JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX

Let your adventure begin...

Anna M. Elias

THE VESSELS Official Nerd Blast

Sean Penn


Heather Webber


Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

Stephen P. Kiernan

UNIVERSE OF TWO Official Blog Tour

William L. Myers Jr.


Jenn Lyons

THE MEMORY OF SOULS Official Blog Tour

E.E. KNight


Roxana Robinson


Gregg Olsen


Josh Duhamel


Teri Bailey Black


Mary Cecilia Jackson


Megan Collins


Christopher Ruocchio


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Netflix: Ratched Trailer - Sarah Paulson, Finn Wittrock & Judy Davis

From Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, RATCHED is a suspenseful drama series that tells the origin story of asylum nurse Mildred Ratched. In 1947, Mildred arrives in Northern California to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. On a clandestine mission, Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but the wheels are always turning and as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smoldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born.

This is a message from Lucia State Hospital:
Don’t forget to book your appointment for September 18.
Punctuality is key and tardiness will not be tolerated.
Thank you for your cooperation, we look forward to your visit.
Creators:Evan Romansky
Starring:Sarah Paulson, Finn Wittrock, Judy Davis

Witness the origin of one the world’s most iconic characters brought to life by the creator of American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy. The 8 episode series premieres on Netflix on Friday, September 18.

Photo Content from Netflix

RATCHED was inspired by the iconic and unforgettable character of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and was created by Evan Romansky. The series stars Sarah Paulson as Mildred Ratched, Cynthia Nixon as Gwendolyn Briggs, Judy Davis as Nurse Betsy Bucket, Sharon Stone as Lenore Osgood, Jon Jon Briones as Dr. Richard Hanover, Finn Wittrock as Edmund Tolleson, Charlie Carver as Huck, Alice Englert as Dolly, Amanda Plummer as Louise, Corey Stoll as Charles Wainwright, Sophie Okonedo as Charlotte Wells, Brandon Flynn as Henry Osgood and Vincent D’Onofrio as Gov. George Wilburn. The series is executive produced by Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Sarah Paulson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Aleen Keshishian, Jacob Epstein, Jennifer Salt, Margaret Riley, Michael Douglas, Robert Mitas and Tim Minear.

Netflix is the world's leading internet entertainment service with 158 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without adverts or commitments.
jbnfilms, jbnspotlights

Friday, August 7, 2020

Rhys Bowen Interview - The Last Mrs. Summers

Photo Content from Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of two historical mystery series as well as three internationally bestselling stand alone novels. Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into over twenty languages. A transplanted Brit, Rhys now divides her time between California and Arizona, where she escapes from those harsh California winters.


What inspired you to pen THE LAST MRS. SUMMERS?
Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca was one of the first suspense novels I ever read and it has haunted me for my whole life. When I was considering where to send my heroine, Lady Georgie, next I thought Cornwall, which I know so well, and a house like Manderley would make a fabulous story.

Tell us your latest news.
I’m hunkering down during the pandemic, about to start writing my 15th Royal Spyness novel which will be a Christimas book. I have just completed a big stand-alone historical novel set in Venice.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
The ladies of the Golden Age hooked me on mysteries early on. But I also loved the light hearted social commentaries of Nancy Mitford, the capers of P.G Wodehouse.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Winning my first Agatha Award was really special (I now have four) but I think being #1 on Kindle and #1 in Author Rank could not get much better. However, I can think of a different sort of satisfaction. I received a note from a reader who said that she was sitting in her car while her home was flooded in a hurricane and it was only my books that kept her sane throughout the night. I’ve had other readers tell me my books have got them through chemotherapy, death of a loved one etc. Somehow they mean more than awards.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
This is such fun! I can’t put it down.

Tell us about your newest book, THE LAST MRS. SUMMERS (Royal Spyness #14).
Georgie’s friend Belinda has inherited a property in Cornwall. They drive together to inspect it. It turns out to be a derelict fishing cottage where they can’t stay but they run into an old acquaintance of Belinda and are invited to stay at Trewoma—a magnificent if brooding house on the cliffs. They sense, immediately, that this was not a good idea. There is an atmosphere to the house, a very scary housekeeper and the owner’s last wife died in mysterious circumstances. The current Mrs. Summers is so nervous and when someone dies Belinda is the prime suspect. Can Georgie save her friend?

