Thursday, September 6, 2012

Interview with YA Author T.J. Dell

Today I'm excited to announce that I'm hosting for my first blog tour for YA author T.J. Dell and she's going to talk a little about her new book "Whispers in the Woods" and her writing life.

Vol. I
When Evie Parker meets Lucas Spencer she begins to feel hope again. Lately she's been going through life in a fog and Lucas is all about teaching her how to have fun again. For the first time since the accident she knows what it means to be happy.

So who cares if Lucas is a little odd. It isn't that strange that she's never met his parents, or that teachers never seem to notice when he's late for class. Evie tries not to care, but on top of all his peculiar behavior she's been feeling kind of sick lately-- ever since she met Lucas actually.

When Lucas decides it is time to come clean with all his secrets Evie has to make some hard decisions.

Vol. II
All Evie wants is a little bit of normal in her life-- is that really too much to ask?
Lucas isn't normal, but he makes her happy. That should count for something. Evie thinks she can find a balance that will let her be normal and also be with him.

Of course she hadn't counted on adding his family into the mix, or his ex-girlfriend.

Life with an elf is never boring.

Lucas and Evie were finally at a place where Evie was comfortable with her mix of normal human teenager and fantastical elf boyfriend. Then she went and got herself crushed by a tree.

Evie wakes up with a whole lot of extra issues to deal with. Not the least of which is a trip inside the Veil to see Lucas's home. She never would have agreed to go if she'd known she was going to have her own secret to hide.

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So how did it all start? When did you know you were a writer?

Hmmm....  Well I have always been a lover of books, and I think the idea of writing a book of my own has been bouncing around in my brain since I was little.  We're talking Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins age.  However, the first time I actually considered writing a novel as an adult was about eight years ago. 
I had just finished reading the most disappointing series of books.  You know the type where you race out to get each new book and then devour hundreds of pages in a single sitting?  Well when I got to the end of the final book I was completely disappointed, dissatisfied, disillusioned, and every other 'dis' word you can think of.  Later that night I was on the phone with my then boyfriend (now husband) ranting about how even I could have written a better ending.  And Dan (who is always very patient when I go on those kinds of rants) listened quietly and then asked, 'so why don't you?'.  It was an epiphany.  I sat right down that night and created my characters.  That particular story wasn't literary genius and is even now sitting unpublished on my hard drive, but it was definitely a beginning.

Tell us a little bit about your books.

I'm a bit eclectic in the genre department.  I don't like getting pinned down as writing paranormal, or historical, or contemporary; although I do tend to stay beneath the broad umbrella of 'romance'.  Everything I write will make you want to squeal and kick your legs in the air.  That's the goal anyhow.  I am a complete an utter hopeless romantic. 

How did you come up with the idea for Whispers in the Woods?

Whispers in the Woods started out as just one character, Lucas Spencer.  The idea of a young Elfin Lord living among humans in a sort of self-inflicted exile just sprung to life in my head one day.  Before I knew it I had scribbled down so many notes and scenes that I had enough material for several books.  Really good ideas are like that-- they grow like weeds.  Lucas and Evie will be around for awhile.

Are you the kind of writer who follows a certain schedule or do you just scribble things down whenever you get the chance?

I have two toddlers at home.  So most of my writing happens during nap time, or in the evenings after bed times.  I suppose that counts as a schedule.  Although I have been known to abruptly leave a room in search of a pen and paper.  You never know when a new character is going to pay you a little visit.

Do you plan out the whole book before you start writing or do you just write and see what comes?

My mother has a favorite saying ... 'if you want to hear god laugh, tell him your plans'.  My writing is a lot like that most of the time.  I start off with a well organized outline and solidly thought out characters, but most of the time those characters hijack my storyline by chapter three.  It's difficult to make them do something they don't want to... no matter how carefully you explain to them about your 'outline'.

One example is Carter from Whispers in the Woods.  He was never meant to be more than a walk on roll, but once he showed up he refused to leave.  I'm glad though.  I have a little bit of a crush on him.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Have any other hobbies?

As I mentioned before-- I have two toddlers.  When I'm not writing I am usually playing monster trucks, or tea party, or in some instances monster-truck-tea-party.  During my rare time off to be a person instead of a mommy I am pretty tame.  Give me a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon and bowl of popcorn and m&ms and I am a very happy girl.

What are your favorite parts to write in a novel?

Would it be too boring if I said I enjoy the experience as a whole?  Alright, well I guess I'll pick something. 
In every romance there is always that first spark of interest.  No matter what else might stand in their way before the couple gets to 'happily ever after', there is always that first moment early on when they realize that they want to get to 'happily ever after'.  I love watching that part of the story unfold.  See the Slurpee scene in Whispers in the Woods for a prime example.

Admit it, all writers are quirky! Do you have any quirks when you write, like favorite music or snacks?

Facebook.  My-while-I'm-writing quirk is that whenever I get stuck or if I lose my mojo I take a five minute time out for Facebook.  At the end of that five minutes my mind usually resets and I am ready to get back to business. 

Who or what are your inspirations and who are your favorite authors?

Wow.  I have many many many favorites.  When I was younger I loved Mercedes Lackey.  Loved.  I still reread her Valdemar books all the time.  She is truly a master at creating a universe.  Not too long ago I inhaled the entire Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.  That is another inspiring universe.  Most recently I have been experiencing serious fangirl symptoms over Jennifer Armentrout's Lux books...swoon.

I know we try not to choose favorites, but who was your favorite character in Whispers in the Woods?

