Ash Poston, BEYOND OUR STARS, Bloomsbury Spark, Cat Kalen, Christine Duval, Frankie Brown, Jen McConnel, Jenny Kaczorowski, Marie Langager, Meredith Rich, POSITIVELY MINE, PRIDE'S RUN, THE ART OF FALLING, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, THE SOUND OF US, UNTIL WE END
I’m so, so excited to be able to “introduce” the debut class of authors of Bloomsbury’s new digital YA/NA imprint, Bloomsbury Spark, headed up by the lovely Meredith Rich. These seven authors and books will be the imprint’s very first, so here’s a chance to get to know them all a little better on their debut day!!!
Each of the Sparkies answered the same three questions, which are posted at the bottom, plus a bonus fourth about her specific book. Then Meredith told me what drew her to each book and how she knew they were Sparkworthy!
So, check out all seven books and tell us in the comments what you’re excited to read!
Ashley Poston, THE SOUND OF US
Graduating from the University of South Carolina, Ashley Poston interned at Random House Publishers under Kodansha USA, where she edited the Sailor Moon manga and that was really, really, really cool. She wrote a play that won some award, and can quote every Motion City Soundtrack lyric by heart. She currently lives in South Carolina with her cat (aka her soulmate) and a plethora of books. When she’s not writing, she’s going to the movies (her second favorite past time) or taking extravagant road trips (her third favorite past time).
America’s favorite pop band, Roman Holiday, is done, dead, and so totally last year. For eighteen-year-old rockoholic Junie Baltimore, this is music to her ears. But when she discovers their sexy ex-lead singer hiding out on the boardwalk, her summer vacation becomes the cover story of the year.
She’s willing to keep him a secret, but when a sleazy paparazzo offers her the cash she needs to save the bar her father left behind, could she sell out for the chance to save her future? Who is she kidding? That’s a no-brainer…but she never planned on falling head over heels for the lead singer.
Ash’s Bonus Q: What real-life lead singer would Junie be head-over-heels for? What about you?
A: Ha! Well, in the story Junie’s head-over-heels for Bon Jovi, and she’d probably hate everything from Fun to Maroon 5 to the Biebs. I, only the other hand, will proudly admit to my massive fan-boner for Nate Reuss. Fun’s first album, Aim and Ignite, is such a perfect album in my opinion. It has everything I could ever want in a listening experience. I’m really passionate about my music, kind of like Junie!
Why Meredith loves it: Ashley has written a truly kickass MC who is trying to figure out what to do with herself after high school, all the while fighting against pop music.
Frankie Brown, UNTIL WE END
Frankie Brown writes, sells and hoards books in Athens, GA, a funky little town famous for its music scene. But, as anyone who’s ever heard the fruits of Frankie’s musical endeavors can attest, her talents lie elsewhere. She’s turned her creative energy to crafting stories and can typically be found hunched over a keyboard in her neighborhood coffee shops.
It’s been nine months since the virus hit, killing almost everyone it touched.
Seventeen-year-old Cora and her little brother, Coby, haven’t left home since. Not after the power cut out; not even after sirens faded in the distance and the world outside their backyard fence fell silent.
But when a blistering drought forces Cora to go in search of water, she discovers that the post-apocalyptic world isn’t as deserted as she thought when she meets Brooks, a drop-dead sexy army deserter.
Fighting their way back home, Cora finds her house ransacked and Coby missing – kidnapped by the military for dangerous medical experiments in the name of a cure. Brooks knows exactly where Cora can find her brother, except it’s a suicide mission. Cora doesn’t care. But Brooks can’t let her go…
Frankie’s Bonus Q: In a love triangle between you, Cora, and Brooks, who would end up alone, and why?
A: I would definitely end up alone, ha! I’m nowhere near tough enough for Brooks or Cora. And anyways, they kind of scare me.
Why Meredith loves it: Frankie takes a bunch of the dystopian tropes and pushes past them with fresh characters and a gripping story that you can’t put down.
