By Ariella Moon
New school. New friends. New reputation. High school sophomore Ainslie Avalon-Bennett works hard to hide her Crazy Girl past. But as long as her best friend’s disappearance remains unsolved, she can’t shake the depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder that once landed her in a mental ward.
Ainslie’s tenuous control over her life shatters when her warring parents ditch her at Christmas. While they take a cruise to “work things out,” Ainslie must spend the holiday in Palm Springs with her aunt and uncle, owners of a struggling Mystery School and occult store. Plunged into the world of fire fortunes, dragons, entity eaters, and an ailing spell book, Ainslie is well beyond her comfort zone. Then she meets a boy who spikes her pulse and calms her OCD. But will she lose him once he discovers her past? Or will his deadly secret, hidden in plain view, be their undoing?
Ariella Moon writes about magic, friendship, secrets, and love in her Young Adult novels, Spell Check, Spell Struck, and Spell Fire, Books 1, 2, & 3 in The Teen Wytche Saga. Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred Ariella’s teen years. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. An author and shaman, she now lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, shamelessly spoiled dog, and an enormous dragon.
INTERVIEW: Ariella Moon, author of Spell Fire, The Teen Wytche Saga #3
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Double Fudge Brownie.
One food you would never eat?
Shrimp – unless I wanted to go to the Emergency Room.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
You should read Spell Fire because of its compelling protagonist and authentic dragon magic.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I am plotting the next two books for the Teen Wytche Saga. Book 4 will be more complex and a little darker than the first three. I’m also revising the manuscript for the first book in a middle grade fantasy trilogy. Exciting times ahead for my readers!
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
A few weeks after I did an all day author event at a middle school, two packed manila envelopes arrived in the mail. Every child in the Language Arts classes had written me a thank you letter — even the students who had been absent the day I visited! The letters were fabulous. Everything from “You inspired me to become a writer,” to “Wow! You’re short!”
What is your dream cast for your book?
I’ve been posting dream cast photos on Pinterest for the Teen Wytche Saga. For Spell Fire:
Ainslie: AnnaSophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries) or Sophie Lowe (Once Upon A Time in Wonderland).
Evie: Stephania Owen (The Carrie Diaries).
Jett: Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower).
Thor: I’m still searching for the perfect Thor. Any young Travis Fimmel or teen Heath Ledger lookalikes out there?
Lucia: Jennifer Lawrence
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
I loved The Chronicles of Narnia. The series has magic, adventure, fascinating worlds, strong female characters, and romance — basically everything a girl could want.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Study your craft and never give up. Okay, maybe that’s two.
How did you know you should become an author?
In sixth grade I won a national essay contest. Talk about a confidence booster!
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Evie, who appears in all of the books, has my math anxiety. Like me, Salem, the goth from Spell Check and Spell Struck, is petite and magical. Although Ainslie from Spell Fire resembles my daughter, I gave her my experiences with dragons and metaphysical stores and schools.
If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Math has always been my kryptonite, especially word problems. Just thinking about two trains leaving the station at the same time makes my chest constrict. When I gave Evie, the main character in Spell Check, severe math anxiety, I followed the old adage, “Write what you know.”
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….
The Hunger Games. I was reluctant to read it because I abhor violence, but I’m so glad I did. It should be studied in Language Arts classes because of the quality of the writing and the important themes it explores. I also wish I had written Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because it revolutionized children’s books and publishing in so many ways.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
J.K. Rowling. You said wildest dreams!
Favorite quote from a movie?
At the end of The Wizard of Oz, Glinda the good witch tells Dorothy, “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.” When the Scarecrow asks Glinda why she didn’t tell Dorothy before, Glinda replies, “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.”
What is on your “keeper shelf” of books?
Two of the least known books on my keeper shelves are Lisa Ann Sandell’s Song of the Sparrow, and Carolyn Turgeon’s Godmother. Sandell’s YA book about the Lady of Shalott (from King Arthur) is exquisitely written. There isn’t a single wasted word. I love Godmother because it has the best first chapter end hook EVER.
Character most like you in someone else’s book?
Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. I loved school (except math) and I graduated summa cum laude and at the top of my department. Like Hermione, I am too much of a control freak to do well riding a broomstick. As a shaman, spirit flight was the hardest skill for me to conquer.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?
One of my favorite scenes in Spell Fire is when Ainslie becomes dragon drunk. It brought back happy memories of a dragon encounter I once had. It was fun to write, unlike the scenes where Ainslie’s obsessive-compulsive disorder goes into overdrive. I tend to embody my characters, and the OCD scenes made me so edgy.
What is next on your to read list?
Curtsies & Conspiracies, Book 2 in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series.
140 Characters or less Tweet about your book.
Spell Fire by Ariella Moon. What if everyone you went to middle school with knew your secret? New high school. New drama.
Do your friends or enemies ever find themselves in your books?
So many of them appear in Spell Fire, it made me nervous. But the characters are composites and my friends have enjoyed ferreting out which of their traits made it into the book. No word yet from Spell Fire’s two villains. Guess the protection spell is working!
If you were not a writer, what would you like to do?
I am a Reiki Master and shaman, so I have an interesting practice outside of writing. I help my clients with pain management, getting through chemo, discovering the origin of an emotional or physical wounds, etc. I do a lot of chakra clearings. I’ve also been called upon to clear a medical building of a ghost, help people near death make peaceful transitions, do soul retrievals, and locate evidence in a police case.
Are you for or against books being made into movies?
For! When the first Harry Potter movie came out, my daughter initially refused to see it because she had a firm idea of what Harry’s world looked like, and she thought the movie would ruin it. It was jarring at first, but also magical. She spent the first movie complaining about all the scenes that had been cut. Finally she relaxed and came to love the movies and appreciate them as separate works of art. I love how movies encourage people to read and buy books.
