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juliana spink mills Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Juliana Spink Mills. Juliana Spink Mills was born in England, but grew up in Brazil. Now, she lives in Connecticut and writes science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of Heart Blade and Night Blade, the first two books in the young adult Blade Hunt Chronicles urban fantasy series. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online publications. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator, and as a teen library assistant. She watches way too many TV shows, and loves to get lost in a good book. Her dream is to move to Narnia when she grows up. Or possibly Middle Earth, if she’s allowed a very small dragon of her own.

Juliana Spink Mills’s latest book, Night Blade, is a YA novel urban fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the aftermath of the Heart Blade’s return, Del and Rose have different roads to follow. One leads forward, the other to the distant past. Rose is on a mission to infiltrate and double-cross the ultimate heist, and retrieve a game-changing prize. Meanwhile, as the Court of the Covenant prepares to meet, Del has a quest of her own. She must untangle her lost identity or risk her entire future. With the Blade Hunt prophecy in motion, darkness threatens to rise, and a new sword emerges from the shadows.

And a little “taste” of Night Blade:
  The vampire smiled at Raze. “How do you feel about a little undercover work?”
  “Undercover work? What kind?”
  “The dangerous kind. The sort of work that should suit Raze perfectly, since you’re so determined to leave Rose behind,” he said. “A challenge. You’re infiltrating a heist. I think you’ll make an excellent cat burglar.”

nightblade_front_mills Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Night Blade?

Night Blade is the second in my YA urban fantasy trilogy. The idea for the series came from a short story I was working on. That particular story was never published, but the world stuck in my head and kept growing, and eventually became the first book, Heart Blade.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

I think my two favorites are Camille, an immortal half-demon, and Ben a teenage witch. Camille is fun to write, because her personality is similar to my own (demonic immortality aside). As for Ben, I just like him. He’s had a lot of bad things happen to him, but he doesn’t give up. And, more importantly, he always tries to do the right thing, even if it’s going to cost him.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Both my books were published by a small press. I think the advantages were that I was involved in every step of the process. I was given everything you can expect from a larger press—editor, copy editor, professional cover art—but additionally, because I worked so closely with the owner of the press, I was involved in a lot of the decision-making. It really was a lesson in what it takes to bring out a book! For a first timer who up to that point had only published short stories, it was a real learning experience.

The disadvantages of a small press are probably obvious, and center mostly around market reach.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m definitely a planner. That said, I’ve become a lot more organic in my process as I’ve gained confidence in myself as a writer. So now, instead of the rigid chapter outlines I used in the past, I tend to do a list of bullet points: key events that need to be incorporated. This gives me wriggle room to go ‘off road’ when I want, and I constantly update this list as the story progresses.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was definitely a Narnia girl. I was gifted the full Narnia set as a going away present when I moved from England to Brazil at the age of eight. Brazil was new, and exciting, but also confusing and strange, so I absolutely connected with Lucy Pevensie and the rest of C.S. Lewis’ portal-travelling youngsters. I credit those books with a life-long love of fantasy novels.

What writing project are you currently working on?

After a much-needed break to write a sci fi thriller, I’m now working on Star Blade, the last book in my YA trilogy. The planning stage took ages—there is so much to fit in!—but now I’m up and running and delighted to be back in this familiar world of mine. I missed my characters!

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

My favorite bit of advice ever, and one I always pass along, is: “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Nothing happens overnight in publishing. If you love writing, allow yourself the gift of time. And keep writing!

Want to learn more about Juliana Spink Mills and Night Blade? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook pageTwitterInstagram, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Night Blade.

Thanks to author Juliana Spink Mills for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) on February 21, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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The Demon and the Author: An Interview by L.C. Hu

“Earl of Hell Glasya-Labolas, aka Obed Brandt, is head of security at the Midnight Carnival. In the spirit of the upcoming observance of All Hallow’s Eve, he has agreed to interview Re-Vamp and Midnight Carnival author L.C. Hu. He gratefully acknowledges Vonnie Winslow Crist for playing host to them.

tumblr_mqxmcbfdjR1scakoko1_500 OB: Good evening, LC. Thank you for joining me. We at the carnival know you as our Ringmaster, in a way, and we’re all curious to know more about what’s behind all those shadows.

