SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Ms. Jack, who’s a real bird. She’s still learning to play the piano and guitar, which is going marginally better, and for those of you looking for an Arabic update, she has successfully learned one word, “Yalla, people yalla!”
She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.
Her latest book is the YA steampunk, The Hands of Tarot.
Thank you for joining us today, Frankie. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Well, right now, I’m in my fuzzy slippers because I decided to wear sandals – sandals, people – to an all-day walk-fest and my feet hurt. I learn everything via the School of Hard Knocks and what I learned today was that sand is a great exfoliator for the bottoms of your feet. The problem is that it doesn’t exfoliate the places you need it.
Oh, you mean something deeper? Oh, right, uh, *clears throat* Sorry. Let me put my Big Girl Shoes on. I am full-time writer and a full-time project coordinator for an electrical contractor, a part-time girl-friend, a half-time bird and plant feeder, and a slow-time mom. Sometimes, there’s even cooking involved. I like a wide variety of music, though not quite so much as my very good friend Queen Calisto. Right now, I’m listening to a thunder storm recording.
The thing I love to hear the most? Silence. I know. What’s that?
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I would love to say it was when I was in school, but it wasn’t. I always wrote, but I always drew, and crocheted, and played musical instruments (every woodwind including the bagpipes) and always—It’s safe to say I was always creative.
However, I would have to say that it was during those crazy years after MissSunshine was born. I barely remember those days. They’re such a haze. I was working a lot of hours. Had a brand new baby girl who was sick, so I wasn’t sleeping. Oh. Cranky. I was very cranky. That’s about all I remember.
Sometime during that, I was telling Miss Think a Dreamland Story (G-version only), and she said, “Mom, you should write a story about Luk.” I think it was just the look of hopeless romance in her big brown eyes. I don’t know. I just knew I had to write.
Then several years later, some really awful times hit. I lost my daughters to my parents’ custody, ran out of lawyer money, and basically lost everything. Everything. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to and all this burning rage to deal with. So I turned to writing for another reason. That’s when it started getting goooooood. Before, it had potential. After I actually experienced real heartache – and it was real heartache – my writing got a LOT better.
Why did you decide to write stories for teens?
Those awkward years between childhood and adulthood are ROUGH! They can last for a good decade or two…okay, sometimes until a person reaches the age of fifty. It happens.
I originally wrote a book for my daughters. It started out as a way for them to see that things could be all right living with me. It turned it, what I really needed was some insight into their lives because, let’s face it, when people divorce (man and wife, daughter and parent) the people who are hurt the most, are the kids.
Once I got into that headspace, a whole bunch of things opened up for me, and I realized that I really enjoy writing from the perspective of a person who hasn’t experienced so much that they feel old everyday. As a young adult/new adult, you’re in that sticky situation where every decision you make just gets bigger and bigger, and this is where you first find out what real “consequence” means! I love it. It’s just fantastic!
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
Oh, sometimes. There are times when I’ll be writing my young adult scenes, and a wizened thought enters into the narrative. I have to step back and go, “Now wait a minute here. I know Frankie knows this because she’s lived through X, Y and Z. But would Synn? Uh, no. So…how did you figure this out, Frankie?”
I wince, think deeply and see how to reinact my School of Hard Knock lessons in science-fiction/fantasy.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
The discovery! There are just so many things that I take for granted. Why? Because I learned how to watch for people who don’t know how to use their blinkers, and I know how to spot the woman driving while doing her make-up and talking on the phone while grabbing something in the back for her kid. (You think I jest.) I’ve reached a certain level of numbness. Spot. Swerve. Avoid. The end.
Writing for young people is none of that. It’s experiencing every single second of every single day because you’re learning something new. Sometimes, it’s something you’ve done over and over again, but now there’s no one to help you and you’re learning to be dependable. *eyebrow raising nod* Oh, yes. I love this sense of discovery!
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
Nix thinks she’s captured the ultimate prize, Synn. But is she strong enough to control him?
The story is about Synn El’Asim and the Seven Tribal Families. The four queens of the Hands of Tarot have control of the latest technologies, and the most powerful queen, Nix, wants control of the world. The Families are content to allow the Hands to live however they wish in their parts of the world, but as the Hands encroach on parts of the world where only the Families had been able to travel before, they soon realize the time of hiding has passed.
