September 29th, 2009


Introducing 2011 Debut Author Bettina Restrepo

Name: Bettina Restrepo

Title: Illegal
Publisher: Harper Collins – Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: Winter 2011


Nora knows about promises. Papa promised they would be together for her fifteenth birthday, her quinceañera and an education. But none of this can happen until Papa comes home to Cedula, Mexico
An inner voice tells Nora she must find her father in America. But living the life of an illegal immigrant is assuming the identity of a person who doesn’t exist, and who doesn’t count.
Who can she trust? Friendships prove to be difficult, if not dangerous. Gang warfare makes life difficult for those living under the radar. She also grapples with assuming the parental role with her mother and growing up way too fast.
How will she find Papa and make life right again?
Can Nora discover the raw truth of her own voice? How can you do anything when you don’t even count as a person?
(ps- I’m not so great at synopsis. This is why I write novels.)

What made you decide to be a writer?
I wanted to invest in myself. I loved to tell stories, to share a thought. I had to work at becoming a decent writer (I need about a million more years of training). I was lucky enough to find a wonderful critique group who nurtured me (and put up with) me as I waddled along.

Of course, in 4th grade, I made a comment I wanted to be a writer, but I gave that up quickly when I came in second in a creative writing contest to a girl with great handwriting – I figured the world just wasn’t fair. Funny how we change our mind!

Favorite books/authors?
I love authors who I have met… something about the personal connection. I’m also a book whore, so I fall in love with whom I’m reading… (Unless extreme suckage is happening, and then I just give away the book).

I few people who have influenced my YA style are Carolyn Mackler, Ellen Hopkins, Richard Peck, Jordon Sonnenblick, John Green, Wally Lamb, Anne Lamont, Marcus Zusak, Jennifer Weiner, Sara Zarr and so many others.

Authors I have recently loved and will read more: Maggie Stiefvater, Kate Messner, Jenny Moss, Suzanne Collins, E. Lockhart, Gabrielle Zevin, Mary E Pearson, and Lisa Ann Sandell.

- I just love picture books and paper engineering art. I think it’s a superhero strength to do a well crafted and loved PB.

Morning person or a night owl?
I love morning. My office faces the front of the house so that I send the boys to work/school and settle in. Coffee always, but I wish I had an IV line of Diet Coke.

PC or mac?
PC – Dell laptop which is acting crazy. Grrrr

What did you have for dinner today?
This is not fair, because I hadn’t cooked in a week unless you count hotdogs and Lean Cuisine. I made spaghetti with Ragu. I’m kinda of a fat girl who loves to cook, but with a picky kid, and a picky husband – the joy is just sucked out of the process.

Quick! Share 11 random things about yourself.

1. I’m a neat freak who vacuums to calm things down in my life. I believe all is better in the world when organized. But now, making progress as I even left the dishes in the sink for someone else to clean up.

2. I’m a white girl who is really Latina. The world doesn’t get my roots and I will probably dye my hair darker for my author photo. Yesterday, I cut my hair short (really short) for the first time in 30 years! My married name is Williford, but I write under Restrepo.
3. I was a military brat growing up – over 20 moves. I spent 10 years based in Houston before moving to Dallas a few years ago. I am now a Texan.
4. While being a talker, I find myself having difficulty remembering words lately… too much revision on the brain.
5. I’m currently petless, but having a strong urge to get another dog. (Nigel, my Springer Spaniel died this summer)
6. I’m married to Tom- a Star Wars freak and petroleum engineer. My son, Allen, is also a Star Wars freak. One will be dressed in his full theatrical Darth Vader for Halloween, the other is a storm trooper. I’m considering getting a Jedi costume just to join in the fun.
7. I am very close to my Mom, but have no relationship (by choice) with my father.
8. I used to be Lutheran, but now I don’t go to church… but have a craving to go back. I love to study and read/discuss about world religions.
9. I love my critique groups in Houston and Dallas. I am very grateful for their support.
It seems my nose is always running. Achoo! Seasonal stuff in Texas goes on 9 months a year… drip drip drip.
  • Current Music
    sound of the coffee maker
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  • soniag

Introducing 2011 Debut Author: Sonia Gensler

Name: Sonia Gensler
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: Spring or Summer 2011

THE REVENANT synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Willemina Hammond thinks it'll be simple to assume a new identity far away in Oklahoma Territory. Anything would be better than laboring on her mother's failing farm in Tennessee. "Borrowing" the credentials of a local schoolteacher, she secures a position at the Cherokee Female Seminary and eagerly sets out toward an easier life in the summer of 1896.

But the Seminary is not what Willie expected. It's more like a castle than a school, and it houses refined young ladies who couldn't be less like the rustic natives she imagined. Divided by prejudice, the school community still reels from the recent murder of a mixed-blood student by a spurned full-blood suitor. Spooky noises, cold spots, and violent accidents have convinced the students that the dead girl haunts them. All this makes for an uphill battle as Willie struggles to establish control over her high-strung pupils.