Jenny Kaczorowski, THE ART OF FALLING
Jenny writes almost possible impossible things, at least when she’s not wrangling her two wild children or working as a grant writer. She’s also an avid photographer, loves music despite no discernible musical talent and reads the dictionary for fun. You can follow her on twitter, Facebook, and her blog.
For seventeen-year-old Bria Hale, image is everything. She’s a militant vegan with purple hair, Doc Martens and a permanent scowl. Kissing captain of the football team Ben Harris? Definitely not part of that image.
Now with each secret kiss, she’s falling deeper for the boy every girl at Oceanside High is crushing on. Throw in a few forbidden bacon cheeseburgers and she’s facing one major identity crisis.
Ignoring Ben should be easy, but when a flashy display of artistic spirit lands her in close quarters after hours with the boy she’s too cool to like, she can’t keep pretending those kisses meant nothing. With her reputation and her heart on a collision course, Bria must either be true to herself or to the persona she’s spent all of high school creating.
Jenny’s Bonus Q: Bria’s got a very distinct presence – what was high school Jenny like?
A: Not quite as interesting as Bria, although I did dye my hair a lot and owned a pair of Doc Martens. I was an art kid, but also very involved in my church youth group, the newspaper and National Honor Society. My favorite teacher gave me the best compliment ever when he told me he never figured me out. So I guess the best way to describe high school Jenny would be a contradiction!
Why Meredith loves it: The kissing scenes. (Oh is that not enough? THE KISSING SCENES.)
Christine Duval, POSITIVELY MINE
Christine Duval lives in New Jersey with her guitar-playing husband, two awesome kids, and a sweet little lovebird. She loves pizza and sushi, in that order. If she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking or carpooling. “Positively Mine” is her debut novel. Follow her here:
It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test was unexpected. Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide.
An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.
Christine’s Bonus Q: Laurel ends up being fairly isolated; who’s on your autodial list for dealing with a crisis, no matter how small?
A: My husband Paul, my mom or dad (depending who answered the phone first), my two sisters, Laura and Deb, plus two of my oldest friends: Jen, who I’ve been besties with since 6th grade; and Mara, since freshman year of college. And it is safe to say it would be consecutive phone calls, taking up most of my afternoon, followed by back and forth emails, probably a couple texts…until said crisis was resolved. I have a tendency to overreact.
Why Meredith loves it: On every read I fall right into the college world and I love a voyeuristic look into life as a pregnant freshman.
Marie Langager, BEYOND OUR STARS
Marie Langager lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son. She has a degree in English Literature. She’s certain that many new adventures await us beyond our stars.
Fleeing a destroyed Earth, seventeen-year-old orphan Hope grew up living in the confines of a spaceship heading to CR-3, a new home planet. She’s been kicking the steel walls for too long and ever since she broke her boyfriend’s heart, touchdown could mean open air and a fresh start. But no one expected the Locals.
Hope’s dreams of freedom turn into nightmares when the Locals trap the humans and mark groups for observation. At any moment she can be called into a holographic observation room for testing. Some days she’s drowning in a strange dark ocean, some days she’s locked up without food, and all with the one boy she can’t seem to forget.
As the Locals study Hope, she studies them. She wants to believe the tall grey creatures could be peaceful, but as the simulations become more dangerous, Hope is about to become the human race’s last chance for survival.
Marie’s Bonus Q: If you were fleeing Earth like Hope, what would you take with you?
A: If I was fleeing Earth and only allowed to take what I could fit in a backpack…Hmm. I’d bring the photo of my dearly departed grandfather and me on my wedding day, the stack of notes written between my husband and I during high school that I have tied in a ribbon, and then I’d let my son fill up the rest.
Why Meredith loves it: I love that Hope is accidentally popular on her spaceship, (and not always terribly friendly), and that this allows her to become an unlikely leader on their new planet.
