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Debut December Interview: Eve Marie Mont (A Breath of Eyre) & Giveaway

This giveaway is over.

Do y'all remember Eve Marie Mont's book A Breath of Eyre? I just featured it yesterday; really, you're not Dory from FINDING NEMO; there's no reason for you to have forgotten.

But in case, you know, you have...

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…

And yes, the lovely Eve Marie Mont is swinging by today! She's on basically every social networking site known to us readers (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Goodreads) AND she loves Jane Eyre. Basically she's flawless.

Nicole: Welcome to Debut December, Eve! What's the hardest thing about getting a debut novel out into the 'real world'?
Eve Marie Mont: Oh gosh, there are so many hard things about it from snagging an agent, to submitting and dealing with rejections (oh so many…), to the never-ending barrage of marketing and publicity demands. These days, with much of the burden of marketing placed on the author, I have come to realize that writing and all its attendant duties is a full-time job. So when you already have another full-time job, it can become overwhelming. Time and stress management have been my biggest challenges this past year. But still, I wouldn’t trade this for anything; I’m so thrilled to be a published author!

N: Do you have any tips and tricks for writers who are working on their debut novel?
EMM: Only to make sure you’re really passionate about the project you’re working on. Writing for publication is a lengthy process and an all-consuming one. It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of trying to write for the market or chase a trend. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be aware of what other books are out there that might compete with yours or what kinds of books are selling like hotcakes, but ultimately, you should be writing the story only you can tell, the one that burns inside you and won’t let you sleep at night. It’s hard enough to finish a book you love, let alone one you feel you’re supposed to write because it’s marketable. If the writing does not satisfy your soul, it’s not worth doing.

N: I like the idea of writing having to satisfy the soul. Now, in your debut, the reader gets trapped into a classic novel. I've seen it before - Prada and Prejudice, Little Women and Me - but never with Jane Eyre! What made you choose it?
EMM: Ever since I first read Jane Eyre in eleventh grade, it has remained my favorite book, one I return to again and again and that never loses its fascination for me. I’ve never found another story with such a restrained yet passionate romance. Jane is the ultimate heroine: strong, intelligent, moral, and unafraid to speak her mind. I knew I wanted my protagonist, Emma, to step into her shoes as she awakens to first love and discovers her own strength of character. Thornfield and the rugged moors beyond provide the perfect backdrop, and then, of course, there’s Rochester. Need I say more?

N: Completely understand you! I love Jane Eyre. It's one of my favorite novels of all time; I'm getting a tattoo based on one of the quotes. Can you maybe sort of kind of give me a tidbit to look forward to? Maybe, I don't know, a line from the novel or something else equally enticing?
EMM: Oh, that’s a tough one. Let’s go with this brief scene in which my protagonist, Emma, discusses her research paper on Jane Eyre with her English teacher, on whom she has an enormous crush.

I sat down across from Gallagher, catching a faint whiff of his evergreen cologne. My palms began to sweat, and my tongue dried up.

“Jane Eyre,” he said, a sigh in his voice. “Did you know it was one of my favorites?” His eyes were hooded, lovely and deep. My chest grew tight. “It’s achingly romantic, isn’t it?” All I could do was nod.

The book was achingly romantic. I got a pang in my chest just thinking about it. Briefly I recalled the scenes in which Jane and Rochester get to know each other, their chemistry palpable, their dialogue sizzling. But as I stared across at Mr. Gallagher, willing my tongue to speak, I couldn’t think of a single thing to say, let alone something witty and charming that would make him love me forever.

But what if he saw beyond my awkwardness and knew what was in my heart? What if our age difference didn’t matter to him? Nor the fact that he was my teacher?

Rochester had been Jane’s employer, and that hadn’t kept them apart. What if Mr. Gallagher returned my feelings but couldn’t express them because… well, because it was illegal?

God, I was such an idiot.

N: I was going to strangle her until the last line. Then I laughed. I like Emma!

N: What are some of the other debut novels you're looking forward to? Any historical fiction standouts?
EMM:Wow, there are SO many books I’m looking forward to. I belong to the Class of 2k12 and the Apocalypsies, both groups of debut authors with releases coming out in 2012. I am so anxious to read all of their books, even though I know it will be impossible. In terms of standout historical fiction, I am dying to read Katherine Longshore’s Gilt, AC Gaughen’s Scarlet, and Gennifer Albin’s Crewel. And I have to give a shout-out to another Jane Eyre-inspired book, Tina Connolley’s Ironskin, a steampunk retelling with fairies—awesome!

N: I hadn't heard of Ironskin until now; that sounds fantastic! And speaking of historical fiction and falling into Jane Eyre - what tie period would you fall back to, if you could? Maybe for a week long vacation?
EMM: Ooooh, great question. I do have a soft spot for Victorian England, but the countryside and moors, not the big city. Industrialism? No thank you. And turn-of-the-century Paris would be amazing. The third book in my series is based on The Phantom of the Opera, so I plan to spend a lot of virtual time strolling through the medieval streets, kissing under the gas lamps, and soaking up the fin de si├Ęcle atmosphere!

N: Just don't get smashed by a falling chandelier. What's your favorite kind of cookie? Yes, I just asked that. Welcome to WORD, Eve, welcome to WORD.
EMM: I’d have to go with Samoas, the greatest Girl Scout cookie in the history of cookies. They tweaked the recipe recently, and now they’re called Caramel Delights, but they’re not quite as good as the originals. Don’t mess with perfection.

N: Those are my mum's favorite, too. The most important question: you wrote about Jane Eyre. But would you pick Rochester or Darcy? (Or the wildcard Mr. Thornton from North and South?)

Rochester all the way. Don’t get me wrong; I love Darcy! But Darcy has this quiet reserve that would annoy me after a while. And even though Rochester can be gruff and brooding, once you break through his defenses, he’s a big sappy sweetheart. He’s got an excellent sense of humor too, and I have a sneaking suspicion he’d be a better kisser than Darcy. All that tortured angst and suppressed passion! I have never read North and South, although I’ve seen the excellent mini-series, and while Mr. Thornton won me over in the end, he doesn’t make me swoon like Rochester does. On a related note, my website features a quiz to see who your literary soul mate is, and Rochester and Darcy are featured among the choices along with Jay Gatsby, John Proctor, and Heathcliff!

EMM: Thanks so much for hosting me in your Debut December, Nicole. I had a blast!

Oh, and didn't I mention? Her lovely publicist has graciously given me a copy of A Breath Of Eyre to give away! And by "copy" I mean one lucky winner will receive a finished, shiny hardcover copy when it gets released in March. You win now and SURPRISE! Your book comes all nice and finished!

How To Win:
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Quick Recap:
[1] copy of A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont up for grabs
[1] winner in the U.S. or Canada
ends on December 31 at midnight

Debut December, giveaway, and more:

Debut December Interview: Eve Marie Mont (A Breath of Eyre) & Giveaway + interview