Hi Katie! I sure can! Gifted is about a nineteen year old university student (Ava) who meets a silver-haired woman a little on the strange side before meeting a young man a little more on the stranger side. These meetings lead to the eventual discovery of Hayven – a city separated from the rest of the world where only those with gifts can go. She makes an eclectic bunch of friends and finds herself very happy in the golden city, but Hayven has its dark side and they’re called Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, Cliders are determined to see Hayven return to the way it was a thousand years ago when the city was under the dominion of Madrina.
Gifted is a contemporary YA fantasy, but it’s a little different from what may be expected from YA fantasy novels at the moment. There is no instant-love, a chosen one or a fearless girl growing up in a dystopian society. My protagonist is as normal as they come! Ava is strong-willed, funny and sarcastic, but she’s also insecure and worries about the small stuff, like we all do. She’s not skinny and she’s not boys-line-up-at-my-door beautiful. She is wonderful though because I can see myself and many others in her and it’s nice to have a relatable character who experiences extra-ordinary things.
Gifted also takes a look at real young adult relationships, friendships and modern-day topics such as, body weight issues and cheating in relationships. My series also plans to pack in a lot of diversity and so far I’ve plotted story-lines and roles for Asian characters, Muslim characters, Latin characters and homosexual characters.
*deep breath!* So…yeah. Gifted is a little different, but I hope that’s more of a good thing than a bad thing.
What was it that inspired you to write this story?
I wanted to read it! I love reading YA fantasy, but I soon started craving something different. In fear of repeating myself, I’ll just say I wrote Gifted because I wanted to read a book series with relatable characters, no instant-love or chosen one and a lot of diversity.
What were the most challenging aspects of the writing process for you, and what were the most rewarding?
The most challenging for me was making sure I didn’t write for the book market. This edition of Gifted is my second and edition one is an example of me writing for the book market. There was instant-love, a strong love triangle etc. because I assumed that was what YA readers wanted. But because it wasn’t what I wanted to read, I hated reading it! Two years later I realised I can’t be an author who hates her own book! So I redrafted 95% of Gifted and out came edition two.
The most rewarding is having readers say they enjoyed reading Gifted and can’t wait for the second one. For an author, I don’t think it gets much better than that.
Gifted is the first book in The Hayven Series, how is the second book coming along?
It’s coming along well! I had planned to release book two in 2017 because I didn’t expect to hear so many ‘when is the next book out?!’ So I started working on it straight away. I’m refusing to rush it because that’s just asking for mistakes, but now the publication date will be the end of 2016. And I honestly cannot wait for those who have read the first book to read the second one!
Did you relate to any of your characters at all?
Pretty much all of them! I tried to make my characters as relatable as possible, the only un-relatable part being their gifts. Even my antagonist is a little relatable because I didn’t want to write about a senseless murderer. Madrina is…mentally unstable, but she’s very aware of it and everything she does, she can justify. You won’t always agree with her and sometimes, scarily enough, you will, but at the end of the day, she can tell you why she did what she did.
What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
I hope readers will subconsciously take away the fact that they don’t have to be supernatural to be extra-ordinary.
Finally, the main character of your story, Avery, is nineteen. What were some of your favourite books to read at that age?
Hmmm… Let me think. I was in university at 19 and you get a lot of books to read on an English Literature course so unfortunately I technically didn’t have spare time for extra reading! I did sneak a few books in and I think the one I remember was the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I’ve recently stepped out of the YA genre to explore other genres and I’ve found some amazing books, like The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaleed Hosseini. I’ll read whatever sounds good.
Huge thank you to Jessica for stopping by!
Huge thank you to Jessica for stopping by!