Tuesday, June 21, 2011


A burning world...
A web of lies...
A climate in chaos...
A forbidden romance...
Greek Gods...

I couldn't think of a better way to kick-off the Summer Myth Spectacular here at WHY I YA than by featuring SOLSTICE—
Where Mythology and Dystopia meet—by P.J. Hoover. Throughout the summer, I'll be featuring a series of YA author goddesses who write books rooted in Greek myths. 

But seeing that today is the beginning of the summer solstice, and P.J. Hoover has written a book hot enough to set your summer nights on fire, it seemed like a match made in...well, the Underworld. It may even cause a Global Heating Crisis. Prepare to swoon.


Piper’s world is dying. Global warming kills every living thing on Earth, and each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy humanity. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives with her mother who suffocates her more than the chaotic climate. When her mother is called away to meet the father Piper has been running from her entire life, Piper seizes an opportunity for freedom.

But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she’s drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she’s ever known.

P.J. Hoover has painted an original dystopian world with a skilled and vibrant brush. The thick weight of Piper’s personal oppression, handed out by her mother, is coupled with the humidity and heat of a dying city in crisis. Once the world had settled into my lungs, not even the mist of the cooling gel, administered by the council in the great city of Austin, could rescue me. I was hooked. 

I am an enormous fan of Greek mythology, and this book doesn’t fail to deliver. If you love Greek Myths, and you love stories about the Underworld, SOLSTICE is a must read, and here’s why…

This version of Hades is, well, quite frankly, hotter than hell.

Once embroiled in the love triangle between Piper, Shayne, and Reese it was easy to become consumed by their passion. This is not the typical, two boys fighting over one girl scenario, but a struggle for power and control, wrapped around a girl, that unfolds like a delicious ambrosia-laced treat.

Piper’s best friend Chloe adds an intense dimension to the story, which makes for the catalyst of many nail-biting events. Who knew a simple rebellious trip to get a tattoo would result in as much uncertainty, suspicion and doubt?  But one thing becomes clear; if you’re going to get the word sacrifice tattooed on around your bicep in Greek letters, you better be ready for what might come to pass. Thankfully, main character Piper is up for the challenge. She faces her mother’s disapproval with ease, and once she has that win notched on her belt, she's ready to face one of The Fates, Aphrodite in disguise, and a host of Underworld villains all too ready to make sacrifice the name of the game. Well played, P.J. Hoover. Well played.

This story has only been released as an e-book. But it was simple to download the Kindle app for my PC and to my Android. This was my first e-book experience, and I’m glad to say I’m a convert. Because if this is the only way I can read a book of this quality, I’m doing it. And for the $2.99 purchase price, you can believe me when I say it is well worth the swoon-factor P.J. Hoover brings to the screen (or the page).  It is hot. Like, Hades hot. I’m talking Underworld hot. As in Global Heating Crisis hot. You can trust me on this one; I am a descendant of the Greeks after all.


WHY I YA: How did you come up with the idea for your books?

P.J. HOOVER: Coming up with ideas is a really funny thing because I’ve never been one to sit and think about what to write next. Instead ideas come, and when they do, I start making notes and carving out a story. So maybe the ideas come from all the minutiae being fed to my brain every minute of every day. Kids. Movies. Coffee. Billboards. The list never stops.

WHY I YA: Have you always wanted to write a book for middle grade and young adults?

P.J. HOOVER: Not at all! I always wanted to be an engineer or something else with math because that’s what I was great at. Growing up, I loved that with math, there was always a right answer, and writing never gave me that. Funny because it still doesn’t J
Seriously, though, it wasn’t until after my kids were born that I started to write books.

WHY I YA: What drew you to Greek mythology?

P.J. HOOVER: It was the Cupid and Psyche story that I learned about in sixth grade that hooked me. I read that book by Edith Hamilton, Mythology. I think everyone and their brother read it. But it stuck with me forever, and I read it again and again.

WHY I YA: Who was your favorite character to write and why?

P.J. HOOVER: In SOLSTICE, my favorite evil character to write was Tantalus (who lives in the Underworld for those who don’t know). He’s nuts because he can’t eat or drink anything, and even though he’s a very minor character, I loved making him crazy. It was a blast!

WHY I YA: What ran through your mind the first time you saw your book in print (or the cover for your book)?

P.J. HOOVER: For SOLSTICE, seeing the cover made it real. I’d been stuck doing revision after revision with a healthy dose of copyedits on top and so all I saw was words. But the cover…it was beyond what I had imagined for it, and brought it all together.

