Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Interview with Melody Valadez, Author of THOSE WHO TRESPASS

You know those days when you've been WAITING for a book to come out, and it finally arrives, and you don't even have time to feel relieved because you're too busy reading? Well, this is one of those days for me. In fact, I think the only release I’ll find more exciting this year is my own. I’m quivering with anticipation today because Those Who Trespass is finally ON SALE!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ve asked the author, Melody Valadez, to drop by and tell us how Those Who Trespass came to be. If you’ve got any questions for Melody, ask them in the comments!

Thanks for dropping by, Melody. Today must be such a big day for you!
Thank you so much for having me! This is a huge day...I still can't believe it's really happening!

I’m so excited to get my hands on Those Who Trespass. For those who haven't heard of it before, can
you tell us what it's about?
Of course. Those Who Trespass is about Jenn Alistor, a 17-year-old murderer. When her brother, Jake, disappears, Jenn makes a deal with the feds: if they'll help her find her brother, she'll turn herself in. But their so-called help comes in the form of 21-year-old Clayton Ford--brother of the guy she killed. Suddenly, lives aren't the only thing at stake any more. This is Jenn's one shot at forgiveness. But she has to choose. Time is running out.

What inspired the story?

There was no single inspiration, honestly, though Gordon Korman's On the Run series was the initial spark. I've always loved writing suspenseful stories about spies and guns and mysteries, but Those Who Trespass quickly became that and more. I was intrigued by Jenn the moment I wrote her into existence, and the story that followed was me answering my own questions: Why was Jenn a murderer? What is like to live with something like that--especially for Jenn, who has such a clear sense of right and wrong? Where is Jake, and what secrets is he hiding? And, most importantly, can Clayton ever forgive {not to mention love} Jenn when he has so much right to hate her?

How long did it take you to write?
I typed the first lines back in October 2010, three years and several drafts ago. That's a long time...hopefully future books are a little more stream-lined.

You’ve been through quite the ride with this book! Tell us about the highlights (and low-lights?) on the journey?
Such a ride, with so many highlights and low-lights, haha! :) Receiving your first critique was definitely a great moment; 

I barely knew you at the time, and having such an enthusiastic impartial opinion gave me hope. Then 13 requests {and 3 revision requests!} from agents; I never dreamed of a great reception like that!
Of course, then comes the low-lights...though I ended up doing some major revisions, my book had a hard time finding a home in the agenting world. Honestly, I thought Those Who Trespass was forever shelved, until the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest showed up in January. I shrugged and submitted TWT, with no better reason than, "Why not?" It made it to the Quarter-Finals {final 100 Young Adult novels}, and, as if that wasn't awesome enough, I got a prize in the form of a Publisher's Weekly review. I've heard that some of those reviews aren't particularly kind, so it was a definite highlight when the reviewer called my book "an adrenaline rush in book form."

So...How did you reach the conclusion that self-publishing was the best choice for you in the end?
 The Publisher's Weekly review--and the excited responses to my excerpt during the contest--made me realize that my book was too good to die. I considered playing the query game again, but I was realizing what a lot of agents had already known: Those Who Trespass doesn't fit all that well into a genre. Thankfully, self-publishing--particularly in the e-book world--has made it possible for writers and readers to break out of the traditional genre boxes. Also, I'm in college, and it's an unfortunate fact that I don't have time to query and revise and revise again over the next three years. If Those Who Trespass was going to be read, it was going to have to be now or post-graduation.

You mention in your bio that you like to blur the lines between Christian and secular fiction. What does that mean? Will people who aren’t Christians find Those Who Trespass preachy?

Great question...let me see if I can answer it.
The genre of "Christian fiction" is known for prioritizing the salvation scene and the absence of bad words. Secular fiction is a little more concerned with real than clean, yet often ignores the existence of God and Christianity {not so realistic, given that more than three-quarters of America claims to be Chrstian}.                                 
In blurring the lines, I hope to write a dark, gritty, and real story {a la secular fiction} that comes from my heart...which means it will probably include Jesus {a la Christian fiction}. Honestly, I think the whole "Jesus in this genre"/"no Jesus in this genre" thing is becoming pretty dated. Authors like Sara Zarr, Ted Dekker, and even Veronica Roth are already breaking out of their boxes.

That said, Those Who Trespass was never meant to be preachy or even to have a message. It is first and foremost a suspenseful, romantic story, meant to entertain. I did my best while writing to make sure that every line applied to the story; if it didn't, I cut it out, Christian or not. The problem with a lot of "Christian fiction" is the focus on Christian before fiction, and I worked hard to avoid that. If it doesn't have to do with secrets, spies, or romantic tension, I deleted it.

What is your dream response from a reader who’s finished Those Who Trespass?
The ultimate would be for someone to tell me they couldn't put it down and missed their bus stop/class/sleep because of it. :) But if we're looking for a serious answer, I think it would be mind-blowing to hear from someone who relates to Jenn's guilt and wants to know if forgiveness and love is possible outside of books.

And now that you’ve finally got a book on the shelves (both virtual and IRL), what are your plans for the future? Will there be a sequel? Or another book? 

Well, I somehow got myself into this crazy, time-sucking thing called college, so there won't be any new novels all that soon. I do have a sequel in mind for Jenn Alistor, because I'd love to explore the "what happens next" between her and Clayton. It already has a title and a basic idea...now all I need is time, haha!

Ugh. I think every writer can empathize with that! Thanks for dropping by Melody. I wish you the very, very best luck with Those Who Trespass! Come back again soon and tell us how it’s going!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are an amazing critique partner and friend, and I'm immensely honored to know you and be here! {Not to mention the sneak peeks I've gotten of your coming-soon novel...the YA world is in for a major treat come November!}

*Blushes. Palms Melody twenty bucks*

Ahem. Those Who Trespass is available TODAY for Kindle here and coming soon in paperback. If you're a YA fan, get out there and buy it! You won't be disappointed. If you want to wait for the paperback release (next week, I think?) you'll want to head over to the Goodreads page and add it to your "To Read" list.

Don't Forget: If you have any questions for Melody about Those Who Trespass, self-publishing, or physics, you can ask them in the comments here! 

Melody Valadez enjoys blurring the lines between Christian and secular fiction. She lives with her family in the Texas Hill Country and is most often spotted writing stories, worshiping Jesus, and majoring in physics at The University of Texas at Austin.

Find her {and her blog} online at www.melodyvaladez.com.

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