YA author Emily Lloyd-Jones swung by with a pie bribe earlier last month so we could have a chat about her debut novel, "Illusive," coming out on 15 July.
Ciere Giba is among a small minority of the population who ends up with superpowers after the administration of a vaccine that apparently had a few...kinks. She's an illusionist, with the ability to manipulate her environment and appearance at will, and in a society where those with superpowers are feared, tracked, and ostracized, she's turned to the criminal lifestyle.
Ciere is a thief. A good one. The Hello Kitty Bandit, as she's known, just has one small problem...
xoJane: Tell us a little about your book. That is not a question. But tell me anyway.
Lloyd-Jones: It was pitched as “X-Men” meets “Oceans Eleven,” and it’s about a group of high-class thieves who try to track down the formula for the vaccine that accidentally gave them superpowers. Only, the thing is, the government is looking for it too, and it turns into a deadly race.
xoJane: What has the publishing process been like for you as a debut author?
Lloyd-Jones: I wrote a book. It sucked. I was 16. I wrote another one. And another one. I wrote a lot of words. Eventually I wrote a book that didn’t suck. I got an agent. And it sold.
xoJane: I see many YA authors banding together by year as debut groups -- have you found it helpful to have the support of authors going through the same experiences you are?
Lloyd-Jones: Yes. I am a member of OneFour Kidlit. It’s been invaluable because there’s really no such thing as an average writing experience. Every journey is really different, and having people to share everything with makes everything go smoother.
xoJane: Part of that has involved using critique partners. While I see lots of authors recommending the use of critique partners, not many talk about what makes a good critique. What do you think critique partners/betas can do to help authors?
Lloyd-Jones: First, I would ask the author what type of advice they’re looking for, because you don’t want to criticize a book’s pacing if the author’s looking for help on characterization. I do think honesty is the key to a good critique partnership, and you have to find writers/people who are harsh, yet supportive. You want people you can trust to point out your story’s plotholes, because if they don’t, someone else will. (And they might not be nice about it.)
xoJane: What’s your advice to people interested in getting into writing?
xoJane: What’s your workflow, process, and workspace like?
Lloyd-Jones: I’ve sort of Pavloved myself into working. I have a certain incense that I’ll light, and when I smell it, I’m like “oh, this is when I’m supposed to be writing.” It’s a stupid trick, but it actually works. My workspace is typically my couch, which is currently covered in cat hair, because my cat insists on sleeping next to me while I’m writing.
xoJane: Who are some of your favorite authors and what’s on your bookshelf these days?
Lloyd-Jones: What is currently on my bookshelf? Hmm. I have to think about this. I just started reading “Beware the Wild” by Natalie C. Parker and it’s very good so far [Interjection: I loved this book!]. I just read “Ruin and Rising” by Leigh Bardugo, which I have been salivating over for several months, and it was not at all a letdown, it was amazing. I also just read “Stitching Snow” by R.C. Lewis, which all of you fans of fairytale retellings should look forward to because it’s about a Snow White on an ice planet --
Lloyd-Jones: -- and instead of dwarves there are mechanical drones. So, basically, I read a lot of YA. And I love it.
xoJane: How about music? And do you make playlists for your books?
Lloyd-Jones: I listen to a lot of music and it is all very eclectic. It’s hard to pin down just to one band or genre. About 80% of my 500 GB hard drive is taken up by my music collection. I do make playlists for my books, specifically, I do character playlists. It makes it easier to get into the mindset of certain characters if I have the same songs playing every time I’m writing that character. Also, depending on the character, it can go any way -- for example, one of the characters in “Illusive” is inspired almost entirely by big band and swing music. Others are inspired by acoustic music, or dubstep. It just depends.
xoJane: OK, I’ve gotta ask: Who’s the big band character?
xoJane: I hear you know a lot about fearing sheep. Can you tell us more?
Lloyd-Jones: When I was a child, sheep were bigger than I was. And we had one sheep at the farm where I grew up that insisted on repeatedly attacking me. This instilled a deep fear of all fluffy white four-legged animals that were bigger than I was. At one point in a snowy winter, I was faced with a sheep, and rather than stand there, I chose to run through brambles until my boot fell off, after which, I ran half-barefoot through a snowy field and flung myself over the pasture fence, rather than face the animal that probably wanted the patch of grass that was sitting next to me.
xoJane: So, how do you feel about llamas?
Lloyd-Jones: I have no issues with llamas.
xoJane: Finally, a key question for our readers: Cake, or pie?
Lloyd-Jones: Despite the pie offering I brought to this interview, I’m choosing cake. I just prefer to make cakes.
So there you have it, folks. "Illusive" is a super-fun, fast-paced read, and it's just the first in a series that promises to be totally awesome. (I don't want to brag or anything, but I've read early drafts of the second book, and, believe me, stuff will be going down. STUFF. BIG STUFF.)
(Also, thanks for the pie, Emily.)