Amy Finnegan

Not in the Script Official Blog Tour

Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth

Matthew Wolf

Citadel of Fire Official Blog Tour

Kass Morgan

Day 21

Joshua David Bellin

Survival Colony Nine

Neil Gibson


Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon


Lauren Sabel

Vivian Devine is Dead

Margo Kelly

Who R U Really?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Margo Kelly Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Margo Kelly loves to be scared … when she’s reading a good book, watching a good movie, or suffering from the hiccups. She loves writing thrillers for young adults and hopes her stories give you the goose bumps or the itchies or the desire to rethink everyday things. Margo is represented by the not-so-scary, but totally awesome, Brianne Johnson of Writers House.

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What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?

When I was around seventeen, I took a college entrance exam for a coworker so that she could test-out of a math class she didn’t want to take.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

The greatest thing I learned at school was to think for myself. Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true. Researching and challenging the statements of others became an essential skill.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?

I love to read, and I have a lot of favorites, but if I have to pick just one, I suppose I’d choose ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz. It not only kept me turning pages, but it also caught me by surprise in the end. Any plotline that is unpredictable impresses me, but I especially enjoyed ODD THOMAS because he’s such a lovable character. Koontz writes great thrillers. Outside of my genre – I’d have to say I love the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. Every single book in the series has made me laugh out loud at some point. I love fast paced, plot driven books.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

Christi Corbett (author of ALONG THE WAY HOME) advised me to keep an “I don’t suck” file, which is basically a resource of reviews that compliment my writing. That way any time a rejection or terrible review comes my way, I can refer back to the flattering items and not feel quite so awful.

What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?

The most common challenge is rejection – an agent rejecting a query, an editor rejecting a submission, or a reader rejecting a book. Rejection is the toughest test a writer faces. And honestly, the only way to overcome it is to eat a lot of chocolate refer back to the “I don’t suck” file.

For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; Who R U Really, how would you introduce it?

A teenage girl falls in love with a guy online, and when he comes for her in real life, he is not the person she thought he was.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Thea?

I had to get out of my “adult” head and climb into the head of a young naive girl. While you and I might have made different choices than Thea did in her situation, she made the best decisions she could with the knowledge and abilities she had at the time. Plus, we all make mistakes, even when we know better. If Thea had made all of the “right” decisions that would have made a boring story. Plots get exciting when the main character makes “wrong” choices.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?

It’s important for writers to tell the stories they feel passionately about … and that’s an understatement for why I had to tell this story. The laws of the land are not set up to keep you safe when using the Internet. The only person protecting you online is you. So be mindful of what you’re doing and saying when typing or posting anything online.

For those who are unfamiliar with Kit, how would you introduce him?

In theory, Kit is a sad teenager seeking out friends in an online role playing game. However, Kit is a figment of online imagination. He is basically a puppet, and the puppeteer is someone we should all be afraid of … or at least consciously aware of … because the puppeteer is manipulating the situation and as a result, manipulating the other players in the game.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I would introduce Janie (Thea’s best friend) to Lia of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, because moral support is essential in overcoming any addiction or illness.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?

My current project is still in the “top secret” phase, but hopefully it will see the light of day soon. ;)

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?

I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve been to places like Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Cancun, Panama, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Puerto Rico, and many other great places. But the best place in the world is amongst the pine trees in the mountains of Idaho as a river rushes by. (picture attached)

What book are you reading now?

BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore

Who was your first boyfriend?

A boy I met at the roller-skating rink. I can’t even remember his name.

Tell me about your first kiss.

When I was a preteen I tackled the cute neighbor boy and planted one right on him.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

I’m a pretty honest and even blunt person. I don’t usually lie. If you ask me a question I don’t want to answer, I will either say, “Oh, that’s a story for another day.” Or, “Frankly, that’s none of your business.”

What's the memorable summer job you've ever had?

I only lasted two weeks at KFC. It was so greasy that I kept slipping on the floors and falling. Grease covered every surface, and I went home feeling so icky every day. But I still eat there occasionally!

What did the last text message on your phone say?

I asked my mom to bring me some bananas. ;) I had a craving! haha

When was the last time you cried?

I cried when I said goodbye to my daughter.

Where can readers stalk you?

Follow Margo Kelly online:
Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.

