Chanda Stafford was born in the middle of nowhere in northern Michigan. It’s the kind of place where you measure miles in the time it takes you to get there, you have to put chains on your tires for nine months out of the year, and when people ask you where you live, you hold your hand up like a mitten and point. When she became tired of the snow, she moved to Arizona and fell in love with the mountains. Eventually, Michigan called her home and she moved back, though she still misses the mountains, the warm temperatures, and the amazing people she met along the way.
To keep busy, Chanda teaches middle and high school, rescues animals, sells vintage and antique treasures, and writes books.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
If you’re looking for a book with adventure, love, a spunky heroine, and a choice between freedom and saving those you care about, you’ll definitely enjoy First.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Oh yes! My mind is always brimming with ideas. I’m working on two projects right now. One is another YA; a darker, modern story. The other is a humorous, more upbeat urban fantasy.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
From the time I was old enough to hold a book, I’ve loved telling my own stories and immersing myself in the worlds I’ve created.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Don’t give up! Writing is tough, editing is can be hazardous to your health, and finding an agent/publisher might seem impossible at times, but it’s worth it in the end.
How did you go about publishing your book?
It all started with an interview by Red Adept Publishing’s founder, Lynn McNamee on the Dead Robots Society podcast. She was discussing the editing portion of her hybrid publishing company and I was so impressed with her expertise, I submitted my novel, First, to her for editing. When my date approached, she called me up and offered me a contract with her new publishing company instead!
What drew you to writing this genre?
I love reading YA books. As a teacher, I enjoy the depth and complexity most YA offers, as well as the vibrancy of the character’s emotions as they experience many life changing situations for the first time.
If you could leave this world for your “book world,” would you?
Definitely! It’s not a perfect world, but the technology is so advanced, and the issues so complex, I’d love to experience it with more than just my mind’s eye.
What makes your novel standout from the crowd?
One of the biggest differences is that it alternates viewpoints. Not only is the book told in the main character Mira’s point-of-view, but also that of Socrates, the eighty-eight year old man who has chosen her. That alone adds a different perspective (literally) to the book, as you not only experience the world through Mira’s innocent and inexperienced eyes, but also through those of a man who’s lived five hundred years and seen the rise and fall of society several times over.
What is your view on self-publishing?
I think self-publishing is great—as long as the book has been professionally edited first. I’ve read too many self-published books lately that have had little or no editing, and it can really detract from the story.
How do you feel about banned books? Do you have a favorite?
The teacher in me loves banned books, primarily because they make students think. They make kids question reality, authority, identity, and themselves. I want my students to become self-aware, independent thinkers who grow and expand not only their literary repertoire, but their own concept of self as well.
Print or Ebook?
Ebook, only because where I live, we don’t have a huge selection of bookstores to choose from. While I love the feel of an actual book in my hands, with my Kindle I can carry hundreds of them with me at any given time.
Horror or Romance?
Both! Who doesn’t love a good serial killer romance?
Pizza or Pasta?
Pizza, of course, especially if it’s slathered with peanut butter…
Summer or Winter?
Definitely summer. You don’t have to shovel sunshine, or scrape rain off the windshield of your car before driving to work.
City or Country?
Country. It’s so quiet and peaceful. I love being out in the wilderness. If there’s a zombie apocalypse, big cities are pretty much death traps anyway.
Harry Potter or Twilight?
Harry Potter all the way. Sparkly vampires and werewolves who run around half-clothed all the time just aren’t my thing.
Cats or Dog?
Dogs. Preferably hairless. They’re so loyal and love to be with you.
Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.
When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, the boy who wants her to live, or the man who wants her dead.