Thursday, July 3, 2008

Author Interview: P.J. Bracegirdle AND Joy of Spooking Giveaway!

Let’s give a warm welcome to the incredibly talented PJ Bracegirdle, author of the new YA trilogy Joy of Spooking. The first book comes out August 5th, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek and a chance to win one of 3 advance reader copies before the book even comes out!

Ok, first question PJ: If you were to blurb Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds yourself, what would you say?
“Please buy this book—its author is no longer fit for proper work.” Which I guess is one of the many reasons they usually get someone else to blurb it.

I see the logic in that, yes! So, Joy of Spooking is planned as a trilogy. Why stop there? Why not 13 books?
Much like blurbs, the publisher traditionally makes this call. In fact, I’d originally proposed only two installments before they told me unequivocally that I could not kill off every single character at the end of the second book. “How about in Book Three?” I’d said as a compromise—and voila, a trilogy was born!

Okay, that’s a lie. Actually, I think there’s something really special about trilogies—you get to tell a much broader story and explore more characters without being forced into writing something that feels overly controlled and episodic.

I am a firm believer in the rule of three so I can relate. Can you tell us a bit about the origin of the idea for the book and your road to publication?
I have to admit it felt less like a road and more like a champagne-fueled balloon ride in all honesty. Of course, this kind of statement can only instill anger in my fellow authors, so I’m quick to point out my life’s vast litany of disappointments and failures as a counterbalance.
As far as the origin of the idea, it was a similarly happy instance with the title and premise striking me completely out of the blue. Living up to it proved far less easy however, and luckily I had some help from a kindly children’s book editor to whip the first few chapters into shape. After that, it was just a case of landing a fearsome agent and finding the publisher who shared the story’s macabre sense of humor.


Cool! Nicoletta Ceccoli did the gorgeous cover. What was your reaction when you heard she’d be involved?
The specific exclamation is probably best not repeated here, suffice to say that it simultaneously expressed my sense of delight and disbelief in addition to demonstrating my woeful lack of breeding to anyone within earshot. Nicoletta is quite simply one of the most exciting and talented illustrators out there, and I am still awestruck by how perfectly she captured the story’s characters and atmosphere. I get the chills just imagining what she’ll do for the next book, much of which takes place in an insane asylum.

Your main character, Joy, does look rather spooky. She is also a literary horror fan – does she take after you? What books in the genre can you recommend to teens and younger readers?


While it’s hard to live up to a rabid fan like Joy Wells, I do still love a good creepy story, particularly classic ones from Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Younger readers may find their style and language a bit challenging at first, however once accustomed there are many great stories to explore. Otherwise, I remember particularly loving SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury, and becoming forever terrified of those toy cymbal-playing monkeys thanks to a Stephen King short story whose name escapes me.

Great suggestions! The gothic tone of the book might also remind some of the Lemony Snicket books. What do you think Lemony Snicket would say after reading Fiendish Deeds?
Hmm, good question. I hope he would say: “Fiendish Deeds is the most painful book ever to have fallen on my lap, including heavier volumes dropped from a much greater height.” Because the guy can’t pan anything without making it sound like a ringing endorsement.

Regarding any similarities between the two stories, I should point out that while A Series of Unfortunate Events is famously miserable, The Joy of Spooking is substantially more upbeat in its exploration of its dark terrain, as the title might suggest. The two heroes, Joy and her brother Byron, are not desperate orphans but live happy enough lives, although somewhat in the shadow of their overworked parents like so many children these days. With an almost maniacal intensity, Joy revels in the eerie atmosphere of her crumbling hometown Spooking, celebrating the sinister histories she is convinced played out within its limits.

Unfortunately Joy’s happy existence is complicated by the City of Darlington, the soulless suburban sprawl that surrounds Spooking hill where the Wells siblings are forced to go to school. Because in this story, the villain is just as equally an actual place—and even a way of seeing—as it is a living breathing person (which in this case is an embittered ex-punk-rock musician who works for the mayor). And so it happens that Joy and Byron are unable to continually flee in the face of encroaching evil, as in Lemony Snicket’s series, but rather must take a stand against it in order to stop their way of life from being obliterated forever.

Speaking of soulless suburban sprawl (just kidding), you live in Canada so I am going to assume you are Canadian. I had a Canadian boyfriend once who made me learn all the Canadian provinces and capital cities. Can you name all 50 US States and their capitals?

I can only presume that Canadian boyfriend went on to become your Canadian husband since few other nations produce men with quite the same intoxicating combination of qualities—with good manners, faultless hygiene, and a working knowledge of what to do when startled by Grizzly bears being chief among them.