You can purchase Who R U Really? at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Margo and Merit Press for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Anthony Breznican Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Anthony Breznican was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. He has worked as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, Associated Press, and USA Today, and is currently a senior staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.

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Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

I think most kids feel frustrated because someone is always telling you what to do, what to wear, where to go, what to say. But I fell in love with writing because it was a way to make anything I wanted come true. There’s a lot of power in creativity, and I after I got my hands on my first Stephen King novel, I had a great time telling strange little ghost stories where I was the only boss. Terrible fates usually befell the characters. (I’m a mean boss.)

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?

Stories are where we get perspective on ourselves. They show us what we hope to be, or in the case of my novel, Brutal Youth, what we hope not to be. A lot happens in our lives, and a well-told story can help you see the things that might otherwise be lost or forgotten.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why?

My favorite novel is Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, because I’m obsessed with how easy it is to go wrong while trying to do right. It’s about a powerful politician who has convinced himself he will only be able to help the downtrodden if he’s willing to be corrupt, to compromise his soul. The tragedy of the novel is … he may be right. But once you begin that slide, it’s very hard to stop.

And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?

I’d have to go with Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. I am blown away by how haunting it is – not just in a supernatural sense, although it has plenty of that. It’s haunting in an extremely emotional way, exploring the bonds between found fathers and sons, and the mind-shattering experience of grief. To me, that makes the rest of the book that much more terrifying.

In your book; Brutal Youth, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?

The one-liner on it is: Three freshmen join forces to survive at a crumbling Catholic high school that has become a dumping ground for delinquents, zealots, and the unlucky. This is a coming-of-age story about the things that force us astray when we’re young. It’s harsh and harrowing at times, but that’s what you get in a war story. It’s about good kids trying to stay that way in a bad, bad place – and some parents and teachers who got lost making the same journey.

I hope it resonates as a metaphor for adulthood, where there are no shortage of people who will step on you to gain a few inches. The ones who reach down their hand to help you up, at the risk of being trampled themselves, are true treasures – and don’t always get the reward they deserve. This book is a tribute to that kind of sacrifice, the kind that isn’t fixed by Hollywood or karma.

For those who are unfamiliar with Peter, how would you introduce him?

He’s a decent kid, down to his core. Humane. On the surface, he just wants to stay out of sight and get through his school year without any trouble, but he can’t help but act when he sees someone being hurt. Still, he’s afraid. When you mix him with the other main character, Noah Stein, who is fearless, you get a combustible reaction. Peter’s soul and Noah’s strength make them braver and more honorable than they would ever be alone. Good friends have that effect on each other.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?

I don’t want to jinx them! My brain is having a good time daydreaming about a YA fantasy epic. It would be fun to tell a haunted house story, something old-fashioned but R-rated, with some new twists on the format. I also wouldn’t mind exploring what happens next for the kids in Brutal Youth. There’s more trouble for them ahead, but some happier times, too.

If you could introduce Lorelei to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Great question! Lorelei is my favorite character in the book, this freshman girl who is so desperate to make friends she tries too hard and makes enemies instead. I’d love to introduce her to the old sailor from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. They both commit inexplicable, self-destructive acts. Why? That’s the eternal question after Coleridge’s sailor shoots the seabird that is leading their lost ship to land. Why do people self-sabotage? It happens all the time, and never makes sense. Coleridge left it open to interpretation, and my belief is that some damaged people feel they don’t deserve love or safety, and so they destroy it when it finds them -- in spite of what they truly want.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Noah?

That he may not be totally sane. As I went along, discovering this about his past and family history, I came to realize that this brave, selfless kid may not be 100% rational. The sane thing would be to protect himself, but Noah Stein is almost daring this corrupt school to destroy him. He’s like Don Quixote in that way, fighting the good fight without question or pause – a mad man locked in struggle against a mad world. But Noah is a fighter who ultimately would rather hurt himself than truly hurt others. His motivation can be interpreted many ways, but that question is one of the surprising things I stumbled upon.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

How I’m doing. Most people just want to hear that ♪ everything is awesome ♫. Otherwise, they’d ask a more specific question.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

Read a lot of poetry. Poems are science experiments done with words.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?

