Friday, February 14, 2014

Feature Friday: Mindee Arnett

Mindee Arnett is the author of two young adult series. The Arkwell Academy Series, a contemporary fantasy from Tor Teen (Macmillan), and Avalon, a sci-fi thriller from Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins). She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats.  She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space.  Find her online at www.mindeearrnet.com.

Interview:

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

Mindee:
My biggest piece of advice would be patience and practice. In my experience, the biggest problem aspiring writers face is getting too impatient. I was guilty of it for sure. The desire and pressure to find an agent and to start publishing is so great that you hurry through the first draft, do a hasty revision, and then send it out. This is a guarantee set up for failure. It’s absolutely critical to be patient. Once you’ve written the first draft, set it aside for a period of time—a couple of weeks at least—before starting the revision. You need the time to distance yourself from the writing process so that you can view the story with a critical eye. The “practice” part of my advice is to keep at it and try new things. If what you’ve been doing on prior stories isn’t getting you that agent or that sale, then you need to take a different approach. Remember that writing is as much a mechanical craft akin to building houses and as it is an art. Study the craft and refine your process. You can always get better. Always.

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

Mindee:
My all-time favorite book is Harry Potter, and yes I’m talking about the series as a whole. I just love the characters and the world. I never get tired of spending time there.

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

Mindee:
Avalon came out of a combination of my love and heartbreak over Firefly, as well as my first experience with the ideas about dimensions as presented in the book Flatland.

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

Mindee:
The only real snag I hit was that the first draft of the book had two points of view. This just didn’t work, mostly because the second POV came into the story so late. The fix, of course, was to put everything in Jeth’s point of view. It posed some challenges at first, but in the end was pretty easy.

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

Mindee:
Jeth is definitely my favorite. The main character usually is. It’s a perquisite of being the main character. They need to have the most interesting story for me to want to tell it.

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

Mindee:
My journey was fairly straightforward. I started writing short stories in the sixth grade and took creative writing in high school. In college, I studied English with an emphasis in creative writing. During graduate school I started publishing my short stories in various semi-pro magazines. Not long after, I turned to writing novels. The Nightmare Affair, was my fifth novel and first YA. I queried my agent, Suzie Townsend, who signed me a few weeks later. To make a long story short, I spent a lot of time practicing the craft, I refused to give up despite rejections, and I eventually broke-through.

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

Mindee:
I’m currently revising the sequel to Avalon.

A.L.:
What made you decide to write a space novel?  Did you want to tap into your Whedonite roots?

Mindee:
Well, my sci-fi roots run a lot deeper than Joss, actually. I grew up loving Star Wars and Star Trek. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan. I think writing sci-fi was a bit inevitable given my enthusiasm for it. Also, I’ve never been one to draw much distinction between sci-fi and fantasy. My love for speculative fiction is very encompassing.

A.L.:
You've now written from both the male and the female perspectives in your YA novels.  Which do you think is easier to write?  Or is there no difference?

Mindee:
The answer is yes and yes. There are things that are easy and hard to write about both of them. I can’t genuinely pick which is easier because of the difference in point-of-view. The Nightmare Affair is written in first person and Avalon in third. Although I will speculate and say that writing a male voice in the first person would be a lot more challenging than is was writing it in third. Third person just allows for a little more distance, I think.

A.L.:
Which do you prefer to write, sci-fi or fantasy?

Mindee:
Definitely fantasy. Most of my ideas tend toward magic and the supernatural. But I’m also extremely found of science and technology. So with any luck, I’ll continue to write in both genres.

Giveaway:
Mindee is giving away two swag packs (INT).

Avalon:  A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly.


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