Thursday, March 8, 2018

Interview with young adult author Gwendolyn Druyor

Novelist Gwendolyn Druyor joins me today. We’re chatting about her new YA fantasy, Shifter School.

During her virtual book tour, Gwendolyn will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card 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!

Gwendolyn Druyor was born at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station Hospital, North Kingston, RI. The ID bracelet wrapped three times around her little wrist. She could swim before she could walk and read before she started school.

She has traveled the world telling stories. After a year in Amsterdam writing and performing sketch comedy at Boom Chicago, she toured North America with Shenandoah Shakespeare and with the incredible educational show Sex Signals. From Paris, FR to William’s Bay, WI, you’ll find her gypsy life reflected in her books. If you met her on the road, read her closely, you may find yourself in there.

For now, Gwendolyn lives in Hollywood with her Irish Jack Russell, Josh Lyman Zyrga, who is still pouting over the fact that she didn’t put him on the cover of WereHuman.

For more information on Gwendolyn and her projects sign up for her newsletter at

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Laylea first appeared in my novelette, Dee. She demanded an origin story which turned into my SciFan novel, WereHuman – The Witch’s Daughter. Now, she and her brother are on their own in Chicago and she’s making her way the best she can as a fourteen-year-old with no birth certificate, no parents, and no control over her shifting. She jumps from human to dog whenever a car backfires. Plus, she just learned that terriers her size only live about fifteen years.

In Shifter School, Laylea gets thrown into the underground Shifter community. Literally. As a punishment for shifting in front of humans, Laylea is condemned to Lincoln Park Shifter School where she finds, weres of all species, friends her own age, and too many secrets. This place is not your grandmother’s uber-secret, underground, shifter academy.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted Laylea to have some friends her own age. She’s always seemed fine with the other Wyrdos in Chicago, but now that she’s a human girl much of the time, I want her to learn about others like her. Putting her in school seemed a great way to go about it. Plus, fourteen was THE WORST year of my life. I thought putting Laylea through it would give me a do-over.

Excerpt from Shifter School:
“The Enforcer lets dragon shifters run around the city?” The rich kid, Oscar Luke, stared after Morioka’s departing car.

“The Enforcer doesn’t decide who lives in Chicago.” KC peered down into the dark hole beneath them.

Laylea peered up, trying to see the screeching figure Morioka had screamed at. She could have sworn it was Kyle.

“Morioka isn’t a shifter. She’s a demon. And it’s just her.”

“If she shifts, she’s a shifter,” Oscar told her, not kindly. “There’s no such thing as demons.”

Laylea didn’t see the point in arguing. She couldn’t exactly tell him the tiny black figure in the sky was a vampire bat.

Oscar didn’t seem to care if she had a response anyway. He poked KC. “Go on. You’re the one who wants to be here. You scared?”

KC took a breath to respond, but didn’t. Instead, she stepped onto the first stair. Laylea followed close on her heels. They’d only descended three steps when Oscar caught up.

“What? It’s this or prison for me,” he said when Laylea glanced up at him.

“Isn’t this just prison for wyrdos?”

The other two stopped walking to ask, “For what?”

“Wyrdos, supernaturals,” Laylea explained. Didn’t they know the word wyrdos? “People like us. This is a prison for us.”

Oscar started down again. “It’s a school. If it were a prison, do you think the dragon would have just let us decide for ourselves if we wanted to come down?”

The steps shuddered and all three put their hands out to hold on to the walls. KC cried out and flailed. There was no wall on the far side. Laylea and Oscar both grabbed for her and caught parts of her enormous backpack. They held her steady as the entrance swung closed above them, leaving the three in near perfect darkness. Oscar was the first to start moving again.

KC hissed, “Careful, Luke. We don’t want to have to scrape you off the floor.”
“It’s Oscar,” he whispered back. “And I’m a panther. I can see well enough. Would you like to hold my hand?”

He made the offer in a mocking tone, but Laylea stumbled forward to take him up on it before he moved too far out of sight. “Come on, KC. Just until our eyes adjust.”

KC put a hand on Oscar’s shoulder and kept the other on the wall.

Laylea worried that the rich kid might shake them off, but he moved slowly and his hand felt just as clammy as Laylea’s entire body. The blackness didn’t seem to be getting any thinner as they descended. She felt her heart in her stomach and while she tried not to fall, she also focused on staying in girl form. She had to stay human.

“So, Lee,” Oscar asked. “Why have you been pressed to shifter prison?”

A flash of the gunfire, rain, and the smell of Junior’s blood spiked through her senses. “I almost killed someone.”

KC choked out a laugh.

“Attempted murder?” Oscar laughed too. “You, puppy?”

“No.” She remembered what Morioka had said in The Office. “I’m here because I shifted in front of thumpers.”

Both of them gasped this time. Killing someone meant little to them but shifting in front of thumpers shocked them. Laylea hurried to turn the conversation away from herself.
“What about you?”

“I stole a six-pack of crappy beer,” he admitted. “But my daddy is rich, so I get to come here.”

“If you’re rich, why did you steal it?” Laylea felt his hand grow a little warm in hers when she asked this.

“For fun.”

She didn’t believe him.

KC wasn’t even listening. “I see light.”

Laylea peered down and she saw it too. A small yellow glow bounced along far below them. She sped up.

