Monday, August 22, 2011

Author Interview with Gretchen McNeil!

About the Author:
Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is a founding member of vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday," and she is an active member of both The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers, and The Apocalypsies, a group blog of 2012 children's debut authors.

Gretchen's: Twitter, Facebook, & Blog

About Gretchen's Book Possess:
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king. 

Buy the Book: Amazon 


I am so excited about your release of Possess August 23rd! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Possess?
I love scary movies.  I don’t mean slasher flicks, but old school scary movies.  Hitchcock.  The Omen.  And of course, my personal pick for the scariest movie of all time – The Exorcist.  So I wanted to bring some of that into the YA fiction market, kind of sharing my fascination with the ideas of demonic possession and exorcism.

Are any of Bridget's story based on relationships or people you know?
I think the relationship between Bridget and her mom reflects that “rough patch” that most teen girls go through with their mothers.  I adore my mom and think the world of her, but there was a stretch there around my junior year of high school where we were just oil and water.  I’m glad we got through it.

Bridget’s relationship with the love interest Matt is also based on some of my own early experiences with love and dating.  Um, I’m also glad I got through those.

Demons and possession, enticing! What did your writing process consist of?
I’m a researcher.  I love getting to know a topic, getting a feel for it, and in the case of possession and exorcism, getting the tone and ambiance right.  I read a lot of first hand accounts of possession, exorcism and encounters with demonic entities.  Fascinating reading, though I don’t recommend you do it before bedtime.  I had a lot of sleepless night.

Research inspires me, so after I had a general idea of the plot, I let my reading help me flesh out the story.  Then it’s just a steady grind to get through that first draft!

The cover for Possess is gorgeous- I love the branches. Did you have any influence on the cover art?
Not really.  I got super lucky in that Sarah Hoy, the designer, nailed it.  The model, the colors, the branch effect.  I had one little comment/suggestions which they immediately incorporated, but that was it.  I totally adore it and may or may not have slept with it under my pillow for a week.

What songs would you choose for Bridget's favorite playlist?
Bridget totally has her own playlist on my iPod.  Here’s a taste:
“Testify” by Rage Against the Machine
“The Fallen” by Franz Ferdinand
“Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz
“Suck It and See” by the Arctic Monkeys
“The Hand That Feeds” by Nine Inch Nails
“Bullet with Butterfly Wings” by Smashing Pumpkins

Do you have any favorites in the YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal genre? Inspirations?
SO many favorites.  Old school stuff like A Wrinkle in Time though modern authors like Carrie Ryan, Kimberly Derting, Courtney Allison Moulton and Kiersten White.  My inspirations are whackadoo, though.  I love Agatha Christie mysteries (no one spins a plot like that woman) and action/adventure spy novels.  Yes, I’m weird.  And I’m okay with that.

Any other releases or works in progress you're excited about?
I’m currently in the middle of writing my follow up novel for Balzer + Bray, currently titled TEN and slated for Fall 2012.  It’s YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped with a killer on a remote island, and I think it sort of brings all my influences into play.  After that, I’ll be working on the sequel to POSSESS!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Any parting words for our readers?
I’m a prime example that ANYONE can be a writer.  It takes a lot of work, and a lot of ups and downs, but I found this career later in life and if I can do it, so can you.  Just don’t give up!

Gretchen McNeil
(Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, August 23, 2011)



  1. I loved POSSESS and I love Gretchen! I haven't actually 'met' her, but have chatted with her just a little. It was a lot of fun to read an interview and learn more. And I was so happy to hear she loves to do her research because I think that is VERY important. I can definitely say that POSSESS has some serious creepy parts!
    The book she's working on sounds pretty freaking good too!

  2. Gretchen is one of the nicest authors I've worked with!! She's great and POSSESS was a fresh read, I'll be posting my review this week :) And omg there were parts of POSSESS that creeped me out. haha.

  3. Definitely need to read this book, ASAP. It souns awesome.

    I love the interview, especially the part about mothers and daughters. My mom and I went through a rough patch in my teenage years where we constantly butted heads, and now I tell everyone she's my best friend. I couldn't breathe without her.

  4. Hannah, you just described my relationship with my mother. haha.



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