Today we talk to A.C. Billedeaux.

acbilledeauxQ) Tell us something about yourself.

In real life, I’m a traveler. My favorite thing is seeing new places and meeting new people. It’s hard to beat the feeling you get when you do something for the first time. The adventure is a bit of an addiction.

In the world of fiction, I’m a YA author. As a twenty-something myself, I spent my teenage years watching the young adult genre grow from something relatively unknown into something absolutely thrilling. Today, most of the people I know read YA and, as Stephen Colbert said, “a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read.”

Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?

My latest book is called Ash Wednesday. It starts after the end of the world and is an exploration into what really sets the standard for “human nature” and tests the limits of human kindness, good will, and, most importantly, hope. Although it isn’t religious, it addresses a question that is huge in literary fiction today: What exactly does it mean to be heroic? Can anyone do it?

Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?

As I said, Ash Wednesday has a religious feel, which matches the possible-but-still-feels-bigger-than-life tone of the novel. It also brings another aspect to the main plot of the story, which is the creation of a hero, by giving it biblical overtones.

Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?

I had to read a lot about nuclear apocalypse. Radiation poisoning. The effect that carpet bombing has on an area. Basically, a lot of things that would make the NSA look at me carefully.

Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?

Lila Sinclair is my favorite. She’s a strong female character that actually takes action, which is something that is sometimes lacking in young adult fiction.

Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?

None of my characters are based on people I know. Actually, my characters tend to make themselves and sometimes take on the story without me. It’s a little bit strange. I’ll be writing along and suddenly have somebody get into a fight with someone they weren’t supposed to, freak out, and march off towards a separate goal that was never supposed to be relevant in the first place. Huge chunks of this novel had to be rewritten and reorganized, in fact, when a main character went completely off-script. You’ll know it when you see it.

Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?

I think my style is a bit of a mash-up of your traditional fairy-tale feel (in that it often feels a little extraordinary, even when the characters are being perfectly normal) and the gritty, day-to-day struggle of a classic western. Weird, I know.

Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?

I wrote this book for NaNoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month) about two years ago now. So it only took me a month to write it. However, it took the better part of the next year to edit.

Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an Author?

I’ve been writing since I could put pencil to paper. It’s the classic answer, but it also happens to be true. I was that kid in elementary school that climbed the trees at recess and read or wrote, forgetting to come inside again when the bell rang.

Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?

Scott Westerfeld, Libba Bray, Phillip Pullman, Diana Wynne Jones, Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, and about a thousand others. It’s hard to pick just a few when you read constantly. To be honest, there are very few books that I’ve read that I haven’t loved.

Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?

For me, publishing was much harder than writing. It required patience. It takes a lot of time, effort, and waiting around to get through the stages of publishing. It’s not like the writing stage, where you are totally in control. Instead, you wait around for someone to notice you, then for someone to read it, then for someone to like it, then for someone to make it pretty, then for someone to pass it around to the people they know…

And so on. If you want to be a published author, you’ve got to be willing to put in the time.

Q) What is some advice you will like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?

WRITE! Write all the time. It helps to write about things you know at least a little about, but if you don’t want to, then write about what you want to write about. So much of the industry is about the writer sticking up for the thing they love most in the world–so you’ve got to be ready to create something that you can love even when everybody else hates it. Writing is about passion. That’s it.

Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.

Well, Ash Wednesday is a trilogy. So there’s that.

Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?

If I got to be the author of somebody else’s book, it would be The Book Thief. Not only is the point of view character DEATH, but the prose is beautiful, the plot is sad and wonderful, and the ending is pure magic. I wish I was that good.

Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?

Ash Wednesday is about kids at the end of the world, proving how important it is to be human, above all else. It’s about having faith in each other, about standing up for what’s right, and about being the best version of yourself that you can be. Being the best is not always about being the strongest or the smartest or the prettiest. It’s about being better than anyone ever thought you could be. Maybe it’s even about being better than they deserve.


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