Here's what Gina had to say when I asked her some questions about the book:
KC: Auracle is about a girl (Anna) who can astrally project out of her own body. It's an unusual idea for a Y.A. book. How did you come up with it?
GR: Like many books, Auracle was inspired by dreams. When I was in college, I started having recurring nightmares. The actual dreams varied, but they were always very realistic, accompanied by a deafening buzz, and I’d wake up paralyzed, only to realize I was still dreaming. I could get several a week or go six months without one, but they lasted about ten years. In all my research, I’ve found two explanations. The first is lucid dreaming/sleep paralysis triggered by stress. The more interesting explanation was by psychic Sylvia Browne, who described my dreams right down to the loud buzz. She said that’s what happens when you are astrally projecting and your body wakes up when you’re half in-half out of your body. I think what I had was lucid dreaming/sleep paralysis, but the concept of astral projection fascinated me enough to write a novel about it.
KC: When I first read the blurb on the back of the book, I was intrigued but also a little skeptical about how an author could sustain a narrative with the main character out of her body and potentially unable to be seen or heard by most other characters throughout the book. You did an amazing job of sustaining the action and tension throughout the story. What were some of the main technical challenges you faced in this respect?
GR: Thank you! I knew I had to tell the story from Anna’s first person point of view since her voice couldn’t be heard while she was out of her body. Her ability to communicate with Rei was a bit of a challenge. There’s body language, of course, although that left room for some misunderstandings. I’d heard so many accounts of ghosts knocking things over that I was comfortable allowing Anna’s astral self the power to manipulate small objects and take advantage of push-button technology. The fact that Anna can’t be seen unless she chose to worked to my advantage – she had that “fly on the wall” ability, and was privy to situations and conversations that otherwise would have required a third person point of view.
KC: While the story is in some ways about Anna coming to terms with her own life, she achieves much of her character growth through her relationships with Rei (her best friend and potential love interest) and Taylor (her nemesis). The dynamics between these three characters are very real and complex despite the supernatural aspects of the story. Which of the three characters was the most fun to write, and why?
GR: They were all fun in their own way. I had a blast coming up with ways for Taylor to mark her territory, but Rei was fun to write too. I was flipping through pictures of cute guys on the internet (because, as I’ve explained to my husband, it’s part of my job ;) and I found a guy with drippy wet hair that was a perfect visual for Rei. In fact, he looked so good wet, it led to Rei’s shower obsession. In case you’re wondering, Rei takes eight showers in 300 pages.
KC: The book is written in the first person (from Anna's perspective) and also in the present tense. What are some of the advantages and challenges of writing in this style?
GR: I’m most comfortable with first person, present tense. I like having that intimacy with the main character’s thoughts and I like the immediacy of present tense. There are challenges to 1st/Present - when your reader needs information that has to be kept secret from your character, when your main character needs information that is happening somewhere else, to name a couple. I have stories in my Dusty Drawer that started out one way, and six chapters in, I changed my mind and rewrote it.
KC: Auracle is your first book and it's been very well received. What is the most awesome thing, and the worst thing (if anything!) about being a successful debut author?
GR: I was a story-loving PTA mom with a dream - to write a YA book and see it in hardcover on a bookstore shelf. I knew nobody in the publishing world, and my writing background was a college creative writing course. Accomplishing that goal felt really good! And the people I’ve met on this journey are all kinds of awesome <3!! Worst thing? Writing may be an art, but publishing is a business. I’m pretty clueless about business.
KC: Who are some of your own favorite authors, and what are you reading now?
GR: Ohmigoodness! How much space do we have here? I love my Class of 2k12 and Apocalypsies authors … you can check out their books here . I’m reading & loving Anne Greenwood Brown’s PROMISE BOUND right now – it’s the third book in a trilogy about merfolk in Lake Superior. Other favorite authors are David Levithan, A.S. King, Jennifer Donnelly, Kathryn Burak, Rainbow Rowell, Maggie Stiefvater, Franny Billingsley, Diana Gabaldon, Nancy Tillman, Mary Oliver … I could go on and on!
Thank you so much for having me, Kaleigh.
- The pleasure was all ours, Gina. And now for the Contest ....
If you could astrally project absolutely anywhere, where would you go, and why?
The winner will be chosen by the following highly scientific method.
Gina will print out all the comments and toss them into a hat. She will then ask one of her children to randomly pick a winner. The contest will be open until midnight Eastern Time on March 1, 2014. So make sure you comment by then to be in the draw. Please make sure you include an email address when you post your comment so Gina can contact you to arrange shipping details. Email addresses will NOT be made public. Contest is open to readers within and outside the United States, so anyone out there in the wider world or on any nearby astral plane, feel free to join in the fun.
Thanks for the interview and for the contest, Gina. Let the comments roll ...