Monday, June 29, 2015

Blank Canvas by Mere Joyce Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway

Blank Canvas
Mere Joyce

Evernight Teen Publishing
@50K ~ Romance/Suspense/Contemporary

Three years ago, sixteen-year-old Maddie Deacon was abducted on her way home from her school’s Art Showcase. Five months ago, she escaped the madman she calls The Painter. Before being taken, painting was Maddie’s life. Now, it’s her nightmare. 
Maddie wants to forget her years in captivity. She’d rather spend her time getting reacquainted with her parents and her sister, not to mention her cello-playing, beautiful boy next door and childhood best friend Wesley. But paint is everywhere, and tormenting shadows linger in every portrait she encounters. 
When the yearly Art Showcase once again approaches, Maddie has the chance to win a scholarship and start planning a future far away from the horrors of her past. She knows she has to make a choice–confront her memories of The Painter and overcome her fear of the canvas, or give up painting forever. 

Buy Links:      Evernight Teen     Amazon     ARe

“Hello, Maddie,” Tim says, taking a sip from his Healing Expressions coffee cup. I’m glad he and Juliet call me Maddie instead of Madison, like Klara does. I’ve gone by Maddie since my days in preschool, and being called it here makes the office seem slightly less institutional.
Of course, it doesn’t make this moment any less awful.
“H-hi,” I stammer, my voice thin. My feet ache as I force them across the threshold. Tim prefers it if I close the door behind me, but I need to see my escape route. Shakily, I cross the room and sit on the bench along the wall of windows that look down over the parking lot. The cushions are soft, bright orange, and there are pink and green and blue throw pillows scattered along the seat. I grab the blue one, and hug it to my chest as I stare at the world on the free side of the glass panes.
It’s a strange sensation, watching the world like this. In elementary school, at recess, I would sit by the fences backing the neighborhood houses. With my head tilted into the cool fall or warm spring breeze, I would close my eyes and picture the people in those houses: people not working, people working from home, people driving the streets or watering their lawns or relaxing in front of the TV, while I remained stuck at school for another several hours. I have the same thoughts now as I gaze over the parking lot, far out to the park, the townhouse complex, and the streets beyond. So many people sleeping, reading, shopping––all while I’m here, trapped behind a wall of glass.
It helps to keep my back to the easel. Slowly, the panic of my arrival subsides, and I take full gulping breaths until I’ve settled into muted unease.
“How are you feeling today, Maddie?” Tim asks. He remains seated. I get antsy if his six-foot-three inch body looms over me.
“I’m fine,” I lie. I’m never fine. Not anymore. But declaring it is like stating the obvious.
“How’s school?” I can hear a smile in his voice. I like Tim’s voice, with its deep, quietly enthusiastic tone. I’m fairly certain I like Tim, too. Or at least I would, if the circumstances were different. If he didn’t have the task of prying, of guiding me into frigid, infested waters every time we meet.
“It’s fine,” I say, shrugging my shoulders.
Tim’s chair scrapes across the floor as he stands. I keep my eyes fixed on the parking lot outside. I’ve found Wesley’s tiny van, and I watch it intently.
Tim approaches, sits on the bench a ways off. “Did you read any papers this week?”
“No.” The tension I nearly shed on the ride over here is creeping back again. I hate therapy. I don’t understand how digging into every unpleasant crevice of my subconscious is supposed to make my life easier.
“How about the news? Did you watch any?” Tim asks, even though I’m already shaking my head.
“Y-You know I didn’t,” I reply, and Tim breathes out, the resulting sound just short of a sigh.
“How many times have you had to avoid his picture?” he asks, and I squeeze the pillow until my fingers are white.
“S-Seventy … S-Seventy-two,” I choke out.
It’s become a habit keeping track of the number of times I stop myself from seeing him. When I go to the drugstore and see the papers lined in a hideous row. When the news comes on, and reporters rehash what happened.
In the beginning, it was far harder. There were articles all over, news stories, constant threats to my sanity. Five months on, most of my count comes from the personal attacks, the times I remember something, imagine something, and his face almost manages to push its way in.
“Good. An improvement on last week,” Tim says, the pleasing smoothness of his voice giving the achievement a more respectable air than it deserves. Last week there were seventy-eight occurrences. Having six fewer episodes means nothing, except Tim is trying to be as positive as possible.
Plus, there’s the phone call to consider. Last week might have been an improvement, but I’m certain my methods of diversion will fail to keep me from replaying the conversation I wasn’t supposed to hear this morning.

Author Bio

Mere Joyce lives in Ontario, Canada. As both a writer and a librarian, she understands the importance of reading, and the impact the right story can have. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario.

When she’s not writing, reading, or recommending books, Mere likes to watch movies with her husband, play games with her son, go for walks with her dog, and drink lots of earl grey tea with orange chocolate on the side.


