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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Blog Tour- SPARKED by Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous An Interview & Giveaway!


Hey everyone! I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for  SPARKED by Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous! 

I have an interview with Helena and Malena to share with you today! And make sure to enter the giveaway below!


Haven't heard of SPARKED? Check it out!



Title: SPARKED
Author: Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous
Pub. Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Geek & Sundry
Pages: 310
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NTBDGoodreads
Fifteen-year-old Laurel Goodwin wakes up to find her older sister Ivy missing from their Airstream trailer in the Oregon redwoods. A recurring nightmare convinces her that Ivy was abducted, but no one takes her dream seriously, including her mom. Laurel, a loner, has to learn to ask for help, and Jasper Blake, a mysterious new kid who shares her love of old books, quickly becomes her ally. Together they find their quiet town holds a deep secret and is the epicenter of a dark prophecy. 
Laurel soon learns that her worst enemies, mean girls Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, are developing powers that she needs to find and save Ivy. With time running out, Laurel realizes that power doesn't always take the form that you expect. And once she learns to look beyond her snap judgments, she develops an unexpected gift of her own.

Read a sneak peak of SPARKED!

Now on to the interview!


Hi Helena and Malena! First I want to say welcome to Two Chicks on Books! SPARKED sounds freaking awesome and am so happy that you could stop by for a visit!

For the readers: can you tell us a little bit about SPARKED and the characters?

Thanks so much for having us! We are super-excited to be here. So here goes

Laurel Goodwin, aged fifteen, lives with her beloved older sister Ivy and their checked out hippie mom, in an Airstream trailer on the edge of the Oregon redwoods. One morning, Laurel wakes up to find Ivy missing from their shared bedroom. Her mom thinks Ivy’s run off to give her a scare. But that night, Laurel has a dream in which she can move things with her eyes, and she’s chained up in an underground cell. In this dream, she is Ivy. Laurel is convinced that the dream means that Ivy’s been kidnapped, but her mom isn’t buying it, partly because they find a note that appears to be from Ivy, explaining where she’s gone. But when Laurel confides her fears in Jasper, this new guy at school, he tells her that Ivy can in fact move things with her eyes. He’s been training her to use this power, because he has one too. Meanwhile, Peyton and MeiLaurels worst enemies since grade schoolseem to be developing powers of their own. It turns out that Laurel has to team up with Jasper and these girls who’ve been bullying her. Ultimately, she has to face her worst fearthe fear shes not good enoughif she wants to save Ivy. 

Is SPARKED a standalone or will this be a series?

We have the next book all planned out and we’re working on it. If you want to see a sequel, please email us at sparkedwriters@gmail.com and we’ll send you the opening chapter once it’s ready!

Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?

Helena: I had a teacher in high school that inspired Ms. Owen, Laurel’s horrible English teacher. My teacher seemed to make it her mission in life to stamp all the joy out of reading and writing. Likewise, Ms. Owen enjoys shredding the stories poor Laurel writes. “With her tapestry vest and Birkenstocks, and her gray hair pulled into a bun, she looked like a hippie grandmabut behind her glasses, her gaze was pure steel.”

Malena: The idea of the mean girls (though not these specific characters) comes from my high-school experience. For a while, I was part of a clique of girls who on the surface seemed mean, but whose meanness was actually a show meant to mask their own insecurities. In our book, Laurel has to learn to look beneath the surface of other people to see what’s really going ona skill that makes for both a good writer and a good friend.

Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?

Malena: Laurel is our favorite, but the Peyton and Mei scenes were the most fun and easiest to write. The Laurel scenes are so intenseshes desperately trying to find her beloved sister while the clock is tickingthat it always felt delicious to take a break with two secondary characters whose problems are a bit more manageable. Also, Peyton and Mei are pretty funny (though they don’t always intend to be) and I enjoyed writing their catty banter.

