Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interviewing Silver Smoke Author Monica Leonelle

Today, I am interviewng author Monica Leonelle about her YA book, Silver Smoke and about her. Leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of Silver Smoke!

A broken family, a deadly secret...
Siblings Pilot and Brie van Rossum are exiled to Honolulu after their mother's tragic death thrusts them into the paparazzi circus ring. It is there that Brie meets the Hallows, a superbeing race descended from archangels, who insist that everything Brie knows about her mother is a lie. Meanwhile, Pilot and his best friend Rykken research an ancient feud between two Hawaiian families and try to unlock the secrets of an emerald pendant with extraordinary powers

1.) -Please tell us about your new book.

Silver Smoke is about a hybrid race descendant of angels and humans called Hallows. The story follows Brie and Pilot van Rossum, who live in the limelight due to their father's music career. When their mother dies, they are uprooted from their home in New York City and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to escape the media frenzy. That's when Brie finds out that her mom was a Hallow and she is too. She has to manage a secret, a political battle, villains on all sides, and a love interest (or two) in addition to learning to control her newfound powers.

2.) What made you decide to write it, and why?

I don't know that I decided to write this book. At times, it feels like it decided to let me write it! But here's what the book means to me: when I was a teenager I know I struggled with authority in all aspects of my life--things I was told to do, things I was told to want, things I was told to believe. Part of growing up is taking whatever your parents and teachers taught you and forming your opinions about the world. The process of discovering yourself is already difficult, but it's aggravated by the people you love, especially if they think you are making a decision they wouldn't make (the "wrong" decision). This book series is a lot about that internal struggle that every teenager faces when they have too many people telling them what to believe.

3.) - What can we expect from you in the future? Will there be more of these same characters in another book?

Yes, Silver Smoke is the start of a series! There will be more books about Brie, Rykken, Pilot, and the rest of the crew. How many is dependent on how the first ones do.

4.) –What else would you like to write about one day?

As for other projects, I'm planning to write a second series (a trilogy, likely) with a cyberpunk aesthetic. It's something no one is really doing right now in YA.

5.) What motivated you to start writing?

I've always written about my life and the struggles I was going through. It got to the point where I couldn't be as honest as I wanted because I didn't want to hurt or upset those around me. I started writing fiction and putting bits of my experiences and ideas into characters. Every single one of my characters has parts of me and people I know mixed in.

6.) -What kind of research do you do?

I read a TON of angel mythology. Dante's Inferno, The Book of Enoch, Paradise Lost, and more. While the book is not particularly religious, I also had a solid religious background to begin with that I drew from.

As far a setting goes, I have been to Honolulu many times, so I knew the area well enough, but I spent several days walking around the streets of Manhattan because the characters will be there a bit more in the second book.

7.) -Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

It depends on whether I'm writing or editing. I tend to do huge chunks at a time. I'll spend 4 or 5 days straight writing the first draft of 8 chapters of a book. Editing also happens in even bigger chunks. I tend to get in the zone and I don't try to predict that, so daily set schedules don't work as well for me. I'm more likely to set aside whole days/weeks where all I do is write or edit.

8.) -Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere. An episode of The Office. A Taylor Swift song. A math class I took in college. A lot of things in my books are inspired by things that happened to me in real life. The made-up parts of my books (the Hallows and the Nephilim particularly) are inspired by actual mythology with all sorts of creatures--vampires, mermaids, selkies, and more.

9.) -Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?

Lots of authors have influenced my writing. CS Lewis, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and more. There are authors I wish would influence my writing more, like Maggie Stiefvater, Alice Munro, and Kristin Cashore. On a different level, I'm heavily influenced by amazing storytellers like James Cameron. I want to do more stories like the ones he does.

10.) -Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Not at all. I don't think real writers get into it for the profession, because really, you could find so many better ways to make money. I think real writers can't help but write, and then eventually through a combination of luck and hard work they figure out how to make money from it.

11.) -What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Creating characters that people care about as much as I do. People don't realize that authors constantly talk to their own characters. They are like imaginary friends. I always ask my editors, "Why do you think Brie did this?" and they say, "You created her!" But really, characters have their own minds and motivations that live entirely outside of the author.

12.) -Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)

I'm married with a westie dog named Mia. My hobbies are writing and reading and watching episodes of Glee and other shows that I'm probably out of the target audience for. My undergrad is in computer science and my graduate degree is in business (proof that you don't need a degree in English or writing to be an author).

13.) -Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Sure. If you really want it, you'll get it through hard work. There isn't a bucket of talent that is only reserved for a chosen few--anyone can improve their writing and storytelling skills. People who want it finish their books. They start new, better books using the knowledge they've gained from the first books. They hone their craft. They learn the publishing industry inside and out. They educate themselves with writing classes. They seek out the right people. It's never a matter of "if" for people who really want it; it's a matter of when. "When" can come faster with hard work.

14.) Tell us your website, MySpace, Blog, any urls so the readers can find out more about you.

Blog: http://monicaleonelle.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/monicaleonelle
Twitter: http://twitter.com/monicaleonelle
Silver Smoke preview: http://sevenhalosseries.com

15.) Now for something fun:
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Exotic or mundane? Exotic
Favorite color? Pink
Favorite mythological being? Angels
Favorite paranormal creature? Mermaids
All time favorite book? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
All time favorite movie? Can't Hardly Wait
If you could go anywhere in the universe where would that be? Somewhere where there is life on other planets
A secret desire?
That you'll read my book! (Though that might not be a secret…)

Author Bio:
Monica Leonelle is a 27-year old writer living in Chicago with her husband and her Westie dog. She is the author of Silver Smoke, the first book in the Seven Halos series. When she is not writing about Brie, Rykken, and Pilot, she is working on a young adult cyberpunk trilogy.


Tarot By Arwen said...

This sounds like such an interesting book. I love YA. :)

Wendy said...

Angels are VERY popular in our library right now. I cannot keep these books on the shelf. I look forward to reading this one!

perisquire30 said...


I love the premise of your book! I'm definitely going to add it to my TBR list ASAP! I hope that you have a TON of success with this series. It sounds like a winner to me!

Roni Lynne
YA Adventures in the Paranormal...and Beyond!

Judy said...

I enjoyed your post and interview. This looks like a very interesting read. I think my 13 year old granddaughter would also enjoy it.


Mannouchka said...

I really enjoy your post that sounds like such a very interesting book Hope to read soon