Friday, 2 August 2013

Featured Author: Q&A with AZ Green

This is a Q&A with our Featured Author, AZ Green.

1-What were your favourite childhood reads/authors? I didn't read a lot of books until I left high school funnily enough but in school I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and it really stuck with me. I liked pretty much every book I read, such as The Merchant Of Venice by Shakespeare, The Scarlet Letter, Skellig, Walkabout, Holes.

2-Do you have any outstanding memories of reading as a child/teen? Not so much. Like I said it was when I was about sixteen I really got into reading. I've always enjoyed it but I allowed myself to read a wide range of books after school.

3-What genres do you enjoy? Absolutely anything. I like complex characters that move me, beautiful description and sharp dialogue. I like fantasy worlds and contemporary real settings. I like gritty, Gothic, dark, I like fun, humorous and crazy, I like majestic, historical, grand settings. Anything that grabs my attention, I will read. I don't really judge by genre.

4-Are there genres that you never read? Probably erotica. I've never read it and probably never will. I like romance and passion in novels but not anything graphic to a point it is sickening. This doesn't include rape and certain sexual practices that are described in crime/thriller novels or novels of realism that touch on real life issues such as abuse. I don't like novels that are there to get a kick out of sickening acts or graphic content without reason.I also don't like novels that drag on and are long-winded. I have no problem with sci-fi and fantasy as long as they are clear to understand and aren't too flowery in description.

5-Is there a book world that you would love to step into? A book hero you'd love to be? There's so many but right now, I'd like to step into the Bronte or Austen era. The romance, the drama, the customs. It'd be an interesting world to step into.

6-What attracts you to buy/choose a book? The blurb, the cover and the title. Simples. The blurb has to draw me in otherwise I'll pass on it. If the cover is bland or unprofessional that might put me off even if the blurb sounds very interesting. If the title is poor I'll still give it a go if the blurb and cover are intriguing.

7-What do you enjoy seeing in a book? Originality, with a meaning/moral, solid characters, sharp, gripping or funny dialogue.

8-What puts you off a book? A poorly constructed plot, cliches, stereotypical characters especially cardboard cutout villains without any layers, really bad, unrealistic dialogue and situations. The book has to be believable in the world the author has created. Characters have to act in harmony with their personality.

9-What current authors do you enjoy? Charlaine Harris, Helene Wecker, Angie Fox, Sidney Sheldon, Charlotte Bronte, Garth Nix, Tammara Webber, Melanie Dickerson, Suzanne Collins, Daphne Du Maurier, Thomas Emson, Richard Matheson, Lian Hearn. Too many to mention.

10-Have you been influenced by any authors? Of course. All of them. They've shaped my writing and given me knowledge through their work.

11-What made you decide to write a novel? I've been writing since I was ten. In the past few years I've been reading a lot and developing my abilities. I came up with the idea for Beasthood and it was the first novel I thought could be good enough to publish. Since then I've had so many ideas to write and if I don't write them, they'll never leave me alone! You never really decide to write a novel, it decides for you.

12-What are the most rewarding and frustrating things about being an author? The rewarding part is when people read it and you bring out emotion in them, whatever that emotion is. The frustrating part is editing, promoting and getting it out there.

13-How difficult is it to promote your book? Very. It never stops unless you decide to. You have to keep at it and be patient. Patience is a virtue but it is so hard to keep it in check sometimes.

14-What are your strengths as author? Anything you want to improve on? My strengths I guess are my originality, my character developing, my dialogue and my ability to describe things clearly enough that people can picture them. All my readers have mentioned all of these things so it must be true. I want to improve on my editing process. I want it to be quicker and more efficient. I want to be able to plan my story plot better so everything falls into place without me having to change so much to fit every detail in. There's loads more things I'd love to improve on but I'd be here all day mentioning them.

15-What do you like to see in a reader review? Their opinions of the characters, of certain scenes. Their quoting of the book, such as dialogue they liked. When they say how a certain scene shocked, moved them, made then laugh or cry or made them angry. That means the world to me.

16-What do you prefer not to see in reader reviews? Unnecessary, insulting criticism that has no reason with no examples of why they didn't like that particular thing. To say that the book was boring and that they skipped pages. All that means is when you don't read something properly, the little details are missed so you end up not learning important information. I'm all about the little details and everything I write has a purpose and matters so to say you skimmed through pages is probably the most offensive thing a reviewer can say. I'd like them to criticize my book because they read it properly and found mistakes within it and say why. At least then I can actually learn from my errors.

17-Why did you choose the title Beasthood? The definition of 'beasthood' is the state/nature of a beast. It's pretty apt to Jaz and her surrounding. She's constantly at war with the inner Beast which is in some ways metaphorical for her darker, primal urges but also when she is Changed, physically comes out. It is part of her, and all of her being too. Throughout the novel she's trying to find the balance between 'beast' and 'human'. I came up with the idea because it is a lot like human nature fighting between right and wrong. When is being violent okay? When in defense? It's about balancing your darker, primal, instinctual side with your humanity. Only Jaz's struggle is more literal than ours.

