Welcome! Today I’m interviewing Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess, Ten and 3:59. Her new book, Get Even, will be out Fall 2014. You can meet Gretchen in person by attending the Pasadena Teen Book Festival!
Free event – Tickets at Eventbrite
More information – Grab a Badge
Presented by Pasadena Public Library and Bridge to Books
Author of YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN, and 3:59, as well as the upcoming YA mystery/suspense series Don’t Get Mad, beginning in 2014 with GET EVEN and continuing in 2015 with GET DIRTY, all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins. Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and was a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown
You write nail biting, fast paced thrillers. What other stories or authors have been your inspiration?
I’ve been a big fan of gothic literature since I was a kid. I loved John Bellairs (The House with a Clock in its Walls, The Figure in the Shadows) as a middle grade reader, and sort of escalated to Victorian gothic fiction from Le Fanu, Collins, Gaskell, James, Stoker, Stevenson, James, Bierce, Leroux, and of course, the masters – Poe and the Brontes. I’ve always loved that tingling feeling you get creeping down the back of your neck when you’re reading something deliciously scary and suspenseful, and I think that’s the aesthetic I strive for in my writing.
In 3:59, Josie is startled to learn that there is another her living in an alternate reality. And that world only opens at 3:59. If you were to find another Gretchen, what would this other Gretchen’s world be like?
What would I want it to be like or what would I actually find? I think if Bizarro Gretchen had grown up in a world as violent and paranoid as that of Jo Byrne, I’d probably be one of those tough as nails girl gang leaders, like in this insane 70’s cult movie Switchblade Sisters.
You are stranded on a desert island. Dr. Moreau, Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein each stand in a boat waiting to take you to safety. Who do you choose to travel with?
Hmmm. There is something kind of sexy about the Jekyll/Hyde thing…right up until he strangles me. Yeah, Dr. Frankenstein. I feel like I could handle him.
How do you take your potato?
Fingerlings, pan fried.
Your first series, Don’t Get Mad, begins this fall. What challenges did you face writing a series versus writing standalone books?
I’m in the middle of writing the second book in the series right now, and I’d say the biggest challenge is taking the characters from where they were emotionally, mentally, etc. from the end of book one, and continuing their progression without (a) repeating their exact same character arcs from book one, or (b) having them make character choices that would not jive with what they’ve learned in book one. It’s…hard.
What are you working on right now?
Well, after I finish the sequel referenced above, I need to write about 20 more pages on a new horror proposal about a mind control parasite that turns people into cannibalistic serial killers. Basically, these teens explore an old mine left exposed by receding water levels in a nearby reservoir, and they end up bringing back a monster that was supposedly buried and destroyed 75 years earlier when the dam was built and the valley flooded. I’m really excited about it!
You guys can meet Gretchen!
#1: ARC of A Girl Called Fearless
#3: $50 Gift Card to Vroman’s Bookstore