Helena: Jasper was the hardest character to write. In the first draft, he was a total cliché: a standoffish Mr. Darcy type, complete with leather jacket and constantly “flashing” eyes. After we’d written that draft, we had an epiphany where we realized we both kind of hated him. Why was he always being so mean to Laurel, and why was she such a doormat? It took a lot of work to make him into a well rounded and appealing character that Laurel could fall for, but once we decided that he’s an aspiring writer too, their relationship finally clicked.  

What is your favorite passage/scene in SPARKED?

Helena: The last scene. Without giving anything away, I love it when characters in a book get to come home and relax after all their harrowing adventures. Also, I will say the ending is the most romantic scene in the bookyou have to wait a long time for it, but its worth it.

Malena: My favorite scenes are the ones between Laurel and her mom that show how their relationship develops without Ivy. A crisis changes a family, especially when the crisis is losing a loved one. With Ivy gone, Laurel has to grow up a lot and come to a new, more complex understanding of her mom.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

Helena: We drew on our own experience of being teens, and we had to research a lot of topics, including Zoroastrianism, lunar eclipses, Airstream trailers and sleep paralysis.

Malena: I was definitely inspired by having spent my own adolescence in Oregon, just a block from a huge park full of redwoods. Also, whenever we wanted to write about Laurel’s friend Skyethe brain of the bunchwe had to look something up. She knows way more about science than either of us.

How was it writing SPARKED together?

Helena: We first got the idea to do this when we went out for drinks a few years ago, on a rainy, dark, Friday the thirteenth. I told Malena I wanted to write a YA book but was having trouble coming up with an idea. Malena had an idea she’d been thinking about for some time, but was stuck with the plot. After she told me about it, we sat there for hours, hammering out what could happen over cocktails. After that, we met in a coffeehouse every week, took on writing assignments and emailed drafts of each scene back and forth. We each revised those drafts so many times that we don’t know who came up with what anymore. We pounded out the first draft in a white-hot frenzy of inspiration we called "the Vortex." One of us would write a scene and send it to the other with a note: "My apartment is a pigsty and I haven't eaten all day. #inthevortex.”

Malena: Co-writing wasn’t always easy, of course. At times, we could both be a little too blunt in our critiques of each other’s work, because we’re both harsh self-critics. We had to learn to put more sugar on our feedback. Also, we’re both perfectionists, and every time we thought we’d finished, the other one of us would decide we needed to do another draft. I have dozens of files on my laptop with names like “SparkedFinal.doc,” “SparkedFinal2.doc” and “SparkedFinalFINAL.” But although co-writing isn’t half the work of writing alone, it’s definitely twice the fun!

Lightening Round Questions

What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Helena: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, both Malena’s recommendationswe have nearly identical taste in books/movies/TV.

Malena: After finishing Young Jane Young, I went back to read other books by Gabrielle Zevin (I tend to devour all the books of an author after reading one that I love) and I’m currently enjoying her young adult novel, Elsewhere. I also adored a book by Liz Moore called The Unseen World.

What Hogwarts House would the Sorting Hat place you in?

Helena: Ravenclaw

Malena: Slytherin

What inspired you to write YA?

Malena: We both loved reading more than anything else as kids. After I had my son, I revisited all my childhood favorites and discovered new ones as I read aloud to him. I remembered how books had captivated me as a kidId spend the whole of Saturday curled up with my favorite Roald Dahl or Lois Lowry noveland I wanted to write a story that would captivate readers in that way.

Helena: We both wanted to write the kind of story we would have loved to have read as teens. Plus it feels as if YA fiction has so much freedom compared to adult fiction in what you get to include. You can have complex, interesting characters, just like in adult fictionbut you also get to have supernatural powers, a cryptic prophecy and the end of the world.

Twitter or Facebook?

Malena: Instagram is our favorite form of social media. You reach more people than your immediate contacts, but it still feels intimatetheres something about looking at pictures of peoples pets, trips, or bookshelves that makes you feel like youre getting to know them. Of course, as writers, we love words, but Instagram has words as well. Plus it’s good for things we love like food and sewing (both of which made their way into Sparked, of course).

