Monday, May 28, 2012

The Order: Interview with Author Marsha Megan Stokes and a Giveaway!

Today we welcome Marsha Megan Stokes and her debut novel, The Order. Welcome Marsha!

MK: Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?

MS: I have always been rather “artsy” and my earliest recollection of “what do you want to be when you grow up” was probably an artist. I even took some drawing classes and learned to paint landscapes after college. I wrote at least two short stories in my pre-college years and a scant amount of poetry (I don’t think I even own ANY of my poems anymore), but then music became my passion. I learned to play the flute and graduated from college in Music Education, spending several years building a rather large flute studio. The idea to someday write a book was always itching at the back of my mind and I was just waiting for an engaging plot to come together, worthy of 80,000 words. Three years ago, that desired plot idea coalesced and in approximately six months The Order was born.

MK: Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?

MS: As mentioned above, I am actually a full-time mother and wife. I spend most of my days doing the typical household chores, taking care of my two adorable sons, blogging, and collecting recipes. I have a serious recipe addiction! 

MK: If you had to sum it up The Order in 30 or less words, what would you say?

MS: Wow! Summing up an entire novel in 30 words or less often feels like the hardest part of writing a query letter for a potential agent or publisher. It is one of my least favorite things to do!  But if I had to, I guess it would be:

The Order is a paranormal urban romance written in YA style. Its world consists of people with Gifts-the ability to manipulate the energies that surround us in incredible ways.

That hardly does it justice, does it? Which is why I love your next question better!

MK: Will you share with us a short preview of The Order?

As he spoke, Donavon moved to kneel in front of Beth. “A Gift is full of pleasant feelings. It heightens your senses. It should be enjoyable, satisfying, and warm. You should be able to feel the presence of the goodness around you.” Donavon reached out and placed his hands over the top of hers.
Peter dropped his guard and let himself see the unseen flows of power swirling around Donavon and Beth. His own power was invisible to himself. He had no idea what he looked like when he was absorbed in his Gift as Locator. But, he could see what was going on with Donavon and Beth.
Donavon, in an attempt to help Beth find her sense of the good, was pouring his energy over her. It flowed and shimmered, settling in a soft cloud around her.
He continued, “Stretch out with your senses. Try to feel my aura around you—my hands on yours. Feel the breeze from the open window. Feel the oppression in the air from the energy of the storm.” He moved closer to Beth, dropping his voice. His energy continued to emanate around her in a swirl of light.
Without warning, lightning struck outside. The brightness burned into Peter’s eyes, and he instantly shielded himself, both physically and mentally. When he could focus again, he could no longer see the auras in the room below, but what he did see was astonishing.
Beth had her arms around Donavon’s neck. She was clinging to him while her lips were feverishly pressed against his mouth. Guessing how she felt about Donavon, Peter couldn’t be too surprised by what he saw. However, he was surprised by the suddenness of it.
What shocked him more than anything—and made him feel suddenly very self conscious—was that Donavon had his arms wrapped around her waist and was kissing her back with equal intensity. They pulled each other closer as the wind continued to blow the curtains out and round them, completely lost to the rest of the world. Beth had a hand tangled in Donavon’s hair, crushing her face to his.
At the most inopportune moment, Blake decided to come around the bend from the kitchen. Spotting Peter frozen on the stairs, he chortled and said, “Hey dude. Playing freeze tag?”
Peter mentally rolled his eyes and chanted in his mind, “I’m not here. I’m not here. Ignore the completely mortified blonde guy on the stairs.”
Locking eyes with both Donavon and Beth, Peter swallowed loudly and finally completed his journey down the stairs.

MK: What is your favorite scene in The Order?

MS: Oh my goodness!  There are so many!  ***Spoiler Alert*** I love the scene where Peter catches Donavon and Beth kissing because the awkwardness that Peter feels was so entertaining to me. But, as the scene develops, it is the first place where I felt like the action and tension really picked up as Peter rushes off to Locate Rachel. My hope was that the reader would be so shocked by Donavon and Beth that they would be dying to know what was going to happen next with them. But instead, I take them in a completely different direction with the first real taste of the Evil as Peter is drawn to Rachel’s apartment where she is unconscious and consumed by darkness. So much fun!

I also loved writing the scene where Peter finally kisses Rachel. I really wanted the reader to practically be screaming at the book, “NO!  Don’t do it!!” but at the same time wanting him to finally have his chance. I have a lot of fun envisioning that!

MK: Do you share any personality traits with your main characters?

MS: I am sure that I share a great deal of personality traits with all of my characters. I think Peter is a lot like me. He is compassionate and careful. He does not feel like he is the central focus (unlike Donavon) in most situations. And he always wants to do the right thing. I feel like Rachel is a lot like me in the way that she doesn’t want to hurt anyone around her and she reacts exactly how I would react in her place. Nancy is probably me on my crabby days, and Amy is me when I am around my sister. Beth is totally my shy side.

MK: Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

MS: While I require a certain amount of “aloneness” to write, I do like to have music playing in the background. Complete silence is distracting to me, not to mention lonely! So I have created playlists (or, I like to think of them as soundtracks) specific to each of my storylines. I listen to them for inspiration while I work. Other people can be in the room while I am writing, but they pretty much have to leave me alone. I find that my writing comes in a flow of words and ideas which cannot be continually interrupted or else the writing atmosphere is ruined. The best moments for me to write typically occur at bedtime or my children’s naptimes.

MK: What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book? 

MS: The first two people who even knew I was writing a book where my sister and my husband (both of whom didn’t find out until I had several chapters completed. What can I say? I am shy!). I had the most fun once I began sharing my story. It was so exciting and fulfilling to see the anticipation of my husband and sister who wanted to know how the story was going to continue. When my sister would impatiently inquire when my next chapter would be ready, or ask me questions that I would teasingly either answer or not, those were the moments of greatest satisfaction and joy for me in the writing process.  My joy now comes from hearing enthusiastic reports from other fans that have enjoyed the work and crave the sequel.

MK: Do you have plans for a new book?  Is this book part of a series?

MS: I am currently working on a sequel to my original novel and just need to find the time to get it written! My goal is to write a trilogy because that is the natural flow of my overall story arc. I am also always on alert for other ideas and plots that intrigue me. I keep a notebook in my nightstand of additional novel plots with merit that have come to me, in the hopes that someday I can find the time to write them all out. There are several that I am just dying to get to.

MK: What type of heroine do you like best?

MS: I really enjoy a heroine that I feel like I can personally relate to. Bella Swan in Twilight was an “every girl” kind of character that was really easy for me to slip in to. And while I enjoyed The Vampire Academy’s strong and uninhibited Rose Hathaway, the first book was actually kind of difficult for me to completely enjoy because Rose’s personality was in such contrast to my own.

One of my pet peeves for female characters though, is the seemingly popular trend of having a woman who is otherwise exceptionally bright, but can’t for the life of her realize that the object of her affection returns her sentiment… OR she thinks that she is not worthy of his affection. What gives? You can usually tell from the get-go that two people are going to get together, so why have the female play dumb for most of the story? I think there are less annoying ways to develop the tension between two people. (Can you tell this is a pet peeve?!)

MK: Why did you choose to be an Indie writer and would you choose to self-publish again?

