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Author Interview with Stephanie Judice

Hi everyone! Meet Stephanie …

About this author:

Stephanie Judice calls lush, moss-laden New Iberia, Louisiana, home where the landscape curls into her imagination creating mystical settings for her stories. She shares her small, southern lifestyle with her husband and four children. As a high school teacher of English and Fine Arts, she is immersed in mythology, legends, and art that serve as constant inspiration for her writings. Some of her favorite things are autumn leaves, southern accents, Gothic architecture, Renaissance festivals, family movie nights, and, of course, William Shakespeare. Writing is her haven for self-expression where imagination rules and dreams do come true. RISING is her debut novel in the paranormal, teen series SAGA OF THE SETTI.

Lovely, right? Now meet her new book …

Having waited a millennium to return to the fertile feeding ground of earth, the dark giants break through a portal and storm out into the world in the guise of a massive hurricane—famished and fierce. Across the ocean, seventeen-year-old Gabriel Goddard is being plagued by terrifying nightmares about creatures that singe and burn the flesh then absorb the life energy of humans and devour the ashes. A chance meeting with Clara Dunaway immediately distracts Gabe from bad dreams. He has always had a sort of sixth sense—to feel the emotions of others around him. Clara’s presence numbs his other sense, nearly knocking him into a hypnotic state. Bewildered and fascinated, he is lured in by her. When Clara finally confesses that she has a similar gift to see auras around people, a spark flames between them, ignited by a paranormal force. Fate soon reveals that there is a higher purpose for their attraction. Along with Jeremy, the head-bangin’ metal head; Ben, the air-headed golden boy; Melanie, the kind- hearted Creole; and the old hermit named Homer, they must face this enemy as one. Discovering that they are descended from an ancient clan of Norse warriors, they awaken their dormant powers, preparing for the dark giants’ imminent invasion of their home. A shadow of darkness veils the land. Will the Setti rise to fulfill their long-awaited destiny?

Stephanie will now take your questions:

Q. Tell us about your book!

RISING  is a paranormal teen romance set in southern Louisiana. Gabe and Clara are being plagued by terrifying nightmares of hellish creatures that singe and burn the flesh then devour the ashes. What they don’t realize is that these nightmares foretell reality. They soon discover that they, as well as four other friends, are descended from Norse warriors with ancient powers to defeat these demons come in to destroy their world. This first book in the series sets the stage for a dystopian series. Book two, RESISTANCE, is due out this October where they continue their journey north to train and battle with other clans.

Q. How did you come up with the idea?

Well, I knew I wanted to create villains that didn’t exist in our folklore, as vampires and werewolves do, but very well could have if we looked hard enough.  I have a fascination with Celtic and Norse mythology which played a big part in developing my characters and their world. I also wanted the heroes in my story to depend upon faith, hope, and each other in order to defeat their enemy rather than the fate of the world falling on one person’s shoulders.

Q. What’s your main character’s greatest strength, biggest flaw?

I have two main characters. Gabe’s greatest strength is his loyalty to those he loves. His greatest weakness is his inability to control his emotions. He’s also very passionate, which plays into his strength and his weakness. Clara’s greatest strength is her tenacious spirit. Her greatest weakness is when her tenacity transforms into stubbornness.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Editing. I once worked as an editor for a small publishing company and am now an English teacher, so I completely understand the need for editing. It’s just still a painstaking process. However, that shiny feeling when I’ve polished my work (with the help of amazing editors) is certainly worth all the effort.

Q. What one question do you wish an interviewer would ask you but never has?

Hmmmm… What’s your favorite color? Just kidding! (Green, by the way.) I suppose the question, “Why do you write?” The simple answer is to express my emotions, to tell stories that float around in my head, to share my love of literature. But, delving a layer deeper, I can say that I can’t not write. I believe other writers may agree with me that there is a constant compulsion to create worlds and dynamic characters and have them play out their performance on the page. Like the artist who feels compelled to paint on the canvas or a musician who must play or compose, I feel a similar sense of contentment when I am working on a story. Writing has its own kind of catharsis. I believe that it is often overlooked as a true art form.

Q. What are you working on now? Do you tend to work on multiple projects or one at a time?

I’m currently editing RESISTANCE, book two in the Setti series, which will be released this October. I’m more excited about this book than RISING, if that’s possible. I’ve also started a new novel, a demon hunter paranormal romance, set in New Orleans. I’m looking forward to working on this new novel, because it has a raw, edgy feel with a kick-butt heroine. I just love writing in her voice. I also enjoy angel/demon mythology, so this is a new subgenre of paranormal that will be fun to dive into.

Q. What is your favorite line from this book?

This was a tough question! Here’s one: “It was our ever-increasing spread of fear in this world, our faithless abuse of one brother to another that lured these dark beasts here to feed on the hopeless. The mere thought of what we’d brought on ourselves made me angry at our own ignorance.”

Q. Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, in some fashion or another. I majored in journalism in college until one professor announced that journalists had no morals and were required to get the story no matter what. After class, I marched myself across the street to the Arts and Sciences department and switched my major to English: Creative Writing.

Q. Was there any part that you struggled with or avoided writing?

Wow. Hmmmm . . . I’d probably say the kissing and intimate scenes. While I absolutely cannot live without romance, in literature and in life, I become angst-ridden when writing these scenes, because I want so much for them to come across as genuine and passionate to the reader rather than hokey and cheesy.

