Today, I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce you to one of my new favorite YA authors, CJ Darlington. I have been mentioning her YA sci-fi novel, Jupiter Winds, just about everywhere, and today she’s going to tell us more about it, as well as offer an e-book OR softcover copy (winner’s choice!) to one lucky reader. Check out the Rafflecopter below and be sure to SHARE for a chance to win! The winner will be selected Saturday, Sept. 6th.
As a homeschooling mom, I HIGHLY recommend this book for your YA reader. Very clean, no romance thread…just a good ol’ sci-fi read!
And now, let’s chat with CJ!
HG: CJ, very rarely do I read a book I feel I want to gush on and on about, but your Jupiter Winds was one of my gushers! I love sci-fi when written from that character-driven angle. Tell me more about how you decided to write sci-fi.
CJ: You make me blush, Heather. Thank you so much for the kind words. They are much appreciated! After writing three contemporary novels, I wanted to try something different, something that would excite the inner geek in me. I felt strongly that I needed to write a novel for ME. That sounds selfish at first glance, but for most authors, if they don’t write a book they’d enjoy reading themselves, then they are sunk. I prayed about it and started asking myself What If questions. The first idea that popped into my mind was to write about a girl who travels to another planet. Definite speculative!
I’ve been a fan of science fiction stories for awhile now, especially in TV and movie form. And I have really enjoyed some of the YA dystopian novels I’ve read like The Hunger Games. But what I often find in mainstream entertainment is that there’s little hope. I was excited to write something that would hopefully (no pun intended!) give readers all the goodies we love in our science fiction and dystopian stories (fantastical lands, strong heroines and heroes, etc.) but instill something a little more too. More light.
It was a natural fit for me to write science fiction, but I was a bit apprehensive about it too. I had no idea if I was truly doing the genre justice as I played around with a lot of it. It’s definitely not hard science fiction as any hard science fiction author would probably strongly object to my terraforming Jupiter which scientifically we know is made of gas. But what if it wasn’t?
HG: I think the fun of scifi is the speculation! YA is a very trendy genre these days. What motivated you to write for this age group, versus adult (which you had written for the in past)? What I love about your YA is that it is clean and something I don’t worry about sharing with my tween/teens. Did you make a conscious decision to veer away from the romance angle in this novel?
CJ: You know, I tried to write what I would enjoy reading. I am not a huge romance fan, especially not in my YA reading. That’s just a personal preference. Nothing wrong with those who enjoy it one iota, but I wanted to focus on so many other elements. And it’s almost cliché now how much romance is in a lot of YA out there. Kids already have to grow up too fast, why make them do it in their fiction?
But that isn’t to say that I don’t want to write about love. I totally do. But I choose to write about familial love, and the love between good friends, which I feel has been neglected in much of today’s fiction.
Why did I choose to write YA? In the back of my mind I did realize it’s a popular genre, so there was an element of noticing it’s current. But even in my adult books I was finding myself often writing about younger characters and really enjoying it. In fact, the main character in my book Bound by Guilt is a sixteen-year-old girl, and while that book is not classified as YA, it could easily be read by teens. That’s something I really strive for with all my books. I want both adults and teens to be able to read them, which is why I’m careful about how far I push the envelope in some of my more gritty scenarios.
HG: Along the lines of the character-driven angle, do you have a sister? It seemed to me you really captured that sisterly relationship between Grey and Orinda, and that mother/father/child relationship (loved the family dynamics in this book, folks!). Do you think the family angle will be in all your YA books?
CJ: I’m so glad you noticed the family dynamics as that was something I really enjoyed writing. When I was reading Divergent by Veronica Roth, one aspect I enjoyed was the relationship Tris has with her family. I so wanted that aspect to be embellished, but it was not. With Jupiter Winds I got my chance. It was definitely a conscious decision. Whether it will always be a strong element in my YA stories is something that will depend on each story, really. Orphans can be fun to write about too! LOL
And yes, I do have a sister—an identical twin! J
HG: Let’s also talk worldbuilding. Did you sketch where the sisters lived on Earth? Or the compound on Jupiter? Or the spaceships? I’d love to know! Also, do you pin a lot of ideas or are you on Pinterest?
CJ: One of the problems I had in early drafts of Jupiter Winds was not describing things well enough. Something that was suggested to me (by my mom!) was to draw a few things so I could really picture them in my head.
I didn’t sketch everything, but a few things like the uniforms and emblems made into my notebook.
Later, I created a Pinterest board for the book, which can be viewed here: http://www.pinterest.com/cjdarlington/jupiter-winds/ – I should’ve created it before I started!
HG: The cover is so eye-catching…from that, I read the blurb, and knew I really wanted to read Jupiter Winds. Tell me more about how you developed it–color scheme, formatting, etc. This book is published with your publishing house, correct? I’ve already raved to you about the clean edits on this one!
CJ: Yes, our publishing house Mountainview Books, LLC published Jupiter Winds. The cover took some work to envision. I think we had at least twelve, maybe more, cover mockups. Some were good, a few okay, and others really awful. None of them were exactly what we were looking for, and honestly I was starting to get frustrated with how long it was taking to find the right cover for the book. So we just scrapped everything and started over. Simple is better. We found the image of the girl and worked from there. I’m a fan of the grungier fonts, so that was an easy choice. Plus it reminded me of the Saving Mars series by Cydney Swanson (a clean mainstream YA series I enjoyed). I’m sure the Lord was guiding us! I prayed many times to find just the right cover.
HG: Finally…the question I’ve been dying to ask…WHEN is the next YA novel coming out, and will it follow the sisters? Or do you think you’ll veer into a different story? I thought your ending left it open either way. Regardless, congrats on writing what I would call a modern classic in YA sci-fi, CJ! Thanks again for visiting my blog!
CJ: Thank YOU, Heather. It’s my pleasure. I have the first chapter written in a second Jupiter book. I would like to write another, and I think Grey and Rin will definitely play big roles, if not the main roles like in Jupiter Winds. I must say I am intrigued with what happens to Dana though… we shall see. I have a contemporary book to finish first, but if all goes well you just might see a second Jupiter book next year! I’ll keep you posted.
HG: Whoo-hoo! Will be on the lookout for that one! Thanks again, CJ!
Grey Alexander has one goal—to keep herself and her younger sister Orinda alive. Not an easy feat living unconnected in the North American Wildlife Preserve, where they survive by smuggling contraband into the Mazdaar government’s city zones. If the invisible electric border fence doesn’t kill them, a human-like patrol drone could.
When her worst fear comes true, Grey questions everything she thought she knew about life, her missing parents, and God. Could another planet, whose sky swirls with orange vapors and where extinct-on-Earth creatures roam free, hold the key to reuniting her family?
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