Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was lucky enough to get chosen by Nova Ren Suma (author of IMAGINARY GIRLS, 17 & GONE)  when she did a shout out on Twitter for blog hop participants. It's been showing up in my feed a lot and I've been wanting to take part but had too much going on at the time. So I'm very excited to have this chance to share with you guys my newest project.

Originally I wanted to chat about DROWNING BAILEY. It was the manuscript that nabbed my agent and it seemed the best fit. However, I recently did an interview with another blog and talked all about it. I thought this would be a fun opportunity to share something different. These things are usually TOP SECRET for me, so this is going to make me feel exposed.

With that being said, here we go!

What is the working title of your book? 


Where did the idea come from for the book? 

Is it weird to say because I'm obsessed with dead people? I kid, I kid . . . sorta. Really I'm just fascinated with the idea of ghosts and where it is they come from. Whether they are real or just a figment of our imagination. But truly, I've seen way too many things to write them off. I've experienced some strange encounters and I know several people that have as well. My parents to name a few. And why would they lie?

I just love the idea of a person being used as a gateway to the "other side" and them also having an inner battle with their faith. That's something a lot of people have trouble coming to terms with and when someone is presented with this sort of gift, you have to expect them to ask: Why. Having the dead appear to the MC in ways in which they died just gave that extra punch the story needed. Also it's fun describing, and picturing, their fatal wounds. I'm weird like that.

What genre does your book fall under? 

I'd definitely say YA Supernatural/Horror. That's pretty much my thing.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

I was asked this during my interview about DROWNING BAILEY and I have a hard time answering. I came up with names for that one right off the cuff, but I don't think I can for this. When I write, I don't have actors in my head. They're my characters and I picture them as so. Giving them a face kind of ruins it for me, so I guess I'd have to say what Nova said. Unknowns.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz has always known that being a Gateway means leading the dead to the other side, but he never anticipated the Gateway's power to bring things back.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

I completed a really horrible first draft during NaNoWriMo last November. It was my first time participating and I definitely learned a lot about being on a tight schedule. I took a month long break before getting back to it. The idea of looking at the mess I made was just too much during the holidays. Somehow I found it in me to take a peek just after Christmas and realized it might not be as bad as I thought. Sometimes it's good to put things away for a while and give yourself some time to think things over.

It's currently going through four betas. I'm looking forward to getting back to it and fixing it up some more.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

I'm not going to answer this BECAUSE I already have a hard time writing supernatural without it getting related to a certain book. As much as I loved said book, it kind of irks me every time someone says, "This is sort of like blah blah blah. Just so you know." It doesn't matter how much you try to differentiate your book from someone else's, someone will say it's similar to something else, which is fine! BUT I'd rather not put the idea in your head with hopes that when you read it you won't automatically think of certain books. Savvy?

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

The biggest thing that inspired me is, and please don't judge me for saying this, my lack of religious background. Gateway is not a religious book by any means, but there is a religious element as far as Aiden having a gift that's been "sent by God" and not knowing why someone or something would leave him with such a challenge.

Personally, I have my own views on religion and writing a character that is struggling helped me see both sides. It's not the entire basis of the story, as I said, but it's kind of where the idea came from. I just threw in this awesome premise and BOOM. That was that.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? 

I'm gonna copy Nova (again) and put an excerpt:

I always believed that there had to be other people like me, that do what I do. How could I be the only one? With all the people dying every day, having one gateway would be ridiculous. One person couldn’t possibly send thousands of Bleeders through the gate. I’d kill myself if that were the case.
“I don’t know about others like you," Bennie says. "No one knows for sure. But they’ll find you, just like I have.” 
Great. That’s what I want to hear. 
“What does He look like? Who is He? Can you tell me that?” I’m fighting the urge to freak out and demand an answer. The last thing I want is to scare the kid more than he already is, but I’m desperate. 
He shakes his head innocently. “I’ve never seen him.”
Frustration consumes me. This guy is sending Bleeders my way, but why? How does He even know about me? 
I fall silent, having an inner battle with myself. 
Bennie asks, “So . . . Can you send me away now, like you promised? I don’t want to be here anymore.” He searches the room before whispering, “The others scare me.”
At his words, I realize he has no idea. He doesn’t know what he looks like, that his injuries have followed him even in death. The sadness in his eyes put my problems aside. What more could I possibly ask of him? I made a promise. I plan to stick with it. He has no idea who sent him here, and my mission to find Him is no closer than before. 
I shove aside my unresolved issues, and say, “Yeah, Ben. I’ll send you home. You just have to walk through me, okay?”
He nods with relief. For the first time since he died, he looks somewhat alive. His shoulders relax and his face brightens, just a little. If this is the last thing I could do for the kid, I’m not going to make him wait any longer. I take a deep breath, bracing myself for the iciness that’s about to surge throughout my body. 
“Go ahead,” I tell him. “I’m ready.” 
With careful steps, he comes closer. He’s only a step away when he pauses. “Don’t go looking for Him,” he warns. Confusion hits me. I want to stop him, to ask why, but it’s too late. Bennie doesn’t falter as he steps into my body, melting into my skin, and fading into whatever waits for him on the other side.

Thank you so much to Nova for choosing me to participate in the blog hop! This was fun!! And now I'm tagging five other writers for "The Next Big Thing." 


  1. Very creepy! I definitely wouldn't handle being a gateway as well as your MC does. I also love that there's a religious element. :D

  2. This sounds SUPER interesting--I'm so excited to read this someday! Also, I'm really interested in the process of what it's like to grapple with things like religion/afterlife/etc. in the writing. I know you're supposed to write what you know and all, but I've always thought the immersion into new worlds is one of the most interesting parts of writing.

  3. Very nice excerpt, Heather! I'm impressed and have a feeling great things are ahead for you and Gateway!

  4. @Kelly Loy GilbertThanks for checking it out, Kelly! It's been such a fun manuscript to write. I hope you get to read it someday soon. :)

  5. @Jessica TaylorAw thank you, Jessica! That means a lot. <3

  6. I have to tell you that I read this a couple days ago and your excerpt has been haunting me. I think this is a fabulous premise with a question that rattles even the most confidently faithful. I can't wait to see it in print. Good luck with this and all your publishing endeavors!

  7. @thejoysofwriting Thank you so much! This is such an amazing compliment. I so hope that you'll have a chance to read it one day.


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