Sunday, June 8, 2014

Author Interview with Livia Blackburne + GIVEAWAY!

Today I have the great honor of interviewing Livia Blackburne, author of The Midnight Thief. I'll be posting my review of her debut novel closer to the publication date (spoiler: I loved it!), but today YOU will have a chance to read it. At the end of the interview, I'll be hosting a giveaway of my ARC via Rafflecopter so be sure to stick around.

You can check out her bio here.

So I stalked read your bio and you're a science whiz! What do you like more: writing or science? Do you think your scientific background influences your fantasy fiction? 
Well, I now write full-time and no longer do science in a professional capacity, so I guess that's your answer :-) I enjoy science, but stories have always been my first love. My interest in neuroscience and my love of stories do have the same underlying theme, which is a desire to get inside people's heads. Though, there are many more FEELS when you do that with fiction!

My psychology background has been helpful in building characters, and especially in building different cultures within fantasy worlds. I know what kind of parameters I can play with.  For example is it an individualistic versus a collectivist society?  How do they view outsiders?  Etc.

You say why you started MIDNIGHT THIEF, but how did you come up with the idea? 
Several influences converged to make Midnight Thief, and many of these influences are from my high school days because the novel incorporated characters and themes from a manuscript that I started in high school. (That particular manuscript was horrible though.  Definitely not publishable.)

I grew up reading girl power fantasies (Tamora Pierce’s SONG OF THE LIONESS!), so I knew I wanted to write a girl with fighting skills. I was also a huge fan of the old USA TV series La Femme Nikita (Not to be confused with the newer CW series.) One thing I loved about that show was how it grappled with morality and the question of whether the end justifies the means. All this came together to form a story of a talented girl thief who grapples with her conscience even as her star rises in the city’s underworld.

Tamora Pierce = win.
I'm such a name fanatic, do your characters' names have any meaning...or are they just random? Kyra, Bella a nod to your push to writing from TWILIGHT
You’re the first interviewer to mention Bella’s name in connection with TWILIGHT! Just to recap for your readers who might not know this back story, I stopped reading and writing for about 10 years after I graduated high school since I was just too busy with science. But in grad school I picked up Twilight while waiting for a bus  and blew through the entire series in a weekend.  People bash Twilight a lot these days, but I think Meyer does a really good job at emotionally engaging the reader. Anyways, that reading binge reminded me how much I loved YA fiction and how I had always wanted to write a book. I started MIDNIGHT THIEF soon after.

MIDNIGHT THIEF actually shares several names with TWILIGHT. One is a character named Bella, as you already noticed. Also, both books have a dangerous character named James. And finally, Rand, the redheaded assassin, was named Riley in early drafts.  There’s also a redheaded character named Riley in one of the TWILIGHT sequels. I didn’t do any of this on purpose. The names were just readily available in my subconscious because I had read TWILIGHT so recently.

As for the name Kyra, I just liked it. I actually pronounce it wrong in my head. I say K-EYE-ra while most people say K-EE-ra. 

Flick’s character was based on high school classmate of mine (again, many of the characters in MIDNIGHT THIEF are recycled from a manuscript I started in high school), and his name was a rearrangement of this real life person’s name. I will refrain from telling you who it was because I already feel creepy for writing characters based on people I haven’t had contact with in decades. :-P
Here's an interesting tidbit. Malikel was also a character from that early high school manuscript. Back then, I didn't really pay attention to whether names sounded like they were from the same language or not.  So I ended up having all these characters with old English sounding names . . . plus an odd one out in Malikel.  During revisions with my editor, I offered to change his name to make it fit better into the world. But then I thought, why not run with it in the other direction? So instead of changing the name, I made Malikel a foreigner from the distant city of Minadel. This gave me lots of opportunities for character development, and in the final version of MIDNIGHT THIEF, Malikel’s status as an outsider gives him a different philosophy and approach to how he governs.

See, I never read TWILIGHT so I never realized how much influence it had, only that there's a character named Bella. I do pronounce Kyra's name like you do, I didn't realize that it would be considered wrong.
There are so many things I want to ask, but spoilers! So I'll just go with...where did you get your inspiration for the Demon Riders? 
Okay, this will be a very vague answer, to avoid spoilers.  I don't remember how I settled on the specifics, but I envisioned a scene at the end where a certain secret was revealed in a very dramatic and sudden way. From there, I worked backwards and created the world around it.

There isn't a love triangle in this one, but will one appear in the next? 
Ha! I actually toyed with the idea of love triangle in book 2 quite a bit, because there's one particular character in MIDNIGHT THIEF that has great chemistry with Kyra, but his chemistry with Kyra is strictly platonic in book 1. I actually sketched out some romance scenes between Kyra and this other character, and I like those scenes a lot.  But I couldn't resolve a love triangle to my satisfaction (I hate making people sad!). I also shrank the series down from three books to two books, which didn’t leave enough room for love complications.  So as of now, there is no love triangle in book 2.