This or That
TV or Movies?
Hot or Cold?
I cannot stand to be cold. My daughter only applied to colleges in snowy states and countries because she feared I’d follow her to school!
Print or Ebook?
I love the smell, feel, and the good memories a printed book evokes. But free and inexpensive ebooks encourage people to try new authors. So I vote for both.
Horror or Romance?
Summer or Winter?
I used to live for summer and dread winter. Then I moved to the desert. The temperature reached 123 degrees last summer. The sidewalks reached over 200 degrees. I had to get up at 5 a.m. to walk my dog. So far, winter here is beautiful.
Harry Potter or Twilight?
Harry Potter! No contest!
PC or Mac?
Cats or Dog?
My daughter and I are both allergic to cats. So, of course, dogs.
Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook. I don’t think in 140 characters or less.
Top Five or Top Tens Lists
Ariella Moon’s List:
- J. K. Rowling
- Gail Carriger
- Carolyn Turgeon
- Herbie Brennan
- Suzanne Collins
Ainslie Avalon-Bennett’s List (protagonist in Spell Fire)
- Sylvia Plath
- Hunter S. Thompson
- Terry Pratchett
- Ernest Hemingway
- J. K. Rowling
Things That Inspire You
- My daughter, though I don’t consider her a thing.
- The elements: earth, fire, air, water
- My muse.
- Reading great books.
- Certain music
Pieces of Advice you have for aspiring writers.
- Join a writers’ organization like the Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, or Sisters in Crime.
- Continually learn and improve your craft.
- Join a critique group, preferably with people at your writing level or above.
- Enter writing contests produced by well-known organizations (see #1). Look for contests that give feedback, and have editors or agents as the final judges.
- Always follow submission guidelines and research the publishing house before you submit.
- Attend conferences for writers.
- Edit out as many adverbs (-ly words) and gerunds (-ing words) as possible.
- Use action verbs. For example, “stalked” conveys more meaning than “walked.”
- Check sites like Editors & Predators before signing with an agency.
- Persevere. What you love to write may not be hot at the moment. Hang on to your manuscript in case the market changes.
- Strawberries and yoghurt
- Builder’s Bars
Foods you wish you could eat and never gain a pound
- Ice Cream
Things that bring a smile to your face
- Positive book reviews
- Author events
- Being a volunteer art docent
- A movie and popcorn on a rainy day
- Meals with friends and family
- Reading a great book/discovering a great new author
- Perfect weather
- A potty-trained puppy (Miss Avalon…)
- Typing “The End” (Though this can be bittersweet.)
Words you try not to use.
Words you love.
- Conquistador (I like the sound of it, but not what it represents)
- Migrate (I once heard a teacher tell her students to migrate over to the computers.)
- Leached/leeched (I always have to look them up to see which one is correct.)
Ariella Moon’s List
- London, England
- Wells, Somerset, UK
- Anywhere in Kauai, USA
- Anywhere in Cornwall, UK
- Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
- San Antonio, Texas, USA
- San Francisco, California, USA
- Palm Springs, California, USA
- Manhattan, New York, USA
Ainslie Avalon-Bennett’s List
- Paris, France
- Rome, Italy
- San Francisco, California
- Cuzco, Peru
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- London, England
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Manhattan, New York
- Bath, England
Words that describe you?
Ariella Moon’s List:
Ainslie Avalon-Bennett’s list (protagonist in Spell Fire)
Pieces of advice you would tell the “teen” you
- You will never need to use advanced math.
- A boy without a moral compass will grow into a man without a moral compass.
- Don’t drink coke and eat garlic bread for lunch.
- Keep your embarrassingly overly emotional journals. You’ll need them later.
- When you multiple nine by any number, the answer will add up to nine. (9×7=63. 6+3=9)
Movie you watch over and over again
- Ten Things I Hate About You
- Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part Two)
- A Christmas Story
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black
- The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis
- The Teen Wytche Saga by Ariella Moon
- Max Starr novels by Jasmine Haynes
- Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger
- Magnificent Devices Series by Shelley Adina
Books Made Into Movies
By Ariella Moon
I’m not usually given to lies and deception, but the advent of each Harry Potter movie used to ignite my rebellious, irresponsible side. On opening day of each movie, my wild alter ego would go to the office at my daughter’s school and sign her out early for an “appointment.” A student runner would fetch M. from class. M. and I would maintain serious expressions until we were in the school parking lot. Once we were inside the dark and nearly empty theater (the later showings would be sold out), we’d scarf popcorn and try to keep from imploding from excitement.
My daughter is away at college now. But I employed our strike-early-and-beat-the-crowd method with the film version of Catching Fire. I kept my expectations in check, since I had been somewhat disappointed by the first Hunger Games movie. That film strayed from Suzanne Collins’s book to insert scenes that set up the rest of the franchise. As a consequence, the movie lacked the book’s emotional punch. In Catching Fire, the film focused on the emotional core of the book. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen brought fresh passion to the part. The action scenes were explosive and heart pounding. After the credits rolled, I returned to my car and texted my daughter. My next impulse was to rush home and reread the book.
Translating books into movies can bring families together, stimulate book sales, bring new readers to the table, and inspire debate —a win-win situation for all. And if Jennifer Lawrence is looking for a quiet little indie project, I think she’d be great as Lucia, the entity eater in Spell Fire. It’s a small role, but I have big plans for Lucia in Book 5 of the Teen Wytche Saga. If my novels are ever made into movies, you can be sure my daughter will be at my side at the premiere. We’ll be the two women dropping popcorn in our laps as we try to act cool and contain our excitement.
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
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