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Author Interview: F.A. Hershey & Excerpt

Thursday, August 4, 2011
Today, we have F.A. Hershey here to talk about her novel Swirls. She is also hosting a giveaway for Swirls at Goodreads (link at the end of this post). Don't forget to read the first chapter excerpt that Hershey has provided and see if you'd be interested in entering the giveaway!

Sixteen-year-old Julia finds herself leaving her London life behind to move with her parents to the Amazon jungle.

A native descendant, she becomes familiarized with her own roots for the first time in her life. However, she never imagines she is about to discover much more than her own past but also just how crowded our little planet is...

Before we start, tell readers a little about yourself.
I was born in Brazil and lived most of my life in the countryside. My childhood was a part of my life that I’ll never forget. I spent most of it playing outdoors, exploring, creating and I think this played an important part in my life and made me the person that I am today. I discovered the amazing world of books, thanks to my grandmother, as soon as I learned to read and I never stopped reading from then on.

I moved to England with my husband in 2003 when I was eighteen years old, and I’ve lived here ever since.

I have always loved good stories and I read almost as much as I breathe, but it wasn’t until I moved to England that I realised – it was more of an epiphany, really – that I desperately wanted and needed to write. I have written many short stories and gotten halfway through a couple of novels, but Swirls was the one idea that stuck with me and became my debut novel in a trilogy (The Outsiders trilogy).

Describe Swirls to readers
Swirls is a story about discovery, adventure and romance told by Julia. She makes lifelong friends during her journey, encounters enemies she never thought possible and loves like nobody has ever loved before.

You mentioned that you were born and raised in Brazil. How has your time there influenced the writing of Swirls?
The fact that I was born and raised in Brazil made me even more fascinated about the rich and diverse culture of this country. I used to live far away from the Amazon, but I think everyone who has lived anywhere in Brazil, even if only for a short period of time, can feel the strong bond of family, friends and traditional local customs no matter where they go. These strong bonds are well developed in Swirls because they are part of my upbringing.

Tell us a little about the writing process for Swirls.
Swirls is a lot like a puzzle which I’ve been adding pieces to and placing them on the right position for about two years before its publication.

The main idea for Swirls was based on a very disturbing dream I had which I wrote down at the time because it was very fantastic and too realistic to be forgotten. I don’t want to give too many details about it, but the first dream Julia has is the actual dream I had.

I later decided to work on a plot around it, and although I would have to make it 100% sci fi and fantasy, I wanted to keep it as “close to home” as possible, so I could be able to convey feelings that teenagers would relate to.

During its development, I have also used the whole process of moving to a different country and leaving people that you love behind based on my own experience.

I don’t exactly know why I have chosen the Amazon forest to be part of it. Maybe it was because of its magnificence and the fact that we still can’t understand it fully. It’s a mysterious place – nature at its wildest.

If you got to talk with one of your characters for an hour, who would you choose and what would you say to him/her?
I talk to Gabriel and Ruby all the time, but only because I’m in on the big secret...

To avoid spoilers I rather keep the secret intact for now. However, I’d be glad to discuss these conversations with readers that are already in on the secret too... ☺

If you were to pick three objects/items to represent Swirls, what would you pick and why?
  1. A ceramic pot
  2. The Kanuayed’s tribe book
  3. A door

The ceramic pot represents the rawness and the natural link between the Kanuayed tribe members and the forest that it’s their home. It also crossed my mind that a ceramic pot could also be seen as metaphorically encompassing a secret, to keep in shut tight...

The Kanuayed’s tribe book is an essential object to represent Swirls. It contains Julia’s history, the tribe legends, and it helps Julia understand her own past during her journey.

A door could perfectly represent the life transition that Julia goes through in Swirls.

Is there anything you'd like to tell readers before they pick up a copy of Swirls?
I’d like to believe that Swirls is a new take on Young Adult that you’ve probably never seen before. Keep an open mind and dive right into Julia’s quest to find herself in this world.

