Yesterday I reviewed Tina Connolly’s Seriously Wicked and today I’m happy to be able to bring you an interview with Tina and a giveaway for her second book in the series, Seriously Shifted. Also, check back tomorrow for a review of Seriously Shifted as I’m having a bit of a Tina Connolly triptych on the blog. It was really fun to interview Tina and I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway for a copy of Seriously Shifted at the end of the interview!
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Tina Connolly?
I am a writer and narrator in Portland, Oregon. I co-host Escape Pod and I used to run Toasted Cake. Occasionally in the summer I still work as a face painter, though not nearly as much as I used to since the kids and the novels. The glitter still infests everything, though.
How would you introduce people to Cam?
Cam is an ordinary tenth grade girl who is stuck living with a seriously wicked witch. Over the course of the Seriously books, she struggles with the ethics of True Witchery, but set against a funny backdrop of things like demon-infested crushes and invisible eels. (I really like exploring serious themes in a lighthearted way.) Also, the girls in these books often end up saving the boys, which is awfully fun to write.
Seriously Shifted is your second book about Cam, but it is easily readable as an entry point to the series. (Though I have ordered Seriously Wicked too, because I want to know the full story now!) Was that important to you that people can pick up either story to start?
Thank you! I’m really glad you found it read well as a standalone. From the beginning, I wanted this to be a series made up of individual stories. There are definitely elements that continue over from one book to the next, but I wanted to have a complete adventure in each book.
The first book (mild spoilers ahoy) was about the struggle that we all go through with trying to decide in which ways you will follow in the path of your parents/guardians/adults in your life, and in which ways you’ll strike out on a new path. At the end of the first book, Cam is still pretty determined that she’s not going to do magic herself, which means, of course, that next I have to put her in a situation to test that. Since by the end of the first book she’s decided she has to construct her own ethics for herself (as we all do, really, though not always to this extreme), in the second book she makes her ethical list, and tests it again and again to see if it works in reality. It undergoes a lot of refinements.
What gave you the idea for the Do-Badders Club? Were they as fun to write as they were to read about?
Thank you! My first idea for the book was a simple bet between Cam and Sarmine. But I quickly realized I was going to have a lot more fun if I brought in Lots! More! Witches! So, enter three of Sarmine’s old college buddies. I was also simultaneously working on a prequel story to Seriously Wicked for tor.com (“That Seriously Obnoxious Time I Was Stuck at Witch Rimelda’s One Hundredth Birthday Party”) which gave me a chance to give Esmerelda a role in both places.
You’re also an audio narrator and I always enjoy your narrations for the Escape Artist podcasts and Beneath Ceaseless Skies a lot. Would you narrate your own books or would that feel weird?
Thank you! I do in fact plan to narrate the Seriously Wicked books. I have been looking forward to recording them for a long time – just haven’t managed to find a big enough block of time to do it. But I’m tentatively hoping to do the first one this year—and maybe all of them! We’ll see how the deadlines go.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
I just got back from a whirlwind autumn of conventions and book tour, so I’m going to lie relatively low for a few months. I love love love going places, and I had a wonderful time seeing friends old and new, but I think the family might revolt if I leave again right away! For spring 2017, I do plan to be at Norwescon in Seattle, and in April I’m co-teaching a writing workshop in Portland with Alex Renwick, through Cascade Writers. (Find the ever-expanding list of appearances here: http://www.tinaconnolly.com/about/events )
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
Books and theatre have always been my two loves, which is why it’s been so great to get into podcasting over the last five years or so. Seven years? Wow, maybe. Time flies. I used to divide my time between plays and writing, but then decided that I should focus on only one ridiculous career (I say this with a great deal of love, obviously), and I picked writing. I made myself a deal that I could audition for something again once I sold a novel. But then when I finally sold my first novel – well, a month later I had my first baby. So, no, I haven’t auditioned for anything. But podcasting you can do in your pyjamas, and you don’t have to memorize anything, so it’s entirely possible I will never go back.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I just got totally hooked on Frances Hardinge – I read The Lie Tree, which came out in 2016, and then tore through the ARC of A Face Like Glass, which is coming out in May 2017. Both great, and wildly different from each other. Both already out in the UK, along with a whole back catalog I’m looking forward to acquiring. I also recently blurbed a debut novel by Robyn Bennis, The Guns Above, which is a really witty and engaging gunpowder airship adventure, forthcoming May 2017. And finally, you should also look for Fonda Lee’s YA SF novel Exo in January 2017, which I’m dying to get my hands on. I expect it to be every bit as good as her debut, Zeroboxer.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
Hahahah! Alphabetically within genre. But I have some two thousand books and it’s a bit Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in there. So some SF/F books live in the kids section, some in the SF section, and some in lit. Like all my Diana Wynne Jones books live in the SF section, and not in kids, even though most of them are MG. I can’t explain this. But I’ve tried to move them several times and they just move right on back.
Thank you for having me on the blog!
Bio: Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series from Tor Teen. Her books have been nominated for the Nebula and the Norton. Her stories have appeared in Women Destroy SF, Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many more, and are collected in On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories from Fairwood Press. Her narrations have appeared in audiobooks and podcasts including Podcastle, Pseudopod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, John Joseph Adams’ The End is Nigh series, and more. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod, and runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake.
She is originally from Lawrence, Kansas, but she now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
The lovely folks at Tor Teen are allowing me to giveaway a copy of Seriously Shifted. The giveaway is limited to the US & Canada and will remain open until January 5 23:59 CET. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below and tell me who your favourite fictional witch is.