New Author Adventures Interview: Lexie Dunne

Lexie Dunne is another author selected by Harper Voyager from its open submission window. I’ve met her at both the New York Comic Con and C2E2, and she is, without a doubt, the most serious, dour, person I’ve ever met in my life. As proof, her bio reads thusly:

Lexie Dunne is a woman of many masks, all of them stored neatly in a box under her bed. By day a mild-mannered technical writer and by night an adventuress and novelist, she keeps life interesting by ignoring it and writing instead. She hails from St. Louis, home of the world’s largest croquet game piece, and Superheroes Anonymous is her professional debut into the world of caped crusaders, a journey that started when her father took her and her brother to see The Rocketeer.
Getting her to return a phone call is impossible. You’d have better luck sticking a Dr. Pepper under a propped up box and waiting nearby, string in hand.

Hi, Lexie, welcome. We don’t often get kids in the pub. Would you like a bendy straw in your Dr. Pepper?
I drink my Dr Pepper like an adult, Bishop. LIKE AN ADULT. On the rocks, flavored with my own tears, and alone in a bar in west Texas somewhere.
…but if you have a pink bendy straw, I wouldn’t say no. It’s, uh, for a friend. *slurps*

Okay, let’s cut to the chase, you call yourself Lexie Dunne, but we all know that’s not your real name. Rumor has it your real name, when spoken aloud, has been known to summon any of the following at different times; the muffin man, the good humor man, Stan Lee, and the dark lord Cthulhu. Is it true? And what of the reports that Cthulhu appeared at an elementary school you were attending for second grade, moments after the teacher took attendance?
Ah, yes. Poor Mrs. Harris. You’d think a woman who deals with seven-year-olds that glue their fingers together with paste on a regular basis would be better equipped to handle an Elder God or two, but sadly, that proved not to be the case. She was a great teacher for all of the ten minutes that I had her on that first day.
Cthulhu and I have worked out a deal. My middle name also needs to be spoken aloud to summon him, but the Muffin Man is fair game at any time. Luckily, the only woman who knows that middle name is also way more terrifying than either of those monsters. Hi, Mom!
No comment on Stan Lee.

Nicely done on the mom shout out. Now, your first book revolves around a woman who is repeatedly taken hostage by various super powered criminals, and often injured when rescued by the superhero everyone thinks is her boyfriend. How much of this book is autobiographical?
Pretty much everything but Gail’s height. She’s 5’1, I’m 5’4. Other than that*, we’re practically separated at birth.
* And her muscles, sense of humor, sarcasm, wit, curly hair, having two very built dudes in love with her, and the ability to tuck away an entire Thanksgiving feast as a midmorning snack, that is.

What is it you love about superheroes and/or comics? Do you remember the first comic you read?
Superheroes, to me, have always been about hope. Usually they’re underdog stories, which I’m a sucker for (to the surprise of absolutely nobody), but going back to my very first superhero film, The Rocketeer, I like these stories of people who try to be good folk even while they have these crazy responsibilities and pretty nifty abilities. I’ve never been a big fan of the Alan Moore type stories that are grimdark and gritty; I like my stories brightly flavored and preferably in shiny colors (to keep me from getting distracted).
And my first comic that I ever read was Buffy Season Eight. I happened to be visiting NYC on a school trip the day it came out, so I went and found Forbidden Planet, bought my sister a Spider-Girl poster, and purchased my very first comic. I didn’t take to superhero comics until Captain Marvel in 2013.

And now that I feel really old, let’s move on. Are you in favor of the Oxford Comma, or are you one of the demented anarchists who, when not torturing puppies, oppose its use?
I am also a big fan of the vocative comma, too! No puppies are being tortured on my watch. I mean, mine might be overfed, but she’s currently being a cavetroll and breathing heavily behind me, but that might be the painkillers. The dentist told me there’s a 1 in 5000 chance that they’ll turn her into one of the ugly green gremlins.

Enough of the softball questions, let’s get serious. Marvel or DC?
Marvel for movies and comics, DC for select TV shows. Arrow doesn’t count because of what they did to Sara Lance. They’re still dead to me.

May God have mercy on their souls. How big of an influence would you say a love of comics has on your writing, not just storyline (that’s obvious), but tone, and style?
Less than you would think. I call Superheroes Anonymous a love letter to comic books, but the truth is, I didn’t actively start reading comics or set up a pull list or follow authors until several years after I wrote it. The second draft was written after I’d become a fan of the DeFractions and Marjorie Liu and G. Willow Wilson and Bendis, so I think I may have leaned a little more heavily on some comic book tropes in the final product? But the first draft, that was entirely my love of superhero movies and cartoons and osmosis from comics.

