Friday, February 05, 2010

FF - THE MARK by Jen Nadol

For today's Freebie Friday, I'm happy to welcome another debut YA author to the blog - Jen Nadol, author of the just-released novel, THE MARK.

The Author:

Jen grew up in Reading, PA, the hometown of John Updike, Taylor Swift and the now-defunct Monopoly railroad. She has a BA in Literature from American University and has lived in Washington DC, Boston, and New York City. She currently lives in a 150 year-old farmhouse in Westchester County, New York with her husband and three young sons.

The book:

Sixteen-year old Cassie Renfield has seen the mark since forever: a glow around certain people as if a candle were held behind their back. The one time she pointed it out taught her not to do it again, so Cassie has kept quiet, considering its rare appearances odd, but insignificant. Until the day she watches a man die. Mining her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person's imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today. Cassie searches her past, her philosophy lessons, even her new boyfriend for answers, always careful to hide her secret.

How does the mark work? Why her?

Most importantly, if you know today is someone's last, should you tell?

The Reviews:

Nadol has interwoven an absorbing and thoughtful philosophical dilemma with a YA romance...characters grapple convincingly with the moral question and nothing is oversentimentalized. A great book for discussion groups, this will engender plenty of conversation. --Booklist

A thoughtful exploration of fate and free will...the engrossing narration and realistic characters create a deep, lingering story. –Publishers Weekly

The Interview:

What inspired you to write THE MARK?
I'd pretty much thrown in the towel on my (utterly horrible) first novel and was trying to come up with something interesting to write about, something *I'd* want to buy if I saw it at the store. When the idea - what if you knew it was someone's day to die - popped into my head, I knew I'd found it.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
No, they really only exist on the page and in my head.

What excites you? Change.

What turns you off? Undercooked beef.

If Cassie told you today was your last, what's the first thing you would want to do?
Try to make it not so. I'd probably run home and hide in my office. It seems like the safest place in my house.

Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?

Nope. Got any I can borrow? The only thing that works for me is the old-fashioned BIC (butt in chair).

What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I lived in Copenhagen for four months and can say "yes", "no", "thanks" and "twenty-two beers" in Danish.

What are you working on now?
I'm about to start a new book. I've got two ideas that have been simmering and I'm ready to run with one as soon as I find out what's happening with my second book, which is on submission now. So, uh, I guess the real answer is "nothing".

What is an interesting writing quirk of yours?
I save all the stuff I've cut from my books in computer files. Pages and pages (and pages) of scenes, paragraphs, lines, even single-words that I've deleted from the manuscript.
I edit pretty ruthlessly when I finally start going back over a draft. Anything that gives me the "I wonder if this really works here..." feeling, goes. So, I started these files - with page numbers noted - just in case I wanted to put something back in. 98% of the time, though, the cut stuff stays cut.

The Freebie:

For this week's lucky winner, Jen has generously donated THE MARK "swag pack" which includes a bookmark, a glowing pen and a THE MARK notebook. To be entered to win, leave a comment below, telling what you would do if you found out today was your last day to live.

This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, February 10.