Q. What are you reading right now? Do you read a book at a time or more than one?

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes. I’ve had it on my TBR list for a while now, so I’m glad to finally start reading. I usually don’t read two books at one time. The only exception is when one book doesn’t keep my interest. Then I have to venture away and come back later.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

A main pastime at our house is family movie nights with my husband and four children.  (My husband makes amazing, super-buttery home-popped popcorn.) I definitely enjoy reading and hanging out on Goodreads, where I’ve met some fabulous people in the book-world (including Julie Reece). I spend a great deal of time at my two sons’ football games on the weekends. Of course, I enjoy reading—mostly paranormal and YA. And, I love, love, love quiet nights at home with my husband and a good glass of wine. (This is hard to come by during football season.)

Q. What was your favorite book/who was your favorite writer as a teen?

Okay, total book nerd that I am, I discovered Charlotte Bronte when I was sixteen, and her novel Jane Eyre has been my favorite ever since. This tantalizing tale of Gothic romance in the haunting countryside of the English moors has been my muse for a long, long time. Jane is a strong, unassuming heroine who ignores class barriers and Victorian society to follow her heart. The happily-ever-after is wonderfully surprising after all she endures, and I love a tough heroine who beats the odds. I’m a sucker for the underdog.

 Q. Who is your favorite writer now?

How could you possibly ask me this question? It’s so hard to choose! There are so many books that I love, but if I would go with style and storytelling, I’d have to choose Juliet Marillier. She tells beautifully written tales with Celtic folklore and magic twisted into realistic, old-world settings. Her characters are diverse and definitely heroines that you want to root for. Her Sevenwaters series is worth reading over and over again.

 Q. What is the best young adult book you’ve read so far in 2012?

Well, I expect it to be Crux (which is at the top of my TBR list now), but I’ve actually not read very many YAs recently. I’ve been stuck on paranormal romance in the adult genre for some reason—friend recommendations. But, I suppose I’d have to say Blood Warriors by H.D. Gordon.

Q. What do you see emerging as the next big trend in young adult literature?

Interestingly, I’ve noticed an emerging genre that has formed due to a lapse in categories in between YA and Adult. New Adult or NA is a category targeting readers in between high school and their late twenties, before they’ve established a career, family, and the like. My new demon hunter novel will be categorized in this genre as my heroine is a 20-year-old college student.

Q. Have you ever wanted to quit writing? Why? What made you keep going?

Yes. Why? Complete and utter frustration that I would be the only one to ever read my stories besides a handful of friends. I suppose you could say I was pouting for a few months. After writing RISING (I’d already written three other novels that I’d shelved as not-my-genre), I felt so much that it was worthy of publication. After dozens of rejections from agents, I put the book away and just stopped writing for a bit, unsure what to do next. Then an old friend of mine, now my editor, contacted me out of the blue about my writing. (Can you say, divine intervention?) With her knowledge of marketing and the new, growing industry of independent publishing, doors opened for my first-published novel. With new vigor, I launched back into my story of Gabe and Clara. I have forever been an optimist, and can happily say I will never let those doubts creep in on me again.

Q. If you could have a career besides being an author, what would it be?

I’d love to be a literary agent where I’d be immersed in the book-world, helping other authors launch their career, meeting cool people, going to writers’ conferences, etc. I suppose I just can’t imagine any other job that doesn’t include books and stories. Oh, if I had any sort of brain for business, I’d open a little book store/coffee shop. I wouldn’t make a dime with my lack of business sense, but man, would it be a cool place to hang out every day! And, of course, I’d have author readings/signings ALL the time.

Q. We love animals! Do you have any pets? Can you tell us a bit about them?

I’m attaching pics of our two cats London and Petie. Funny story about Petie. First, London is a boy, which we learned after we named him. And we took Petie home after my kids found her in the bushes at our church, St. Peter’s (hence the name). Petie, we’ve discovered, is very much a girl. She’s quite pregnant at the moment. You can tell she’s big in the belly in this pic. Before getting herself “with litter” she was very tiny.

With the drop in barometric pressure because of Hurricane Isaac, I keep waiting for her to go into labor. She’s acting very skittish today.  Oh, we’re pretty sure that London is the doting father. He looks pretty smug and proud of himself in the pic I sent (even though that was last Christmas). 😉

Thanks so much for joining us here today! We had a blast having you visit, come back anytime!!

I just want to say thank you to the lovely Julie Reece, who is a southern kindred spirit. Knowing she is a highly acclaimed author and just downright terrific person, I am honored she asked me to visit her blog and share thoughts with her wonderful readers.

(I paid her to say that stuff about me) Just kidding.

Here’s more info on todays author:

Blog:  http://stephaniejudice.blogspot.com/

Goodreads fan site: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/77113-stephanie-judice-s-fan-site

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Saga-of-the-Setti/203566846334918

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Rising-Saga-Setti-ebook/dp/B004YXL72O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1346267460&sr=8-2&keywords=stephanie+judice

Okay guys, that’s our show for today. Thanks so much for stopping by. I love you people, by the way. Oh and Stephanie’s was pretty great, too. I really like this girl, must be that we both love Jane Eyre and the color green 🙂 Not to mention she’s just plain nice.  She was a really good sport putting up with all my crazy questions … wouldn’t you agree?

UPDATE!

The babies are here!

Stepahine says:

They’re so cute how they sleep in a big ball. There are two silver tabbies like her and two calicos. Though the calicos look all black they have little spots of white and orange. We’re calling one Patch bc he has a spot right over his eye. 🙂 

Oh my gosh, I want one, don’t you?

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