Thursday, December 12, 2013

Release Blog Tour: SLEEPER by S. M. Johnston

I am so blessed to have awesome online besties like Sharon laying around. Sharon answered a call I made years ago to find readers for Breakable when it was still Listen to Me. Through that we've ended up reading for each other, blogging together, and generally having a riotous good time on Twitter. (Yes, I do riot on occasion. It's been known to happen. Don't judge).

Anyway, when I heard her debut, Sleeper, was finally coming out, I jumped at the chance to interview Sharon about the book so you can know more about it too! This is a truly unique concept, expertly delivered, and despite it's Sci-Fi roots, it's compelling to a die-hard romance fan like me.

Read on - especially if you like speculative fiction!

Okay, Sharon, welcome to Living the Write Life! To kick this off, give us some idea what Sleeper is about, and who you think will most enjoy it?

Sleeper is about a girl, Mishca, who meets two boys, one she genuinely likes (Ryder) and one that she loves the moment she sees him and doesn't know why (Colin). But it also has cool speculative fiction twists with a heart transplant triggers super powers that Mishca tries to keep secret as she's worried about being a science experiment freak. It's her journey to finding out the truth behind her powers and her love for Colin. 

I think anyone who enjoys trying to solve an intricate mystery will love this as well as people that love romance. Even though it's got a Science Fiction/Paranormal bent, it's more Fi than Sci.

What was the inspiration for SLEEPER? How has the protagonist, Mischa, developed since your initial idea?

Originally, it was meant to be Mishca and Colin's love story, but I quickly realised that they had a doomed love that would never work, so along came Ryder. Originally Mishca struggled with her situation a lot more, but my mentor, Angela Slater, showed me I need a MC who wasn't a sad-sack-syndrome sufferer. She became a lot stronger and it really improved the story and Mishca's character ARC.

Do you have a favorite scene, or theme in the book?

My favourite scene is "caught in my bra in my boyfriend's car" where Mishca decides to play show'n'tell to explain her heart transplant to her boyfriend Ryder. Unfortunately her dad sees this and thinks something else is going on. It was actually inspired by something that happened to me. I had a boyfriend giving me a kiss goodbye and my dad yelled out "Get your tongue out of my daughter's mouth!" My boyfriend crapped himself and made a quick exit. Unlike Mishca's dad, I found my dad crying with laughter at the outcome. 

You’ve had a long road to publication. Tell us a little about your journey and your publisher. How much control did you / do you have over the final product?

When I first wrote SLEEPER, I had never heard of New Adult. I put some of it on a site called Inkpop, which was like a crowd-sourcing site run by HarperCollins. I called the story Mishca then and it quickly rose through the ranks and was the most successful Australian story on the site. I've  a talent scout represent me and an agent, but neither of those situations worked out. I've had other agents interested, which included a request for a rewrite to make it YA. I did that and it ended up with Entranced on the basis of that version. When I let them know there was a NA version as well they asked to see it and wanted to publish that one as they felt it was more inspired. Entranced are fantastic to work with. I had so much editorial control.

Do you have any advice for writers considering independent press?

Independent press are more willing to publish the left-of-centre stories. So if you've been having trouble landing an agent, you could try small press. With Entranced I got a lot of support with publicity and my cover is amazing. I realised that I wasn't confident with self publishing at this point in my career as I wanted to work with a publishing team, and that's what I got with Entranced. Every step of the way is covered. SLEEPER and the TOY SOLDIER SERIES won't be the only novels I will publish with small press. 

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you got published? Anything you’d do differently or tell others to consider?

I did a lot of research, so I knew what I was getting myself in to. What I've learnt the most along the way was finding the balance between listening to others and staying true to my vision. You need input from others as often they will find things in your story that you can't see because you're just too close to it. Work on your story, have multiple eyes look at it, and make sure they're not just friends and family. You need people in publishing - editors or authors - to be reading your work. I'm blessed to have beta readers who are industry professionals, but I still paid to have a professional edit.

Although I found a home for me first novel, I know many authors who didn't. Be prepared to let a project go if you need to and move on. 

What has been your favorite moment in your journey so far?

Finding a home for Sleeper, knowing that someone saw the merit in publishing my work. I actually got the offer for SLEEPER quite quickly after I sent through the full. It was a matter of days, which I know is rare. But for me it was a great validation of the belief I had in myself - someone else shared it too. I jumped around like a crazy woman when I got the offer. 

Intrigued? You should be. But if you need more, take a look at the blurb and cover below:

A new heart should mean new life, not a living nightmare.

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on.

Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.

Torn between the blossoming love and the obsession, Mishca must decide if she wants Ryder or Colin. But the organization responsible for her changes and her connection to Colin, is moving to secure Mishca for himself so that she can be the weapon he always intended her to be. If Mishca can’t resist her programming she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.

Buy it now on Amazon, or check out the reviews on Goodreads!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog. Love having online writing bests like you who are so giving.