Welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! To day our guest is Ariella Moon, author of the Teen Wytche Saga, a sweet Young Adult paranormal series. Ariella writes about magic, friendship, high school, secrets, and love in Spell Check, Spell Struck, Spell Fire, and Spell For Sophia from Astraea Press.
Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. Ariella is a Reiki Master, author, and shaman. She lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and an enormous dragon.
A dragon? Seriously? I’d love to hear more about that, but we have to stick to business. Here’s our first question: What does your writing area look like?
I have an enormous executive desk which is pretty cluttered at the moment with reminders and research notes written on post-its and recycled manuscript pages.
How do you come up with titles and character names?
Author Jane George, a former critique partner, came up with the title for my first Teen Wytche Saga book, Spell Check. I built off that for Spell Struck, Spell Fire, and Spell For Sophia. Spell Fire was the most difficult book to match with a “Spell” title.
I can relate to that. Coming up with the third title in the A Question of… series is giving me a headache. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Never give up. Learn your craft. Attend writing conferences. Enter writing contests that give feedback and have an editor or agent as the final judge. I got my first agent because I had won three writing competitions in one year. And a senior editor at Scholastic took Spell Check to acquisitions after it won first place at the PNWA Literary Contest. I met the editor at the PNWA conference after-party for contest winners. Ultimately her boss vetoed the sale, but I came this close!
May I add, be sure to enter the contests in your genre. That has been one of my biggest mistakes. What author (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?
It would be a tie between J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis. I’d love to thank them both for their wonderful series. I actually worked one of Rowling’s book signings, so I have met her in an assemblyline sort of way. It was a huge, unforgettable event. She was gracious under pressure.
Both are/were wonderful writers who stirred the imagination. What is something unique about you that others don’t know?
Some people may not know that I am a shaman or that I once worked as a psychic on a police case. Spell For Sophia is the first of my books to feature a system of magic outside my own practice. My research for Sophia included witnessing an actual voodoo ritual/possession. My extensive research gave me a better understanding of New Orleans and why I am so uncomfortable around voodoo.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
I like a lot of quiet, solitary time. My house is usually very quiet. Most people like to have music playing or the television on for background noise. I love doing things with my friends and seeing shaman clients, but I balance that with a lot of quiet.
Thank you! And now for some one-word answers: What is your favorite:
Animal — Dog
Season — Spring
Food — Brownies with walnuts
Movie — I can’t pick just one — I love going to the movies!
Place you’ve visited — Britain
Place you’d like to visit — Italy
I’d like to go back to Italy, Tuscany in particular. Now tell us about Spell for Sophia.
Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you cannot see.
Sophia Perez-Hidalgo’s survival depends upon her mastering magic and the supernatural before her lawless parents and their vengeful boss catch up to her. How far must she flee to escape them forever? Sophia runs until she’s out of stolen money, then…Fate delivers her into the arms of Louisiana teen Shiloh Breaux Martine, and his grand-mère, a voodoo priestess living deep in the bayou.
Breaux knows Sophia is trouble — but he’ll travel through time, battle zombies, and risk his bright future to protect her. While Ainslie, best friend extraordinaire, will jeopardize her sanity to find and aid Sophia. When friendship, magic, and love are not enough, Sophia will have to save herself. But first, she must believe she’s worth saving.
Breaux followed me onto the streetcar and bought day passes with exact change. I scanned the streetcar’s vintage interior for two seats together. I ignored the pinched brows and alarmed stares from our fellow passengers. Most of them fixated on a point behind me. With dismay I realized Breaux’s blood-soaked bandana was drawing too much attention. Someone was bound to notice his uncanny resemblance to the congressman. The last thing we needed was to derail the time-space continuum or spark rumors.
The migraine over my eye throbbed.
I discovered an empty row toward the back and claimed the window seat. Breaux shoved our passes into his jeans pocket, then roosted beside me. He placed the backpack at his feet and kept his chin down. His hands trembled and twitched against his thighs. Caffeine, sugar, and shock, I thought. The cloth over his gash sported blood in varying shades of red. It appeared wet and sticky. The sight of it made me queasy and I had to swallow hard. Breaux’s ashen pallor hadn’t improved. Worry worsened my stomach. Breaux needed to go to the hospital and get stitched up. Someone should x-ray him and see if he had a fracture or concussion. Or both.
Merciful Mary, please help us complete whatever must be done here so we can return to our own time.
A flicker of color flashed outside the window. I swiveled toward it, thinking maybe it was a flag. Wrong! The hints of gold and red sprung from a wispy paisley top worn by an African-American teen hovering several feet off the ground. My brain registered, ghost! My hand flew to my mouth to muffle a shriek.
The movement must have caught the ghost’s eye. She zoomed to the window and pressed her nose against the glass. I shrank against Breaux. The wraith’s peace sign necklace swung through the pane, almost touching my chin before it dropped. The temperature plummeted several degrees.
I shot Breaux a furtive sideways glance. His attention was fixed on Nervous Guy, who was making his way toward us. The ghost bracketed her face with her hands and peered through the window. Brackish swamp smells assaulted my nose. Water dripped from her long curly Afro and slid down the sides of her hands and onto the windowpane. I wondered if she could hear my heart thundering.
“Are you the Mexican?” the wraith asked.
My eyes widened. Is the drug cartel employing ghosts? Speechless, my gaze darted across her face. She’s no older than Breaux. Unlike Mam’zelle, whose spirit had transitioned into a being of light, the ghost still retained her human form and the clothes she must have been wearing when she died. Her skin, though blue-gray in death, still showed patches of its former nutmeg color. She had Breaux’s nose.
The ghost pointed a wet finger. “Is he Shiloh Breaux Martine?”
“Umm. Breaux…” My fingers dug into his thigh.
Wow! Amazing excerpt, Areilla. Where can we buy the book?
Buy Links for the Teen Wytche Saga
Connect with Ariella Moon
Thank you, Ariella. It’s been a joy to host you.