Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Blackbird Summer by EM Shotwell Interview & Giveaway

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A Blackbird Summer Series Novel
Em Shotwell
Releasing April 5th, 2016
City Owl Press

When people fear the unknown, being Gifted is a curse.

In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.

No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.

An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

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Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer with City Owl Press. She believes the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that the smallest towns often hide the biggest secrets.

Em’s characters will bless your heart between sips of sweet tea- but be warned! There is often more to them than meets the eye. She loves to craft stories around outcasts and weirdos with a spark of magic and a penchant for finding trouble.

She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. When she isn’t writing about misfits and oddballs, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten year old.

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Q&A with Deal Sharing Aunt

Where are you from?
Originally I am from a small town in Mississippi with a name that most people cannot pronounce, however I have called Louisiana home for longer than anywhere else.

Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, BLACKBIRD SUMMER is available! It is getting good reviews and I will be at RT Convention in Las Vegas signing! If anyone is going to the convention—come and see me at the giant book fair on Saturday or the Reader Roundup on Sunday!

When and why did you begin writing?
My parents are story tellers. My Dad wrote me funny poems and stories when I was a little girl. My mom wrote songs and stories for me and my sisters, and we would beg to hear them over and over. It wasn’t long before we were making up our own, and like most sisters, we tried to one up each other with who could tell the best tale. I guess that is where it started, and it just never stopped—the stories grew into books.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It’s weird because I consider anyone who writes, no matter if their work is ever published or not, to be a writer. But sometimes I still feel strange calling myself a writer. It is a title that I am growing more confident in every time someone reads Blackbird Summer and likes it.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Blackbird Summer is my debut novel—and long before I buckled down and got serious about writing a book, I had an idea about two sisters who lived in a mean little town on the wrong side of the tracks. I even outlined that story. However, once I got started, magic worked its way into the tale, changing everything! At its heart, Blackbird Summer is still about sisterhood and family—only now with a zip of magic woven through the storyline.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not sure—but I adore my characters. Crafting them is my favorite part of writing. A common thing readers have told me about Blackbird Summer is that the voice is great and the relationship between the characters—especially Tallulah and her sister Delia—is a favorite part. So I guess I focus on getting my characters “right” before anything else.

How did you come up with the title?
Oh Gosh! The title! The book was finished, edited, and ready to query and I still didn’t have a title. I actually read the finished product through from beginning to end twice before coming up with a title. But now, Blackbird Summer feels like the perfect title for the story. I can’t imagine calling it anything else.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Blackbird Summer is about magic and love, sure. But at its heart I feel that the story is about the complicated relationship between family and that special bond shared between sisters.
Blackbird Summer is also about finding a place in a world that may not want to make a place for you at all.

How much of the book is realistic?
Well…the book and characters are pretty extreme, however I grew up with sisters, so I hope that the relationship between Tallulah and Delia is realistic. They are polar opposites, but love each other fiercely and always have each other’s back, no matter what.
I also think that the “first love” experienced between Tallulah and Logan is pretty realistic. Falling for someone for the first time is amazing and scary and there is nothing like the first time you feel that rush just by being near another person.                                            
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not really. I moved a lot growing up. Like—a LOT lot. So I am sure that the different places I lived and people I met influenced me and therefore influenced the stories I tell, but the characters and town and plot is all straight from my imagination.

What books have most influenced your life most?
There are so many! The first book that I remember reading and truly seeing myself in a character was “A Wrinkle In Time,” by Madeline L’Engle. Most of the books I read back then that featured girl protagonists were about girly-girls doing girly type things. And that is great—but it wasn’t me. Meg Murray was tough, and smart. She didn’t care what she looked like. She was a tom boy and a protective big-sister who didn’t really “get” other people. She didn’t do well in school and loved her family fiercely. AND she had these amazing adventures. She felt like my kindred spirit and read my copy of A Wrinkle In Time until it was tattered.

What would you like my readers to know?
First- I want to say thanks for reading this interview about my book! I poured my heart into Blackbird Summer and I hope that you enjoy it. It is available online at all major book sites. And if you like  the book, and want to read a short story that ties into the world of Blackbird Summer, you can sign up for my newsletter at and receive a free copy of the short story, “The Chans.”

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