Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Interview Alchemy (Prophecy Breakers #1) by Sheena Boekweg, Melanie Crouse, Sabrina West


"Do you want me to be dangerous?" he asked, his voice husky and low.

I gulped, and for a moment I was incapable of speech. But he was quiet, waiting. "No. I don't."
"Then I'm not dangerous at all," he murmured. His gaze moved from my eyes to my mouth. "You've never been safer than you are at this moment." I shivered as his breath tickled my skin. Our lips were mere millimeters apart when the sky shattered in a kaleidoscope of colored light. 

We didn’t know how much we had to lose until we were infected with magic. Sam was in love, Juliette was the main caretaker for her siblings, and Ana and her dad planned the best parties in New York. But we lost it all when we were shipped to Chebeague, an exclusive school for newly infected mages.

Everyone knows about the mages, those who survive the infection and end up with magical abilities. We’ve seen the power of magic, the high-paying jobs, and the world fame. But we never saw the cost. We didn’t know we’d be forced to give up everything: sanity, family, even the right to talk on the phone.

We didn’t know mage was just another word for prisoner.


How three authors must be to write together? And how an exercise in flexibility can be transform in a (published) book?
Sabrina West: I think the most important things for a collaboration are great respect and love for your fellow writers, and putting the quality of the story first rather than your own favorite storyline. As for the second question, writing in a group is fantastic fun. Writing can be such an isolating exercise, and with this series, we always have each other to share our ideas, our fears, and our moments of genius. There’s a constant support network that’s absent from solitary writing, no matter how many friends you have. 

Melanie Crouse: When we decided to try out this “exercise in flexibility” we each picked a character to write from. Sabrina chose Juliette, Sheena chose Sam, and Melanie chose Ana. We spent a long time coming up with the rules and setting for our magical world. And then we started writing. There is a fine balance between giving each other complete sway over the actions of our characters and being completely united in where the story is going. Sometimes it can get frustrating when Sheena and Sabrina’s characters won’t do what I want them to. But inevitably that ends up making the story even better, so I am learning to trust them. We were naive to imagine that our personalities, capabilities and values would mesh well enough to create anything worth reading. But they did! That is the magic of it. 

Sheena Boekweg: It took a lot of work. Simple as that. We’re all opinionated, but we all love each other, and love this story. It helps though that these ladies are the best writers I know. Usually the right idea just feels right, and we all agree without much fuss. It’s the discussion involved to finding the right idea, which has taught me so much. Generally speaking, if it involves the rules of the world we all have to agree, but if it involves a character then there’s more leeway. And when we don’t all agree, then our different opinions come out in the text, and adds a layer of complexity and honesty that makes this story addicting. 

Is the approach of magic as a disease new? What do you think about the “evolution” of the fantasy literature?
Sabrina West: There’s a saying in fantasy that there are no new ideas, and I think that’s very true. The mix of magic and disease has been done many times before, like in Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series. That whole concept of no new ideas used to worry me, but most stories are a mix of ideas, and that mix and the interpretation can make a familiar idea or trope fresh again. 

Melanie Crouse: I’m sure it isn’t new, but off the top of my head I can’t think of any other books that use it, and that’s saying something, right? Well, there’s Dracula. You can’t get much older than that. 

Sheena Boekweg: Writers are readers first, and when you read a ton, the books make their way inside you, and change who you are, and the way you think. The three of us all read a lot, and we have slightly different tastes in books, and that influence comes out in Alchemy. I started reading fantasy because of my dad’s library. It seems to me that magic has entered our world more and more. It’s not so much about Orcs and quests anymore, it’s more about using the unbelievable to see truth in our own world.

How hard it is to choose the right title, cover and blurb? What is the title significance, without spoilers and having in view what alchemy is? 
Sheena Boekweg: Alchemy means change. Back in the day, Alchemists were scientists and chemists, but to everyone else, what they were doing looked like magic. We thought Alchemy fit our story, because the story is really about how magic changes the characters, and we’ve approached magic from a logical and almost scientific way. It’s about walking the line between wonder and explanation, mystery and finding answers.
Sabrina West: The cover was admittedly a bit of a challenge, because we all had different ideas. And our poor cover designer had to try to estimate not what one, but three opinionated women wanted to see. I’m pretty sure he was ready to strangle us by the end. Luckily, we got a gorgeous cover in the end!