To make matters worse, the ghost seems to be reaching out to her, and its communications are growing more frequent and intense. Willie determines to learn more about the girl's death, thinking it the only way to quiet the angry spirit. But the more she learns, the more difficult it is to maintain her secret identity. And the closer she gets to unraveling the secrets behind the murder, the closer she is to becoming a victim herself.

What made you decide to become a writer?

Like others, I've always been writing in some form or another. Stories, journals, poems. Several unfinished novels. But it took me a long time to learn how to work hard and stick with something even when it seemed to be going terribly. After ten years of teaching I decided to finish a novel because I wanted to tell a story my way.

Favorite Books/Authors?

Authors/Poets/Playwrights: Sherman Alexie, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson, Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery, Linda Newbery, Philip Pullman, Dorothy Sayers, Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, Sarah Waters. I love historicals, mysteries, and anything gothic. Here's a list of my all-time favorite reads (which probably needs updating).

Morning person or night owl?

I used to be most productive in the mornings, but now I seem to be a late afternoon person.

PC or Mac

MAC! *loves*

What did you have for dinner today yesterday?

This is embarrassing -- a frozen pasta dish from Weight Watchers. I never learned to cook.

Quick! Share 11 random things about yourself.

- I love hot tea. In fact, I'm obsessed with it. (You should see my tea cabinet.) And I love going to afternoon tea with friends and family.
- I really don't care for iced tea, however.
- I've been married to my college sweetheart for 18 years. (But I'm still in my twenties, of course. HA!)
- I so enjoy Sci-Fi TV and films, but never actually read science fiction and could never imagine myself writing it.
- I taught high school English for 8 years (with 2 years of teaching college freshmen before that). I miss the kids but not the grading.
- I met Prince Charles once -- not that he would remember.
- I have a talent for recognizing the faces of obscure actors in their various film, TV and stage appearances. Why isn't this talent marketable?
- I wish I could live in England. Perfect climate for me.
- I love to explore ruins, moors and forests.
- I don't have kids, but I positively dote on my darling kitty.
- I'm currently in agonies over my edits. I used to think revision was my favorite part of the process, but this is scary.
  • anesbet

Introducing 2011 Debut Author: Anne Nesbet

Name: Anne Nesbet
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: Fall 2011

THE CABINET OF EARTHS in a pretty small nutshell:

All Maya really wants is for her mother to be well again. But when her baby brother James goes missing, 13-year-old Maya has to take on the magical underworld of Paris, in which houses have bronze salamanders for door handles, the most beautiful people are all hooked on the sweet-smelling “anbar,” and a shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths has chosen Maya to be its next keeper. With the Cabinet’s help, Maya may be able to do for her mother what doctors cannot: save her from death, once and for all. But now that the clock is ticking for James, the price the Cabinet demands may be too high.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I actually remember the moment I realized I could make up stories that were way more interesting than real life: it made going to bed in the dark a lot easier! Since then some percentage of me has always been wandering around Elsewhere, while another percentage types it all up.

Favorite Books/Authors?

Lists of favorites are very hard for us indecisive types. When I was little, I loved the Oz books first and foremost. And the Narnia books. And E. Nesbit. And Edward Eager. And Jane Langton. Not to mention Tolkien, Dickens, the Little House books, Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books, Roald Dahl. Madeleine L'Engle. Ursula K. LeGuin. Many, many more! Now the list is even longer than it was: China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer and Philip Reeve and Philip Pullman, and I just read Neal Stephenson's ANATHEM with great delight. And, on quite the other hand, THE PENDERWICKS! Plus about five thousand other favorites. I'm leaving all the best books out, I can just tell. Oh, dear.

Morning person or night owl?

I'd love to be free to go to bed early and rise at dawn all refreshed, but somehow in practice that's not how things go. My best writing hours are morning/middle of the day -- after about an hour's worth of walking. The day job has its own opinions, alas.

PC or Mac

That would be Mac.

What did you have for dinner today yesterday?

spaghetti and vegetable fried rice (trying to please all the kids)

Quick! Share 11 random things about yourself.

- At heart I'm a violist (but one who, these days, is playing mostly violin -- how'd this happen?).
- I love backpacking and hiking.
- I have a terrible memory for names. Awful! But I'm good at phone numbers.
- In college I spent my summers working in engineering departments at IBM. Yes, I used to be able to do stuff like machine code programming. Now, however, I can't even figure out how to get the wireless router thingy to work with the new cable internet service. I think it's manuals I miss -- remember when technology came with actual instructions?
- I lived in East Germany for a while, back when there used to be an East Germany.
- One branch of my family used to be lighthouse-keepers in Nova Scotia. My mother liked to say they turned off the light one night a week, let the ships wreck, and ran a nice salvage/scavenge business on the side.
- I really like all sorts of spicy food: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian -- bring on the peppers!
- I have several children, some of them twins.
- I'm one of those Quakers who loves Silence -- so why is our house so noisy all the time?
- I teach Russian literature and film.
- I read while walking.