Blog tour time again! I’ve got a great interview today for you, but first, you know the rules…let’s check out the book!
Title: Ariel Rising
Author: AJ and CS Sparber
Published: October 30th, 2015
Publisher: Mind’s Eye Press
Genre: YA Paranormal
Recommended Age: 14+
My dreams were simple. College, a career, and let’s see what happens from there. But things don’t always go according to plan.
My name is Ari Worthington and I’ve had a very eventful week. A life-changing week. The kind of week that would make the average person whimper.
It started when my ex-boyfriend Luke accosted me in the woods.
How badly was I injured? Not a scratch. And Luke? Not so lucky. Nope, I whupped him good. It surprised the heck out of me. And it probably surprised him, too—once he woke up.
And then I met Davin. Handsome, witty, amazing Davin. Perfect in every way, unless you think being an alien, from a planet called Olympus, might be a liability.
“Seriously? Your planet is named after a Greek mountain?” I ask him.
“Actually, it’s the other way around,” he tells me. “The mountain was named after us. We’ve been visiting Earth for a very, very long time. As a matter of fact, we are responsible for human evolution.”
So, ancient aliens are real? Yeah. But there’s more. Davin’s an angel, which I could have handled, would have handled, if only he hadn’t told me I was one, too.
“But we don’t have wings,” I say.
“Real angels don’t need wings,” he counters.
“Ah, that explains everything,” I reply.
So, you think this is just another angel story? Well, it’s not. It’s got humor, romance, adventure, science, tragedy, and… did I say romance? It’ll make you think, and laugh, and cry.
Davin and I, you see, are part of a larger plan. A noble plan. A plan to save the sons and daughters of man, or what’s left of them, after the war. A big war.
Okay, enough of my rambling. Davin and I need to get back to training. And you’ve got some reading to do, yeah?
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
AJ&CS: We frame a very broad outline, covering major plot points, chronology, and character descriptions. From that point, we tend to let the characters pull us through their story. In many ways, they develop a life of their own. Perhaps it can be called FI (fictional intelligence). We’ve heard it before, but never believed it until we started writing. Yes, our characters do speak to us. They really do.
As a writing team, we assume very clear roles. For example, AJ is the lead writer for this series, and CS (Carol) is the lead editor. Each chapter, when completed, gets uploaded to our Kindles, where we use the Notes feature to make edits and recommend changes. We then discuss those edits and commit them to the manuscript. We’re not sure how many writers work this way, but we’ve found it amazingly productive.
And since we are a happily married writing team, we get to practice the love scenes. Okay, probably a little too much information, but…
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
AJ&CS: Well, Arial Rising is the first book in our first series, so right now it is nearest and dearest to our hearts. That said, there is a lot of my husband and me in Davin and Ariel. We’re kind of all very closely related.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
AJ&CS: Young Adult. Young adults are old enough to have formed an intellectual foundation, yet young enough to be open to new ideas. Of course, there is no age limit to being a young adult. In fact, many of our favorite young adult friends have a few wrinkles. Of course, being a professor and a software engineer, we do get back to the real world often enough to keep things interesting. And my husband has this idea of someday writing paranormal software applications, but every time he finishes one, it kind of disappears…into thin air. He’s working on it, though. He really is.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
AJ&CS: Downside? Hmm. Not really. I think that if you write because you love to write, and you have a story to tell, then there is only an upside—that your voice will be heard. On the other hand, if your chief motivation is profit, it could make for a frustrating journey.
There are many clichés we’ve seen in the hundreds of YA books we’ve read for research. There’s the bad boy character that seems to be in an awful lot of books. Last we checked, there are still a fairly large number of good boys…at least where we live. That’s not to say we don’t like a little edge to our characters, because we do. But a girl shouldn’t always have to endure emotional torture in order to win her guy’s heart. It gets old sometimes.
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
AJ&CS: I think I’d like to be stuck in Episode 3 of Between Two Worlds: A New Beginning. It’s due out in late 2016 and there’s going to be such a surprising turn of events. In fact, I think I’ll take the whole family there. Our readers will never see it coming. For my enemies, I will banish them to live in the dystopian world of Episode 2: The Battle for Earth. It will be very tough for them to survive (play evil laugh track here).
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
AJ&CS: The best laid plans? I’m not certain a surefire plan can even exist. Stuff always seems to happen. Things change. We change. I’d hate for us to have to file away a great idea just because it doesn’t fit a certain formula. I hope that the artistic aspects of storytelling always take the spotlight for us. Yeah! I think that’s the fun part.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
AJ&CS: Learn to write well. Paint with words. Alliterate. Command the English language. Understand that Tom and me did not go to the mall. Tom and I did. And know that Jill did not follow Bob and I. She followed Bob and me. If you do not have a seasoned command of grammar, then seek out someone who does, and have him or her read your manuscript. If a bad report is had, then you will want to find and hire a good editor.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
SJ&CS: The best case we can make for our genre is that we like it, it fits the story we want to tell, and so it is comfortable for our project. The story comes from the heart and the brain; the genre comes from the story. It’s a kind of natural flow.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
AJ&CS: Quality writing and immersive stories.
SJ: Please tell us what’s up next for you. It’s plug time, so go for it!
AJ&CS: We are currently close to a first draft of the second book in our Ariel, Between Two Worlds series, which will be called The Battle for Earth. The middle volume in Ariel’s story will take a darker, more dystopian turn as the angels of Paradise mount a war against the Fallen. You’ll be riveted, we promise, and you’ll get to meet some uniquely fascinating new characters!
When it comes to being a husband and wife (or wife and husband) writing team, there are advantages, or benefits. Chief among them is that you get to practice the love scenes. He writes, she steers, and…well, it’s fun. He is a software designer and she is a doctor of education. AJ and CS Sparber live in the lovely town of Hudson, Ohio, with their son Ryan, their daughter Melanie, and an Aussie shepherd named Hunter.