Jeff Sampson is the author of the newly released, YA debut Vesper, and today's he's here to answer a few of my questions....
What are the top three reasons why teens (or even adults) should consider picking up Vesper the next time they see it online or in stores?
1) Vesper is a fast paced murder mystery that's a mix of sci-fi, paranormal, and coming-of-age storytelling with a lead character that I think is really relatable.
2) A lot of paranormal YAs tend to be sort of super dark and super serious, but I like to infuse my stories with a healthy sense of humor. If you like your paranormals with a tone similar to Buffy or Veronica Mars, Vesper offers that up.
3) While there's a minor romantic subplot, the book doesn't focus on it much -- instead, the book is all about Emily being a bad ass and solving her own problems. For those of you with paranormal romance/love triangle fatigue, Vesper might just be for you!
Vesper is told from the viewpoint of Emily Webb so would you mind sharing a little about her? Also, if you could offer her any type of advice, what would you say?
Emily is shy and super geeky. She sees the other kids around her growing up and somehow knowing what's what, while she feels like she never got the memo on how to be a proper teen. But she's fine with it. She's got her BFF Megan, and her DVD and bookcases full of movies, TV shows, and books that she devours on Friday nights instead of going out. She's a little ashamed of her body and likes to cover herself up; she doesn't really want to be in anyone's spotlight. Of course, when nighttime comes and she changes into a semi-skanky party girl thrill seeker, she doesn't get much choice in the matter.
Emily has a lot to learn about becoming an adult, which she will throughout the series. The advice I'd give her is probably to stop worrying what other people might think, do her thang, and own it. Confidence makes life much more fun!
Vesper is told from the voice of a girl, obviously, which leaves me to wonder what made you choose to tell the story for a girl's POV rather than a guy's? Also, what was one of the hardest parts of getting Emily's "voice" down?
It was never really a question for me that this was a story for a girl character. The themes I wanted to explore all called for a girl—not to mention that this book was also intended to be an homage to the “girl power” genre shows I grew up with. A boy character going through the same circumstances would not only be viewed differently by his peers while doing the same actions, but would also most likely differ in how what he goes through changes him. I actually do explore a potential boy reaction to the same situation in Deviants 2, but it’s all told via Emily’s observations.
Writing Emily actually wasn't hard at all. A lot of what she goes through—body and confidence issues, growing apart from a previously close friend, feeling like she has no real place in school—are more universal and easy for me to relate to. Not to say I was perfect at playing the part of a teen girl. I had editors, male and female alike, who made sure to point out when something I’d written came off too overtly masculine, and to let me know a particular style of shirt is called a cami, since I didn’t know what that was, exactly.
What was your favorite aspect of writing Vesper?
I got to let loose and pour my personality out on the page! All my previous books were sword & sorcery fantasy, so my weird pop culture humor didn't really work for those settings.
All of your previous books have been for a middle-grade audience so what inspired to switch to YA with your new series?
I actually stumbled into writing middle-grade by accident. I always really wanted to write YA, but I was hired by a publisher to write one middle-grade fantasy book . . . and then another, and another. Next thing I knew, it was years later and I had six MGs released. But my sensibilities with my own work tend to be more modern and skew older. I do have some more MG ideas I'll get to at some point, but for now I intend to stick with YA.
What are three things that your readers would be surprised to know about you?
1) As a teenager, I was an award winning line dancer. That's right, I boot scoot boogied at county fairs and country western clubs. I was totally cool. (No I wasn't.)
2) I used to sell gumballs and gumball machines for a living.
3) I used to be a teen book blogger myself. This directly led to me being a YA writer. I became pen pals with the author whose books I focused on, she became my writing mentor, and she and her husband gave me my first writing gig -- outlining plots for two books in a series called Remnants, when I was just 18.
What's up next for you book wise? Is there anything else you would like to add?
Up next I have a middle grade fantasy novel I wrote called Monster Slayers: Unleashed, which I wrote under the pen name "Lukas Ritter." That's in May. At this very moment I'm wrapping up writing the second book in the Deviants series, tentatively titled Havoc. That will be out a year from now, with Deviants #3 a year later. I also have another MG book I'm writing under a pen name (which I can't talk about), and I'm developing another YA series that I want to try and shop this year. I like having a lot on my plate.
As for Vesper, I hope everyone who takes the time to read it has a good time!
Thanks so much Jeff!
To find out more about Jeff, head on over to his website/twitter, and to buy his book head on over to Goodreads to see the buying options.