Today, Lea Nolan is at the Book Pile to talk about her new book, Conjure, part 1 of The Hoodoo Apprentice trilogy. There's also a Q&A and Giveaway!
"Be careful what you search for...
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry—hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
But when a strange girl appears bent on revenge, demon dogs become a threat, and Jack turns into a walking skeleton, Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends—are lost forever."
My take: I really liked this YA paranormal. There is a little action, more towards the end, but my favorite part was following Emma as she learns hoodoo to try to save her brother.
The book is fast-paced and I found it an engaging read. It starts a little younger than many YAs - the three main kids are all 15, but the tone will progress as the series does (see Q&A below), which makes sense for this Middle School-YA crossover. There are some dark aspects, and enough creepy without being really gory or too scary.
Jack is more than a bit of a jerk, but I'm hopeful he will grow. Cooper is very sweet. Emma is quiet, but strong. I really liked her as a character. She is learning and she makes mistakes, but I love her resolve. She has a crush on Cooper, but I'm happy to say that this isn't an angsty romance. It's all very sweet (and bittersweet too). Of course, the story isn't done. We do get an ending, but everyone isn't out of the woods yet.
I enjoyed the mythology (any story involving Gullah history and folklore is of interest to me) and I'm looking forward to book 2.
And now, let's get to know Lea a little better.
KA: What drew you to Hoodoo, Gullah traditions & the SC Lowcountry?
LN: I first learned about the Gullah in college when I took a course in African-American film history. We saw Daughters of the Dust which was directed by Julie Dash. It’s a gorgeous, enchanting movie that stuck in my mind.
When I decided to write CONJURE I didn’t immediately know where I’d set the story but I knew it would feature pirates. So I did a little research and learned they were active off the coast of South Carolina in the early 18th-century. That immediately got me thinking about the Gullah and the Sea Islands. From there, I dug a little deeper and learned about Hoodoo folk magic. It was so incredibly cool I couldn’t not write about it. Plus the Lowcountry is just about one of the most beautiful and romantic places I’ve ever been.
KA: What made you want to write YA?
LN: I read Twilight and was completely taken by Stephenie Meyer’s portrayal of first love. Amid my hectic life as a wife, mom and busy career woman, I’d forgotten how earth-quaking teen emotions were. And I was inspired by Meyer’s own story as a writer. I figured if she could do it, I could try too!
KA: I see 2 books in the Apprentice series right now, Conjure & Allure. What is the plan for the length of the series?
LN: There will actually be three books in The Hoodoo Apprentice series. The great thing about these books is that they are middle grade/YA crossovers which will grow with their readers. Each installment gets progressively darker and creepier. I can’t wait for readers to follow Emma Guthrie’s journey as an apprentice!
KA: Favorite heroine (book, movie or TV)?
LN: As much as I love Katniss Everdeen’s strength and fortitude, I’ve gotta give it to Hermione Granger. Not only is Hermione smart, brave, loyal and talented, but she’s also vulnerable and has a tremendous capacity for love. Katniss tries to be open but she’s so wounded, and her world so decimated, it’s probably out of reach. But that’s pretty much the lesson of The Hunger Games, isn’t it? War does more than kill innocents and destroy land and buildings. It robs those who remain of their full humanity.
KA: What books inspire you?
LN: So many books and authors inspire me including Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, anything by Maggie Steifvater, Alyson Noel’s The Immortals series, and Tera Lynn Child’s combined works.
KA: What is the next book on your shelf to read?
LN: I have too many! And since I’m writing now, I can’t read any of them. That’s just my own self-imposed rule, by the way. I don’t ever want to be unduly influenced by another writer’s voice or plot lines.
KA: You've had a rough day - what show do you turn to: Buffy, Firefly, or Sherlock?
LN: Firefly all the way. I can’t express how sad I am that there were only 14 episodes. At least there’s Serenity too!
KA: Cookies, brownies, or ice cream?
LN: Can’t I have all three! No? Waaa! Okay, then I’ll have to settle for a brownie but I’m not happy about it. :)
LN: Thank you! This was so much fun!
Lea and Entangled Publishing are giving away a free e-copy of CONJURE to a lucky commenter. Comment by Thursday, November 8. Please leave either an e-mail address or Twitter handle so I can contact you.
If you could be someone's apprentice, who would you choose? I'm stuck between Dumbledore (of course) and Polgara (from Eddings' Belgariad). How about you?
Links for Lea Nolan:
Group blog: http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/
On Entangled: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/category/young-adult/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/conjure-lea-nolan/1109672878?ean=9781620610978
Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Conjure-Lea-Nolan/9781620610978
[received an ARC to review.]