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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Farm Author Interview + Giveaways!

It is my pleasure to introduce to you Emily McKay, author of THE FARM.  It's a YA post-apocalyptic story with these creatures called Ticks (very similar to vampires).  She asked me to read her book back in the summer for a cover blurb and I LOVED it!  My blurb was something like this: Be prepared to stay up all night - I did!  The main characters, Lily and Mel are very unique and likable.  The plot is different enough to stand out among the current wave of dystopians/post-apocalyptic novels.

Below is a fascinating interview with Emily and she is also offering two prizes as giveaways.  One is a signed copy of THE FARM and the other is a Vampire Apocalypse Survival Kit.  The giveaway is open to everyone (yes, including international).  To enter, post a comment to this blog by December 11th, 11:59 p.m. EST and please include an email addy so we can contact you!


Here's the cover copy: Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

Take 10 with Emily McKay!

 1.)   Where did you get the idea for THE FARM?
 
 I was sitting in a workshop about world building at a writer's conference and I was thinking about this basic inconsistency in many vampire stories. If they're really stronger, faster, smarter than us, then why are they the ones who are hiding? Why not just take over and farm us as food? 
 
Of course, it took me a couple of years to get from that spark of an idea to an actual story that made sense, but that was the spark. 
 
2.) THE FARM is an unique post-apocalyptic story for YAs while your previous novels are romances for adults. Why did you switch? 
 
Don't laugh, but I think there's actually a common thread between romance novels and a lot of post apocalyptic fiction. Obviously, I've always loved reading and writing romance novels. Romance novels are the most optimistic of all fiction and also the most intimate.  [I didn't laugh - it's true!]
 
But I've also always been drawn to post apocalyptic stories. The Postman by David Brin is one of my all time favorite books. There's a sort of basic optimism in many post apocalyptic books (not all, but a lot). They're stories of humanity sinking to the absolute depths, but rising out of those depths to carry on. There's a powerful message of love and hope in the very idea that there will be a post apocalypse, that there will be anything after. Of course, to me the most interesting aspect of the apocalypse is how we take care of the people we love as things are falling apart. What kind of sacrifices we're willing to make to for others.
 
I had known for years that someday I wanted to tell a post apocalyptic story, I just needed to find the right setting. And then, of course, I added in lots of scary monsters, dramatic sacrifices and a hot guy. :-) With THE FARM, I got to play around in all the sandboxes I love best. 
 
3.) What do you find most interesting about Lily and Mel?
 
I loved exploring all the emotions that comes with a sisterly relationship, especial one where one sister is so dependant on the other. There’s so much love there, but frustration and resentment on both sides. I loved exploring how their relationship shifted and changed throughout the story.
 
As much as I love writing short contemporary romance, that’s one thing you never get to touch on. There’s just not room to deal with characters other than the hero and heroine. So that was a lot of fun for me. 
 
4.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?
 
I love cooking and baking. Mostly baking. My sister and I joke that baking is an outlet for our OCD. It keeps us both sane. With baking, there’s so much safety. You know if you follow the recipe to the letter, you’ll get great results. It’s kind of the opposite of writing. In writing, there’s infinite space to play—but also to fail. You mix together the ingredients and you have no idea how the product will turn out. With baking, you know the right amount of sugar, flour and eggs will yield chocolate chip cookies. I love that about it!  [Yum cookies!]
 
5.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?
 
I did a fair amount of research on autism. I read some books by famed autistic savant Temple Grandin as well as mathematic savant Daniel Tammet. I did research on synesthesia, which is a neurological condition where people experience their senses in some unique way. For example there are people who perceive numbers as having a color or shape. Some people with synesthesia experience sounds or music visually. Synesthesia fascinated me and I decided to use it for Mel. I wanted Mel’s synesthesia to be something that helped her cope with the world and something that would give the reader insight into her mind. So Mel perceives people’s emotions as noise, sometimes even music.
 
There are some sixty different forms of synesthesia. I’m pretty sure, that none of the real forms of synesthesia are like Mel’s (though, of course, it’s possible).  I figured, I’m writing in a world where vampires are real, why not make up my own twist on a real neurological condition? The other paranormal elements in the story gave me the latitude to play around with how I wanted Mel’s autism and synesthesia to present.
 
