Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Underneath by Jes Young: Interview and Excerpt: Bewitching Tour Stop


Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.
Exhilarating (For me there’s no thrill like hearing from someone who read my book and liked it. Every time it happens I get ridiculously excited.)
Scary (Because you’re totally exposed.) 
Fun (My inner control freak loves making all the characters do whatever I want them to.)
What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?
You need a thick skin. People have opinions. Lots of opinions. And, for the most part, they aren’t shy about sharing them. You also need to be an introverted extrovert, by which I mean someone who likes looking in and out.
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book? If you like stories about adventure, magic, identity, true love, sword fighting, sex, death, self-discovery, the epic struggle between light and dark, or people who have a lot to learn, you should read my books. Also because they’re fun to read.
Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?
Full disclosure, I don’t think I’ve ever written a character that wasn’t based on me in someway.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, readers.
How did you start your writing career?
I majored in writing in college and then was a writer in name only until my son was born and I became a stay at home mom. I was up to my ears in diapers and binkies and Barney the Dinosaur, and I needed something that was just for me and writing was the perfect thing. Once I started, I remembered that I love it, and got serious about it again,
Tell us about your current release. Underneath, book 2 of The Princess of Twilight & Dawn, came out on 12/1/12. It’s about Tab, the main character, coming into her own and confronting the dark part of her heritage.
Tell us about your next release.
Here & There, which will probably be the last book in the series, will be out on 5/1/13. I’m working on it now and, just between you and me, I’ve got a lot of ends to tie up.
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day? I write after I put my kids to bed, usually from 9PM to 1AM. Sometimes less. Sometimes more. I’m not really regimented about it except that I write some every day. For me, the every day ritual of it is the important part.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Sometimes the hardest part is just getting to the desk, once I’m there, the struggle is to move the story forward in a way that makes sense within the world and to keep the characters genuine. If you found out at 25 years old that you were an Elvish princess, how would you react?
Do you have critique partners or beta readers? I do and I absolutely need both. I’m very lucky to two great critique partners who help keep me from wandering down various plot rabbit holes. I also have a few dedicated beta readers that I couldn’t do without. Sometimes I get too close to the material to see it properly so their input is critical.
What do you think makes a good story?
Great characters. If the characters are good enough, you’ll follow them anywhere.

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

I’m definitely a fly by the seat of my pants kind of a girl.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
All I can do is write the stories I want to write and then share them with readers. I know some of them will like what I do and some of them won’t. I just try to focus on the people who do like my work and not take the bad stuff personally. My goal is to become one of those people who doesn’t read their reviews, but so far I can’t seem to help myself.

Princess of Twilight and Dawn Book Two
By Jes Young

 Six months ago, when her long-hidden heritage came to light, Tab Bennett reluctantly let go of her past and embraced her future as an Elvish princess on the cusp of her gifts and the edge of her destiny. She never wanted a fairy tale life, but as the daughter of the Dark King and the Light Queen, that’s exactly what she got.  

Raised in exile away from the kingdom of the Inbetween, Tab has never even met the parents who ruined her life. Her mother is dead, but Tab’s father, Daniel, is alive and well, the mad ruler of the kingdom of the Underneath. He’s made it clear he wants to meet her and now that she knows all the sadness and heartache in her life can be traced directly to the Dark king’s door, Tab wants to meet him too. After all, it's because of him that the first twenty-five years of her life were a lie. It’s his fault she gave her heart to Robbin when she should have been saving it for Alex, the prince who is destined to be her Homecoming. But, most importantly, King Daniel is the one responsible for her mother’s suicide and her sisters’ murders.  

Now Tab wants justice – but she’ll settle for revenge and Finnegan Blackthorn, an Elvish warrior with secrets of his own, is going to help her get it. Together, they’ll embark on the dangerous journey to her father’s stronghold in the kingdom Underneath. Once she's there, far away from the Light in which she was raised, Tab will be forced to confront the seductive nature of Darkness and her own potential to truly become her father’s daughter.

The Tree of Stairs stood alone in the clearing, bare to the twilight sky above. It was gnarled and knotted with symbols cut deep into its bark. Its branches stretched out instead of up, reaching toward us, circling the tree like a spiral staircase.

