Author Interview With Astrid Scholte {Four Dead Queens}

Yallwest 2018 ran from May 4-5 and I had the opportunity to interview 2 upcoming debut authors: Maura Milan for her upcoming YA Sci-Fi Ignite The Stars and Astrid Scholte for her YA Fantasy Four Dead Queens!

Astrid ScholteFour Dead Queens is set to be released February 26, 2019!

Thanks again to Astrid for taking the time to chat with me in line during a Yallwest giveaway and for being my first interview of the day! I can’t wait to read Four Dead Queens!

*The interview also includes qs. post-Yallwest*

Q1: How has your Yallwest experience been so far?

Astrid: This is my first time being here and its been fantastic! I went to the Keynote which was amazing, with Tomi Adeyemi & Tami Pierce!

I went to the Penguin Teen booth, now I’m here, and I have a lot more that I want to see and do!

1a: Would you return again in the future?

Astrid: Absolutely! It’s only been a few hours and already I’m blown away! Its so exciting!

Q3: Are there any authors, books, or panels, you’ve been looking forward to?

Astrid: The Keynote! I was really looking forward to it and anything that’s fantasy based (I love fantasy ^_^), & Sabaa’s PM keynote!

Q4: Have you managed to get any book swag or ARCs?

Astrid: I have! Shout out to fellow Penguin Teen authors, its called Always Never Yours, I also met the authors and they were super nice!

Four Dead Queens/Writing Qs.

Q5: For those who haven’t heard of Four Dead Queens, can you tell us what its about?

Astrid: Four Dead Queens is a murder-mystery set in a fantasy world. Its a nation divided into four very distinct cultures and they are each ruled by a queen.

These queens then start being killed off one by one, so its a murder-mystery as to why they are being killed and what secrets they could possibly be hiding!

So the main character, Keralie, is trying to solve the riddle before its too late.

Q6: What inspired Four Dead Queens and in general, do you have any other writing inspirations?

Astrid: What inspired me, was mostly that I wanted to write and murder-mystery. I’ve always loved them, ever since I was a kid and I love fantasy!

So, I thought it would be unique to blend the two genres together!

I actually had a dream about a futuristic car flying past a carriage and wondered what sort of world would exist where these two very different technologies would be in parallel, so that was also a starting point.

Q7: With Four Dead Queens being YA Fantasy, do you have any favorite YA Fantasy books or authors?

Astrid: Absolutely! YA Fantasy is my favorite genre, I read a lot of it! My favorite is probably Leigh Bardugo (Six Of Crows duology) and Laini Taylor!

Sci-Fi-wise, because I love the blend of fantasy and sci-fi, I love Amie Kaufman!

Any kind of blockbuster sci-f or fantasy is my jam!

Q8: Is there a character from Four Dead Queens your excited for readers to meet?

Astrid: Yeah! I’m excited for readers to meet all the characters, but one that stands out is the character of Mackiel, he is really fun to write and I think readers will love to hate him 😅😂!!

Q9: With the world of Four Dead Queens being separated by four distinct quadrants, which would you say was your favorite to write about or explore?

Astrid: I think my favorite would have to be Ludia which is the entertainment quadrant. They focus on the fun and lightness of life.

I’m a kid at heart, so that one was really great to explore and develop!

Q10: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so, any songs you listened to while writing Four Dead Queens?

Astrid: I wish I could write to music! I’m one of those people who can only write in silence.

However, when I revise I can definitely listen to music. Anything without lyrics though such as movie soundtracks! I like listening to Disney, anything that is just to keep in the background.

Q11: With Four Dead Queens being a 2019 release, can you share a couple 2019 YA releases your looking forward to?

Astrid: I really want to read King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! Really looking forward to that one, as well as Tomi Adeyemi’s sequel to Children Of Blood And Bone, Children Of Vengeance And Virtue!

Four Dead Queens by Astrid ScholteQ12: As of June 1, Penguin Teen revealed the Four Dead Queens cover! What were your thoughts on the cover and overall, how did you feel when you first saw it?

Astrid: I absolutely LOVE the cover! I was blown away when I first saw it. You can see my
gobsmacked reaction when I first saw it on Instagram Here!

The cover is so beautiful, dramatic and also mysterious! It’s perfect for my book! I worked
with Penguin to make sure the crowns suited each of the queens and their regions and I
couldn’t be happier.

Q13: Four Dead Queens was also part of a galley drop during BEA/Book Con 2018 that the Penguin Teen booth was keep a secret throughout the day! How did you feel when you saw pictures of your ARC being featured & all the readers excited to get their hands on a copy?

Astrid: It was surreal! Penguin Teen told me about their idea when I visited New York a month earlier, and I thought it was genius! Of course, I wanted to tell everyone it was *my* book, but I had to stay silent.

