Friday, March 15, 2013

Feature Friday: Mindee Arnett

Mindee Arnett is a writer, horsewoman, and a self-professed fangirl. Her debut YA contemporary fantasy, The Nightmare Affair, will be available March 2013 from Tor Teen (Macmillan), and her debut YA sci-fi thriller, Avalon, is coming Winter 2014 from Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins). She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and inappropriate number of cats. She has more dreams than nightmares.

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Mindee:
Take your time and keep trying different things. The single biggest mistake budding authors make is getting in a hurry. Nearly everyone, myself included, starts querying agents way too soon. If you haven’t revised your book half a dozen times, if you can’t quote whole passages at once, if you aren’t sick to death of reading it, then you’re not ready. That sounds extreme, and to an extent I am exaggerating, but not really. You’ve really got to put in the time before submitting.

The second mistake I see is that people will keep writing new books using the same old technique and approach they’ve used before. But if you keep getting rejected, then you’ve really got to change it up. If you’re a pantser, try plotting. If you’re a hardcare plotter, trying pantsing. For me, I was a complete pantser until I went through a couple of hard rejections. Then I decided to try something new, and I became a “pantser who likes to stop and ask for directions.” In other words, I decided to do a mix of pansting and plotting. And it worked!

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Mindee:
This is such a hard, hard question. My default answer is Harry Potter—all seven books as one. But some of my current favorites are Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor—the book is rip-your-heart-out amazing, and Taylor’s writing is absolutely gorgeous. I’m in complete awe of her. I also adore The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Again, the writing is beautiful, and her character development is stunning. And of course I have to give a shout out to The Diviners by Libba Bray. The scope, the content, the complexity is Stephen King worthy.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for The Nightmare Affair?

Mindee:
A ghost whispered it to me during a séance. I think it might be a true story.

Kidding, definitely kidding. The truth is the story came out of nowhere. I was researching monsters on Wikipedia and I came across the folkloric creature. Nightmares are supposed to be demons that sit on your chest when you’re sleeping. And I thought—what if the demon wasn’t evil, but an ordinary teenage girl with an unfortunate “condition.” And that was all it took to get me going.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing The Nightmare Affair?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Mindee:
Honestly, I really didn’t. Because I had changed my approach to writing—ditching the complete pantser method for a slower, more thought out approach. I was able to identify plot holes and other issues before I stepped into them. The first draft was far from perfect, but I had no major fixes to correct, only refining and fleshing out.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in The Nightmare Affair is your favorite and why?

Mindee:
Dusty is definitely my favorite. For me, that’s a bit of a perquisite for a main character. Part of the fun in writing is getting to be somebody other than myself for a while, and I want to play the coolest, most interesting character. Aside from Dusty, however, I really enjoyed writing her best friend Selene. Selene is cool, Selene is wise, and she can kick serious ass.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Mindee:
Well, it was pretty standard in a lot of ways. I started writing short stories for fun when I was about twelve, and by the time I hit college I got serious about writing and started to submit shorts to various literary magazines. I published a few and then decided to try my hand at novel writing.  I wrote four “trunk” novels before The Nightmare Affair.

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Mindee:
I’ve actually finished the first draft of the sequel and will start edits on it soon. I can’t wait to start sharing the details, especially the title. At present I’m at work on the prequel to my sci-fi series Avalon, which debuts from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) Winter 2014.

A.L.:
The Nightmare Affair is about a girl who is literally a nightmare.  How did you go about trying to make her a likable character when her role in life is to be a bad guy?

Mindee:
Wow, such a great question! Really, I never thought about Dusty as being a bad guy, because she doesn’t think of herself that way at all. She considers herself pretty ordinary. She’s got a smart mouth that gets her into trouble some times, and when it comes to magic she’s incredibly clumsy. But she doesn’t take herself or her “heritage” very seriously at all.

A.L.:
You're a Whovian and a Whedonite and a Winchester girl.  Favorite Doctor, favorite butt-kicking Whedon heroine, favorite Winchester brother.  AND why for all three?

Mindee:
And this is officially my favorite question ever!

The 10th Doctor is by far my favorite. David Tennant just owns that character. He’s funny and clever and confident without being cocky. He also has insane chemistry with all his costars.

Favorite Whedon hero is Malcolm Reynolds, of course, but my heroine is harder to choose. I love them all. But I guess today I’ll go with Zoe from Firefly. I love how straight and tough she is, and that she’s a happily married woman. And I’m utterly convinced that at the end of Serenity, Zoe is actually pregnant and will become a kickass mom (albeit without Wash, but let’s not talk about that).

Favorite Winchester is Dean. He wins by a landslide. Not only is incredibly hot, but he’s got the best sense of humor.

A.L.:
Tell us a little bit about your absolute favorite horse ever.

Mindee:
Tough, tough question. But my absolute favorite is probably my very first horse. I’ve had her since I was twelve. She’s twenty-five years old now and retired, but I know her better than any horse alive, and I trust her completely. In her prime, we did a lot of endurance races—long distance trail rides of 25+ miles—and it’s a very special bonding experience to have a horse carry you so far. She’s truly special.

The Giveaway:
Mindee is giving away a signed copy of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR! (NAT)

The Nightmare Affair:  Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.


A.L.'s Review: 


Read Goodreads Reviews.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.
Buy on Amazon. 

How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to national entrants only.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway