Sunday, September 27, 2015

Killshot by Aria Michaels Interview


Killshot by author Aria Michaels

When 17 year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she dedicates her every breath to getting him back. After months of solitude and anti-social behavior, her best friend Riley ropes her into a Rooftop Solar Flare Party. Despite the fascinating lights in the sky, Liv finds herself drawn, instead, to Zander- the boy with the crooked smile.

For a few hours, Liv’s troubles finally feel a bit less overwhelming—that is until what should have been a small flare erupts into a massive solar storm forcing them all to seek shelter in the school’s basement. Cut off from the rest of the world and with no signs of rescue, fear and paranoia set in and battle lines are drawn, dividing their ranks. What is left the group must embark on a perilous journey to save one of their own and find their families…but, something sinister awaits them in the shadows and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.

Can Liv keep her promise to reunite with her brother? What are she and her friends willing to do to survive? Will their bravery and determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night…Or was Icarus, indeed, The Killshot?

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in third grade I wrote and illustrated a story about a fox and a baby duck who, despite the odds stacked against them, became the best of friends. My teacher helped me “publish” it (by making copies on a Xerox machine) and encouraged me to share the story with other classes. The Fox and the Duckling sold a grand total of four copies at a quarter a piece and even made it onto the Prophetstown Elementary School shelves for a time. That was my first taste of publishing glory, and I was hooked. (laughs)
How long does it take you to write a book?
That varies depending on the story itself. Killshot took me almost nine months to write and another two months to beta run and edit. Before the Sky Fell, on the other hand, was written in exactly eight days and published less than a month later. Unfortunately, I am at the mercy of my muse, so the amount of time it takes to get the story out of my head depends entirely on what the characters demand of me and how quickly they are willing to divulge.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Non-existent, mostly. As much as I would love to schedule my day, it’s simply not an option for me. I have six boys under the age of fourteen, two of whom have special needs, all of whom have activities that keep us running in a million directions at once. My writing/work schedule depends entirely upon theirs. Thankfully, the chaos breeds creativity for me and I feed off the constant motion. When I do finally get a chance to sit down and write, the ideas tend to explode out of my mind like punctured balloon.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I write, I like to immerse myself in the sensory environment of my characters. When I wrote Killshot, I spent a lot of time outside in the heat, dressed the way my characters were dressed, subjecting myself to the harsh rays of the sun for hours at a time. I even went on a survivalist trip in the middle of July to get a sense for what it would be like to live out of a backpack in the midst of those scorching temps.
How do books get published?
That is a simple question with a complex answer. There are a number of ways that your favorite stories make their way from brainstorm to book. Some authors will go the traditional route and seek publication through one of the big publishing houses, some will opt for a small press, and others will forgo tradition and seek out independent publishing options. Ultimately, my goal is to be a hybrid author.  
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My ideas come from everywhere; movies, music, even my dreams. Killshot is actually based on a reoccurring nightmare I have had since I was a child. As for the information, I spend hours scouring the internet while researching my books. My stories are a potent combination of facts from the CDC, EPA, DHS, and other fun governmental acronyms, to articles, videos, and even conspiracy theory websites. The challenge in creating a post-apocalyptic world revolving around a solar storm and a killer virus is that most of the information is theoretical. This creates an awesome opportunity for creative conjecture, and a personal challenge for me to construct a world that is both believable and unbelievable all at once.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to create and get my hands dirty. I spend a lot of time making custom items for my etsy shop (, doing crafts with my kids, and playing in the mud. We are big on reading in my house, too, but we like to make an adventure out of it. This past summer, my boys and I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. We walked all over the neighborhood, picking up stones with “special powers,” made our own magic wands out of sticks, froze superheroes in blocks of ice and used our magic spells (a squirt gun full of warm water) to free them, and then had a week long Harry Potter movie marathon.
What does your family think of your writing?
I am quite lucky in that they are very proud of me, and every one of them is supportive. My husband is also an accomplished author, so he understands all too well the trials and tribulations associated with my craft. My parents and extended family are all avid readers and (thankfully) fans of my work. My boys think it’s cool that their mom is “famous” (which to them means, their school librarian knows who I am and has a signed copy of my books on display).
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I learned while creating my books was that the real work doesn’t begin until AFTER the book is written. As difficult as that process is, it turns out that writing is actually the easy part. You still have editing, beta readers, cover art, more editing, promotional work, blog tours, and then more editing. Did I mention there’s a fair bit of editing involved?
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
So far (not counting The Fox and the Duckling), I have written two complete books; Killshot (Icarus Series, Book One) and Before the Sky Fell (an Icarus Series Novella). I am currently hard at work on my third, Ballistic (Icarus Series, Book Two). I also have a few children’s books and a paranormal saga brewing in my head that are itching to get out as soon as the Icarus Series is complete. So far, my favorite is Killshot.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
#1- Read A LOT. You cannot hope to understand the subtleties of language, expand your literary mind, or master your voice if you have not exposed yourself to as many stories and styles as possible.
#2- Write often and with variety. It sounds so obvious, but truly this is the best advice I can give. Do not limit yourself to one topic, style, or genre. Flex your literary muscles and challenge yourself daily to write just outside of your comfort zone. If you hit a block, use writing prompts and compose a short creation about something new and frightening.
#3 Never be still. Always be listening, learning, and trying new things.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from my readers on a daily basis and it is, by far, my favorite part of being in the book world. There is no greater sense of accomplishment than receiving an email from a reader saying that my book had them laughing out loud, made them cry, or gave them hope. If I am being honest, I get a sick sense of pride when I get a message at 4am telling me that someone just finished my book…that they lost all sense of time and reality because they were living in the one I had created for them.
Do you like to create books for adults?
Even though the Icarus Series is categorized as YA (young adult) Dystopia, I have found that the story resonates with people of all ages. When I create my books, I do so with the intent to reach hearts in every demographic.
What do you think makes a good story?
Complete and total immersion. Readers want to be swallowed whole, chewed up, and spit out by their story. They want to see what the characters see, feel what the characters feel, and put themselves into the mix. Reading is an escape, afterall. 
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I was an ambitious child. My plan was to be a marine biologist that trained dolphins, a lawyer, and a famous writer and artist. While I may have thrown law to the wayside in favor of more creative pursuits, maybe there is still time for dolphins!
What Would you like my readers to know?
You are never more than one choice away from a different future.

Aria Michaels Bio/About the Author:
Aria Michaels is the author of the Best-Selling young adult dystopian novel Killshot (Icarus Series, Book One) as well as its companion novella, Before the Sky Fell. In addition to her career as an author, Aria Michaels is an avid reader, die-hard zombie fan and enthusiastic lover of bonfires and red wine. When she is not glued to her computer pouring out the voices in her head, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her boys, painting, or binge-watching The Walking Dead with her husband. Don't let her mild-mannered smile fool you…this woman has lofty ambitions that include complete global domination. She is determined to live in a world where every pair of yoga pants comes with a free book, an iced caramel macchiatto and a magic force-field that repels the sound of screaming children (of which she has six). In the meantime, Aria is hard at work on the next installment of the Icarus Series, reveling in her role as instigator of literary mayhem and stealth assassin of fictional characters. 

For more information about Aria Michaels and the Icarus Series, be sure to check out her website at 

"You are never more than one choice away from a different future." --Aria Michaels

Links for social media and such:
My blog: Aria Ever After
Facebook (Author/Like page):
Twitter:  @ariamichaelsya
Tsu: & @ariamichaelsya (linked)
Instagram:  &  ariamichaels

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