WHY I YA: How long did it take for you to write your first book, and how many rounds of revisions did you go through? Describe your experience.

P.J. HOOVER: My first book, THE EMERALD TABLET, was a revision boot camp. I wrote the first draft in a few months and revised on my own for a while. But once I started working with an editor, she told me to cut half of it, move scenes around, cut characters and plot lines…Yikes! It was scary but fun because I could see the story becoming so much stronger right in front of my eyes.

WHY I YA: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

P.J. HOOVER: BIC = Butt-in-chair.
I mention this in every school visit I do. There is a fantasy we all have that words will write themselves, but the fact of the matter is that unless we, as authors, sit our butts in chairs and actually write, we will never have books to publish.

WHY I YA: How do you deal with negative criticism or reviews (if any)?

P.J. HOOVER: After I crawl into a hole and cry for a while, I try to let it go. No books are perfect, and I’ve read plenty that don’t gel with me. So of course there will be people who will have the same experience with my books. I save all my fan mail and reread it when I’m feeling down, and it really helps because there’s nothing like knowing kids are reading and loving the books I write!

WHY I YA: Can you tell us more about your latest book: Solstice?

P.J. HOOVER: Yes! SOLSTICE is set in a global warming future where everything on Earth is dying. This girl Piper opens a box she gets on her birthday, and all of a sudden this whole world of mythology explodes around her. Her best friend almost dies, her mom is nuts, and two gorgeous guys want to date her. It’s a blend of dystopia and mythology and a story I absolutely love!

WHY I YA: What’s next from PJ HOOVER | What can your fans look forward to?

P.J. HOOVER: This is a really great question and one I’m not sure I have a solid answer to. I have a few projects going, so my goal for the summer is to firm up on one of them and get it going on. Well, that’s in addition to a sequel to SOLSTICE J


P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


WARPED is gripping and original novel, which reminded me of several adult historical fiction novels I’ve read, including The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Girl in Hyacinth blue, and The Birth of Venus.

Told in rich detail, Maurissa Guibord paints beautiful portraits of several worlds. Tessa’s modern world still feels old world. Set in Maine, mostly in a bookstore owned and run by her father, a quirky, intelligent man of simple means, the book comes alive. I felt the dusty, antique atmosphere like an old friend. And the flashbacks to Will’s world were vivid, accurately portrayed and told in stunning detail.

Warped opens with Tessa and her father, bidding on books at an auction. An antique unicorn tapestry is accidentally included in the lot they won. When Tessa pulled out the unicorn tapestry while examining their purchase, I was plunged into visions of a different time along with Tessa. I held my breath, turning the pages to learn more, knowing this was where the story would literally and figuratively unfold and come to life. And I’m glad to say I was not disappointed.

Will, the unicorn freed from the tapestry when Tessa pulls on a loose thread, is transformed into a handsome nobleman before her eyes. And the banter that ensues between them, and continues throughout the book, had me sighing, laughing, and rooting for their somewhat doomed love. Their worlds, so different yet intricately woven, pulled them together in a knot as strong as any of the threads woven in the forbidden tapestry.

Guibord’s portrayal of The Norn (The Fates) spoke in a voice rich with character and imagery. And the antagonist Gray Lily, is a frightening and manipulative soul who will make your skin crawl. I loved to despise her.

Opal, Tessa’s best friend, was as great of an addition as they come. An unyielding, loyal and funny friend, she brought something to Tessa’s character that made the story a believable blend of time periods. I doubt the character developments of Tessa or Will would have been as rich without Opal shining her iridescent light humor on them.  They were all masterfully written, multidimensional and very likeable.
Expertly fleshed out, this story is full of magic, sacrifice, suspense, mystery, desire, betrayal and plenty of action. A must read for anyone who loves myths, period literature, romance, or mystery.  Bravo Maurissa Guibord—BRAVO!


WHY I YA: Why do you write books for young adults?

MAURISSA: The stories I want to tell seem to naturally fall into this age group. I really love stories with magical aspects that impinge on the real world. Teen characters are already interesting because they aren’t static- they’re growing and dealing with all sorts of issues- independence, finding a path in life, romance, friendships etc. Then when I put one of those characters in a situation where something supernatural shakes things up even more- it makes things pretty exciting!

WHY I YA: Do you think there’s an age limit for writing the YA protagonist?

MAURISSA: I’m going to take your question as meaning a limit for the age of the main character…Hopefully one can’t be too old to write a YA protagonist. Because then I’m in trouble.

