Hi, guys. I am very happy today to be on the blog tour for the Ontario Teen Book Fest, an amazing event held every year in Ontario, CA. Every year has boasted an amazing lineup but I am especially excited about this year’s roster because it includes Marissa Meyer and Andrew Smith! I will be spotlighting author Nicole Maggi (Twin Willows Trilogy) but, before we get to that, check out some important details about the event. We hope you can join us!
When: Saturday March 12th , 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761
The Ontario Teen Book Fest Website: http://www.ontariotbf.org/
This is a A FREE AND UNTICKETED EVENT! How many events are free? You should come.
The event is sponsored by Once Upon A Time. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well.
Lunch will also be provided at the event (it’s usually Panera). So no need to bring food or go out for it since it will all be provided. That just means more time to talk about books, right?
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour and scroll down to the very end for the giveaway!
Blog Tour Schedule
February 22nd – Spotlight on Andrew Smith – What A Nerd Girl Says
February 23rd – Spotlight on Alexandra Monir – The Consummate Reader
February 24th – Spotlight on April Tucholke – Adventures of a Book Junkie
February 25th – Spotlight on Alexis Bass – A Traveling Book
February 26th – Spotlight on Marissa Meyer – Read Now Sleep Later
February 27th – Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana – Movies, Shows and Books
February 28th – Spotlight on Robin Reul – Recently Acquired Obsessions
February 29th – Spotlight on Katherine Kottaras – iFandoms Collide
March 1st – Spotlight on Stephanie Diaz – My Fangirl Chronicles
March 2nd – Spotlight on Virginia Boecker – The Reader’s Antidote
March 3rd – Spotlight on Mary McCoy – Book You Very Much
March 4th – Spotlight on Brad Gottfred – Seeking Bazinga
March 5th – Spotlight on Michelle Levy – My Fangirl Chronicles
March 6th – Spotlight on Elana K Arnold – Read Now Sleep Later
March 7th – Spotlight on Kristin Halbrook – What A Nerd Girl Says
March 8th – Spotlight on Jessica Brody – The Windy Pages
March 9th – Spotlight on Nicole Maggi – Nite Lite Book Reviews
March 10th – Spotlight on Jay Asher – A Bookish Escape
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi
Nicole was born in the suburban farm country of upstate New York, and began writing at a very early age. Of course, her early works consisted mainly of poems about rainbows and unicorns, although one of them was good enough to win honorable mention in a national poetry contest! (Perhaps one of the judges was a ten-year-old girl.) Throughout high school, her creative writing was always nurtured and encouraged.
Nicole attended Emerson College as an acting major, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Post-college, she worked as an actress in New York City for over a decade, focusing mainly on Shakespeare and the classics.
Now living in Los Angeles, Nicole balances writing full-time with motherhood. WINTER FALLS, the first in her TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY (Medallion Press, 2014) is her debut novel. She has a stand-alone novel, HEARTLINES, coming out in February 2015 with SourceBooks Fire, as well as the second and third novels in the TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY in 2015 and 2016.
Book Three of the Twin Willows Trilogy
Sixteen-year-old Alessia Jacobs wants to go to college someday like her friends. She wishes for a chance at a normal relationship with Jonah. But normal is never an option for a Benandante like Alessia, who has sworn to protect the magic in the world from the Malandanti…especially when Jonah is on the opposite side of the deadly struggle. When the war comes to a head, lives will be lost, love will be gained, and Alessia will risk everything to save the people she loves and destroy the Malandanti once and for all.
Full name: Nicole Marie Maggi. Fun fact: many Italian-American girls have Marie as their middle name.
Nickname: None. You get one pass at calling me Nicki and then I get bitchy!
Do you have any quirky writing habits or rituals?
When I write at home, I like to light candles. But usually I’m at a coffeeshop so I have to make do with coffee and sugar.
What was the inspiration behind your Twin Willows Trilogy? If it’s not something specific, how did the idea/story come about?
The Twin Willows Trilogy was born on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is like my porn. I can be on there all day long. One day I was on the page for European Witch Hunts (don’t ask me why; I don’t remember) and there was a little footnote for something called the Benandanti. I clicked on it, and as I started to read I got that tingly feeling on the back of my neck that told me this was my next book. Many things intrigued me about the Benandanti, among them that they’re Italian (as am I) and that you had to be born into it.
When I first started working on WINTER FALLS, it was historical fiction, set in 16th century Italy. But several months into writing, I got terribly stuck. I floundered, trying to figure out what was wrong, and I finally realized that the book needed to be contemporary. So I scrapped everything historical and wrote a rough draft of the contemporary version by the seat of my pants in four months.