I worked with my grandfather, who was a house painter and wallpaper hanger. I loved that man more than I can say, and you never know someone the way you do when you work a job with them, day in and day out, for several months. He was always my Pap, always a grandfather who loved me. But working with him, I got to know Bert. Then my grandfather died and was gone forever. I’m glad I got to meet Bert before that happened.

Who was your first girlfriend?

Ha ha, her name was Tara. I mention her in the book when Peter Davidek thinks about his first kiss. That’s the name of the girl who kissed him, an alt-universe version of mine, I guess. I put her name in there just as an inside joke, a little flare fired into the sky for my old friend.

Tell me about your first kiss

It plays out the same way for Davidek in Brutal Youth! He recalls being at a Christmas part thrown by his 8th grade teacher, and while the teacher and his wife are upstairs fixing the food his friends push him into the basement workout room where his forever crush is waiting for him. I don’t know why she was willing to kiss me. I was a dweeb extraordinaire. The kiss was very quick, very chaste, but very sweet. A moment when I didn’t feel quite as dweeby as I was.

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?

I would have a heard time telling someone I didn’t love them back. I wouldn’t want to hurt someone. It’s easy for me to tell people I love how I feel. I’ve never been squeamish about that, even as a kid when we’re so concerned with acting tough and manly. I had friends I loved, and we told each other. We truly did. Still do.

When was the last time you cried?

Typing that last response, thinking of certain people.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?

The 1930s, when my grandparents were teenagers. I would liked to have known them then. That was the generation that fought World War II, and changed civil rights for the better, and built a strong middle class in America. They made a lot of mistakes, that generation, but they skewed toward the noble.

What is your greatest adventure?

Winning the heart of my wife, Jill. We fell in love in college while living on opposite sides of the country, then dated for three years that way, long distance, writing letters to each other, bankrupting ourselves with epic 10-cents-a-minute late-night phone calls. There were so many times it could have fallen apart, but it didn’t. We wouldn’t let it. The two of us couldn’t wait to live in the same town, let alone the same apartment together. Now 18 years have gone by, and we’ve traveled the world together, built careers together (she’s a librarian, and I’m a writer – so what could be more perfect?) We’ve laughed together, grieved together, shared everything … and now we’re raising two little kids who are full of energy and mischief. Maybe that’s a boring answer, but life cam be a pretty good adventure if you let it.

Where can readers stalk you?

I’m on Twitter @Breznican. I’m also on

Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.

You can purchase Brutal Youth at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Anthony and St. Martin's Press for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner

Book Nerd Spotlight

Egyptian secrets take center stage in this interactive mystery where boys and girls can solve codes and puzzles right along with the multicultural cast of characters.

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much they have their own club, with a secret hideout and passwords that change every day.

After learning about steganography, the study of concealed writing, the Code Busters discover that artists have been hiding secret messages in their artwork for centuries.

A clue hunt on a class trip to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum leads the Code Busters to an artifact that doesn't seem to quite fit with the rest of the collection. Could it be a forgery? The Code Busters code-cracking skills and new knowledge of hieroglyphic messages will help them get to the bottom of this mystery, but they better think fast before the criminal tries to frame them!

Winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse
Nominated for the 2011 Agatha Award for Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key

"[A] fun series sure to appeal to graduates of Encyclopedia Brown and Ivy & Bean." -Shelf Awareness

"This intriguing tale has vivid characters and such a tantalizing cliffhanger that readers won't be able to resist cracking the next Code Busters." -Kirkus Reviews

You can purchase The Mummy's Curse at the following Retailers:

Author Spotlight

Penny Warner is an award-winning author of over sixty books, including DEAD BODY LANGUAGE mystery series (Macavity winner), HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY series, and the upcoming Food Festival series. Her middle-grade mystery, THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, won the Agatha Award for Best Children's Mystery.

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*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kass Morgan Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Kass Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of The 100 and its sequel Day 21, received a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a master's from Oxford University. She currently works as an editor and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow Kass on Twitter

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Chapter 1 - Wells 
by Kass Morgan
Author of The 100 and its sequel Day 21

No one wanted to stand near the grave. Although four of their own were already buried in the makeshift cemetery, the rest of the hundred were still disturbed by the idea of lowering a body into the ground.

