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PsP Week, Day Five: Author Interview with Kristi Cook and Haven Giveaway Contest

December 16, 2010

When I first started doing research for PsP Week, I began by seeking out all the books that fit the description. I picked the brains of the good people at LibraryThing and the fine folks at Goodreads, too. I was lucky enough to come across a 2011 debut title that fit the PsP definition: Haven, by Kristi Cook. And Kristi was kind enough to agree to participate in PsP Week. So, I am psyched to present my interview with Kristi Cook. And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, read on to the end of the interview for the rules on the giveaway contest I’m having for an eARC copy of Haven. First, here’s a little background on the author:

Kristi Cook

As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week.  Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s.  A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.  Visit her online at www.kristi-cook.com.

Now, for a description of Haven and a peek at the book cover to wet your appetite.

February 22, 2011

One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start–a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there–every student, every teacher–has psychic abilities, ‘gifts and talents,’ they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend–Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye–much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy–if only they can do so without destroying each other first.

And on with the interview…

  • 1. Tell us your life story in thirty words or less. (I thought about asking you to tell it without any vowels, but decided it would be too cruel.)

Oh, man…..okay, here goes.  “Small girl who loved to read and dance grew up to be short woman who loves to read, dance, and write books.  Also, wife and mom.”  Whew!

  • 2. What was the inspiration that sparked Haven?

Well, I’m very visual, so the first spark for Haven was when I “saw” the first meet between Violet and Aidan in my mind, almost like a movie.  I knew it was in a classroom, saw Violet drop a piece paper, saw it swoop through the air in arcs as it fell to the ground, saw Aidan pick it up for her.   I immediately wrote down what I saw (that scene ultimately ended up as the opening of chapter 2)—and from there, it was a matter of figuring out who Violet and Aidan were, and what their story was.

  • 3. I can’t help it. The name Violet makes me think of a small girl with blond corkscrew curls and large purple eyes. What does your Violet look like?

LOL, not like that!!  My Violet is average in height—5’4” or so—slim, with shoulder-length light brown and bright green eyes.  She’s pretty in a fresh-faced, natural kind of way, the kind of girl who can brush on some lip gloss and be good to go!

  • 4. I’m always interested in this, so how did you choose Violet’s name?

Violet was originally named “Ashton,” and it was very late in the game when I changed her name to “Violet,” mostly to avoid confusion for readers (since Aidan and Ashton were both “A” names, and because Ashton is one of those gender-ambiguous names).  But I really wanted to find a name that retained the same “flavor” in my mind as Ashton did—a southern-sounding name that’s slightly uncommon but not unusual.  I agonized over the change for weeks—but when I finally “tried out” Violet, I knew immediately that it was the perfect fit!

  • 5. Did you model the campus of Winterhaven after a real place or did it come from your imagination alone?

Winterhaven is set in the Hudson River Valley, and I combined a couple real places to come up with the building and environs.  There’s a stretch of land running along the Hudson River from Irvington to Tarrytown that encompasses Washington Irving’s historic home, Sunnyside, and the Lyndhurst estate.  In my mind, Winterhaven sits along that same strip of land, maybe just north of Lyndhurst, and I imagine the school’s main administration building looking much like the Lyndhurst estate itself.  Beyond that, the rest of the school buildings came straight from my imagination, but I can picture them fitting into those environs perfectly!

For some mood-setting visuals, you can visit here:

http://lyndhurst.wordpress.com/

and here:  http://www.hudsonvalley.org/content/view/13/43/

  • 6. What was it about the setting of a private boarding school that appealed to you?

Boarding school was the perfect setting for HAVEN, mostly because I wanted the students (who all have psychic powers) to be “tucked away” somewhere they felt safe, in a private enclave away from prying eyes.  Winterhaven is its own little world, and the story just wouldn’t have worked in a public school setting.

  • 7. What kind of school did you attend? If it was a private school, how much did you take from your own experience? If it wasn’t, what did you do in order to capture the “flavor” of a private/boarding school?

