Swoon Reads Authors: Sandy Hall, Jenny Elliott, and Katie Van Ark


In honor of the Book Discrimination Awareness Month, I’d like to introduce Swoon Reads to you. You may not heard of it yet, since it just started last year, but Swoon Reads is a great community that I’m proud to be part of.

Swoon Reads is a teen romance imprint publishing under Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan.

Swoon Reads is dedicated to publishing books that capture the intensity of teen love. More than an imprint, Swoon Reads is a community – one whose members are included in every step of the publishing process. We open the doors for writers and readers to discover the best, most Swoon-worthy teen romance novels and make their voices heard. Together, we publish love stories you will want to read over and over again.

Once an author uploads their manuscript, members are able to read, rate, and comment on those submissions. The manuscripts rated the highest by the largest number of Readers will be reviewed by the Swoon Reads Staff. If chosen, those manuscripts considered most Swoonworthy will be published in both print and e-book formats.

***

I had the chance to meet the first three authors of Swoon Reads–Sandy, Jenny, and Katie. They will be sharing some things about themselves and their books.

The following information were taken from their author pages at the Swoon Reads website: (Images included, except for Katie, who provided the image used)

Sandy Hall

Sandy Hall

I’m is a teen librarian from New Jersey where I was born and raised. I have a BA in Communication and a Master of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University. When I’m not writing, or teen librarian-ing, I enjoy reading, slot machines, marathoning TV shows, and long scrolls through Tumblr. A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT is my first novel.

Favorite Books:

All time faves include Anne of Green Gables, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Summer Sisters. More recent additions to the list are The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Book Thief. And anything by Rainbow Rowell. She’s my hero.

Favorite Quote:

It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.

-John Green, Paper Towns

(Sandy’s book, A Little Something Different, will be out on August 26, 2014. About a month from now!)

Jenny Elliott

Jenny Elliott

Jenny Elliott is a lifelong resident of Washington State and lives in Spokane with her husband and four kids. Writing fiction is her favorite method for avoiding insanity. Other avoidance techniques include reading, playing Scrabble, and browsing social media sites.

Favorite Books:

THE TWILIGHT SAGA by Stephenie Meyer

THE HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY by Suzanne Collins

THE HUSH, HUSH SAGA by Becca Fitzpatrick

THE MATCHED TRILOGY by Ally Condie

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake

POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil

THE FORBIDDEN GAME by L.J. Smith

SUMMER OF FEAR by Lois Duncan

Favorite Quote:

You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.
― Tom Hiddleston (Swoon!)

(Jenny’s book, Save Me, will be out on January 6, 2015. Watch out for it!)

Katie Van Ark

Katie Van Ark

Katie Van Ark lives in Michigan with two daughters, two cats, and one very patient husband who was also her high school sweetheart. She is a member of SCBWI and RWA and a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She enjoys reading, writing, and of course figure skating.

Favorite Books:

Catching Jordan (Miranda Kenneally)

Perfect Chemistry (Simone Elkeles)

Forever (Judy Blume)

Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)

Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins) – Team Peeta!

Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)

Twilight series (Stephenie Meyer)

(Katie’s book, The Boy Next Door, will be out on February 3, 2015. So close to Valentine’s Day!)

***

The Interview

ON FAVORITES

Favorite food:

Sandy: Chicken! Anything involving chicken.

Jenny: Mongolian Grill.

Katie: Mango.

(I bet Katie would love the mangoes here in the Philippines! #FilipinosCanRelate)

Favorite color:

Sandy: Probably purple.

Jenny: Silverish-Blue.

(Unique choice of color, Jenny.)

Katie: Much like a mood ring, this depends on my, well, mood. Usually I like relaxing shades of blue and green so maybe I should say “ocean” or “lake.” I love to be near the water and love all the shades it can take from calm to stormy to frozen.

Favorite flower:

Sandy: Black Eyed Susan.

Jenny: Blue Hydrangeas.

Katie: Gladiolas.

Favorite song:

Sandy: Carry On by Fun.

Jenny: Hard to say – maybe Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Katie: Everyone might laugh at me for this one, but lately I’ve really been enjoying singing the Frozen soundtrack with my daughters. The lyrics are so well done. “Kingdom of isolation, soul spiraling in frozen fractals…” And I love ice. “What else can I say?”

