It’s Day 4 of Dreamy December Days. We had our first Twitter Chat too, which I hope some of us enjoyed. And we still have more in store~ 😀
If you haven’t signed up, there’s still time to do so. Just link us up:
Just a little reminder: There will be another Twitter Chat today(Wednesday), at 9:30am (EST). It will run for 3 hours. That’s on Wednesday at 10:30pm in our country. Here’s a good Time Zone Converter to help you. See you there~ See the Schedule Page for the other times and dates for Twitter Chats. We’ll give away prizes then~ 😀
For today’s author feature, I was able to ask Lea Nolan, author of Conjure and Allure, a couple of questions. I personally love the hoodoo in her books. I think that was really interesting. And there’s an awesome GIVEAWAY! Also, hop on to Books Keep Me Sane to read an excerpt from Erica Crouch’s Entice, and join the other awesome giveaway there~
Interview with Lea Nolan:
Hi Lea! Your first book, Conjure, was definitely something else. And your 2nd Allure, which released in October, was also a really good book. I am thrilled to be able to ask you some questions!
- I’m thrilled to be here! Thanks so much for having me. It’s a great pleasure.
Apart from being into history, can you tell us about yourself? (It can be anything at all~)
- I really do love history. My undergraduate degree is in history with an emphasis on colonial America. I seriously considered pursuing a PhD in it too, but back then, at the ripe old age of twenty-three, I didn’t think I was experienced enough or wise enough to pass judgment on historical figures and events. So I decided to go in a totally different direction. Looking back, though I loved what I did study in grad school, it was probably a mistake. I should have followed my first academic love.Here are a few other things about me: I’m a wife and mom to three great kids. I met my husband when I was eighteen, started dating him when I was nineteen, and we got married when I was twenty-one, which was twenty-one years ago! Wow, time sure has flown.Hmm, let’s see what else…I used to be devoted to yoga but some health issues derailed me from my practice, but I’m determined to get back into it. That’s one of my primary goals for the new year.
I know you love writing and reading, but do you do anything not related to those? What do you like doing?
- I love to read, make jewelry, and I used to be an avid quilter so I’ve got about a billion yards of fabric in a spare bedroom in my house. I swear I’m going to get back to it one of these days.
What did you do before you became an author? Or do you still have some other side job to writing?
- Once upon a time I had a crazy-hectic job as a health policy researcher at a university-based think tank in Washington, DC. I studied the way health care is delivered in the US, especially to low-income and uninsured people (or more accurately, how it often isn’t delivered to them). I got to travel a lot, meet lots of great, interesting people, toured hospitals and clinics, and wrote really deep, analytical reports that hardly anyone read!I really loved it, but the more kids I had, the harder it was to do well, so I cut back, little by little, until I was only doing periodic consulting projects. I still do some consulting these days, a couple projects a year, and I also teach graduate courses in health policy and financing. It’s nice because it helps keep me current in the field and works a different part of my brain than fiction.
I know you used reading to escape doing chores, do your children use the same excuse?
- LOL! Yes, my eldest daughter has definitely used this trick to escape a variety of chores. But to be honest, it doesn’t bother me that much because I love that she’s a bookworm. My son has yet to fully embrace reading and unlock this get-out-of-chores card. Silly boy. All he needs to do is read! My youngest is in first grade and has only just started reading independently, but I’ll soon teach her the way to get out of hard labor.
What made you start writing novels?
- One word: Twilight. Read it. Loved it. Was inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s personal history as a mom who started writing. Arrogantly thought I could easily follow in her footsteps and churn out a book lickity-split. Ha! Was I wrong! Two years and six substantial drafts later, I finally had a book decent enough to query agents with. And guess what? That book still sits on my hard drive, unpublished. But I was bitten by the writing bug and couldn’t dream of quitting.
For those who haven’t read Conjure or Allure, can you give us a short description of
what The Hoodoo Apprentice series is about?
- The Hoodoo Apprentice series features Emma Guthrie, her twin brother, Jack, and their best friend, Cooper Beaumont who stumble upon a hidden 18th century pirate treasure that ignites a wicked flesh-eating curse, uncover an ancient-soul sucking hex, and battle a hideous monster that will stop at nothing to consume its prey.To save those she loves the most, Emma Guthrie apprentices herself to an elderly Gullah root worker to learn the magic required to break the curses before it’s too late.
So far, who has been your favorite character to write and why?
- I love writing Emma. She’s smart, determined, and funny, but not overly snarky. And I simply adore Miss Delia, her ninety-seven year old hoodoo teacher who’s tough but loving and still sharp as a blade.
I definitely love Miss Delia!
The Hoodoo Apprentice series talks a lot about the Gullah and hoodoo. Can you tell us more about this and how you got into writing about them? I think that these were a very interesting and unique element in your books.
