Kara and David, welcome to the Blog! I’m so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First, can you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write this story?
Kara & David:
Thanks so much for having us on your blog. We’re excited to be here and chat with you 😊 Here’s our official blurb for Warped Remains:
Emily Sheffield’s parents are the worst. Okay, maybe Emily has been erratic and her behavior a little reckless lately but shipping her off to live with her grandparents in Alaska is so much worse than she deserves. At least she gets to spend her layover with the cute boy on the same flight. If she has to leave everything and everyone she knows, she might as well make some new–and cute–friends, right?
For Aiden Cohen, life in Alaska is perfect—good grades, great friends, an awesome church, and work he loves. There’s just one thing missing: his mom. Desperate to know her, Aiden sets out to find the woman who abandoned him at birth. But a disastrous first meeting with his birth mom, leaves Aiden stunned and ready to go back to his ordinary life in Alaska. And with fate finding Aiden and Emily on the same flight, he couldn’t be happier. If only he can convince her that God is real, everything would be perfect.
Everything seems to be going well—until a confusion on the runaway prevents the plane from landing. Circling the runway should have been simple, but when the plane hits a bad patch of turbulence, throwing it off-course, the pilots lose control. The plane crashes, leaving Emily, Aiden, and two dozen other passengers stranded on a creepy island. Surviving and hoping for rescue are their primary goals, but the least of their troubles. They aren’t the only ones on the island, and it’s now a race against time for someone to find them before the island’s inhabitants do. But there are people willing to do anything to keep the island’s true purpose a secret—even if it means sacrificing the lives of the survivors.
Kara & David:
Why did we choose to write this story? We’re both huge fans of the TV show LOST, so that was a huge inspiration. We both also love thrillers, so it was a no-brainer that we’d write one. Beyond that, though, we wondered what would happen if two people from completely different lifestyles were forced together under intense situations and had to trust each other to survive. Would one person corrupt the other? Or would they both change and adapt for the better? From there, Emily and Aiden were born and the story progressed.
And is this the first book you have published?
David: This is my first book that is published! With regard to Kara’s many accomplishments, I’ll let her take the lead!
Kara: No, this is not the first book I’ve had published, though it is my debut Christian YA book. Prior to Warped Remains, I had written and published two adult Christian romantic suspense books. And prior to that, I had been writing and publishing in the secular market under a pen name.
How long has it taken you to get published?
David: My journey to publication differs from the norm both in time and the nature of it. Many, many, many (did I mention: many?), after being politely rejected for a book (if we can even call it a book!) that had no right being subbed out, I asked the editor, Kara Leigh Miller, if she could give me guidance on how to become published — my ultimate dream. After going back and forth, I asked point blank: “I have a great idea that will be a winner. I can’t do it myself, so would you like to co-author it with me?” To my disbelief, she said yes. The rest, as they say, is history.
Kara: I had been writing for a solid two years before I decided to seriously pursue publication. Once I did, I was lucky enough to get contracts with a couple small presses for a series of novellas. It wasn’t until I started writing full-length novels and pursuing an agent that I really hit a wall. LOL. It took almost two years to sign with an agent. We’ve since parted ways, and now I’m actively pursuing publication with Anaiah Press and self-publishing.
What draws you to writing YA thrillers as opposed to YA fantasy or horror?
David: To me, the YA audience has the greatest imagination out there. Not only can they picture and imagine the story, but sometimes, they actually believe in. In other terms, YA was always my favorite category to read–and I wanted to write something worth reading!
Kara: I’m a huge fan of everything scary and creepy, so writing thrillers really suits my interests. It’s fun to put characters in crazy and scary situations and see how they’ll react, especially in Christian fiction. A character’s true faith always comes out in the worst situations—are they firm believers who will rely on God to get them through? Or do they pray just enough to get out alive? It’s always interesting to see which way they’ll go.
Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favourite authors?
David: Hmm… that is a tough one to answer. If I had to choose, I grew up reading the Hardy Boys. I identify with Frank and Joe Hardy, in the sense that as a writer we are always curious about what comes next. What the next plot, the next chapter, the next book. Without that curiosity—it’s hard to become a YA writer.