Melanie Crouse: As writers, we all bring different strengths to the table. Sabrina loves world building and making sure our magical rules makes sense. Sheena loves twisting things--making sure our story is unexpected and exciting. And as long as the characters fall in love, I’m good with just about anything. Mixing those three things made for a great story, but it made the book cover was tricky. The three of us read different types of books, and so we are each drawn to a certain type of book cover. To say that Darren Boekweg is a genius for managing to make up all happy is a huge understatement. 

Sheena Boekweg: Writing a blurb together actually made it a lot easier. How do people write blurbs alone?

Some readers and even some authors say that entertainment is all they want/offer. What do you think about the opinion that a good book, regardless its genre, must send a message?
Sabrina West: I think there’s no shame in a book being purely for entertainment. I read a really fascinating article from the New Yorker about guilty pleasures, and the main point of it was, do what makes you happy, without letting the judgment of others worry you. Who are other people to dictate what makes you happy? So I think a good book can be anything that gives a reader joy, that makes them feel, that sticks with them for years to come. Sometimes a message is part of that, sometimes not.

Melanie Crouse: I think all books send a message, even if we don’t actively try to add one in. For example, I just finished reading The Way of Kings by Patrick Rothfuss. Although it was a great story, I didn’t necessarily see a message in it. But then I read a blog post where Patrick Rothfuss explains why he gives so much of his money to charity, and encourages his fans to do the same. As I read, my mind flashed back to a thousand tiny scenes in The Way of Kings where his characters helped out other characters. The message I subconsciously got out of his story was that good people sacrifice for other people. It is a little scary to think about what message people get out of my writing, but I don’t doubt that one is there. 

Sheena Boekweg: Well, I think a book should be interesting, that’s the point. Bore me and die, books. But to say books should only entertain is oversimplifying the power of books. Some of my best friends are fictional characters. Some of the best examples of heroes started as someone’s idea. There’s something sacred about that. Books reach into your mind and live there. Of course it leaves a message. A good book leaves its words carved into you. It’s not about morality, or messages, it’s about a pathway to a different world, and we all need a way to get out of this one occasionally. A good book makes you come back to this world slightly better.

From the blurb, I can see a dust of dystopia. Without spoilers, please, tell us something more about Alchemy.
Sabrina West: We really wanted to show the downside of magic. It would seem, on its face, that being a mage would be a great thing, with all the prestige and power that comes with it. But in the alternate U.S.A of Alchemy, magic has a significant downside - namely, near-complete ostracization from society. Isolation is one of the big themes of the book - when our characters are completely cut off from their families, who can they trust, especially when it begins to seem that the people entrusted with their care don’t have their best interests at heart?

Melanie Crouse: I wonder if we could create a whole new subgenre. Young adult dystopian paranormal romance...I would read that book.

Sheena Boekweg: I don’t think it’s actually dystopian, I think it’s more truthtopian. We tried to approach what would actually happen if people had magical powers. They couldn’t stay hidden, and while some people wouldn’t trust them, the government would need them. Magic would spread around the world, and the country with the strongest mages would have the strongest economy, military, etc. So there would be power in that, while under strict control. Mages would be separate, but privileged. They’d be used, and feared. They’d be powerful, and there would be people whose job is to make sure they don’t get too powerful. Alchemy is about a couple of wealthy privileged kids who get the disease, and find each other while at an exclusive school to train. It’s about finding a place to belong once you’ve been ripped away from your entire life. It’s about changing, and growing, and belonging, and falling in love. Yes there are bad guys,and a stark and dangerous consequences, but the world of Alchemy is a great place to be. I think that’s why we’re all so addicted to it.


Alchemy has the right amount of suspense, humor, and downright impudence that I just couldn't put it down. The sweet, yet, tangled up relationships were just an added bonus. - Katie (Goodreads)

Alchemy is a joint venture between three different authors, who each tackle one point of view throughout the story. I’ll admit to being a bit worried when I saw the three names at the top of the cover. I rarely read books with more than one author because I can usually tell when one person’s work ends and the other’s begins…in the case of Alchemy it turned out to be a plus. [...] Alchemy turned out to be a great start to a series, from the fun and detailed characters to the intriguing magic system. - Michelle (Goodreads)


Since coming to Chebeague School for Freaks, Sam Ryan has persevered in his attempt to find love/make out with some good-looking girl.

Katie who, right?

Maybe it’s just that he was so used to being a member of a couple that now he feels lost being by himself. Or maybe his mother overanalyzed him as a child, so now he’s messed up in the head. Possible. Or maybe he doesn’t want to be alone with himself, because Crazy Sam ain’t good company. Or maybe he’s just a guy. A guy who talks about himself in third person. So not a normal guy.