I attended public schools, but my daughters both attend a private day school that, like Winterhaven, is tucked away right next to the Hudson River.  Though it’s not a boarding school (and the kids there don’t have psychic abilities—at least, none that I know of!), it definitely helps me understand the “campus” feel that a boarding school provides.  Also, because Winterhaven is a very rigorous/academically challenging school, I picture it being much like a very small college, so my own college experience helped flavor the Winterhaven “experience” as well.

  • 8. In the book, Violet mentions that Aidan isn’t classically good-looking. So, what are five things that make Aidan Gray “perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven”?

First of all, he’s got secrets, and who isn’t intrigued by a guy with secrets?!  Plus, he’s got gorgeous gray-blue eyes that seem to change hue depending on his mood.  He’s nearly six feet tall, and in great shape.  He’s one of the school’s top students, and he doesn’t even seem to work very hard at it.  And lastly but perhaps most importantly, he somehow makes all the female students a little tongue-tied and weak-kneed, something they call the “Aidan Effect.”

  • 9. I have to ask: if Aidan’s only “perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven”, who are the other contenders?

Ah, excellent question!  Well, if you’re into jocks, then Jack Delafield is also a contender.  He’s tall, blond, and athletic—the star running back on the football team, and also telekinetic—the micro kind.  There’s also a really young science teacher that the girls have dubbed “Dr. Hottie.”  He counts, right?!

  • 10. You yourself are a transplant from the South to New York. What were some of the differences you noticed when you moved to NYC?

Mostly I was surprised by the lack of differences!  I mean, yeah, people talk a little faster and their accent is different, but that’s all superficial stuff.  I guess the biggest thing I noticed is that New Yorkers speak their minds a little more readily, and are slightly less formal—as in, I don’t hear things like “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir” like I did down south, and NYC kids generally call adults by their first names rather than Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So or Mr/Miss First-name ( i.e. “Miss Kristi”) which was common in the south.

  • 11. What’s next for you after Haven?

I’m hoping there will be a sequel to HAVEN!  I’ve already started writing one—still untitled.  I think it will take three books to tell the entire story, and I hope I’ll get the chance to do so!

  • 12. What upcoming YA titles for 2011 are you looking forward to the most? Are any of them Private School Paranormals?

There are so many books I’m looking forward to in 2011—some I’ve already had the chance to read in ARC form!  ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys, ENTWINED by Heather Dixon, CLARITY by Kim Harrington.   Oh, and I’m really looking forward to Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ TRIAL BY FIRE, and Maggie Stiefvater’s FOREVER.  I could go on and on!  Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them are private school paranormals—but I hope I’ll find some!

Contest Rules

  • This contest begins today (Thu., Dec. 15) and ends on Tue., Dec. 21, at 11:59.
  • This contest is open internationally.
  • In order to enter the contest, please name a YA debut title you’re looking forward to in 2011.
  • +1 point if you subscribe to my blog.
  • +1 point if you’re already a subscriber.
  • Please include your name and your email in your comment, so I can contact you if you win.

Tomorrow there’s a double feature, with my review of Out for Blood and an interview with the author, Alyxandra Harvey.

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8 Comments
  1. December 16, 2010 10:13 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading these books:
    Wither (Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
    Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
    Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

  2. December 16, 2010 10:13 pm

    I subscribed to your blog.

  3. December 16, 2010 10:14 pm

    I’m already a subscriber.

  4. December 17, 2010 11:24 am

    Aik, I just read the ARC of WITHER last week, and it was *so* good!!! I absolutely loved it. Very original, and very thought-provoking.

  5. Moridin permalink
    December 17, 2010 3:56 pm

    Clarity by Kim Harrington

  6. Brodie permalink
    December 17, 2010 6:10 pm

    Fantastic interview! I am really looking forward to Haven’s release, it sounds like it’ll be awesome. 2011 has SO MANY amazing reads!!

    In addition to Haven… oh gosh. I can’t just name one. Starcrossed, Across the Universe, Wither, Forever, Darkest Mercy, Delirium, Unearthly, Entwined, Warped, Angelfire…. I should stop. They’re just off the top of my head. If I continue, I may overload your blog.

    +1 New email subscriber

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    hanging.by.a.moment_@hotmail.com

  7. December 19, 2010 2:26 pm

    The Iron Witch :: Karen Mahoney

    Already a subscriber 🙂

    yan.pocky(at)gmail.com

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