Interesting, really shows how far comic book tropes have spread into main stream media. While working on your second book did any of your characters surprise you? Or would you say when you start writing you have a pretty clear idea of how things will go?
I’m not one of those writers that says things like “The character told me this today!” because frankly, it all comes out of my head. But I think at times I was surprised by the twists my brain came up with and the direction the story took. I’m not a seat of the pants writer; generally before I kick off into a project, I have an idea of major scenes without any idea what connections will arise between them. The fun of writing, and the most frustrating part of writing, is that puzzle game you play when you try to take the ideas in your head and to figure out the pathways between them. Hopefully in a clear and coherent manner, but that’s not always necessary. Sometimes I just like making extra work for my editor.
But yes, there were definitely times during the writing process of this book—which I wrote very, very quickly—where I surprised myself in both good and bad ways. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well you seem to do well pulling those pieces together for the final product. Either that or your editor is amazing, and terribly underpaid. Lastly, since it’s likely getting close to your bed time, word has it that you enjoy ending your books on cliffhangers, what—
to be continued
Answer to be given next interview.


Thanks, Lexie, it’s been fun. *gives secret handshake* Good luck on your books and that whole Stan Lee/Cthulhu thing.
Lexie’s second book, Supervillains Anonymous will be available June 30th on ebook, and paperback shortly thereafter. If you enjoy comics, or just like action, sarcasm, or short women who can bench press small cars, you’ll love this book. You can also find out more about Lexie and send her adoring fan mail via her website http://www.dunnewriting.com/

Supervillains

New superhero Gail Godwin, the one and only Hostage Girl, is in big trouble: her nemesis Chelsea is loose, somebody close to her is dead, and everybody thinks Gail did it. To make matters worse, Davenport Industries has thrown her into a prison that just happens to be full of the very same supervillains who used to kidnap her on an almost daily basis.

Outside, things aren’t going all that great either. There’s a conspiracy that runs all the way to the bedrock of the superhero community, and it’s affecting everybody Gail loves. With her friends in the crosshairs, it’s up to her to escape and get to the bottom of things. Subterfuge, crime-fighting, and running away from everybody you know should be a cinch, right?

Wrong. Gail faces off against hero and villain alike just to stay alive, and you know what they say about supervillains. If you can’t beat them…join them.

Book Dates

BookDates

My fellow Harper Voyager Impulse authors and I are getting into the spirit of Valentine’s Day with something a little different. We’ve created dating profiles for the characters in our books! But wait, there’s more! You, the reader, get to suggest your favorite match up. Oh, but the real fun is that it’s across all of our books! Think Brendan would be a perfect match for a recent superhero girl who can bench press compact car? Now is your chance to let your voice be heard!

But wait, there’s still more! I promised that if I won the Qwillery best debut author cover of 2014, I’d give away three copies of The Stolen. Well, as it happens I did win. So if you post in the comments section of this thread, it will count as an entry into the giveaway. Don’t live in the US? No problem, as promised, this giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere!

So, what do you do? Simple, read through the dating profiles below, then check out the profiles on the sites listed below and then come back with your match up. Sure, it’s a lot of clicking, but we’re talking about a signed copy of The Stolen! Also, several of my colleagues are having giveaways as well! Think of all the stuff you could win! And really, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?


 

Brendan Kavanaugh

*Please note that due to a ridiculous aversion to modern technology, this is being entered by Dante. And now I’m being told his aversion isn’t ridiculous. Anachronistic tendencies are adorable. And now I have to tell him what Anachronistic means.
 
Age:
You wouldn’t believe it if you knew. Over 18 should be enough for now.

What is your job/career?
Musician/Defender of humanity against dark creatures

Where are you from?
Barr Na gCurragh, County Galway, Ireland

What do you do for fun?
A nice pint, good music, and a warm fire. Or turning a pack of oíche into clouds of twinkling lights.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Joining the Fianna

What is your most treasured possession?
A handmade claddagh ring

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
He doesn’t do too much reading. In fact, before his interjections at the beginning I wasn’t sure he could read.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Irish Wolfhound

Who was your childhood hero?
Fionn McCool. Really? No, he’s sticking with that.