Cat Kalen, PRIDE’S RUN
Cat Kalen is a multi published author in the romance genre under two pen names, Cat is a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and friend. She loves dogs, sunny weather, anything chocolate (she never says no to a brownie) pizza and watermelon. She has two teenagers who keep her busy with their never ending activities, and a husband who is convinced he can turn her into a mixed martial arts fan. Cat can never find balance in her life, is always trying to find time to go to the gym, can never keep up with emails, Facebook or Twitter and tries to write page-turning books that her readers will love.
Eighteen year old Pride is a tracker with a hunger for blood. Taught to trick and to lure, she is the perfect killing machine.
Kept leashed in the cellar by a master who is as ruthless as he is powerful, Pride dreams of freedom, of living a normal life, but escape from the compound is near impossible and disobedience comes with a price.
When she learns her master intends to breed her she knows she has to run.
Pride soon learns if she is to survive in the wild, she must trust in the boy who promises her freedom, the same boy she was sent to hunt.
Cat’s Bonus Q: Pride’s got her own survival tactics, now what are yours for getting through writing and revisions?
A: I love this question! I did quite a bit of extensive edits, and with Meredith’s help we’ve made this book shine! What were my survival tactics? Well, after a lot of mumbling and name calling (JK!…sort of!) I simply dug in. Armed with lots of coffee and snacks, and ignoring any and all household chores, I sat at my computer for many hours each day, revising, deleting and rewriting until i was happy with the end product. At the end of the night, I always rewarded myself with chocolate!
Why Meredith loves it: Gripping, steamy…Cat writes romance so well and her shape shifters offer a new twist on paranormal NA.
Jen McConnel, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY
Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Visit http://www.jenmcconnel.com to learn more.
Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Freshout of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape
to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.
They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.
Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.
Jen’s Bonus Q: Isobel Key lived in Scotland in the 17th Century; where would you have liked to live during that time and why?
A: When I was growing up, I always fantasized about where in time I’d rather live, but this is actually a really tough question; there weren’t a lot of safe places back then for an opinionated woman! I suppose I’d have to say Italy, so I could sneak into a Commedia dell’arte troupe and see what it’s like to live the life of a wandering performer.
Why Meredith loves it: I love Scotland. I love Scottish men. Especially redheads. Enter Brian. *END SCENE*
And now, to complete the epicness of this momentous launch day, here are the three questions asked of all seven Sparkies:
1. Not only are some of you debut authors, but you’re also imprint pioneers! What’s been the most exciting “First” of the whole experience?
Ash: Getting to work with the fabulous Meredith Rich, esteemed Editor-in-Awesome. But I also really love the camaraderie I have with my fellow Sparkies. It’s definitely a first for me to have such a tight-nit group of authors who just *get* you. Craziness and all.
Frankie: The most exciting first for me was seeing that offer pop into my inbox after months of refreshing my email. I screamed. I ran to the bookshop where I work and screamed some more. I worried that there had been a nightmarish mix-up and the offer had gone to wrong writer! The next morning when I woke up and the emails from Meredith were still there, I was so relieved. It still feels like a dream sometimes.
Jenny: The first time I saw my cover comps! Seeing my title, with my name and the imprint logo, on a professional cover stole my breath! That’s the moment it became real for me.
Christina: For me, it was that very first email from Meredith Rich that said, “I am thrilled to make you an offer.” After that, getting to know all my fellow Spark authors and being a part of the process – not just working on “Positively Mine” but promoting the entire imprint. It has all been such a thrill!
Marie: I think for me it’s been getting to have the other authors in the launch with me! It’s really cool to be a pioneer with a whole team of fantastic writers, experiencing it at the same time!
Cat: It’s hard to pinpoint what has been the most exciting experience so far because everything, from the first email editor extraordinaire Meredith Rich sent me, to receiving the contract and edits have been thrilling. It has also been such a pleasure getting to know the other Sparkies, and together we’re going to move mountains!!