When they finally revealed it as Four Dead Queens, I was able to share the news on Twitter and Instagram and watch the excitement unfold. I heard the ARC drop got a little intense as people tried to grab a copy, and that there was more security than Bill Clinton’s panel! I’m so lucky that people are excited to read my book and to have such a wonderful team at Penguin Teen supporting it!

Lightning Round Qs.

1.Can you describe your book in 3 words? Murder, Mystery, & Mayhem!

2.Go-to writing snack (or drink)? Peppermint Tea, its a must when I’m writing!

3.Current Read? The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

5.Most anticipated 2018 YA Release? The sequel to Warcross, Wildcard!

6.Favorite YA Book of 2018 so far? Definitely Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone! I loved how cinematic it was and can’t wait to see the film adaptation! I’m also loving Legendary by Stephanie Garber, which I’m reading right now.

7.Can you describe your favorite kind of book in 3 words? I could say Four Dead Queens, as I put everything that I love about YA in it, but I won’t! 😉 If
I had to boil it down to three things, it would be fantasy, mystery and romance.

8.Plotter or Pantser? Pantser, 100%

Thanks again to Astrid for an awesome interview!

Are you looking forward to reading Four Dead Queens? ✨⚔👑

Author Interview with Maura Milan {Ignite The Stars}

Maura Milan
Maura Milan at Yallwest 2018, with an ARC of her upcoming debut Ignite The Stars

At Yallwest 2018, which ran from May 4-5, I had the chance to chat with upcoming 2018 debut author Maura Milan about her novel, Ignite The Stars!

Her novel is a YA sci-fi debut which releases September 4, 2018!

Thank you again to Maura Milan for giving me the chance to interview you! It was such an incredible interview experience and I can’t wait to read your book!

Q1: How has your Yallwest experience been so far?

Maura: It’s been a lot of fun! I met a lot of great writers, ones I’ve been following for a while and a lot of great debut authors that are coming out in 2018. Our debut group has been so supportive in this whole publishing process, so it’s been great finally meeting a lot of them face to face.

And also, I loved seeing all the readers in the crowd! It always blows my mind seeing how many readers there are and who love the same books that I love and that’s awesome to me!

1a.: Any books you’ve been excited to hear more about or have gotten a chance to get ARCs of here at the festival?

Maura: I sadly didn’t get any ARCs at the festival. But, one book that I’m excited about is Dark Of The West which is Joanna Hathaway’s book!

She was a 2018 debut, but her book is now coming out in 2019 now. 

I’ve had a chance to talk to her about her book and it seems like there’s a lot of really cool parallels between our books!

I’m really excited that her characters are morally grey like my characters in Ignite the Stars. I’m can’t wait to get my hands on a Dark of the West ARC and see how the story pans out. Crossing my fingers that they all survive!! 😭✨♥♥

Ignite The Stars/Writing Qs.

Q2: For those who may not know about your upcoming novel, can you tell us what it’s all about?

Maura: Ignite The Stars is basically about the most notorious criminal in the galaxy who has been hunted for several years. No one knows how he looks like!

But, when the government finally captures him, they realize he is not a he at all, but actually a 17-year old girl.

With the government realizing they can use her as an asset, they decide not to execute her. Instead, they throw her into one of their Star Force academies.

In order to survive, Ia forms unlikely alliances with Brinn Tarver, a cadet with her own set of guarded secrets, and Knives Adams, an arrogant young flight master, and through her interactions with them, she finds herself questioning her own loyalties and everything she was fighting for. 

24hr.YABookBlog: The concept reminds me a lot of Rogue One! ^_^

Maura: Yeah! It’s similar in that the characters in Ignite the Stars shouldn’t be working together and now they are. The big question is can they work as a team? And also do they even want to work as a team?

Q2: What inspired your novel?

Maura: I had a friend who edited this movie called A Faster Horse which is all about the creation of the Ford Mustang and the film had this section all about Lee Iacocca, who had a huge part in Mustang’s history. I always thought that was a cool name!

So, I took that name, and it became Ia Cōcha, the most notorious criminal in the known galaxies!

On the ride home I just ended up brainstorming the whole thing and wrote about maybe 5 chapters that night and it just kept going! Ia became a character who was in my head and I just had to tell her story!

It took on a life of its own.

Q3: Is Ignite The Stars going to be a series, standalone, etc.?

Maura: Its going to be a duology, with Book 2 coming out next year. It’ll wrap up everything that’s developed in Book 1!

Q4: With Ignite The Stars being YA Sci-Fi, is Sci-Fi a genre you’ve always wanted to write in?

Maura: Yeah, I really love science fiction/fantasy and am very influenced by anime! A lot of what I write is like: ‘Wow! This would an awesome anime, so let me write it as a YA Book..’ 