Kara: Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight Saga. Believe me, I know the issues with that series, but I find Mrs. Meyer to be extremely inspirational. Like me, she was just a mom with a crazy story idea. She wrote it for her own enjoyment first, (much like I did with my very first novel), and that passion showed on every single page. I strive to love my stories and characters enough so that love will shine through to readers.
What advice would you give to other writers trying to break into the Christian market?
David: Here is advice not only for the CF market, but writing in general: A lot of times, we can doubt ourselves: we can’t do this, or we can’t do that. I found the opposite: when sitting down to write a book, it takes patience, perseverance, discipline, and a hint of creativity. Being able to do that shows you, in my opinion, that you are capable of doing anything! Never give up on your dream! In the end, it’s a mind game—and the “only thing to fear is fear itself.”
Kara: I agree with David—never give up! Also, read a lot in the genre you’re writing. Know what else is on the market, what’s selling well, and pay attention to the content. I’m an acquiring editor for a small Christian publisher, and I’m amazed at the queries I receive that claim to be Christian fiction yet contain things that would probably offend a lot of Christian readers. It really boils down to knowing your market.
What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing?
David: playing sports, reading every book in the genre, and spending time with my wife and family!
Kara: I love going to the gym! Not only do I feel better, it helps get the creative juices flowing. I like to go shopping with my girls, going to the movies, reading, and spending time with my husband.
Do you have any quirky, must-have rituals before you get to writing? (candle burning, café latte, coffee shop only, etc.)
David: This may sound strange and all that, but whenever I would write a specific scene—a thrilling chapter, a sad chapter, or a romantic, I would listen to music that corresponded with the theme of the chapter or topic.
Kara: Like David, I also need music to write. I create a playlist for each book I write, and when I sit down to work on a book, I’ll listen to it. And I always have to have a bottle of water within reach. Oh, and I turn on Dr. Phil for extra background noise. No idea why, but it’s weird to write without his face on my TV. Hahaha.
Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?
David: Together with the best co-author out there, we would brainstorm Warped Remains chapter-by-chapter. Each brainstorming chapter would be 3-5 sentences. From there, we would just write—in my opinion, creativity and world building happen when you imagine the next scene being played out, the next line being thought, and the next words being said. Plus, it helps to have Kara Leigh Miller—you can never go wrong with that.
Kara: David seriously gives me way too much credit. LOL. I’m the type of writer who can’t be trapped into any sort of box, which is a nightmare when it comes to building an author brand. But I love to write across a variety of genres from thrillers to romance to dystopian, and at any give time, I’m actively working on multiple projects.
If you could have dinner with three famous authors, alive or dead, who would they be?
David: James Patterson, Franklin W. Dixon, and Kara Leigh Miller. These 3 authors are trailblazers in their respected genres. I would love to discuss what them how they started in their genres and going into 2020, would they have done things differently.
Kara: Sadly, David and I have yet to meet in person, but someday, hopefully soon!! For me, I’d love to have dinner with Stephenie Meyer, Stephen King, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. Each of these authors have influenced my love for certain genres and tropes that I’m currently exploring in my own books. I’d want to know where they come up with their ideas, how they know if a particular idea is a keeper, and what they would do differently if given the chance.
Where can your readers find you on social media?
Kara: You can find me here:
Newsletter – https://eepurl.com/bn1wyD
And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
David: We’re working on Inferno, which is Prison Break meets Lord of the Rings. As the say, stay tuned…this is just the beginning.
Kara: Not too much longer! I have a contemporary YA Christian romance releasing on May 19, 2020 called Perfectly Imperfect. I love this story SO much, and I cannot wait for the world to meet Isabelle and Grayson. I’m hoping to release a paranormal romance (my ode to Twilight) in the fall via my self-publishing company, FireChicken Press, LLC. And, as David mentioned, he and I are busy working on our second book.
Thanks so much for being here today, Kara and David!
If you want to enter their giveaway, click here and hit up Rafflecopter for a free copy:
If you want to grab yourself a copy of WARPED REMAINS, you can do so here:
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081C67K45/
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/warped-remains-david-jemal/1134878245
Smashwords — https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/990552