18-Your beasts are different from other shifter books, focusing more on the person not the beast side-why did you decide to write them this way? Continuing from what I said in question one, these creatures are different from other werewolf books because they aren't actually werewolves. They don't turn into wolves. They're their own beast, a creature that is similar (so can be related) to several predators in the animal kingdom, but they are a whole other species. I decided to write it more about the human side because Jaz is very human in her mindset and morals. She doesn't think how the others do because she was brought up in the human world. I wanted to write a book that focused on true, realistic characters and the only way I thought I could do that was to make them 'human' so we can relate to them. They aren't perfect, they have issues, flaws, insecurities and their way of life and punishments are odd, maybe even considered wrong or sinister to a lot of people reading it. But I feel people can understand them more because it isn't all about the raging, sex-obsessed, corny, stereotypical werewolf persona. They have most of those traits too of course! But they're much more than that. I wouldn't have written this book if it was to turn out the same as every other in its genre.

19-Family strife and rivalry seems to be a running theme-was this a conscious plan or did it develop that way? I think it just kind of happened. After I came up with the idea of Jaz's adoption and estrangement from her real parents I knew I would have to write out her anger, resentment and insecurities as true to her character and situation as I could. The Pack, or community, are all related in some way. They aren't exactly 'inbred' because they branch out and breed everywhere and anywhere. They have relatives all over the world. Even if they aren't related by blood, (Tyra is a good example, she is from Brazil originally but her close family are dead,) they still treat every Pack member like family. They are basically one big family. Not everyone lives in the community but they're still together and help each other out. They share everything, the food, housing, workload, jobs, and try to keep a disciplined but supportive network. So when it came to family values, strife, issues, rivalry, there was just too many opportunities to not write about them.

20-With a large cast of characters, how difficult is it to develop them all? Can we expect a few of them to come more to the fore next time? Was there anyone you wish you had developed more? It was very tough. I wanted to make it clear there were a lot of characters without the reader forgetting that fact or without them thinking that the unknown characters were insignificant. They're all important and I do plan to develop more of them in the next books. I would have done it in this one but there was no room for them all unfortunately. I would have liked to have developed several of them but I will leave that until the next few books. Hopefully I'll do it in such a way the character developing will go almost unnoticed.

21-Jaz has been on quite a journey-which parts were most challenging to write? How would you like your readers to see/react to her? I think to capture the emotion of Jaz, the hardest part to write was her time in confinement. I wanted to make the transition from 'kidnapped' to 'part of the community' in a realistic way that people who read it would accept and understand. I don't know if I achieved it but so far I've had no major complaints. As for how I'd like readers to see/react to Jaz, I just want them to always be on her side no matter when she makes mistakes or has her tantrums. I want them to always feel that whatever I write, they will think 'yep, this is how Jaz would react.' I never want to make readers think 'that wouldn't happen, she wouldn't do that'. I want them to root for her and cry with her. I want them to egg her on to romance or kicking someone's behind. If they relate to her and see her as a memorable character I'll be grinning from ear to ear.

22-Who are your favourite characters or scenes and why? I find this so hard to answer, just as much now as when I was asked this before. I'm proud of Jaz's character because of the response I've had about her. That will never change for me. I love Alf because he is so, well, lovable and everyone, especially the female readers adore him. They see him as a bouncing puppy and a loyal friend, which he is. I have a soft spot for him. But my favourite character because of his complexity, his powerful presence and how realistic I feel he is, has to be Nik. I've never written a male character as well as him before and I've learnt so much writing him.

As for favourite scenes, wow, now THAT is a tough one. I like certain parts of dialogue in several scenes. Loads that make me giggle, which is kind of stupid really because I'm laughing at myself. I think the part of the book I enjoyed writing and reading back on the most was the scene where Jaz arrives at Deer Creek and on discovering things are wrong, she bolts and has a pretty aggressive tussle with Driver. I enjoyed that scene a lot.

23-What are you most proud of in this book? Its originality. Its characters. The fact that it is my first published novel and it's not a complete disaster. So far so good. I'm proud of that.

24-What can we expect from your next books? Going back to what I said about wanting to introduce more characters, that will definitely happen in book two.
Some characters to expect more of in the next book are Leif, Swain,'Chad', Njord, Sunhild, Leif, Tyra, Lamont and many more. I have plans to make Garik even more involved in the next book, along with Alf, Erica, Bo, Arik, Maria, Kenna and Kelda too. Edda plays an important role in the beginning of book 2.
You will also find out who the Black Cloak is. Who many of the Cur Hunters are and more about the Curs' history and intentions.
Book two will be a lot about unveiling. The calm before the storm. The tension will build as people find out where others' loyalties lie. Jaz will become stronger in this book and you will see her confidence in herself flourish.
I wish I could say more but I don't want to be too generous in my information. I will say that there will be a couple of deaths in the next book, and I don't think you'll guess who they will be.

Thanks AZ!

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