Wednesday, September 25, 2013

X5 by Diana Stager: Interview and Excerpt


How did you start your writing career?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. I still have a book I made in Grade 3! But I’m also practical and knew I couldn’t rely on writing for a career, so I focused my efforts on my education and teaching career. Plus having a family limits writing time! Last fall, I noticed on another author’s blog that Harper Voyager was having an open submission call. Even though I didn’t have a manuscript, I had an idea that had been kicking around and decided to go for it. I never had any real hopes of getting accepted, so the rejection was no surprise. But once I had the story, I decided to search for another publisher and that’s how I found Evernight Teen.

Tell us about your current release.

X5 is story about a guy and a girl who have visions of the future and have to escape from the group holding them prisoner and using those visions to gain power and money. It’s a paranormal book with suspense, sci-fi, and romance.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

I tend to be a perfectionist, and so I often get stuck because I want to be able to use the best phrases or descriptions. Sometimes I’ll re-write the same sentence over and over until I get it right. I’m trying to do less of that and focus on getting the ideas down first, and then going back to revise afterward.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I was an Artsy. I played in the band, sang in the choir, and worked on all the plays.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Don’t ever give up! It took me a long time to get to this point, and most other writers will tell you the same thing. It’s not a world of instant success, but that doesn’t mean that success isn’t possible. Keep writing, keep learning, keep perfecting your craft. And don’t get stuck on the idea that success only comes with a contract from one of the big houses. The world of publishing is changing and there are a ton of small presses and e-publishers out there. Plus the self-publishing options are greater than they’ve ever been. If you want to get your story out, you can!

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

This is a tricky area for me. I’ve been a teacher for a lot of years and met thousands of kids in that time. I try to avoid names of students, which makes it tricky, especially with more common names. The problem is, there will always be those out there who are convinced that a character named John, for example, is really modeled after the real John Smith that I taught in 2004, or something like that. Of course, that’s ridiculous, especially with such a popular name. However, many of the characters in X5 were named after friends of mine who were particularly supportive while I was writing, even though the characters are nothing like my friends.

Entice us, what future projects are you considering?

At the moment, I’m working on the sequel to X5, which will continue where X5 left off. I have a couple other ideas that I’ve been tossing around, but nothing concrete yet. I need to finish telling Tara’s and Travis’s story first! 

Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words

Busy. Exhausting. Rewarding.

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

So far I haven’t seen any reviews! I think it’s important to keep in mind that it is impossible to please everyone. Yes, I’d be upset if someone didn’t like my book, but at the same time, if they had a valid criticism, I wouldn’t begrudge them their opinion. Unfortunately, I’ve seen reviewers attack authors without having a valid point, and I’ve seen authors react badly to reviewers who give fair and honest reviews. I will try to keep that in mind when I see reviews in the future.

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

I’m a combination. So a Planter. Or would that be a Plottser? I have to have some idea where the book is going or I’ll write myself into a corner. When I began X5, I Pantsed my way through the first half before realizing that it just wasn’t going to work. So now I try to make myself a basic outline. I don’t go nuts, just enough that I know what to do if I get stuck.

Being a socially awkward geek with anger management issues has made Travis Armstrong an outcast, but on top of that, he has visions of the future. Not that he can tell anyone, except in an anonymous online forum. When he takes a chance and meets with another group member, he winds up at The Bunker, where everyone is like him, and where, finally, he feels like he belongs.

Tara Gage has been at The Bunker since she was thirteen years old. Even among the residents there, she’s unique, and her special talents lead her to discover that The Bunker is not the safe haven it seems to be. She’s determined to escape and get back to her family.

