Interview With YA Author Valerie Tejeda
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Below you’ll find a brief review of Hollywood Witch Hunter (Bloomsbury Spark, July 2015) and a Q and A with its author, Valerie Tejeda, from Food, Fitness & Fiction contributing editor, Joshua Flores.
Valerie Tejeda’s debut novel Hollywood Witch Hunter is a book that teens and adults alike can finish in one sitting. If their experience is anything like mine, they’ll be left longing to know what is next for Iris and the other witch hunters in the next installment.
Hollywood Witch Hunter successfully brings to life the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. It also creates an absorbing story filled with violence, romance and of course witches. It’s a great read, especially for connoisseurs of young adult fantasy books.
So be prepared for a non-stop journey that is sure to make you laugh and cry simultaneously. The book’s shocking ending may even make you gasp out loud.
The author was kind enough to allow me to interview her. Check out the highlights below.
JF: How did you come up with the idea for Hollywood Witch Hunter?
VT: Believe it or not, Hollywood Witch Hunter came to me in a dream. I had a dream one night that Marilyn Monroe was killed by a witch instead of dying of a drug overdose. So I woke up the next morning and said, “Wow! That sounds like a really interesting book,” and it all grew from there.
JF: What inspired you to write YA fantasy?
VT: I’m a big fan of YA fantasy. I love Twilight and The Hunger Games, I just love YA fantasy in general. The teenage years are so fun, and so exciting, so I thought the characters in Hollywood Witch Hunter would fit perfectly in this time of life.
JF: Why was it so important for you to write a “diverse book” with “diverse characters”?
VT: I am part Latina and grew up in a diverse world, so it made sense for me to incorporate those diverse characters in my book. It is important for me to make everyone feel like they are represented in stories and this is something I will always do in any stories I write!
JF: How did you decide to make LA the setting of the book?
VT: I was actually born and raised in Burbank, so I grew up really close to LA. I know LA so well. Southern California is my home and I wanted to put the setting in my “hometown.”
JF: Where do you write the most and why?
VT: I always try to write at coffee shops but it never works, because I spend so much time looking around and talking to people. I wrote most of Hollywood Witch Hunter on my couch with my laptop on my lap and with headphones on listening to music like 80’s rock, 90’s pop, and dub step. It was a strange combo of music but it worked for me!
JF: Was it hard for you to switch gears between writing entertainment-related articles and blogs and writing your book?
VT: I think it was a little at first. The first drafts of the first few chapters felt too much like pieces I write for magazines. But then I adapted and I found Iris’s voice. Once I found her voice I was able to stick to it.
JF: Do you see yourself in the future writing another book and/or a book outside of the fantasy genre?
VT: Yes. I’m actually writing another book right now that is totally different from Hollywood Witch Hunter. I guess you could say it’s a suspense thriller. Its still YA, but there’s no magic, which is weird for me. I’m keep thinking, “Shouldn’t a witch or a fairy come out at some point?” But I’m enjoying the process even though it’s definitely challenging. But I like a good challenge!
JF: When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?
VT: When I’m not writing a novel, I’m usually working on articles. Outside of work there’s not much free time. I do take breaks throughout the day to go get coffee or the bookstore, or just get out of the house. And of course whenever I have free time I hang out with my family and friends.
JF: What is the last book that impacted you personally?
VT: Whenever I read any books by Cassandra Clare, I always think, “Wow.” Her and J.K. Rowling do that for me. I think reading work from both authors has impacted me because they are both beautiful writers. I also really liked Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn. That’s another book with a beautiful story whose writing moved me.
JF: What advice do you have for writers who want to write for young adults or want to write YA fantasy?
VT: I would say to write and read as much as you can. I think a lot of people want to write a book, but don’t put the time into it. I want to tell people to just try to write a little bit every day. Even if you write only a few hundred words a day, before you know it you’ll have a novel. Writing a little bit here and there and enjoying the writing process is important. Tell the story you want to tell and enjoy it.
JF: Will there be a sequel to Hollywood Witch Hunter?
VT: There is definitely the possibility of a sequel. I have one in mind and there’s definitely another story there that I’d love to write.
To learn more about Valerie Tejeda or Hollywood Witch Hunter, visit Tejeda’s website.
Joshua Flores, a junior from Tustin, California. is currently an editor for the Beckman Chronicle and enjoys both reading and writing. He spends his free time writing, and coming up with weird characters for the novel he is working on. You can follow him on Instagram at @booklover41899.
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