Author Interview – Christine Manzari

Author Interview – Christine Manzari

Hey everyone! Today I’m posting something super exciting! An author interview with the one and only Christine Manzari (or @xenatine)! I had the amazing opportunity to ask her some questions a couple weeks ago and I’m so excited for you guys to see this!!!!!! Eeeek!

If you don’t know who Christine Manzari is, she’s the super awesome author of The Sophisticates Trilogy, a YA series (that I read two books of and absolutely loved) and many other amazing books! She’s also like the best bookstagrammer ever and owns so many books! I’m so grateful for this opportunity so thank you Christine for taking the time to answer these questions!


Buy Christine’s books on amazon here.


When did you begin writing?

I have always loved writing and even went to writing camp during the summer for a couple of years in middle school but I didn’t start writing my first book until January 2010.

What would be considered your favourite book?

It’s a toss up between The Cruel Prince and Gemina, although I love the Harry Potter series and one of my new favourites is A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I also really loved Dance of Thieves.

Where are you from?

I’m from Maryland, USA. I’ve lived most of my life here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Where did you go to university?

I went to the University of Maryland and got my degree in Fine Art.

What are some your sources of inspiration while writing?

I actually find most of my inspiration in quiet time. Sometimes I’ll take a drive at night by myself and I come up with a lot of my ideas that way. Anything can be inspirational though….a pretty landscape, an interesting road name, a news story, a unique person I see out and about, a song. Inspiration is a funny thing…it’s not found in any one place. It comes from the world around me.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was also really obsessed with the Chronicles of Prydain. I never hear anyone talking about that series.

What do you think is hardest about writing?

Finding quiet time. I can’t do it with distractions around.

What book character would you like to meet the most? What would you guys talk about?

I’d want to meet Ella Malikova. We’d probably just gossip about everyone. I love her sense of humor and that she never plays the victim card.

What do you like to do other than read and write?

Are there other things to do? Just kidding. I like to exercise and go to the movies. I’m also very close to my family so I like to spend time with them as often as possible. But I’d probably say one of my favourite leisure time activities is going to the movies.

Who is your favourite author at the moment?

Jay Kristoff and Holly Black. Jay is hilarious and brilliant and so down to earth. Holly has written a series I’m obsessed with. I would read anything either have them have written and plan to go back and read some of their backlist books.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I always wanted to be a writer. I think the better answer to that is when did I realize I COULD be a writer. It was when I was pregnant with my third child and I knew I had to channel my creative energy. I read a blog post by Stephanie Meyer about how she would write while her kids were at sports practice and such. I realized that just because I was a mom, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a writer too. That blog post inspired me to give writing a try.

Are the characters from your books inspired by anyone in your life?

There are definitely characters in my books that have been inspired by friends. In my YA dystopian series, there is a character named Sterling who is snarky like a friend of mine from college. In Hooked, the character Jay is inspired by my friend José who actually calls himself ‘cupcake’ just like Jay does. In Hitched, the character Flex is inspired by a friend from college who is named Felix. And just like Flex, Felix was passionate about his ping-pong games. In my co-written book The Pledge, Caz is inspired by my adrenaline junkie friend Dave. All of these guys had larger than life personalities that I wanted to capture on the page. And the funny thing is that people often say those are their favourite characters.

Have you ever gotten into a major reading slump? If so, how do you suggest we get out of one?

I’ve never gotten into a major one, but I find that switching genres helps me avoid reading slumps. If I just read a fantasy, often I’ll pick up a romcom or contemporary to switch it up a bit.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer and an artist. I was a graphic designer for 10 years after college and now I’m a writer.

What is the first book (if you remember) that made you cry?

I don’t cry very easily. I can actually name the books that have made me cry. Clockwork Princess, The Fault in Our Stars, and Brightside. There is also one scene that I wrote in my co-written book The Color of Us that always made me cry when I had to edit.

What author do you own the most books of?

It’s a tie between JK Rowling, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassie Clare.

What are your favourite genres of books?

Fantasy is my first love but I also really enjoy scifi, dystopian, and romcom.

What is an under-appreciated novel?

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read. Read a lot. The more you read the better writer you will be. I’d also say write even when you don’t feel inspired. You can edit bad writing but if you don’t write, you have nothing. And if you’re feeling uninspired to write the next chapter or scene, write one you’re excited about even if it’s not what’s next.

Which books did you just finish reading recently and enjoyed?

A Curse So Dark and Lonely, is a Beauty and the Beast retelling which was amazing. One of my new favourite books.  I also recently finished King of Scars and it had an epic plot twist at the end. And of course, The Wicked King. I adore that series and Jude and Cardan.

What do you need to have with you when you are writing?

Mostly I just need quiet and something to drink…a water or a coke.

What does your writing space look like?

I have a couple places. I have a secret room hidden behind a bookcase that I write in at night. It’s painted turquoise and has tons of Cardan and Jude fan art in it. During the day when no one is home, I write in my library which has two huge bay windows that overlook our property. We live on 9 acres and so it looks like farmland. Very peaceful. I also have a writing desk for my treadmill down in my home gym but I don’t use that often.
Approximately how long does it take you to write a novel?

