About the book
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: May 5, 2015
"Stand back because a new generation of superheroes is here. “Freaks of Nature” is that rare action-adventure novel that simultaneously tugs at your heart and punches you in the gut. With equal parts mystery, mayhem and romance, this is a story that will leave you begging for the next vividly imagined installment."
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Fifteen-year-old Devon McWilliams is one of those freaks, but instead of some awesome ability like telepathy or telekinesis, he talks to plants. Yes, plants. In other words, Devon rates a big fat zero on the scale of kick-ass psychic abilities. But when Devon escapes from his psionic detainment facility, the United States Military intercepts him before he can rendezvous with the Psionic Underground Network. Regaining consciousness, Devon finds himself securely fastened to his seat aboard a military airship headed to Washington DC, where he will either be incarcerated for life or killed.
However, there are six other psions aboard this one-way flight to doom… and one of them, a telepath named Bai Lee, claims to have the means to escape, but they have to convince her, one by one, that they’re worthy of freedom. This is not good news for Plant Boy. The last thing he wants is to relive his nightmare escape from the psi-facility that left his best friend dead, especially since he’s made the acquaintance of the lovely, blonde healer, Alya du Roumanie, sitting beside him. Worse than that, he wouldn’t be able to bear the look in her eyes if she ever found out how truly pathetic a psion he really is.
They say there are no keeping secrets from a hell-bent telepath, but Devon McWilliams is determined to do just that, risking everything not to be left behind.
Today we welcome Wendy for an interview. Let's see what she has to say!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I have always wanted to make a living telling stories, ever since I saw Star Wars in the theater as a little girl. THAT—up there on the screen—that amazing universe! I wanted to create universes like that for the big screen. I made films in high school, way back in the day where we shot on super 8 film. I was going to be the female equivalent of George Lucas! And I did make it to Hollywood. I earned a Masters in screenwriting from the University of Southern California and I wrote for children’s television. Years later, I moved away from LA and began writing young adult novels…and well, here I am today.
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
For me, every book I write takes a different amount of time. I am big on plotting out my novels ahead of time by doing what I call “head work” weeks or months in advance of when I actually sit down to write. Writing for television, scripts are pitched, outlined, drafted two times, polished and then produced all in about two-three weeks for a half-hour anthology show. It is an incredibly fast turnaround and the polar opposite of writing a novel. My “head work” ends in a detailed outline and then I begin writing. So to answer the question, a novel will take me anywhere from three months to six months for a solid first draft.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I find themes to be an organic part of the writing process that arise from the work itself. At first, themes aren’t a conscious part of the story I am crafting, but once the novel begins to take shape, the themes become evident and I make every effort to buoy those ideas subtly throughout the manuscript.
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
Yes. I write from 9:00 am to around 2:00 pm most days. I have young children, so I must work around their schedules.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
As a wife and mother, it is always a challenge to carve out blocks of time to write. Thankfully, I have an understanding family who help me make the most of the time that I have to meet my deadlines.
What elements do you think make a great story line?
I think a mixture of tight plotting and fascinating characters peppered with a few well-timed twists and topped off by a surprise or two along the way is the perfect recipe for a great story line.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Keeping things fresh and original. There are so many amazing stories out there, that finding a new take on an old idea is the equivalent of striking gold in my humble opinion.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Freaks of Nature is my first published YA novel, but I have many more in the filing cabinet, plus loads of original screenplays and television series treatments. So far, my favorite is Freaks of Nature, but I am enjoying crafting my next YA novel Shadow Walker. I am very excited for my editor to read it.
Do you have a favorite character?
In Freaks of Nature, Vahn de Montague is a type of warrior-class psion called a psi-blade. A psi-blade can generate force-field projections from his body. In the arena, they have been trained to project plate mail armor that resonates with the color of their auras. Vahn can project any kind of weapon he can think of and he uses his force-field projections in amazing, creative ways inside the arena to survive the Psi-Games. Vahn is a leader…and a very attractive leader at that. He is honorable and he is out to win the Psi-Games in a desperate attempt to escape so that he can find the love of his life…Emily.
Where do you write?
I write in my home office with a case of cold Diet Coke on hand. (For some reason, I get very thirsty when I write.)
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I always wanted to go the traditional publishing route, but it can sometimes take a long time to break through. I went to many SCBWI conferences over the years. Actually, my manuscript was discovered by my wonderful editor, Jennifer Carson, at the 2013 New England SCBWI Spring Conference when she read my first ten pages.
There are writing conferences all over the United States. They are an invaluable tool for networking and honing one’s craft.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
My family is very excited for me, and my husband is a huge supporter of my writing. He reads everything I hand him and he’s very good at spotting typos.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love to read, of course. I love to travel. And I enjoy staying active. I like to ski, play tennis, swim and hike.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Read books that are similar to what you’d like to write. Write as often and as much as possible. Then find yourself a writing group—this is very important. Not only will they help you hone your skills, but they will also be your biggest cheerleaders on the road to publishing. Also, I highly suggest attending writing workshops, retreats and conferences in your area.
What is your favorite book? Favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
A favorite book? I am discovering new favorites all the time! There are so many wonderful books and talented authors out there that it is impossible to just pick one.
But as far as an author who inspires me, well, that would be the person who gave me my big break as a produced screenwriter in Hollywood…D.J. MacHale.
D.J. MacHale created a television show in the mid-nineties called Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which aired on Nickelodeon. I was lucky enough to have written three episodes for his series. I learned a lot about story craft and dialog from D.J.. He is an imaginative and talented creative force who is a successful author, screenwriter, director, and producer. You may have read his series Pendragon: Journal of an Adventure Through Time and Space or his Morpheus Road Trilogy or The SYLO Chronicles. He is an inspirational storyteller who really connects with his fans all over the world.
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 have an incredible writing group! They are my beta readers and editors, but best of all, they are the kind of friends who will tell me the truth when it comes to how well a story is progressing. That’s very important when working on a manuscript. A writing group is about supporting one another other during the creative process. No judgment-- only honest intent to make sure everyone’s story reaches its fullest potential.
Are you working on anything now?
I am finishing up the sequel to Freaks of Nature, called Shadow Walker, which I mentioned earlier.
About Wendy Brotherlin
Wendy Brotherlin is a screenwriter, music enthusiast and all around geek-goddess. She earned a Masters in Screenwriting at the University of Southern California and went on to write for children’s television including Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Today, she lives in Manchester, Maine with her husband and two little super-heroes-in-training. Freaks of Nature is her first novel.
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