Welcome to YA Books Central's "Indie Superstars" column. This monthly event will spotlight the best and brightest of the indie community.
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This month, staff reviewer and assistant Indie Manager, Michelle Lynn, interviews Bianca Scardoni, author of The Marked series
Michelle Lynn: Inception mixes a lot of different paranormal tropes, getting a little crazy and exciting! Vampires, Shifters, Witches, and Angels, oh my! What was the biggest challenge in dealing with the expected aspects of each, without sending the story off in a million different directions?
Bianca Scardoni: It was definitely a challenge. The first draft of Inception was written from the perspective of Jemma’s older sister, Tessa. She was a stronger character, and while she knew all about the world she was born into and what her purpose was, I felt there was something missing. I wanted the reader to learn about this hidden world of Angels and Descendants right along with the main character. I wanted them to feel the fear and uncertainty just as she did and witness her evolution from a hesitant, teenage girl to one of the most powerful beings in the world. In order to that, I had to go back to the drawing board and start over with her younger sister, Jemma, who had no idea about her bloodlines or who she really was. Once I got that part right, I just kept my focus on her and reminded myself that this was Jemma’s story.
Michelle: I have to say it because I’m completely obsessed - Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This, to me, is the pinnacle of vampire writing. Inception has its differences, but also striking similarities with even some of the same terminology. Was this an inspiration for you?
Bianca: Of course. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my favorite shows growing up. You can’t say the words “vampire slayer” without thinking of Buffy. I wasn’t going to tiptoe around it or use a different term just for the sake of not using the words “vampire slayer”. So, I just went with it. I like to think of it as my little tribute to the OG Slayer.
Michelle: Vampires are huge right now. They’re basically the rock stars of the Amazon algorithms. Everything has been done. And then done again. The truly great books in the genre can bring a freshness while also catering to the avid fans who have specific expectations. I’ve seen what happens in reviews when a writer veers too far into the left lane in certain paranormal genres. How do you balance a freshness or new take with the certain aspects of vampire lore that are expected?
Bianca: Funny enough, when I finished Inception, I was told that vampire books were so over and that agents wouldn’t touch one with a ten-foot pole. I’m glad I didn’t know that beforehand or I may not have written the book at all, and I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me once I had written it or it may have never seen the light of day. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes you just need to block out all the noise around you and write the book you want to read.
Michelle: That ending! No spoilers, but I’m super angry with you! Can you give us a hint into what goes into crafting the perfect ending?
Bianca: I love the thrill of a cliffhanger and the rush back to Amazon to find the next book in the series. I want my readers to feel like they’ve been on a crazy, non-stop ride, and then, just when they think they have it all figured out, to yank the rug out from under them one last time. In a totally good way, of course ;)
Michelle: So, your cover. It’s completely gorgeous. I’m seriously fangirling over every aspect of it. Just incredible. Some people think covers are more important to sales than the actual writing. The writing may get a reader to the second book, but the cover may get them to one-click the first before they ever see the first page. Can you tell us about the design process for your covers and give some love to your designer?
Bianca: I had a very specific vision of what I wanted my cover to look like, along with an all-encompassing fear that I wouldn’t find the right designer to bring it to life. I decided to post a contest on 99designs.com. I liked the idea of being able to see a range of mockups from different designers, and since every designer has their own style and their own limitations, it was really about finding the designer that was perfect for me. Needless to say, Ana killed it.
Michelle: If there is one thing a reader can take away from your book, what do you hope it is?
Bianca: That no matter what’s thrown at Jemma or how many times she’s knocked off her feet, she always finds a way to get back up and keep going. She doesn’t always say the right things or make the right decisions, but she’s still in the game and she’s still trying and I think that’s all any of us can ever really do.
Michelle: Describe your favorite writing spot.
Bianca: I’m usually being stalked by a toddler and two clingy poodles. I’m lucky if I get a spot on my own bed to write.
Michelle: Panster or plotter? And why?
Bianca: Pantster. Because it’s the only way I’m able to finish writing a book from start to end. I tried being a plotter with my first novels and by the end of the outline phase, I felt as though I’d already written that story and got too bored with it to finish. I do write a very basic outline though, maybe a couple of sentences per chapter, but I don’t always stick to it. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. You just have to do what works for you.
Michelle: Confession time. I was a Twilight fan in college. Why don’t your vampires sparkle? <;
Bianca: I was a huge Twilight fan too, although I was totally team Jacob. And who said my vampires don’t sparkle? They sparkle on the inside ;)
Michelle: What advice would you give to anyone who is considering self-publishing?
Bianca: Do it. Deciding to self-publish was one of the best decisions I made and it completely changed my world for the better. Don’t shelf your book, and essentially your dream, because some self-appointed gatekeeper said no to you. If you believe in your story, then make it the best it can be and put it out there. Not only will you gain experience and empowerment from doing it, but you may even find some loyal readers who love your book as much as you do, and there’s nothing more special than that.
Michelle: When you aren’t writing, what’s your favorite thing to do?
Bianca: : If I’m not hanging out with my two-year-old son, I’m probably binge-watching Netflix. Although lately I’ve been obsessed with playing Friday the 13th on PlayStation. Um, don’t judge me if you haven’t played it.
Michelle: For those just starting this series, can you give us a hint into what’s next for Jemma and crew?
Bianca: Jemma is getting ready to face the biggest battle of her seventeen years of life. Not only is the boy she loves at stake, but the world as she knows it is on the line. It’s up to her as the Slayer, and the Daughter of Hades, to defeat Lucifer and make the world right again.
Michelle: What are you working on now?
Bianca: I’m working on Infernal, the final book of The Marked saga. I don’t have a release date for it, but I’m hoping to have it out by the end of summer (or early Fall at the latest.)
BIANCA SCARDONI is a paranormal fiction writer who resides on the East Coast of Canada with her family. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading, watching vampire shows, eating junk food, and staying up too late. For upcoming book releases, bonus material, and additional information on the author, please visit her website: www.biancascardoni.com
Signup to her mailing list to be the first to hear about new releases and bonus material: http://eepurl.com/bD4Ur9
Dark. Thrilling. Romantic.
My name is Jemma Blackburn and I have a secret. I know vampires are real. I watched one murder my father eight months ago, and even though they tried to convince me it didn’t happen—that I’d lost touch with reality due to the trauma, I know what I saw was real.
Hollow Hills is now the place I call home. It was supposed to be my chance at a normal life. My chance to bury my secret and start over. But everyone around me is keeping their own secrets, whispering lies into my ears like promises, and one of them is about to turn my entire world upside down.
I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had the answers. I thought I knew who I was. The truth is, I didn’t even know the half of it. There's a reason these vampires are still after me. There's a reason they will always hunt me. Because I'm not human.
I'm the devil they fear and the angel they crave.
Only problem is, I don't know it yet.
INCEPTION is the enthralling first installment in The Marked Saga. A coming of age YA paranormal romance full of atmosphere, supernatural adventure, and jaw-dropping twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Perfect for fans of Twilight, Vampire Diaries and Fallen Angel Romances.
Three winners will each receive a copy of Inception (The Marked book 1) (Bianca Scardoni) ~
(US + International)