Usually about six months if all goes well. I edit as I go so I usually write pretty clean manuscripts.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think good self-editing is important. Make sure you’re not overusing words or phrases. Most importantly you have to show not tell. Too many authors like to do info dumps where they just give a lot of facts. Make the reader feel and see and hear what is going on, don’t just tell them.

How do you handle literary criticism?

It depends on who it is from. If it’s from an editor or beta reader, I take it very seriously. I have asked them to help me make my story better so if they have a question or concern, likely a reader will too. After the book is published, however, I avoid reviews like the plague. There is nothing I can do to fix the story once it’s been published so I don’t read the reviews. I realize that not everyone is going to like my books and one bad review can erase 100 good ones in my mind, so I don’t read them.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?

Hated was the easiest one for me to write, but Redemption was my favourite. I have always loved reading and writing YA and everything came together so perfectly at the end. Even things I hadn’t originally planned while writing the first book. There is one particular character who became so much more than I had hoped. One day I might write a spinoff series about her. There is actually a short story I wrote about her that is available in the ebook boxed set.

What are you reading now?

I am reading Queen of Air and Darkness. It is a massive book but I love these characters.

Roughly how many books do you think you own?

Somewhere between 1,000-1,500. There are piles of books everywhere.

Do you plan on publishing more books soon?

Yes! I’m actually writing two books right now. One is a fantasy and one is a steampunk fantasy. I hope to try to get a literary agent and get traditionally published.

Which author (living or dead) would you like to meet?

Jay Kristoff, Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo, Cassandra Clare, and Mary E Pearson are all authors I would love to meet and haven’t had a chance to yet.


Check out Christine’s series Hearts of Stone, College Bound (co-written with Laura Ward), and The Sophisticates on Goodreads!

Christine’s Instagram: @xenatine

I hope you enjoyed this interview and thanks once again to Christine Manzari for this opportunity! I can’t wait to read your upcoming novels! 🙂

Have an awesome weekend!!!!!

-Emma

My 2018 Christmas Book Haul!!!

My 2018 Christmas Book Haul!!!

Hey everyone! I hope you all had some amazing holidays with your friends and family! Mine was quite eventful! I went to visit my grandparents in Old Town, Maine, for Christmas and spend my New Year’s Eve reading! (I also got super duper sick on Christmas so that was funnnn.) 🙂

Anyway, while I  was in the United States, I did a bit of book shopping and I also got some amazing books that were on my TBR from my friends and family! In today’s post I’m going to show you all of the new goodies I’ll be adding to my shelves! I hope you enjoy and I am SO thankful for these new additions!

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: November 28, 2006

Pages: 208

Price: $15.21 CAN (Paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Now I’m not usually into horror in books, movies or tv shows, but I’m happy to have made an exception for The Haunting of Hill House. Hate on me all you want, but I actually watched the Netflix Original TV series before reading the book. I know that the book is quite different than the TV show but still, it was SO GOOD. I really like learning about haunted monuments and stuff like that and surprisingly, The Haunting of Hill House TV show was not as scary as I thought. It was more suspenseful and mysterious which led me to enjoy it more than I originally thought I would.

But my friends being my awesome friends bought me The Haunting of Hill House book for our gift exchange! I guess they really know me! (or maybe it was because I could not shut up about the show. Either way, I am thankful and I can’t wait to read it!)

2.Classic Works From Women Writers

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Publisher: Canterbury Classics

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Pages: 896

Price: $24.25 CAD (Leather/Fine binding) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

A fine collection of classic novels, short stories, poems, and essays from distinguished women writers.

Women writers have been making their voices heard for centuries, but their works were not always taken seriously. Over time, as women gained more social and political freedom, these works have reemerged as subjects that are considered to be worthy of closer study. Classic Works from Women Writers is a collection of more than thirty novels, short stories, poems, and essays by prominent and lesser-known female writers since the 17th century. Included in this volume are groundbreaking works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first Hercule Poirot novel; Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and her follow-up essay; and poetry from the likes of Christina Rossetti, Amy Lowell, and Sara Teasdale. The words of these authors offer a multitude of perspectives on different issues that affect not only women but the wider world as well.

I’ve really been trying to read more classics lately and most importantly classics written by women. (because feminism amiright!) While I was at Costco believe it or not (I left my house?!!!! crazy, I know.) I of course immediately scanned the book aisle and landed upon this bad boy.

I mean, logically, I bought it for the stories and poems inside right? That might no be the case for this purchase. See, I have an unnamed illness that prohibits me from not buying books with sprayed edges. (Not really but its pretty bad, everyone.) And NOT ONLY does Classic Works From Women Writers have GOLDEN sprayed edges it also has a bunch of foil accents in the flowers and I also happen to be a sucker for foil accents on book covers. So, logically, I was obligated to buy it and I do not regret it because I’ve already read some stories and they are so good! Plus, the bookshelf really is popping with this dude up there!