6.)  How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself  growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?
 
I knew when I was seven that I wanted to tell stories for a living. I don’t think at the time that I even understood that books were written by writers. I was an extremely late reader. I didn’t read at grade level until the ninth grade. So when I was seven and knew I wanted to tell stories for a living, I didn’t have any idea what being a writer was. I couldn’t even read yet! I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.
 
7.) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?
 
I think all authors inspire me. Obviously there are great authors whose books I love. Writers who just create these amazing worlds that you completely lose yourself in, like J.K. Rowling and Orson Scott Card and Ann Brashear and, of course, you. (I know that sounds like I’m brown nosing, but it’s true!) [Awww...thanks!] For me, one of the signs that a writer is awesome in when I start dreaming about his or her book as I’m reading it. It’s like their world is so complete and so huge, my brain can’t even take it all in during the day. I need extra time to process it. Those are the kinds of books and authors that inspire me.
 
And then of course there are all the writers that are part of my circle of friends. They inspire me in different ways. Not only do I love their books, but I see how hard they work. Knowing how much work they put in really raises the bar. It makes me go the extra mile as a writer.
 
8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
 
It’s best for me if I write every day. I find my brain stays in the story that way. I usually write in the morning, after I get back from taking my son to school, then again in the evening after everyone else is asleep. The hours from about 2:00 to 9:00 are family time, the rest of the time I’m usually doing something writing related.
 
I write a pretty sloppy first draft and then revise a lot. I wish I could say I was one of those writers that writes the first draft quickly. Unfortunately, for me, the first draft is usually slow and painful, with a lot of wrong turns. Once the draft is done, I usually trim a lot and then add in a lot more, in addition to just general massaging.
 
THE FARM is a pretty long book (just over 110,000 words), but I cut at least 20,000 words in the final stage of revising. I’ve had friends say, “Oh, well, you should put those cut scenes up on your website because readers might be interested.” Um … no. I’m sure no one would be interested. When I cut all those words at the end, I’m trimming out all the times the characters have the same conversation five different times because I wasn’t sure when they needed to have  it. Or the times they have a five page long conversation about something not interesting at all, like soup or acorn squash or squirrels. I’m not kidding. I’ve actually trimmed convos about all of those things out of my books. And nobody needs to read a two page discussion about soup. [They might if it's interesting enough :)]
 
So that’s my process in a nut shell. I wish it was faster or more fun or cooler, but it’s not. As writers, I think it’s very important to be willing to try new things, but at the same, we’re kind of stuck with how our brain creates. But I love talking process and hearing about other people’s process, so thanks for asking! [You're welcome]
 
9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write?  A favorite?
 
I write all over the house. I have an office, and I write there sometimes, but I also write on the sofa, at the kitchen table, in bed, on the front porch and sitting at the foot of my kids’ beds as they fall asleep at night. And that’s in addition to writing at coffee shops.
 
10.) What are you writing now?  What's coming out next?
 
I’m working on two projects right now. First off is the sequel to THE FARM, which is tentatively titled THE LAIR. That will be out next year. I’m also playing around with a prequel novella called THE BEFORE. That will be available briefly on my website as a free read and then as a prize people can earn if they join my Green Team. http://www.escapethefarm.com/green-teams/
 
Thanks for the great answers, Emily.  Your new projects sound very interesting!
 
Links to all things Emily and THE FARM:
 
Websites:
 
Facebook:
 
Twitter:
@Emily_Mc_Kay

80 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book! I will definitely be adding it to my tbr!

    Jen
    lratrandom@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jen! I hope you get a chance to read it.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like an interesting take on Vampires. I would love to read it!

    findjessyhere at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jessy, I hope you get a chance to read it!

      Delete
  3. I would love to read this book!

    Colleen

    bibliophile422@gmail.com

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  4. The Farm sounds very interesting. Cannot wait to read it.

    onceuponadreambooks(at)hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the different take.

    mbsmith1 at cox dot net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Michelle, thanks! I hope you pick it up!

