Today I have an interview with awesome debut author Anastasia Hopcus. I loved reading Shadow Hills, and it's become one of my favourite debuts of 2010. The book releases tomorrow in the US, so be sure to rush out and buy it! You can read my review if you want to find out what I loved about the book.
Shadow Hills is a wonderful debut, and one I really enjoyed reading. How has your life changed since the book sold, and how did you celebrate when you heard you were going to be published?
My life has changed so much! I got my own place, so I'm now a homeowner, which I've been wanting to do for a while, and that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. I got exposed to the whole book blogging community, which I think is not only awesome for us authors as a way to get word out, but which I also enjoy because of the friendships I've formed with other people who love YA books. Getting recommendations is great, too, and many of the bloggers have even been so sweet as to send me ARCs that I'm interested in. I bought a new mini laptop, which is really nice because for years I just used my mom's computer, which I'm sure she's glad to have all to herself again.. ;)
When I heard Egmont wanted my book, my boyfriend went out and bought us a bottle of champagne--he's the best.
Shadow Hills is a complex tale with aspects of Greek mythology and science involved, and these elements were really well researched. What kind of research did you do for this, and how long did the research process take?I did a ton, and I actually was doing it throughout the entire writing process. The more I researched, the more the mythology developed and led to more research. It was kind of like following a thread that just keeps leading to new places. I bought about ten books on Hekate and ancient Greek religions. I also got a PBS video about plagues that tied in with the epidemic in Shadow Hills. I did a lot of online research into the scientific aspects. While it was interesting, it was pretty hard to understand. I also read a lot of blogs about pretty strange New Age theories. I just kept refining it until it all made sense and worked together.
I read the first chapter of Shadow Hills on your blog months ago, and instantly wanted to read the rest of the book. I’ve also noticed that Shadow Hills has gained a lot of positive reviews amongst bloggers. How important a part do you think bloggers play these days regarding book promotion?
I think that they're very important. The collaborations and friendships that I’ve made with bloggers have been invaluable. For instance---one of the bloggers, Vania, is also an extremely talented photographer. After she read Shadow Hills I hired her to do a photo shoot based on my book. It was really important to me that the trailer be indicative of the tone and subject matter of Shadow Hills, and after talking to her about my book, I could just tell she 'got' it. Having someone who loved the story made it better than anything I could have gotten from a big company working with stock photos and a paragraph-long blurb. I never would have known Vania had I not been on Twitter interacting with bloggers and other authors. It was actually Kami Garcia who recommended her.
The YA book blogging community has been extraordinarily supportive of Shadow Hills. They really make the job of promoting my book a million times easier. In fact, Emilee, from Penultimate Page, one of the first bloggers I met in person back in October of 2009, is working with another blogger, Anna at booknerds.net---who is also a web designer---to set up the street team for Shadow Hills. Anna is even designing a street team site. They're both awesome; I got to hang out with them quite a bit at BEA. Not only are they really helpful and responsible; they're just great people to be friends with.
Phe is a huge music fan, and I enjoyed finding out about the bands that soundtracked her life in Shadow Hills. If there is one song you could pick as your Shadow Hills theme tune - one that reminds you of the book or the characters - what would it be?
I think it would have to be 'Wonderlust King' by Gogol Bordello. Not only is it the first song that Phe and Zach talk about together, but I think it also fits both characters. Phe first comes to Shadow Hills because she's running from the problems in her life, and Zach is attracted to Phe partly because she's so different and new and everything in his life is so much the same---little town, planned out---and he would like to escape and be more free like she is.
Movie cast time! I know from reading your blog that you’re a huge movie fan, and I love to cast characters from books. In Shadow Hills, it’s implied that Zach is hotter than Chace Crawford, who is pretty damn hot! So, who would you cast as your ideal Zach? Did you have anyone in mind when you were writing him?
There were about five certain features that I really pictured Zach with: 1. high cheekbones that turn pink whenever he gets shy; 2. a sweet but mischievous smile; 3. lots of dark unruly hair plus dark lashes and strong eyebrows; 4. a warm low, slightly rough voice; 5. and, of course, those pale eyes that you can't quite grasp the color of but you can see the kindness in them. (My boyfriend of over four years has light blue eyes with some green and yellow mixed in and I just think that indefinable color is gorgeous.)
Outside of all that, I didn't have a particular actor in mind at the time. Of course, as soon as I finished the book, I started seeing possible 'Zachs' in tons of movies. Over time, though, I've really decided my two favorites are Logan Lerman and Aaron Johnson. If you look at these two pictures, I think you can see that quality of Zach-ness. They're hot but not in a conceited male model way; they both look nice and fun and the teensiest bit shy.
What prompted you to start writing? Are there any particular authors or books you’ve read that inspired you to write?I've always loved to read, and whenever I read a really good book, it makes me want to write something of my own. But it was probably my favorite TV shows, like Buffy and Supernatural, that influenced me to write paranormal for teens.
Can you recommend a great book that you think everybody should read and also let me know what you're reading at the moment?
It's hard for me to choose because I love so many books, but probably my favorites that I've read recently are Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready, Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell, and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I got the ARC of Beautiful Darkness at BEA, and I can't wait read it. I've taken a peek at it, but I'm trying not to get into it until after my book comes out on the thirteenth.
What are you working on next? Can you confirm a Shadow Hills book #2 yet, and give me any scoop on what direction the story might take in the next installment?
I'd really like to, but I don't have anything official to announce. However... I think a sequel, if it happens, will go further into exploring Phe's own growing powers, as well as expanding on her connection to Shadow Hills, and I think we'll see all the characters evolve some---though the changes in Adriana will probably be the most noticeable. There are also some issues that lie ahead for Phe and Zach. As you can tell, I've definitely been thinking about this and developing some ideas, but all of it is still hypothetical ;)
-----Thanks so much to Anastasia for taking the time to answer my questions. The interview was a lot of fun, and I particularly liked finding out about movie-cast Zach, and the possibility of Shadow Hills book #2 which I really hope will happen! Wish you all the best of luck with your book launch tomorrow, Anastasia. :)
If you'd like to find out more about Shadow Hills and it's author, check out these links:
Anastasia has kindly donated some Shadow Hills swag which ONE lucky winner will get to enjoy. You can expect to find signed Shadow Hills bookmarks, magnets and buttons in your swag pack! In order to gain entry into this competition, all you have to do is leave a comment on the interview. If you want to leave a comment, but don't want to be entered to win the swag, just say! :) Competition is international and ends July 17th 2010.