(I won’t laugh at you, Katie. It’s totally normal, and it’s super cool to see a mom singing with her daughters! Much love!)

Favorite TV show:

Sandy: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Office, Parks & Rec. (It’s hard to pick just one!)

Jenny: Long-time fan of The Simpsons.

Katie: I very rarely watch TV – there’s not enough time to read and write as it is! But if I do, I enjoy Dawson’s Creek or Friday Night Lights reruns.

Favorite place to read and/or write:

Sandy: I love to write in libraries. Any library, anywhere. It’s where I’m most comfortable. For reading I like a comfortable chair.

(Libraries are paradise–especially if they’re air conditioned. The libraries here in the Philippines need more…attention. Anyway, I bet a lot of your readers would be glad to know that you’re a librarian! It makes you extra cool.)

Jenny: My chair, a.k.a. “the throne”.

Katie: For reading, I like any place that’s quiet and comfortable. I’ll write anywhere and take my writer’s notebook anywhere I can. I did a summer invitational fellowship with the National Writing Project and we did a writing exercise where we walked around the city and used different places to inspire writing. I loved it and actually got one of my pieces from that exercise published in a newsletter for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Favorite book: (The one that you’ll never get tired of reading.)

Sandy: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Jenny: Stephen King’s THE STAND.

Katie: If I were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, I’d actually want Robert McKee’s Story. It’s a craft book written for screen play writers but it’s so interesting and well-written and it’s helped me write so many of my own stories. To see what fiction I’ve read recently and liked, feel free to send me a friend request on Goodreads.

ON THEIR BOOKS

What inspired the idea of your book?

Sandy: I wrote it for Swoon Reads. When I heard about the site I decided to try my hand at writing teen romance.

Jenny: I volunteered at a school book fair and the pre-teens were crazy about TWILIGHT, which reminded me of Anne Rice’s vampire novels. I read the saga and loved it, though I thought it would be nice to read about a forbidden romance that could happen in real life, while adding more realistic thrills and a deeper meaning to the story. So that’s what I set out to write…

Katie: I’m a figure skater, so I transferred my own love of the ice to the page.

(This explains the Frozen love…would love to see you perform one day!)

What message would you like your readers to learn from the book?

Sandy: I don’t really want to impose a message on anyone. I think everyone will take something else away from it.

(Deep words, Sandy. I like it.)

Jenny: Don’t be too quick to judge and determine what is or isn’t real or harmful…

Katie: That love is like figure skating – a lot of hard work and commitment goes into making it look easy.

(A new definition for love–thanks Katie!)

Could you give us some details on your future works?

Sandy: Right now I’m working on a story about a boy with severe OCD and anxiety. He and his sister’s best friend get together and the story is basically about them navigating a relationship through all of his issues.

Jenny: I’m working on a sequel to SAVE ME right now, then plan to write another story involving tarot cards…

Katie: I’m currently working on a companion novel, Kiss and Cry, that picks up the story of the secondary characters in The Boy Next Door. For fun, I’m also experimenting with writing fantasy.

What is the greatest challenge that you have encountered in the publishing world and how did you overcome it?

Sandy: The greatest challenge for me is that I’m totally new to this world. I’m learning as I go. Luckily I have great support from the Swoon Reads staff. I would be lost without them!

Jenny: I was rejected by over 100 agents (though I was pleased that four of them asked to read my full manuscript and one of them gave me great feedback). Submitting to Swoon Reads allowed me to appeal directly to the publisher, and that decision was the best one I could have made.

(A hundred agents? That is why I call perseverance. #YayForJenny!)

Katie: The publishing world holds a lot of challenges from learning to write well to learning how to attract agents or editors to learning how to work with agents and editors. I overcame all of these by not giving up. Writing can also be compared to figure skating. Know that there will be a lot of crashes along the way and every time that you fall, think about why you did and what you can do better to jump higher the next time. And get all the coaching help you can along the way! So many people helped me on my writing journey that I could write an acknowledgments novel.

***

Katie has taught me more than you would have imagined. She’s the first critic of my Swoon Reads novel, Again, and she continues to inspire me with her advice. (For more details, check out this post from my personal/random blog.)

Sandy, Jenny, and Katie are very nice and friendly people–I’d love for you guys to meet them too. 🙂

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