I greatly changed the mythology of the real Benandanti to suit my story purposes, but there are several things that I kept in order to hold the thread to the original myth: the transformation, that your body cannot be turned over while you’re transformed, that you must keep your caul on you at all times, and that you were not allowed to speak of the Benandanti to anyone. Also, in the final book, I bring in the idea of the Abbess, who was the spiritual leader of the original Benandanti.
Did you have to do a lot of research for the series and/or did you get to do any unique or interesting research?
I did a lot of cool research about Italian witchcraft and mythology, which I was already fascinated by so it was fun to indulge that. I also did a lot of research about the various animals in the series, like their physicality, which animals are native to the regions where the Seven Sites are, etc. And in the last book we travel to Tibet and Italy, so I got to do some armchair traveling with that.
I love the covers to the Twin Willows series! Was that just luck of the draw or did you get any input into the cover design?
Thank you! It was luck of the draw and I consider myself VERY lucky. With WINTER FALLS, I was told that I’d be seeing a cover in a few weeks, and I was so nervous that I started having anxiety dreams. Then one morning I woke up, checked my email, and saw that beautiful falcon cover in my inbox. I was beyond thrilled. It is just so gorgeous. As a debut author, you don’t really get any input in your cover design, and I just felt like they nailed it. I love that they chose to make the covers about nature because the animals, the waterfall and the forest figure so prominently in the trilogy.
I did push back a little bit on the cover for the last book, THE BLUE WOODS. The original version they sent me had two animals on it, and by including the second animal it sorta spoiled the end of the book. I voiced my concern, and they agreed, so they removed the second animal and left the panther, which looks so stunning on its own.
You are also an actor. Do your skills and experiences as an actor have an effect on your writing or are the two mediums separate for you?
I haven’t acted in many years and I’m feeling further and further away from it! But I think that training is in my bones, and it does come into play when I write. I think the biggest advantage I have as an actor is that it’s very easy for me to sink into my characters as I write them, and really “become” them as I would if I were playing them on stage. It’s easy to get inside their heads. Also, I have an ear for dialogue, which comes from speaking it onstage for all those years.
I will say this, though: when I was acting, and deep into working on a play, it was hard for me to write. It was like my brain could only handle one medium at a time and when my energy was being poured into one of them, the other one was put on hold.
What advice would you give your teen self?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a teen (and a twenty-year-old AND a thirty-year-old) I believed that asking for help was a sign of weakness. It took me a really long time to learn that it’s not; that in fact, your relationships will often grow stronger once you reach out in a time of need instead of staying closed off.
My other advice is: take risks. Don’t worry about security. Leap, and the net will appear.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
1. Read, read, and then read some more. Read all genres, not just the genre you want to write. Read everything.
2. Many people will tell you to “write every day” but honestly, I find that advice a little abusive because there are some days when you just can’t write, and if you feel like you have to write every day, you’ll beat yourself up for the days you don’t write, and beating yourself up is one of the worst thing an artist can do. So my advice instead is to do something creative every day. That can be drawing a picture, coloring in a coloring book (I love those new adult ones!), baking something, taking a walk and noticing every different shade of green on the way, singing in the shower, dancing to your favorite pop song…just do something that fills you up creatively so that when you are ready to write, the creativity is there.
Finally, what’s next for you?
I’m working on a contemporary YA novel, more in the vein of my thriller THE FORGETTING. It’s dual POV with multiple timelines and involves a controversial issue. It’s very challenging, but I’m excited about it.
Favorite writing snack?
Chocolate, cookies…anything with sugar that is really bad for me!
Pantser or plotter?
A pantser who has learned to become a plotter in order to write more efficiently (ie, meet my deadlines)
What’s on your nightstand?
Pleasure: WANDERING STAR, by Romina Russell (second in the Zodiac series – so good!)
Research: LIVING IN THE CROSSHAIRS by David S. Cohen & Krystal Connon (this might give you an inkling into my next book!)
Inspirational: CARRY ON, WARRIOR by Glennon Doyle Melton
What animal is your Patronus?
According to the Buzzfeed quiz, it’s a Stag – which I love, because there’s a Stag character in the Twin Willows Trilogy. :-)\
What would you save if your house caught fire?
Presuming that my husband, child, and cats were out safely, I’d save my mother’s silver that I inherited when I got married, my wedding album, and my hard drive.
Cake or pie and what kind?
Pie. Preferably key lime. But I wouldn’t say no to cake either!
Thank you so much for coming onto the blog today, Maggi. We can’t wait to see you in Ontario!