Sunday, April 19, 2015

J.A. Cipriano, Author

J.A. Cipriano is an awesome writer. His new novel May Contain Spies is available worldwide. Cipriano has a knack for writing intriguing story lines that keep you on the edge of your seat! I am excited to host Cipriano in his current blog tour.

Welcome J.A. Cipriano!

What is the premise for May Contain Spies?
May Contain Spies is about a sixteen year old girl named Abby. She is a normal teenage girl. Except, well, the world she’s grown up believing is all one big lie. Basically, Abby finds out that she’s been kidnapped by the government and has been held hostage for pretty much her whole life.

Her mother wants her back, but only because she’s dying and needs Abby’s organs to survive. The story is about Abby and her bodacious beau Stephen trying to outwit her mother.

Where does the storyline take place?
At the bottom of the ocean. On a submarine. In a high school. In another submarine. In a fancy French clothing store. You name it, it’s probably in there.

Are your characters based upon your own life experiences?
Sort of but not really. It’d be sort of a lie to say I made them all up, but I did. I was just watching television and reading and was like I bet I could write something like this. So I did.

Actually, no, Lisa Ann was loosely based on this guy I knew in High school. Also the grape juice thing? Totally happened. Oh and the teachers are all real.

Who is your favorite character in May Contain Spies?
I’m particularly fond of Marco. I really enjoyed writing the scene where he throws trash cans at Chloe.

Can you share an excerpt...
I can do you one better. I can give you the first 800 words of the sequel, The Spy Within, How does that sound? Oh and it’s unedited, that’s either a double bonus or like half-a bonus. I’m not sure.

An excerpt from The Spy Within by  J.A. Cipriano
The lights flickered, and I swung around, glancing toward the door of Ye Olde Kwik E Mart. There was no one else in here but the clerk. Still, the lights had given me the creeps. I’d been running for the better part of a week, and this was the first time I’d ventured into a place inhabited by, you know, people. Not that the clerk really counted as people.
The lights flickered again and my muscles tensed. I scanned the aisles one last time. Man, my nerves were really on edge. “Get a grip, Abby,” I whispered, turning back toward the glass door in front of me and pulling it open. I reached in and grabbed a jug of orange juice. Why? Because Stephen still wasn’t feeling well, and orange juice was supposed to help with infections, right? Or was that just colds?
I let out a slow breath, and nearly leapt out of my skin when the clerk’s cellphone rang to the tune of Mandy by Barry Manilow. Well, that was certainly an odd tune for a freckled, red-haired teenager. Then again, my old cellphone hadn’t been cool enough to ring to a song. I took another breath and made my way down the aisle, piling all sorts of junk food into my cloth bag. I didn’t want to risk using one of their baskets, it could have nano-machines embedded in the plastic that could track my location. Yeah, that was a thing.
Apparently when you steal helicopters from the government, they track you down. No. Matter. What.
I turned back to the clerk as he put his phone down, green eyes strangely glassy. He wasn’t very tall, maybe five foot eight and built like a beanpole. I reached out to grab a candybar still not taking my eyes off of him. He reached out, though I’m not sure what he was going to grab because I dropped my bag and sprinted back down the aisle.
Which was dumb because the exit was in the opposite direction. I guess I should have charged him, but my first instinct was to create as much distance as possible and to find cover. The lights flickered again, only this time when they came back on every fluorescent bulb in the ceiling shattered. A spray of glass fell down around me as I dropped to the floor, covering my head and neck with my hands so that, hopefully, I wouldn’t be cut to ribbons.
There was a crash behind me as the refrigerators that held beer and whatever else exploded in a blue fireball of flame and arcing electricity. I threw myself backward, landing hard on my shoulders and rolling to my feet facing the busted freezers as acrid black smoke filled the air and pooled against the ceiling. I canned the area, and seeing no one, I spun just in time to see the clerk’s shotgun fill my vision.
I dropped as the gun went off, the sound reducing my hearing to a tiny pinprick of sound. Buckshot pinged off the back wall as my left elbow shot out, smashing into the twerp’s knee. Only he didn’t budge, didn’t even act like it hurt. Instead, he cocked the gun and moved to point it at me. I popped to my feet, using the forced to drive my shoulder into his wrists.
The gun fired again, tearing a hole in the ceiling above out head as I slammed my forehead down into the clerk’s nose.
His head whipped back in a spray of blood, but he didn’t lose his hand on the gun. Hell, he didn’t even wobble, at least not like everything inside me told me he should have. The gun whipped out, so fast that I barely had time to dodge it. The super-heated metal skimmed by me so close that I could feel the warmth of it on my skin.
“Abigail Banks,” the clerk said in a voice that seemed too robotic to be human. “You must turn yourself in.”
“Not happening, Beanpole,” I said, taking the opportunity to drive my foot into his chest. The blow seemed to catch him off guard.
He fell backward, smashing a Chester the Cheetah display and spilling cheesy goodness all over. I leapt over him, hitting the floor hard just a few inches past his head and scooped up my treat-filled bag. Okay, yeah it was stealing, but he had just tried to kill me. Some free candy was the least of his problems.
I spun at the end of the aisle, my feet skidding on the cheap linoleum as I crashed into the glass doors. They weren’t opening. Why weren’t they opening? I barely had the time to contemplate it when the ominous sound of a shotgun cocking another shell into place filled my ears.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
Slowly. I write outlines. Then I sit down and write and have to rewrite my outlines. They aren’t terribly detailed. Here, I’ll share some with you.

Chapter 1
o Abby gives Stephen a coke at work
Chapter 2
o Abby and Lisa talk about Stephen on phone
Chapter 3
o Lisa and Abby in class

See, it’s incredibly interesting. I also listen to the same song/album over and over so my brain goes into a weird zen mode.

Describe your writing studio...
Directly in front of me there’s a computer screen. On one side there is a statue of a platypus in a superman costume and on the other a surfing rabbit. I also have a lava lamp and a Chris Jericho Liontamer action figure.

My desk is covered with notes for a novel I won’t be writing for at least two months and an empty water glass. I have a clock, but it’s stuck on 4:45, and I haven’t changed the batteries in a few months. There’s also a poster of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the wall from season 5. It’s autographed by the whole cast, including Joss Whedon. The other wall is filled with bookshelves and pictures of Star Trek people, also signed. There’d be more, but I ran out of frames a few years ago.

The walls are sea foam green and they very in shade as you circle the room. In the back, there’s about a million comic books, some rare, most not.

Who is your favorite author?
I’d have to say it is a tossup between Jim Butcher and John Scalzi. I really enjoy both of their work. The problem with Scalzi is that all his main characters are pretty much the same guy. I don’t know how much I like that guy because he reminds me of Wil Wheton.

As far as Jim Butcher? I like Dresden a lot, and even have a couple of his books signed. After reading the Dresden Files, however many there were in 2007, I wrote my first Lillim Callina novel, Kill it with Magic. I’ve even met him a couple times, and he seems like a nice guy. I also really enjoyed his Spider-man novel.

What are you currently writing?
I am currently writing a spin off to the fifth Lillim Novel. The book is called Under Wraps, and it is about a werewolf named Thes who gets sent back in time to Ancient Egypt to stop an evil mummy from taking over.

What are you currently reading?
I actually am not reading anything because I just finished the book I was reading yesterday. It was called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and was one of the best books I have ever read. I did go to the library today though. I picked up The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett and Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson.

I am currently listening to The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I hadn’t meant to listen to it, but my wife asked me to request As I lay Dying, and I got the wrong one. Rather than return it, I decided to listen to it.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Keep writing. Everything you write will suck a little less than the thing before it. I often look back at things I wrote before thinking they were awesome and it makes me sad to read how bad they are.

If you find you’re getting stuck, try writing a simple outline like the one I did above. You may find it helps you.

Find music or background noise that makes your brain shut off. If what is on in the background is making you look up or pay attention to it, find something else.

Also, develop thick skin. The original beta reader for May Contain Spies hated the book so much that she asked me why I had even bothered to write it. It’s been my best received book by far. So there’s that.

List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
10. I really like Nickelback.
9. I saw the Ramones in concert when they opened for Metallica.
8. Dean Koontz and Stan Lee signed my cast when I broke my arm in seventh grade.
7. I’ve won several awards at Orange County fair (California) for flower arrangements.
6. I’ve owned not one but two hedgehogs. The first was named Georgie. The second was named Mallory.
5. I have two college degrees. One in Chemistry and one in Business Administration. One of them is a masters.
4. I wrote my first novel in ninth grade.
3. My step-brother is a professional baseball player. He plays for the Angels.
2. My wife is at least twice as good at writing as I am.
1. I’m secretly working on a sweet romance that takes place in Minnesota between an ex-navy seal and a librarian.

Connect with J.A….

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J.A. Cipriano Bio:
When J. A. Cipriano was in second, grade his teacher gave everyone in class a journal to write down whatever they wanted. Their first subject was to write about something they didn’t like. J. A. chose to write about why he didn’t like writing. His reasoning was simple. He had bad handwriting. Even then he was destined to be an engineer due to his messy scrawl.
Unfortunately, he found through the course of this little adventure that he actually liked writing. That year was sort of the high point for his writing career because he won a writing contest for the state. He got to go to a big dinner and his teacher was all dressed up. He kept writing little stories, year after year, and in sixth grade, won another contest. In seventh grade he broke his arm and got the cast signed by both Dean Koontz and Stan Lee. It is, by far, the coolest cast he’s owned. That was about the time he found video games and anime. His writing turned mostly toward fanfiction until about ninth grade where he wrote his first novel, a small book about twenty thousand words called Revelations. In sophomore year, he wrote two more books to complete the trilogy because he saw Star Wars that year and learned trilogies were the cool thing to do.
Since then, he’s written six more novels, four of which are in the Lillim Callina Series, and one in the Abby Banks series. The other is stuck in a drawer for time undetermined. He’s writing his next book now which is about werewolves fighting mummies in Ancient Egypt. After that, he will move onto Abby Banks 2. The Spy Within will come out in June or July. J.A. also has three chinchillas. Two of them are grey and because of this, they are named Slate and Cadmium. The third is named Jet because he’s black, and Jet is old English for black. See, creative. He also has a cat named Turtle. This does pose problems for his two-year-old from time to time.

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