I am so happy to be collaborating with the wonderful author Olga Gibbs for a giveaway of a signed paperback copy of her book Heavenward.
Heavenward was one of my favorite books that I have read this year! If you’d like to check out my review before you check out the rest of this post, you can click here. One thing in particular that I remember saying about it is that it was like Fallen, but better.
Here’s the synopsis:
Life is tough for Ariel. A childhood, filled with domestic violence, neglect, abuse and the reccurring nightmare that plagues her every night, for as long as she remembers, questioning her sanity, and a secret, which she doesn’t want anyone to know and is so desperately to forget herself.
Now she’s locked away in a rural town in a Northern England, with her life as dull as the town itself.
But when three new students appear in a sleepy town’s school, Ariel doesn’t suspect that her life is about to change forever, as she is drawn into an ancient celestial conflict, that is bigger than her, and which she needs to survive to remain herself.
But would you chose to protect humanity that broke you or would you take revenge?
It’s a story of a survivor, who’s refusing to be a victim and is prepared to fight until the end.
This book is a magical story of a strong heroine, finding yourself and love. This book is a young adult fantasy adventure with a strong protagonist at its centre and will guarantee to thrill fans of Hunger Games, Divergent and Philip Pullman.
Tell us about yourself
I live in a leafy-green town, nestled amongst the green fields of West Sussex, England, with my husband and our two daughters. And not to forget a moody ginger moggy Fluffy. Because of ongoing love affair between my youngest child and cat, I have more photos of cat on my phone than of myself or the family. These two are the best friends ☺
When I don’t write, I do outreach work with teenagers and as of late, moved into homelessness prevention for teenagers.
Is this your first book that you’ve written/published?
I have been writing since I was fifteen. When I was sixteen, through my creative writing course that I was sitting in the local University, I’ve met a girl, who was a junior editor in the local newspaper and she invited me to write a column for that newspaper. And then for a while, I was a guest columnist for this newspaper, where I had a weekly column for teens, on anything from pressure of exams, relationships, friendship etc.
Over the years, I have written a few novellas, but none of them have seen a light of day. And for a now, it’s just how I want to leave it. I’ve tried my hand at poetry but I enjoy writing stories. “Heavenward” is the first work to be published. It’s incredibly daunting to put your work out there, for everyone to see. It’s like you baring yourself and inviting everyone to watch and to pass the comment. Scary stuff.
Currently, I’m writing the second book in the “Celestial creatures” series and I have just started active planning of another book. I’m researching and working on it along with writing the second book in the Celestial Creatures series. That one will be a stand-alone crime thriller. Again featuring a strong female protagonist, this time she’s a mother and a wife and that in return would determine the actions she’d take. You’d be surprised how far seemingly ordinary people can go when they’re put in a desperate situation and what they’ll do to protect their family. And that mother is no exception. But that’s as much as I’m going to tell you at this point. All the characters in my books are females. I guess it’s not a surprise really.
After years of working with struggling teenagers, and being a woman and mother myself, I’ve decided at some point to write a parenting book as well. But that plan is further down the line. I have one more book in research stage. That one will be about war veteran – the hell of war, PTSD and the struggle of getting the life back together after surviving a war zone. And a few more ideas floating about, so put it by this way – that’s not the last time you’ve heard of me.
How many books will be in the Celestial Creatures series?
I have decided that it will be a trilogy. I don’t think there’s a need to spin it any longer, but I couldn’t let Ariel to overcome the struggles, her demons, to grow, to develop, to change, have her due in just one book. Then it might’ve been as thick as War and Peace.
Like every one of us, Ariel will be fighting for her happiness and as much as I love her, I’m not letting her to have an easy time here. And I know that she’s a strong girl who can do it! I absolutely trust that she can.
With this book I wanted to let girls, who went through something like Ariel, to know, that they can do it! No matter how hard, no matter how long, but they can go through it, they can survive it, not to let it to over-run, swallow them.
What is your writing routine? Favorite spot, drink, pet?
When I’m writing, I’m usually hiding in the kitchen. I’ve tried to write in my room, but I’m always end up in the bed, just to make myself comfortable, I say, and then I would tell myself that short nap would be really beneficial to my writing and everything goes down the toilet then ☺
I usually write in the mornings when I’m not working. By the evening, I only have energy to be a vegetable on the sofa and to watch some TV. Otherwise, anywhere quiet in the morning is fine by me. Mind you, talking about quiet, sometimes I have found that music helps the flow. With “Heavenward” I was listening to jazz mainly but had some AC/DC moments, “Thunderstruck” worked wonders for the last chapter ☺ And “Hell Bells”.
How did you get the idea for Heavenward? What about Ariel?
I’ve heard that some writers have a story first and then they come up with characters. For me it was other way around. First I had my character – Ariel. I had her for a few years now. She lived with me, inside me and one day when I was ready to write, I wondered what I could do with her. For her. She lived an incredibly tough life and I wanted her to have something good for a change. I wanted to give her her power back and for good measure to throw a humanity in it, to put us all at her mercy. I’ve written this book for all girls out there, like Ariel, powerless at this moment, struggling, emotionally and mentally. With this book I wanted to tell them, that they’re an incredible universe of their own, an archangel, who can change the world if she wishes, that her past does not define her. I hope I’m making sense here. And I didn’t want to write a realistic book about Ariel’s abuse. I feel that someone who never lived through such things wouldn’t want to read about it, the way it would come out of me would be too disturbing. You’ve read this book, right? And it’s me diluting it for the YA market. And girls, who lived through it, would never want to relive it, so that how this book became a fantasy. But I felt it was important to give Ariel a voice, to speak about the abuse that some girls are suffering on a daily basis.
Ariel is a fused character. She is every girl. She can be any girl. Ariel’s childhood is written from my own. The first line of the story echoes my constant childhood fear. She’s any girl who has a difficult family life, every runaway, every abused girl. She can be anyone: a girl you see every day at the bus stop on your way to school, that quiet girl in your class, or maybe the one who lives in the house down the street, with constantly closed curtains. And I know that its “uncomfortable” topic I’ve made reference to. Amount of time I’ve been told that someone will not read the book because of “trigger warning”, and as much as I respect their decision, abuse is real. It’s there and a lot of girls suffer through it; and it has a taboo, hidden underground. People are not comfortable to discuss it, maybe don’t want to be confronted with the reality of it, maybe because of something they went through themselves, but I know, from experience, that confronting these demons, giving them names start the healing process.
Maybe I should write “sweet nothingness” romance to get sales going? But who I’m kidding? I know I couldn’t – after chapter two something gruesome would happen to my love birds ☺
Any teasers or details you can give about book 2?
Ariel’s sister will appear. More challenges for Ariel to overcome, a few more difficult topics to discuss. But mainly, Ariel needs to grow, to mature and that on what I’m concentrating for the book two. I have two, no – three, alternative endings, so I’ll decide on which one I love the most and will start working on slotting this in. So far I’m only three chapters in and I have already tried to kill Ariel.
Talk about bloodthirsty author 🙂
Thank you so much to Olga for taking the time to answer these questions!
Now for the giveaway part! This giveaway will be run through Twitter. The rules are simple: Like this tweet and make sure you’re following both myself and Olga and you are automatically entered into the draw. This giveaway is open to US/Canada only!
It will run from today (August 6th) until August 19th. So get those likes and follows in and good luck!
Until next time,