Who doesn’t love a good paranormal romance? Today’s guest is Martina McAtee, author of the young adult paranormal romance, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. Martina lives in Jupiter, Florida, with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack Chihuahuas and two shady looking cats. By day she is a registered nurse but by night she writes young adult books about reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing she’s reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. She is currently working on the second book in the series, Your Soul to Take, due to release in 2016.
Martina’s book is about 17-year old-Ember Denning who has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.
They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.
As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.
I have to say that is the most unique title I’ve ever seen. Martina is here to talk about her book and writing for the young adult paranormal romance genre.
Dorothy Thompson: Thank you for this interview, Martina. How long have you been interested in the YA genre?
Martina McAtee: Thank you for having me. I’ve been interested in this genre since I was old enough to comprehend it was a genre. I have been reading and writing these stories since I was probably eight or nine years old. No matter how many other genre’s I’ve written in, this is the one that always feels most at home to me.
D.T.: How do you get into the mindset of a young adult to write your books?
M.M.: That’s easy. I never officially grew up. No matter how old I get, I feel like I’m a teenager masquerading as an adult. I can’t believe people let me save lives and pay taxes. Truthfully, I have just always been more interested in things geared towards young adults. I will pick a book by Stephanie Meyers or Jennifer Armentrout before the latest literary masterpiece. I watch shows like The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and The 100. I prefer scrolling Tumblr to Facebook. My playlists on Pandora and Spotify are just as likely to feature Melanie Martinez, Halsey and Marina and the Diamonds as they are Queen and Bon Jovi. It also doesn’t hurt that I have a teenager in the house. Thanks to her and her friends, I am immersed in that world on a regular basis and they have no problem telling me when I’m getting it wrong.
D.T.: The cover absolutely intrigues me. I love the picture of the girl swinging. How does that play into the book?
M.M.: The image of the girl swinging in the graveyard was burned into my brain almost from the beginning of writing this book. I picture swinging on a swing as one of the most carefree things in the world and Ember only feels at ease among the dead. I thought the image invoked Ember’s deeply held belief that the living are complicated and the dead are simple. She’s only really at peace in the cemeteries.
D.T.: Can you tell us a little bit about 17-year-old Ember Denning?
M.M.: Sure. She’s a girl who has no memory of her life before she turned six. She knows her amnesia stems from the death of her mother but her father will offer her no explanation. She’s bullied in school for her unusual looks and she’s bullied at home for merely existing. She has been forced to raise herself and take care of her alcoholic father. She has spent years shuffled to various therapists who’ve diagnosed her with everything from depression to borderline personality disorder but she’s never gotten any answers just a realization she can’t trust people with a pulse.
D.T.: Why does Ember have such a fascination with the dead? Interesting!
M.M.: Ember can’t remember a time when she didn’t feel pulled to the dead. I don’t think even she can offer any rational explanation as to why she is so called to them. It isn’t until she meets her reaper cousins and finds out about her families supernatural legacy that she realizes death is in her blood.
D.T.: After Ember’s father dies, they take her to live with an interesting group of people. Can you tell us about them and why does she have to live with them?
M.M.: Ember has no other family to speak of. When she meets her cousins, she’s running away from the prospect of a year in foster care. Her cousins, Kai and Tristin, take her to their home in Florida. Their parent’s died years ago, victim to the same mysterious event that took Ember’s mother and the parents of many of the kids in Belle Haven. Her cousins are reapers but they live with wolves. Isa is the alpha to the pack and she has a habit of taking in orphans. She was just sixteen when her parent’s died and she was forced to raise her seven year old brother, Rhys, by herself. Without explanation, witches dumped both Kai and Tristin on her doorstep as well. With Kai came his human best friend, Quinn, who practically lives with them thanks to a terrible home life. Isa raised all of them alone until Wren, her betrothed, came along with Neoma, a faery, in tow and until they found Donovan, a stray werewolf, half dead on the outskirts of their property. Ember isn’t forced to stay with them but chooses to because there is something about Isa Ember trusts and Ember doesn’t trust anybody.
D.T.: What’s it like for Ember to live with this gift of having special powers? Is she afraid of them when they happen?
M.M.: Ember is terrified of her magic. When it emerges for the first time it almost kills her and it’s only getting worse. Her powers were suppressed for too long. Her magic is overwhelming her and if they can’t figure out what exactly she is and how her magic works she is going to kill herself or those around her. As she learns more about what she is and what she can do, she doesn’t find her magic a gift at all but a curse.
D.T.: Sounds like a super interesting book! What’s next for you?
M.M.: I’m deep in the middle of writing book two in the Dead Things series. I’m hoping to have it out by spring of next year. We are also planning a huge promotional party in my own little Florida town of Jupiter. We are celebrating Ember, Kai and Tristin’s November 1st birthday by hosting an enormous Day of the Dead party in our neighborhood. So it’s a very busy time right now.
D.T.: Can you tell us where we can pick up a copy and what’s the link to your website?
M.M.: You can pick up a copy of the book at Amazon and you can visit my website here.
D.T.: Is there anything you’d like to tell our readers?
M.M.: Yes. I love to hear from my readers. You can always email me on my website or connect with me on social media. Thank you for this opportunity and I hope people really enjoy the book.