PJ Sharon here. Please join me in welcoming Renee Pace, author of the Nitty Gritty series of YA books that I can tell you first hand, are outstanding. Renee joins us from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and has agreed to answer a few questions and share her recent release, THE FORSAKEN. I hope you’ll leave a comment for her and show her some Scribes love!
1) What do you write and why do you write it?
This is easy. If I didn’t write I’d go crazy. I’m not kidding. All my life the voices in my head haunted me but once I started writing I could breathe. Growing up in a small fishing community I was always different. For one, my grades were good and I loved to read and jog. All those things made me different and shunned. Writing enabled me to have friends – they might have been in my head but to me they were my life line.
2) How do you handle the Doubt Monster?
This is a biggie. The doubt monster has always haunted me and especially writing YA. I’m 43 what right do I have to be writing teen stories? Well about three years ago when I delved into writing young adult I basically said “screw it.” I went back to the basics of writing. Why did I do it? It made me feel good. That’s my motto. There will always be people wanting to kick you but tough, that’s life. I’ve developed a tough hide over the years but in the end if it makes me happy, that makes my life and family happy so that’s my gauge when it comes to writing.
3) What do you love or hate most about the characters in your latest release?
This is easy. I love my fierce independent strong willed female, Isabella. I hate the boundaries I had to create around her. My character is 17 and yes I pushed boundaries when it comes to the big “sex” issue and let me tell you I had to take out a ton of stuff but what the heck where you doing when you were 17? I certainly was trying things out and that included sex. Parents these days might wish that not to be the case but get real – says the mother of four. I have a 17 year-old and I’m not stupid – case in point when I came home (unexpectedly) to find him with a girl in his room who promptly jumped into the closet when I opened the door. I must say I handled that with class. I basically said get dressed and come upstairs for a talk. My talk – key word – RESPECT. Respect the girl and yourself. I also said I’d buy him condoms anytime and any girl saying she’s on the pill – I told my son – so what. That won’t help you not get AIDS or syphilis or the other sexually transmitted drugs. Isabella is faced with her mate who wants to claim her but after being banished to Earth she’s discovered that girls on Earth date first and get to know their mate before deciding to get married which isn’t the case in the Heavens. Isabella is like any teen – she enjoys the desire but she’s not keen on the commitment issue.
4) If you could be anything other than a writer, what would you be?
I’d be a world traveler. I love to travel and I enjoy going off the beaten track. I also like to travel old school – backpack and buses work fine for me.
5) What was the last good book you’ve read?
I devoured Caragh M. O’Brien’s Birthmarked Triology – loved it.
Excerpt: The Forsaken by Renee Pace
Izzy liked to boldly display some of her flesh when singing in the band. Why? Because it went totally beyond what she’d been taught. While they didn’t wear some of the more tantalizing clothing a lot of teens did, some in the band did wear short skirts and most, like her, wore halter tops on stage. If her own mother could have seen her, she’d have certainly dropped dead. Thanks to the demons and the last heavenly war, she didn’t worry about that. Her mother, like Meredith’s, had been killed trying to save her and the other Cherubs clustered together for evening prayer. Izzy had vowed that day, watching her mother use her body as a shield to save her, she would learn to fight. No one else would ever sacrifice their life for her. She looked over at Anya, who had the unique distinction of being the youngest Cherub kicked out of the heavens. Forced out at the tender age of sixteen, like the rest of them, she hadn’t aged a day in a decade. Showcasing flesh was a rebellious act and went against everything they had been taught as Cherubs. But that was why they did it.
Still, every night when Izzy forced herself to appear happy and relaxed in her stage outfit, she never felt at ease. She might wish to be brazen and admire the carefree attitude of the girls who dressed in skimpy attire at the recreation center, but deep down her teachings and her upbringing reared their ugly heads. As uncomfortable as she was in the spotlight, their singing voices quite literally paid for everything in their lives now and she never forgot how they had to make their living. Sunday night, and the recreational center owned by Michael Hughes, known simply as Mike, to them and his closest friends, filled with the usual. Once again, Izzy thanked the heavens he’d found her. During those first awful days, which turned to bitter, cold months when her faith in herself and what she’d fought for had been most severely tested, she truly understood loneliness. Izzy wasn’t sure what she would have done if he hadn’t of found her. She tried not to think of the alternative, but seeing the teens using their bodies for quick cash left her no doubt what she would have had to do to secure food and shelter for her sisters. His kind offer of help with no strings attached truly touched her to this day. When Izzy had to quickly acclimatize to Earth, she’d learned the hard way that not all humans were nice or caring. With nowhere to go, she’d taken to singing for her supper on the streets. Humans called it begging but it had never felt degrading to Izzy. Not that it was fun, of course.
Michael had discovered her a month after she’d left the caring hands of humans who tried to heal her. It had been a cold, drizzly day and she’d feared her voice might give out. He had walked up to her, while she’d been busking and handed her a business card. Their hands had touched briefly, but it was all Izzy needed to grasp the intel she’d needed. Michael wanted to help teens. He’d suffered his own loss and when the heavens opened up that night with a heavy downpour, Izzy took him up on his offer of help. Over the years the center had changed, with her help and that of her sisters she’d rescued. Luckily, Michael never once said no to her. He had inherited what he called “old money,” and thoroughly liked trying to make a difference. She knew he had hopes of setting her and the band up with a “lucrative” record deal. Izzy wanted none of that. In exchange for the brownstone he and her sisters had helped refurbish, they sang and did other chores as needed for the center. Izzy liked performing on Sunday nights. The crowds were less interested in scoring sex or looking tough. Most of the kids crossing Michael’s door were like her—in need. Sunday nights was more a night out with friends, a last hurrah before the week of school called them forth.
Tonight Izzy knew she showed a lot more flesh than usual. She’d discarded her normal high-top sneakers for the military-styled boots she wore when fighting demons and that should have told her something. She wasn’t feeling her usual calm, in-control self, and it was all Nathanael’s fault.
Thanks for being with us today, Renee. I’m looking forward to reading The Forsaken, and especially the third book in your Nitty Gritty series, OFF STROKE. I loved OFF LEASH and OFF LIMITS!.
You can find Renee and her books at the following locations.
The Forsaken – Falling to Earth hurts like Hell – edgy YA – Etopia Press YA
Off Stroke, Nitty Gritty III – March 15, 2013 – Nitty Gritty realistic teen coming of age novel