Monday, February 27, 2012

Claudia Gray Interview and Giveaway!

Today we've been lucky enough to match up one of our spies, Claudia Gray super-fan Lissa, with the woman herself! Claudia Gray's newest novel Balthazar, comes out March 6th, and she took the time to answer some of Lissa's questions about her writing and her life as a teen.

Haunted by memories from his first days as a vampire, Balthazar has spent hundreds of years alone—without allies, without love. When he emerges from his isolation to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, Balthazar has no idea how dangerous it will be. 

Skye’s psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Having learned of Skye’s powers and the remarkable effect her blood has on vampires, he plans to use her for his own evil purposes. 

As they stand together to fight the evil vampire, Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by Skye...just as Redgrave realizes that he can destroy Balthazar once and for all by taking her for his own.

In a story filled with forbidden love and dark suspense, one of the most beloved characters in Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight series will captivate readers with his battle to overcome his past and follow his heart.

Sounds amazing, right? Check out Lissa's review below and comment to receive the chance to win an ARC of Balthazar!

Interview with Claudia Gray

Lissa: Did you write as a teen? If so, what?

I wrote as a teen, but not in a very focused way. There were only two story ideas I remember developing in any depth. One was about a girl who consoled herself after getting dumped by her boyfriend by becoming a champion figure skater. I was only about 13 then, and mostly I concentrated on the figure skating outfits she wore. Which by the way were awesome. 

The other was a little better, and it was about a group of kids in high school -- from disparate cliques/economic levels/backgrounds/etc. -- who all wound up adopting this one old abandoned house as a hangout and becoming friends that way. The rich guy fell for the poor girl, and they all kept their hanging out secret for fear of upsetting the social order or whatever, until one of them was arrested for vandalizing the house (hello, some of us call it renovation) and the rest of them had to defend him. This one was cheesy but not unsalvageable. But I didn't finish that, or really anything else I started at that age. Still, it was good practice and a lot of fun.

Lissa: What's the hardest part about being an author, and what do you wish people understood about it better?

The hardest part -- it's not coming up with ideas, it's figuring out which of your ideas are actually any good. Or, instead of coming up with a single character, coming up with several who are actually interesting when they interact with each other. Also getting up before 6 am to catch a plane for your next tour date, but that's just because I am SO not a morning person.

What I wish people understood about it better: I guess I wish people understood how little is really in my control about anything beyond the content of the actual book. Lots of people email me wanting to know why I didn't tour in their town, for instance; I really go where publishers send me, and I get next to no input on that. Or people ask me why I don't make movies of the books, as though it were as simple as me calling up 20th Century Fox and telling them to get cracking. I wish!

Lissa: I find that you write teen voices really well - I really connect and empathize with Bianca. How do you tap into a realistic teen voice? Is Bianca anything like you?

Thank you so much! The key, in my opinion, is remembering how I felt when I was Bianca's age. Sometimes I get back there by playing music that I listened to then; other times I review my old diaries (still have 'em all!); and sometimes there are just moments from my teen years that have never left me. Bianca's not a whole lot like me, really -- I went through a shy phase, but never so shy as she is at the start, and while we were both bookish, we were into different kinds of books. Otherwise, she's very much her own girl. And believe me, I never got lucky enough to have a Lucas vs. Balthazar dilemma.

Lissa: What would you do if your sixteen-year-old self was stuck in the Evernight world? How would you deal with a world full of vampires?

I doubt I'd fare well. First of all, I'd want to tell the world. Immediately. I would be that person who started up effyeahvampiresarereal on tumblr and started trying to interview vampires about their undead experiences. Don't you think Mrs. Bethany would, at minimum, deal out some detention for that? But I'd do better as an Evernight student than I would as a Black Cross hunter. Seriously, day one of my time in Black Cross, I'm dead. It wouldn't even be a vampire that finished me off. The sit-ups alone would do it.

Lissa: How would your teen self feel if she found out you were now a successful YA novelist? Is there anything you wish you could tell her?

My teen self would be so COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY that I get to write novels for a living. In the best possible sense. Seriously, she'd be beside herself with glee. I'd tell her to do more writing earlier, to be a little more ambitious about education and travel, and to buy Apple stock. Lots of it.

Lissa's Review of Balthazar

In the Evernight series, Balthazar was one of my favourite – and one of the hottest – characters around, and this book was just as fantastic as Balthazar himself.

I could not put this book down! With action coming in to play within the very first chapter, and with Gray’s ease in the third person, there wasn’t an unexciting moment. Gray’s writing is crafty, but to-the-point; while she always delivered with careful detailing and creative attention to the setting, the style was tense, and suspenseful as the scene called. Also, AM I EVER appreciative of Gray’s ability to script chemistry and sexual tension, because oh boy did some of the conversations in Balthazar make me flush.

The characters rocked. Skye was totally admirable – her intelligence, emotional strength, and ability to think things through. Many, many times throughout the book I thought, “Wow. Skye is smart and she shows it.” And, “Wow. Skye actually has a brain and cares about something other than her relationship status.” Balthazar, too, made me smile. Not only was he hot (teehee), but he also had a conscience and sense of ethics, this realness something that made him really special. Gray’s never writes characters as only “bad guys” or “good guys”; every character has shades and reasons and lives.

What I particularly think stands out about Balthazar is that the romance never strayed untrue. Gray gave us two strong characters passionate for one another, but never changing their personalities to make them dependent or unrealistic to their reality.

Although I’m disappointed that this is the only (currently-planned) story for Balthazar and Skye, the open ending has let my imagination go wild regarding the futures of the two characters. I am so excited to find out what she has in store for readers next!

Want to win a copy of Balthazar? 
Just leave a comment and let us know!


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