When they each have visions of the other’s death, Travis and Tara know they have to run. With their captors desperate to get them back, they must rely on each other to get away before their visions become reality.
Buy Links:  Evernight Teen             Amazon

My foot jiggled in time to the song running through my head as I waited for my turn at the polygraphs. Travis was nowhere to be seen, and I was glad of that. Or that's what I told myself whenever I became aware of my disappointment at not seeing him. He drove me crazy, and really didn't seem at all exceptional, but a growing part of me didn't care about that, and just longed to be near him. Disgusted with myself, I tried to think of something else.
My thoughts were cut short when Travis and Mike entered the hallway, both looking upset about something. Their friendship puzzled me. I know Mike was trying to prod Travis into being more of a leader than a loner, but as far as I was concerned, it wasn't working. He was too introverted, too willing to follow along with what the rest of us were doing, or else go off by himself. Both of them sent anxious glances my way, setting me on edge, and just as I stood to go talk to them, the attendant called my name. Casting a last look their way, I turned and entered the polygraph room.
I tried to get through it as quickly as I could so I could find out why Mike had looked so worried. Of course, because I was in a hurry, things took twice as long as normal, and every second wasted irritated the crap out of me. By the time I returned to the hall, Mike was nowhere to be seen, and Travis was pacing back and forth. It seemed I had no choice but to talk to him.
Taking huge strides, I made it to Travis's side quickly and tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned, I hesitated for just a moment when my eyes locked with his, my stomach fluttering. Pull it together, Tara! I took a breath and then said, "What's up with Mike?"
Travis's eyes darted around and he turned to look over each shoulder before giving me a weird look. "Not much," he said finally, though he seemed to be trying to communicate something with his eyes. I frowned, and watched as his eyes widened, then darted to the side, his eyebrows lifting and then drawing together. What the hell? I shrugged and shook my head. Whatever he was trying to tell me wasn't coming across at all. He sighed and opened his mouth to say something else when something behind me caught his attention.
Turning, I saw a couple of armed security guards rushing into the polygraph room Mike had gone in. Remembering Cam, a band tightened around my stomach as my heart began to pound. Security only came to the polygraph rooms for one reason, and my fears were confirmed a moment later when they exited, holding Mike in between them.
"Mike!" I screamed, leaping forward to try to get to him. They couldn't be taking him away! What had he seen? My efforts to reach his side were blocked when Travis grabbed me from behind and wrapped his long arms around me. "Travis, let me go! Let me go!" I struggled against his grip, but it was like iron and I was getting nowhere. Lifting one foot, I kicked backward and connected with his shin. I heard him swear, but he didn't loosen his hold on me.
"Tara, stop," he whispered in my ear. "He knew this was going to happen."
I ignored him and screamed after Mike again. The security team nearly had him to the entrance to the administrative section of The Bunker. "No!" I yelled. "No, you can't take him! Mike!"
His eyes were full of pain when he turned to look at me one last time. I saw his mouth form the words, "I love you." And then the door slammed closed behind him. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks, my heart ached, and though my throat was raw and sore, I couldn't stop screaming. Travis wouldn't let me go no matter how hard I pulled against him. My squirming and wiggling wasn't doing any good, but I couldn't stop. The rational part of my brain knew that Mike was gone and nothing I did would help, but at the same time if I didn't try, I'd be giving up.
Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my arm and when I turned my head, I saw one of the infirmary staff standing with a syringe in her hand. I tried to say something to her, but the edges of my vision were going fuzzy, and then everything went dark.

Diana Stager never met a book she didn’t like. An avid reader from a very early age, she discovered she loved writing her own stories down. She dreamed of being able to write a book, but more sensible ambitions shoved that dream onto the back burner. Over the years, she dabbled with the written word, but always had difficulty finding the right story. Then, one day the light bulb went on, an idea was born, and the rest is history (so clich√© but so true).

Diana lives in Cambridge, Ontario in a house full of books. In the space that’s left, are her husband of 13 years, two children, and a cat, all of whom are adorable. She used to have a creepy fish, but sadly, he now swims in the big tank in the sky. She’s an elementary school teacher, who loves music and art.

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1 comment:

Diana Stager said...

Thanks for the great interview and chance to showcase my book!