Thursday 14 June 2012

Author In The Limelight: Liz DeJesus

I want to thank and welcome author, Liz DeJesus for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, First Frost, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

How long have you been writing, Liz?
I like to think that I’ve been writing my whole life, but in reality I started when I was twelve years old. Writing short stories here and there, nothing serious. Although I remember writing a mystery involving a diamond or something along those lines. Then at thirteen I moved on to writing poetry and I stuck with that for a long time. Sadly though, I haven’t written a poem in YEARS. When I was eighteen I decided that I wanted to be a novelist and I haven’t looked back since then.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write First Frost?
I was watching a commercial for a local children’s museum. I was feeding my son his bottle and I remember thinking ‘Why don’t they have themed museums? Like a pirate museum or a fairy tale museum. Hmm, how would that work? I guess they could get fake items and get kids to think they’re real.’ And then it sort of took off from there. It was almost like being struck by lightning once I got to thinking about it. I was still holding my son in my arms and my notebook was on the other end of the couch. LOL I was so desperate to get to it but I didn’t want to interrupt my son’s feeding (I was giving him a bottle at the moment). Anyway, I managed to grab my notebook and I jotted down a few ideas. It sort of wrote itself once I had the pen in my hand.

What sets First Frost apart from other books in the same genre?
The thing that sets First Frost apart from other books in the same genre is that it’s not a rewrite of the original fairy tale. I’m not retelling the story of Snow White (although I do alter a few things here and there to make it work with the story). This is about what happens to all of the fairy tale characters after they lived they’re happily ever after. We are now telling the story of their great-grandchildren.  What happened to Cinderella the day after the wedding? What happened to the seven dwarves after Snow White left? What happened with Rapunzel’s hair? I’m having a bit of fun answering those what ifs. I think people will like what I’ve done.

As an author, Liz, what is your writing process?
I talk to my characters. I try to think about what they would say and do. Every once in a while I take over and put certain obstacles that will help them grow (or move the story along) but there really is no outline. I actually envy authors that have outlines; at least they know where their story is going. I sort of make it up as I go along.

How long did it take for you to start and finish First Frost?
About nine months, which is funny because it’s almost like having a baby. LOL. That includes first, second and third drafts. And then I sent it to an editor friend of mine so she could edit it for me before I start submitting it to different agents and publishers. I like to make sure my story is in tip-top shape.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Liz?
Yes, please learn how to write a proper query letter and a synopsis. It’s annoying, I know. I’d rather write a brand new novel than write a synopsis but it’s something you have to do. You also have to learn the fact that there’s a business side to the publishing industry. Don’t take rejection personally. Sometimes an agent or an editor is looking for something else. It doesn’t mean that another agent or publisher won’t like your work. Don’t give up!

What’s next for Liz DeJesus the author?
I’m currently working on the sequel to First Frost (tentatively titled Second Frost) and I’m already jotting down ideas for the third book in the series (which will definitely involve a visit to Wonderland…so you all have that to look forward to.) I also recently got the rights back to a couple of books I wrote a few years ago. I’m going to revamp and resubmit them. But I’m definitely going to keep writing and working on new material.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?
Hmmm…excellent question. I would definitely travel back to the 1830’s and I would visit France. Why? Because I would want to meet my favorite artist of all time Vincent Van Gogh and once I was done meeting him (and hopefully getting some art) I would talk to different authors that were popular at that time just to pick their brains a bit. ;)

Musa Publishing buy link

Official blurb for First Frost

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”
Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Excerpt for First Frost
Bianca got out of her car and ran inside the house. She called for her mother as she searched for her upstairs in all of the rooms. Nothing. She quickly ran downstairs and was ready to go down to the basement when a strange turquoise light caught her eye. She looked out the kitchen window; she couldn’t believe what she saw. Her mother was throwing what Bianca could only describe as balls of turquoise fireballs at a woman wearing a black hood. Bianca couldn’t see the woman’s face, but she could see her pale hands and slender fingers.

Bianca tried to make sense of it all. She kept expecting to see a special effects crew to come out from behind the trees and tell her that it was all part of an elaborate prank. But no such thing happened. All she knew was that a strange turquoise flame was coming out of her mother’s hands.

