Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waning Moon

Today's guest is P.J. Sharon. She says she knew she would be a writer someday when she was a little girl sitting on her grandpa’s knee and telling him stories that he would help put on paper. By the time she entered kindergarten she could already read and write, and she couldn’t wait to look up new words every morning in the ginormous Webster’s Dictionary that sat in the book case at the bottom of the stairs. She would get on the bus and ask her friends, “Do you know what pulchritudinous means?” Between that and challenging the boys to push-up contests at the bus stop, she mostly sat alone on those bus rides to school. But that just meant she had more time to make up stories.

ABOUT THE BOOK

P.J. Sharon's latest book is Waning Moon. In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Charmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the attraction between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put her in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

1.      When did you begin to write? What prompted you to write your first book?

I’ve always kept journals and diaries, but I began to write toward publication about seven years ago after a financial seminar that got me thinking about what I would do in my retirement. Of course, retirement was years away, but I knew that I had a lot to learn before I would be able to write anything publish-worthy. My first book came about when I was researching the book market and realized that 55% of the books sold were romance novels. I thought, I know about romance. I could do that. All I needed was an idea. One day while working with a client, we joked about how perfect life would be if we lived on a tropical island, could stay young and beautiful forever, and have hunky guys waiting on us hand and foot. She laughed and said, That sounds like a romance novel. Nine months later, I had a hundred thousand word paranormal fantasy. It was horribly written and broke a zillion writing rules, but I had a blast writing it and realized I really could do this. With the help of Romance Writers of America, critique partners, workshops and conferences, six years later, I did just that.

2.      Why did you choose your particular genre?

After writing four full length novels in various genres, I realized I was having difficulty writing in deep point of view, a problem that was holding me back and seemed a common reason for the rejections I was getting from agents and editors. A writer friend suggested I try writing in first person. Once I did, I felt as if I’d found my writer’s voice and that my work in progress at that time, SAVAGE CINDERELLA, was a young adult novel. I began reading YA stories and fell in love with the immediacy of the drama and the intensity of the problems that teens face. I also found that I loved reliving all those firsts that I could put my own twist on. It was my chance for a do-over of sorts…like living an alternate reality through my characters.

3.      What do you like to read? Favorite authors/ books?

I have pretty eclectic tastes in what I read. As a kid, I loved mysteries and read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book I could get my hand on. As a teen, I turned to the spookier stuff of Stephen King and John Saul. In my twenties I spent a lot of time on self-help books and found Historical romances. Then in my thirties, I was drawn to literature. Books by Barbara Kingsolver completely changed the way I viewed the world of books and words. The eloquence and beauty of her writing jumped off the page. I went through a vampire and werewolf phase too, so I’m pretty indiscriminate about subject matter as long as there are engaging characters and a story that sweeps me away. My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon. Her Outlander series is the only series I’ve read more than once. Her writing is exceptional. I fell in love with her characters and still think of them often. I adore books that live on in my mind long after I read them.

4.      How do you develop your characters?

My characters come to me fully formed, but it takes me time to get to know them. I know that sounds strange, but they usually show up with some problem that needs solving and I get to travel their journey with them as they find the answers. By the end of the book, I feel like they are my friends or family. Early in the story, I step back and do some off-the-page character development by doing a character grid that outlines the goal, motivation, and conflict of the main characters as well as determining what their fatal flaw is and what they are most afraid of. Knowing these things helps me to figure out how they might respond in certain circumstances.


5.      How did you get the plot idea for your book?

I live in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts in a very small, remote town. I have neighbors who think a lot about the collapse of society as we know it. My husband and I have shared some interesting conversations over pizza and card games with them, coming up with worst case scenarios and how we would deal with them. I’m a survivalist at heart and consider myself an Apocaloptimist—someone who believes that the world is doomed but that it will all be okay anyway, LOL. Once I found the TV show, Doomsday Preppers, I knew I could write The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael. The story came to me as a trilogy and Waning Moon was born when I “saw” Lily with her brilliant green eyes and healing abilities and I thought, It’s the next generation that will either be our last or will ultimately save us.

6.      What's next for you?

I’ll be working on Book Two of the trilogy, called Western Desert, where Lily and her friend Will have to travel across post-apocalyptic US to rescue her brother and free other genetically altered kids from the Industry, a government agency set on using the abilities of these children to create an invincible army. I also have a short story prequel coming out this month as part of the WG2E (Writers Guide to E-publishing) October Anthology. The story is called Soul Redemption, and is told from the point of view of Lily’s younger brother, Zephron, a thirteen-year-old boy with a dark side that could cost Lily and her family everything, or might just save the world.