Jen: Oh, man, too many to count! I think the best “first” was getting my first peak at the cover concepts. It’s been so fun watching ISOBEL be reborn, and I LOVE the new cover!
2. What gives your main character that extra Spark? (SEE WHAT I DID THERE??)
Ash: (YOU’RE SO PUNNY.) The main character for THE SOUND OF US has pink hair. YES, PINK HAIR. You can definitely see her from space… But she’s also a pretty rad girl. She has a lot of pressure put on her, and she doesn’t break under it. I think that’s pretty remarkable. She questions herself, but I think everyone at eighteen questions who they are in terms of the world, and his or her “place” in it. Oh, and she’s a “radio heart” which pretty much means she can name any song on the radio in five notes flat. She’s better than Shazam and SoundHound put together!
Frankie: The thing I love most about my main character, Cora, is that she’s tough, smart and also very human. Her world is morally gray (a dark charcoal gray) and she’s willing to make the gray decisions necessary for the sake of the people she loves. But she hates it.
Jenny: Bria is all spark! She’s a militant vegan with purple hair, Doc Martens and amazing artistic talent. I love her independence and the way she cares about the people in her life. She’s definitely a caretaker with an inner vulnerability that I find so endearing. For all her external bluster, she still has a long journey to be okay with herself, just like all of us.
Christina: I think what gives Laurel her “Spark” is her underlying strength. I don’t always agree with the choices she makes along the way, but I love how she perseveres through several difficult situations – even when she is scared, she manages to keep going.
Marie: Hope is brave, passionate, and determined. She’s also understandably scared and often so very flawed. She’s deeply in love but doesn’t want to lose herself in that love. And she’s not a person who gives up easily.
Cat: I think my character is special because she’s so flawed, yet she has such an inner strength and fights for what she believes in.
Jen: Lou is shy and uncertain, but what really lights her fire is her fascination with history and her willingness to believe the unbelievable.
3. If the seven of you made a Bloomsbury Spark soundtrack, what would your book’s contribution be?
Ash: Since Junie is a connoisseur of all things classic rock, she’d probably be FLAMING HOT-ROCKS MAD if I didn’t solemnly swear to include Bon Jovi (pre-haircut days).
Frankie: It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M., of course! Being from Athens, how could I pick anything else?
Jenny: Only one?! I guess I’d go with “Am I Missing” by Dashboard Confessional. But if I could also pick one for Ben it would be “Strange Girl” by The Airborne Toxic Event.
Christina: All my fellow Sparkies know this answer by now…Sarah Barreilles’ album “Kaleidoscope Heart” would be my contribution. I listened to it the entire time I was writing the first draft of “Positively Mine.” If I could only pick one song it would be “Uncharted.”
Marie: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
Cat: Mine would seriously have to be the Rocky Tribute, Eye of the Tiger. (Just a girl and her will to survive!)
Jen: It’s always gotta be Queen with me, so I’d throw in “Don’t Stop Me Now”. LOVE that song, and love listening to it when I need a jolt of energy.
Pretty freaking awesome, huh? Wanna be a Sparkie? Here’s what’s on Meredith’s wishlist now:
Right now I am looking for more genre fiction, (high-concept science fiction and fantasy in particular,) and contemporary romance as long as it has a great hook and feels fresh. We are looking for more male main characters, and also for stories that would do well with an international audience. Right now I am also on the hunt for fun YA/NA romance novellas for various times of the year, (think prom, spring break, snowy winter, etc.) As for my personal taste, I am always drawn to a really strong voice, I love humor, and I am looking to expand our New Adult offerings. I love stories that take you on an adventure and spark your imagination, but also let you get a good sigh-worthy moment in now and then.
You can find all of our submission guidelines here: www.bloomsbury.com/Spark
Please do include a query and information about yourself including links to your online presence. If I like your submission it makes it that much easier to find out more about you! I am always accepting submissions from agents as well, so if you are interested in Spark and have an agent, please ask them to submit to me directly.