Friday, January 3, 2014

Feature Friday: Erica Orloff

Don't forget to enter yourself in a chance to win select YA faerie and fantasy novels (ends 1/15) 

After publishing over 20 novels for adults, including Freudian Slip, nominated for best contemporary romance of 2009 by Romantic Times, Erica Orloff took to her Russian ancestry to write the award-winning middle-grade fantasy trilogy The Magickeepers (Jabberwocky), under the pen name Erica Kirov. She also writes young adult novels for Penguin, including new release In Dreams. Her adult novels have earned mentions in many publications, such as Cosmopolitan and Us Weekly, as well as being translated into nine languages. A mom of four, in her non-existent free time, she likes to knit, garden, read, and play her electric guitar.

Interview:

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

Erica: 
Write your passion. Write the book you HAVE to write, not what's on trend. I remember, a few years ago, meeting several aspiring authors at a conference I spoke at . . . who were turning to YA because it was "hot" and "easier to break in." Yet I didn't have a sense they liked writing for teens--or even liked teens, period!

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

Erica: 
I can't pick one. That's cruel and unusual punishment. LOL!  A couple of faves include Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, as well as The Blind Assassin. I love anything Bill Bryson writes. I'd read his laundry list. I loved Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for In Dreams?

Erica: 
I am a chronic insomniac (as is my teen heroine). I am also, at times, a lucid dreamer (ditto). I wanted to write a book about the blending of dreams and reality. Then I came up with the idea of a young woman discovering her father is Morpheus, the god of dreams  . . . and a novel was born. Much of Iris's insomnia issues . . . I took that frustration from my own life.

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

Erica: 
I did. I struggled a bit with the magical realism. Where IS Iris when she goes into the Underworld? I am someone (please tell me I am not the only one) who finds her mind blown by movies like The Matrix. That sort of alternate reality--time travel movies, too--I sometimes have to press "pause" on my DVD to try to figure out plot points. "Wait . . . if he's in THAT reality then . . . WHAT?!?!?!" So I needed to get clear in my own mind the world. I fixed it essentially by finding my world's rules.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in In Dreams is your favorite and why?

Erica:
I think it's EVERYONE'S (so far, even Kirkus) favorite character. Aphrodite. She is larger than life and I ADORE her. I wrote that "part" for Melissa McCarthy. Melissa? Are you listening?  :-)  Option my book!

I love Aphrodite because she is completely and totally comfortable in her own skin. AND, even more than that, she loves life, embraces it; she has a zest for living passionately that I try very much to embody in my own life.

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

Erica: 
I sold my second completed novel at the beginning of the "chick lit" craze. Spanish Disco. I was kind of surprised that it was labeled as a book about an "anti-heroine." That people found Cassie Hayes as unusual in that regard. I hadn't thought of her that way. Maybe because, I suppose, I am an anti-heroine in my own life if I were going to compare myself to my character. My books have consistently had a high "quirk" factor. Not typical romance heroines in any way, shape, or form. In my book Double Down (re-releasing on Kindle in January), Skye is a compulsive gambler. Cassie in Spanish Disco is definitely flirting with alcoholism and has a "colorful" vocabulary; she's also a tough cookie. Georgia Ray in Diary of a Blues Goddess is a bi-racial wedding singer whose best friend is a drag queen. My journey has been about finding my voice--a voice as oddball as I am. When my kids were hitting elementary school, I wanted them to be part of my writer's journey--so I wrote The Magickeepers trilogy. And I found I truly loved the middle grade--and then YA genre. My journey has been about finding the worlds I want to write about.

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

Erica:
Something new. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a way I have never seen before. VERY dark. Very different. I hope a haunting love story.

A.L.:
Iris, the main character, finds out she's the daughter of the god of dreams.  Which pantheon did you chose to work with and why?

Erica: 
I worked with Greek mythology, obviously. But Epiales (the god of nightmares) and Morpheus (the god of dreams)  . . . have a varied mythology, not as well-developed as, say, Poseidon or Zeus. So I got to play with their story a little bit. Epiales, I hope, looks at nightmares in a new way. What won't you give voice to? Aphrodite talks about how movies like Saw are NOT imaginative. Thinking up torture porn, ways to mutilate WOMEN in new and inventive ways? I don't think it's entertaining. I think our real nightmares are things we can't imagine because we don't even want to WHISPER those thoughts. They're about our loved ones. They're things that make us shiver and then we try to change our thought pattern right away. We don't even want the wisp of that thought in our head.

A.L.:
Do you like Virginia or New York better and why?

Erica:
I like Virginia as a place to raise my children. I've made dear and wonderful friends here that I treasure in my heart and am so grateful for. I am a woman whose female friendships are absolutely sacred to me. But I miss NY. Very much. When I go "home"--and it will ALWAYS be home to me--I almost physically feel myself relax, a SIGH. A soul sigh. I'm home. NYC has a rhythm all its own.

A.L.:
You've written books for almost all ages.  Which age group do you prefer to write for and why?

Erica:
I love writing my adult romantic-comedies. The quirkiness. The dialogue. But I love writing YA because it's a way to communicate with teens--I love that AUDIENCE. And as I said in a speech I gave not too long ago, when I write YA it is a conversation with my teen self. And if you look within the pages of my YA writing, you will see the messages I want to say to that girl.

The Giveaway:
Erica is giving away a copy of IN DREAMS (Int).

In Dreams: Inception meets Unearthly in this hot romance for fans of Meg Cabot’s Abandon Series!

In the land of nightmares, she finds the man of her dreams...
He haunts her in her dreams.
She is always searching, looking for the man who calls her from afar, a disembodied voice who knows everything about her.
But when she discovers the unimaginable secret her family has hidden for so long, her dreams—and her nightmares—invade her reality.
Her true love beckons, but the terrors await her. . . . Can she find him in time, or will their love—and her life—be destroyed?

Sixteen-year-old Iris has a recurring dream a long corridor of many doors, and behind each door a hidden world—some magical, some terrifying. But always she is searching for the man who calls to her—the man of her dreams—who knows everything about her, who stirs feelings in her she’s never felt before. When she discovers her father is actually the god of dreams, her nightmares and dreams follow her into reality, with both frightening and romantic results. Hunted by the god of nightmares, stalked by the horrifying creatures of the underworld, Iris must try to navigate both her worlds, as she tries to finally be with Sebastian, the man of her dreams. Can she triumph over the dangers that have haunted her forever, and be with Sebastian, or will terrors ultimately destroy them both?


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