Thank you Belle once again for taking the time to be a part of this interview! I truly appreciate your request for my review of your debut novel, Cicada. It’s quite an accomplishment and I know you must be overjoyed!
Many authors find the writing process to be such a roller coaster ride of joy and frustration. What was the process of writing Cicada like for you?
Writing Cicada was actually an easy ride. I don’t recall any frustration while writing, because the story just lent itself to me, and the characters led the way. I merely recorded on paper what I saw play out in my imagination. Now, the editing process…well there’s a story of headaches and frustration…
I’m going to be completely honest with you, cicadas creep me out! (Any bug does for that matter!) Why did you choose these creeptastic creatures for your book?
First off, let me just say that I love the word “creeptastic”! May I borrow that from you for future use? (Hahaha sure thing!)
Actually, in East Texas, cicadas are called locusts…even though they aren’t locusts at all. I guess I’ve always been enamored by those little bugs. Their buzzing sounds take me back to summer vacation, when school let out and we played outside all day long in the woods. They remind me of happy, carefree times when the worlds seemed full of endless possibilities and life seemed simple.
As to why I chose the analogy of the cicada for my book…hmmm…how do I say this without giving away spoilers? Let’s just say that there aren’t really any “bug” cicadas in Cicada. There is, however, an underlying parallel of sorts.
There’s definitely a paranormal/sci-fi theme in Cicada. What made you decide to write for this genre? How much research did you have to put in to making this story a success?
I’ve always had great affection for sci-fi, so it sort of just came natural to write within that genre. In fact, many of the stories I wrote as a child and teen were sci-fi. But paranormal fiction whispers magic to me, and it just feels right to include it in my stories. Paranormal fiction gives readers (and writers) the chance to escape from the norm and enter into a world that is not quite possible for mortals to enter. And that is why I love it so much.
I am a research junkie, so I enjoyed the research that I did about cicadas (even though there are none in the book). I also enjoyed the research I did on a mysterious little village called Cândido Godói, Brazil for this novel. Readers can expect to see lots more of that village in the sequels.
Living in the northeast just outside of big cities I don’t frequent ranches too often. In Cicada, Blair’s grandparents own a ranch and are having experiences with crop circles. Ever experienced anything extraterrestrial like that yourself?
Yes, actually I had one such experience when I was 13 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!
I have a soft spot for nerdy guys in books, so I took to Everett the “bug boy” right away. Who was your favorite character to write?
I do, too! Oh, yes. Everyone seems to really love Everett!
Hmm… Who was my favorite character to write… Believe it or not that is a very difficult question to answer. Each one of my characters is so dear to me. Each one of them has a very important future ahead of them in the sequels. Each one of them is an important piece of the puzzle.
But as I was writing the very end of Cicada, it was Everett who broke my heart the most. So I guess that, in the end, he was my favorite one to love. But it was Blair who was my favorite to write. And I can’t wait for readers to see what her future holds!
The relationships in this book are so sweet! I especially enjoyed the closeness between Blair and her brother Andrew. Was that inspired by any sibling bonds you have yourself? For that matter, are there any personal touches of your own life that snuck into Cicada?
I’m so glad the friendship and love between the characters translated off the page as you were reading! I love the bond between Blair and Andrew. And, yes, I was definitely inspired by some of my own experiences of growing up as the youngest in the family. Andrew has a lot of my brother, John’s, qualities. And, believe it or not, he’s got some of my sister in him, too! (but don’t tell her I said that!)
There’s a lot of the energy of my youth in Cicada. My friends and I had lots of adventures in the woods and pastures of East Texas. And there’s one very special person in Cicada. My Daddy. Grandpa is based on him.
When reading any book I love to picture the story as if it’s a movie in my head. If you could cast anyone to play your main characters, who would they be?
That’s a great way to enjoy a book! And this is a fun question to answer! Before I begin with my list, let me just say that I didn’t necessarily have these actors in mind as the characters unfolded. These actors just seem to loosely fit the actual characters in Cicada… drum roll…..
* Blair: Amanda Seyfried
* Andrew: Zac Efron (I love him!)
* David: Kellen Lutz
* Natalie: Lucy Hale
* Everett: Carter Jenkins
The ending of Cicada definitely left a lot of open doors for the sequel. What can we expect in the future for Blair and her friends? I’m anxious to see what’s going to happen next to poor Everett!
This is a tough one to answer without giving spoilers. Yes, I did leave open a lot of doors at the end of Cicada. Sorry about that! There just wasn’t any way around it. However, I think readers will really like the sequel, Firefly, because by the end of the book, a lot of questions will be answered. And I will say this…I have actually written the end of Firefly, and even I was shocked at how it ended!
Oh, Everett…what can I say? He becomes even more important as the story continues…
Lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I know this sounds cliché, but my advice for aspiring authors is to read, read, read! Read lots of different kinds of literature! You never know from where your inspiration will spring! Then write, write, write! Oh! And listen to great music, too! But above all--learn to people-watch! That’s where you’ll find inspiration for your characters!