I am so excited about today's guest on the blog, author JM Sullivan answers exciting questions about her writing, her debut novel, and some sound advice for inspiring authors out there. Her novel, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles was released on May 16, 2017. Let me tell you, I cannot wait to read this novel. Check out JM Sullivan's interview questions plus an excerpt of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles.
Tell me a little about yourself:
Hi! My name is JM Sullivan and I am a teacher, a mommy, and now, an author! When I’m not working or writing, you can find me watching movies with my kids and husband, attempting to become a better runner/yogi, or playing servant to my two cats, Ember and Moki.
What inspired you to be an author?
I have always loved reading and writing. Growing up, Language Arts/English were always my favorite classes. I loved learning more about books and literature and all of the different elements of storytelling, and thought that I would love to be able to create something of my own. It took a while, but I finally got the courage to believe in myself enough to actually do it!
I read on Twitter that you are a Science Teacher? What grade do you teach? What drove you to teaching?
Yes! I teach sixth grade science! I actually grew up in a family of teachers, my mother taught Elementary School and my father was a PE teacher until he moved to his role as a guidance counselor. So I guess you could say it’s in my blood!
How many stories have you written?
Including Alice, my three biggest projects are The Wanderland Chronicles and currently, it’s sequel. But I have also written a Sci-Fi retelling of Peter Pan that I am currently working on getting published. I tend to stay away from short stories, although I did have a short (Daylight) recently published in Pen Name Publishing’s Anthology From Words to Water. Aside from those I have a few other stories that I have shelved to come back to later—if I ever have time! ;)
Now a days, authors have the choice of choosing a traditional form of publishing, or choosing the self-publishing route. Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose a boutique publisher, and a little more detail about what a boutique publisher is?
I went with a small press because even though I didn’t have agent representation, I knew I wanted to go the traditional publishing route. Some people do very well with the complete autonomy of self-publishing, but since I had (and still have) so much to learn about the publishing world, I wanted to have a team of people to work with me to help fulfill my vision. For people like me a boutique publisher is the best of both worlds. The company is there to help guide you through the process and take care of finer, more technical details, but they are small enough that you still get a lot of say in the creative process, such as cover design and self-promotion. While they may not have as big a reach as the ‘Big 5,’ if you’re willing to put in the work and time to your book, they are a great option.
What is your writing process?
Does forcing myself to write count? LOL. I don’t know my writing is organized to be classified with a process. Normally, I start off with a basic outline for where I want the story to go, but from there I let the story take over. I don’t like being too detailed in my outlines because more often than not I’ll end up changing and veering off on different tangents so providing a starting and ending point with a few key events in the middle to keep me anchored is about as structured as I get.
Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from all over the place! Mostly I pull from my favorite stories and movies, but if I see something or read an article that I think would play in well to my work, I don’t hesitate to include it!
What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Be nice to yourself! Writers (and most creatives I find), are hard on ourselves far too often. An inner critic can help keep you on your ‘A-game’, but only if you don't give it so much free reign that it derails your work. Remember, someone needs your words. No one can tell your stories. To get them out there you have to write them!
What authors inspire you?
I think all my favorite authors have inspired me in some way, but specifically, my favorite retelling authors have become writer goals for me. Marissa Meyer and Jackson Pearce are two incredibly talented writers who inspire me constantly. Seeing how they brought new life into some of my favorite stories to create breathtaking new worlds made me want to see what I could do with my own reimaginings.
Where did your inspiration for Alice:The Wanderland Chronicles come from?
This may sound strange, inspiration didn’t come so much from the story itself rather than the ‘fit’ of the retelling. I’m a huge horror movie fan so I watch them all: werewolves, vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, you name it. And one night, the idea hit me—the only way you can get rid of a zombie is by chopping off its head, and isn’t that what the Red Queen is all about? It was just too perfect a coincidence to let slide, and I outlined the whole story that night,
I love your cover of Alice, did you get to choose the cover? What was the process like for your cover of Alice?
Thanks! I got to have a lot of input with the cover (another benefit of a small press).
When I started the publishing process, my Editor had me fill out a form answering some questions about Alice and what I visualized and what covers I liked on other books to get a feel for what I was looking for. From there she designed 5 mock covers and I got to choose which one I liked best. After we had the base design done, we played around with fonts and color schemes. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of publication!
Tell us about Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles. Can you give us a short excerpt?
THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES is a YA Dark Fantasy retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic with an undead twist. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Alice Carroll as she leaves the safety of the Sector to find an antidote to save her sister from becoming one of the momerath. Along the way, she enlists the help of the charming but flighty Chess, his friend Bug, and even the Red Queen. But Wanderland is a long way from home, and as Alice is quickly learning, momerath may not be her biggest threat. Will she overcome and save her sister? You’ll have to read to find out!
“Don’t come out ’til morning,” he growled, piercing her with his golden gaze. Another animalistic screech sounded through the streets. The momerath were close. The boy glanced over his shoulder anxiously and grabbed the door handle. He tensed his arm to swing it shut.
“Wait!” Alice cried, realizing her voice sounded more than a little frantic. A million thoughts ran through her mind—Whose car is this? Why did you bring me here? Where are you going? Why are you leaving me here? These questions and more clashed into each other, demanding an answer. The winning query spilled out before she could stop it. “Who are you?”
The boy flashed her a sly grin and tightened his grip on the door. “I'm Chess,” he said. “Welcome to Wanderland.”
And before you go, is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
Sure! If you have a Twitter, make sure you check out #AuthorConfession! It’s a monthly game where writers answer questions about their work, their process, or just themselves. It’s a ton of fun and we’d love to have you! Or, if you’d rather, you can find Author Confession on YouTube! Either way you’ll get to connect with great writers and learn all about their work! I hope to see you there!
About the Author:
Interested in JM Sullivan's debut novel?
Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.
Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote - if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.
Here's a fun question for ya'll, what zombie world would you most want to be trapped in and why? Leave your answer in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for stopping by!