Today I’ve got a new feature for the blog – an author interview! Recently, I talked to YA author Shay West about her book Dangerous Reflections and her views about writing and the sci-fi/fantasy genre. If you haven’t read my review of the book, check it out! And then read Shay West’s awesome answers to my questions.
Tara: Where did you get the inspiration for Dangerous Reflections?
Shay: I was getting ready for work one morning and just had this weird thought pop into my head wondering how I would react if my reflection changed into someone else’s face. Then the ideas snowballed from there and thus Dangerous Reflections was born.
Tara: How did you go about researching the history for each point in time that Alex traveled?
Shay: I wish I could say I sat in dusty old libraries with dozens of books piled around me but I just did Google searches mainly. I didn’t really have any ideas of where I wanted her to travel when I first started researching but ideas popped into my head and I did a little digging to see if I wanted to pursue that plot line or let it go. Most of the stuff I looked up I never ended up using, not even in the other two books.
Tara: What has been your favorite time period to write about, and why?
Shay: 16th century France where Alex ends up in the body of courtesan. I had just finished watching Dangerous Beauty and thought about how times have changed. And it was sort of fun and awkward to put Alex in a courtesans body because she knows what their profession is, and worrying about whether she would have to do “it” was pretty entertaining!
Tara: Where do you see the fantasy/science fiction genre heading in the next few years?
Shay: I think more and more women will branch out into this genre, although I think it will also be difficult to really make a name due to the enormous amount of books out there to choose from. But it’s also wonderful to think of all the rich and vibrant voices still to be discovered!
Tara: What advice would you give young adults who want to write and publish their own books?
Shay: Make sure you do your research and that you know the genre. I had the great fortune to have an agent – I won a contest – look over the first few chapters of Dangerous Reflections before I self-published it. I admit I hadn’t read much in the way of YA so was just writing like I would for an adult audience, with various points of view from Alex, her best friend, even her mom. This lovely woman kindly pointed out that the readers of YA, mostly teens, don’t want to have an adult point of view. It tends to draw them out of the story. So I did a major re-write of the book and I think it made it a million times better. And always strive to better yourself. When I look back at my first series (scifi/fantasy) I can see a huge difference in my writing now and then. Not to say it’s awful or anything, but my newer stuff is definitely on a whole new level.
Tara: And finally… why should people want to read Dangerous Reflections?
Shay: It’s not just a story of time travel to exotic places. Alex is dealing with a lot of stuff teens and even adults deal with on a daily basis: parents that walk out, feeling like money and having all the latest fashion and gadgets is important, bullying, first crushes, finding your way through life by just winging it. I think most anyone that reads this book will find something they can relate to.