Who was your first crush?
Áine Connelly

What’s your perfect holiday?
A warm fire, good whiskey, and those who mean the most to you close by. Wow, I had no idea he could be so sentimental.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
If they were friends he wouldn’t cook. Not if he wanted them to survive. And now he’s threatening to “kick my arse up around me ears.”

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
When he was eight years old, a Seanchaí (itinerant storyteller) came to his village. This storyteller also played the guitar, and taught Brendan how to play. Hey, I didn’t even know that!

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
Let’s just say he’s been in a fight or two and leave it at that.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Saint Jude’s and Saint Vincent De Paul

What do you think of children?
They are precious joys to those lucky enough to have them.

What is your ideal home?
A quiet home with some land and a view of rolling green hills. And I’d imagine a pub close by. And he just kicked my chair.

What is your perfect date night/day?
Anything that doesn’t involve a plot by dark fae.

What are you most afraid of?
Okay, he insists I put “Himself” but I’m doing it under protest.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
They were members of the Fianna as well.


Dante

Age:
Ha! You REALLY wouldn’t believe me.

What is your job/career?
Magister – New Eastern Region of the Rogue Court

Where are you from?
Originally? Rome.

What do you do for fun?
I love theater, concerts, and good music in a nice night club. Conversely there is also something magical about a perfect cup of tea and an excellent book

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Finding an outcast Fian warrior and helping him find his place in the world.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Mustang. I love my car.

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
There are far too many books to list (I’ve had a lot of time to read in my lifetime) and I couldn’t possibly narrow the list down. Much the same for movies and bands. So how about this. My favorite authors include Dickens, Tolstoy, and this new author named O’Connell. I recently saw The Imitation Game and found it powerful and a reasonable portrayal of Alan Turing.

Do you have pets?
Just Brendan. And he just kicked my chair again.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Perhaps a falcon.

Who was your childhood hero?
You wouldn’t know them.

Who was your first crush?
Her name was Aeliana, and she was stunning beyond description. You’ve seen her, though you wouldn’t know her name. She was a popular inspiration for a number of sculptures.

What’s your perfect holiday?
I don’t really celebrate holidays, but in terms of time off, a perfect cup of tea and an excellent book.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
Depending on my friends, but probably a nice salad of mixed greens, with nuts and dried fruit, dressed with a homemade honey vinaigrette.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Well, that was a VERY long time ago. Though the first summer sunrise over the ocean I saw, and it’s an image that I still carry.

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
Perhaps a fight or two, but never prison. Though I have been taken prisoner on a few occasions.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Make-a-Wish and Native American College Fund.

What do you think of children?
Fascinating and the most honest creatures on the earth.

What is your ideal home?
My penthouse apartment. I’ve had plenty of time to find my ideal home and create it.

What is your perfect date night/day?
A light dinner, a brisk walk through the heart of the city to a performance at a small theater, then dancing till dawn.

What are you most afraid of?
Letting others down.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
My father was a poet and my mother was…well, very special.


 

Caitlin Brady
Age: 27

What is your job/career?
Registered Nurse.

Where are you from?
Manchester, New Hampshire.

What do you do for fun?
I think I remember fun, vaguely. Seriously, there isn’t anything much more fun than reading to my daughter and seeing her smiling at me as I do the voices.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Becoming a mother.

What is your most treasured possession?
My daughter. Beyond that, a cut glass barrette given to me by my grandmother.

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
Ireland, by Frank Delany. Hands down, Love Actually is my all-time favorite movie. For band, I’d probably say Gaelic Storm.

Do you have pets?
Just a rug rat.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
As Lois Griffin said, “I’m like one of those bald eagles you see on TV, graceful and beautiful, but if you mess with my chicks I’ll claw your ######## eyes out!”

Who was your childhood hero?
My mother.

Who was your first crush?
Oh, I’m not telling you that! He might see this!

What’s your perfect holiday?
A tree with lots of presents and watching Fiona’s delight as she opens them.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
I’m strictly opposed to poisoning my friends.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Sitting on my mother’s lap, eyes closed, listening to my father singing.

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
No and no.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Saint Jude’s and Make-a-Wish.

What do you think of children?
Mine is a perfect angel, yours is probably an unruly hellspawn.

What is your ideal home?
Any home that has love. And Timothy Olyphant wouldn’t hurt.

What is your perfect date night/day?
Staying up past 9pm. Or going to bed early…with Tim Olyphant.