No one wanted to stand with their backs to the trees either. Since the attack, a creaking branch had become enough to make the anxious survivors jump. And so, the nearly one hundred people who'd gathered to say good-bye to Asher stood in a tightly packed semicircle, their eyes darting between the corpse on the ground and the shadows in the forest.

The comforting crackle of the fire was conspicuously absent. They'd run out of firewood last night, and no one had been willing to venture out for more. Wells would've gone himself, but he'd been busy digging the grave. No one had volunteered for that job either, except for a tall, quiet Arcadian boy named Eric.

"Are we sure he's really dead?" Molly whispered, edging back from the deep hole, as if worried it might swallow her up as well. She was only thirteen but looked younger. At least, she'd used to. Wells remembered helping her after the crash, when tears and ash had streaked her round cheeks. Now the girl's face was thin, almost gaunt, and there was a cut on her forehead that didn't look like it'd been properly cleaned.

Wells's eyes flashed involuntarily to Asher's neck, to the ragged wound where the arrow had pierced his throat. It'd been two days since Asher died, two days since the mysterious figures materialized on the ridge, upending everything the Colonists had ever been told, everything they thought they knew.

They had been sent to Earth as living test subjects, the first people to set foot on the planet in three hundred years. But they were mistaken.

Some people had never left.

It had all happened so quickly. Wells hadn't realized anything was wrong until Asher fell to the ground, gagging as he swiped desperately at the arrow lodged in his throat. That's when Wells spun around -- and saw them. Silhouetted against the setting sun, the strangers looked more like demons than humans. Wells had blinked, half expecting the figures to vanish. There was no way they were real.

But hallucinations didn't shoot arrows.

After his calls for help went unheeded, Wells had carried Asher to the infirmary tent, where they stored the medical supplies they'd salvaged from the fire. But it was no use. By the time Wells began frantically digging for bandages, Asher was already gone.

How could there be people on Earth? It was impossible. No one had survived the Cataclysm. That was incontrovertible, as deeply ingrained in Wells's mind as the fact that water froze at 0 degrees Celsius, or that planets revolved around the sun. And yet, he'd seen them with his own eyes. People who certainly hadn't come down on the dropship from the Colony. Earthborns.

"He's dead," Wells said to Molly as he rose wearily to his feet before realizing that most of the group was staring at him. A few weeks ago, their expressions would've been full of distrust, if not outright contempt. No one believed that the Chancellor's son had actually been Confined. It'd been all too easy for Graham to convince them that Wells had been sent to spy for his father. But now, they were looking at him expectantly.

In the chaos after the fire, Wells had organized teams to sort through the remaining supplies and start building permanent structures. His interest in Earth architecture, once a source of annoyance to his pragmatic father, had enabled Wells to design the three wooden cabins that now stood in the center of the clearing.

Wells glanced up at the darkening sky. He'd give anything to have the Chancellor see the cabins eventually. Not to prove a point -- after seeing his father shot on the launch deck, Wells's resentment had drained faster than the color from the Chancellor's cheeks. Now he only wished his father would someday get to call Earth home. The rest of the Colony was supposed to join them once conditions on Earth were deemed safe, but twenty-one days had passed without so much as a glimmer from the sky.

As Wells lowered his eyes back to the ground, his thoughts returned to the task at hand: saying farewell to the boy they were about to send to a much darker resting place.

A girl next to him shivered. "Can we move this along?" she said. "I don't want to stand out here all night."

"Watch your tone," another girl named Kendall snapped, her delicate lips drawn into a frown. At first, Wells had assumed she was a fellow Phoenician, but he'd eventually realized that her haughty stare and clipped cadence were just an impression of the girls Wells had grown up with. It was a fairly common practice among young Waldenites and Arcadians, although he'd never met anyone who did it quite as well as Kendall.

Wells turned his head from side to side, searching for Graham, the only other Phoenician aside from Wells and Clarke. He didn't generally like letting Graham take control of the group, but the other boy had been friends with Asher and was better equipped than Wells to speak at his funeral. However, his was one of the few faces missing from the crowd -- aside from Clarke's. She'd set off right after the fire with Bellamy to search for his sister, leaving nothing but the memory of the five toxic words she'd hurled at Wells before she left: You destroy everything you touch.

