Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Marie Landry: Author Interview & International Giveaway [Blue Sky Days blog tour Day 2] [Giveaway ended]

The more observant of you may have noticed that yesterday I posted a review of Marie Landry's Blue Sky Days, with a promise of an interview with Marie and an international eBook giveaway of the novel. Well today, I'm delighted to be able to give both of these things to you!
So, without further delay, I'd like to introduce you to the woman of the hour - Marie!

First of all, Marie, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 28, and live in Ontario, Canada. I’ve been a freelance writer for a couple years now, and Blue Sky Days is my debut novel. I love to write, read, blog, and knit (I knit scarves for charity, something my Grama got me into a year or so ago).

What were you favourite book(s) as a child?
I loved the Berenstain Bears books. I had a huge collection of them, and they were basically the books I learned to read with. As I got older, a few favourites included the Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books (I grew up in the 90s, what can I say?), as well as Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, and Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen.

Do you have a favourite author? If yes, who are they and why are they your favourite?
I actually have two favourite authors. The first is Nora Roberts; to me, she’s the queen of romance (and not the ‘heaving bosom’, bodice ripping romance, but romance with an actual story and character development). She’s a fantastic writer, her characters are always amazing, and she just keeps getting better. My second favourite is JK Rowling; she’s so creative and imaginative, and she was able to create a world that millions of people, both young and old, could escape to and enjoy.

Which author(s) would you say influence your own writing?
I always thought I would be a romance novelist, so for years I’ve said I want to be Nora Roberts when I grow up. Besides the things I mentioned above, she’s also an incredibly prolific writer. As a YA author, I’m inspired by Sarah Dessen’s writing. I read Someone Like You when I was about 16 and it felt like she had written it for me. It felt like my story, and I’d never had that happen before. I wanted to write stories and characters that people could relate to the way I related to Someone Like You. All of her books are about real people, real situations, and real emotions. I love that.

What genres do you enjoy reading the most?
I’m a total romance junkie, so I’ll read basically any book that has a romance, even if it’s a sub-genre of romance. Overall, I’m a very eclectic reader and will read just about anything - fantasy, paranormal, historical, mystery, science fiction, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, you name it.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? And if so, what made you finally put Pen to Paper to write Blue Sky Days?
Yes, always. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember, and Blue Sky Days wasn’t my first novel. I was 20 when I originally wrote it, and there were several things that pushed me to do it. Emma and Nicholas became very real people to me, and they wanted me to tell their story, so I did.

What inspired the novel? Where did the idea for the story come from?
Because I wrote the first draft of the book so long ago, it’s hard to remember which pieces of the story came first. I had the idea for Emma - a girl who was lost and confused, alone and unsure, trying to find her way and her place in the world. And I had the idea for Nicholas - this free-spirited, happy-go-lucky kind of guy who saw the positive in everything and everyone. The cancer storyline came from personal experience; my dad was diagnosed with leukemia when I was eight, and was very sick for two years before he passed away. I guess it was inevitable that I would work cancer into a story someday. When I was 20, a friend of mine was also diagnosed with leukemia, and that’s when the pieces of the story really started to come together.

I absolutely adore all of the characters in the story, and I especially love Daisy. Did you base the characters on yourself, or anyone you know at all?
Well, first of all, thank you - I’m so glad you enjoyed the characters! I took traits here and there from people I know for different characters, but mostly they were fictional. I put a lot of myself into Emma; unlike her, I always knew what I ultimately wanted to do with my life (even though I strayed from the path at times, and it took longer than I anticipated), but I was very insecure and prone to self-doubt the way she was. People who know me well will see the similarities between Emma and me, especially in the small details like favourite colour or movie or food. I wish that Daisy was based on a real person, but she’s mostly fictional, with the exception of very small traits here and there taken from people I know.

Riverview sounds like a really wonderful place, and totally different to the world I'm used to living in. Is this a place you've visited, or did you fictionalize it to make it a perfect haven for your characters?
Riverview is a fictional place. It was basically my idea of a place I’d love to live - small town where everyone knows and cares about each other, locally owned businesses, friendly people. I live in a city surrounded by small towns that are similar to Riverview, where Main Street is literally the main street, and all the shops and businesses are there. The quaint small-town charm of Riverview was inspired in part by childhood visits to Amherst Island, Ontario, where my Grama was born and raised. People were so friendly there - whenever we drove past someone, whether they were in their yard or on their porch or walking down the street, they would stop and wave at us as we passed. I incorporated things like that into the story.

As I said earlier, Daisy is my favourite character. Who is your favourite character from the novel (either personality-wise, or the character that was the most fun to write), and why?
My answer to this question changes regularly. I feel the closest to Emma because I feel like I spent the most time with her and got to know her best. I had the most fun writing Nicholas and Daisy, because I never knew what they were going to do or say next. Random things would just pop into my head, and I’d find myself laughing. They were both so eccentric and free-spirited, I was able to just let my imagination loose with them. 