      Delete
  6. Oooooo this sounds really good!! I'd definitely love to read it!!! :D
    lisa(dot)x0x(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have had my eye on this one for a few months, just because it is a different take on vampires. It sounds really good,and I cannot wait to read it!

    unabridgedbookshelf(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi unabridgedbookshelf,
      Thank you! I'm so glad you're interested in the book! And, Yay that you've heard of it.

      Delete
  8. This books sounds like something I would really enjoy reading :)
    Mo_salley@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Monique, I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy and that you love it!

      Delete
  9. Vampires are my favorite supe! This sounds like a really unique take on them - sounds really good.

    Krista
    kristasdustjacket@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Krista! Vampires are awesome, aren't they? Talk about a genre that will never die ... no pun intended. :-)

      Delete
  10. It sounds like a really interesting book I would love to read it :)
    -Megan
    Silverkitsune@live.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Megan! I hope you get a chance to read it!

      Delete
  11. This sounds brilliant! Thanks for making the contest international!

    readwritereviews(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Annabelle! You're welcome! I never mind mailing internationally. I know some of the contests my publisher is hosting they can't send internationally, so that just doesn't seem fair, you know? Anyway, happy to do it!

      Delete
  12. Sounds like my kind of book. will be giving it a read.

    Nic
    nickeenan@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. This book sounds great! I can't wait to read it!

    -Melissa

    bullockm3(at)nku.edu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melissa. Thanks! I hope you love it!

      Delete
  14. Post apocalyptic novels are some of my favourites. And this one has vampires! (It kind of reminds me of The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. Kind of). I can't wait to read it!

    Email: beczy.lostinfiction@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Beczy! I hope you love it! Aren't post apocalyptic novels great? Seriously. Love. Them!

      Delete
  15. this book sounds awesome!

    jessicarwarfield at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica, I hope you can pick up a copy and love it

      Delete
  16. Can't wait to read it! Sounds really interesting
    grasphr7@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rebecca, Thanks! I hope you love it!

      Delete
  17. I absolutely love this book. One of the best of the year, and one of my all time faves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, Kendra! Thank you!!!! You've the best!

      Delete
  18. Oops, forgot my email address:

    kam042305@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Maria,
    Thanks so much for having me! I feel bad that I haven't had a chance to check in until now! But I'm so excited to be here. (Have I mentioned how much I love your books?) :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. This reminds me of Terry Brooks "Running with the Demon" trilogy and the sequel trilogy with vampires instead of demons. Humans in pens being turned into food.

    It's an interesting take on Vampires and right around the time when I was about done with the whole teen supernatural theme. I'll give this a go when it comes out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. contact@RaidingBookshelves.com

      Btw read the interview I did with Maria earlier this year: http://raidingbookshelves.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/author-interview-maria-v-snyder.html

      and my review of Scent of Magic:
      http://raidingbookshelves.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/arc-review-scent-of-magic-by-maria-v.html

      Delete
    2. Anonymous,
      In my world, the vampires are definitely nocturnal, but they don't burn up in the light. They just really avoid it. I tried to come up with a mythology that was ... well, not purely scientific, but at least pseudoscientific. I couldn't think of any creature that burst into flames in the sun. At least not without a giant magnifying glass. :-)
      Good question!

      Delete
    3. Raiding Bookshelves,
      I *love* Terry Brooks and seemed to have missed that series. I'll have to look for it.
      Thanks for the info and the great interview!

      Emily

      Delete
  21. Thanks for sharing this!
    i had seen this book in GR, and was wondering about it- gonna definitely read it now
    It's great to hear about authors and why/how they write and what inspires them. I appreciate their books even more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Asiye!
      I'm so glad Maria offered to interview me so I had a chance to talk with you guys!

      Delete
  22. For once my local bookstore had a book on its release day instead of only stocking it a month later so I'm now the proud owner of a copy of The Farm. I'll be starting on it today :-)

    sullivanmcpig(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sullivan McPig, That makes me so happy to hear! Yay for your local bookstore. I'm thrilled they had it!!!! And extra thanks to you for picking it up on release day!!!! :-)

      Delete
  23. I've read several good reveiws of The Farm.

    sgiden at verizon.net

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    Replies
    1. Sandy, thanks for commenting! I hope you get a chance to read it!