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life . . . or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

"It's easy to be drawn in by the Lord of the Flies-style tension that builds as the teens struggle to set up a new society on a battered Earth, and by the smoldering romances that hang in the balance."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Dark and riveting . . . A mash-up of The Lord of the Flies, Across the Universe, and The Hunger Games."-- Booklist

"A mash-up of the hit TV reality show Survivor and traditional science fiction . . . Morgan's weave of pop-culture elements and politics make for a gripping read."-- School Library Journal

"Likely to be a hit with readers who want their Pretty Little Liars mixed with Lord of the Flies." -- The Bulletin

You can purchase Day 21 at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Little Brown and Kass for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Hundred and Day 21 by Kass Morgan.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Joshua David Bellin Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very, very short). A Pittsburgh native, Joshgraduated from Wesleyan University and went on to earn his PhD. in English at the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught college English, published three nonfiction books (one about monsters!), and taken part in the movement to protect the environment. He lives with his wife and two children in the beautiful Frick Park area of Pittsburgh.
SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is Josh’s debut novel.

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Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

When I was eight, I wrote a story called “Slowest Runner,” about a boy who dreams of winning the big race. I started typing it (laboriously!) on my mom’s manual typewriter, but I never finished. Still, I remember that when I wrote that story, I thought of it as a novel, and myself as a writer. There was never any doubt in my mind after that point that I’d publish books someday.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?

I read recently that some anthropologists think storytelling is one of the keys to human evolution: storytelling draws people together, promotes memory, and (maybe most importantly) encourages imagination, which is so important to who we are. I would add that storytelling satisfies a fundamental human desire to know the lives of other people. We’re social creatures, and storytelling is one of the ways we fulfill our need to connect.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?

Hands down, my favorite book is J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I read it when I was on the cusp of my teen years, and it totally blew me away—the scope, the inventive power, the creation of a totally convincing alternate reality. My first completed novel, written when I was sixteen, was pretty much a Lord of the Rings clone, and I still see traces of Tolkien in everything I write.

But if I were to go completely outside my genre, I’d have to say my favorite book is Walden. I love the language, the ideas, the daring of Thoreau’s book. I haven’t had much success teaching it—probably because the whole point is the individual’s experience, not what someone else tells you. But if you let yourself be carried away by it, I think Walden is the equal of any great adventure story.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

I had a writing teacher in college whose advice I’ve always taken to heart. Most people tell you to “write what you know”; she told me to “write what you want to know.” Her point was that if you write only what you know, you’re limiting yourself. But if you write what you want to know, the whole world opens up to you. And if you write what you want to know, chances are you’ll be writing what readers want to know too.

In your book, Survival Colony 9, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?

War and environmental catastrophe have turned the world into a wasteland. Nations have collapsed, leaving small, nomadic groups—the Survival Colonies—to wander the desert in search of food, water, and shelter from the Skaldi, monsters that mysteriously appeared on the planet at the end of the wars. The Skaldi have the ability to consume and mimic human hosts, so no one can be sure when one is in their midst. And at the beginning of my book, the Survival Colony numbered 9 has been attacked by Skaldi and driven into unknown territory where more of the monsters lie in wait. . . .

For those who are unfamiliar with Querry, how would you introduce him?

My narrator, Querry Genn, is a fourteen-year-old member of Survival Colony 9 with a ton of problems. The leader of his colony, Laman Genn, is never satisfied with his efforts. The girl he has a crush on, Korah, is someone else’s girlfriend. And the other members of the colony—especially the older teen named Yov—treat him like a stranger.

As if that’s not bad enough, Querry suffered an accident six months ago that wiped out his entire memory—who he is, what his life was like, what his relationships are to others in the colony. He senses that his memory loss has something to do with the Skaldi, but he doesn’t know what. All he knows is that if he doesn’t remember, it might be the end for him and Survival Colony 9.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?

I’ve finished the second book in the Querry Genn trilogy, titled Scavenger of Souls, and I’m wrapping up a first draft of the final book, currently titled Skaldi City. After that, much as I’ve loved telling Querry’s story, I’m going to turn to a very different project: a YA alt-history having to do with abolitionist John Brown and the events leading up to the Civil War. It’ll be grounded in the actual past, but since it’s alt-history, it’ll still have a touch of the fantastic to it!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I’d introduce Querry to Corwin, the narrator of Roger Zelazny’s amazing fantasy series about an alternate reality called Amber. Corwin’s a strong, smart, active guy who lives by his wits and is willing to take chances. But he’s also an amnesiac like Querry, and I think it would do my narrator good to see that losing your past shouldn’t stop you from living in the present or fighting for the future.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Korah?

