Title: Extraordinary October
Author: Diana Wagman
Published by: Ig Publishing
Publication date: October 11th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
October is an ordinary girl. From her plain looks to her average grades, there seems to be nothing special about her. Then, three days before her eighteenth birthday, she develops a strange itch that won’t go away, and her life is turned upside down. Suddenly, she can hear dogs talk, make crows fly, and two new and very handsome boys at school are vying for her affections. After she starts “transplanting” herself through solid rock, October learns that she is not ordinary at all, but the daughter of a troll princess and a fairy prince, and a pawn in a deadly war between the trolls and the fairies. Now October will have to use all of her growing powers to save her family, and stop a mysterious evil that threatens to destroy the fairy world.
In the fantastical vein of authors such as Julie Kagawa and Holly Black, Extraordinary October takes us on a magical journey from the streets of Los Angeles to the beautiful and mythical underground fairy kingdom.
Hi Lisa! Thanks for inviting me to your wonderful blog. I’ll do my best to come up with answers to your questions, but I might wander off on a tangent… That’s what I always did with assignment prompts at school.
1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, note cards, post-it notes, etc.?
I never know the whole story when I start. I know the beginning and I always know the very end, but what happens in between is a mystery. For me, the fun of writing is allowing myself to go wherever the story takes me. It’s not the most efficient way to write – I end up doing a lot of rewriting and reordering and reworking and I throw a lot of stuff away – but it means I’m always excited to get back to the story and find out what’s going to happen next.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
I’m a very visual person so it’s almost always a vision I have or a real person I see that I then begin to wonder about. With Extraordinary October my daughter had the idea. Then I started thinking about high school and I remembered this incredibly embarrassing time when I broke out in poison ivy – all over my body – and itched like crazy! Then I knew where to begin.
3. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I knew how. When I was seven, I sat under my desk – why under? I have no idea! – and wrote my first story about a penguin lost on an iceberg. I didn’t think then I would be a writer, it was just something I loved to do. It wasn’t until college that I realized people (meaning me) could be writers.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Practice, practice, practice. Don’t worry about writing a perfect story. Musicians have to practice for years before they can perform. Basketball players too. Practice by writing about the weather, the sky, making up stories about your friends (don’t show it to them) or a funny thing that happened at school. If you’re warmed up you’ll be ready to write when inspiration strikes.
5. How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are so important. I can’t start writing until I know all the characters names. I see a picture of a character in my mind and then I think, “Her name would start with an “S” and be pretty, lyrical, multi-syllable.” Then I go to my baby-naming book or I look online at a baby name site. I try to stay away from the most popular names. So I’ll look down the list and see Sabina, Savannah, Suzanna and I’ll keep looking until I find one. With my new character, October Fetterhoff, her name came easily. That would be a hard name to have. Pretty, but weird and too many Halloween references. Non-human parents would name a child that because they don’t know about Halloween and all the connotations that name might bring. To October’s parents it was just a pretty word, and the month they met.
6. Since your book contains some fairy tale types of creatures, what is your favorite fairy tale? Favorite mystical creatures?
My favorite fairy tale is my the Brothers Grimm and called The Six Swans. A witch turns six brothers into swans and their sister must first stay silent for seven years and second, sew them each a shirt out of nettles. Bad things happen and she is about to be burned at the stake exactly as she finishes the shirts (all except one sleeve) and the seven years are up. It’s very dark.
My favorite mystical creatures are always ones that aren’t what they seem. For example, I’m fascinated by werewolves that only appear at the full moon. Or the witch that lives down the street and looks like any old lady. Or Ron Weasley’s rat, Scabbers, who is really Peter Pettigrew.
In Extraordinary October it’s hard to tell the magical creatures from the normal: the homeless man yelling and gesturing is really a gnome chasing away sprites; the businesswoman who looks like she’s talking on her phone is really talking to the goblin on her shoulder; the ultra tall and thin models are actually fairies.
Favorite book: Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. So sad and so beautiful while exploring a woman’s personal freedom. I love all kinds of books, but I read this one over and over again.
Favorite Magical Book: Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt. Written at the turn of the 19th century, five siblings find a Psammead (magical creature, see social media below) that grants wishes.
Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. I watch it every time it’s on television. I love romantic comedies. Notting Hill, Sleepless in Seattle, Serendipity, etc. Embarrassing, but true!
Favorite television show: I like Silicon Valley. Go Nerds, Go! And I watch Lucifer. Love those magical creatures that aren’t as they seem.
Favorite music: I am such a nerd musically. I usually listen to classical music – especially Mozart and Chopin piano sonatas. But I don’t listen to music while I write. I need it quiet. My brain can’t process too many things at once.
Favorite food: While I write or any time, I can’t get enough popcorn. I can eat it every day. Bad day? Popcorn. Something to celebrate? Popcorn. Hungry? Popcorn. I have an electric popper that sits on my kitchen counter at all times, waiting and ready!
Favorite social media: I go to Twitter. I don’t often post, but the eclectic people I follow always post the most interesting things.
As a lead up to the book’s launch, I’ve been posting on Facebook an alphabetical “magical creature a day.” That’s been really fun. I’ve had to read about creatures I’ve never heard of and then find a picture. It was very difficult to find a magical being for the letter “J.”
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