She knew that her mother sometimes read old dusty books on witchcraft, but she didn’t know she had actual powers. She thought about all the little quirks her mother had. Things that Bianca thought were essentially Rose. Her mother talked to plants and trees. She would sometimes stare off into space as though she were looking at something in another world. Something only she could see. She read tarot cards to random people and would tell them things about his or her life as though she were reading an open book. Bianca always thought she just made really lucky guesses. She chose not to believe in this other world and everything it stood for. Magic represented a life out of the norm, and Bianca desperately wanted to be normal. Just like everyone else.

Bianca pulled herself out of her thoughts. As she looked at the blue and green flashes in the backyard, she quickly realized that this was something she couldn’t escape. Normal was no longer a part of her world. Normal was no longer an option for her.

Bianca didn’t know what to do. She was frozen in place. She was afraid to distract her mother for even a second. She ducked behind the screen door; at least this way she could still hear what they were saying to each other.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t come?” the witch shouted.

“Oh, I knew you’d be back,” Rose replied.

Bianca slowly lifted her gaze and peeked above the screen. She saw her mother standing behind the shed on the left side of their backyard. The witch was still too far away for her to get a good look at her, but Bianca could tell that she was on the far right corner of their yard.

“Where’s the book?” the witch demanded.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Rose replied with a smirk.

“Don’t be coy with me. You know very well what I’m talking about.”

“Sorry. I can’t help you.” Rose’s breathing was becoming more labored and she was drenched in sweat…obvious signs of exhaustion, but Bianca could tell by the look on her mother’s face that she wouldn’t give up.

“The wards in the museum are impressive. I couldn’t get past them. But maybe…she’ll know where the book is,” the witch said as she looked in Bianca’s direction and threw a sickly olive-colored fireball at the screen door.

Bianca shrieked and jumped out of the way. The screen door fell off its hinges and landed on the kitchen floor with a loud thud.

“Bianca!” Rose screamed.


  1. Great interview Liz! I can't believe you decided to be a novelist at only 18! That's awesome!. I think my novel took about 8-9 months to finish, too. Lol! Must be kindred spirits. :)

  2. Great Interview - and gah! I love the excerpt. Definitely makes me want to read the book. Congratulations, Liz!

  3. Thanks, Dusty and Linda, for stopping by to defrost your comments! Cheers!

  4. Hey Dusty! I'm amazed that your novel took only 8-9 months to write. Shadow Eyes is an amazing, mammoth of a book (I think it's close to 700 pages, correct me if I'm wrong).

    Hi Linda! Glad you liked the excerpt. First Frost will be released on June 22nd, only one more week to go!

    And Sharon, thank you so much for this interview. I really appreciate it. :D

    You can all get a sneak peek at Chapter one on my website :D Happy Reading!!

  5. Great interview,ladies. Loved the excerpt. How much thought did you put into naming her Bianca? I'm just asking because it seems like the perfect name for this story.

    I also love the colors of the lights - turquoise and olive. How clever you are.

    1. Hey Cordelia! :D Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. :)

      I played around with a couple of names before I finally settled on Bianca (it means White in Italian) the other name I was gonna go with was Blanca (which means White in Spanish) but I liked the way Bianca sounded so I went with that one. Her full name is Bianca Silver Frost, and it takes a few twists and turns but if you translate her name it means Snow there you have it. ;)

  6. You're most welcome for hanging out with me, Liz! It's been a blast - thankfully not a cold one! And cheers to Cordelia for stopping by to break the ice. Wink.

    1. :) This was a lot of fun. Hopefully I'll get a chance to visit again. Talk to you soon!

  7. Wonderful interview!! I do love this premise.

    1. Hey Arley! Thank you for stopping by and reading my interview. Glad you like the excerpt. Can't wait for the books release date, dying for people to finally read First Frost. :D

  8. Just love the sound of this book, and I'm sure the teen audience will too. I have a special place in my heart for lethal fireballs. :-)

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by to read the interview. You know something? I originally set out to write the story from Rose's point of view (Bianca's mom) and Bianca was going to be younger, but then I decided that it would be much more interesting to switch things around a bit and see how things developed. I'm glad I did, Bianca is a lot more fun to write for. :D