Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Otherborn by Anna Silver: Review, Interview & Giveaway!!

(Otherborn, #1)
by Anna Silver
Published: April 4, 2013
Published by: Sapphire Star Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook ~ 300 pages

Book Blurb:
London and her teenage friends live in a reprocessed world.
Confined within Capital City’s concrete walls, London has done the impossible and the illegal. She’s created something New- a song. But her mentor, club owner Pauly, is not impressed. Since the historic Energy Crisis forced everyone behind walls generations ago, the Tycoons have ensured there is truly nothing new allowed under the sun. Pauly warns London to keep her song to herself, if she knows what’s good for her.
What he doesn’t know is that London is keeping an even bigger secret: she dreams. And she’s not alone. London’s band-mates and friends have begun dreaming as well, seeing themselves in “night pictures” as beings from another world. As Otherborn, they must piece together the story of their astral avatars, the Others, in order to save their world from a dreamless, hopeless future.
When Pauly is murdered and an Otherborn goes missing, London realizes someone is hunting them down. Escaping along the Outroads, they brave the deserted Houselands with only their dreams to guide them. Can they find their friend before the assassin finds them? Will being Otherborn save their lives, or destroy them?

When a song is dangerous and ideas are forbidden, what do you live for? London has the ability to create something new and is told by her friend Pauly, to never let anyone else know. The world lives in the past. No new aspirations for the future. But why? And why doesn't anyone dream anymore? I had to know the answers to these questions. Then when London reveals that she is able to dream and that her band mates also started to dream I knew there was something big happening. From the first few pages I was hooked. I had to know what happened to this world and what the Energy Crisis had to do with everything. There were just so many questions in my head that I could not put this book down.

London is a great protagonist. She is not one to whine or sigh at the circumstances in front of her. She is a rule breaker and a character that is enigmatic and real. Her reactions were true to the plot and she is well rounded; she cared for her friends and is compassionate, but she never let anyone push her around. However, just like a real person, she is flawed and rushes into action without thinking things out first. Not to mention she is supremely stubborn. But London has a purpose and she is going to fulfill it no matter what. The other characters are well crafted too. I found myself immersed into their band of rebels and dreamers and I cared about each of them as well, which is a great feat for an author: to create characters that are likeable and genuine and are not just names on paper. And when one of them ended up dead, I was just stunned.

There are so many things that Otherborn bring to the table. The novel is dystopian so there is the whole semi-apocalypse that put them in the situation they are in, but there was more to it, almost a Sci-Fi theme that ran through the plot as well. The world in which they live is completely controlled by the Tycoons and the landscape is harsh. People are starving and living in squalor and gangs are running rampant (there is even a gang that rides around in old Ice Cream Trucks!) And Ms. Silver is brilliant at describing everything from the stink in the polluted air to the giddy feelings from the first twinges of love. I was able to see the world vividly and feel the oppressed nature of their lives.

The Otherborn, the dreamers, the ones that believe they are from another world. Why else would they have the ability to dream when others can't? The Otherborn band (literally they are a band) together and use the astral planes. I can't really go on about the whole astral realm as it is too much to explain in a review, but Ms. Silver does a great job walking you through the whole idea. What I didn't like was the lack of planning - like I said before - from London. They threw themselves into some pretty dicey situations that could have been avoided, but that is what makes the whole story exciting and infuriating at the same time!

Overall, I would recommend this book to both dystopian and science fiction lovers. There is a tiny bit of romance so those who are looking for a full blown love story this isn't it. I love that it isn't though, sometimes a book needs to be about friendship and how actions have consequences both in the present and the future and that not everyone is who they seem. I can not say enough how much I loved this book and even though there were some points that I was confused about, I found my way again. Now, there is a cliffhanger and the last exchanges with the characters have left me not only longing for the next book, but intrigued about where Ms. Silver is going to be taking us. A must read!!

FTC Advisory: I was given a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review. No backroom deals or whispered promises were made.

1. First, a quickie: give us the genre of your book/series and tagline in 30 words or less.
OTHERBORN is YA dystopian/sci-fi In a reprocessed world, London and her friends must dream their way to a New hope.

2. What gave you the idea to write a Young Adult series?
We didn’t have YA when I was growing up per say. But I always imagined writing characters who were “coming of age”. Then, as an adult, I began reading YA with my daughters. And I still pictured all my characters in that age range. YA is great because there are things you can write for that audience that it’s much harder to write for adults. Kids and teens are much more open-minded and imaginative. They’ll accept things in the work that an adult might struggle with. Plausibility means something totally different when you write YA. So, any book idea I’ve had, I’ve always fitted to YA characters and the YA audience.

3. What inspired you to write the book/series, specifically?
Two things blended together to inspire OTHERBORN. First, my research on the Otherkin subculture, people who relate more closely to being nonhuman than human. These people believe they were or are actually nonhuman beings, i.e. fae, vampires, elves, shapeshifters, etc. Some express having vivid memories of past lives as these different beings. It’s really fascinating. The second was my research on dreaming. Our culture doesn’t give dreaming the powerful, transformational position it deserves, but many other cultures, past and present, view dreaming as an integral, extremely important part of their lives. There’s a wonderful author on the subject, Robert Moss, who talked about shamans meeting in the astral realm to help one another regardless of what place or time they lived in.

