Welcome to the blog, Gretchen McNeil. Gretchen is the young adult author of the books Possess (2011) and Ten (Coming September 2012). Read the interview below to learn more about her.
Well, writing is kind of my third career. I am a classically trained opera singer who then switched to television animation producer and voice over artist. Then writing just kind of came out of nowhere. I don't do the animation/voice over thing anymore, but I do still sing professionally with a circus troupe in Los Angeles called Cirque Berzerk.
POSSESS was my debut, a paranormal horror novel about a teen exorcist. TEN, my follow up, is a stand alone horror novel about ten teens trapped on an island with a serial killer, kind of an homage to one of my favorite books of all time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Then I have a sci fi horror novel called 3:59 scheduled for Fall 2013. All are published by Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins.
Why do you write? What got you going?
Basically, I went through a divorce and lost my job all at the same time. I needed to do something to occupy my time and focus my mind away from the misery of it all. I literally woke up one more and said, "I'm going to write a novel."
I did and it sucked. But I learned how to write and, more importantly, I fell in love with it.
How do you choose the names for your characters?
I try to choose sort of every day names for my characters, unless their name is important to their character somehow, like a girl named "Chastity" because her mom was a huge Sonny and Cher fan. Otherwise, I don't like the name to necessarily influence the character. I also keep in mine how the names flow in a group. For example, in TEN the best friends are Meg and Minnie, and so I had to make sure none of the other characters had a name that started with "M."
It's a symmetry thing. I'm weird like that.
How much control did you have over the cover design of your book? Do you like it? If you didn't design it yourself, how do you think it would have turned out if you did?
Zero, but I absolutely ADORE the cover. To be honest, it's exactly what I'd imagined as the cover – dark, haunting and bleak – and I think that's a rarity in publishing. I'm very, very lucky.
How do you relax after a long day of writing?
I rarely have a long day of writing. I work a full time day job, and so my writing is usually done in the evenings. I suppose writing IS my relaxation. That's weird.
How many finished stories did you write before seeing your first book published? Do you think you'll ever go back to them and try again?
I finished two novels before the third one, POSSESS, sold. The first one – an urban fantasy set in Ireland – went on submission but did not get any offers. The second – a YA historical spy adventure – is still in my drawer. It's my secret pet project. And yes, I'd like to see both of them go somewhere eventually!
What will your next book be about?
3:59 is my doppelganger parallel universe sci fi horror novel that I pitched as The Parent Trap meets Event Horizon.
Who is your hero? Why?
Dorothy Parker. She was a sassy intellect who could keep up with the boys and put them in their place. Not a traditional beauty, she lived by her wits and had a train of admirers. And most importantly, she stood on her own two feet.
What is your favourite tv show? Favourite movie?
The X-Files. Scariest thing on TV, ever. And Clue. Best fake scariest movie/comedy ever.
Do you have a book crush? Who is it?
Gilbert Blythe. He loved Anne for her mind (see a theme here?) and respected her abilities. Oh, and he was hot. And smart. And hot. Did I mention hot?
If you were to write non-fiction, what subject would you write about? Why does it interest you?
Nerd alert! So, in reference to the unpublished YA historical spy adventure mentioned above, I have an obscene amount of knowledge about the spy tactics of the American Revolutionary War. Obscene. I'd love to write a book on that.
If you could have a pet that was a mythical creature, which creature would you choose?
Does a House Elf count? Cuz Dobby freaking rocked.
You are the king/queen of your own country. What is the name of your country?
What advice would you give your teen readers about life?
Just remember that you're not at the end, you're at the beginning. Everything seems so HUGE when you're a teen: the lows are lower and the highs are higher. But none of it is the be-all, end-all. You have so much farther to go; enjoy the trip.
Thank you for sharing with us, Gretchen! Here is some more information on Gretchen McNeil. and her book Ten:
PRAISE FOR TEN
"TEN is a real page turner! Gretchen McNeil knows how to plot a thriller: Her setup is flawless and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat." – Christopher Pike, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the THIRST series and REMEMBER ME
"Gretchen McNeil's TEN is my new number one! I jumped at every creaking floorboard in my house and on the page. This is sure to be a teen thriller classic!" – Nancy Holder, Bram Stoker Award winning author of THE SCREAMING SEASON
"You want to read this book. McNeil incorporates all the thrills and chills of a horror movie into this fast-paced, gripping tale. With its quippy dialogue, it’s like reading Scream. This reviewer got the willies while reading Ten on a sunny afternoon." – Top Pick in Romantic Times, September 2012
"A scary gorefest of murder and mayhem, not for the faint of heart [...] a breathless read." – Kirkus
"Agatha Christie meets Gossip Girl [...] in McNeil’s (Possess) throwback to old-school thrillers [...] has all the hallmarks of a traditional slasher flick, including imprudent sex, gory slayings, and dramatic revelations." – Publisher's Weekly
Book Summary for TEN:
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school's most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for three days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
You can find it on:
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository
Book Summary for POSSESS:
Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror POSSESS debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – will be released September 18, 2012, and her third novel 3:59, sci fi horror pitched as The Parent Trap meets Event Horizon, is scheduled for Fall 2013.
Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday."
You can find her on:
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