Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Correlation" -- KB interview with author Mia Grace


Today we're pleased to interview Mia Grace, author of the newly-released novel Correlation.

The book is a Young Adult romance with a compelling time travel element to it. The characters are well-drawn and realistic. You'll find yourself rooting for 16-year-old Hailey Kent, as she faces trauma in her family, and then encounters a freakish opportunity to change the course of events -- with fateful effects on the people she cares about the most.

The blog tour for Correlation wraps up in the next few hours, but you can still enter for prizes with the form at the bottom of this post!

Now, on to our conversation with Mia Grace...

Congratulations on your new novel. In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?

Time-traveling teenager attempts to use her knowledge of the past to save a young man’s life.

Which contemporary books would you liken Correlation to? For example, "if you loved this, you'll enjoy Correlation."

Wow, that’s a tough one because Correlation doesn’t fit neatly into a category. It has a strong female protagonist who is struggling with potential loss of a loved one, like Hazel in The Fault In Our Stars, but then the time travel sends the book in another direction. At that point, our heroine must convince a young man of her credibility as someone with immutable knowledge of his fate. I’m currently reading 44, in which the young heroine has paranormal capabilities that defy easy explanation and make it hard for her to save others from danger. I see some comparison there.

This book is written from the POV of Hailey Kent, a young Vermont high-schooler. How did you tap into her mindset?

I have a lot of young women in my life, including granddaughters who are 13, 18, and 24, as well as several nieces with whom I’m close. Hailey has just turned 16 and is a compilation of them — an outdoorsy, fun-loving teenager with good intentions who struggles with all the usual conflicts regarding family, friends, boys, and meeting the expectations of others.

The time travel aspect of this book pulls Hailey back to the Vietnam era. This is a fascinating writing choice, and one we've not seen explored by time travel books. What prompted your choice of that era for Hailey to travel back to?

When I first conceived of the idea for Correlation, I planned to have Hailey go back to the 1930s and encounter a young man who would die in World War II. I was thinking in terms of my own relationship to a war that occurred before my time.

Then, one day, I realized that for today’s teenagers, Vietnam fit the same criterion, and they were more likely to know someone who had gone to Vietnam. The idea that my book could give them a little understanding of what it meant to be — or to love — a young man facing the draft during that tragic time appealed to me.

Because I was a high-schooler and a college student during the Vietnam War, I didn’t need to do a lot of research to recreate the time period for the book. Describing the house in the 1960s was easy — it’s my family’s living room and my grandmother’s kitchen.

Reviewers are praising Correlation for its realistic depiction of Hailey and her family. Tell us how you approached that as an author.

I think the sibling rivalry that occurs between Hailey and David is natural, timeless, and universal. Siblings can also fiercely protect one another and, if they were to fail, can carry a heavy burden of guilt. Meanwhile, parents inadvertently show favoritism, kids have their persecution complexes, and none of us communicate as well as we could.

Correlation takes into account all of those things, plus enduring the daily pain of the loss of a loved one. While I didn’t want to make the book too dark, telling the story from Hailey’s point of view required taking into consideration how it would feel to live under the burden of personal tragedy. How would I react as Hailey? How would I behave as her mother? How would a father grieve the loss of his son while still acknowledging the need to be there for his healthy daughter? I had to take on the persona of each individual when writing, and put myself in his or her shoes.

We love the title, and the cover. Can you tell us a bit about how those came to be?

I wanted the title to convey the connection between Hailey’s guilt over her brother’s accident and her desire to save the young man she knows will die in Vietnam. If the title “Atonement” hadn’t already been taken, that would have been my first choice. My publisher and I were brainstorming one-word titles that conveyed that relationship, and “Correlation” fit the bill.

Because the bicycle is a critical element of the story, we wanted the cover to include a girl and a bike. We fell in love with the beautiful colors of the cover when it was presented to us by Street Light Graphics. We also loved the unique positioning of the title.

You're an experienced writer and have another full-length novel under your belt as well as other published writings. What got you started as a writer?

Two things define a good book for me: it literally transports me to another time and place so thoroughly that I forget where I am, or its characters become so real to me, I’m bereft when the book ends because I can’t be “with” them anymore. Wanting to create that experience for others is what has always moved me to write.

As a result, my books tend to be very character-driven, and they are set in a time and/or place that I feel strongly about and want to share with the reader.

Interestingly, writing a book also transports me so that I lose track of time, and completing a book produces the same sense of loss regarding the characters. When you’ve literally spent months in intimate contact with characters, their thoughts, and their lives, it’s like having good friends move away!

What did you learn from writing your first novel that you carried forward into Correlation?

I have a tendency to want to skip transitions, those less than exciting but necessary statements that take you from “here” to “there,” so the reader doesn’t wonder “When did they get out of the car?” or “Is it still the same day?”

I also learned to put in more dialogue tags. When you’re writing, you know who said what, and it seems so obvious, even in a prolonged conversation. But that’s not always true from the reader’s point of view.

And finally, those cute little marks that help designate a change of scene within a chapter should not be left out. My first book simply had extra spaces between scenes, but that didn’t translate well for the Kindle reader.

How long did it take you to write the novel? Can you give us some insights into your approach?

Because I have a full-time job and can only write on evenings and weekends, completing the first draft took several months. The subsequent rewrites, which involved some major changes, took another year.

I am very much a seat-of-the-pants writer in that I have a basic idea of what’s going to happen, but I don’t use outlines or timelines and I’m not sure how a book will end. Character development is most important to me, and then I put the characters into a situation and let them take it where they will. The details develop as I write, like watching a movie in my head that’s pouring out of my fingers. And sometimes stories go in directions I never foresee.

What advice would you give to struggling writers or would-be writers?

Assuming you write because you love it and want to share your stories, and that you are willing to accept being less than rich and famous (although you wouldn’t mind if it happened), this is a wonderful time to be a writer. If breaking into the publishing business seems overwhelming, the ability to publish as an indie author is a fantastic opportunity.

Don’t assume, however, that you don’t need input from others to make your work the best it can be. Solicit feedback from people who will be honest with you, hire an editor, and make sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling contribute positively to the reputation of indie authors.

Finally, don’t be afraid to get that “bad” review. Five-star reviews are nice, but you’ll learn more from a thoughtful, well-written, less than stellar review that helps you grow as a writer.

Okay, let's get a bit more personal. Tell us five random things about you!

• I make a mean pasta fazool.
• I scream all the way down the hill when skiing.
• I’d love to live on the ocean, but I married a dyed-in-the-wool Vermonter.
• I’d choose fresh homemade bread over a bowl of ice cream any time.
• I envy writers whose works make me laugh out loud, like Stephen Kozeniewski (Braineater Jones).

Is Correlation the beginning of a series? Can you tell us what you're working on next?

Correlation is a stand-alone book, but I am writing a time travel series called Names in the Attic. I’ve also had several requests for a sequel to Found Days, my first novel, and am working on that, as well.

Thanks for talking with us. We're pleased to feature your book on KBoards!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity! It was fun!

Correlation is available now to download to your Kindle! And be sure to check out the Correlation blog tour celebrating the book's release - for interviews, reviews, and a chance to win SWAG from the book's publisher, Red Adept Publishing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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