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I’m a professional writer who has written 45 mystery novels as well as other works of fiction. It is my day job. I write until the book is written. The only distraction is looking at my own photos of Cornwall, where we spend part of every summer and wishing I was there.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
Lady Georgie has grown up so much. She was naïve, not self confident or worldly at the start of the series, but now she is a married woman, with a handsome husband and has inherited a large property. Her whole life has changed. And having solved a few murders along the way she has developed powers of observation and deduction as well as a more suspicious nature.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d like Georgie to meet Lord Peter Whimsey and Harriet Vane. They are from the same social background and I think they’d hit it off as fellow sleuths.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
Being presented with my first Agatha Award.

A sense of place is one thing that sets my books apart. I only write about places I know well. I don’t believe a writer can do justice to a place they have only read about or passed through quickly. I have always loved to travel, having crossed Europe on my own at 14 and travelled extensively ever since. So writing about favorite places is a joy for me as I relive experiences.

Lady Georgie comes from Scotland (which is rather bleak in my books) but has experienced London (always a joy to revisit), as well as in the English countryside, and in an Irish castle. A country house in Devon (where my father comes from), a villa in Stresa, one of my favorite places in the Italian Lakes, another villa in Nice—another favorite place and I’ve also set books in Tuscany (where I have taught a writing workshop twice), Paris—who wouldn’t want to set a book in Paris? And lastly a book set in San Francisco, near where I live, although at the time of the Great Earthquake, which wasn’t such a fun time to be there!

Georgie is just back from her honeymoon with Darcy when a friend in need pulls her into a du Maurier-like murder in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling Royal Spyness series from Rhys Bowen!

Georgie's best friend, Belinda, inherits a spooky old house in Cornwall and asks Georgie to go with her to inspect the property. When they arrive, they meet Rose, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent her summers with her grandmother in Cornwall. Belinda never liked Rose, who has always been bossy and a bit of a bully, but when Belinda's house proves to be uninhabitable, Rose invites them to stay with her.

Rose is now married to Tony Summers, Belinda's childhood crush, and lives in the lovely house on the cliffs that he has inherited. Rose confides that she thinks Tony killed his first wife and now she is afraid. She asks Georgie and Belinda to observe Tony's behavior and their surroundings. Is Rose imagining things? Is Tony dangerous? In their quest for answers, they encounter a creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Manners, and learn that some kind of forgotten tragedy occurred on the property years ago involving them all.

There is a lot of strange to go around and things only get weirder--and deadlier--when one night a member of the household is found dead. All clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. Now Georgie must uncover some long buried secrets that may prove the victim was really a villain before Belinda takes the fall for the murder.

You can purchase The Last Mrs. Summers at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RHYS BOWEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Last Mrs. Summers (Royal Spyness #14) by Rhys Bowen.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Nerd Blast} When the Wind Chimes by Mary Ting

Publisher: Rosewind Books (November 17, 2020)
ISBN-10: 164548047X
ISBN-13: 978-1645480471

Praise for ISAN Series

"A stunning sequel! Mary Ting takes us once again into the inventive world of ISAN--one of intrigue and betrayal--but this time, with deadly consequences. A must read!" Jonas Saul, Bestselling Author of the Sarah Roberts Series 

"Captivating from the very beginning, this sci-fi novel explores issues of autonomy and survival in a world where there are few remaining citizens after meteors crashed into Earth... this thrilling dystopian drama has a splash of romance and tons of action. The fast-paced chapters will engage reluctant readers and fans of postapocalyptic scenarios." School Library Journal

"Addictive and impossible to put it down!" Addison Moore, New York Times Bestselling Author


This is a Nerd Blast, you will post the promotional info we provide you with, including the giveaway. No reviews required. Please mark your Calendar.

Kaitlyn Summers is heartbroken.