MS: Once my novel was completed, I was just as shocked as everyone else. I honestly didn’t know I had it in me to write a complete book, and therefore, had only told a handful of people what I was even working on. Most of my immediate family had no idea, and so I surprised them with self-published copies of my novel for Christmas. In the end, I decided to stick with the self-publishing process for a couple of reasons:

First, I wrote my story simply for the joy of writing, completely oblivious to the fact that I was breaking all kinds of rules to be professionally published. I just jumped right in with absolutely no training. My novel is written in young adult style; mainly because that is the genera I enjoy the most. It fits my personality. I am not comfortable with lots of language, sex or violence. It might sound silly, but when my characters have to swear it makes me feel like I am swearing. However, sometimes life (and believability) demand the occasional cuss word (or, in my case, mild cuss words). Anyway, to be officially considered young adult, the main character(s) need to be approximately between the ages of 13-18. Mine are in college. Oops! When a sixteen-year-old finds their soul mate in high school, sometimes that is a little hard for me to swallow. I found college-age to be the time in my life (and the lives of most of the people around me) when people more often than not found their true love. So, when considering the romantic element of my novel, it felt very natural to have my characters be in college. However, college-aged characters make for a difficult YA selling point. Yet, it felt dishonest to completely change the lives of my characters (whom I had grown to love) simply for the desire to get published. My story was perfect the way it was, thank you very much!

Secondly, I can state again that I wrote my story simply for the joy of writing, and all the stress and time commitments that come from finding an agent and professional publishing were not something that I was interested in. I wanting writing to be a part of my life, but not become my entire life. True, I did want other people to be able to enjoy my work, and I felt like my characters deserved to have a life beyond my computer, but the rigors and demands of being a professional author were not appealing to me. So, instead, I opted for self-publishing, where I am completely in control and can do things at my own pace. I am currently working on my sequel, which has been evolving on and off for the last three years (between the birth and raising of my two sons). No agent or publisher would ever DREAM of allowing me that kind of time to continue my series.

MK: If you had a chance to rewrite, is there anything about your book you would change?

MS: Actually, that is part of what appeals to me so much about being an Indie author! I can change anything about novel at any time that I want. As I become a better writer, I will always have the opportunity to rewrite anything I choose and republish. I expect that my first novel will always be rough in comparison to any future works, but I can always go back and fix things with my new wisdom.

MK: Does where you live or have places you’ve been influenced your work?

MS: Certainly! I imagine that the setting of The Order is often similar to the campus setting of Utah State University where I went to college. Also, the mountainous setting is very reminiscent of Logan, Utah. This is why I chose the geographically close and similar location of Golden Colorado for my novel.

MK: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing The Order?

MS: Mainly, that I could write at all.  Then, I was completely humbled and flattered that anyone else would be interested in my work. And then, I was stunned and overjoyed to discover that many people actually liked my work and were passionate to read more! Isn’t that all an author can ever hope for?

MK: Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing?

MS: My first novel was written on my laptop. Then my 1 ½ year-old son decided to start putting the keys off the keyboard. So, now I use my husband’s desktop and I hope to get my own fancy new computer soon, complete with dual monitors!

The Book
Peter's job as a Locator is to find extraordinary people—those with the Gift. The Gifted can sense and harness different kinds of energy and manipulate it in incredible ways. They have a heightened sense of the good that surrounds them, but they also more easily fall prey to the bad as well—to the Evil.

As a new year at Grayson College begins, Peter is thrown into a whirlwind of terror, danger, and love. Will he be able to save a newly found Gifted One from the seductive influence of the Evil? Will he be too late?

Or will he also fall victim to the darkness?

GIVEAWAY!

Three eBook copies of The Order will be given away on June 1st! Just comment for a chance or complete the entry form below for a chance to win!
This giveaway is now closed! Thank you!


Where can your readers find you?
Twitter: @theordersaga
Is your book in Print, ebook or both? Both, through Amazon for paperback and Kindle, Lulu for hard cover and ebook.

4 comments:

  1. It's great having you here with us today Marsha. I always enjoy getting to know new authors. I too was surprised when I finished that first book!

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  2. Thanks Melinda! I was completely flattered and very excited when you approached me about this interview. I hope it spikes the interest of your readers and that they have lots of questions for me. I can't wait to see their reaction to The Order.

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  3. I'd LOVE to read Marsha's book!

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