1.    When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since my teenage years, but it’s difficult to  pinpoint exactly when I knew it was what I wanted to do...I do know, however, that I was writing poems by the age of fourteen, and stories followed soon after that.

2.    How long does it take you to write a book?

If I know where the story is going, I write fast. It took me about a month to write the first draft of Blank Canvas, but I had fairly clear ideas of where the plot was headed. I don’t outline, so sometimes I can get stuck because I have to work out where the story’s going next!

3.    What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I don’t have any set schedule for writing...when I have ideas, I’ll write while my nine-month-old son naps, or I’ll take my laptop up to bed with me at night. In the fall I’ll be heading back to work full-time as well, which means early mornings and late nights will often be the only time I’ll be able to fit any writing in!

4.    What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I get motivated to write by odd things. Sure, there the obvious motivators, like when a writing contest is approaching or a writing buddy gets an agent/publishing deal...but I’ve been known to get desperate for writing time in other, less obvious ways, like after watching the spoof T.V. show Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (seriously, every time I watch it I instantly go and write afterwards!)

5.    How do books get published?

Blank Canvas was released by Evernight Teen, so they took care of the publishing bits. All I had to worry about was getting my edit letters completed on time!

6.    Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Inspiration, for me, comes from everywhere. Blank Canvas came from a dream, while my current WIP came from my real life. I’ve often been inspired by songs or pictures as well, and sometimes ideas just come from out of nowhere. There’s never been one main source of inspiration for me, and I like that.

7.    When did you write your first book and how old were you?

My first “novel” was a Fear Street-esque horror/thriller I wrote when I was fourteen or fifteen. It was about 16,000 words long! My first full-length novel was written at about the age of twenty. I never did anything with it, was simply a test for myself to see if I could write a novel. Happily, I passed!

8.    What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Read, play my clarinet, take walks with my family, and watch movies with my husband. I’m also fond of baking, especially in the fall.

9.    What does your family think of your writing?

My family is supportive, especially my husband. He encouraged me to write that first novel at the age of twenty, and he’s been a firm supporter of my writing goals ever since!

10.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Sometimes you think scenes through so thoroughly that they completely feel like your words, your sentences, etc. But sometimes scenes just kind of happen, and afterwards reading through them makes you think “wait, did I write that?” It’s amazing how stories come together, both the rough and smooth bits, and every so often you’re genuinely surprised (and thrilled) by your own creations. As writers we’re often pretty harsh on ourselves, and we question our merit as potential authors. So having those odd little surprises are quite nice.

11.  How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

In total (as an adult) I’ve written eight books, five of which are still in some way or other ‘in progress’. Of my own works, Blank Canvas holds a special place in my heart, and there’s a YA paranormal adventure I’m currently revising that I particularly love. But of course, I enjoy all my stories...otherwise I couldn’t be bothered to write them!

12.  Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

The only advice I can really give is to feel free to ignore some of the advice you’re given! Some pieces of advice are great, and for different writers, different advice could lead to that breakthrough ‘Aha!’ moment. But I’ve seen writers obsess too much about the supposed ‘rules’ of writing. Writing is creative, and creativity cannot be stifled by rules! So listen to advice, but take it with a grain of salt and really consider if it’s worthwhile for you personally. If it’s not, then forget about it!

13.  Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I haven’t really heard from readers yet, but then again, Blank Canvas is my debut novel. So hopefully, I’ll hear from them soon!

14.  Do you like to create books for adults?

Usually my writing is for YA audiences, but I don’t spend too much time thinking about the target audience when I write. As a teen, I never read YA, and now as an adult I do. I like writing about teens, and usually books about teens are classified as YA. Which is great! But it’s more about the characters than the supposed readership.

15.  What do you think makes a good story?

Characters. For me, it’s all about the characters. I have my preferred settings and my favoured styles of writing, but these can be ignored if the characters are right. If there are enjoyable characters and interesting/complex/strong relationships, I don’t even care what the plot or genre is. The story can be tragic, scary, hilarious, sweet, or full of action – I just need to care about the characters on the pages.

16.  As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Well, for a while I wanted to be a spy (blame Harriet), and then I really wanted to work with dolphins, =)

17.  What would you like my readers to know?

I just want to say thank you to the readers for stopping by to read my interview, and a big thanks to you for hosting me!

Twitter: @MereJoyceWrites

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  1. Omg I think when I read this book I will cry. This happens in real life. By some chance did you interview any of the girl or boys that went through this in real life?

    1. I hope if you do have any tears, they are worthwhile! I didn't interview anyone...I wanted Maddie's story to be as genuinely *hers* as possible, =)

  2. Thank you for the interview, and for being a part of the blog tour!

  3. Great post today Mere and Deal Sharing Aunt !!!

  4. Must have been a pretty inspiring dream to influence a whole book!

  5. How did you decide to write this book?