Open Minds did it. A book, nothing more than a bunch of thin paper bound in thicker paper, mindjacked me. But what a book.
I say that because if Open Minds mindjacked me for two days, it can mindjack you too. After my first two book-reading walks, and those were long ones over 2 days, I couldn’t put the book down again. Round and round the block I went like a puppet on a string. I finally collapsed on my couch and became a couch potato until hubby complained about me staying up late. Then I read in bed until I finished, bleary-eyed, in the wee hours.
Open Minds had all the tension of The Hunger Games, but with less gore and more mental horror. Sure, Katniss played mind games, but Kira took them to a whole new level.
Here’s the Goodreads description: “Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.” Any more would spoil the plot.
Here’s where I confess to a total inability to turn off my editor’s eye. This book is the best edited I’ve read in many years, and I read a lot. Don’t read Open Minds for its form though, read it for its function–a fantastic thriller that will make you cry, and cry for more.
Dr. Susan Kaye Quinn, the author, must be pretty good at mind-reading to come up with such a good plan to take over the minds of anyone who comes within range of her book. I won a t-shirt for tweeting about her book launch, but I thought the book sounded even better. I begged for a switch, and Susan graciously agreed. I felt like a kid in a candy shop when it arrived. I stared at it while I finished chores, waiting for my chance. You know the rest. I suspect Susan is going to mindjack the entire YA market.
I hope you see why I wanted to get inside her mind, so welcome to my first author interview. I was almost finished posting it last night when the internet went out. Now I’m in a rush because I’m worse than time challenged, I’m calendar challenged. So for this week my posts are today, and uh, today, because I forgot about a trip that will hinder my usual posting schedule. You’ll have to pretend my very late Wednesday (and very special giveaway post) is a Thursday post in lieu of Friday’s.
Now back to the subject of my interview, the awesome author of Open Minds, Dr. Susan Kaye Quinn. And since it was reading her first book of the Mindjack Trilogy that made me want to start interviewing authors in the first place, it’s appropriate that I interview her first.
Are you ready? Here are my questions in black and Susan’s answers, in blue:
What motivates you to keep writing when life gets tough and in this tough market?
I am well and truly addicted to writing. I’m not even joking about that. I get this uneasy feeling inside if I go too long without writing. Beyond the tragic addiction, when life is tough, writing helps to center me. As for the tough market … well, I believe in carving your own path through the weeds. As long as there are readers, there will be a need for writers. Story is a very powerful thing, even more so in our society today.
Please tell about your WIPs, at least genre and age group, even if the rest is hush-hush.
I’m writing the sequel to Open Minds (Closed Hearts) right now (paranormal/SF YA), as well as working on a hush-hush middle grade project that I can’t talk about too much, but it has some epic science fiction gadgets in it, so I hope it will find a home. I have a middle grade fantasy (The Faery Swap) that’s only got one draft done, but I love it. I’d be working on that right now, except there’s only so many hours in the day.
Are you an outliner or a pantser and why?
I’m a reformed pantser turned hyper-plotter. Open Minds is a great example of a novel that I pantsed … I literally had just one paragraph and an idea when I sat down to NaNo my way through the first 50k words of that story! So, yeah, it took me two years to revise that into something publishable. Now, for Closed Hearts, I’ve hyper-plotted every chapter before sitting down to start drafting two weeks ago (yikes! I’m halfway through NaNo! I better get some words written today …). Even with all that plotting, over the weekend I was struggling with a plot point and doing some pantsing to figure it out. That means I’m fleshing out the worldbuilding, writing the scene from the viewpoint of a secondary character, delving deeper into the emotions driving the scene … these are the parts that I pants my way through now. In the end, I expect Closed Hearts will get written a lot faster. That’s what plotting means to me now – a way to get the story written faster.
What are the top three reasons you decided to publish as an indie (if you are one)?
When I announced I was self-publishing, I knew my writer-friends would want to know why, so I wrote a lengthy post about it. In short, 1) publisher interest in paranormal was waning, even though it was burning up the charts, 2) price control, and 3) writing investment diversification. I knew that if I self-published, I could get the story out while readers were still interested in the genre, and I could deliver it for a better price than my small publisher (that I previously published with). I think price sensitivity is important now, especially with the economy still dragging its heels. I know I’m more willing to take a chance on a new author at a lower price point than I’m willing to pay for established writers that I already love. And I have to admit to a certain attraction to the shiny new gadget that is self-publishing.
Is there a message in this book for your readers or is it just meant to entertain?
My books are always driven by themes, because that’s just who I am as a writer. But they are most definitely meant for entertainment. The two are connected – I believe we learn, or absorb a message, best when it’s delivered in a way that engages our minds, and entertainment certainly grabs you by the senses and gets your attention! In Open Minds, the driving theme is about intolerance – the effect it has on Kira, the girl who can’t read minds in a telepathic world, is most obvious. But there are subtle effects that intolerance has throughout a society, not just on those that feel it most keenly. I believe the way we treat people is a reflection of our most profound beliefs, both as individuals and as a society. I’m still exploring that theme, in even greater depth, in Closed Hearts.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers/authors?
Write like crazy. Write every day. Put everything you have, emotionally, into it – don’t hold back. And then make sure to connect with other writers and share your journey (and your work!). I’ve worked as an engineer, a PTA mom, a scientist, and a politician. But I’ve never met a more supportive, helpful and fascinating group of people as writers.
Okay, that’s it. I want to thank Susan for answering my questions and hope you all appreciate the amount of planning and doing that went into Open Minds to make it such a great book. I sure do.
I’m not giving away my copy so you’ll have to get your own. Go through Susan’s website to buy an autographed copy. If money’s tight, go for the kindlegraphed E-book. Kira, of course, wouldn’t make you do anything unless it was the only way to save your life. But her friend Simon would. Do you feel him in your mind? He says go buy the book. Now.
Wait. (It’s me talking.) If you haven’t yet won my chocolate follower contest, it’s a new month and any follower, previous or new, can enter through the contest tab at the top of my blog to win your choice of my large supply of fantasy/sf and your choice of chocolate to go with it. There’s a Book Depository option for international entries. The whole process takes under 5 minutes for 5 points, and 5 points or more will keep you in the contest for 2 months. Kayla won my last drawing on Nov 11th, and the next will be on Dec. 11th. Go for it. Indulge your darkest chocolate fantasy.
Please stop by very late tonight/Thursday for the Gratitude Giveaway running from Nov 17-27. Over 300 blogs will offer prizes with no more than 1 requirement to enter. I’ll be adding a new book (some are E-books) to my “Count your book blessing” pot every few days until the drawing on 28 November.