Korah was originally a very minor character in the book, almost a background figure for Querry to admire from afar. But the more I wrote, the more prominent she became: she appeared in more scenes, got more lines, developed a history of her own, and ultimately became one of the book’s central characters. In every story I’ve written, there’s one character who insists on being fleshed out, who fights against the limitations I impose. In Survival Colony 9, Korah was that character.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

This one. No, I’m lying!

In all seriousness, I’ve started to lie when people ask why I’m a vegetarian. I used to tell them the truth, but their eyes would glaze over when I told them my feelings about eating animals, and it became obvious they weren’t really interested. So now I just say, “for health reasons.”

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

This is a really tough question, because the answer seems so paradoxical: in order to develop your own voice as a writer, you need to study other writers. There’s really no way around this: everyone who gets good at anything, whether that be a sport or a trade or an art, gets good by studying the techniques of those who have come before. This applies even to writers known for formal experimentation or revolutionary changes in style: they learned the craft by studying their predecessors. Writers who believe they can develop a unique voice and style just by plunging in and doing their own thing typically end up creating nothing but a mess.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?

For seven summers, starting after my senior year in high school and ending when I entered graduate school, I worked at a day camp near my hometown of Pittsburgh. The experience was memorable for a number of reasons: I discovered I was really good with children, I made a lifelong friend, and (most momentously) I met my future wife, who was also a counselor. When we got married, my brother drove us to the reception in one of the camp school buses!

Who was your first girlfriend?

Her name was Naomi, and I dated her when I was a junior in high school. She was a freshman, which I got teased about, and I’m ashamed to admit that’s the main reason I broke up with her. But you know, it was high school, and being made fun of seemed like a much bigger deal then than it does now. Now, I’m used to it!

Tell me about your first kiss

It was with my first girlfriend, the infamous Naomi. I wish I could say it was wildly romantic, but the truth is, that line from the Aerosmith song “Walk This Way” pretty much applies to me: “I was a high school loser, never made it with the ladies.” So we were just hanging out one day at her house, and I was nervous as anything because I’d never kissed her (or anyone other than my mom), so I went for it. It was nice, but not earth-shaking. I sometimes wonder what she’s doing these days and if she remembers that first kiss, because it was her first too.

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?

Definitely the second one. Telling people I love them used to be tough, but with a wife and children it comes easily to me. Telling someone I don’t love them back—wow, that would be excruciating. It’s happened in the past, but I hope it never happens again!

When was the last time you cried?

Let me see . . . yesterday? No, seriously, when I was younger I seldom cried. But when I became a father, crying became second nature to me, especially at the thought of harm coming to my children or other children. So the most recent time I cried was when I went to see The Fault in Our Stars with my daughter. I don’t think my eyes were dry for one second of that movie.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?

Probably the sixties, because of the Civil Rights movement. I visited Montgomery, Alabama this summer with my wife and kids, and standing in the church where the bus boycott was planned, then walking to the parsonage where Martin Luther King, Jr. lived, was a very powerful experience. I’m involved in social causes as an adult—mostly environmental causes—but I would have liked to be a teen at that time, when it seemed possible to change the world.

What is your greatest adventure?

I’m living it right now. I’m doing what I love, connecting to other people with the same interests and passions, and (I hope) making a difference in people’s lives. To quote a line from Walden: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Where can readers stalk you?

They should start at my website,, where they’ll find information on my book, public appearances, and other cool stuff. From there, they can link up to my Facebook page, my Twitter account, and my blog. And if they’re really ambitious, they can try to find some of my old short stories published online, most of them under the pen name J. David Bell!

Connect with Joshua David Bellin:
Twitter: @TheYAGuy

In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to--because heat, dust, and starvation aren't the only threats in this ruined world.

There are also the Skaldi.

Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they're not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.

Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi--and now he can't remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can't, he's their next victim.

You can purchase Survival Colony Nine at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Joshua for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy+Swag (Bookmark, T-Shirt and Postcard) 
by Joshua David Bellin.

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