What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Augusta Blythe/ Stratford, NJ, USA/ England.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I'm a full-time mom to two young children. I previously worked as a lawyer and contemplate going back to the law every other day. If I could work as a lawyer, author, and have time for my family, I would jump all over it.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is a middle grade fantasy adventure entitled In The Land of the Sapphire Sea. It's about a scared 12-year-old girl who must rescue her little sister from the clutches of an evil Imp queen.
My most recent YA urban fantasy is Ravenstoke, the sequel to Winterborne. It's hard to describe without giving away spoilers in Winterborne, but it involves lots of fantastic powers, a trip to England and a school musical.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I tend to switch back and forth between books so it's hard to say with certainty. I'd say 3-4 months on average.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I have the third and final Universe Unbound book, The Yawning Void, hopefully out in the Fall. This summer I'm publishing a humorous women's fiction book called The Mother Load about three women and their perpetual insanity. That's written under the name Keeley Bates.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I try to write what I enjoy reading. The trouble is I have eclectic taste so I end up writing in multiple genres. As a teenager, I loved Lois Duncan's young adult books and those stay with me even now. I also like reading women's fiction. Even though it's non-fiction, I loved The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?
My ideas come from everywhere -- a sign I pass on the road, a garden I see in a magazine, my grandmother. I'm not actively scouting for ideas but when they hit, I grab 'em.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
It depends on the book. For Winterborne, I hired a professional editor to make sure it was up to snuff. For my recent middle grade book, In the Land of the Sapphire Sea, I had a few 10-year-old Beta readers that were children of my friends. My husband hasn't read anything I've written and I think that's probably for the best. He's an academic and a highly critical reader.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Not anymore. Once I was sure that I didn't suck.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
My brother-in-law designs my covers and I provide him with a brief description of the book and some images I'd like to include. We're on the same wavelength.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Both. With Winterborne and Hostel Takeover (written under the pen name Keeley Bates) the titles came first. With Ravenstoke and In the Land of the Sapphire Sea, the stories were almost written before I chose a title. With The Yawning Void, I have the title, the summary, and the outline but that's it.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Choosing names is one of my favorite parts of writing a book. When I was young, I had a baby name book that I used to learn about name origins. I think my parents were a bit concerned to see their adolescent daughter dragging around a book entitled '1,000 Baby Names.' Loie (the main character in Winterborne and Ravenstoke) isn't in any baby name books, though. I took that one from the name of a bar.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
It depends on the character. Loie and Mia are foils so Loie was the self-esteem suffering shy girl and Mia the confident social butterfly. It was necessary to the story. Minor characters tend to develop their personalities as I write. I knew Cian (in Ravenstoke) was going to be a cocky, bantering hot guy before I started and he was a hoot to write for.
How do you market/promote your books?
I try everything. Reviews, blog, Twitter, Facebook, forums, GoodReads, Shelfari, paid ads. I'm still trying to figure out what works best. If I don't promote, the books stop selling!
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
I wish I knew. I've read some hot sellers and, I have to admit, I'm baffled.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Yes. I've written a guest post on this topic somewhere. In Winterborne, there's a scene where Loie is riding her bike through a field in the dark and a herd of deer charge around her. That happened to me. When I was growing up, there was a family joke about ravens stalking me because wherever we went on vacation, there would be large black birds nearby. In Arizona, one of them divebombed the pool at the hotel. That inspired the scene with the rooks in Winterborne. Loie's Gran is loosely based on my grandmother as well.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I love The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. She's amazing. I've read it twice.
Do you think books transfer to movies well?
I see the Universe Unbound series (Winterborne, Ravenstoke and The Yawning Void) more as a television show like The Vampire Diaries. I've written plenty of screenplays and it's a completely different style of writing.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
I think it depends on where your kids go to school. I know some kids who read at school every day. My kids read at home every day so I'm less concerned about how many times a week they read at school. Not every child has that, though.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I read obsessively to the point where I would get in trouble by my parents. Who gets in trouble for reading?? I also used to fold over looseleaf paper and write stories and illustrate them. I loved making chapter headings.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I've been trying to get through Lord of the Rings. I love the films and the Hobbit was easygoing. I haven't made it through yet, though.
What do you think about book trailers?
I think it would be fun if I had the time to figure out how to do a good one. Right now I'm trying to help my son make a Lego stop-motion video for youtube with his Ninjago characters. It's not easy!
Augusta Blythe on GoodReads and Shelfari
Print copies are available on CreateSpace and Amazon.
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