Quickshot Questions
Swirls playlist?
Definitely. Music influence and inspire me so much! Here is the playlist for Swirls ( I also link the song with a character):
  • Is it any wonder – Keane (Julia)
  • Resistance – Muse (Gabriel)
  • Bad Dream – Keane (Julia)
  • In the End (piano version) – LinkinPark
  • Talk – Coldplay (Julia)
  • Newborn – Muse (Julia)
  • Trouble – Coldplay (Gabriel)
  • Strawberry Swing – Cold Play (Julia)
  • I will possess your heart – Death Cab for Cutie (Julia/Gabriel)
  • A lack of colour – Death Cab for Cutie (Yoji)
  • Dream Catch me – Newton Faulkner (Julia/Gabriel)
  • The Call – Regina Spektor (Julia/Gabriel)
  • You only live once – The Strokes (Julia)
  • Guiding light – Muse (Julia/Gabriel)
  • I’ll be there for you – Bon Jovi (Yoji)
  • One last breath – Creed (Julia)
  • Trouble sleeping – The Perishers (Julia)
  • Undisclosed desires – Muse (Gabriel/Julia)
  • Neon Trees – Animal (Gabriel/Julia)
  • All souls night – Loreena McKennitt (Julia)
  • Just say yes – Snow Patrol (Julia/Gabriel)
  • Exogenesis – Symphony part 3 – Muse (Julia/Guayi)
  • Butterflies and Hurricanes – Muse (Julia)
  • Thom Yorke – Lotus Flower

Coffee or Cola?
A hundred times coffee.

Childhood superhero?
Okay. Please don’t laugh. Samantha Stevens from Bewitched (but I’ve always had a soft spot for Serena – Samantha’s cousin – too!)

Favourite vacation spot?
I don’t go on vacation much – we try visiting family and friends in Brazil once a year -, but I do spend a lot of time in Richmond Park here in London, with my husband and son whenever we have the chance. The view is fantastic and it lifts the spirits.

Three books on your summer reading list?
I am currently reading Magyk which is the first book on the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage and I plan to move on to the second and third book soon. I will also be working on Threads (The Outsiders #2) during the few hot and sunny days of English summer. ☺

Swirls Excerpt
‘What are we doing here? Who are these people? What is this place?’ I changed the subject.

‘Does it matter?’ Ruby Lips asked. I still didn’t know her name.

I gulped. ‘I should go,’ I mumbled, and turned to leave, but the dark silhouettes were blocking the door. I spun around to face the woman again.

‘Are you kidnapping me?’ I gasped. This wasn’t a dream after all; it was a nightmare. Probably one of those where you can never run fast enough and you end up dying, which is when you usually wake up with your whole body aching from the effort of dream-running.

‘No, of course not, you’ll understand soon, I promise. And I hope you forgive me for this too.’ She reached for my arm while she spoke, and her face twisted in pain as if she didn’t like what was about to happen and that was enough for me to start panicking. But with her touch came darkness and nothingness.

As with almost every dream, somehow you just know when something bad is going to happen to you before it happens, and it’s time to run for it. But I couldn’t escape now; I trashed, I kicked and screamed, all to no avail. At intervals, total blackness turned into hazed images, almost like an abstract painting, of ruby lips and shadowed faces. Then total blackness again. I would lose all of my senses for a period of time, and when I thought I was finally waking up and the nightmare was over, I was startled to hear my own scream. And it wasn’t an after-dream scream – I was still in it.

The pain that washed over my entire body was excruciating; I felt like I was being mashed to the ground starting from my head down to the tip of my toes.

Thanks for joining us here today! For those of you interested, there's a Goodreads giveaway going on for 2 copies of Swirls. It's open in multiple countries, including the US, CA, GB, BR, FR, IT, ES, and CH.

You you don't win, never fear! You can purchase Swirls at Amazon!

F.A. Hershey's Website | Facebook | Twitter
F.A. Hershey was born and raised in Brazil and had strong influences from her grandmother, who first introduced her to the path of literature. She started writing in 2003, when she moved to London.She isstudying for a BA Hons Degree in English Language and Literature, while looking after her 6-year-old son and her dear husband.

1 comment on "Author Interview: F.A. Hershey & Excerpt"
  1. Wow :o I love the author's playlist! I'm actually listening to some of the songs right now - they're pretty calming. Thanks so much for the interview!


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