      Delete
  24. Gotta add this to my to read list on goodreads now! Sounds unique.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, StarlitRiot! I hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  25. Hello

    Thanks for the awesome preview I am excited to read this and will get a copy post haste, howevere I am struggling to sign up for the green team on Emily's website, it keeps telling me my captchas are wrong! Good luck all!

    Stephanie

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    Replies
    1. Slavat15@hotmail.com is an email :-)

      Delete
    2. Hi Stephanie!
      Thanks!
      Also, we got the captchas working. Yay!

      Delete
  26. Sounds great! This book caught my attention because I'm so eager for a twist on vampire stories, but I'm even more interested in reading it after reading this blog. I haven't read too many YA novels where one of the central characters has a neurological disorder. Hopefully I win the book so I can read it soon! Thanks for the opportunity and the insight, can't wait to read it.

    gorrnm80@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Nicole,

      Thanks, Nicole! I hope you enjoy the book! Yes, Mel was a fun character to write. I hope that doesn't sound wrong. :-)

      Delete
  27. I haven't had a chance to pick up many dystopians yet, but I think it is interesting that you have found common trends between dystopians and romances - now I feel like I should give the genre more of a chance ;).

    --Alicia
    dmr8888 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alicia, I should warn you, not all dystopians have the lighter element. :-)
      I don't like to read things that are too dark and for that very reason, I've avoided Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I've heard it's amazing, but also super dark. I just can't go there. I need that underlying sense of hope.
      So, yes, try more dystopians! (But not The Road.) :-)

      Delete
  28. Vampires are really interesting when presented in different forms. I am always looking at how they interact with other creatures and the technical aspects of them.

    Question: Does the sun negatively affect your vampires?
    Kelevenevelek@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I tried to answer you last night, but the post went in the wrong place. (Spotty internet!)
      In my world, the vampires are definitely nocturnal, but they don't burn up in the light. They just really avoid it. I tried to come up with a mythology that was ... well, not purely scientific, but at least pseudoscientific. I couldn't think of any creature that burst into flames in the sun. At least not without a giant magnifying glass. :-)
      Good question!

      Delete
  29. I had seen this book on Goodreads so it was nice to read the interview with the author. With all the vampire books out there (and I have read several) it's nice to see a new idea. I especially think the fact that one of the sisters has autism makes this very interesting. Can't wait to read it
    Erin
    airynnmaree@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Erin! I hope you pick it up and enjoy it!

      Delete
  30. I often stay up till 1 or 2 in the morning reading, i'd be happy to add this to my stack of late night reads ^^

    siren-magic@live.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Siren,
      yes, reading in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep, that's one of life's greatest pleasures, isn't it?

      Delete
  31. I like stories that are original and different. This one totally catches my attention. I can't wait to stay up all night reading this.

    roxcat93@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anonymous! I hope it keeps you up! :-)

      Delete
  32. This is already on my TBR list but with your endorsement Maria, it's moving up to the top!

    sophiathewriter at gmail

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sophia,
      I was very excited when Maria agreed to do a cover quote for me and the interview. I love her books so much!

      Delete
  33. I love fantasy stories, and this sounds awesome!!! I'm dying to read this book
    yaky-sky@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, PinkyFairy (great handle, btw!). I hop you love the book!

      Delete
  34. This book sounds amazing! Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!
    aldiss87[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sounds great! I love to read new authors!
    catarina.ki.lima[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  36. This is one of my most wanted books for 2013. I love that my name is in it! :) Such a great promise and I love the creepy blurb!

    My sister is also a huge fan of baking and cooking. I always love to eat it ;)

    thedailyprophecy(at)hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'll be sure to read it :)
    shugoavril@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. Wow - thanks for all the great Comments!

    Thanks Emily for replying to everyone - I know you must be super busy with the new release!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I must say at first I was not interested in this book, but after reading the synopsis, and your interview and realizing that it had a new take on vamps., I am really interested in it now!! Thanks for sharing!

    Pnrurbfantasyreview @hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Again thanks for all the comments. I did a random number generator and Sophia Chang won a copy of THE FARM!! And Denai from Goodreads won the Vampire Survival Kit - so if there is a Vampire apocolypse - we'll all go to Denai's house ;>

    ReplyDelete
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