And as such a fellow, I could certainly name every state and a good number of capitals. However this is not a particularly male quality—Canadians of both sexes are equally well-versed in geography. This comes from having spent so many winters gathering around our atlases to marvel at all of the less frigid places we could have been born.

Sorry to disappoint you, but the Canadian didn’t work out – not that I didn’t enjoy the geography lessons and the stories of hapless tourists being stampeded by Moose (or is that Meese?) Thank you so much for stopping by!

Find out more at http://www.pjbracegirdle.com/ and http://www.joyofspooking.com/
And now, on to the CONTEST – YAY! A special thanks to Kate and Sarah at Simon & Schuster who have provided me with 3 extra ARCs to give away to my readers. PJ is throwing in signed book plates as well. Want to enter to win? Here’s what you gotta do:

1. Leave a comment at this post (required)
Each of the following gives you one extra entry:

2. Read the first chapter of Joy of Spooking Fiendish Deeds here (PDF). Then send the answer to the question “What book does Joy inherit?” to lenoreva AT hotmail DOT com with the subject line JOY CONTEST for a second entry. (Make sure you let me know what name you commented with in your e-mail so I can give you credit)
3. Become a fan of PJ Bracegirdle on Facebook. And tell me that you did.
4. Blog about the contest on your blog and leave a link in your comment so I can find it. If you don't have a blog, you can write an e-mail to 5 friends with a link to this post and CC me.
5. Comment on the review of Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds that I will post next week.
Contest is open to residents of US, Canada, Germany and wherever it is that Reviewer X lives and is open until 9 pm CST on July 20th when I will announce the winners. Winners will then have 48 hrs to get back to me with their mailing address or forfeit their prize. Good luck everyone!

54 comments:

thekoolaidmom said...

This looks like a fun book to read with my kids. They love Spiderwick and LemonySnicket, and Joy of Spooking looks like it'll be right up their alley! I'm sure I'll love it, too

I also posted this on my contests and giveaways page. Fun!

Daniel said...

sound slike an interesting book. i have to look into readig it.

My Journey Through Reading... said...

Great interview! This sounds like a fun read, please enter me in the drawing. Thanks for the opportunity!

Bunny B said...

Cover looks awesome!! Sounds like the kind of books I like! I'd love to win this :) Thanks!

bunnybox9 at gmail . com

Bunny B said...

I've blogged about the contest HERE!

Thanks!

bunnybox9 at gmail .com

PJ Hoover said...

One thing's for sure. He's got a cool first name!

KissToBetray said...

I think this is the first author interview that I've actually read, and I'm glad I did; I liked it a lot, good interview.

Also, I posted about this contest and interview over at my book review site: http://justblindedbookreviews.blogspot.com/2008/07/contests-going-on-now.html

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Love the interview. You both cracked me up so much! Definitely enter me...I don't have facebook...but I'll go and read the first chapter.

I posted a link here:

http://shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com/2008/06/more-other-contests.html

Remind me to post it on a more recent post if you want that more...I just didn't want to disrupt Stephanie Week! :) But I can do it later..

-Lauren

ps you can enter the contest now too you know? check the HUGE giveaway blog reviewers post

allisonmariecat said...

Really funny interview! I blogged about it here: http://hollybooknotes.blogspot.com/2008/07/free-book.html

allison DOT campbell AT gmail DOT com

allisonmariecat said...

I actually joined Facebook so I could become a fan!

Melsy626 said...

Great interview!!! Thanks so much for the contest, please enter me!! :)

I've also blogged about you here:
http://melsysplace.blogspot.com/2008/06/book-giveaways.html

Thanks again!!! :)

frazzy dazzles said...

What a great interview. I am sure that my kids will love these books. Best of luck with them! Looking forward to finding them in Australia - Jen

Kelly said...

Great interview! I'm excited to read the first chapter now. Sorry I don't have a good blog to link to your interview, but I did make myself a fan on Facebook. Thanks!

Steve said...

Wow, what a great interview. This book sounds like something many meese would like as well. I'm adding to my must read list!!!

The Book Muncher said...

thanks for letting me know about this cool contest :D i do think i'd love it.

i added your contest to my list, where you commented :D

...off to do other extra entries!!

Anonymous said...

this sounds like a cool book. please enter me!!

Samantha
ssclarinet@hotmail.com

Nicola said...

I'm in! This one sure looks fun!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Great interview.

I think I added this author as a friend. I have trouble understanding Facebook. However, I did leave a comment. :) That much I know how to do...lol!

Icedream said...

