You may read Megan's Guest Blog - If I can’t be a magical, undercover, secret agent, at least my heroine can - here.
I'm so excited to be back at The Qwillery! I love this blog and especially the Debut Author Challenge. Thank you so much for having me!
TQ: Welcome back! What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Megan: I'm not sure I'd call it a quirk, but I am incapable of sitting still while I write. When I sit down at my computer, all ready to get into my writing zone, I actually only sit for a few minutes at time. I have to walk around to play out a scene in my mind. Of course, I also tend to lose track of time while I write, so it's very possible that I sit for hours and it only feels like a few minutes have passed. Either way, I'm definitely a fidgety writer.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Megan: I am such a fangirl when it comes to the writers I love. I have marked on my calendar release dates for JR Ward's next Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, Laurell K. Hamilton's latest Anita Blake, and I can't wait to see what happens next to Eve and Roarke in JD Robb's In Death series. I also have borderline obsessions with Jeannine Frost, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Karen Marie Moning, Neil Gaiman, and Janet Evanovich. Throw in some Kelley Armstrong and Charlaine Harris and I can be happily occupied for weeks on end.
My author obsessions are important, though, because so much of what I read has a direct impact on my writing. If I'm getting ready to write one of Magnolia's flashback scenes - especially one from her time on her family's estate - I'll pull out an Anita Blake novel to get into a dark frame of mind. If I'm writing a sex scene, I go to the Black Dagger Brothers. If a scene is illustrating Magnolia's reluctant innocence on all things relationships, I'll head to the YA section of my library. I know some authors listen to music to get into a specific mindset for a scene. For me, nothing puts me in the right mood like another book.
Still, when it comes to the mechanics of my writing, my agent, Joanna Volpe, gave me the most influential piece of advice I've ever received: if I'm writing something that as a reader I'd skip over in order to get to the good stuff, leave it out. I think everyone has heard the whole "less is more" routine, but in my case I really took this advice to heart. As a reader, I'm a page skipper all the way - as long as I have enough information to get the feel and context of the scene, I'm good to go. It is that mentality I try to keep in mind whenever I write.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Megan: I'm really both. I'll plot out specific arcs and sequences of events, but the details are all in the moment. More often than not, I'll start with a very specific scene or conversation in my mind. I'll know every nuance and feeling involved in how that scene will play out. I'll also have a pretty strong idea of how that moment will be the catalyst to something much more. Everything else grows from that one scene. However, what exactly leads up to that moment and what extraordinary things will happen as a result, that I figure out along the way.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Megan: In a word, distractions. I would love to live in Magnolia's world all the time - discovering where she's headed, seeing her evolution - but I live in the real world and that world includes a wonderful family and numerous obligations. It's an ongoing challenge to immerse myself in Magnolia's story when there are so many real-life adventures tugging on my pant legs.
TQ: Describe No Peace for the Damned in 140 characters or less.
Megan: Magnolia escaped her family's estate and now works with the secret Network, using her many powers to help defeat her supernatural family.
TQ: What inspired you to write No Peace for the Damned?
Megan: Magnolia's voice had been with me for years. Her sarcastic comments, her angry wit - she has been like an ongoing commentator in my mind for a very long while. Her life story was revealed to me slowly but eventually I knew all about her: what she wanted, what she feared, how insecure she was when it came to basic, everyday interactions with the people around her. I had most of her story written long before I ever penned a single word.
When the opportunity presented itself - that if-I-could-actually-write-a-book-what-book-would-I-write moment - I knew instantly what story to tell.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for No Peace for the Damned?
Megan: One of the great things about writing fantasy fiction is that you can create the rules in your characters' world as you see fit. Magnolia has powers - telekinesis, telepathy, etc. - but her powers don't necessarily follow any standard rule of thumb. She's an enigma, what can I say?
The Network, however, is a little more grounded in the real world. As a functioning global agency, there are limitations that the Network agents must work within. There are rules and protocol and an accountability that Magnolia's world doesn't require. While most of the intricacies of The Network are not revealed in this first book of the series, I definitely did research on organizational structures and available tools used by existing government agencies. And can I just say that looking up details on how the FBI works was an experience in and of itself. I'm not savvy enough to do more than look up basic public information, but still, I felt like I was peaking at national secrets the whole time.
NO PEACE does offer a glimpse into the workings of a Network task force when a strange residual substance is found on the bodies of several dead Network agents. Polonium 210 is an actual radioactive isotope that I found while researching rare deaths. I was kind of excited to be able to use it in the book.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Megan: The easiest character to write was Marie. Her snide remarks and bitter reactions to all things Magnolia were total stereotypical female cattiness. I've been a girl too long not to have a thorough grasp on this type personality.
The hardest character to write was definitely Theo. He kept changing. His appearance, his reactions, his role in the Network - I just couldn't get a hold on what he was thinking. It wasn't until Magnolia got into his mind and saw some of his past that he started making more sense to me.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in No Peace for the Damned?
Megan: I love the first time Heather joins Magnolia and Thirteen at a crime scene. It really shows just how different the two women truly are. I also love the way that you get to see Thirteen as a father-figure for someone other than Magnolia.
But my absolutely favorite scene is when Magnolia unknowingly finds herself inside Theo's head. I love the back and forth between the two of them and how this moment leads to the next level of their connection.
TQ: What's next?
Megan: Magnolia's story continues with the second book of the series, NO REST FOR THE DAMNED. No release date is set at this time. The story picks up six months after the end of NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED. New characters are introduced, new revelations about the Network and the Kelch family are exposed, and most of all, new truths are revealed about Magnolia and her abilities. Magnolia has a long way to go in healing the scars of her past. In the upcoming sequel, she makes strides in dealing with her torturous background. Unfortunately, every time one of her questions is answered, ten more suddenly appear.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Megan: Thank you so much for having me! I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in your Debut Author Challenge. What a fantastic way to introduce new authors and books to your audience. Thank you for the invitation to participate.
About No Peace for the Damned
No Peace for the DamnedThe Damned 1
47North, July 10, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages
Magnolia Kelch is no stranger to pain. Beautiful and powerful, she’s spent her entire life at the mercy of her sadistic father and the rest of the Kelch clan, who have tortured her and tested the limits of her powers. After one particularly heinous night that leaves Magnolia nearly dead, she finally sees her chance for escape…
But this first taste of freedom is short-lived when she collides with Thirteen, head of the Network—a secret organization dedicated to fighting supernatural criminals—who recruits her into the group. Even as she’s coming to grips with this new life and the horrific memories that still haunt her, she’s conflicted by her growing attraction to fellow team member Theo and the emergence of new, untested abilities. After months of grueling training, her loyalty to the team is tested when she learns her target is the Network’s most wanted: the Kelch family.
Revenge may course through her veins, but so does the blood of the Kelches. And opposing her family may cost her the thing she treasures most. After all, Magnolia is still a Kelch. And the Kelch are damned.
What: One commenter will win a copy of No Peace for the Damned (The Damned 1) from the publisher.
a) If the winner is in the US or Canada, the winner will win a print copy of No Peace for the Damned.
b) If the winner is outside of the US or Canada, the winner will win a digital copy of No Peace for the Damned. The digital copy will be in Kindle format only. Kindle format is readable on Kindle devices plus apps on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, Windows 7 Phones, Mac, and Windows PC. Please check the Kindle apps page to see if your device is compatible.
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
From novels, movies, TV, or comics -
Who is your favorite undercover secret agent or what is your favorite secret agency?
Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.
You may receive additional entries by:
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.
Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address (US/Canada for print book) or an emailing address (Kindle format digital book). Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*