Today, I have the lovely Shannon Delany here to talk about her 13 to Life series. The first book in the series, 13 to Life, hits bookshelves on June 22, 2010.
Four lucky commentators will have a chance to win some really cool autographed swag. I will also choose a winner to receive a copy of 13 to Life. Details are listed at the end of the post.
Welcome to Shannon Delany’s Start Your Day with Serial Tour! Shannon’s debut novel (and first in her YA paranormal series) 13 to Life started as a winning cell phone novel written in serial segments. During the tour you can read bits of the book in order. Miss a day? Hop to Shannon’s blog and check the link to the blog tour calendar in her sidebar. There will also be a contest that will close at the end of the tour. Winners get a bunch of stuff.? Details about Shannon’s contest are also listed at the end of the post.
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about the book?
13 to Life started as an award-winning cell phone novel that was built day by day in public online at Textnovel.com. It’s the story of a girl who has lost one of the most important things in her life and her struggle to get a grip and move forward. AND it’s a story of a guy who has a dangerous secret and his desire to understand what that means for the rest of his life as well as his desire to be understood.
DFT: How and why did you choose werewolves?
Werewolves are a vehicle for transformation, both literally and figuratively. I’ll be honest. I was never a (were)wolf girl until I started writing this story. I’m still not a big fan of the gorier werewolf flicks (but I can’t do Chainsaw Massacre stuff, either) but if they’re used as a symbol AND a mythological creature, I’m there. From a totally different angle–in November 2008 (when I began writing 13 to Life at Textnovel.com) I could find vampire books everywhere, but werewolves in YA? Much harder to come by.
DFT: If you could describe your main characters with only 3 words, what would they be?
Confused. Conflicted. Powerful. It relates to the main characters as well as the secondary–everyone has issues (hey, it’s like real life plus werewolves!).
DFT: How do you go about your wolf research?
Wolf research was helped out because I was the Educational Director at a privately owned zoo when they first brought their wolves in. The wolves were worked with regularly by professionals (folks who train wolves for the movies) and I had the opportunity to be introduced to the pack–up close and personal. The werewolf research was more a matter of doing some heavy reading in mythology and legends (which I’ve always loved) and checking out some movies I’d overlooked for years.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) did you draw from while writing 13 to Life?
Literary influences: Shakespeare and classical lit. My most clever readers will follow the bread crumb trail of titles I’m leaving and think about why they are the ones being read.
Non-literary: World cultures, history, quotes and resources that were released from the FBI and other resources dealing with a particular criminal organization (often overlooked and yet waaay more insidious than a similar organization that gets much more airtime on both small and big screens) that has an interest in the werewolves. Also I did a little more research into Cold War experimentation (and things prior to that), biology, and parapsychology.
DFT: What characteristics do your wolf packs have?
My main pack–the only one you see in books one and two (and perhaps in book 3–dunno, still weighing that out)–is a bit atypical for a wolf pack (which was one of the things some of my readers have really liked). There is much independence (sometimes to their detriment) with the group. This sort of reflects back to a connection with genetic origins, politics and history. Without saying too much, where my pack originated from (and I mean 1st generation of “success”) was a much different place at that time than where their offspring winds up. Had the first generation been successfully kept they surely would have been encouraged to embrace a truer pack mentality. But you come to America and your view changes, right?
DFT: Do you have any rules that govern your werewolves?
Yes. I can’t detail them for you here without at least one gigantic spoiler, but they are explained and explored throughout the series. Keep in mind, as 13 to Life is the start of a series, our narrator (Jess) discovers things as she goes. No one hands her a werewolf, etc. manual and tells her to read it all overnight (and readers shouldn’t worry they’ll be swamped with an info dump that does the same). Readers learn things in the series as Jess learns them.
DFT: Which character was the most difficult to write?
Jess. She’s the narrator so she’s got to be the lens through which we view everyone else. Her perception and opinion color everything we see. We have to hope she’s honest and correct with her judgments (which is tricky when you consider those three words you asked for earlier). Jess also is the information gatekeeper because the series is written in 1st person POV. If she doesn’t see something, read it or get told about it, readers have no clue about it either. And you’ll find Jess is a bit self-absorbed early on (with good reason) so the reader experiences her waking up to things she’s been overlooking because she’s so internally focused.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
Oh. That’s a tough one. I can relate most to Jess personally since we share some aspects of our history but I adore Pietr and, Max–well, he’s really grown on me during the writing of the series. And in book two (which was recently accepted by my editor) things get shaken up a bit more and characters continue to grow and change.
DFT: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell us about?