7.      What's one thing you'd like fans to know about you that they may not already know?

I was the youngest of seven children in a very noisy and chaotic household. Despite lots of dysfunctional family dynamics (alcoholism and mental illness run rampant in my family), I found a way to use those experiences in a positive way. After a few years of hard work and therapy, I realized that in order to be heard as a child, I’d had to learn to speak up, stand up for myself, and fight for what I wanted. I also had to learn to share and to work together toward common goals. Those lessons have made me who I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing. It only took seeing my life from a different perspective to recognize the gifts I’d been given. When I go through tough times, I try to remember that.

AN EXCERPT

“Wait,” I said before he got far, “I bet I could find you something to eat.” I tried to appeal to what I knew would work for any hungry male. “Would you like some of this?” I asked. My bag of premium jarred honey lay across my back, and I figured it wasn’t really a meal, but I was willing to bet he’d eat whatever he could get his hands on. Or maybe he could trade Mrs. Higgins for some soup or a place to bathe. She would likely offer him something herself once she saw him. He was clearly in need of both.

The boy eyed the honey as I pulled a glass jar out of my pack, but he put his hands up and backed away. “No, I...thanks anyway…I’ll be fine…I gotta go…” He spun away and strode across the street toward an alleyway. It wasn’t like I could invite him back to the farm. Sam would kill me if I brought home a stranger. His warnings rang clear in my head even as I caught up to the boy and grabbed his arm.

“C’mon. Let me…”

The stranger whirled around, his grey eyes cold and hard. “I don’t need some girl to rescue me!”

Stunned, I took a step back. Not only did his words come as a complete surprise, but the color of his eyes rendered me speechless. I hadn’t noticed beneath his shaggy bangs before, but his eyes were a crystalline blue-grey that reminded me of an icy lake or a stormy sky. Brilliant, backlit with sunshine, and rimmed by dark, thick lashes. I sucked in a breath, confused by somehow feeling happy while being horribly offended at the same time. My brain kicked in and my heart felt the sting.


MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR


P.J. has had many other endeavors in life, including the world of figure skating, and later, earning a black belt in martial arts. Though she was a mom at seventeen, she finished school and made it through college, earning a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant. After nineteen years, two sons, a divorce, and some fairly lean years, she found that it’s true what they say about life beginning at forty. It was about that time when she reunited with the love of her life and worked her way to owning her own business as a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yoga Instructor—all of her favorite things. To make her bliss complete, she moved out to the Berkshires and found her muse waiting for her there amongst the lilacs and humming birds.


She now writes Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life in order to share hope with others, especially teens, that no matter how tough life gets, there is always a bright spot waiting just around the corner. Her published books include the award winning YA Novels, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, available through Amazon and B&N Booksellers.

PJ will be awarding an eBook copy of THIN ICE to one commenter at each stop and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

9 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting PJ today.

PJ Sharon said...

Thanks for having me today. I'd be happy to answer questions for your readers. I'll be around all day--writing the next book:-)

p.m.terrell said...

Good morning, PJ! Thanks for being our guest today at Book 'Em North Carolina.
A couple of questions for you:
(1) How do you select your critique partners?
(2) Do you find that publishers want paranormal elements to get bigger and more fantastic since there is so much interest in vampires, werewolves and the like?
- p.m.

Tamara Ward said...

Great interview! Thanks, Book 'Em!

Mary Preston said...

I think your neighbors and my Mother would get along famously. Do you have your doomsday kit packed?


marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

PJ Sharon said...

@p.m. terrell:
1) I've had several critique partners over the years, most of whom I've found within my RWA chapter--an amazing group of dynamic writers. My current critique partners are women I met at my old public library through a writer's group. They are invaluable to my process.
2)Since I'm indie published, I have no idea what publishers are looking for these days. The trends ebb and flow, change with the wind, and are difficult to predict in terms of what will sell and when. One of the reasons I decided to self-publish was the wait time for trad books. It takes 18 months or more for most books to hit the shelves. I could never have published four books in a year with a traditional publisher.

PJ Sharon said...

@TamaraWard: Thanks for stopping in, Tamara. I so appreciate your support.

@MaryPreston: Hahahaha, there are more and more people who are jumping on board and feel the changing tide. It makes people who you thought were a bit crazy seem very smart:-) And yes, I'm slowly preparing...just in case:-)

Ingeborg said...

Great post, I enjoyed it.
Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

PJ Sharon said...

Hi Kit, thanks for stopping in and following the tour!