Author Interview with Majanka Verstraete

May 8, 2014 at 12:52 am 1 comment

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Today I’m hosting an interview with Majanka Verstraete, author of the “Weirdville” series, a series of scary lower grade chapter books. Welcome to my blog, Majanka!

Author Interview

1)      How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was seven years old. Of course, the stories I wrote back then were nowhere near publishable, but it was good practice and I loved it.

The first time I thought seriously about being an author as a career choice, was when I was in my late teens.

2)      What is your favorite genre to write?

Speculative fiction. I write everything from paranormal to horror. As long as it has a supernatural element, I’m happy.

3)      Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I haven’t tried non-fiction yet, but I’m planning to write a non-fiction account about my ghostly encounters, and I’ve been thinking about diving into true crime as well. Considering my background in law, and how I’ve always been interested in the true crime genre, it would be great to expand my writing to true crime as well.

4)      Please tell us about your books.

Well, I have several books out now, but this tour is focusing on the first three books in the Weirdville series, so I’ll tell you about those.

The Weirdville series is a lower grade chapter books series of scary books set in the fictional town of “Weirdville”. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, and offers different main characters, and a whole new plot.

5)      Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

I love Charlie, the main character of “Fright Train”. He’s based on my cousin – who is about the same age as Charlie is – and I love his personality.

I’d have to say my least favorite character would be The Doll Maker, the villain from “The Doll Maker”. He’s a nasty man who wants to hurt kids.

6)      What was the hardest part about writing your books?

Coming up with a different, unique, plot for each of them. Scary books for lower graders aren’t that common, but there are quite a few out there, and I don’t want to fall back on the well-known tropes in horror. I wanted to add something fresh and unique to each book. That was the hardest part.

Like, for example, “The Doll Maker”. I’m sure there are tons of books out there about possessed dolls. But I wanted to give the book an unique spin, and I hope I succeeded.

7)      What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I don’t really have a routine. I write whenever I can. In between classes, on the train back home from university… I don’t need anything in particular, besides my laptop or computer, of course. When I’m at home, I pour myself a cup of tea before I get started though.

8)      How long did it take you to write your books from start to finish?

Each book is different, but in general, the Weirdville series doesn’t take that long. Anywhere from a week to one month per book.

9)      Can you tell us about your editing process?

When I finish my first draft, I vow to stay away from the book for at least a week. Then I pick it up again, and I edit each chapter. I usually do one chapter a day, because I don’t have that much time a day to write.

When I’m done, I read through it again, and then I send it to my editor. He edits the book at least once, but usually twice, before it’s ready for publication.

10)   How many installments do you have planned in this series?

That’s a great question. To be honest, I don’t know. As long as my publisher lets me, I’ll continue writing these books. I love Weirdville, and I love writing scary stories.

For now, there are at least three more books planned, and an omnibus edition. But if you ask me, I’d love to write at least ten more!

11)   Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. Write every day, or as often as you can. Everyone gets rejections, you just have to go on until you find the publisher that’s right for you, and for your book.

12)   Why should everyone read The Weirdville series?

Kids should read it because the series is awesome. The main characters are kids, the plots are scary – but not too scary, so you won’t have nightmares for years. Maybe just one day.

Adults should read the books because they’re a reminder of their childhood, and can transport them back to the time when everything was scary: from weird shop keepers to haunted houses at a carnival, to train rides on your own.

The books focus on common fears, and turn them into something a lot more terrifying.

13)   If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

I’d love to meet J.K. Rowling, Charles Dickens and Anne Rice.

14)   What inspired you to write these books?

There aren’t enough scary books out there for kids. I had the same problem when I was a kid, and I watch kids today having the same issues. So I wanted to craft a series of scary books that kids would enjoy reading.

15)   Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’m working on books five and six in the Weirdville series, “The Clumsy Magician” and “Grave Error”.

About the Books

Series: Weirdville

Author: Majanka Verstraete

Genre: Chapter Books, Kids Books, Horror, Lower Grade

The Doll Maker

Weirdville_Doll_Maker_300dpi_200x320Derek’s little sister wants one of those creepy-looking dolls, staring at him from the strange new doll shop in town, and what his sister wants, she gets. Now they’re stuck with a doll that looks so human, it gives Derek the creeps.

When Derek tells his friends, Martin and Jamie, about the new shop with creepy human-like dolls, they want to see for themselves. That has “bad idea” written all over it, but he takes his friends there anyway.

They meet the mysterious doll maker, who reminds Derek of Dr. Frankenstein, and who brainwashes Martin into buying one of those scary dolls. Derek and Jamie push and pull Martin out of the shop, but something isn’t right with their friend. He’s shivering all over, and he has no memory of what happened in the shop.

Martin’s condition worsens every day, and Derek’s sister grows more and more obsessed with her new doll. Derek and Jamie have to find out what’s going on, and fast, because…

…the doll maker seems linked to a bunch of mysterious disappearances, and the last thing Derek wants is his sister, or his friend, being next on the doll maker’s list.

House of Horrors

 hh_5x8When her parents allow her to go to the fair, Jacky is over the moon. The fair is most famous for its haunted mansion, the House of Horrors, and her friend Ben can’t wait to try it out. Her best friend, Cass, is a little more reluctant, but then again, Cass has always been a chicken when it comes to getting scared.

Jacky and Cass are determined to act tough, so when Ben suggests they try out the House of Horrors, the girls tag along, even though the place gives them the chills.

As soon as the three of them enter the spooky monstrosity, the ride comes to a screeching halt, and the horror begins.

The lights fade, and a hooded figure appears and tells them they’re stuck in a twisted game of cat and mouse. He will show them their worst fears, and if the kids manage to face down those fears, they’ll have a chance of getting out of the House of Horrors alive. If they don’t, well….

Thirty minutes to go. Thirty minutes to face their nightmares… and the clock is ticking.

Fright Train

 ft_5x8Charlie’s parents drop him off at the train station so he can visit his grandma in Weirdville. It’s a cold winter evening, so when his usual train is cancelled at the last second, Charlie wishes he’d stayed home.

An hour later, shivering from the cold, he climbs onboard the next train to Weirdville, even though he’d rather not. It looks like something straight out of the nineteenth century, as if it used a time machine to arrive at the station.

His shivering doesn’t stop, for soon after Charlie boards, he realizes just how right he was to be wary of this strange train. Something is seriously wrong with all the people onboard. If only he could figure out what was going on. If only he could get off the train

Author Bio

authorpictureMajanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library.

She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her.

She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in.

Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Game of Thrones,” spending time with her friends, or playing “World of Warcraft.”

Links

Author Website: http://majankaverstraete.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Majanka-Verstraete/398570476832115

Twitter: @iheartreads

Goodreads:

The Doll Maker: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18163241-the-doll-maker

House of Horrors: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18518799-house-of-horrors

Fright Train: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18518899-fright-train

Amazon:

The Doll Maker: http://amzn.to/1ifFrIG

House of Horrors: http://amzn.to/1oqcwUI

Fright Train: http://amzn.to/1cWDoKf

On Publisher’s website:

The Doll Maker: http://evolvedpub.com/product/the-doll-maker/

House of Horrors: http://evolvedpub.com/product/house-of-horrors/

Fright Train:  http://evolvedpub.com/product/fright-train/

Giveaway

There’s a tour-wide giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is international, and the winner will be contacted through email.

Go here to participate in the giveaway!

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