I'm beyond thrilled to be a tour host for the 2nd Annual Authors Are Rockstars tour! First off I want to thank Rachel @ Fiktshun, Jaime @ Two Chicks On Books, and Mindy @ Magical Urban Fantasy Reads for doing such a great job organizing this tour. There are SO MANY fabulous authors participating, with interviews, guest posts, giveaways... just so much epic content! Without the organizational work of these amazing bloggers there wouldn't BE a tour, so major props to them.
Today I'm hosting Renee Collins, whose debut novel, Relic, will be released from Entangled Teen on August 27.
Why Renee Collins is a rock star:
I was thinking about my answer to this question, and I looked to the name of this blog tour -- Authors Are Rockstars. Or another way of seeing it: Authors, OUR Rockstars. I think for bloggers and other reading fanatics, authors are the ones we adore, the ones we look up to for creating the worlds we love. I admire the dedication it takes to come up with an idea, craft a book, revise a book, and then help that book into the world, whether it be through finding an agent and a publisher, or by self-publishing. I admire Renee for the reason I admire all authors: for the hard work and dedication that it takes to bring their creation to life.
Renee, specifically, is a rockstar author because she's written a book that I found wholly original. I, like many of you, read a lot, so even when I find a book I really adore there are usually easy comparisons to be made. I can honestly say that Relic stands on its own. I love that Renee has taken a risk, writing in a genre (Western) that doesn't get a lot of press. She's included everything you would expect from a Western, and yet she's turned everything upside down by including a fantasy element in Relic. While this is definitely a Western, it's set in a magical alternate history. Renee has written about "magic as a physical commodity that could be bought and sold" (to quote Renee), and she's done it in a way that I've never seen before.
While searching for more information about the book and about Renee, I found out that she was also a history major (more on that in our interview, below) and she's a board game geek who loves Settlers of Catan (quoted here). So basically I'm pretty sure we are spirit twins (except Renee actually has a twin, so ... spirit triplets? What?).
Renee is most definitely an author rockstar, and with her debut novel releasing this month I already cannot wait to see what she comes out with next (see our interview below for what that will be!).
1. I grew up in Hawaii, right across from the beach. And yes, I know how to surf.
2. I have a twin sister. She’s my best friend and Official Story Consultant™.
3. I have a passion for History. My favorite areas to study are Asian and American Histories, though in my crazy college days I had a special fascination with Communism.
4. My writing fuel is air-popped popcorn with a chilled Dr. Pepper on ice. Doesn’t get any better than that.
5.I am represented by the amazing Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary +Media
Where to find Renee:
Website / Twitter / Blog / Relic series on Facebook / Renee on Facebook
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Series: Relic #1
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.
Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.
Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
>> My review of Relic <<
Interview with Renee Collins:
Ashley: For those who haven't yet read Relic, how would you pitch the book in the length of a tweet (140 characters or less)?
Renee: YA Fantasy set in the rugged Old West, where miners pan for magic bones of extinct fantasy creatures, a girl fights to protect her sister.
Love that description!
You use a lot of Western tropes in Relic, and yet I didn't find the characters or other elements to be cliché at all. How did you work at including these aspects while still keeping things fresh?
Well, first off, thanks! From the beginning, I knew it could be risky dealing with the iconic tropes of the Old West. Very easy to drift into cliche. So, I’m glad to hear I avoided that. I intentionally chose these tropes with the idea to give the each aspect of the setting and character a twist based off the magic. For example, in a wilderness inhabited with wild animals descended from dragons, trolls, and werewolves, cowboys would need to be skilled warriors, in addition to cattle ropers.
Mmm, and what interesting cowboy characters you have included!
While using relics can be very dangerous, I can also think of a lot of situations where they would come in handy. What type of relic would you most like to have use of?
I think I’d pick goblin relic, which gives the user invisibility. Talk about useful!
What is your favourite scene in the book? Was there any line or scene you loved which didn't make it past editing?
I love any scene with Álvar Castilla. He’s one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written actually. And yes, there is a scene with Álvar that I cut way back in edits with my agent, before I even had a book deal, that I was very sad to see go. I can’t tell you what it is, though, because that would be spoilerish!
Ooh.. Álvar is definitely a complicated, but interesting character.
Speaking of characters, I really admired the fact that Maggie was such a strong and capable character, and yet she also wasn't afraid of asking for help. Which YA heroines do you think she would be friends with or admire?
Maggie is definitely strong in a period appropriate way. She’s not the type who would deliver a roundhouse kick to the bad guy’s face, but she’ll do what it takes to protect herself and those she loves. I think she could get along great with Gemma Doyle or Jane Eyre (who’s not YA, but still.)
I see that you were a history major (I was too!). What is your favourite period of history to study? Did anything you researched in college help you to write about (an admittedly alternate version of) the old West?
It sounds cliche, but I loved studying just about any era and region of history. Though, surprise, surprise, I took several classes on the American West! In fact, one of my big, capstone class papers was on prostitution and madams in the Old West. I’d definitely say it helped me create a more accurate starting point from which to inject a little magic.
Many times authors include little bits of their lives into their books. Did you do this at all, and if so, how?
I definitely think Maggie has bits of me in her. But Adelaide does as well. And I based a lot of Ella’s personality on my daughter (who’s name also happens to be Ella. ;) )
Do you have any particular writing rituals?
I have my favorite nook on the couch, and I love having popcorn and Dr Pepper to fuel me. I also love to listen to film scores, because they can be so emotional and epic.
Can you tell us any tidbits about your next project after Relic?
I’m working on the sequel to Relic right now! All I can say is that we definitely get to see A LOT more of this magical, alternate historical world. So that’s always fun.
This definitely excites me! I'm so ready to spend more time in that world.
We all know that authors (like yourself!) are rockstars. Who are your author rockstars?
Libba Bray is amazing. I’d retire happy if I could write something as amazing as The Diviners. Also Neil Gaiman. GAH, he’s good. Just fantastic. And finally Kasie West, because she writes witty, charming dialogue better than anyone else out there, and romance that absolutely sparkles with chemistry.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Renee! I'm so excited for Relic to make its way out into the world, and for others to discover its magic.
Please see Rafflecopter for full details. US only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you pre-order Relic be sure to check out the awesome preorder giveaway that Renee is hosting. You can also read a piece of flash fiction that Renee wrote, set in the world of Relic.
The tour is running from August 1 - 31, 2013.