Anyway... What was I saying?
Sam Ryan is what every young man should be: creative, good looking and romantic. You keep at it young Sam, you’ll catch a girl. Eventually.

Chapter 1

So you want to use magic to impress girls. Congratulations! Here are a few tips I have had to learn the hard way. Please refer to this brochure before attempting yet another romantic gesture.
Tip Number One

Sure, writing a girl’s name in fire in the grass in front of her dorm seems like a romantic way of showing someone you care. Before you attempt this again, however, here are a few helpful guidelines to follow.

Do you know the girl’s actual name? Remember, no Laura wants the name Lilly embrowned in her lawn until the snow finally covers it.

Second, yes, it seems extra romantic to leave this romantic gesture anonymously. However, whenever you light a fire, you must always stay around to maintain it. Laura didn’t seem to like it when the entire yard of Cedar House caught on fire, though on the plus side, at least she didn’t know you wrote her name wrong.
When returning to the scene of the…romantic gesture, look around. Is the fire department there? If so, don’t go knock on the front door, and ask “Lilly” if she liked the gesture. Or else you may just end up at detention. And possibly with a criminal record.

(P.S. check with mom to see if you have a criminal record.)

Tip Number Two

Just because a girl says she doesn’t mind the snow, that doesn’t mean she would like to wake up to a winter wonderland. Yes, it seemed romantic at five in the morning when you snuck out of your dorm, and yes, before the girl woke up, it looked amazing. However, if next time you want to do this foolish waste of time, please don’t freeze the pathway to her dorm.

Also, when the girl slips on a frozen pathway, don’t scare the girl by telling her she has amnesia because she can’t remember her own name, without first checking to make sure you actually know her real name. Megan sure didn’t like that.

It was Megan, right?

Either way, if you decide to do something grand and awesome, keep quiet. No shouting. Otherwise the guards will come, and give you detention.

Tip Number Three

Never flirt with someone you meet at detention. Friends, sure. Make out, no. (Unless she initiates it.) This isn’t a good idea, because when you mess it up, (and let’s face it, you’re gonna mess it up,) you will end up back in detention, and that would just be awkwardness. So leave the detention girls alone.

Tip Number Four

Yes, there are many students to meet in a short period of time. It makes sense that you can’t remember all of the girl’s names. Mom always told you to write down things you can’t remember, so a Cheat Sheet of Hot Girls’ Names did, in fact, seem like a good idea at the time. It also made sense to write down the girl’s name with a brief clue as to their physical appearance to help you match a name and a face.

If you persist in this action, however, please make sure that the Cheat Sheet of Hot Girls’ Names stays in your possession at all times. Juliette sure didn’t like it when she read the paper with her name on it, and then the words; Pretty-Chubby-Tornado Girl.

Note to self: next time say curvy—not chubby. Why do girls think they need to be scrawny in order to be gorgeous?
(Also, add the word over-sensitive to Juliette’s description.)

Tip Number Five

Don’t write down teacher’s names or descriptions in the Cheat Sheet of Hot Girls’ Names. Miss Hondera didn’t like being included, and the description you gave of her didn’t help much either. Believe it or not, you ended up in detention…yet again.

Just stop trying so hard. Yes, you are a freak. Nobody else needs to know that. Play it cool. No more grand gestures, at least until you know for sure where the girl lives, and what her name actually is. Girl’s names DO matter, even when their name isn’t Katie.

Breathe, dude, breathe. You’ll figure it out.
Also, stop talking about yourself in third person.
More tips to come.

About the authors:
Sabrina West, Sheena Boekweg and Melanie Crouse never dreamed they would actually create a book worth publishing when they started writing together. Alchemy was merely supposed to be an exercise in flexibility. And it has been that, but it is so much more. Friendships that span the American continent have been forged, and unforgettable characters have been created.

Writing this first book in the Prophecy Breakers was a fun-filled adventure, and we hope that reading it is just as fun for you.

Event organized by Mark My Words Book Publicity

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Suna bine prima intrebare. Ma duce cu gandul la o carte plina de mister, cu puteri supranaturale si cu chestii infricosatoare. Poate ma insel, sau poate nu.
Descrierea suna si mai bine, de la primul pana la ultimul cuvant. Am citit si fragmentul, si pot sa zic ca imi doresc foarte mult cartea.