LC: Oh, I’m only half the Ringmaster, if that, so don’t give me more credit than is due. But thank you for having me! And I suppose I could let you have a peek.

OB: Much obliged. So, what would draw you to the carnival, as a patron? What kinds of things would you most want to see or experience?

LC: Hmm. The sideshows, I suppose, though part of the carnival’s power, as you know, is to draw people in no matter what their interest. But the sideshows would be what caught my attention. The firebreathing, the tattooed lady, that kind of thing. Part of the draw of those shows are the hopes you’ll catch a glimpse of something really odd, and I think at the Midnight Carnival, you’d see that.

OB: Could you be convinced to stay there?

LC: Oh, probably not, I’m a bit of a coward, heh.

mc_cover OB: Speaking completely hypothetically, of course… if you were to make a deal with a devil, what would you want from the bargain? What would you be willing to do or give up in exchange?

LC: I… I don’t think there’s much that could get me to make a deal with a devil, even one as handsome as yourself. I’m too much of a control freak. I suppose the one exception would be if something threatened one of the people I loved; I should be willing to give up quite a bit to help them. But even that would have to be pretty drastic, as I also feel that some bad situations are just to be endured and learnt from.

OB: Let’s say you did decide to settle in at the carnival. What job would you want? Why do you think that would be a good fit for you?

LC: Ha honestly, I think I’d be fit to maybe sell slushies or do admin work for the Ringmaster. I’m not much of a carnie. Maybe I could take tickets, like Carver does.

OB: You seem very comfortable with horror, and with horror-influenced writing. What draws you to that? What do you like most about it? Least?

LC: I enjoy the tension and release of being afraid and then understanding. I suppose that’s why much of my favorite horror is resolved–not just unfathomable evil (with a few exceptions). There’s an element of mystery to a lot of horror that I’m drawn to. I like puzzling over a story, trying to figure it out, to find out motivations and outcomes. The thrill of the scary moments, and the relief of the resolution. My least favorite thing about horror is that there’s a lot of it that brutalizes or objectifies women, or takes pleasure in the fear of women. We’re 50% of the population, but we get more than 50% of the fictional brutality. Although, sadly, that fact is probably reflected in reality, I wish that fiction could give us more of something else. I also really, really am not into super-sexualized violence against women, and that happens a lot in horror, too.

OB: In the carnival you deal with a wide range of supernatural creatures. What species do you most easily identify with? Which is the hardest for you to relate to?

LC: Oh, werewolves have always been my fictional “spirit animal” of sorts. I can relate to that uncontrollable anger, the beast within as it were, and the struggle to control the animal inside. Hardest to relate to… I suppose the mermaids. That’s just a species I’ve never been super aware of, so I don’t know all the mythology behind the species.

OB: Anything you’d like to add?

LC: Only that Halloween seems like the holiday made for the Midnight Carnival, but that’s the last place I’d want to be on Halloween. You and yours have made it a wonderful, terrible place to be.

OB: Thank you again, LC. A pleasure, as always.

Thanks to Liz Neering for writing Obed Brandt!”

L.C. Hu co-edited and contributed to the anthology Re-Vamp and The Midnight Carnival: One Night Only. To learn more about The Midnight Carnival: One Night Only, available this Halloween, visit maddocsoflit.com or find L.C. Hu at elsiewho.wordpress.com!

The Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour runs every other day October 23-October 31. Join us all five days for Halloween fun! Be sure to say hello on any post to be entered in a giveaway at the end of the tour!

Thanks to L.C. Hu for her guest post. Be sure and visit the other blog sites for fun Halloween-themed posts (including my guest posts). Coming up on Whimsical Words between now and All Hallow’s Eve: speculative authors Trisha Wooldridge, Elizabeth Black, and Gail Z. Martin.

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