There’s a lot I’d love to tell you about but really can’t. I can say I’m working on book 3 in the 13 to Life series and working on several different YA novels (mainly poking ugly rough drafts with a sharp stick). The new projects are pushing me back into more research on the following: Norse and Eastern European myth and legend, post-apocalyptic topics, trains and transportation and technology of the 1800s.
DFT: What was the path to publication like for 13 to Life? Was it difficult to find an agent and a publisher?
I won my agent through the Textnovel.com contest and shortly after the first press release we were contacted by the company which eventually became my publisher. We did chat with other interested parties, but I’m SO glad I went with the company I did. St. Martin’s Press is full of amazing people.
DFT: The YA paranormal romance genre has been huge for awhile now. What is it specifically about fallen angels, vampires, faeries, werewolves, and the dark side that you think is so appealing?
Great question! We live in a society bound by rules and science. Whereas we used to be very much governed by faith in something bigger (and beyond us) many more people recently have taken the “see it to believe it” attitude and pushed away superstition and religion for cold science. I very much side with Hazel Feldman regarding all this (you’ll have to read book two to know what I’m getting at here). I think at a point we hunger for mystery and something that you have to feel and just have faith in to believe. We want to believe there’s more to life than what we see in front of us because, let’s face it–there are many days that what we see isn’t what we want to be a part of. The whole dark side appeal? We’re generally conformists who want to (especially as adolescents) be seen as rebellious. What’s more rebellious than fallen angels, blood sucking immortals and guys who have a truly animal nature? They’re all beautifully taboo and so we want to play in their world, knowing we have the ultimate control–we can always close the book and open our eyes to reality.
DFT: Why do you think there is the misconception that young adult books are not as deep or as complex as books for adults? What is your response to this misconception?
Pfft. (My response. I think this misconception occurs for the same reason people like to think there’s more value in reading straight fiction than paranormals. As grownups we tend to look back on what teens are doing and reading and proclaim it “juvenile” in the most degrading sense of the word. It helps us feel like we’ve evolved to something better, no matter what the truth actually is. The fact of the matter is we all take away different things when we read (the same way we all bring different baggage to our reading) and YA touches on (and in many cases explores, quite frankly) very heavy topics. The 13 to Life series deals with definitions of friendship (which many adults still struggle with), loyalty and honesty, cheating (which many adults still struggle with) and several other issues that we see emerge in book two that Jess has been more comfortable overlooking up until then. And, frankly, 13 to Life doesn’t delve into the topics as deeply as some YA novels do–it merely raises questions and opens the way for discussion under the guise of a fun paranormal read. I’ll be curious to see which readers are more perceptive–the teens or the adults.
DFT: What is your favorite fairy tale? Why?
Ugh. There are so many fairy tales and folk tales I love. The Greenwillow Girl is cool, The Golden Ball, The Wise Fool, The Swan Brothers (you know, the one where the girl weaves the shirts out of nettles and has to stay silent until she’s done–the traditional name escapes me) and most anything including Baba Yaga. The reason I like them is, regardless of their origin or characters or setting, good (and intelligence) generally triumphs over evil (and ignorance). If life were only like that consistently…
DFT: What creature are you afraid of most?
Ew. Spiders. They can squeeze into (and out of) the tiniest places. Watching Arachnophobia was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Even though they freak me out, I still try to catch them in a cup and escort them outside.
DFT: If you could be any paranormal creature. Which one would you be and why?
I’d want to be something that could hide my scarier nature, walk around in daylight and probably hasn’t ticked off God just by existing. Yup. Werewolf’s not a bad option when you get down to it. We humans already struggle with our more bestial/territorial nature (and bad hair days) so I’m relatively well-adjusted already.
DFT: Thanks Shannon for taking the time to stop by.
Start Your Day with Serial Tour Contest
Shannon’s hosting several contests during the Start Your Day with Serial Tour. The big contest will award one lucky winner with a royal amber pendant, pietersite jeweled bookmark, stuffed wolf, 13 to Life mousepad, pen, tote, signed poster, personalized copy of 13 to Life and both of the 13 to Life pins. All you need to do is comment at 13 of the blogs hosting Shannon during her 30 day tour. Everyone who does so will be entered into a random drawing. Winner may be international.
MY GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:
Four lucky commentators will have a chance to win some really cool autographed swag. I will also choose a winner to receive a copy of 13 to Life.
To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question:
If you were the leader of your own wolf pack, what rules would govern your pack?
1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).
2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.
3. +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
4. Giveaway is open to everyone.
5. Please include your email address in your comment.
6. Giveaway ends Sunday, July 4th at 11:59 PM EST.
7. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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