There’s also a lot of easter eggs to a lot of my favorite shows (similar names to characters, etc.). 

Shows like Cowboy Bebop have always been really important to me and is still one of my favorite series. 

Q5: Ia is said to be a “criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot!”
She sounds like such a fierce and brilliant main character! I ca’t wait to read more about her! What would you say was your favorite part about creating and developing her character?

Maura: Ia is my complete opposite. She will say whatever she wants to say, do whatever she wants to do, and I’m the kind of person who likes to think about what I say before I say it, and I’m very conscious of how I’m perceived.

But, Ia doesn’t care at all! I think it was fun to write a character like that because there’s a part of me that wishes I could be more like her.

Q6: Are there any YA authors that have inspired you?

Maura: Sarah J. Maas! I loved Throne Of Glass and my book was actually pitched as ‘Throne Of Glass is space’ so that was cool to see. 

I love the way she writes very bold, bad-ass, independent, women who can hold their own and I think that’s great!

I’m inspired by her and Maggie Stiefvater. I think everything she writes is beautiful.

Those 2 have been big inspirations in my book!

Q7: What are you most excited to share with readers about Ignite The Stars?

Maura: I’m really excited for people to see the different friendships that occur.

So, there’s a character name Brinn! Brinn & Ia get thrown together early on in the book and they’re not supposed to be friends, but things happen within the book that allows them to reexamine what their relationship is to each other and I think that was really fun for me write!

Female friendship is a very unique and complicated thing and with any friendship you have to work through it and both Brinn + Ia do a lot of that in this book.

So, I can’t wait to for people to see and read more about them.

Q8: As with Ignite The Stars, its always great to see more #OwnVoices in Young Adult and diverse representation as new books are getting released!

Ignite The Stars by Maura MilanAnd of course we also get to see Ia Cōcha on the cover!! What were your thoughts on the cover and overall the importance of having #OwnVoices rep. within your novel, Ignite The Stars?

Maura: I love that there’s an Asian girl on the cover because, I feel I never got to see that. 

I was really into superheroes back then, like Buffy. I wanted to be Buffy, but I never thought I could be, because I didn’t look like her.

The people who looked like me, usually in film & TV were usually the side-kick characters who didn’t really say much.

So, I think its important to have books like these with people on the cover so kids can find themselves, characters, and role models to look up to!

Its something I’ve always wanted to see ad I’m so happy that the next generation of readers will possibly be able to go to a bookstore and see Ia on the cover and go ‘Yes! This is a story that I could see myself in! I can imagine myself in space and be the hero of the story!’

9.Can you share anything else about Ignite The Stars? Maybe a quote or character you can’t wait for readers to meet?

Maura: I am really excited for people to meet Knives, the flight master of the academy! Because he is my book boyfriend ^_^ & his backstory is so tragic, from the reasons he stays at the academy to the things that have happened in his past that have held him back, and all the stuff he needs to work through.

With Ia there, it forces him to re-analyze what he thinks about the system in which he’s grown up in and how he can decide what to do from there!

Its so fun to see Knives & Ia together and I hope people enjoy their dynamic!

10.Best writing tips or advice for those looking to also write YA Sci-Fi?

Maura: Do your research, but don’t get bogged down by the research! Your not going to get everything right or know every physical law that’s out there.

Know what you can and let the story speak for itself, you know?

People are there for the story and not for ‘Am I getting all these facts accurate about this fictional planet?’

And to conclude the interview I also had some lightning round questions! ⚡📚

1.Current Read?

The Dream Thieves

2.Favorite YA Book (or Books) of 2018 so far?

There’s so many I’ve read & loved, especially YA Contemporary! Like Ship It by Britta Lundin & Farah Penn’s Twelve Steps To Normal

3.Most anticipated 2018 YA Release?

I cannot wait for Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie, its gonna be so AMAZING! And Light Years by Kass Morgan. It’s such a great year for YA Science Fiction. I’m also really excited for Bree Barton’s feminist fantasy, Heart of Thorns.

4.Describe your book in 3 words?

Friendship in space!

5.Favorite YA Character?

Celaena from Throne Of Glass

6.YA Book you wish more people would read?

Fangirl and with that, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell! 

7.Last YA Book that kept your turning the page?

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

8.YA Book you would recommend to everyone?

Warcross!!

9.Favorite YA Sci-Fi book?

Cinder

10.If your characters from Ignite The Stars could meet any other YA characters who would you pick?

I would love for them to meet the characters from Dark Of The West! Joanna and I are already planning our crossover fanfiction haha.

Thanks again to Maura for such a fun interview!

You can check out more about Ignite The Stars on its official site: Ignite The Stars.com 
& if you pre-order, there’s a limited edition enamel pin you can receive!

Are you looking forward to Ignite The Stars? 🚀🌌💫📚