Nicholas, the darkest of the dark elves, had brought me there the night he tried to hand me over to his king. I’d been moments away from being swallowed up by the earth when the starlings—bless their stalker-like devotion—lifted me up and carried me away.

“I told you I could find it,” I said.

“Forgive me for doubting you, Aurora,” Finn replied. “You’re sure about this?”

Every day, whether you know it or not, there are moments—choices—that will decide the shape of your life. This was one of those. I knew it; everyone knew it. Once we came back, if we ever did, none of us would ever be the same. Still, I nodded. “I’m sure.”

Finn grinned. “Whenever you’re ready, Jenny.”

Without complaint, she pulled the knife she wore strapped to her left arm and carved a symbol into the flesh of her palm. She watched while her blood bloomed and pooled there. When there was enough, Jenny pressed her hand against the bark and closed her eyes.

“What’s she doing?” I whispered.

“Only blood magic will open the tree,” Finn explained.

Jenny’s voice was soft and sing-song as she called her magic to come. I didn’t know the words she sang but some part of me, some part I wished I could deny, understood their meaning just the same. She asked the tree to recognize her, to welcome her home, back into the darkness from which she’d come. She asked the earth to open for her, to swallow her, to shield her from glaring light. She offered blood, but promised bone.

Finally, Jenny’s chant ended. For a full minute, which is longer than you’d think, there was no noise; and no movement. We – and the woods and the world beyond our tight little circle had all gone completely quiet.

Then the tree began to groan. It creaked then cracked as a long seam tore down the bright red fault line of Jenny’s blood. The wood shifted and spread until a doorway had opened in its trunk.

“What do you see?” Finn asked, as I leaned in for a closer look.

“A room, but not much else,” I said. “It’s pretty dark.”

I felt a little stir of magic around him a second before a small light flared in his outstretched palm. It floated above his head like his own personal sun, lighting the way as we walked in together.

Finn laughed when I pulled a small flashlight out of my pocket.

“Don’t be a snob,” I said, elbowing him.

The others filed in behind us and called for suns of their own. The light illuminated the walls of the room at the top of the stairs, throwing the intricate pictures  and words and symbols into relief. I touched the carvings with my fingertips, trying to understand the story they told.

“Look at this one,” Finn said, calling me over. “I think it’s about—”

At the very top of the narrow panel a man and a woman wearing a crown were shown riding into an ambush. Other figures, including one with a long braid hanging down his narrow back, hid behind rocks and trees, waiting for them. Further down the panel, the same crowned woman jumped from a tower while another figure waited to catch the baby who was falling with her. A circle of black birds stood around him on the ground. Three men, one with a wheelbarrow, one with a spade, and one with a pick stood off to the side. Two of them were looking up at the falling baby; the other looked down at three girls who were reaching up toward the light as they were swallowed up by the earth. At the very bottom, a king stood beside an empty throne.

“Us,” I said, closing my eyes. “It’s about my family.”

I felt the magic begin to gather, a storm of anger and pain and power swirling around me. I felt it settle and grow, the heat expanding in my chest. When the air was filled with expectation, with the possibility of great and terrible things, I pressed my hands flat against the panel.

Destroy this, I thought. There was a crack, as loud as thunder, and a flash of pure, gold light on my face. When I opened my eyes the panel was split, as if it had been struck by lightning. The image had been burned away.

“Are you all right?” Finn asked in a quiet voice as the others crowded in behind us. I nodded and pulled my knife from its sheath.

“Never better,” I said as I carved my initials into the charred wood.

After graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in creative writing, Jes Young was a copywriter at Random House (Ballantine Books and Crown Publishing Group) for nearly ten years. Currently she is the development manager of a small non-profit and the mother of two children under the age of ten. Her writing is done primarily between the hours of 11 p.m and 3 a.m.  

Twitter: @JesYoungWrites  

Next Stops

January 1 review
Splash of our Worlds


January 2 Promo
Reginamayross's Blog 


January 2 guest post 
Beverly @ The Wormhole


January 3 Review
Fangs, Wands & Fairydust 
Enter to win a digital copy of both Tab Bennett books -
Inbetween and Underneath!
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Denise Gardner said...

Book sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it. Thank you so much for the giveaway.

Denice Mae Cordero said...

Thank you for this chance!!! Love the color of the cover... Happy Holidays!!!

Angela Chen said...

Thanks for the giveaway!