Favorite Superhero?

Malena: Supergirl because she’s strong and soft at the same time. She feels like a real person, and she’s an aspiring writer. Also, it’s wonderfully absurd that people don’t recognize her when she’s wearing her glasses.  

Helena: Wonderwoman, because I’m very jealous of her red boots and her cuffs, and more importantly because I think her Lasso of Truth is an awesome superpower. 

Favorite TV show?

Helena: I’m crazy about Game of Thrones. Malena couldn’t get past episode three, and I’m still trying to get my head around this. We almost never disagree about a book/movie/TV show!

Malena: Buffy. I’ve watched every single episode all the way through three times. It’s like Shakespeareevery new encounter reveals more layers of meaning. When we wrote Sparked, I was aiming to get that Buffy-esque combination of horror, comedy, romance, and psychological depth.

Sweet or Salty?

Both, especially in the form of dark chocolate with sea salt

Any Phobias?

Helena: Heights

Malena: Cockroaches

Song you can’t get enough of right now?

Malena: Despacito, by Luis Fonzia song I learned” in my Zumba class and find very addictive. Apparently I’m not alone, as it’s the most viewed YouTube video of all time.
Helena: “Testament to Youth in Verse,” by The New Pornographers.

2017 Movie you’re most looking forward to?

Helena: I’m not a big moviegoerI have two little kidsbut I am looking forward to the rest of Game of Thrones with every fiber of my being.

Malena: ItIm a big Stephen King fan.


Thanks so much Helena and Malena for answering my questions! I can’t wait for 
everyone to read SPARKED!



About Helena and Malena:
Hello! We are both novelists, but if you've ever tried to write anything, you know that writing can be a lonely, angst-filled business. So one night over a cocktail or two, we came up with a solution: write our next book together. Malena already had an idea: a girl's sister is kidnapped and she has to rely on mean girls with superpowers to get her sister back. We couldn't resist seeing where that story would take us a wild ride that includes a loner girl who wants to be a writer and a gorgeous boy who can shoot fire from his eyes but also loves to talk about books. And an ancient Zoroastrian prophecy. And pie shakes. (OK, so maybe we got a little carried away.)
We've both published solo novels (check them out here and here) and had no idea how co-writing would work out, but we pounded out the first draft in a white-hot frenzy of inspiration we called "the Vortex." One of us would write a scene and send it to the other with a note: "My apartment is a pigsty and I haven't eaten all day. #inthevortex." We wrote the book we wanted to read as teenagers: a supernatural thriller with healthy doses of horror and humor. Oh, and of course there's romance. You have to wait a long time for the only kiss in the book, but isn't that the case with all the best kisses in books?



Giveaway Details:


3 winners will receive a finished copy of SPARKED, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tour Schedule:
Week One:
10/2/2017- Literary MeanderingsInterview
10/2/2017- Zach's YA ReviewsReview

10/3/2017- BookHoundsGuest Post
10/3/2017- The Desert BibliophileReview

10/4/2017- Two Chicks on BooksInterview
10/4/2017- Rachel's Book ReviewsReview

10/5/2017- Wandering Bark BooksGuest Post
10/5/2017- A Gingerly ReviewReview

10/6/2017- Rainy Day ReviewsExcerpt
10/6/2017- BibliobakesReview

Week Two:
10/9/2017- Margie's Must ReadsGuest Post
10/9/2017- YA Book MadnessReview

10/10/2017- Bibliobibuli YAInterview
10/10/2017- The Best Books EverReview

10/11/2017- Tales of the Ravenous ReaderLaunch Coverage
10/11/2017- the bookdragonReview

10/12/2017- YA and WineInterview
10/12/2017- The Autumn BookshelfReview

10/13/2017- Owl Always Be ReadingExcerpt
10/13/2017- NerdophilesReview

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds really creepy. I love the Oregon setting.

    ReplyDelete

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