You told me you're in the first draft of the sequel. Is it harder than the first book?
It's much harder, and from talking to my fellow 2014 authors, it's really common to have a harder time with the sequel. There's several reasons for this. First, I'm under deadline for the first time in my life, so everything's happening a lot faster. Also, while writing the first book was a solo endeavor, writing the second book involves my editor and publishing house as well. In addition to writing the story I want to write, I'm also taking into account other people's preferences and market restrictions. Finally, because the second book is the end of this duology, there’s the pressure to make it better than the first book and tie all the open storylines from book 1 into an epic conclusion.  That’s a good type of pressure though, assuming I use it to motivate myself instead of panicking. :)

What's a book you read recently that you loved? 
I recently finished DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS and adored it. The entire series was just so imaginative and beautifully written.

I now that one high on my TBR list.
Pick one: Drink (anything), read, and tan or eat, read, and bundle up?
Eat, read, and bundle up! Tanning just makes me start worrying about sunburns.

Another common factor, although I'm not afraid of sunburns, I just hate the heat. 


Once again, thank you very much, Livia, for taking the time for this interview. Those first drafts for sequels are hard, ya'll. Although I'd love to give every one of you a prize, I can only give ONE person an ARC so they can hopefully love it as much as I did. 

  • MUST follow in at least ONE way.*
  • Must live in USA. Sorry, INT folks.
*I highlighted and EMPHASIZED because I did not make it mandatory on the Rafflecopter. My preferred option of following is EMAIL, however, you can follow via Bloglovin' too. I wanted to give you all the opportunities to win so I made them separate. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I've been wanting to read this one - so very cool that Tamora Pierce was a big influence!

  2. I'm so psyched to read this book, and it was definitely fun learning more about Livia. Thanks for the interview and giveaway, Summer!

  3. Ew, she considered a romantic relationship between Flick and Kyra? But they're like brother and sister! :P I actually can't wait to see what she does with James' character in the next book. I really enjoyed Midnight Thief and Poison Dance, and I can't wait to discuss it with you, Summer. Thanks for sharing this interview and further enlightening me on the author's choices in the story. I like seeing an author who's not afraid to admit that Twilight inspired them. =)

    1. I know, right?! That's what I thought! *blushes* I actually haven't read Poison Dance yet. I heard about it before this one, but didn't realize the connection for some reason! I really need to though before the sequel!

  4. What an awesome interview. It's only makes me need this book even more! Thank you for the opportunity to win The Midnight Thief xoxo

  5. The fact that Livia is a Tamora Pierce fan further cements my need to read her book! Midnight Thief already sounded incredible when I first heard of it, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it :)

    1. I felt the same way! I heard about it AFTER I read it and it made me glad that I read it even more :)

  6. I have been wanting to read this book for FOREVER!!! It looks sooooo good! I need to read the novella before this though, but I can knock that out in a couple hours. :)

    1. Well, it IS good. I never did read the novella, I actually didn't realize the connection until AFTER, as weird as it is. But I'm glad I didn't tbh. I can't wait to see how you like both!

  7. I've totally been interested in Midnight Thief since I've heard about it, but Livia seems super cool based on this interview and I'm more interested than I was before. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. Thank you so much for doing this giveaway! This have been on my to-buy TBR list for so long now!! :D

  9. I'm not much of a fantasy person, but this interview is making me question my decision to pass on Midnight Thief. It's so impressive that the author has a background in neuroscience an psychology, and I can see that knowledge translating wonderfully into her character development. All these questions and answers are great, and when I combine the interview with the fact that you gave the book five stars, I'm tempted to give it a shot.

  10. Wonderful interview, Summer! I had no idea Livia had a background in neuroscience and psychology -- so interesting! I bet she has a great handle on her characters because of this background + the world must be so rich and detailed. Oh, I can't wait to read your full review to get the full scoop. Thanks for sharing and for asking such fun questions too! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

    1. Thanks, Marlene! I feel like I haven't talked to you in forever!

    2. I know I haven't been around these parts in a while, but you won't be able to get rid of me over the summer. I promise. ;)

  11. Thanks for ze awesome giveaway<3

  12. Can I just give you a big ole' e-hug for asking about a love triangle?! You saved me from having to ask the author myself or waiting until the next book to be certain. So, THANK YOU. And praise the book gods there won't be one! (Livia, you made the right choice. :D)
    Reviews have been stellar for this book, so I can't wait to get my hands on it! Thanks for sharing the interview, Summer!

  13. Thank goodness there's no love triangle! I've been so excited about this book, and finding out a love triangle was lurking around the corner would have killed that excitement (and possibly scared me off the series). Excellent interview!

  14. Great interview! Glad to know that there isn't a love triangle in it or the next (it's my least favorite trope)!

  15. Okay. I think you have officially convinced me that I need to read this. Fantasy books can sometimes be "meh" to me... but this sounds really good. Thanks, Summer :)

  16. I love you for asking that question. Thank you. I'm such wimp, but I've been hesitant to read this book because I heard Livia discussing possible triangles in book 2. I just cannot invest in a series with triangles, no matter how much I like other elements. :( I feel horrible about that, but I've been burned too much. But I was going to read this one anyway - because Livia is awesome and the concept sounded fantastic. NOW I'M SO HAPPY. YAYYYY. I'm actually glad this is just a duo logy too. Maybe I'll change my mind when I read the book, but I'm liking this duet trend. Thanks for this interview.