Saturday, 29 June 2013

Interview with Julie Hutchings, author of RUNNING HOME

Julie Hutchings, author of
Blog Readers, I have a MIGHTY treat for you today! Julie Hutchings, of Undead Duo notoriety, and author of the soon-to-be-released RUNNING HOME, very kindly (and sassily) agreed to let me interview her. I know you're already skipping ahead to the part where she says awesome stuff, so without further ado...


Death hovers around Ellie Morgan like the friend nobody wants. She doesn’t belong in snowswept Ossipee, New Hampshire; she doesn’t belong in the frigging gift shop she works at, she doesn’t belong with people that death will always take from her, and she definitely does not belong at this black tie party with Kat. But that is where she is, and where he is. Nicholas French, the man who mystifies her with a feeling of home she’s been missing, and impossible knowledge of her troubled soul.

Nicholas followed an abomination that is one of his own, but soon finds fate has driven him to New Hampshire as more than a bystander. He reveals himself to Ellie as being of the Shinigami, a heroic vampire order that “save” their victims from more tragic ends. He knows why Ellie is human repellent, and why physical agony grips them when apart. The Shinigami are cornered into isolated human lives, plucked out when they have no one left to be created for their higher purpose. Ellie is destined to be a legendary Shinigami, and Nicholas her creator.

Nicholas and Ellie’s fates intertwine closer when his latest victim in waiting turns out to be the only person who tethers her to this world, Kat. Fate will not be ignored, and in the only real choice Ellie has made in her life, she must determine a horrifying path; let the vampire who would make her a hero wither to shreds or sacrifice the life of her closest companion.

K: I've read RUNNING HOME, so I can heartily attest to Nicholas' hotness. What inspired the character, and which actor would you choose to play him? (Shirtless photo for extra points.)

J: I have always loved Robert Downey Jr., even when he was a douchebag in Natural Born Killers. But when he became Iron Man….I mean, heavenly God. My favorite superhero of all time, coupled with this man who has character, a checkered past, an ego the size of his pecs, and a background in martial arts that has me drooling? He wins. He was Nicholas all along.

K: Wait one frickin' minute - NO SHIRTLESS PHOTO? Oh, but there's this gif...*settles down*

K: You've mentioned in another interview that your friend Kristen Strassel, the other half of the infamous Undead Duo, was the basis for the character of Kat (although presumably she was named after me. RIGHT?) Does anyone else you know in real life make a cameo? 

J: You may believe that all you like, we all know I idolize you. And yes! When I started mumbling under my breath to a couple of my employees at a certain illustrious lingerie store that I worked at when I started the book, my surrogate sister Emily begged me to write about her. So she got to be Roman’s wife. She does not love the idea of Roman being Leo DiCaprio, but who wrote this book, me or her? When my assistant manager, Jenn, heard Emily was in the book, she said “well, I want to be in it, too. But I want to be a bitch.” And we meet her, not for the last time, as Jenniveve. She is a nightmare bitch.

K: Without getting into spoiler territory, I would say that you haven't taken Running Home to the level of all-out, gut-churning shockery that you have with some of your shorter pieces. Were there any scenes which you cut because you thought, that's a step too far for this story? Any chance you'll share a little snippet right here..?

J: I do wish I could make this more fun for you, but I love gut churning shock, and if any of it made its way into Running Home, I left it. Here’s your real shocker: I cut absolutely zero content. I cut a lot of flowery wording and edited down adverbs, but cut nothing. I rarely do, honestly. But, no, there is never a step too far as far as I’m concerned.

K: A lot of folks get scared when they hear about a new vampire novel, like this has been done to death, rose from the grave, then got staked again for good measure. But you bring a brand new twist to the vampire lore - can you tell me a little bit about that, and how you came up with the idea?

J: Kristen and I talked all the time about how we could talk about our books without calling them vampire books and what have you, trying to avoid mentioning it somehow in queries, the whole bit. We both knew we needed to truly stand out as something entirely unique in order to not be dismissed. We were at Backspace Writer’s Conference together when it occurred to me that I needed to really lean heavily on the Japanese mythology and make it even more prevalent, richer than I had it. My background in martial arts has me pretty steeped in loving Asian culture & a sick fear of death led me quickly to Japanese death god mythology, which I made work for me and my vampires, giving it my own flavor.

K: Whether you intend to do it in a future book or not, which character are you ITCHING to murder in a grotesque fashion? 

J: Jenniveve! It would/could/will or will not be such a good feeling. She’s so easy to hate.

K: Gimme an exclusive teaser for the sequel to Running Home. GO ON. You know you want to! Gimmegimmegimmegimmegimme...

J: You deserve it! I’ll do one better/more annoying. I will give you an excerpt from it. Yes, RUNNING AWAY is in progress, and it will be more of things you don’t expect. But here’s a taste:

“This place is so alive,” I hissed, yearning and contempt kicking the seeping warmth from my body. Feelings beat each other in my heart.    
Nicholas sighed. He leaned his forehead on my shoulder. I felt his words as much as heard them, breathed into my jacket, the world around me a blur of color, peaceful music and noise.   
“I can feel the pain throbbing from your heart, and Jesus, Eliza, I want to heal it for you, would do anything to heal it for you. The death in you….kills me inside.” 
My back stiffened, the colors swam through the water in my eyes, anger wrestled with my love for him, and I could not care which won. I leaned the side of my head against his, trying not to feel. The heat oozed into me, warming me. My heart pushed it away.  
“Nicholas, I love you.”  My voice was hollow. I meant it, I knew it the way I know what the state capitals are, but I felt nothing.
“Your love for me chokes you, and I don’t know how to fix it.”




RUNNING HOME is due to be published August 1st 2013 by Books of The Dead Press - so why not go and add it on Goodreads?  