When she receives an invitation to spend Christmas with her family on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, she feels it may be the perfect medicine.

She throws herself into helping her sister’s struggling art gallery, even taking a temporary job for extra money by looking after a little girl from her nephew’s school. She also begins to paint again, something she’s been unable to do since her breakup. It’s tempting to stay on Kauai, but she has obligations back in Los Angeles.

Life gets more complicated when circumstances keep putting her close to Leonardo Medici. Not only is he drop-dead gorgeous, he’s a local celebrity. But Kaitlyn can’t shake the feeling he’s hiding something.

Should she believe the rumors that he’s romancing half the island’s single women?

Or is the random sound of wind chimes when he’s close-by a sign that an angel is near and the secret to her happily ever after?
You can purchase When the Wind Chimes at the following Retailers:

Photo Credit: Michelle England Delavara

Mary Ting is an international bestselling, award-winning author. She writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers around the world. Her books span a wide range of genres, and her storytelling talents have earned a devoted legion of fans, as well as garnered critical praise.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching after twenty years. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

Mary resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two little dogs, Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Being a huge Twilight fan, Mary was inspired to make book-themed jewelry and occasionally gives it away as prizes to her fans.


*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

Thursday, August 6, 2020

|Podcast| Everyone Dies Famous - Len Joy

Photo Content from Len Joy

Len Joy had an idyllic childhood, growing up in the gem of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua, NY. His interests growing up involved sports. He went off to college with dreams of becoming a football hero and world famous novelist.

Didn’t happen. He switched his major from English to Finance, quit the football team, but married one of the cheerleaders – Suzanne Sawada.

They moved to Chicago where Suzanne became a corporate lawyer and Len, with his MBA and CPA, became the auditing manager for U. S. Gypsum. Despite the thrill of auditing gypsum plants, Len wanted a different challenge.

He bought a manufacturing company in Arizona and commuted to Phoenix. Despite the travel, he managed to have three kids. While flying, he read hundreds of novels, which renewed his dream of becoming a world famous author.

In 2004 he wound down his business and started taking writing courses and participating in triathlons.

His first novel, AMERICAN PAST TIME was praised by KIRKUS as a “darkly nostalgic study of an American family through good times and bad, engagingly set against major events from the ‘50s to the ‘70s as issues of race simmer in the background…expertly written and well-crafted.”

His second novel, BETTER DAYS was described by FOREWORD Reviews as “a bighearted, wry, and tender novel that focuses on love and loyalty.” KIRKUS called it “a character-rich skillfully plotted Midwestern drama.”

AMERICAN PAST TIME and BETTER DAYS were awarded Gold and Silver Medals respectively in the 2019 Readers' Favorite Award Contest in the category of Fiction - Sports.

Today, Len is a nationally ranked triathlete and competes internationally representing the United States as part of TEAM USA.

JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast


"The collateral damage from a freak tornado rips the heart out of Small-Town, America. Who is left and what they reveal has the potential to be even more devastating. Can anyone survive the aftermath? Recommended." Chanticleer Reviews 5 Stars!

Len Joy's Everyone Dies Famous is a clear-eyed examination of how we live in an uncertain world. By creating imminently understandable characters and skillfully linking them to a specific landscape, one that is so evocatively described, he shows us all the ways in which we're connected, how fragile those threads are. In clear prose, Joy does real work here. I'm grateful for it. Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here

"...a striking depiction of small-town America at the dawn of the 21st century."
- KIRKUS Reviews

In the realistic small-town novel Everyone Dies Famous, citizens struggle to cope with their pasts and adapt to the future... a focused novel about regret and redemption.  FOREWORD REVIEWS

Mr. Joy sweeps us headlong into the swirling fury of lives buffeted not only by hail, rain, and wind, but even more so by disappointment, disillusion, and regret. He captures both physical and emotional dread with inexorable intensity. Joe Kilgore, author of Farmhouse in the Rain

As a tornado threatens their town, a stubborn old man who has lost his son teams up with a troubled young soldier to deliver a jukebox to the wealthy developer having an affair with the soldier's wife.

