The Silver Strand Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes. The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle's source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It's also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn't count on is there is more at stake than just her life. The Silver Strand, a MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, is book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.
L.J. has done a little interview for The Cover Contessa today, so let's hear what she has to say!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. But then I realized how cruel it is to confine sea animals. Right now I’m taking a break from Environmental Engineering dedicate to writing and building my new business.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I find a lot of inspiration from real life, personal beliefs and fascinating facts in non-fiction books. The magical hair in The Silver Strand was inspired by the day I sprouted of my first grey hair (gasp!). I've always believed in mind over matter, so when I read about initiates in Egyptian mystery schools who learned to harness the 90% of the brain we don’t use mind to levitate and walk through walls, see without their eyes, be psychic, become invisible etc, etc I came up with the idea of Masterminds.
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I try to write 5 pages a day. Sometimes I meet the target, other times I don’t (Facebook is such a distraction!).
What elements do you think make a great story line?
Great question! Characters are central to the story. If they aren’t likable, relatable, flawed in some way or can find inner strength, then no one will read the story. Conflict, pace and tension are important to keep the reader glued to the page and turning it. I recently stopped reading The Jungle Book because it lacked tension and the pace was snail slow.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
I started writing my story not knowing how to structure or plot it. So that was a gradual learning process.
Where do you write?
My boyfriend and I share a 1800mm desk - although he claims I hog most of it with all my notes. Do not! I will admit I hog all the 5 telephone books to prop up my laptop, but that’s because he doesn’t want them.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I spend so much time in my fantasy world, I don’ get much time for else. But I love to get out in nature, take the dogs for a walk or swim down the river, read where I can and sip a coffee in a great café.
What is your favorite book? Favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and have read them several times. My inspiration for writing children’s novels are they incredibly funny and entertaining Eoin Coifer (Artemis Fowl) and Australian author Morris Gleitzman (Toad Rage series).
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
I’m a member of the Young Adult Novel Workshop on Writing.com so I have a team of fabulous critique buddies. But I have to give a shout out to three others. TF Walsh is my long-term critique partner, cheerleader, friend and cat behavioral advisor specialist (came in handy for writing about Boldrick). Ralene Burke is my red pen wielding editor extraordinaire! And my boyfriend Astro always has amazing suggestions for characters and scenes when I’m stuck.
Are you working on anything now?
Absolutely, I never stop! I’m half way through a new children’s fantasy called Heaven and Hound, but had to put it aside to launch and promote The Silver Strand plus a support and promotional site for self-published and small press authors, called Indicated.
Author L.J. Clarkson One thing you need to know about LJ Clarkson is that she tells BIG lies. She tells everyone that she gave up her career as an Environmental Engineer and Project Manager to write full time. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Fifteen percent of her day, she spends surfing the internet, researching for new books and her business. Ok, fine. Two percent is for research. But she's only admitting it so she doesn't end up like Boldrick. For eighteen point seven five percent of her day, she runs her promotional and support site for authors, called Indicated (www.indicated.com.au). The rest of her time involves writing, reading, watching movies and TV, walking her dogs and falling asleep whenever her boyfriend talks technical computer lingo. Truthfully, she hates early mornings, mondays, grammar (yuck! just ask her poor editor!), broccoli and cleaning. If you would like to drop her and line and let her know what you think of the book, she would love to hear from you. Just not before 8:30am in the morning.
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