What are you most afraid of?
Anything happening to Fiona.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
My mother was a librarian, and my father was a musician.


 

Edward Huntington
Age:
34

What is your job/career?
Psychiatrist. Despite common misconception, we don’t “head shrink,” that’s really what psychologists do. I work with neurological disorders: schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, and the like. I also do keep my medical license current so I’m also a General Practioner (MD).

Where are you from?
Concord, New Hampshire.

What do you do for fun?
Enjoy a nice whiskey while reading in my library

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Graduating medical school is very high on my list, but learning to use magic is right up there.

What is your most treasured possession?
My books, and my friends. Okay, friend.

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
Hard to pin down a book, I love so many. I’m a sucker for comic movies, and I’d say The Guardians of the Galaxy is my favorite. I don’t have a favorite band, but Tom Waits is my favorite musician.

Do you have pets?
I’d like a cat, but I’m allergic.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Well, I’d like to think of myself as an Osprey, but others would probably say a mouse.

Who was your childhood hero?
My Taid, Grandfather.

Who was your first crush?
Um, let’s just skip this question.

What’s your perfect holiday?
Fiona’s birthday, seeing her brilliant smile as she eats cake and opens presents.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
Well, I make a fabulous Chicken Kiev, but my lasagna is pretty good too.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Graduating high school. Please, no Doogie Howser jokes.

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
Never been to prison. I don’t know as what I do in a fight qualifies as participating.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Saint Jude’s and Make-a-Wish, and also Toys for Tots.

What do you think of children?
I love children, though admittedly my experience is limited.

What is your ideal home?
The one I have is pretty amazing.

What is your perfect date night/day?
Dinner and a movie?

What are you most afraid of?
Spiders. Yeah, go ahead and laugh.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
My father is a computer security specialist, and my mother is a lawyer.


Now, go forth and find a match for these poor, lonely souls! (my characters, not the authors listed)

A.F.E. Smith
Ingrid Seymour
John Ayliff
Lexie Dunne
Laura Liddell Nolen
Christi J. Whitney
Brooke Johnson
Jack Heckel
Alison Stine

Cover Reveal: The Forgotten

Hot on the heels of The Stolen winning The Qwillery’s cover of the year 2014, I present to you the cover (and flap copy) for The Forgotten, the much anticipated sequel to The Stolen! Once again, Harper delivered an excellent cover!

The Forgotten_Cover_Small

Across the United States, children are vanishing.  Only this time, faeries may not be to blame…

Dante, Regent of the fae’s Rogue Court, has been receiving disturbing reports.  Human children are manifesting magical powers in record numbers.  Shunned and forgotten, they live on the streets in rag tag groups with the already booming population of homeless changelings.  But the streets aren’t a haven; someone, or something, is hunting these children down.

Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, has no home, no family, and no real memories of her past.  She and her friends SK, Fritz, and Shadow are constantly on the run, fleeing from a dark and unknown enemy.  But when her friends are taken by “the snatchers,” Wraith is their only hope. Her journey to find her friends will test the limits of her magic, and her trust.  A dark force is on the rise, and it could spell the end of our world as we know it.

It’s Official!

The race is done, and The Stolen has won The Qwillery’s 2014 Debut Author Cover of the Year!

THE STOLEN_small

From the first time I saw the cover art for The Stolen, I was blown away. I freely admit that I was worried I wouldn’t like the cover. This was after all my first book, and authors really don’t get much say in their cover art, and rarely a veto if they don’t like it. In short, the artists and designers at Harper Voyager (Tom Egner and Patricia Barrow) knocked it out of the park, and into low orbit! When it won the best debut author cover for July, I was ecstatic. Now, I’m almost speechless. Though I’m elated, I’m also keenly aware that The Stolen won because of my fans, whose energy and tenacity kept them voting until the very end. I’m well and truly humbled by the response this vote drew. The previous year’s challenge garnered a total of 396 votes. This year’s total was 2045! That is an incredible turnout! All of you have my deepest gratitude. Thank you, sincerely and truly, from the bottom of my heart for this.