Okay, well I guess I might have to say it is tie between Carter and Ian.  I love them all, but Carter makes me smile when I'm feeling down, and Ian... well there is a lot more to him than some people realize.  That is all I'm going to say about that.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

So what comes next for you? Tell us a little about your works in progress.

Oh my.  Well I always have a few things in the pipeline.  I just released a young adult contemporary romance, The Last Place You Look, and of course I am hard at work on the next Whispers title.  We are going to see a lot more from Carter this time around.  Look for Whispers in the Dark later this year!

In your opinion, what is the most important thing in a good book?

The most important thing is the connection a reader feels with the characters.  While you are reading those characters should be your best friends, or your worst enemies, or your family, or even just your crazy neighbors.  As long as the characters are real to you than the book will be good.

What is the best advice you could give to young, aspiring writers?

Well first of all don't give up.  Agents and publishing houses see kabillions of manuscripts every day.  A rejection from them is not a final judgment on your talent.  As long as you love what you've written than it is a worthwhile creation.  Indie authors are getting more and more attention every day.  You can have a career as an author just as long as you are willing to say... 'hey, I wrote this and it kicks butt.

Which leads me to second of all.... write what you love.  It doesn't matter if dystopia or werewolves are in.  You won't find yourself with a good product unless you've written something that you would enjoy reading.

About the Author

When TJ isn't reading or writing (which is almost never), she is enjoying a blissfully boring life with her family in Maryland.  Her two greatest wishes are to serve on a Starfleet Starship or to be invited to join the Justice League.  Sure her chances are slim, but she's a big believer in dreaming big. 
A hopeless romantic to her very core, TJ's books explore every corner of the wobbly-kneed-world of romance novels.  She has a particular penchant for Young Adult themes.  Dell's debut novel 'Her Best Friend's Brother' is enjoying its tenth month as an Amazon best seller, and her popular Elfkin Series is hot on its heels.
For more information follow her on Facebook at


“Is something wrong with your pizza?”  Lucas paused between giant bites of his dinner.  Two huge slices piled high with every topping on the menu were still waiting on his plate.  He’d already polished off one.

“No.  I’m just letting it cool off.  I prefer to be able to taste my food.”   My own single slice of pepperoni pizza was still piping hot and therefore untouched in front of me.

Lucas held one of his hands over my food, gauging the temperature.  “It should be cool enough.”

As always, he was right.  A moment before steam had been drifting off my plate, and now it was perfectly cooled:  still warm enough to taste good, but nowhere near hot enough to burn my taste buds off.  All thoughts of how wrong that was got pushed to the back of my mind—along with all other similar thoughts I’d been ignoring for the past forty-eight hours.  That area of my mind was getting mighty crowded lately.

“Eat, Evie.  You’re making me self-conscious.”  Lucas’s voice pulled me back to the conversation.  He was grinning around a big mouthful of his third slice.

“I really don’t think that’s possible.  Besides, food clearly doesn’t affect your body the way it does a normal person.”

His jaw hung open.  The way he was staring at me—well, I may as well have smacked him.  “What do you mean?”

I blushed.  Probably I should have kept that to myself.  “Nothing.  I just… well, look at you. I’ve watched you consume a gazillion calories over the last two days and you still look… well, the way you look.”

“I think there is a compliment in there somewhere.”  A grin broke out on his face.
“Umm… yeah.  I guess.”  Man, that was embarrassing! 

Lucas got up from his chair and settled himself next to me in the booth.  “You don’t think I’m normal?”  His whisper was low and husky, and his breath tickled against my ear.

“Are you?”  Could he hear my heart?  Could everyone in the building hear it?  It was certainly beating loud enough.

“If I’m not normal, does that bother you?  Would it matter?  Would you still have agreed to come here with me?”

“Probably.”  My voice was squeaking.

“Which one, Evie?”  He lifted his hands to frame my face.  His beautiful soft eyes bore into mine as though this was the most important conversation he’d ever had.

“Probably I would still have come to dinner with you.” 

Relief flashed in his eyes—and something else, too.  At the time I couldn’t recognize it for what it was: guilt.  “I’m not sure you know what you’re saying, but I’ll take it anyway.” 

He tasted like pizza.  That was the first thought to register in my brain after his lips touched mine.  It was also the last thought.    The entire restaurant melted away.  In a corner to our left a kid was screaming for more French fries.  Two tables to our right a group of kids argued as they counted their pocket change on the tabletop.  All around us arcade games buzzed and beeped while children cheered.  I heard none of it.

I know what you’re thinking.  And yes, we were in a family restaurant surrounded by children.  But I swear it wasn’t like that; not on the outside anyway.  His kiss was soft and sweet.  His hands never left my face.  The amazing, earth-shattering, life-defining moment was happening on the inside.  Something deep inside me snapped.  Not snapped apart.  God knows I’d been broken into enough pieces recently.  It was more like snapping together.  It felt like finding last piece of sky in a big jigsaw puzzle.  I could feel him.  Just like the day before, only times a thousand.

“Oh wow.”  I grinned when we pulled away.

“Uh-oh,” he said at the very same moment.

Giveaway: T.J. Will be giving away 2 signed paperbacks of Whispers in the Woods, along with three $5 Amazon Gift Cards during her tour. You can enter to win by signing in on the Rafflecopter button at the top right sidebar. 

Follow the rest of T.J. Dell's tour here!


  1. I always love reading how authors get into writing. It's inspires me so much! And the book sounds awesome! Love the excerpt! :)

  2. I love reading about different author's writing careers too :) I'm wanting to get a copy of the book myself.

  3. Loved the questions and comments! Sounds like a fun story to read too, T.J.