Tag Archives: ya author


Today, we’re joined by YA sci-fi author, S.C. Harvey, who I interviewed a little while back about her debut novel, Sand Castles & Seashores. She talks about her love of math and how it affects, and coincides, with her passion for writing.

* * *

I find it funny when people are shocked to discover that I’m a writer as well as a math geek, it seems counterintuitive to some. But I think the opposite is true. There’s a lot of artistry in the field of mathematics. When you look at a mathematical proof and see it in its entirety, it’s a thing of beauty. Math isn’t just about numbers meshed together in a secret code intended to confuse the general public but a logical progression of steps and procedures in order to arrive at a solution for that problem. That goes beyond the realm of just math. It can be applied to most fields. Think of it as looking through a mathematical lens.

Before I write any story, I have firmly in place the characters. I know them inside and out, how they behave, how they react, what they would and wouldn’t do, what makes them tick. I think it’s important to the reader to see this. It’s usually seen when I do flashbacks into the character’s past just so the reader can see where the characters are coming from and what has happened to them to where they are now. A logical progression of procedures in order to arrive at a solution can be rewritten as a series of events that got them to where they are now. There should be a bell going off, (ding!), there it is.

For me, it’s fundamental that the characters are firmly established. It gives them believability and the reader can get behind them and cheer for them, if not empathize with their struggles and go on that journey with them.

Character creation is only half the equation. The other half is the story itself. I generally start by asking myself some important questions: What is the purpose of the story, thus the purpose of the characters? What is their mission? What struggles would be inherent to such a mission? What creative solution can they come up with to get them out? Why is it important to the characters to see it through? Is the journey compelling? Will this be as entertaining on paper as it is in my head? Gee, I hope so.

Because the plots are largely character driven, they’re unique to those characters. Character development is seen when I write. Each main character is morphed because of their experiences. They’ll change and grow, but not beyond recognition. I guess you can say there is a psychology to my story writing – that added depth as it were. I largely write with series in mind and so the element of depth is necessary otherwise you wouldn’t care enough to keep reading. I know I wouldn’t.

There you have it – my basic approach to writing. My belief is we can be both left and right-brained with the right attitude because the two complement each other harmoniously. And we all possess a measure of both the logical and the beautiful. Both are needed to write a good story.

* * *

I was born during a time of unrest for Cambodia and my family fled to Thailand where we were detained. In time, we came to the United States and lived in Texas, but eventually my mother, brother and I settled in Southern California where I attended grade school and high school, which was where my love of learning began and flourished. Not long after graduation, I made my way to Massachusetts and have since married a wonderful husband. Married with one amazing daughter and a couple of cute pets, I continue to write.

Learn more about Sand Castles & Seashores and S.C. Harvey at her new Facebook page.

Bedtime Stories to Books: An Interview With YA Author J.A. Paul

After following fellow author J.A. Paul on Twitter, I learned about his debut YA fantasy novel Gladius and the Bartlett Trial (which I’m currently reading). So I’ve asked him a few questions and found out how his sons influenced this action-adventure quest, what he loves most about writing, and what we can expect to see from this budding author in the future! We also have a special sneak peek at Gladius waiting for you after the interview. Read on!


When did you start ‘putting words to paper’ as your bio says? What motivated you to do so?

I used to mess around with writing when I was a teenager but I didn’t take it seriously. Not until the early 1990’s did I start learning the craft and applying ‘words to paper’ in short story form.


Where did you get the idea for Gladius and the Bartlett Trial?

One night after a long verbal bedtime story, my sons challenged me to write my own book. I borrowed an idea from a friend and asked my boys to choose three things to go in the story. They chose a dragon, a tree, and a ruby. They wanted lots of action and adventure and so from the seed of that idea, the story of Gladius grew.



What books/authors have influenced you?