It seems like most YA characters are limited to high school age. Personally I would love to read some YA fiction with college or graduate school age characters- early to mid-twenties. Right now that is a really hard sell- but I suspect that the YA market will continue to expand and we will get some of these older protagonists. In fact I pitched an idea to my agent for a YA series about a young woman in medical school, who happens to be a witch. But the older age of the character was a sticking point.

WHY I YA: Who was your favorite character to write in Warped, and why?        

MAURISSA: I loved writing the baddie-Gray Lily. I guess because with her character I could sort of cut loose and go over the top a bit. And yet I did give her some back story that explained her reasons for being the way she was. So she wasn’t just born evil- J

WHY I YA: Is this the character you most identify with?

MAURISSA: No. I really identify with the main character Tessa. She’s always trying to do the right thing- and a bit of a control freak, LOL.

WHY I YA: What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

MAURISSA: There are a couple of things that have been kind useful.

1) Stay in the moment. This means don’t be worrying about what’s coming up next or what led up to this scene- just experience the moment and try to convey the moment to your reader as best you can.
2) Add more emotion- it’s easy to get carried away with lots of physical description, action and dialogue and then realize- you can’t tell what the characters are feeling. So cut out some description and add internal thoughts, sensations and feelings.

WHY I YA: How do you deal with negative criticism or reviews (if any)?

MAURISSA: The first few times you get a negative review is devastating. And no glowing review will make you feel better. Perhaps it’s because we’re always ready to believe negative things rather than positive. The best plan, in my opinion is to simply not read them.

WHY I YA: Have you, or do you think about, writing anything other than YA?

MAURISSA: Yes. I write other things, like mystery short stories for adults. I might write an adult novel one day if the story goes that way.

WHY I YA: What ran through your mind the first time you saw your book in print?

MAURISSA: Ha ha! It was very strange. Like it wasn’t connected to me- it had taken on a life of it’s own by that time. I did think it was very pretty!

WHY I YA: What’s in store for us from Maurissa Guibord?

MAURISSA: I’m working on a paranormal story right now called REVEL. It’s about a girl who comes to a remote Maine island to find her estranged family. She discovers the island is home to two communities- one human and the other is made of demi-gods of the sea and their monster slaves.

WHY I YA: Why did you choose to write a mythological based story?

MAURISSA: I used mythology in WARPED to explain a fantastical occurrence: basically how a man could be trapped inside a tapestry for five hundred years. So the idea of the Fates, the three sisters who spin and weave and cut the threads of life, fit perfectly.

Thank you for letting us into the world of WARPED and your life as a writer. I'm sure your fans are exicited to see what comes next. I, for one, am looking forward to REVEL. Especially, as an aspiring YA author who writes books based in Greek Mythology.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why I YA by Patti Larsen

It was never my intention to write YA. I was always a strictly hard-core fantasy kind of girl. Swords. Dragons. Played D&D. You know, that kind of writer. And all adult, all the time. Not X-rated or anything. Just for adults. Because I used to think adults got it. And me.
Not so, as it turns out.

Fast forward to several years (and a lifetime) ago. My darling niece handed me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and told me I had to read it. I rolled my eyes. A kid’s book? But, honestly, I haven’t looked back. There are so many fantastic stories and amazing writers in the YA field (and Middle Grade), their adventures so beautifully wound around great characters that I was hooked. So much so, I rarely read adult anything anymore. Or write it for that matter.

So why do I write YA? It was like a light bulb went off in my head. Here was my chance to explore the socially awkward girl I was (and still am and always will be), to examine the pain and tears and, quite frankly, more pain of being a teenager who was never quite like everyone else. Add to that the life-long wish to be more than normal, to be paranormal, and I felt like I came home.

Every time I write a book in this field I get excited like I never did before. Opening that Pandora’s box of emotion fills me up with possibilities and empties me out of old negativity. And as hard as some of it is to write, the catharsis is brilliant.

There is a second answer to this question, however. The voices. Syd. Fresco. Henry. Emily. They get progressively darker and scarier. And more insistent. No, I’m not quite ready for a straight jacket and injections twice a day. But now that I’m listening to them, it’s impossible to say no. They have things to share and I’m the only one who can write for them.

Fair enough. About time someone paid attention, I say.

Patti is a writer and independent filmmaker on the East Coast of Canada. She has a passion for Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction that drives her to write full time and sometimes even through the night. Her YA novel Fresco (Etopia Press) is due for release this summer and her Middle Grade novel (Acorn Press) comes out Spring 2012. You can find Patti all over the Internet (at least it feels that way to her):