3.Jane Austen: Four Novels by Jane Austen

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Publisher: Canterbury Classics 

Publication Date: November 1, 2011

Pages: 808

Price: $31.06 CAD (Leather/Fine binding) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

No library’s complete without the classics! This new, enhanced leather-bound edition collects some of the most popular works of beloved author Jane Austen.

Jane Austen’s stories of clever women, elusive love, and social mores have struck a chord with millions of fans who consider her work compelling, heartwarming, and essential. Adapted time and time again for screen and stage, these enduring classics remain as enjoyable as ever, the perfect addition to every home library.

This revised, elegant edition collects Austen’s acclaimed novels Sense and SensibilityPride and PrejudiceEmma, and Northanger Abbey. New readers will be enchanted once they open the genuine leather cover, see the specially designed end papers, and read these brilliant stories, while readers familiar with Austen’s genius will enjoy the introduction from an acclaimed Austen scholar that provides background and context for the works they’ve always loved.

Just like Jane Austen’s memorable characters, readers will fall in love–with this remarkable keepsake!

I think mom caught on after my purchase of Classic Works From Women Writers, because under the tree was Jane Austen: Four Novels which is also a Canterbury Classic (that means leather bound, golden sprayed edges and foil on the cover for this one too!) Jane Austen is such an iconic writer and I previously had a copy of Emma and Northanger Abbey, but there were so many different editions and I wanted to get a matching set but some sets had Pride and Prejudice sold out and the box sets were very pricey but now I have all of them together in one beautiful book! (that also means more shelf space for more books! heheehehehe! Perfect! 😉 )

4.Sherlock Holmes Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle 

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Publisher: Flame Tree Publishing 

Publication Date: 2017

Pages: 479

Price: $23.09 CAD (Hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

The consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his faithful companion Dr Watson, are two of fiction’s most intriguing figures.

This volume contains all four Sherlock Holmes novels – A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear – as well as all the short stories originally collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Facing down Victorian villains and elusive criminals with nothing more than his formidable powers of observation, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes still has an unmatched ability to entertain.

The only things I know about Sherlock Holmes is the references Tiberius Blackthorn made in The Dark Artifices. (Notably, one of my favourite book series of all time.) But my uncle and aunt gifted this beautiful edition of the series for Christmas. My uncle proclaims these are some of his most favourite books of all time so I guess I’ll give ’em a go. I should gift him a TDA box set when it comes out so he can read MY fav books! lol.

5. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis 

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 

Publication Date: November 20, 2018

Pages: 288

Price: $20.19 CAD (Hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

SOLD just by looking at that cover and the upcoming movie sticker. (This whole impulse-buying-pretty-books is getting SERIOUSLY out of hand!) I did have another reason thought so I’ll give myself a point for that.  Emma: 1 Pretty Books: 49660603

As soon as I know there will be a cheesy YA film adaptation, I’m right on it and I will hunt every library for that book until the movie is released. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s because when I’m watching the movies with my non-reader friends its almost as if I hold the all truth. For example, I have done this for Everything, Everything, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Mortal Instruments, After, The Great Gatsby, The Hate You Give, The Hunger Games, etc, etc. I just love knowing what’s going to happen when everyone else does not. It’s also really funny when the movie gets intense and my friends turn to look at me and are like: “NO, EMMA IS SMIRKING! SOMETHING BAD IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!” like yeah, Peter Kavinsky is about to mess up BIG TIME! Same for the Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments TV Show where (Careful for spoilers) Clary dies in the season 3A finale. People at school are like “I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S GONE! NONONO!” And I’m in the corner laughing because only I know she is not dead they just pulled out Sebastian’s stunts earlier in the show. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ She been knew!

Anyway, I’ve already read Five Feet Apart. It only took me a day so if you are looking for a quick read here ya go! Super cute plot and I’ll have my review up soon!

6.The Mortal Instruments Box Set by Cassandra Clare 

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Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Pages: 3488

Price: $107.99 CAD (Paperbacks) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

All six books in the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series, now available in a collectible paperback boxed set.

Enter the secret world of the Shadowhunters with this handsomely packaged boxed set that includes City of BonesCity of AshesCity of GlassCity of Fallen AngelsCity of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire. The Mortal Instruments books have more than twenty-four million copies in print, and this complete collectible set of six paperback volumes is a perfect gift for newcomers to the series and for loyal fans alike.

AT LAST!

I have been looking for the TMI box set for two years because I could not bring myself to pay one hundred bucks for the box set and I found it, brand new, at a bookstore in Bangor for $53.50 USD (roughly $70 CAD) so it was quite the steal!

Cassandra Clare once again has proven to me that she holds my sanity in her hands with the conclusion of Queen of Air and Darkness, and I’m so happy that I can finally reread The Mortal Instruments and put myself through all that hysteria, all over again but without the grummy and stained library books! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!

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I mean aren’t we all collectively screaming for TMI characters all the time?!

Well this wraps up my Christmas Haul! Let me know if you’ve read or own any of these books so we can talk about them! I’d love to hear what you did with your families and friends or what books you read during the holidays!

Happy 2019!

-Emma ♥♥♥