As part of the New Liz World Order I am going to be featuring authors who have some connection to me--->either I know them personally, I have read and enjoyed their books, we live or lived in the same state or country, or I am stalking them and just want them on here....
I'm thrilled to welcome the first guest to Liz Land: YA author and friend/basketball rival Christopher Ledbetter! Chris has had a run of amazing success lately, landing a real publishing contract for his first novel, Drawn. I'd be sick jealous, did I not love this guy so much. (Ok, I still am but I support the hell out of him! Be sure and read my review of DRAWN at the end of our post)....
How did you concoct the concept for the book Drawn?
At the time I generated the idea for Drawn, I hadn’t seen or read any stories of or relating to art. I wanted to write a story that had art as the centerpiece, the interplay of art and the artist. Art isn't widely touched upon, or at least not to my knowledge, in YA fiction.
Basically all of my stories begin as a “what if?” In the first “what if” regarding Drawn, and since I’m an amateur artist myself, I just sat around thinking what would happen if sketched pictures were to move and come alive kind of like that 1980’s music video for Aha’s Take On Me? And what would happen to the sketches if I closed the book and they descended into their own world?
I have always had an appreciation for fine art. I LOVED my humanities classes in college! And I've also always loved Michelangelo and Da Vinci. In particular, Da Vinci’s mind is brilliant! And speaking of… while I was drafting Drawn, the television series, Da Vinci’s Demons came on and that influenced my idea of basing Terra Sempre (the world within the sketchbook) on a Tuscan village circa the Renaissance.
Once the overall artistic concept was sketched out (no pun intended), then I needed to develop the overall story for the characters. Their journey was more or less influenced by my romantic experiences in middle school and high school in North Carolina. But then I tailored the story to feel native to Wilmington.
Describe the path you took to publication.
Drawn is fourth finished novel that I submitted to agents and the like. Like the others, I went through the gauntlet of querying agents. Unfortunately, I got rejected by every one of the agents I queried. But I believed so much in Drawn, that I began to submit it directly to publishers. I am full of gratitude that Evernight Teen took a chance on me.
Name your top 5 favorite books of all time and why.
These books I love for different reasons. Some, I love for the epic characters or the engaging voice. Others I adore because of spectacular storytelling and/ or superlative use of language and description, pace and writing style.
In no particular order, these are my top five favorites:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Good Faith by Liz Crowe
(editorial note: good to see my beer bribe worked!)
What are some of your other passions (besides writing/reading).
I love playing video games and binge watching fabulous TV series.
What’s coming up for you next?
I have two finished novels that hopefully will be on submission soon to someone. I am currently working on the sequel to Drawn. On deck after that is a follow up to one my aforementioned submission books, and then a brand new story I’m most excited about that involves research about the history of Stradivarius violins. That’s all I can say about that project at the moment. I’m hoping that I can get all this done in 2015. We’ll see.
Ok, and here is MY take on why Chris Ledbetter will be the next John Green. My review of DRAWN :
1 part fantasy, 2 parts hard core high school gamer/artist geek meets the prom queen reality, Drawn is the kind of book that slips seamlessly between these worlds thanks to the incredible talent of this debut author. This young adult novel is gloriously unpredictable and the characters are both at times so real-teenager-like you get aggravated with them (a sign of a well crafted character in my opinion). I do love a novel that starts out one way and then veers off into something unexpected and unique and this book delivers that and more.
Main guy character Cameron has a big time crush and it's written in a wholly relatable way. The object of his affection, Farrah, seems at first to be a typical pretty/popular girl at school but the mark of a great novelist is how he introduces you to one person, then develops that person into someone you really care about. And along the way a whole new world is introduced: Terra Semper--which at first seems to be just in Cameron's highly active imagination but we come to find out is very (very) real and more than a little dangerous.
An amazing and creative tale of love and art--the way Mr. Ledbetter entwines these 2 concepts is beautifully rendered.
I highly recommend this to readers of any age, from teenagers to adults. Move over John Green, there's a new YA talent in town.
Find out more about Chris (besides the fact that he is a North Carolina fan....ahem...GO CARDS!) using these links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisLedbetter.Author
Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/Chris_Ledbetter
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Ledbetter/e/B0037Z8T9O
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6926810.Chris_Ledbetter
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChristopherLedbetter/posts
Pinterest Inspo Board DRAWN: https://www.pinterest.com/chris_ledbetter/drawn-novel-inspiration/
Pinterest Inspo Board TST: https://www.pinterest.com/chris_ledbetter/the-sky-throne-novel-inspiration/
Goodreads Book Page~ DRAWN: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23842764-drawn