It's July 2003 and the small town of Maple Springs, Missouri is suffering through a month-long drought. Dancer Stonemason, a long-forgotten hometown hero still grieving over the death of his oldest son, is moving into town to live with his more dependable younger son. He hires Wayne Mesirow, an Iraq war veteran, to help him liquidate his late son's business.

The heat wave breaks and the skies darken. Dancer tries to settle an old score while Wyne discovers the true cost of his wife's indifference and turns his thoughts to revenge. When the tornado hits Maple Springs, only one of the men will make it out alive.

"Everyone Dies Famous" is a story from the heartland about the uncommon lives of everyday people - the choices they make, how they live their lives, and how they die.
jbnlatestinterviews, jbnmediainteriews, jbnpodcast, jbnfilms

Roselle Lim Interview - Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop

Photo Credit: Shelley Smith

Roselle Lim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada as a child. She lived in north Scarborough in a diverse, Asian neighbourhood.

She found her love of writing by listening to her lola (paternal grandmother's) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels.

An artist by nature, she considers writing as "painting with words."


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
Stories whisper to me. I’ve always been a quiet person, but I found that writing gives me a voice I wouldn’t be able to express otherwise. My brain is like a busy train station where stories arrive constantly. I write to make room for the new—thus avoiding a crash!

What do you hope for people to be thinking after they read your novel?
To feel hopeful, believe in the existence of good in the world, and be hungry for more. The stories I love most provide the best forms of escapism. If I can grant a reader a few hours away from their troubles or allow them to travel without physically leaving, I’ve succeeded.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Seeing my book on the shelf at the bookstore or a library. It may seem old fashioned, but until I’m able to hold a physical copy in my hands, I don’t feel like my work is real. It’s only ever existed in my mind and as bits and bytes on my laptop. But when I’m able to turn the pages and smell the ink, I can no longer deny its reality. I reflect on all the work by myself and everyone who has touched the book from my agent, editor, copy editor, publicists, marketing, cover designer, etc. It does take a village to bring a book to life.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Twitter! I’m trying to break my habit of doom scrolling, but it’s been difficult given the world today. I use social media to procrastinate. I’m not proud, but recognizing I have a problem is the first step, right?

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Pitched as Matchmaker for Beginners meets The Farewell, a novice matchmaker returns to her hometown of Toronto and faces the nearly-impossible task of matching seven, 70-something Chinese bachelors. Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club will be out in Spring 2022.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from VANESSA YU’S MAGICAL PARIS TEA SHOP
"The problem with comforting someone who had a secret was resisting the urge to shake it out of them as you leaned in for an embrace."

"Each exquisite door represented a physical manifestation of possibilities."

"Sometimes, people keep things quiet for a reason, mostly to prevent collateral damage."

  • 1. Ingrid Ing is a reference to my favorite romance novelist Helen Hoang.
  • 2. The setting changed from Les Puces (Antique Market in North Paris) to Saint Germain. I fell in love with the area I stayed in while visiting Paris for research and decided to change the location.
  • 3. I visited every single tourist spot mentioned in the novel, with the exception of the Klimt Exhibit at Galerie Lumiere. That was only for Vanessa and Marc.
  • 4. The Aunties are inspired by my own aunties.
  • 5. Like Vanessa, I took pictures of the beautiful doors in Paris. I had to capture the magic and sense of possibilities those doors represented.
  • 6. The amount of food in the book matches the amount I ate while I was in Paris.
  • 7. Vanessa’s experience in Versailles was born of personal experience! I too suffered from sore feet and begged my husband to take the little train back to the main palace from Grand Trianon.
  • 8. After travelling by train to Monet's house and exploring the garden in Givenchy, I knew it would be a perfect date for artists like Vanessa and Marc.
  • 9. One of my aunties did smuggle fermented shrimp paste from Asia at one point and got away with it. The incident is mentioned/referred to in the book.
  • 10. Yes, one of my aunties loves Donna Summer.
Meet the Characters (Tell us about your main characters! 
Vanessa is a stubborn Chinese-American woman in her late twenties. Her appearance is inspired by Jamie Chung. She loves to eat and loves art.

