Friday, December 20, 2013

Featured Author: Sarah J. Pepper Author of Death of the Mad Hatter

Interview with Sarah J Pepper

I specialize in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn't only filled with hugs, kisses, unicorns, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn't always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn't mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit? 
I had the amazing pleasure of working with Sarah Pepper on quite a few occasions throughout her journey that lead up to her publication date for Death of the Mad Hatter. Her writing is exquisite  detailed and so beyond creative. I love her work, and cannot wait to work with her again!!!!

Can you describe Death of the Mad Hatter in 20 words? A confusion of love/hate words jumbled together in a maddening way that come together to form Wonderland. 

How did you come up with the idea for Death of the Mad Hatter?

Josh Wilcoxon of Wilcoxon Photography has a few twisted fairy tale pics that he does out of his passion for photography. He and a colleague were both Alice in Wonderland fans, so they snapped away. I stumbled onto the pictures and fell in love. Here’s the pics from the TRIAL shoot.

Without giving away any spoilers, for those who have not read Death of the Mad Hatter, what was your favorite scene to write? 

Favorite non-spoiler scene…hmmmm I suppose that would have to be a cluster of scenes between Alice Mae and Ryley: here’s one before they get too intense!! 
“Chez wouldn’t get out of the oven, and my aunts were trying to bake sweets,” Alice held her finger along the wall, tracing the brick line as we walked down the hall to the freshman hall. 
“Who’s Chez?” I asked, walking alongside her.
“A spy. He doubles as an annoying, super-villain feline. It would seem that making sure I received a tardy slip on week two was on that cat’s top priority list.”
There were far too many oddities about her comment. “Why was there a cat in your oven?”
“He was curious.”
“Is this cat real or is he a figment of your imagination?”
That earned me a slap across the face. 
Describe a typical day when you are writing. Do you have any pre-writing rituals?

Well, I have to get through my 4 year old puppy (Max) before I can reach my computer. He is quite an attention hog, so after a few pets or a run he’s usual good. Then there is my cat (Nelly) who hate everything, me included. But I love her anyway (because I think it annoys her) and then I usual have to get in some kind of a work out to clear my head. So by the time I finally sit down to my computer, I’m covered in puppy slobber, a few scratches from my cat, sweat clinging to me, and (Godwilling) an entire pot of coffee.  Then, I take a breath, talk myself out of getting on Facebook or checking email because that can derail a writing day by 4 hours, and open up Word. I get about six words into my “well-thought-out premise” when my characters hijack my story and make up a series of messes that I have to somehow clean up. So you might be wondering if I have any idea of who kills who or what happens next? No, I am clueless. Pesky imaginary friends…

Do you have any plans for a book signing event?
Yes! I’ll be one of the authors at Sweet as a Peach in GA on April 5th and Penned Con in St. Louis on September 12/13

This book was amazing!! Are you working on a sequel? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Honestly, I wasn’t planning on writing more until my beta readers/advanced readers “insisted profusely” that I continue with Alice Mae’s story. So, I guess I have to fall down the rumperbabbit hole again and see if I can get my hands dirty. 

What came first, the characters or the concept for the story? 
Characters. Always characters. I focus more on character development than the actual premise. I truly believe everyone has a story to tell, even my imaginary friends. So I just poke them a little, make them show more of their true nature and let the chips fall where they may. I have no problem deleting entire chapters after I finish the story to make it flow faster or explain on others. But, I need the reader to believe in my characters if they are going to give my story half a chance…hope that makes sense.

If  Death of the Mad Hatter became a movie, who would your dream cast be?
If Death of the Mad Hatter became a story, you’d have to revive me out of my shocked-induced coma first!!! That would be my dream for this to be more than it is. Anyways, dream cast… hmmmm. *hold your horses, let me Goggle some actors/actresses*  (45 minutes later) okay. Sorry about that. I got stuck drooling over Chris Hemsworth—which totally made me rethink Ryley’s character… but alas, it can’t be him…. So here’s my cast. Alice Mae: a blonde Emma Stone Ryley: Paul Wesley. Queen of Hearts: Charlize Theron. Jack of Diamonds: Michael Gambon. The Joker: the late Heath Ledger. M.H: Johnny Depp. 

