I’m so excited for this, as part of the Conjure blogtour I had the opportunity to do an interview with the author Lea Nolan! So give a warm welcome to her and enjoy the interview!
Thanks so much for having me, Annabel. I’m so pleased to be here!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a wife and mom to three youngish, school-aged kids. I grew up in a small town on Long Island, New York and was always near the water. After my husband and I settled in Maryland, we both missed the water so much that we decided to move to a town that’s closer to the Chesapeake Bay. Our community has its own private beach off a river that feeds into the Bay. I love going to dock side restaurants to eat crabs, which are a Maryland specialty.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
After I read Twilight. It reminded me of how powerful first love can be and inspired me to try to write. I started writing and though I wasn’t very good at it, I couldn’t force myself to stop. So I kept at it and wrote and re-wrote, chipping away at that first book. When I finished it (the first time) I decided I was a writer. Of course, I reworked that book six times and still haven’t published it, but that’s okay because it taught me how to be a writer.
What comes first? The story, the character(s) or the idea for the novel?
For me, a plot point comes first. Something sparks an idea and it grows in my head until I figure out a few of the major story milestones and the ending. Along the way I get a general idea of who the characters are, but I don’t really get to know them until I start writing. Then they spring to life and surprise me with the things they say and do.
What would be your favorite pastime activity, when you are not writing?
Unfortunately, as a mom, wife and writer, I don’t get a lot of free time. But when I do, I love to read, make jewelry and knit. I also love yoga but I haven’t done it in a while, but it’s my New Years Resolution to get back into it.
Are there any writers out there that have inspired you?
There are so many talented writers I’ll probably miss a few but here’s a short list: Markus Zusak is simply amazing. He inspires me to stretch my writer’s muscle to craft striking prose with a distinctive voice. I’m not worthy of course, but that’s the whole point of being inspired, you have something to work toward! I also love Maggie Stiefvater’s beautiful prose, and adore Tera Lynn Childs and Kiersten White for how bright and witty they are. Alyson Noel’s paranormal/fantasy elements and voice also inspire me. And of course, the queen of all is JK Rowling for bringing bequeathing something truly awesome to the world.
Can you tell a little more about your book: Conjure?
Three kids discover a hidden 18-century pirate treasure and unwittingly unleash a wicked flesh-eating curse that only hoodoo magic can break. It takes place in the South Carolina Lowcountry which is one of the most beautiful and romantic places I’ve ever been.
What inspired you to write this story?
Believe it or not, the story idea came from a fast food kid’s meal bag. There’s a place here called Chick Fil A that prints educational facts on the bags. We’d just gone through the drive-through and my daughter was reading the notes and asked, “Mommy, did you know pirates used to send messages in a bottle?” No, as a matter of fact, I hadn’t known that. As I drove down the road I wondered, why would a pirate need to send a message in a bottle? An answer popped into my head: Maybe his ship and crew were cursed. But what could he have done to land in such trouble? The questions and answers snowballed and before I knew it, I had to set aside the novel I’d been planning to write this one instead.
Which character did you enjoy writing about the most and why?
I love writing them all for very different reasons. Emma is loosely based on my oldest daughter and I adore how strong and brave she is. Cooper is just about the perfect guy I could imagine so of course, he’s hard to resist. I really admire his strong moral code. Although some people might take issue with Jack (for reasons which, in his defense, are not entirely his fault!) I really love him. To me, he’s the quintessential jerky brother and he makes me laugh. And of course, I’m crazy about Miss Delia, the hoodoo root worker who takes Emma on as an apprentice. She’s shrewd, tough and I wouldn’t want to cross her!
If you could have dinner with one of your characters who would you choose and why?
Can’t I have a dinner party with all of them? No? Oh, okay! Well, then I’d pick Miss Delia. At 97 years old, she’s the sole repository of ancient knowledge about hoodoo charms and spells that have been handed down for fifteen generations. I’d love to pick her brain and learn just a smidgen of what she knows. And then I’d like to sit in Emma’s art studio and watch her draw and paint because I’m sure she’d create a masterpiece.
Do you get a lot of responses from your readers?
I know you have your own street team: The Apprentices can you tell us a little more about it?
Yes, I do! It’s been so nice because people have come to me after reading Conjure and offered to help promote the book. But more than that, it’s a great way to get to know enthusiastic readers better. I thought hard about how I’d want to set up a street team. Some street teams award points for various tasks but that was too much for me to manage. Instead I created a Facebook group called The Apprentices that anybody can join. I post links to blog posts and giveaways and people can tweet or Facebook about them. Also, if people want to distribute bookmarks or other book swag to libraries, local schools or book clubs, I’ll send out materials for them to distribute. In return, street team members will get access to deleted scenes from Conjure, special sneak peeks at the other books in the series and other perks. Also, they’ll be entered to win a special monthly giveaway just for street team members.
What are you currently working on?
Allure is the second book in the series. Things get darker and more creepy. If you thought the flesh-eating curse was spooky, you’ll love what happens next. But I don’t want to spoil it, so no more details!
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Thanks so much for reading Conjure and for caring about the characters and their plight! I’d love to hear from you so if you’ve got a question you can post it here and I’ll answer you in a video, or of course you can chat me up on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll do my best to answer them all without giving out any secrets from the next book.
Thanks again for hosting me, Annabel! This was wonderful.
Thank you so much Lea for taking the time to answer my questions. So here’s a little more about this wonderful author:
Lea Nolan couldn’t read until the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it and devoured any book she could find with a shiny Newberry Award sticker on the cover. Today she writes the stories she sought as a teen—smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance and a sprinkle of history. She holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and lives with her heroically supportive husband and three brilliant children in Maryland.