It’s not until Synn’s father is killed, and Synn is Marked while trying to save him that the fight becomes personal. Queen Nix sees a powerful tool in Synn and she decides to use him against the Families.
The Hands of Tarot is about him, his friends and the Seven Great Families finding the courage to fight back and protect what’s theirs.
What inspired you to write it?
I’d just killed the main characters for another series. We’d made it through books 1-3 and were half way through 4. I love these characters, and we ended up failing because I didn’t push them hard enough. I was fed up, frustrated, weeping huge alligator tears. Two years worth of writing, gone!
But I couldn’t quit. I came up with a game plan for that series and decided to write something else. I needed a break. It was a little like splitting up with a long-time boyfriend, only these kids/characters were my best friends. I needed something totally different to write.
So I thought and thought.
Different. Hmm. How different? A different planet? Sure. I mean, I had several solar systems growing in my head, and I had this one that was ready for a book. What else? How about a male main character? All my main characters before were female. Mmm! That could be neat! Aahhh-ha-ha! What about the villain? I could have a supremely psychotic, vicious villain! YES!
This was going to be an adventure story of fantasmic proportions. *cue hero music* It was going to be epic. There were going to be fantastical discoveries, and Nikola Tesla was going to be the heroic inventor that he always should have been. I was excited! This was going to be the best book EVER!
Now, that’s all great, grand and glorious, but it’s nowhere near a plot, a character arc, or a setting. Not only that, but Sactuary was thinking the exact same thing and made Tesla, not only a hero, but a vampire. I just can’t compete with a vampiric genius hero. I had to find something else.
I set this to churn-mode, letting it run in the background. I made a solar system out of Styrofoam, hung it from my ceiling and watched it turn for long…well, minutes because I really can’t sit and do nothing for hours. I slowly built this world in my mind. I watched how my little planet coexisted with its solar system, and imagined the seasons.
Then, I bought a tarot deck. Why? Because I needed an eighth deck, obviously. I was kicking myself for buying it as I thumbed through the cards, getting familiar with the deck.
My brain exploded with ideas! I saw my villain. All of a sudden, there was a plot! I’d been working on this setting for so long, wondering if I was ever going to have a book to go with it, and boom! There it was with the Queen of Wands, The Devil, 3 of Wands, 10 of Swords and the Knight of Cups.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
What is up next for you?
Currently, I’m writing The Nightmare which should be out around Christmas. Though at this rate, it could be closer to the New Year. The Nightmare is book two of the Dreamland Stories, which is a great, fun series. OMW (Oh My Word), I’m having such a blast with it!
Then next is *squeals* book 2 of The Hands of Tarot, The Knight of Wands. I am SO excited to write this book! It’s screaming at me. There is so much happening in the back of my mind right now. It’s a really hopping place! We’re re-fitting airships, discovering how to make airfleets and our jellyfish cities (letharan cities) coexist, AND (tehehehe) I’m finding new ways to torment my hero.
I know, I’m evil! At least I’m writing about it. LOL!
Do you have anything else to add?
I’m always such a blabber. I love hearing from my fans! I especially love getting Tweets from you as you’re reading my book! LOL! Feel free to contact me anytime! I respond almost immediately!
OH! And before I forget! Starbucks has a new size! Trenta! I went in to my normal Starbucks and ordered a “Large-ish, soy tea, please.” The barrista laughed at me and asked, “You? Want tea?” To which I replied, “What? Who said anything about tea?” Then like a crafty seductress, she pulled out the EXTRA large iced drink cup and asked, “Iced coffee, no room?”
I fell in love right then and there. It’s AMAZING!
Thank you for spending time with us today, Frankie. We wish you much success.
Visit SM Blooding on the web at www.smblooding.com.
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~ ~ ~ WIN A SET OF TAROT DOLLS+ AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE HANDS OF TAROT ~ ~ ~
SM Blooding is giving away a set of Tarot Dolls and an autographed copy of The Hands of Tarot!
Visit http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/08/05/pump-up-your-book-presents-the-hands-of-tarot-virtual-book-publicity-tour/ for details on how you can enter for your chance to win!