Aunt Evelyn is Vanessa's relative who takes her to Paris and gives her clairvoyant lessons. I envisioned Michelle Yeoh when describing her. She is the glamorous auntie—the one who is elegant, flawless, and seems cold to people who don't know her well.

Marc is Vanessa's love interest who looks a bit like Sam Milby. He's sweet, kind-hearted, and is an artist at heart.

Your Journey to Publication
I started writing stories when I was in high school. Like many young women, I consumed romance novels, and given all my unrequited desires, I needed an outlet! I used to share my work in progress with my girlfriends. They would pass the pages amongst themselves during class, and at the end of the day, ask for more.

After I completed three novels I queried, what turned out to be, an unscrupulous agent in Toronto, where I paid a fee for him to read my manuscripts. I was so naive. I didn’t know paying for an agent was a red flag! (Years later, I found out that he had been indicted for fraud.) He told me I had potential, but wasn’t good enough. Crushed, I stopped writing.

A decade passed. I graduated from university, got married, and moved to a small town where it was difficult to get a job. I felt lost and directionless. I tried to pursue a career in visual art, as it was my oldest talent, but it never amounted to anything.

My old friends were starting their careers, moving on with their lives, and here I was with nothing to show. I considered myself a failure and had fallen into another bout of depression. I figured that if I was going to fail, I might as well fail spectacularly! I’d sink a year of my life into a manuscript, and when it inevitably went nowhere, I’d have the proof I so desperately craved of my ineptitude.

Writing does not come naturally to me, and yet, secretly, there was a small voice in my head who hoped I would succeed as an author, who felt I wasn’t a failure, only that I had not yet reached my potential. The other loud, more negative voices often drown them out.

I worked on the manuscript for almost a year and then sent out three queries. I heard nothing. I had received the proof I thought I was looking for, but that small voice wouldn’t let me quit. I knew the manuscript hadn’t been my best work, and I already had an idea for another story. I decided to try again.

My new manuscript’s premise was good, but I was still an inexperienced writer. I had good ideas, but their execution left much to be desired. I queried and received an R&R, but it never panned out.

I joined contests and found a community—excellent critique partners and writer friends. It was this sense of belonging and encouragement that fueled me to keep going. My seventh manuscript landed me my first agent. While that book didn’t sell, and we ended up parting ways, I had a sense that I was making progress and working my way up the ladder.

Another year, another new manuscript that when queried, attracted interest from multiple agents. I signed with one, spent a few years revising under her guidance, before the manuscript sold, becoming my debut novel.

Throughout this whole decade-long journey, I’ve had the support of family and friends. They never doubted my potential no matter how much I doubted myself. I’m grateful for my many writer friends who helped me through the stressful debut year.

Hearing from readers who connected with the story made all the low moments worth it.

Writing is still difficult, but I cannot imagine doing anything else!
Writing: Behind the Scenes (Anything to do with your own personal art process: habits/quirks, research process, inspiration, choosing names & settings, etc.)

Food is a huge part of my books because it's a huge part of my life. When planning out a book, I always plan out a menu. I need to know what food I'll be featuring and its significance. While writing or revising, I need a snack on hand. I try to make sure I can eat what I'm writing about.

Lately, bullet journaling has become an integral part of my process. I use it to keep track of my word count, inspirational collages, world building, chapter outlines, and character profiles. Having everything written down on the page helps me feel productive. I can tell I’m making progress as my word count page fills up with soot sprites! I share layouts on social media to inspire anyone who wants to take up the habit.

What is the first job you have had?
Working the concessions stand at a movie theatre.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
My wedding because the night before, I wanted to run. I had those wild eyes of an animal cornered. Our deacon had to calm me down! And this was despite having dated my now husband for seven years! Still, those wedding night jitters are real.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
I carry a citrine stone in a pouch for luck and prosperity.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
The weather. I’ve incorporated a thirty minute morning walk before sitting down to write. I’m out listening to my audiobooks, and I want to ensure I won’t melt, freeze, or be drenched!