“You don’t think we’re rushing toward a dungeon?” Oscar teased.
Laylea ignored him even before KC said, “Ignore him. This is a school. They wouldn’t put us in a dungeon at a school.”

Laylea noticed that despite his teasing and the light, Oscar hadn’t let go of her and he wasn’t shaking KC’s hand off his shoulder. None of this seemed exactly right, but at least she wasn’t heading into it alone.

“I’ve never been to school but I didn’t imagine you had to whisper a password, go through a secret lion door, and descend a deadly stairway to get there.”

“This is all just so we’ll look forward to the tests,” Oscar whispered.

KC snorted.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on WereHuman – The Warrior’s Son, sequel to WereHuman – The Witch’s Daughter, which introduced Laylea. While Laylea and her brother have moved to Chicago, their parents are gathering forces to fight the Consortium so the whole family will be safe. Their friend Jay and Laylea’s brother join the team.

Family can be hell. Torture can be hell. But nothing's worse than the hell you carry around in your own mind.

Genetic-manipulation survivor, Jay Doe, lives alone in the mountains. Abandoned shapeshifting dog, Bayard, lives surrounded by firefighters. They're both hiding from the Consortium. They're both about to be found. And the Consortium doesn't take prisoners. They take volunteers for the Biomedical Team to play with. If Jay and Bayard want to survive, they're going to have to learn to trust each other. They're going to have to learn to trust themselves. And they're going to have to escape from hell.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written stories. In 6th grade my teacher told me if I wrote a play, the class would perform it. When I wrote The Freedom Monorail, he had to renege. (Sidney Fenn elementary in Northern Ohio just wasn’t ready, I guess.) But the first time I really felt like a writer was when a sketch I wrote was put into the show at Boom Chicago. It’s one thing to improvise and get a laugh. It’s a whole new level of incredible to hear other people get a laugh on lines you wrote for them.

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 write more than full-time. I also narrate audiobooks and give tours at Universal Studios. I try to start every day with writing. I get up, write for a couple of hours, and then go for a run, walk the dog, eat breakfast, answer email. I’ll write again for a few hours and then head up to my Sound Cave to read other people’s books for a couple of hours. I’ll edit and work on marketing in the evenings. And on nights when my partner goes to watch Survivor or Walking Dead at our friends’ place, I’ll write some more. This is the plan. I never manage to follow the plan.

The days I work at Universal Studios, it’s easier to stick to the plan. I get up extra early, write until I have to leave. Then, between tours, I’ll answer emails and work on marketing. After my tours, I’ll take a notebook and hide inside whatever historic set isn’t being used that day and write for an hour or so. When the sun goes down, I head home and try to get some narration in.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a performer first. So, when I sit down to write, I open up Scrivener and set my water close to hand. I might light a candle. I put headphones on and get jamming on Thunder Focus sounds. Then I will shut my eyes and envision myself backstage at a 99-seat theater. I smell the fresh sawdust and still-drying paint. It’s a little chilly in the dark wings. I hear the audience rustling. The Stage Manager calls places. The house lights dim and the crowd settles. Then I walk onstage. I see the scene set before me, my characters in their places. The klieg lights flood the stage. And I start writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer and an actor. Now, I am a writer and an actor. I don’t think my mother ever believed it would happen. I don’t think she wanted it to happen. But after she came to see me perform at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, she was given a seat upgrade on the flight home because the gate attendants were fans. She’s been okay with it since.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I don’t think readers realize the power of their reviews. Sure, they help sell books which permits me the great honor of continuing to write. Sure, they pick me up on days when the words aren’t coming. But, my reviews are where I go when I’m deciding what to write next, when I need a character name, or when I just can’t with writing an ad. My twin sister isn’t a performer. But she is THE best laugher for press night openings. She isn’t a writer. But she reads like books are oxygen. I know I’m only half of the equation. Your reviews remind me of that. Thank you.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you for the fun questions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour and I hope it is a fun one for you :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting Shifter School ON RELEASE DAY, Lisa!! It was fun chatting with you. You ask great questions.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the release!


Unknown said...

Thanks, Trix! Today's the day and it's going great!

Bridgett Wilbur said...

Good luck with the release and I would love to read your book.

Unknown said...

Thanks Bridgett! I hope you love Laylea and her friends. I'm really excited by all the attention the book is getting. Leave a review when you finish and let me know what you think.

Unknown said...

Sounda like a fantastic read!! I love Shifters so this is right up my alley!😍 Congrats on the Release & the Tour!πŸŽ‰πŸ“–πŸ˜And Thank you for the chance in your awesomely generous Giveaway!!😍

Unknown said...

Thanks, Kris! I hope you love it! Laylea would kill for your hair. Unfortunately, it would disappear the first time she shifted. So *I* dyed my hair purple for her!

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing the great post, I enjoyed reading it!

Unknown said...

Thanks for reading, Victoria. Good to see you again. This was a really fun interview.

Bernie Wallace said...

Thanks for hosting the giveaway. This looks like a fun read. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Rose-Marie said...

Wow I can't fathom being so prolific! And these two books sound very interesting. I know someone who just self published, they sure spent quite a bit from the concept to being out there doing gatherings promoting the book. I'm a Border Collie, I have to find out how this works for me!

Unknown said...

Thanks for coming by, Rose-Marie. I think my friend Erick is a Border Collie, too! You guys would be the most fun shifters! I hope you love the books. And thanks for appreciating how much work it is.