1) Your previous books involved life in a small southern town with high school students. This book seems radically different. What did you enjoy most about shifting to more adult characters and situations?
It’s funny because the characters in UNLEASH are only a year or so older than those in MAE, but their life experiences and the gravity of their respective situations are totally different. Now, I don’t hold back on cussing or euphemism in my YA, because I think most teens can handle it and often enjoy reading about characters who talk like they do. I wouldn’t say I actually held back on anything, but the stories felt different. UNLEASH is darker and grittier, and I enjoy writing longer books where I can explore the worldbuilding and magic systems more in-depth. There’s a whole lot of really cool magical history in UNLEASH that I’m super excited for readers to encounter.
2) It sounds like this book involves a small town setting as well. Horror/the paranormal and small towns have a long history. What do you think is unique about that setting that lends itself to those genres?
I think the sense of isolation is what really lends itself to the genres. There’s a feeling that no one is around to help you. No one is around to hear you scream and, if you’re an outsider, it may be that no one will care or come investigate even if they do–not even the police. UNLEASH actually starts in Miami, but takes place in a small college town in Minnesota, where the main character is trying to hide.
3) This is the first book in a new series as I understand it. Do you plan out series arcs or does that come organically? Bonus question; in either case, do you envision these series as having a definite number (eg a trilogy) or more open ended?
I wrote UNLEASH as a standalone. As I’ve been revising, however, I realized the story could easily continue if there’s demand for it. There are a lot of events in the story that create juicy conflict for further books.
If I were to plan it as a series from the start, I would probably plan the whole thing, which is what I’ve done with my current work in progress. My strategy with UNLEASH will have to be different, but I’m okay with that. Like I said, there’s plenty of room for brand new conflict, and the story was always meant to have series potential.
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