Mia felt a hand patting her back, trying to help her with the coughs. She turned, expecting to see Andrew, but instead Zack was behind her, handing over a bottle of water.

“Where’s Andrew?” Mia asked.

She appreciated Zack’s presence. The tall, blond man had proved himself a worthy ally during Mia’s time with Affinity. She remembered when she first arrived in Guatemala at one of Affinity’s bases. It had looked so quaint and rustic, but appearances were deceiving and Mia quickly realized the group had an arsenal of electronics and people behind it. Before becoming acquainted with Affinity Mia never would have thought stopping the Registry possible, but that was the group’s core mission. Mia was proud to call herself a member and work toward that very goal.

She looked out the window at the small airstrip. She was three hours from Affinity’s base but knew she would soon be farther than that when she arrived in France.

“He’s loading the plane,” Zack said. “I convinced him to let you sleep some more.”

“I can’t believe I fell asleep,” Mia said.

The group had left the Affinity base at three a.m. They’d traveled south to the nearest airport, about three hours away. Even though that had interrupted Mia’s normal sleep schedule she’d thought her nerves were too rattled to rest.

“I was hoping we’d have some time to talk before we left,” Zack said.

Mia nodded. Zack had been born and raised in Affinity, while Mia had only been a member for a few weeks. Her time with the rebel group had been spent preparing for this mission, the only mission that mattered to Mia: infiltrating America and stopping the Registry and mandatory service.





The Alliance
Registry 3
William Morrow Paperbacks, September 2, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Excerpt from The Alliance by Shannon Stoker - December 16, 2014
To overthrow a brutal dictator and free her country, a brave young woman will risk her life and liberty to spark a revolution in this explosive final installment in Shannon Stoker’s electrifying Registry trilogy.

Mia Morrissey fled to Mexico to escape the government marrying her to someone she did not love. Now, she’s going risk everything so that the rest of America can be free.

Going undercover as part of a diplomatic mission, Mia returns to America. But life there is more dangerous than ever as the walls grow ever taller, and the forgotten country faces its most ruthless leader yet, Grant Marsden . . . a shadow from Mia’s past. With the help of Andrew, Carter, and other members of the subversive group Affinity, she embarks on a perilous journey to defeat Grant, bring down the government, and destroy the Registry once and for all.

When a terrible betrayal exposes the operation, Mia discovers that her enemies have used her—and so have her friends. Alone and frightened, she’s uncertain who to trust—or whether the mission is worth what she’s sacrificing.

With the fate of her friends and the future of her country on the line, Mia knows that her next step may be the last for her . . . and America.





About Shannon

Excerpt from The Alliance by Shannon Stoker - December 16, 2014
Photo by Natasha Maczko
Shannon Stoker lives in DeKalb, IL. She received her undergraduate and law degree from Northern Illinois University where she now works as the Research Integrity Coordinator. It's not a stretch to say she's a die-hard Huskie fan!

When she's not working or writing Shannon spends the majority of her time playing with her terrier mix Nucky or her husband.

She loves watching horror movies, including those straight to DVD classics most people never heard of. If she wasn't an attorney or an author she would have been a beautician and is constantly bugging her friends to come over and let Shannon play with their hair.


Website  ~  Twitter @ShannonRStoker  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads


Interview with Sonja Condit, author of Starter House - December 13, 2013


Please welcome Sonja Condit to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Starter House will be published on December 31st by William Morrow.



Interview with Sonja Condit, author of Starter House - December 13, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Sonja:  I wrote my first novel at age seven, about the life and adventures of a trap-door spider, an animal whose lifestyle interested me strongly. Then I wrote another one, about an Egyptian cat mummy who lived in a museum and came out at night to have adventures with other museum artifacts and also with the nearby cats. Then it was dinosaurs, then unicorns, and eventually I started to write about people.



TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Sonja:  I'm very boring and have no quirks. I can't write without coffee--but then, I can't really do anything without coffee. Also I need a cat nearby. Fortunately we have plenty so there's always one available.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Sonja:  I'm a rebellious plotter. I plot like mad, in agonizing detail, and then when I write it all goes to pieces and the book ends up different. Every now and then I stop writing and adjust the outline to reflect what's actually there.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sonja:  Every day, the first one hundred words are the hardest. Deadlines help. I belong to two wonderful writing groups, so there's always a workshop coming up, and that keeps me working.



TQ:  Describe Starter House in 140 characters or less.

Sonja:  Pregnant woman buys house haunted by jealous child.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Starter House?

Sonja:  I absolutely love ghost stories. But there are certain haunted-house traditions that disturb me, such as, that the houses are so horrible and dangerous, why would any reasonable person choose to live there? And the ghosts are so hateful and angry. So I tried to make it different. The house is an ordinary, pleasant suburban home, and the ghost is motivated by love, not hate.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Starter House?

Sonja:  None! I'd much rather make things up. Actually, that's not true; as part of plotting and outlining, I had a timeline, and made sure I knew what was going on with Lacey's pregnancy in every scene.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sonja:  Lex was easy to write, because he was so different. I made a few rules for his language--he rarely uses names; his sentences are short and simple--and tried to understand what he was thinking. Eric was hard. My early readers found him very unsympathetic. This was disturbing, because I quite like him, and I wanted my readers to sympathize with him even when he's wrong.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Starter House?

Sonja:  The dreams. I rarely write dream scenes, and usually don't enjoy them as a reader, but I think they worked and that made me happy.



TQ:  What's next?

Sonja:  I'm working on another book; right now I'm partway through the second draft, and am just discovering that my timeline is in ruins and nothing makes sense! It'll work out in the end, though.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sonja:  Thank you.






Starter House

Starter House
William Morrow Paperbacks, December 31, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Sonja Condit, author of Starter House - December 13, 2013
Her dream home is about to become a house of nightmares...

From the moment Lacey glimpses the dusty-rose colonial cottage with its angled dormer windows and quaint wooden shutters, she knows she's found her dream house. Walking through its cozy rooms, the expectant mother can see her future children sitting on the round bottom step of the house's beautifully carved staircase, and she imagines them playing beneath the giant maple tree in the warm South Carolina sun. It doesn't matter to Lacey and her husband, Eric, that people had died there years before.

But soon their warm and welcoming house turns cold. There is something malevolent within the walls—a disturbing presence that only Lacey can sense. And there is Drew, a demanding and jealous little boy who mysteriously appears when Lacey is alone. Protective of this enigmatic child who reminds her of the troubled students she used to teach, Lacey bakes cookies and plays games to amuse him. Yet, as she quickly discovers, Drew is unpredictable—and dangerous.

Fearing for her baby's safety, Lacey sets out to uncover the truth about Drew and her dream house—a search for answers that takes her into the past, into the lives of a long-dead family whose tragic secrets could destroy her. To save her loved ones, Lacey must find a way to lay a terrifying evil to rest...before she, Eric, and their child become its next victims.





About Sonja

Interview with Sonja Condit, author of Starter House - December 13, 2013
Photo by Brent Coppenbarger
Sonja Condit received her MFA from Converse College, where she studied with Robert Olmstead, Leslie Pietrzyk, R. T. Smith, and Marlin Barton. Her short fiction has appeared in Shenandoah magazine, among other publications. She plays principal bassoon in the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium. She teaches at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities.

Website  Facebook




Interview with Sigal Samuel, author of The Mystics of Mile End2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal SamuelInterview with Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen HerrickExcerpt from The Alliance by Shannon Stoker - December 16, 2014Interview with Sonja Condit, author of Starter House - December 13, 2013

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