Stephen Kings’ writing book On Writing made me wake up and pay attention. It also helped me realize there is a process to writing. A creative process. My mind works better when I can think in a logical, practical method but still be creative and whimsical at the same time. Also, John Grisham’s vivid stories and settings; Clive Cussler’s adventure and flair for fun; Dr. Suess’s daring to be different; and of course J. R. R. Tolkien’s creativity. Oh, and Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write is an excellent read if you want to be a writer. Those are the big recognizable names but I have many lesser known authors that I admire as well.


Tell us a little about Gladius and the Bartlett Trial. Is it a part of a series?

Yes, it is a part of a planned trilogy. To tell it differently than the back cover copy the story of Gladius is about a teenage boy who spent much of his childhood listening to the fantastic adventure stories of his older brothers and father. He yearns to live some of those adventures for himself and can’t wait to set out on his Bartlett Trial, a rite of passage of sorts where he has to prove himself in the forest of Longwood for one month. If he succeeds he will receive a pile of silver to help pay the family land tax as that is the Wiggin community’s custom. But what he gets instead is his first and very daring adventure of his life where all that he stands for hangs in the balance.


Which character do you most identify with and why?

I know it’s cliché but I can identify a little with each. This is a tough question because I feel like I have to choose a favorite among my own children. I would say Gladius because some of his actions and mannerisms are based off my teenage years.


Which scene did you have the most fun writing?

I have two. The VaporRot scene (dragon) and the ending.


What is your favorite part of writing?

For me it’s like that feeling you get after you exercise. You know, when you feel good about yourself because you accomplished something but also I think there is some feel good chemical that is released in your body. Kind of like a caffeine boost. I also enjoy thinking about scenes over and over until you get it just right. Then when you go to type it up it flows effortlessly.


When does your next book come out?

Book II is more than half-way done and should be out in the fall of 2011 with book III coming out in early- to mid-2012.



What can we expect of you in the future?

After the Gladius trilogy I want to write a stand-alone book based on some ‘what if’s’ centered around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness BWCAW in northern Minnesota. I also have some fun children’s short stories that I would like to collaborate with an artist on. And to the request of some fans already, I might even write some short stories chronicling the adventures of Windom and Kirken, Glad’s two older brothers. They would be a fun supplement to the Gladius series.

* * *

And now an excerpt from Gladius and the Bartlett Trial!

Chapter 1 – Longwood

Stepping hesitantly up to the daunting pillars of time, Gladius Oldmont remembered the frightening tales told to him in his early years – tales that centered on this stand of mysterious and aged woodland.

He smiled fondly at the memory of his father’s words, “that old dragon torched the hair right off my scalp.” He pictured his father massaging his bald dome as if the infliction was only recent.

Rubbing a swollen bump on his own head, Gladius now stood at the same point each Oldmont family member had once stood before him – the entrance to Longwood Forest. He studied the mature trees as rays from the warm afternoon sun trickled their way through the shadowy interior illuming the ground of his intended course.

Gladius felt his heart racing, as if doing a war dance. He consciously took a deep breath, slowing down the thumping in his chest. He knew he tread upon the threshold of fulfilling a long-awaited dream. An adventure all young Wiggins his age must embark upon.

This adventure, called the Bartlett Trial, is a test for all Wiggins when they reach the age of fifteen – a challenge to determine if they are ready to be considered an adult in the village.

This journey could catapult him into the old ones’ legends far beyond this 17th century. He had lived for this moment; there would be no more waiting. No turning back.

Drawing in another deep breath, he nodded, tugged on the shoulder straps of his leather pack and flexed his fingers tightly around his walking stick. Exhaling, he stabbed the hand-carved stick in the ground and stepped forward into the leafy canvas upon which he would paint his future.

* * *

Intriguing, no? Get a glimpse at what happens once Gladius enters Longwood by downloading the first seven chapters free as a PDF right here! You can buy the whole story at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And keep up with J.A. Paul and his newest releases online at his official website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Thanks for joining us!