The competition was incredibly stiff for this challenge, and in the end the win was by six votes. Yeah, six! For those curious, that’s .29 percent. Every author in that challenge deserves kudos and I’ll be picking up a copy of each of their books. Every author who was in this challenge was a debut author, and won best cover for the month their debut novel was released. As new authors, we’re all trying to establish ourselves, and I’m fairly certain getting published was a dream come true for all of us. I know it was for me. As I said, I’ll be picking up a copy of each of their books, I hope you will at least look them over, and pick up a few (if not all) of them. Amy Impellizzeri, author of Lemongrass Hope was the my closest competitor, and the results could’ve gone either way up until the end. Her book has some incredible reviews, and I’m looking forward to reading it. She and I exchanged some emails prior to the challenge’s completion, and she was a delight to talk to. I received her congratulations today, and I hope my reply was even half as gracious  as her message was. And yes, as promised in an earlier post, in the near future, I’ll be giving away three signed copies of The Stolen, which will be open to anyone, inside or outside the US.

I also want to thank The Qwillery, specifically Sally, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the New York ComicCon. The Qwillery is a fantastic site that supports debut authors and helps introduce them to the world. There are reviews, interviews, and cover challenges every month. Stop in regularly to see what’s new, and vote for authors who are just emerging into the published world. I’m sure you’ll find a book that you might not otherwise have found, and perhaps you’ll find a new favorite title and/or author.

So thank you, again, to everyone. Be you family, friends, colleagues, or complete strangers, it was your support that did this. Go raibh míle maith agat (thanks a million!).

An Excerpt from The Stolen

Since I’ve tantalized you with the cover art and jacket copy, here is a sample from the book itself to really tempt you. This is chapter 2, and it’s also the piece that will be available in the free ebook sampler Harper Voyager will release on July 22nd, entitled Voyager. You can find it here, and I highly recommend it as an introduction to several skilled writers.

Enjoy…

 

Caitlin Brady walked out of the Manchester, New Hampshire hospital, her nurse’s scrubs in the bag slung over her shoulder and her daughter Fiona’s small hand in hers. The four-year-old girl was skipping and humming a happy tune. She was always like this after a visit with Eddy. Caitlin completely understood. He’d always made her feel better, too. In fact, without him, she wasn’t sure how she would’ve made it these last few years.

Kris’s car pulled up in front of them, and the willowy young woman got out with a smile.

Fiona struggled with the back door for a moment before Caitlin opened it for her and the little girl climbed up on the seat.

“Thanks again,” Caitlin said to Kris. “I know it’s short notice.”

“No problem,” Kris said, smiling. “You go out and have a good time. You could use it. We’re going to have a night with everyone’s favorite pixie.”

Fiona cheered as she settled into the child seat.

Caitlin leaned in and buckled up Fiona. As she did, it struck her again just how much her daughter took after her. They both had the same curly, fiery red hair, unmanageable, to be honest. The same green eyes, though Fiona didn’t have the matching set of luggage under hers. They were both light skinned and liberally dosed with freckles, though Fiona, like all children, pulled off the look better. Caitlin silently hoped that Fiona wouldn’t also inherent the extra twenty pounds Caitlin carried around, or that she’d at least be tall enough for it not to be as obvious; Caitlin was several inches shorter than every other woman she knew. If she just worked less and slept more, she knew it would make a world of difference, but she had more important things in her life than sleep.

Caitlin ran her hand down Fiona’s cheek and let out a breath. “You behave for Kris, okay, peanut?”

“I will, Mommy.” Fiona’s green eyes lit up. “I love you.”

Caitlin felt a twinge at the words and smiled; even that matched her daughter’s. “I love you, too. Now give me a kiss.” She leaned down, got her kiss, and gave one back before closing the car door with a sigh.

She waved and tried to ignore the pang of guilt as the car pulled away. Eddy was probably right. No, he was always right, and it was annoying as hell.

After a minute or two, she convinced herself it was okay to go to the art show. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath of the crisp autumn air. When she exhaled, she found the guilt assuaged enough that she could probably do an hour or two with the girls. Baby steps, right?

Emerging from the parking garage stairwell, she pulled her keys from her purse and pointed the fob at her car. A sudden, overwhelming chill of dread and hopelessness washed over her. It stopped her so abruptly that she nearly fell on her face.

Caitlin could sense someone behind her, watching her. She could almost feel cold breath on her neck.

She stood there, frozen in place. The only sound was her shallow breathing. She struggled to move her legs, but fear had them cemented in place.

“Come on, Caitlin,” she whispered. “Just remember the self-defense class.” For the first time she could remember, she was glad Fiona wasn’t with her.

Hands still shaking, she gripped her keys so that they protruded from between her knuckles. Then she sucked in a breath and turned to confront whoever it was, spiked fist at the ready.

An empty lot stared back at her.

Continued here