Do you have a favorite author? Oh, I used to then I tripped and fell into Barnes & Noble and found like a billion more!! I am partial to the Sookie Stackhouse Series (two words: Eric-effing-Northman!) But I guess I’d say that Kate Lauren probably influenced me the most. I read Fallen and thought to myself, “Self, I want to write like her.” That single book changed my writing style forever. 

What are your favorite top 3 books that you would recommend? Ummm, well since I already mentioned Fallen and the Eric Northman Series (and probably shouldn’t scream out every single one of my books) I’d have to say: Tale of Two Cities made me fall in love with foreshadowing.  The Time Traveler’s Wife—love this book for secret reasons (no my hubby isn’t a time-traveler) and the Animorphs. I might have been the only girl in SD to read that series but it truly let my imagination run rampant. 

What book, if any, are you reading now? I just finished The Immortal Circus (GREAT READ BTW) and was able to chat with the author. Good fellow!

Do you prefer to read traditional books or e-books? I like both and find the different types to be beneficial, but I’ll always love holding a book and smelling the pages more than anything else. 

If you could work with any author, who would it be? Lol, J.K. Rowling—I’d get her to share her secrets!

What inspired you to start writing? I have no business writing novels. Yep, that’s me. I grew up in the middle of nowhere South Dakota, where the nearest Walmart was an hour drive and I was thrilled to have dialup on my computer. English was never my subject; in fact, my spelling mimics someone with alphabetical turrets and my grammar is well, lacking for lack of a better word. So how did I end up with ten novels? Well, that is a long story, but here is the shortened version: My idea of writing didn’t start until a dear friend forced me to watch Twilight with her. Sparkling vamps? Give me a break. But I humored her, thinking that any night I had an excuse to shove popcorn down my throat was a good night. Within three days following the movie I finished the first two books. Soon after I found a few different authors specializing in the sci-fi/fantasy realm and read their works. Days turned into months about as quickly as I turned each page in the books I finished. Soon I had a dilemma. My favorite authors weren’t coming out with their newest works for another several months. A light bulb went off in my head…

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Metaphorically wrap yourself in bubble wrap. You’re going to get bad reviews, fall on your face, lose entire novels to a crashed computer, and you’ll hear “NO” more times from publishers/agents than you can count. So be prepared and really figure out your reason for writing because you’ll need to revisit it a lot. Oh! And make a happy folder!

Do you have any tattoos or piercings? I write dark twisted novels with a hint of sparkling magic… what do you think? ;)

Do you have any fears? Death. Positively terrified of it. (Religious beliefs aside for a moment. And yes, I’m a believer but…) What happens if there is nothing, squat, dirt and worms after you croak? And then, if there is a big man upstairs and you didn’t really impress him that much with your Rightdoings and end up downstairs with his arch-nemesis, what hell that will be. Literally. That and spiders. Them damn things give me the heebie-jeebies!! 

What do you do for fun, besides writing? I’m an adrenaline junkie!!! Love me some fun. I made a bucket list back when I was in college—so a million years ago for those who want to know my age. I had a pet dinosaur : ) If it’s sky diving, bull riding, speeding on my bike, hiking in the Rockies, playing with jelly fish, or seeing what other trouble I can get into, I’m doing it or done it…. AND I have the bad back to prove it. But injuries aside, I regret none of it.  

Do you have any vices? Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

What was the last thing you googled? Chris Hemsworth…he’s my screen saver now, lol

If you could describe yourself in 5 words what would they be? (mind blank) I asked my husband and he said, “Crazy Bitch.” Gosh, I love him!!!! 

What is your biggest pet peeve? 
WHEN GIRLS SAY “I’M NOT PRETTY” AS THEY APPLY LIP GLOSS IN THE MIRROR, ADJUST THEIR HIGH-HEELD SHOES AND TIGHTEN THEIR SIZE SMALL BELT! I fight the urge to back hand them with a phone book… omg. Maybe this one shouldn’t be published! I sound like a crazy person.  (maybe my hubs was right in the 5 words to describe me) Okay, I just hate it when people aren’t real with themselves. You are who you are and most of the time that isn’t going to change. You can’t change the exterior but the interior can have a complete makeover. So if you aren’t happy with yourself do something to change it. 

Be sure to check out my review of Death of the Mad Hatter HERE