Monday, January 21, 2013

An Interview with Belle Whittington

Belle Whittington, author of Cicada, will be moderating our "Magic, Dragons and Mermaids, Oh My!" panel at the festival.

Q: When did you decide to become a writer?

A: My first recollection of wanting to be a writer was when I was in the second grade, and our teacher, Mrs. Rambin, would have us lay our heads on our desks after lunch while she read us stories full of magic and imagination. Those stories she read to us stayed with me for days, and I couldn’t imagine anything better than being able to create such places of magic by writing.

Q: Who has been the biggest influence in your life, so far?

A: My parents were and are the biggest influence in my life.  I am who I am because of them.  I learned the art of daydreaming from my father and the love of good stories from my mother.

Q: Where did the idea for Cicada come from?

A: There’s not any one thing that inspired me to write Cicada. I find inspiration in everything around me, and there are a lot of cumulative memories of inspiration from over the years that all culminated in this YA Paranormal Sci-Fi trilogy.

Growing up in Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, afforded me summers full of adventure with my friends.  I call on those adventures and memories a great deal for my YA stories.  Cicada has a lot of the energy of those childhood adventures spun throughout.  One of them is something that actually happened to me when I was thirteen years old.  I was on one of my adventures in the woods with my dog, Dusty.  We made our way through the woods to a neighboring pasture and crawled through the barbed wire fence. 

When we got to the top of one of the rolling hills in the grassy field, I realized I was standing in the middle of a giant circle imprinted in the pasture grass.  No one had ever told me about crop circles at that time in my life, so I just thought it was an odd occurrence that there was a strange circle in the tall grass.   Now that circle is forever memorialized in a YA novel, Cicada!

Like most authors, I love listening to great music while writing.  There are so many talented musicians that inspire me while daydreaming and writing my stories.  I thought I'd share my inspiration play lists with your lovely readers. :-)
•    Cicada inspiration playlist
•    Firefly inspiration playlist
•    No. 3 inspiration playlist

Another thing I think readers might like to know is that I have a favorite song that fits the mood for each one of the books in the trilogy. Want to hear the unofficial theme song to each book? Here goes!
•    Cicada: The Resistance
•    Firefly: Cosmic Love
•    Third (title unreleased): Electric Feel

There’s even a song for Everett
And as an extra bonus, here’s a song for a very important character readers will meet in Firefly. His name is Ash. And I think readers will love to hate to love him. Here’s a song just for him …
Many of Horror:

I hope everyone will enjoy listening to the play lists while reading the books! And I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the play lists. :) And it must not go without saying many thanks to the awesome musicians whose songs have given me so much inspiration.  Thank you for sharing your magic.

Q: Is there one character that really sticks out as your favorite in Cicada?

A: This is actually a really good question to which I have an odd answer.  I related to all of my characters equally, actually.  I feel that each one of them has a small part of me in them, and I have a connection with each one of them.  For instance, when they hurt, I draw upon some memory of a time when I was under emotional stress or heartbroken.  When they are in love, I remember a time when I was thoroughly smitten with someone.  So, I’m sorry I cannot be more specific with my answer.

Q: How hard was it to write the sequel, Firefly?

A: While I enjoyed writing Firefly, I have to admit that it was a lot more difficult to write it than CicadaFirefly is much longer than Cicada and not only do the characters grow and become more complex, but there are also two knew characters readers will meet.  Both of them are dangerous, and one of them is extremely … well … he’s just plain hot! 
One of my biggest wishes is that when book bloggers read Firefly, they’ll discover that I did, indeed, take their comments and suggestions to heart while writing this book.  In other words, this book’s for those awesome bloggers and reviewers I’ve gotten to know over the past year-and-a-half.  I hope y’all won’t be disappointed! :)

Q: The cover is GORGEOUS!  Who designed it?

A: Thank you!  I’m quite smitten with it, too!  The same person who designed the cover of Cicada designed this cover.  And that person is my daughter LB Whittington.

Q: What do you hear from your readers?

A: Well, Firefly hasn’t been reviewed yet.  It has only been read by my beta readers and my editor.  Of course, I read half of it to my mother, so she knows a little of what the story is about.  When Firefly releases, it will be a complete surprise to everyone!

Q: Tell us about your experience on the road to indie-publishing.

A: I’ve always been indie-minded and a do-it-yourselfer, and I’ve always thought that if others could do it, I could, too! When the ability to indie publish my own books became a truly viable option, and Amazon made it easy and available, I jumped at the chance! I haven’t looked back, and I haven’t regretted it!
What have I learned about indie publishing during this past wild and wonderful year since I released Cicada? The most amazing and important thing is that I’ve met so many fabulous book bloggers and reviewers…people with whom I hope to remain in contact forever! Also, I’ve gotten to know readers who’ve reached out to me after reading Cicada. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
For authors interested in indie publishing, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned over the past year-and-a-half:
•    Hire a professional editor before you publish. I hired Novel Proofreading for Cicada, and I’m very glad that I did. I heard about Novel Proofreading on JA Konrath’s blog.  For Firefly, I hired Editorch and found the service to be terrific, too.
•    Hire someone to design your book cover. This is more important that one might think, because people really do judge a book by its cover. My daughter designed the covers for both Cicada and Firefly. Of course, if you are a Graphic Artist or are proficient in PhotoShop then give it a shot yourself!
•    Hire someone to create a book trailer for you, or if you are proficient enough create one yourself. Readers love book trailers! They are fun! My daughter created mine.
•    Hire a book designer. This is different than a person who designs your book cover. A book designer makes your manuscript look good in print and e-book form. Readers are very verbal when it comes to the appearance of the book they’ve purchased, and they want one that looks professional. I hired 52Novels, and I’m glad I did. They did an excellent job designing Cicada and Firefly, and they were a pleasure with which to work. I learned about 52Novels on JA Konrath’s blog. What else does a book designer do? They convert your designed manuscript into various types of files so that it can be uploaded to various websites for publication.
•    After you’ve accomplished those things, then it’s time to publish your book and get to work networking with all those lovely bloggers out there! That’s the really fun part!

Q: If you had to grab three things (and ONLY three things) from your house to evacuate due to a zombie invasion, what would they be?
•    Matches to start a fire.  Isn’t that how you can kill zombies?
•    Can of hairspray to create a torch with the matches
•    My cell phone

Q: What advice do you offer to someone who wants to write a book?

The best advice I have to give for aspiring authors is to read, read, read across the genres.  One never knows from where inspiration may come!  Then write, write, write like there’s no tomorrow!  Get the words out onto the page.  Don’t edit until you are done!  Then hire a good editor!


  1. Tabatha, thanks for having me over for a cappuccino and a chat! It's nice to get to know you and your readers. And I look forward to meeting everyone at the Book Festival on Feb. 2nd. :-)

  2. Thank you again for your time, Belle! Our readers look forward to meeting you!! :)
    ~Pam and Tabatha

  3. Hi, Pamela! I'm really looking forward to the festival and meeting all those lovely readers. <3