Author Interview, Blog Tours and Giveaways, Book Reviews

The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt: Clue 13

Who can’t resist a good mystery? My mystery reading has been limited to Encyclopedia Brown when I was young, and now Agatha Christie, so when I signed up for an ARC of The Lost Girl of Astor Street, I was super excited.

This wasn’t an ordinary mystery. The story was set in 1920’s Chicago, a culture I was studying at the time (for the American History 2 CLEP test). I recognized things that I had learned, and at the same time, what was happening in the rest of the world was flying through my brain.

For the release, I am participating in a Clue Hunt. For details, visit Stephanie’s blog.

 

“It should concern you that Al Capone is our measuring stick.”

-Detective Cassano, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, by Stephanie Morrill

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From the back of the book:

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

I received a free copy of The Lost Girl of Astor Street via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 ~ Review ~

Characters: Good strong characters that I related to and enjoyed. I seriously loved Piper, who remained me of myself sometimes.

Plot: Fast paced and gripping, I read this book in two days, I just couldn’t put it down. I didn’t cry, but I came close to it once or twice.

Writing: The writing was beautiful. I loved it. I don’t know if melt is a good word, but it melted me. Stephanie has an amazing talent, and I hope we see more of Piper.

Bad Language: None

Inappropriate Content: A married man has a girlfriend; Piper goes to a speakeasy.

Over-all-rating: 5/5  I loved this book. Really, really loved it. Go buy yourself a copy of it here:

~ Interview ~

When did you first realize that you loved writing? I’ve wanted to be a writer since first grade. My elementary school encouraged writing time and we had freedom to write whatever kind of stories we desired. Then a parent volunteer would type our stories up for us, and we could pick the color for our cover and the binding. At the end we were supposed to illustrate it (I was awful) and then read it to the class. I loved it so much, and after that I always wanted to tell stories for a living.

When were you first published? My first book was Me, Just Different, which was the first in a contemporary YA series called The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt. It released in 2009, and then two more followed it. I have two other contemporary YA titles, the Ellie Sweet books, that came out in 2013. The Lost Girl of Astor Street is my first historical mystery.

Do you write by hand or on the computer? I write on the computer, unless I’m brainstorming. Then I find that nothing works as well as a notepad and pen.

Is your writing inspired by other authors? I’m sure every story I’ve ever enjoyed (or not enjoyed!) has found its way into my writing style in some sense, but there’s no one specific who I try to sound like.

Where did you first come up with the idea of The Lost Girl of Astor Street and what motivated and inspired you?  My initial idea for The Lost Girl of Astor Street came while I was putting away laundry, of all things. My mind was wandering (as it often does during chores), and I started thinking about different stories I like. I thought about Veronica Mars for a while, and then something triggered a thought about Downton Abbey, and I thought, “I wish there was something out there that was like Veronica Mars but in a Downton Abbey kind of setting. Oh, maybe I could do that!”

How long did it take you to write The Lost Girl of Astor Street?   After I spent about a month doing research, my first draft took me about three months. And then my edits seemed to take forever. I spent about a year trying to turn my lousy first draft into a book that I wanted to read. I had never written a historical or a mystery, so I had a lot to learn!

Do you have a favorite character? What is it that you like most about him/her?   It’s probably a bit silly to pick Piper as my favorite character, but I loved writing her. The way she saw the world was really interesting and enjoyable for me to write.

I just love author’s inspiration boards on Pinterest. Check out Stephanie’s here and here.

You can also find out more about Stephanie Morrill at her website, http://www.stephaniemorrill.com/

And if any on my lucky readers are near Gardner or Overland Park, Kansas, Stephanie will be there for book signings! 

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Clue 13: own

Links to the rest of the clues:

Clue 1: Stephanie’s Morrill’s Blog
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White

Author Interview

Interview of Serena Chase

Today, I am happy to interview my all time favorite author and friend Serena Chase, as a follow up to yesterday’s post, Names of E’veria- The Remedy.  Enjoy!

 
Where did you first come up with the idea of E’veria and what motivated and inspired you?

Serena: My eldest daughter was in Elementary school and wanted to read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Since it had been a long time since I’d read the book, I decided to pre-read it before giving her permission. When I finished (and gave her permission to read it) I thought, “I wonder if I could reinvent a fairy tale?”–and that’s where it began.

How long and how has your journey been from when you first had the idea?

Serena: It’s been a long journey! My eldest daughter, mentioned above? She’s a college freshman now! The Ryn started with that initial “reinvention” idea and turned into an epic (and epically messy!) first draft around a decade ago, but it wasn’t published until 3-½ years ago. A long road, but worth it.

Are any of the events from the books based on real life happenings?

Serena: Hmm… I wish! Sadly, no. Not that I’m aware of, at least.

