Author Chat with Akemi Dawn Bowman (Harley In The Sky), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Akemi Dawn Bowman author of
Harley In The Sky.
Read on for more about Akemi and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Akemi Dawn Bowman!
Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish, Summer Bird Blue and the new release Harley in the Sky. She is also a Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in Scotland with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix. http://www.akemidawnbowman.com
Meet Harley In The Sky!
After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.
Amazon * B & N * Indiebound
~ Author Chat ~
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I am a big believer in people being as open as they’re able when it comes to talking about mental health. I think the way to break stigmas is to share our experiences, and normalize how we’re feeling. I also believe mental health isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Labels exist mainly for two reasons: the first being so that we as individuals can understand what we’re going through, and the second being so that either ourselves or a mental health professional can help us towards coping, healing, and/or treatment. But the reality is that there are many, many people in the world who don’t have the access, ability, or desire to get a professional diagnosis. Maybe they can’t afford it, maybe their families don’t support them, or maybe there are very personal reasons for being unable to see a therapist. At the end of the day, having a formal diagnosis is a privilege many people don’t have.
I wrote Harley’s story because I wanted to show that just because some people don’t have a label, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still struggling with their mental health. And just because they’re struggling doesn’t mean they have to get a diagnosis. Because everyone is different, and if we want to get rid of stigmas surrounding mental health, we need to let people talk about it in whatever capacity they experience. I want people to know there’s still room for them at the table to talk about what they’re going through. That nobody should be pushing them out of a discussion because they haven’t been formally diagnosed, or because they’ve come up with their own ways of coping. I also want people to know that therapy and treatment can be incredibly helpful and even life-saving for many, and that it’s often up to the individual what’s right for them.
I know that seems like quite a heavy answer to the question, and I guess in a lot of ways it is heavy (and personal) to me. But I also wanted this story to be about finding magic and hope even in the darkness, so I filled it with something that brings me a ton of joy: the circus. And I think at its core, that’s where the inspiration came from—the mix of dark with light, and how people deal with them in different and individual ways.
- Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love Harley because she tries so hard, even when she’s messing up terribly. Some people might only see her as selfish, but I see someone who is struggling to find a balance between what’s right for her and what’s right for other people. Because it’s not always black and white. And I have a HUGE soft spot for Vas!
- Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel, definitely. I knew what I wanted this story to be long before I knew what to call it. I had the idea of using “Red Panda” somewhere in the title (for anyone who’s read the book, you’ll know why!), but I couldn’t find the right phrase to make it work. I also worried about trapping myself into a theme of animal names, since STARFISH and SUMMER BIRD BLUE were my previous novels. And then sometime when I was writing one of Harley and Vas’s scenes, the title for HARLEY IN THE SKY just came to me, and I knew it was perfect. Luckily, my editor and the team at Simon Pulse agreed!
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the yellows and golds, and the incredible typography. But what I absolutely fell in love with was the big top on the back of the cover. It’s so whimsical, and it has these cute stars and moons on the flags that set it apart from a standard circus tent. I’m obsessed with it. I was also thrilled to find out there are some really cool foil elements on the cover, which is so much fun!
- What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2020?
SO MANY. I was very lucky to read early copies of DON’T READ THE COMMENTS by Eric Smith, ALL THE STARS AND TEETH by Adalyn Grace, I’LL BE THE ONE by Lyla Lee, and WE ARE NOT FREE by Traci Chee. They’re all stand-out novels, and I can’t wait for readers to jump into these stories and see why I love them so much. As for ones I’m looking forward to and haven’t actually read yet, definitely FOREST OF SOULS by Lori M. Lee and WHERE DREAMS DESCEND by Janella Angeles.
- What was your favorite book in 2019?
THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon. It was such an incredible novel, and a total masterclass in worldbuilding. All I knew going into it was that it was about dragon riders, and by the first page I was hooked. It blew my mind how good it was!
- What’s up next for you?
I’m currently nearing the end of edits on the first book in my sci-fi series called THE INFIINTY COURTS. It’s about a girl who dies and wakes up in the afterlife, only to discover it’s been taken over by an artificial intelligence that’s posing as a queen. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s basically the fantasy/sci-fi mash-up of my heart.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Revising, 100%. For me personally, drafting is only fun for the first 10,000 words, and then it gets very hard, very quickly. It feels great when a book is finished, but getting there is WORK. Revising on the other hand is where I have the most fun. It’s like doing all the decorating in a house—it’s the finishing touches rather than ripping up floors and walls. It’s also a chance to fix all my mistakes, and really refine what the heart of the story actually is, because sometimes it’s hard to tell in a first or second draft.
- What would you say is your superpower?
I think my superpower is this weird mix of stubbornness and determination. Once I set my mind towards a goal, I don’t quit. It’s like a bit of static that gets in my head, and I just can’t shut it off. I’m the kind of person who could easily sit down in the morning to work on a manuscript, and suddenly it’s 7pm and I’ve forgotten to eat anything since breakfast. (Though, I have small kids now, so my priorities have shifted quite a bit on this front!) But I have this ability to hyper-focus and tune everything else out, and it really works in my favor when it comes to writing. It also isn’t always a good thing, since I’m often forgetting to take breaks. It’s also really hard when it comes to playing a video game, because I have this itch to play for hours and hours and complete every task as quickly as possible. I’m sure lots of people don’t consider this healthy, which is why I have to create strict rules for myself to keep my superpower from getting out of hand!
Harley In The Sky
By: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Release Date: March 10th, 2020
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Three winners will each receive a copy of Harley In The Sky (Akemi Dawn Bowman) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
The cover is so bright and exciting! Stories about circuses have often piqued my interest, and I wonder how the author handles the discussions about school and running away to pursue one's dreams.