The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt: Clue #5

Good morning lovely readers,

So today we have an exciting guest on the blog.  Today, we have Stephanie Morrill (one of my all time favorite authors) on the blog for an interview about writing and her upcoming book The Lost Girl of Astor Street which is on shelves today. If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen me post a few things about the upcoming release.

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Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.

Bethany:What got you into writing? 
 Stephanie:I’ve wanted to be a writer since first grade. My elementary school encouraged writing time and we had freedom to write whatever kind of stories we desired. Then a parent volunteer would type our stories up for us, and we could pick the color for our cover and the binding. At the end we were supposed to illustrate it (I was awful) and then read it to the class. I loved it so much, and after that I always wanted to tell stories for a living.
B:What is your favorite part of the writing process?
S:I love so many parts of the process, but probably the brainstorming part is where I have the most fun and the least hair-pulling-out moments. That’s a time when the story still feels perfect and full of potential. But I love the first draft and edits too. I even love writing my synopses!
B:Where do you get inspiration for your writing from? 
S:Like most writers, I get story ideas all the time. I’ll be at the grocery store, and I’ll overhear a bit of conversation. Or I’ll drive past a boarded up house and think about people who used to call it home. Not all the ideas stick, but a lot of times they start sticking to each other and building momentum. My initial idea for The Lost Girl of Astor Street came while I was putting away laundry, of all things. My mind was wandering (as it often does during chores), and I started thinking about different stories I like. I thought about Veronica Mars for a while, and then something triggered a thought about Downton Abbey, and I thought, “I wish there was something out there that was like Veronica Mars but in a Downton Abbey kind of setting. Oh, maybe I could do that!”
B:Do you base characters off people you know in real life? 
S:I sometimes start with people I know in real life. Or I borrow from them. My friend Kelli once told me that she hates slow dancing because she always tries to lead, and I thought, “That’s so Piper!” and put it in Piper’s mouth.
B:Why 1920s Chicago? 
 S:Because of what an interesting time and place in history it was. Prohibition opened the doors to all kinds of morality questions, and there was very little structure in place for enforcing it. So criminals grew richer and more powerful every day. They had tremendous influence in politics, and it was a very scary thing to stand up to them. There are so many interesting stories out of our country in that decade.

Stephanie’s book, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, is a definite must read for those who love historical fiction books. I’m pretty sure I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. You can get the book at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Clue: is closer

Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White
 

Until next time,

Bethany

World of Shadows: Review

Hey guys,

Today, we are another stop on my fellow author’s blog tour for her new book that released on December 11. I had the opportunity to read the book, World of Shadows, early, and I have to say that it was phenomenal. World of Shadows was written by my friend, Emily Rachelle.

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Born in Panama, Emily Rachelle traveled throughout the country and the world with her Air Force family. She currently attends university in Indiana, pursuing a degree in public relations. When she’s not curled up with a book or her computer, Emily loves to ride around campus on her hideously hot pink bike. Of course, if it’s raining (as it often is in Indiana), Netflix-binging and amateur art are always options. Emily is also the author of poetry collection Rain In December and Christian novella Sixteen. You can find her on her blog and on Facebook.

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In this urban fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, modern-day teenager Beila Durand is plagued by nightmares that lead her to discover – and wind up trapped in – a cursed underground world. The invisible people that live in this medieval village depend on Beila learning the truth behind their curse – and why she is the only one who can set them free.

In her quest for answers, however, all she seems to find are more questions. Where do the echoing screeching at night originate? Who is the isolated man that speaks with Beila from the shadows of his cloak? What does this New York girl have to do with any of it? And will she ever find a way back home?

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon

My Thoughts on the book:

For those of you who don’t know, I love reading retellings of fairy tales. When I was given the chance to read it in advance, I knew that I couldn’t resist, and the story did not disappoint.

The main character, Beila is a complex, well-rounded, and multidimensional character that was well developed throughout the book. While modeled after Belle in the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, she stands alone with her own personality and story. But in tradition Belle or Beila fashion, she is fascinated by the library found deep within the mysterious winding tunnels.

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The mysterious man in the cloak, nicknamed Shadow by Beila, is marked by his mysterious bits of wisdom and knowledge of the unknown curse that is plaguing the mysterious tunnels and village belonging to the invisible people. Together these two compelling character shape the core of the story.

However, my favorite character was the unique Adele, one of the invisible villagers. Emily crafted the supporting characters in a beautiful and compelling way. Prior to the book, I had never read a book that had invisible characters that were so vividly described. Interaction with the villagers were done through the eyes of Beila, and the descriptions were beautiful painting the villagers in a way that despite them being invisible I could picture what they looked like.

Emily takes a traditional story that most people grow up hearing and spins in a new and fresh way. Just when the reader thinks that they know what is going to happen next, the story turns in a new direction. In a beautiful mix of modern and medieval, the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast takes on a refreshing new twist. I look forward to reading more from Emily Rachelle if they are anything like this book. Five out of five stars.

Don’t forget that there is a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Bethany

World of Shadows: Dream Casting

Good Afternoon my lovely readers,

Not sure about you guys but today is a rather chilly Winter day. I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon and evening doing some writing and reading some fellow author’s works. Today, we have a special treat on the blog. A good friend of mine and fellow author, Emily Rachelle, just put out her book World of Shadows. Today, she is here on the blog talking about her dream cast for her characters. I will also be posting a review of her novel on December 22 so make sure you check back in. Without further ado, my friend Emily.

