I’m so thrilled to have Daniel Marks on the blog today! Daniel is the author of the brand new YA fantasy Velveteen, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Also, check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post, because Daniel has offered up a signed copy of Velveteen to one very lucky winner, and trust me, you want this one!
Danny, you’re brand new young adult novel, Velveteen, comes out in a few days! Will you tell us a bit about it?
Let’s see if I can sum it up right quick: In the midst of a purgatory-shattering uprising, a soul-retriever must juggle her responsibilities to her team, her self, and the future victims of the man who killed her—not to mention a newly deceased (and very hot) boy’s fixation.
What made you decide to write a young adult novel?
I had the idea for a middle grade novel from the beginning—mind you, the beginning was only about eight years ago. I wrote a novella length treatment of a similar purgatory story featuring Luisa as the protagonist. After receiving the kind of feedback a writer loves to hear (gah, too depressing, too gruesome, way to old for the age group), I scrapped the then-titled THE TROUBLE WITH THE LIVING and wrote something really gruesome instead…for four years. After those other books (we shan’t speak of them here) tanked, I dusted off TROUBLE and gave it the protagonist it deserved and upped the age target. Voila!
Velveteen is definitely heavy on the creepy. What things seriously creep you out?
I’m creeped out by where my mind will go if I let it. I have a tendency to dwell, so just about anything can get me going. Throw-in the dark, and unfamiliar place, or a creaking floorboard and I can seriously trigger a panic attack.
Did you have any particular influences for Velveteen?
Back in 2007, I visited MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York while visiting my agent and editor. I should preface this by saying that I minored in art history and would have majored in it, if I’d had anything more than an admiration for the work (no interest in curation or sales). Anyway. They were hosting an exhibition of George Seurat’s charcoal sketches. Primarily known for his unassuming pointalism—think Le Grande Jatte—his drawings were a completely different monster. Grim, often brooding portraits of performers, drunks, awash in a beautiful grayscale. I really think that’s where VELVETEEN’s Purgatory was born.
Any recent YA faves?
Ooh. So many. I love A.S. King’s PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, so strange and beautiful and really gut-wrenching. Dia Reeve’s BLEEDING VIOLET was a revelation in how weird YA could be and I loved it. There are so many layers in that book, I don’t think people realize. BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray was pretty fantastic and hilarious and had some really interesting things to say about feminism and consumerism. I devoured it.
What are you reading now?
It’s October, so I’m getting in touch with my horror roots and reading John Hornor Jacob’s soon to be classic zombiethon THIS DARK EARTH. It’s pretty fantastic. If that weren’t enough, I’m on book 3 of THE WALKING DEAD. But I only read that at bedtime. It’s important to pad the dreams with a little rot.
What do you like to see in a good book?
Great consistent characters. They don’t have to be likeable, just real. I’m perfectly happy to follow a jerk all the way to hell if they are written well. (see Chuck Wendig’s BLACKBIRDS)
What makes you want to set aside a book in frustration?
If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
THE STAND. I’d love to know if it would enthrall me now as it did when I was a teen. Interestingly, I had never read a book twice until this year, when I reread PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi. Brilliant stuff.
When you’re not writing, and manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Cooking and hiking. Actually, if I’m being honest, I spend more time cooking and hiking than I do writing anyway. I love nothing more than cooking, I could spend all day in the kitchen and was this close (you can’t see me but my fingers are very close to touching) to entering culinary school to pursue a career as a chef. The thing about cooking and hiking, they lend themselves to writing because I plot in my head rather than on paper so solitary activities work for me.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
None. I feel very little guilt. It’s an only child thing. But if I did, it’d be around drinking Starbucks so much. I’m from the Seattle area and we are NOTORIOUS coffee snobs, and while I agree that Starbucks is shit coffee and they roast their beans at crematorium levels, I still drink it. ::waits for the coffee Gestapo to haul him away::
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’d just love for everyone to get out there and pick up a coffee of Velveteen for your favorite YA reader—or your least favorite, for that matter. I’m hoping to write a couple of more books set in Velvet’s world, but that’s not where my editor and I are headed currently. The next book is most definitely something very different. All horror. All. The. Time. Prepare yourselves.
Keep up with Daniel: Website | Twitter
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