Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Interview with YA author Val Muller

Young adult author Val Muller joins me today to talk about her coming of age novel, The Girl Who Flew Away.

During her virtual book tour, Val will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card and a download code for The Girl Who Flew Away, a download code for The Scarred Letter, a print copy (US only) of The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and an e-book of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Teacher, writer, and editor, Val Muller grew up in haunted New England but now lives in the warmer climes of Virginia, where she lives with her husband. She is owned by two rambunctious corgis and a toddler. The corgis have their own page and book series at www.CorgiCapers.com.

Val’s young adult works include The Scarred Letter, The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and The Girl Who Flew Away and feature her observations as a high school teacher as well as her own haunted New England past. She blogs weekly at www.ValMuller.com.

Welcome, Val. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Girl Who Flew Away is about a girl who has never fit in, and in the span of a week learns secrets about her family and her lineage, and creates a few secrets of her own. It’s about addiction, adoption, family, and friendship, blending the challenges of being a teenager with the dangers of the wilderness.

What inspired you to write this book?
As a high school teacher, I see so many students who aren’t outgoing, who aren’t the popular kids, who have these amazing interests that aren’t necessarily mainstream—and yet somehow they seem convinced that their interests and lives aren’t noteworthy. I created Steffie as an embodiment of those types of kids. As she discovers the truth about her family, she learns the end route of the path she is on—the path of low self-esteem and of trying to find gratification in the approval of others. She learns that she is going down that path, too, and has to decide whether she is willing and able to make necessary changes. The more I thought about the book, the more I wondered how I as a person could help others like her.

Excerpt from The Girl Who Flew Away:
My mind races. My tailbone aches. I’m exhausted and scared. Darkness has fallen, and everything takes on a sinister shape. Car headlights seem to glare at me. Even strangers going in and out of the stores look more dangerous.

I feel alone. I think about going back into the store, explaining everything to the clerk, and asking him to call my parents. I look down at Sally’s dragonfly necklace. I wonder how many times in Sally’s life she must have been scared and felt hopeless and had nowhere to go. If she could do it, then the least I can do is spend a few extra hours trying to rescue my friend. When a police car pulls into the convenience store parking lot, I dash out of the way and resolve to make it to the park somehow.

The park is a half mile up the road. I know it’s difficult for cars to see me now, so I keep way to the side of the road. Before long, I get off my bike and walk. At the entrance to the park, I realize the gate is locked: no one is admitted inside after dark. It’s a chained fence meant to keep out cars, but I’ll be able to sneak in. I leave my bike at the gate and climb over the barrier—and I’m in the park.


What exciting story are you working on next?
My next work is for my Corgi Capers series. It’s a kidlit mystery that takes place in my most feared setting: winter! The novel involves a terrible blizzard that separates and traps characters and tests their limits. I procrastinated in writing it, but that turned out to be a good thing: during our last historic blizzard, I went into labor with my daughter, and I learned first-hand just how emergency responders react when the roads aren’t plowed and someone needs to get to a hospital!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Honestly, in first grade we had to write a poem. I wrote mine complete with rhyme and meter, and the first-grade teacher marched me to the front of the lunch line and took the whole class to the fifth-grade wing. She had me read my poem to the fifth-grade teacher, the one who everyone basically considered ruler of the school. I remember my first-grade teacher waiting with me, nodding at the reaction of the fifth-grade teacher. I knew then that I had to write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a high school English teacher. Before my daughter was born, I got up early and wrote in the hour or so before I had to get ready for work. Now, my mornings are much less predictable. Sometimes if I get to work early, I’ll sit in my car and write. Otherwise, I wait until the kiddo goes to bed and write in the dark hours of the evening. Several of my editors have commented about the fact that I seem to “know teenagers.” I guess I have my job to thank for that!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I prefer to write out all my stories by hand, even novels. Once in a while, I’ll think faster than I can write, and I’ll jump onto a keyboard. But for each novel I write, I have at least one spiral notebook with scrawled stories on it. I think much more creatively holding a pen than tapping on a keyboard. I guess that explains my pen obsession. I have a wooden treasure box filled with pens.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Always a writer! All of my elementary school teachers encouraged me to do so, but I always thought it was something that simply happened passively. It wasn’t until I graduated college that I realized to be a writer, one had to—well, write! On a daily basis!

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The Girl Who Flew Away:

The Man with the Crystal Ankh: Amazon

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

Thank you for having me!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Val said...

Thank you for hosting me :)

Victoria Alexander said...

I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing :)

Bernie Wallace said...

Who is your favorite author of all time? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980@hotmail.com

Unknown said...

congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)