- Thank you! It’s been a pleasure to help introduce readers to Hoodoo, a uniquely American folk magic. That’s hoodoo with an “h,” a healing and magical practice, not to be confused with voodoo, which is a religion. Hoodoo is an African-American, plant-based folk magic that is commonly practiced in the American south by those who consider themselves Christians, though it can be found anywhere. The practice originated among enslaved Africans in the South Carolina and Georgia lowcountry and is largely based on African folkloric traditions, but has also been influenced by Native American, European and other admixtures. Often, hoodoo spells are performed with accompanying biblical texts, frequently taken from the Book of Psalms.I didn’t set out to write a book about hoodoo, it just sort of happened. The initial spark for the series came from a Chick-fil-A kid meal bag. Seriously! My daughter read a little factoid aloud which said, “Pirates used to send messages in bottles.” That made me wonder why a pirate would do such a thing, it’s not like it was going to get to anyone specific in any particular time. So I figured a pirate would have to be pretty desperate to send such a bottle. Maybe because his crew was dying…because they’d been cursed…after committing a horrible crime…Those thoughts soon lead to The Creep, the wicked flesh-eating curse that shows up in Conjure, along with the Beaumont Curse which hangs over Allure. Once I had these elements I needed a place to set the story in and some magic to ground it all in. A little research reminded me of all I learned as an undergraduate history major. Pirates were active off the coast of South Carolina, where the Gullah, the descendants of freed slaves lived in isolated communities, lived and had their own culture, language, and folk ways. A little more research led me to Gullah hoodoo magic and it was like the universe had handed me the perfect scenario for a series. Plus, the Lowcountry is just about the most gorgeous and romantic place to write about. I wasn’t about to argue with the universe.
Have you had any experiences with hoodoo?
- Not personally. Though some people have suspected it, I’m not a root worker myself. But I know a hoodoo root worker who owns a fantastic shop in Baltimore, Maryland and I love chatting with her.I’m also very open to the supernatural – there was a ghost in my house when I was a small child – so I think almost anything is possible.
What are some of your writing habits?
- At a minimum I write on weekdays while my kids are at school, but my incredibly supportive husband has taken advantage of his flex time opportunities at work so I can write several evenings a week and occasional weekends when I’m facing a deadline.I also must have a cup of Panera iced tea with four lemon slices and one packet of Sweet-N-Low. It powers my writing!
What is your favorite word and why?
- I love the word gossamer. It’s so pretty and feels good sliding off my tongue.
A lovely word indeed.
What are your favorite books of all time?
- I will always love The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, any book by Maggie Stiefvater, and of course the classics by Roald Dahl and Judy Blume.
Do you have any holiday traditions? If so, what are they? Or what do you usually do during this time?
- I think I’m probably pretty traditional (and boring!). We have a Christmas tree, hang a wreath on the front door, and line stockings on the mantle. Santa Claus comes on Christmas Eve and the kids wake up to a bevy of presents at the foot of the tree. Most of the time we have a fire in our fireplace and I like to light scented candles that smell like evergreen and other scents that remind me of Christmas.And no, the Elf on the Shelf does not live in my house. I’ve got enough trouble keeping up after my own kids, I don’t want to clean up after a mischievous stuffed elf!
What place would you love to visit the most this holiday season?
- The Caribbean, or anywhere else warm and toasty.
What do you love most about Christmas?
- Giving presents to those I love. I adore watching people open things that make them happy.
What’s on your Christmas Wishlist this year?
- As weird as it sounds, I’d really like one of those foot spa/massagers. I saw one for sale in the Bed Bath and Beyond circular this week and decided to put it first on my list. I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis and I think it would make my feet and ankles feel good when they hurt. Also, I think I’d like an electric blanket because I’m always freezing.Wow. I just realized I sound like a very old lady! LOL!
What makes you put on the holiday weight?
- Pumpkin pie. I love it and could easily eat an entire pie, sliver by sliver, if I let myself.
If it isn’t too much to ask, can you please tell us a little joke?
- My daughter told me this one last week:–Why did the rooster cross the road?–To prove he wasn’t a chicken!Bahaha! It cracks me up!
Any last words?
- Have a safe, joyous, and peaceful holiday season, and the very best New Year!
And thank you so much for joining us.
- It has been utterly delightful to be here! Thanks so much for having me. ~Lea
I found your answers to very interesting and I hope the readers did too. Now let’s go to the GIVEAWAY~
Lea Nolan is giving away 1 ebook of Conjure or Allure. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to EVERYONE, even non-participants of the read-a-thon!
For today’s participation post, we’d like to simply know how you’re doing~ You can tell us anything.
I finished reading Taste the Heat by Rachel Harris, which was steamy but still kind of clean compared to all the other things we see nowadays. Her sense of humor and romance still shines through and I’m thinking of reading the next book pretty soon. I also read Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell and I reached Chapter 13. This books is a little off to me, but I think I’ll power through. And I reached 50% of North Pole Reform School by Jaimie Admans. I’m still wondering where this story is going.
In total, I have read 2 books so far~ And I’m still enjoying seeing everyone’s progress. 😀
What about you? Leave us a link~ It will be counted in the drawing of the Grand Prize.
How’s it going everyone? We’re halfway through! Today we will have a Cover Scavenger Hunt! We love scavenger hunts because they are very challenging and fun to play. So today we have ten images, cropped parts certain books’ cover. And because we love you guys, we are giving you a hint: the books in the cover scavenger hunt are written by our lovely sponsors. So easy, right? 😀
As always, participating in at least one challenge will qualify you to join the Grand Prize giveaway at the end of the read-a-thon, and each challenge has one random winner so make sure to join. Tweet your read-a-thon posts/progress using #DreamyDecDays.
Sponsored by: L.M. Augustine, Erica Crouch, Tellulah Darling, Kate Evangelista, Nikki Godwin, Rachel Harris, Staci Hart, A.G. Howard, David Lomax, Angela McPherson, Lea Nolan, Kelly Oram, Lissa Price, Jennifer E. Smith, Laura Thalassa