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Going to Paris last August. It had been a lifetime dream that became a reality. I couldn't have written Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop without experiencing the city in person.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Cloth face mask, phone, car keys, wallet.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would have brought an extra, empty suitcase on my trip to Paris to bring home more food, souvenirs, etc.

Become enamored with the splendor of Paris in this heartwarming and delightful story about writing one’s own destiny and finding love along the way.

Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s fortunes—or misfortunes—in tea leaves.

Ever since she can remember, Vanessa Yu has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.

The day before her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa accidentally sees her own fate: death by traffic accident. She decides that she can’t truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric aunt, Evelyn, shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to America and bonjour to Paris. While working at Evelyn’s tea stall at a Parisian antique market, Vanessa performs some matchmaking of her own, attempting to help reconnect her aunt with a lost love. As she learns more about herself and the root of her gifts, she realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.


"...similar to the sweet fabulist-romcom style of Lim’s debut, this new book follows a young woman’s culinary and magical adventures." —BookRiot

“Lim follows Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune with another picturesque fabulist rom-com…. Lim flexes her descriptive powers…. The eccentric and lovably meddlesome Yu family are a constant delight…. the characters sparkle, the magic successfully enchants, and Lim skewers the anti-Asian racism the Yus face in France with pointed and timely commentary. This feast for the senses will especially appeal to hopeless romantics.” —Publishers Weekly

You can purchase Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ROSELLE LIM for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland Interview - Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

Photo Content from Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains. Raquel has published two books of poetry. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything is her first novel.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
This was one of the main topics of my thesis for my MFA in creative writing, so I truly could go on and on about the significance of storytelling! But my short answer is this: everything we do, and encounter, and move through, is created and supported and affirmed by stories. Stories make up this whole, wild world, and because of this, I believe they can heal the world, too.

Tell us your latest news.
I have a few items of news, some of which I can’t reveal yet! But next year, Simon Pulse is publishing my second work of fiction, a YA road trip romantic comedy that has my whole heart. I’ve also drafted two books in the last few months—an adult romance, and a YA sci-fi featuring robots. The sci-fi, in particular, is a book I’ve been trying to write since 2012 so I’m thrilled to finally get it on the page. 

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
When I was little, my biggest influence was The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I emulated the books as I wrote my own stories. And then for school, we were assigned The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It’s hard to explain the feeling of seeing representation that looks like you, your family, your neighborhood, for the first time. Mango Street inspired me to keep going. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
One of the most rewarding experiences—because there are so many!—is connecting to people who are serious champions of my work, especially my agent, Elizabeth Bewley, and my editor, Jennifer Ung. Speaking with them as we worked on Sia Martinez, especially, was such a gift. Hearing people who love this story as much as I do speak as if the characters were real, the ones I created as my son nursed and napped? Amazing.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
I grew up in south Florida, and we had an orange and grapefruit tree in our backyard. I was especially enamored with the orange tree—how delicious it smelled when it bloomed, how the bees buzzed around it, and how every winter, it would grow heavy with the sweetest oranges anyone had ever tasted. I spend a lot of time playing under it, and I’d eat orange after orange until my lips grew raw. My happiest childhood memories are often connected to the “more-than-human world,” to use a beautiful and useful phrase by scientist and essayist Robin Wall Kimmerer. 

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
One of the greatest things I learned wasn’t necessarily at school, but through an assignment. (It wasn’t ‘great,’ either, but it remains one of the most powerful learning moments of my life). We were to do reports on a state of our choosing. This came up a lot in elementary school, because I remember choosing Maine multiple times, but this time I had chosen Oklahoma. It was, for the first time, where I read about the Trail of Tears. It was also for the first time where I read about an atrocity committed purposefully and maliciously by the U.S. government, a particular study many schools neglect. 

In your new book; SIA MARTINEZ AND THE MOONLIT BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it 
Sure! Sia Martinez is a story about a 16-year-old, Sia, whose mother is deported to Mexico. Her mom decides to come back to the States by walking the Sonoran, a desert that connects Mexico and parts of Arizona. Sia’s mom goes missing during the journey, and is presumed dead—until one day, a UFO crashes in front of Sia, and inside? Is her mom. 