Great interview, I love an author with a sense of humor. I think the books sounds fantastic. I blogged about your contest here. I am sent you an e-mail from the address icedream(at)iwon(dot)com and I hope I managed to add P.J. as a friend on facebook (like J.Kaye, I'm not really familiar with it).

windycindy said...

Hello, I love when books are written in a trilogy or series. The cover of his book is wonderful! Please enter me in this fantastic ARC book drawing. I really appreciate it.
Many thanks, Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Heather said...

This book sounds amazing! Love the cover art too-- great interview as well :)

Deena said...

What a fun book; I definitely want to read it and then pass it on to my niece.

Breanna said...

Please enter me Lenore! This book sounds great. I love the cover too. =)

-Breanna

tracy said...

Thanks Lenore, Great interview and the cover is amazing! Great to read with my sons

Cindy B said...

It sounds really cool. I love the look of the cover too. Will definitely look for this one!

Reviewer X said...

Entering cos this sounds absolutely FABULOUS! I'll do the extra entries tomorrow sometime -- right now I must get back to Melina Marchetta XD

I already sent you an email about this, but once again, THANK YOU for doing the special exception for me!

Steph

Liviania said...

Please enter me - the series looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.

(I think I can name all the Canadian provinces, but I'm not going to try and embarrass myself.)

April said...

Wow! This looks as sounds like a great book! Please enter me. Thanks!

Travis said...

The book sounds cool!

spongyman1026@yahoo.com

Ruth said...

Fantastic interview! This looks like a wonderful book, please enter me in the contest!

jay said...

hey, thanks!
great interview. would love to read the book, too.

sign me up for your contest, please :)

best,
jay

Amberkatze said...

Please enter me!! I added myself as a fan on facebook too! I am Amber from Vienna ;)

Melissa Walker said...

Great interview. I love his graveyard pic!

Bethany said...

I'm posting about this on my blog (click my name). I became a fan on Facebook, and I'll do the question thing in a moment. & I'll be waiting for that review.
:D

Alea said...

I became a fan of P.J.'s on facebook. Now I'm off to read the first chapter!

Linda J said...

Can't believe I hadn't posted yet. So here it is...pick me, pick me! (HA!)

valentina said...

I don't qualify for the contest but I just wanted to say "wow! nicoletta Ceccoli did the cover!" Now, I'll surely want to read it:)
great interview!

lorisreadingcorner said...

Thanks for a great contest!

I've blogged about it here ~

http://lorisreadingcorner.blogspot.com/2008/07/book-giveaways-ive-entered.html

Josette said...

Thank you for the contest. Sounds like a great read.

Josette59@comcast.net

Chelsea said...

Sign me up! It sounds like a great read, and the interview was really informative.

Breanna said...

Hey Lenore,

I posted about the contest on my blog at http://bisforbooks-bre.blogspot.com/ in the entry titled "Contests!"

-Breanna

Michele said...

This looks like a very fun book that both my kids and I will enjoy! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

Angela said...

I'll have to wait for the review to see what the book is really about. So far, I'm not clear on the plot of the book. I'm not a young adult, by any stretch, but I like reading YA books, anyway. :) Blame Harry Potter (or Laura Ingalls Wilder).

Austindog said...

wonderful chapter so far,now I have to read the rest! I have 3 grand boys and they love this kind of stuff ,so I guess WE have to have this one!Where can I buy it?We all LOVE Poe,even their parents like this kind of reading.So we will have family reading out loud night,and wait for the next book to be out.Thanks keep up the great writing!

Lenore said...

Angela - my review is posted now (scroll down to July 9th)

Austin - The book is coming out on August 5th and will be available wherever books are sold.

Africakid said...

If the plot matches the illustrations, should be one good book!
I enjoyed your interview. Good questions.

Denise Mennella said...

Terrific interview! As part of a family of readers (my almost ten-year-old read little women in kindergarten), this trilogy is definitely on our reading list. Thanks for introducing it to us!

Sommer said...

My 10-year old would love this book. Thanks Lenore! :)

Jane said...

Cool interview! Is the giveaway still open?

Lenore said...

Yes, it is still open!

MayY . C 五月媽媽 said...

Great interview! Book covers look awesome,please enter me in the drawing, love to share it with my boy! Thanks for the giveaway contest.

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Holly said...

I really enjoyed reading The Joy of Spooking. And it was fun to read this author interview. It's always fun to see what an author's personality is like after reading one of their books. Well, as much as you can tell from a blog post anyway. :-)

Spring Zhu said...

Ooh I'm excited PJ Bracegirdle is coming to my library next week! Hoping to read Joy Of Spooking soon.