I'm very excited to be joined today by the wonderful Suzanne Van Rooyen, the author of YA LGBT Sci Fi, Obscura Burning! I'll be reviewing Obscura Burning on the blog in July, so make sure to stop by if you're interested to hear what I thought about it! Today, we have a great Q&A to share with you guys, as well as a giveaway of one e-copy of Obscura Burning!
1. Welcome to Bookish, Suzanne! I'm so excited to have you here with us today! How would you describe the story of Obscura Burning to those who haven’t heard of it yet?
Thank you so much for having me! Obscura Burning is a dark and twisted story about a boy who finds himself entangled in a cosmic event after a tragedy leaves him wracked by guilt and torn between the ghosts of the two people he loves.
2. Could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind it?
This story came out of nowhere while I was working on a very different book about zombies. I was listening to music by Explosions in the Sky and this image of a boy walking through an arid landscape just popped into my head. That was my first glimpse of Kyle and so his story grew out of the dust. I think what prompted the idea of the split realities was my inability to decide whether Kyle should have a male or female love interest - so I gave him both. I'm also a bit of a quantum physics nerd and have always been fascinated by the idea of multiple realities.
3. Which part of Obscura Burning was the hardest for you to write? Have you ever experienced "writer's block"? If so, how did you deal with it?
The hardest part of writing Obscura Burning was the emotional toll this book took. It isn't an easy book to read due to its dark subject material and trust me when I say it wasn't easy to write. There were many times I had to step away from the computer because I just got too overwhelmed by what my characters were feeling and going through. I do experience writer's block - or sometimes the opposite - a flood of idea that leaves me just as incapable of putting words on a page. I try to get out when this happens, exercise or just live a little in the real world to help myself regain equilibrium.
4. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
Such a difficult question to answer because different readers relate to different aspects of the characters and story, and thus take different things away from a book. A little while ago I read a review that brought me to tears ( https://www.goodreads.
com/review/show/525416005). I never expected my work to have such a visceral affect on a reader and if other readers can take away half of what this reader did, I'd be more than thrilled. If there is any kind of message in my book or a theme to take away then it's that bad things happen that are out of control, but how we choose to react in these situations is what defines us as a person. Kyle learns this the hardest way possible.
5. What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
My favourite part of the process is feeling that giddy exuberance while a new idea takes form. My least favourite part of the process is hitting the 20k words barrier and experiencing a bout of self-doubt that makes me think everything about the story is awful. Once I push past that hurdle though, it's generally a sprint to the end of the first draft. I also love revisions. There's nothing more intimidating than a blank page but once I have a first draft, I really enjoy revisions.
6. What are some of your literary inspirations? Favorite books/authors?
It was while reading Poppy Z Brite's Lost Souls that I first decided I wanted to write a novel of my own. Her prose has definitely inspired me. My other favourite author and major inspiration is Neil Gaiman. He effortlessly weaves multiple genres into his stories, which are often extremely dark but tempered with sly humour. I love that about his work, it's good to keep in mind that sometimes we can chuckle at the darker side of life too.
7. What's next in line for you? Are you working on a new book now?
My fabulous agent Jordy Albert is currently working with two of my novels: one more paranormal, the other science fiction. While those are on submission, I'm taking a little break from active writing, giving myself some time to mull over half formed ideas. I'm hoping I'll have another bolt of inspiration, but until then I'm content to just think about my next story, letting the characters develop in my mind and the plot take shape.
8. What books are on your summer reading pile?
So many! I need to catch up on some great YA series I've been meaning to read but haven't yet like Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Veronica Roth's books. I've also got my eye on a few new releases like Coda, In the After and Proxy.
9. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I'm a bit of a hybrid. I like knowing the trajectory of my story, the basic plot points as well as the general character arc for my protagonists but how I get from A to B I leave up to my characters. I find that when I try to outline too vigorously, I end up resenting the structure and not enjoying the writing as much as I do when I'm free to write myself in and hopefully out of corners.
10. If you could write a letter to your 16 year old self, what would you talk about?
Wow, this question could be an entire essay unto itself. I think perhaps the hardest lesson for me has been dealing with disappointment - in myself, in others and in the world. I'd tell my 16yr old self to toughen up, to have more realistic expectations, to dream big but to also set achievable goals and not expect the universe to just align itself according to my whim, and, that throwing a tantrum when things don't go my way isn't going to change a thing. I railed against the universe a lot as a teenager - it never helped. I'd recommend a more Zen approach to my teenage self.
My 16yr old self had some grand ideas for what I'd do with my life and I'm quite relieved that some things didn't go according to plan else I wouldn't be writing books today.
Obscura BurningPaperback, 300 pagesPublished December 7th 2012 by Etopia Press
The world's going to end in fire...and it's all Kyle's fault.
Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore. Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...
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About the author:
Suzanne is a freelance writer and author from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Suzanne is the author of the cyberpunk novel Dragon’s Teeth (Divertir), the YA science fiction novel Obscura Burning (Etopia) and has had several short stories published by Golden Visions Magazine, Space and Time and Niteblade. Her non-fiction articles on travel, music and other topics can be found scattered throughout the Internet. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance to ninth graders or playing in the snow with her shiba inu.
Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
Suzanne is also a publicist for Entranced Publishing.
Suzanne Van Rooyen has generously offered to give away one e-book copy of Obscura Burning to one lucky International reader!
Giveaway is open to: INTERNATIONALS
Ends: May 20th
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