Are any of the characters based on you and/or your family?

Serena: I think there is some Rynnaia in me, but there is also a lot of Erielle, some Cazien, maybe… a little Gerrias… but I think I most readily identify with Rowlen de Whittier–and I will never in a million years be as noble or serious as Julien. My older brother Tod is an awesome, gentle big brother, like Gerrias and Julien are to Erielle–minus the overbearing part!–and his wife Heather has shown Rynnaia’s compassion and understanding to me many times.

What music inspires to write and makes you think of Eachan Isle and E’veria?

Serena: I have a crazy number of playlists on Spotify with really diverse music, some labeled by the name of the writing project. When I’m writing, I usually listen to soundtracks from action, adventure, and fantasy films. But I listen–obsessively!–to my other, lyric-based playlists when I’m driving, cleaning house, etc. I pick songs that appeal to a character’s traits, heart, situation. Some are pop, some rock, some Christian, some far from it. When I was writing the scene at the fire bowl on Eachan Isle, when Erielle is first introduced to the Seahorse Pirates’ style of dancing, I listened to Calypso and island music with lots of marimba and steel drums. I smiled through that… a lot! If anyone wants to take a listen, I’m on Spotify as theauthorakaserenachase

How long did it take for you to write The Sunken Realm?

Serena: Sixteen months. It seems crazy to me now that I did it in that timespan. It seemed an eternity, because they were sixteen very difficult months, and the book is really two books, if going by size. So… wow. I basically wrote two books in sixteen months. Kind of bizarre.

Will there be any more books in the Eyes of E’veria series?

Serena: Right now, as far as epic-length novels… I’m going to say no. But I am leaving the door open to a next-generation Seahorse Pirates series someday. Not that they need me to leave the door open if they really want in, because… pirates. They’re a rather bold lot. *smirky wink* And I do hope to eventually write novellas for some favorite characters, like Kinley de Whittier, Gerrias de Gladiel, and, of course, Storyteller Rowlen de Whittier, who I’m sure all readers are curious to know more about after reading The Sunken Realm’s epilogue! Unfortunately, I have to put all-things-E’veria-and-Seahorse-Pirates on the back burner to work on other projects right now.

Do you have a favorite character? What is it that you like most about him/her?

Serena: Cazien. I just . . . can’t . . . even. Cazien.

Do you write by hand or type on a computer?

Serena: Computer.

Is your writing inspired by other authors?

Serena: If there is an author out there who would say “no” to that question, they’re a liar, in my opinion. My LIFE is inspired by other authors, so of course that inspiration filters into my work. Every now and then, you will find a subtle homage to an author or fictional character through a bit of dialogue or some other element of a scene. For those who love Shakespeare, you may find quite a few *subtle* parallels, especially in The Seahorse Legacy and The Sunken Realm. From the beginning, Erielle and Cazien have been very like Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) in my mind with some The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It thrown into their personalities and interactions, too.

Did any inspiration come from movies? I know that Killian Jones from Once Upon a Time reminds me of Cazien. Did Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean give you any inspiration for Cazien?

Serena: Hmmm… probably? But nothing I can put my finger on for main characters. One minor character in The Remedy, Taef, was inspired by Michael Keaton’s portrayal of “Dogberry” in Kenneth Branagh’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.
Cazien and the Seahorse Pirates were fully created in my head (and on the page in an as of yet unpublished prequel story to The Ryn–at least in first draft form) before OUAT even premiered, so although readers have noted similarities, Hook, as lively and lovely as he is, was not my inspiration. Cazien simply allowed me to transcribe as he dictated his own piratical personality. *winks* I will say that the Seahorse Pirate ideology is based on the legends and stories of Robin Hood, and I adore the late 80s Kevin Costner film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the Keira Knightley film Princess of Thieves, in which she plays an aging Robin Hood’s daughter.

I love action films–L.O.V.E–and I watched a LOT of them, especially those with sword combat, to try to get the tactics right for the Tournament of the Twelve in The Sunken Realm. I do enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean films (and those soundtracks! GAH!) but Will Turner played no part of my inspiration for Cazien. None. (But I agree he’s adorable–just not Caz.) Cazien developed, over time, from his first incarnation in an early draft of The Ryn… in which he was a bad guy–a true villain! I’m so glad he wouldn’t let me keep him that way!

Is there anything else you would like to say about this series?

Serena: I hope readers will give the Eyes of E’veria series a try… understanding that the first two books are a sweet, romantic, mostly PG adventure, but the second two books are rather snarky and violent–more PG-13 content. I’ve sometimes wondered if I should have made them two separate series, but… nah. Variety is the spice of life and all that. (There’s a little of that Caz-in-me, coming out!) Thanks for having me on your blog, Rebecca!