4. How did you come up with the title of your first book in the series?
Originally, my title was a little different. It was OTHERKIN, which I pulled from my research on the Otherkin subculture. But after I’d made my deal and was working with my publisher on production, I discovered quite serendipitously that another YA book by the same title would be coming out before mine. I decided then to switch titles and I came up with three alternatives and ran a survey online to see which one was most liked. OTHERBORN won out and I truly feel it is a better fit than my original title. As a side note, I befriended the author of that other book, OTHERKIN, the fabulous Nina Berry, and I highly recommend her series. It’s quite good and very different from mine.

5. Are experiences in the books based on people you know, or events in your own life or are they completely organic?
Nothing in OTHERBORN is based entirely on anything or anyone in my life. That said, I do pull from some things. For example, Kim is sort of my comic relief throughout the book. He’s a little less serious and little more goofy than the other characters. And that aspect of him reminds me of my husband, who is a complete goof and the comic relief around our house. So, probably I pulled from that experience to flesh Kim out, without even realizing it. Also, Capital City is actually Houston after it’s been walled. I’m from Houston and still live in the area and certain things in Capital City are loosely based on real Houston landmarks. The Ten is Interstate 10. The tunnels are a dystopian version of downtown’s actual tunnel system which many people don’t know about. Things like that. Of course, oil and gas is BIG business here, so that fits in with the Tycoons too.

6. What is the hardest part of writing?
Starting. Once that flow kicks in, it’s easy. But forcing yourself to sit down and start can be a daily challenge. Also, in OTHERBORN and its sequel, I encountered difficulty mid-plot. I’m a pantser, which means I don’t plot everything out ahead of time, I write it as I go along. So, I encountered that middle of the novel quagmire where you suddenly aren’t certain how you’re going to get from where you are to where you need to be at the end.

7. Which character is your favorite? Will you miss them the most when the series ends?
Si’dah is actually my favorite character and I will miss her the most when the series is over. I loved writing in her voice, which had a rhythm entirely different from the rest of the novel. It inspired the voice of my next project considerably. So, even though I’ll miss Si’dah when she’s gone, I’ll still have the character from my other series inspired by her to write in.

8. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
An artist named Roser designed the cover. She was someone my publishing company had worked with before and I really liked the covers she did most. Her work is typically more fantasy oriented, but I believed she could bring our vision to life beautifully. And she did. We batted some ideas around, but the one that gave us all goosebumps was this mirror image idea. Where you see London on one side, but her reflection is revealing Si’dah. It’s a little creepy, but I think it should be. It’s a dark story in a lot of ways, and I always felt these kids, as well as my readers, should find their Otherborn a little unsettling.

9. What books have most influenced your life most?
There are so many! Okay, I’m just going to run some titles off in no particular order. These are books that changed the way I looked at writing or even at the world: The Last Unicorn, A Wrinkle In Time, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mists of Avalon, Lord of the Rings, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Youth In Revolt, Wuthering Heights, The Alchemist…to name a few.

10. If you could be a supernatural, what kind would you be and why?
Well, I’m Wiccan. So, I would be a witch of some kind. Preferably one who lives in a dark, secluded forest and has psychic oracular powers. The “Witch of the Wood” archetype has been a powerful and influential one for me since I was a very little girl.

11. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I’m also an artist! I do oil paintings and I craft Fairy Houses. I love art, it’s as important to me as writing. But my art is very personal, so it plays a different role in my life than my writing career.

12. How can readers contact you or find out more about your books?
First and foremost, visit my fabulous website! www.annasilverauthor.com You’ll find my contact info there, email, as well as a newsletter you can sign up for, and my blog. Also, all my announcements and info on my work is there too. Next to that, you can find me on Twitter (@saysannasilver) and on my author page on facebook (www.facebook.com/authorannasilver ). I have a goodreads author page too (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6862122.Anna_Silver ), and a pinterest account (http://pinterest.com/AnnaSilver/ ). Links to all of these and more are on my site!

13. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
This is a wonderful question! I wished more people asked it. The absolute best thing you can do for an author is leave a review. Goodreads and Amazon are the two main places for this, but some authors might also like one on another site and you can check with them if you’re not sure. Aside from that, blog about the work. Host a giveaway. Tweet it, facebook it, anything to help spread the word. Smell press authors like myself absolutely depend on social media and the love of our readers to grow our careers. Truly, big press authors do too. Never, never think that an author doesn’t need your review or help!

14. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
I always tell aspiring authors to cultivate persistence. It is the single most important thing they can do to further their own success. After that, get out and mingle. Which is hard. We writers are often introverts, but conferences and signings and other events are great ways to get discovered and learn more about your craft. And finally, keep writing. When you finish one thing and are submitting it, don’t wait around for that glorious acceptance letter you just know is coming. Start writing the next thing.

Anna Silver is an author and artist living in the greater Houston area with her family, pets, and overactive imagination. Her art has been featured in the Houston gallery Las Manos Magicas. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. She's freelanced for private clients and small publications like the Hill Country Current. OTHERBORN is her first published novel. She is represented by Rebecca Podos and Nicole LaBombard of Rees Literary Agency.

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  1. Krista, this is so great! Thank you for an amazing review! I hope you share it on Goodreads/Amazon/B&N. :)

  2. Great review!!! Thank you for sharing and the giveaway too!!!

  3. What a great review! U haven't read Otherborn yet, but its on my list of To Reads!


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