About the Book:
Author: Danielle Rollins
Pub. Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Companion novel to Burning.
Prep school gets a twist of supernatural suspense in this commercial YA thriller.
Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Underhill Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school—or her demanding mother—her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Underhill Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Underhill are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…
Suspenseful and scintillating, with hints of the supernatural, this fast-paced thriller will keep readers hooked.1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
Today we welcome Danielle for an interview!
When I was seven years old, my mom took me to SeaWorld and for, like, a year afterward I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. This was sort of a continuation of my childhood dream to be an actress, but with dolphins. Now, of course, I’ve seen BLACKFISH and would never go back to SeaWorld but, at seven, it seemed like a perfectly legit aspiration.
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It takes me two to three weeks to write a trash draft (this is a really rough draft that I don’t show anyone, ever.) It takes me two months to turn this trash draft into something I’m not embarrassed to send to my editor. It takes me six months to write a book that’s ready for publication—a little longer for a complicated book like BREAKING.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
My themes always come from the characters. I never brainstorm theme possibilities or anything like that, but I do get ideas in my head about the “type” of character I want to write about. For BREAKING, I knew I wanted to write a “nice-girl” type. To me, this meant someone who often felt overshadowed by her dynamic, outgoing best friends. I asked myself what would have to happen to a girl like this to make her change?
The “nice girl” from this brainstorm became Charlotte, a teenage girl who largely defined herself by her two, much more interesting, best friends. When both of those friends commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte is forced to come out of her shell and start making her own choices—and figure out what prompted their deaths. A theme of self-discovery emerged from there.
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
When I’m on deadline (which is most of the time) I write Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 10:30 to 6:30. I spend Wednesdays working on marketing and social media.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
Carefully! As you can see above, I have a very strict writing schedule. This helps keep me from falling into a cycle of writing/procrastination that could easily last all day and take over my entire life.
Some other things I do that are important—I make health a priority. I do yoga 3-4x a week, and I eat well. Deadline snacks can be killer, so I try to stick to sparkling water instead of soda, and nuts and dark chocolate instead of candy and processed foods like chips.
I’m also big on interacting with other people. Writing can be incredibly isolating, so I work at a co-working space in the city instead of at home, and I usually make plans to grab drinks with friends a couple of times a week so that I have a reason to go out and interact with people.
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
Conflict. In particularly, I think characters should want something that conflicts with what they need. This is the basis for every really juicy storyline.
I tend to gravitate toward a few central themes. Mean girls is probably the biggest one—you’ll find a central group of mean girls in both THE MERCILESS, and the upcoming BREAKING.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Getting started is always the hardest part. After that, everything is figureoutable, if you stay motivated.
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve written thirteen books (wait, what?!) The first three didn’t get published, and the next two were Middle Grade novels published under a different name. I wrote three novels as Danielle Vega, with another, THE MERCILESS: ORIGINS OF EVIL, coming out this summer, and another that’s written but won’t come out until 2018. I’ve written two books as Danielle Rollins – BURNING, and BREAKING – and I have another that’s written but doesn’t come out until 2019 (DARK STARS.)
Right now my favorite is BREAKING. It’s sort of STRANGER THINGS meets THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and I think it’s creepy and weird and wonderful. If you ask me tomorrow, I’d probably say something else.
9. Do you have a favorite character?
I have at least three! I love Brooklyn Stephen, from THE MERCILESS. She’s actually the subject of THE MERCILESS: ORIGINS OF EVIL, which comes out in July.
I think Brooklyn would be friends with Ariel, from BREAKING. I also love a character named Dorothy, from my upcoming book DARK STARS. All three are very angry young women.
10. Where do you write?
I rent space at a writing studio in Manhattan. Most days I write there, but sometimes I set up shop at my kitchen table.
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I went the traditional route, and I cold-queried agents for years before finally getting a bite. Since then, I’ve written as many novels as I could!
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
I’m lucky to have the most supportive family on the planet. My parents are my biggest fans (my dad actually tells me I’m his favorite author, just nudging out Stephen King) and my husband reads all of my books before anyone else can look at them.
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I have a very narrow field of interests that mostly consists of writing, yoga, fashion and home décor. I also quite enjoy wine.
You’ll notice that none of my other interests could possible become a profession, so I’m lucky this writing thing worked out.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Write every single day. Find people who you respect (and who’ll tell you the truth) to read your writing. Only listen to criticism when it comes from a couple of people, and then take it really seriously. Repeat. Read a stupid amount. This is the only recipe for being successful that I know.
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
This is an impossible question to answer. I love Maggie Stiefvater and Laini Taylor because they’re good at things I’m bad at. I love Stephen King because he taught me how to make something scary, and I love Tana French because her writing makes me lose myself a little.
16. 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?
My husband reads everything first to tell me if it’s working, and then I have a list of 3 to 5 writers I send everything to. Different writers get different projects depending on what sort of advice I’m looking for.
17. Are you working on anything now?
DARK STARS! I just finished the first draft of this new project, which is FIREFLY meets ROMEO AND JULIET. It’s coming out in 2019, and I’m so freaking excited for people to read it! I’ve also just started playing around with a new concept about ghosts that I’m hoping will turn into something cool.
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
1. DARK STARS
2. Sunny Brooklyn Days
3. This Lemon LaCroix I just drank
4. Chocolate as Dark as my soul
5. The fact that BREAKING is coming out so soon and I can’t freaking wait for you all to read it!
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
3. Global warming
4. This new zit that just popped up on my cheek
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
Tokyo. I’ve wanted to go to Tokyo forever! Not sure if I’d make it the backdrop of a story, but I could see taking inspiration from the city!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks so much for being here today, Danielle!
Author of the best-selling MERCILESS series, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, BURNING, and BREAKING. I'm currently working on the last installment of the Merciless books, & starting a new series to be announced later this year.
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