Interview with Martina McAtee, author of 'Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things'

 Our guest today is Martina McAtee, author of the YA paranormal romance, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things!

Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack Chihuahua’s 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. Her debut novel Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things is set to release on August 31st, 2015. She is currently working on the second book in the series, Your Soul to Take, due to release in 2016.

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Hi Martina! Can you tell us what your book is about?

My book is about a 17 year old girl who has spent her life feeling like an outcast. She spends her days in cemeteries and her afternoons working for a funeral home because the dead don’t judge her and she’s inexplicably drawn to them. When her father dies, she learns her whole life has been a lie. She has a family she never knew and a magical power that’s been buried for so long it just might kill her.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The book is told from the point of view of four main characters. Ember, a girl who grew up as an outcast in the human world and is now trying to accept the fact that the supernatural is real, she has a power like nothing anybody has ever seen and the only person who can help her has just tried to kill
her. Mace, the killer tasked with simply babysitting Ember. He defies his orders in the cemetery and sets a series of catastrophic events in motion. Ember’s cousin, Kai, a collector who crosses people over after they die. He’s dealing with the consequences of saving Ember as well as dealing with his unrequited crush on his alpha’s werewolf brother. Tristin, Kai’s twin sister, who is the only banshee in existence but actually has no idea how her banshee powers work. There are so many other characters but they are my four main characters. 

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I start with an ending. I know where my destination needs to be but I usually don’t have a map when I turn the key. I have tried to outline. I’ve bought writing programs. I’ve bought index cards and highlighters. I’ve bought a hundred books on outlining and every time my outline goes out the window. I go where my characters direct me and, as crazy as I probably sound, sometimes I don’t know where I’m going even as I’m typing it out. I’ve learned to be happy with having an ending and I just trust my characters to tell me the rest.

Your book is set in Louisiana and Florida.  Can you tell us why you chose these states in particular?

My book starts out in New Orleans because it’s a place steeped in this great magical history. New Orleans has a respect and reverence for the dead that very much reflects Ember’s. Plus, I thought it would be the perfect way to showcase how unusual Ember is even in a town filled with unusual people and such deep mystic lore. As for moving the action to Florida, well that is one part because I was born and raised here and one part the fact that when it comes to unique individuals, it doesn’t get much better than Florida. We have such a transient population and a wide range of bizarre characters, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find there was a supernatural town in the panhandle magically cloaked from the rest of the world.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

When my imaginary friends won’t talk to me, I try to bribe them. I go to Starbucks, order the largest amount of caffeine I can find, put in my headphones, hit play on my writing playlist and just start writing. Sometimes I will just free write whatever comes to mind about a particular character. Sometimes I’ll write in the first person or do a mock diary entry. If I just keep typing, eventually they will talk to me again.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Favorite holiday? Halloween, of course. I have a minor obsession with fall in general but Halloween in particular. Give me pumpkin spiced anything and the movie Hocus Pocus on repeat and I’m in heaven. My love of the supernatural started before I was even old enough to really cognitively understand it, I think, and Halloween played an enormous part in that. Cutting out pumpkins and ghosts in kindergarten is one of my favorite childhood memories because that time of year just seems inherently magical to me. Also, I think when you grow up sort of awkward and shy, it’s fun to get to pretend to be an entirely different person for just one night.

What do you like to do for fun?

I would say reading but I feel like that’s almost a given. I’m a huge lover of crafting. I even own a crafting business where I make steampunk inspired items. I love to binge watch television on Netflix with my daughter and my best friend. We are currently obsessed with The 100 and Sense8. I spend a lot of time on Tumblr because I’m a fangirl at heart and I love watching strangers band together over a mutual love or hate of something, plus I’m constantly impressed by the talent this younger generation displays there. The fan art and fanfiction is so impressive. I will spend hours reading fanfiction or re-blogging pictures of Supernatural or The 100. It’s my favorite time sucking activity when I’m avoiding writing my next book. 

Can you tell us about your family?

My family is crazy. Really, they have diagnoses and everything. We are loud and opinionated and family dinners will either end in laughing until you cry or shouting until the police are called. I have a beautiful 18 year old daughter named Mikyla, who is an amazing writer herself, I have a super talented 15 year old named Jordan, who I also claim as my child though she technically belongs to her own family. I have three older sisters and two older brothers, each as sarcastic as I am, possibly even more so. I am an aunt to two nephews and three nieces who are all grown adults. I live with my daughter, my best friend, our two Chihuahuas and two shady cats who, I’m almost certain, are plotting our demise.

What do you like the most about being an author?

I find writing to be cathartic. It’s a sort of stress relief to get the voices out of my head and onto the page. But, truthfully, I really love watching other people talk about my characters like they are real people they know. Watching my friends threaten my life if I hurt a certain character lets me know that I’ve created a person, not just an archetype. I don’t know if that makes me a narcissist but watching people love my characters as much as I do, is my favorite part of being an author.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Learn as much as you can about marketing yourself. Nowadays, anybody can publish a book, which is amazing because so many talented people have a voice, but it makes it very hard for people to find you. I am learning as I go. Even with all the research I did, marketing is still what I struggle with the most. I think many authors are, by nature, introverted people which can make attempting to market yourself and your book very difficult. There are so many blogs out there with great advice on marketing for writers and I wish I’d had a solid marketing strategy far before I published the book. 


Martina will be giving away a sugar skull coffee mug with Day of the Dead tea and sugar skull shaped sugar cubes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway