For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited AJ Skelly. AJ is an author, reader, and lover of all things fantasy, medieval, and fairy-tale-romance. And werewolves. She has a serious soft spot for them. As an avid life-long reader and a former high school English teacher, she’s always been fascinated with the written word. She lives with her husband, children, and many imaginary friends who often find their way into her stories. They all drink copious amounts of tea together and stay up reading far later than they should.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I’m a former high school English teacher turned stay-at-home-homeschooling mama of three, and we’re also an autism family.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
Of Flame & Frost released in March! 🙂
Aspen Frost has fallen from grace. Once among the upper echelons of popularity at Magik Prep Academy, a terrifying event at a party leaves a nasty rumor in its wake and thrusts her into social isolation.
Cole Raiden is an unusual hybrid of phoenix and fire-drake. And out of control. When a disastrous accident leaves him devastated and unable to control his inner flames, Magik Prep Academy is his last hope to regain any chance of a normal life. Ostracized because of his genes and his touch that reduces everything to ash, Cole seeks refuge in his loneliness.
But when bullies find them both, Aspen and Cole reach for the same piece of magic, then find themselves plummeting through time, landing at the beginnings of Magik Prep Academy.
War is on the horizon. If Aspen and Cole can’t find a way back home, they’ll be caught in a fight that could decimate their future. Cole and Aspen must learn to trust each other, and trust themselves, if they have any hope of reaching their own time again.
Why did you choose to write a story aimed at teens?
As a former high school English teacher, I spent a LOT of time with teenagers, and I’m passionate about that stage of growth—so many changes happen during those teen years, and some of the decisions made during this pivotal time have life-changing consequences or effects. As a teacher, students talked to me. A lot. I got a front row seat to a lot of the romantic issues a lot of my students had, and it left me with the realization that this age group needs more information about what real romance, love, and integrity look like. All my books highlight these areas, and also touch on topics like healthy relationships, saying no to toxicity, saying NO in general, and other things that dance around these topics.
What research was required to write a book for teens?
I didn’t really do any research for my novels so far; I suppose I lived the research. 🙂
What are some of the current teen trends/culture that influenced your book?
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the stories my students told me left an ache in my chest, and the desire to help others before they made some of the same decisions.
Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?
There are a lot of teaching and “teen” resources out there, but I’m not sure anything can prepare you for writing for teens the same way that immersing yourself in their world can.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
Being a teenager in today’s world is hard. In some ways, harder than it’s ever been. While some of the responsibilities our grandparents had have lifted, without the weight of the responsibility, we’ve left teenagers with a mountain of information, situations they’re unprepared for, and in a lot of cases, without the tools to deal with things that responsibilities brought to earlier generations.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
I do! I actually have a trilogy out on submission right now with my agent, and am in the last edits of finishing off a steampunk murder mystery! My next book actually releases this October! It’s a spin off series from my first YA paranormal romance series, The Wolves of Rock Falls.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Read and be kind. 🙂
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. AJ, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of Of Flame and Frost, where might they be able to do so?
All my books are available wherever books are sold online, or they can be ordered into your favorite bookstore if they’re not there already.
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
Over Sunday Dinner next week, I’ll be sharing a few behind-the-scenes tidbits from my latest novel, A Father for Her Boys. See you then!