When you were writing the book, did you set yourself a writing schedule? And do you have a place where you most like to go, to sit and write?
For Blue Sky Days, I wrote the book mainly late at night. Now, seven years later, I work from home so I usually write all morning, most of the afternoon, and then again late at night. Most of my writing is done at my desk in my bedroom/office. When I find myself getting really distracted by things like Facebook and Twitter, I take my laptop to the living room and work there, because my laptop won’t connect to the internet. 

Have you ever struggled with that most dreadful of all creatures: writer's block?
Honestly…not really. *knocks on wood* I sometimes dread it and worry about it, but for the most part, it hasn’t happened to me. I get stuck at times, but it’s not so bad that I’d call it writer’s block. I’m able to find my way around it, or I move on and then go back. 

Are you a tea drinker, or a coffee drinker?
Coffee drinker, but only for the flavour of it - I have this weird immunity to caffeine. There are probably a dozen times a day when I wish I could have a cup of coffee for the jolt of energy, but it has absolutely no effect on me.

Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods, and what is your favourite food?
I really just love food, period. If I had to choose, I guess I’d say savoury because I love comfort food, and I love to cook, but I’m not much of a baker. My favourite food is lasagna, and it’s not something I have often, so it’s always extra special when I do make it or someone else makes it for me.

We all have odd little habits - what would you say is yours?

Do you have all day? I’ve found that artists, whatever their art - writing, painting, sculpting, dancing, acting, etc - are very eccentric and often more than a little crazy, and I’m no exception. I live inside my head so much of the time, it would be hard not to be a bit crazy, I think. A few odd things: I always add milk and sugar to my coffee before adding the coffee itself. I check my cell phone every few minutes, even when I know it hasn’t gone off and that no one has messaged me or emailed me. I’m the same with Facebook and Twitter, which is why I sometimes need to get away from a computer that has internet! I always have to have something sweet when I’m watching Vampire Diaries. I have no idea why, but it could be because when I first started watching it, I always had mini peanut butter cups, so the habit just stuck.

If you were given $1 million (US or Canadian, it's entirely up to you ;P), what would you do with it? 
You’re all probably going to think I’m really boring with this one! I have a few debts I’d pay off, that would be my first priority. Next would be to buy my mum and myself a whole new wardrobe. She’s sacrificed so much for my brother and me, and she hardly ever spends money on herself, but she needs new clothes desperately, so I’d take her shopping and replace all her old clothes, and buy her anything else she wants. Next would be a three- or four-week trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England for my mum and me. We’ve been talking about that for the last decade, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’d like to set up a savings account for my two nephews, whether they want to use it for school, travel, or capital to start a business (they’re only 9 and 2, so it would earn a lot of interest in the meantime!). There are also a ton of charities I’d love to donate to that I haven’t been able to the last few years.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take one book with you, what would it be? 
As a bibliophile, this is probably the hardest question ever! I’m going to go with the first thing that popped into my mind: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

What are your creature comforts?
My whole apartment. I’ve lived here for more than half my life, and because I’m basically a hermit it’s my sanctuary - warm bed, comfy desk chair, lots of natural light, the feeling of safety and security.

What are the simple things in life that make you smile? 
I’m a very simple girl, and it doesn’t take much to make me happy. My family makes me incredibly happy - my mum is my best friend, and my nephews are the lights of my life, so I’m almost always smiling when they’re around. Other simple things: a good book, getting mail, a favourite song on the radio, finding something on TV that I haven’t seen in a long time, hearing from an old friend, getting nice Tweets, finding a new blog that I like.

And finally, can you tell us one interesting or odd fact about yourself?
I guess this could be considered a bit of both: I share a birthday with Jane Austen and Beethoven, and my greatest passions in life are writing and music. I always thought that was an interesting coincidence.

Thank you so much for agreeing to visit us here at Pen to Paper, Marie, it's been a pleasure having you here!
Thank you for having me Dani, I’ve loved visiting you and your readers!

Now, as promised, we have an international eBook giveaway of Blue Sky Days. The eBook can be in any format you need to suit your device. 
First of all, I'd like to lay down some rules for the giveaway: 

  • You do not have to be a follower of Pen to Paper to enter this giveaway, but you will earn LOADS more entries if you do follow. 
  • If you click 'Follow Pen to Paper via GFC', I will need your exact follower name in the extra info, so that I can confirm you are a follower.
  • If you are chosen as a winner and I email you, you will have 48 hours to reply to the email. If I don't receive a reply in this time, I will have to draw another winner, and you will lose your prize - sorry but someone has to win!
  • There will be one winner. When they have replied, their email address will be passed on to Marie, and she will contact you with your prize.
  • Please don't leave your email address in the comments. I have trouble with this every time I do a giveaway. I use Rafflecopter so that your email addresses are not available to anyone but me (and only then if you win). This is for your own safety :)
  • The giveaway will end on February 14th at 23:59 EST.
Now all that's left to do, is get yourself entered!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


SweetMarie83 said...

Thank you so much for everything Dani! <3

Good luck, everyone!

Chocolate Chunky Munkie said...

Yay! I won :D Thank you xx

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