Got any comments or questions for Julie? 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed I tend to tweet a lot of links to songs I'm listening to as I write, and photos I take on my weekend adventures. I'm not someone who can sit in a silent room  with the curtains drawn and write; having images and music to inspire me is a key part of my writing process. As I share my love of music in my monthly playlist posts, I thought I'd share some of my adventure images with you guys so you can see what I'm looking at when I dream up my stories.

 You'll notice I have a bit of a thing about creepy trees...



These were all taken in and around North Wales. I'm lucky that I live in a beautiful part of the world, and I find looking at the photos I take while I'm out and about - gorgeous scenery, creepy stuff, action shots, candid stills of people - help me find the words I want to write. They don't need to be connected with what's happening in my WIP, but just the colours, the mood, of a photo can put me in a writing frame of mind.

What kind of images do you use for inspiration?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Playlist: BREAK UP, GET MAD

Music to inspire you when writing
different kinds of scenes
For this playlist post, I'm offering up some tracks for when your MC has just gone through the mother of all break ups...and is mad as hell about it. It wasn't their fault, their ex is a douche, and the whole world needs to know how freaking ANGRY they are! 

Got different tunes you write this kind of scene to? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them to the playlist.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Flash Friday: MEGANOVA


This piece of flash fiction is one of mine. I hope you like it - comments are welcome!

With the pulsing energy of a star being born, every circuit in her brain turned to liquid. She convulsed once, twice, before the universe shrank in on itself, leaving her back in her body.

“This is some good stuff.” The words left her mouth like bubble gum and stuck to her face. No wonder he was staring.

“You’re not meant to do two at once.” He snatched the tabs back from her, tore the strip in half and stuck a measly few back in her hand. “Take it easy, love.”

He was gone before she could unstick her lips enough to answer. Still, she felt the high wearing off already. Circuits coagulating, congealing like a nosebleed.

“Hey…” But his name was gone, and so was he. She couldn’t exactly shout Dealer in the vibrating hallway of the club, either. Then she felt them, stiff in her palm. She smiled, tore one off, and tongued it as she barged back through the sound-deadening doors.

Time stopped for a moment: lights, sound, heartbeat. Then it exploded like celestial cymbals had crushed the entire room, and flexed back into its dirty rhythm. Eyes flashed blue then green overhead, red tendons slicing across the floor, pinching her toes and pulling her forward. She danced into chaos, her limbs liquid mercury.

No, liquid lightning.

Sparks flew where others brushed against her, drawing out her starlight. Already, she felt it wearing off. It had only been seconds, hadn't it?  

Her watch face stared back at her, arms spinning. She opened her mouth to ask for the time, watched word-strings spew out onto the floor, crawling over the people around her, wrapping around columns and lasers and light.

Sliding a tab under her tongue, she waited while the tendrils recoiled, disappearing back into her mouth.

“Look, I just watched you take another. That’s got to be your fourth by now…”

His words flocked around her, wings flapping. She batted them away with laser beam fingers, and became airborn.

I am light as a feather 

Lighter than

I am

Dirty beat became dirty light, ice-hot and burning cold and then just...gone.


The man gaped. Nobody else around them had seen, the flash too bright, too strong to be anything but unreal. They hadn’t felt it when she flared outward for an instant before the meganova turned in on itself. Imploding.  

He stepped back, away from the two black puddles on the floor, marking the spot where her feet had been. But they seemed drawn toward him, writhing sinuously across the hard tile. 

That makes four this week, he thought. He shook his head to clear it, turned for the door.

They never listen. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Two Weeks 'Til ONE...the final installment!

Check it out! RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW you can see the final installment of the epic Two Weeks 'Til ONE graphic teaser!

Find a full list with links to the other installments of this series on the author’s blog:

Or follow the author on Twitter @LeighAnnKopans for daily updates!

About ONE (a novel by Leigh Ann Kopans:)
Release date: June 11, 2013

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. 

Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

Add ONE to your Goodreads and learn more about the author here.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Winner of the June "I, Reader" Giveaway

And the winner of a copy of ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell is...


Congratulations, Karen! Your book will be in the mail to you soon.

Thanks to everyone who entered. There will be another awesome book giveaway next month!

Monday, 3 June 2013

I, Reader: ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

Highlighting a book I've read this month
which has been inspiring
and brilliant, and why.
I'm starting off this post with a confession: I don't read much contemporary YA. As in, at all. I've just gone through my entire YA book collection to count how many I've read in the last few years...the grand total is 4. And one of those is stretching the contemporary label a bit.

But I do try to flex my reading muscles as much as my writing ones, and decided I was (for once) going to read the book all the cool kids are shouting about: ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell. Man, am I glad I did.

**Don't forget to comment below for your chance to win a copy!** - NOW CLOSED

Here's the blurb, nicked from Amazon:

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.
Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. 
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true - an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

Why did this book stand out?

This book is set in the 80s (I'd thought the 80s were pretty much taboo in YA, so was pleasantly surprised by this... and does that technically make this historical rather than contemp?) and I loved all the era details woven into the story.

Eleanor and Park embody the awkwardness of teen misfits who are growing into their own selves. There was an innocence to both the main characters without them being overly naive, and this also appealed to me. I remember feeling the way they do at various points in their story, and it's so well done that I felt I was reliving it, not remembering it.

I actually downloaded a sample to my kindle, read a few pages, downloaded the whole book, and didn't move until I'd finished it. I was seriously that engrossed by the characters and their story (even without robots and lasers and dragons), which is why I had to make it my I, Reader book for this month.

Have you read ELEANOR & PARK yet?

Leave a comment by 9pm GMT on Thursday, 6th June for your chance to win a copy of the book. One commenter will be chosen at random (there will be a hat involved).  - NOW CLOSED