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About Emily:

Born in Panama, Emily Rachelle traveled throughout the country and the world with her Air Force family. She currently attends university in Indiana, pursuing a degree in public relations. When she’s not curled up with a book or her computer, Emily loves to ride around campus on her hideously hot pink bike. Of course, if it’s raining (as it often is in Indiana), Netflix-binging and amateur art are always options. Emily is also the author of poetry collection Rain In December and Christian novella Sixteen. You can find her on her blog or on Facebook.

bookdesign596About the Book:

In this urban fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, modern-day teenager Beila Durand is plagued by nightmares that lead her to discover – and wind up trapped in – a cursed underground world. The invisible people that live in this medieval village depend on Beila learning the truth behind their curse – and why she is the only one who can set them free.

In her quest for answers, however, all she seems to find are more questions. Where do the echoing screeching at night originate? Who is the isolated man that speaks with Beila from the shadows of his cloak? What does this New York girl have to do with any of it? And will she ever find a way back home?

You can find the book on GoodReads and Amazon

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Dream Casting

Every writer I know has several moments in their writing process when they envision their story as a movie. For me, that’s the whole thing; when I write, I’m just recording a movie in my head. You’d think casting a movie would then be second nature to me. In reality, dream-casting World of Shadows is probably the hardest thing I’ve done to promote this book. I have such a clear image of every character in my mind that it’s hard to find someone who fits. But I’m here today to share a potential cast list with you!
Our first order of business is Beila’s family. At the beginning of the book, Beila is moving back into her childhood home with her father, her brother, and her sister. Beila’s dad was a tricky one to cast, but I decided on J.K. Simmons. He seems like he’d be good at a fatherly role. jk-simmons
Beila’s sister Viviann was fairly easy; Landry Bender is perfect for the girl I envisioned. She looks the part and carries herself the way Viviann would.

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Beila’s brother Damien was such a headache to cast—almost the hardest, in fact. In the book, he’s the quiet, steady, reliable older brother. There’s actually some deleted scenes in which Beila seeks him out for advice. He’s one of my favorite characters in the book, and I wanted him to be perfect. I ultimately decided on Tom Sturridge, but with the right actor I could be convinced to change my mind.

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In the tunnels, two of the most important characters Beila meets are the apparent leader Adele and her daughter Louna. Since both characters are members of the invisible village, appearance takes a secondary place in casting these parts. Personality and voice are key.
I knew the moment I began this casting experiment that I just had to have Astrid Berges-Frisbey somewhere in the cast. I fell in love with her as Syrena in the fourth Pirates of the Carribean movie, and as a French actress she embodies the spirit of the tunnel village. I did consider several other women for Adele’s part, but Berges-Frisbey had my heart before I even started. It was meant to be.
Adele’s daughter was a bit harder to figure out. So many child actors are older than I realized, and I didn’t want someone who could just pass for a young girl—I wanted this movie to be age-realistic. Eventually, I found Harshaali Malhotra. Malhotra is Indian, so not quite the person you’d expect to play the daughter of a French peasant woman, but she looks a lot like the Louna I imagined. She’s young and sweet and innocent, but she can portray the gravitas of a girl who’s lived through the experiences Louna has.

harshaali-malhotra
By far the hardest role to cast was Shadow, the mystery cloaked man. I needed someone who could win readers’ hearts without fitting too easily into the usual idea of “tall, dark, and handsome.” I can’t have my character pigeonholed. I’m not sure if that’s where I landed, but it was my goal.
One of the many original inspirations for Shadow’s character was actually Alex Pettyfer, but since he was already in Beastly, I felt that option was out. Then I discovered an actor from Reign, but he played the historic prince that inspired part of my book, so I didn’t want to cast him, either. I thought I’d found my man with Mitchell Hope… who, besides lacking the maturity I wanted, turns out to play the son of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in their Descendants franchise. Would I ever find a leading man who wasn’t already tangled up in the story?
It took me hours, but I finally determined that Nicholas Hoult was the man for the job. I loved him in Warm Bodies, and I’m so excited to see him in Equals when I get the chance. He can play unusual romantic leads and fill the heartthrob role. His characters always win my heart. I think he can achieve the aura of mystery Shadow’s portrayal would require.

Finally, Beila Durand, our leading lady. Obviously the main character is the most important role in a film. I considered dozens of actresses for this part. After much internal debate, I narrowed my options down to two ladies: Hailee Steinfeld and Ariel Winter. The decision was tough. I watched movie clips and trailers from both women’s works as well as interviews with the actresses. I love Hailee Steinfeld as a singer, and The Edge of Seventeen looks funny and original. But does she have the right personality to play Beila? I’d never heard of Ariel Winter before. It was Winter’s interviews that finally made my decision; her family relationships and her personal motivations in life showed me she was perfect for the part.

It’s highly unlikely my book would ever be a movie. Even if it did, authors rarely get a say in casting decisions when their works are translated to the screen. But writers can dare to dream. If I were making this movie, this is the cast I would choose.

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Hope you guys enjoyed having Emily as the guest blogger today. It’s been so much fun working with her on the tour. I am excited to share my thoughts on the book later this week. Make sure you check out her facebook page and blog as well as her book.

Here is a Rafflecopter giveaway for the book.