What part of Sia did you enjoy writing the most?
Actually, the scene I just described was the most fun. Sia, standing in the desert, watching a UFO crash right before her eyes. I think because I started with this scene as the idea for the whole book, it was incredibly satisfying to finally write it out.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think I’d introduce Sia to Alex from Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Alex is hilarious and clever, and it would be amazing to hear their banter with one another. Also I think they could have serious, thoughtful discussions about what it’s like to be Latinx in this country, and the microaggressions that often come with that experience. 

  • 1. This quote is the first line of Sia Martinez: “It’s been six hundred and nineteen days since I found out Mom died. And only one until I get my revenge.”
  • 2. “When I’m eighteen, I want to find my mother’s skeleton. I want to string it together and sing her alive, just like my grandmother said the first curanderas did, their skin still wet from the fog of God’s breath.”
  • 3. “My mother said her mother told her this story, and her mother told her, and on and on back until the first woman, whom the moon told directly.”
  • 4. “Rose was right. He’s a giant. His legs barely fit under the desk. Wide jaw. Freckles. But she got one thing wrong—his eyes. They’re not green.”
  • 5. “So where’d the universe come from, Sia?”
  • 6. “You’re my favorite, I want to say. Kissing you is my favorite. We should definitely kiss again.”
  • 7. “All of a sudden, things feel a lot worse than empty.”
  • 8. “I told Rose the women in our family have always been able to speak to the dead. It’s very simple.”
  • 9. “The shadows of the saguaros are long, like they’re trying to pin their spines on us.”
  • 10. “I gasp when it’s finished. There’s only two words pulsing in front of me. They’re coming.”
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
Ants will often eat the wings off aphids, to ‘farm’ them for a sweet substance they secret called honeydew. It’s kind of amazing and gross in equal parts. I love learning everything about the wild world—how dung beetles navigate using the stars, or trees communicate to one another using microscopic fungi. 

What did you do for your last birthday? 
I honestly don’t remember! I want to say I bought myself perfume and books, and maybe went out to dinner. But my birthday is just around the corner right now, and I purchased a lot of fruiting plants for my garden, and I plan on making a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I have never been a wistful kind of person for any particular decade—I only have just started reading historical fiction regularly! It’s hard for me to envision going back and society being any better—the misogyny and racism was, in a lot of ways, more outward and accepted than it is now. But all that aside, I think I would choose the 40s—I’ve always had a soft spot for the fashion of the time.

What is your greatest adventure?
This probably sounds boring and cliché, but motherhood is my greatest adventure. It’s transformed me in the most beautiful and brutal of ways. Also I’m not sure I would still be writing if it weren’t for my becoming a mother. 

What is the craziest thing you have ever done? 
The first things that comes to mind are the walks I would take while I first went to college—in the middle of Kansas City, in the middle of the night, eighteen years old and alone. I would put on a huge sweatshirt and thought that would be enough to protect me from predators. I cringe now at how naïve I was! But I miss that freedom—I miss finding unexpected treasures in a city I’d just met, in the magic hours of night. It was crazy and beautiful for sure.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I feel as though a compelling movie featuring my life would include a multi-generational set-up. My grandmother’s father, coming home in Mexico and finding nearly his whole family had been murdered—so he made the choice to immigrate. My great-grandmother, sitting on her porch with a shotgun, scaring off would-be suitors for my grandmother. My grandparents, then eloping. My father, telling his friends upon meeting my mom, “I’m going to marry that girl.” My mother, responding, “You’re drunk!”

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your young readers. What would it be?
If you plan on going to college, go to community college first, if you’re able. I didn’t do this (at first) because I wanted to move far away, to have an authentic college experience—which was great—but at that age, it’s so hard to think about the financial burden of student loans. Nearly everyone I know is heavily weighed down by them, and any way you can make life easier for yourself now—financially or otherwise— is well worth it. 

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.

It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

You can purchase Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RAQUEL VASQUEZ GILLILAND for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning 
of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway