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Sunday, March 23, 2014

(MMGM) Mary Sutton, author of the Hero's Sword Series {Interview and Giveaway}

I'm so excited to welcome Mary Sutton to the March MG Madness today! Check out our interview and enter the awesome giveaway...

Power Play (Hero's Sword Vol. 1)
All Jaycee Hiller wants to do is survive eighth grade. Mostly that means hanging with her friend, Stu, avoiding the cheerleading squad, secretly
crushing on Nate Fletcher, and playing her favorite video game, Hero’s Sword. 
When she receives a new video game controller, Jaycee finds herself magically transported into the Hero's Sword video game world. Survival takes on a whole new meaning. No longer battling with a plastic joystick, Jaycee picks up a real sword and bow & arrow and readies herself for battle.
Can she save Lady Starla's rule in Mallory, keep herself in one piece, and maybe even learn something about surviving middle school?
Kids will love this fast-paced adventure novel and will cheer along with Jaycee's thrilling adventures. What kid hasn't dreamed of actually fighting and battling the villains in their favorite video games? Jaycee finds out if she has what it takes - and what she learns in the fantasy realm of Mallory impacts her mundane, middle school life in unexpected ways.

Storm Clouds (Hero's Sword Vol. 2)
Eighth-grader Jaycee Hiller is beginning to fear she only imagined her trip to Mallory. But when a rainy afternoon leaves her with hours of playing Hero's Sword, her favorite video game, she finds herself drawn back into the game - literally.
STORM CLOUDS is the exciting second volume of the HERO'S SWORD saga - chronicling Jaycee Hiller's trials in eighth grade, and her exciting adventures in Mallory, the setting of her favorite video game. Jaycee enters the video game realm via a special controller and is caught up in the action of this fantasy realm.
In STORM CLOUDS, a valuable jewel belonging to the neighboring estate of Devin, the Sapphire Star, is missing, stolen at the Fall Consortium. Lady Starla stands accused of the theft. Devin's demands are clear: return the Star or they will take it back by force.
Now it's up to Lyla Stormbringer to find the Star and the thief. before Mallory finds itself at war.

What three words best describe your Hero’s Sword Series?

Adventure, funny, empowering

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Hero’s Sword Series a try?

Eighth-grade nobody Jaycee Hiller just wants to escape and survive middle school, but when she is transported into the world of her favorite video game, "escape and survive" takes on a whole new meaning.

Grab a copy of  Hero’s Sword Vol. 1 OR 2 and answer the following:
favorite chapter?
From Storm Clouds - Favorite chapter: I don't title my chapters, but I'd go with Chapter Seven. Jaycee/Lyla is exploring a secret tunnel with a guy who doesn't really like her and hasn't been all that friendly up until now. I like this because you get to see her on her own, making decisions and investigating without the help of anyone else. It's all her. 

favorite page?
Favorite page: Page 67 of the print version. It's a hand-to-hand fight scene. I enjoyed writing this because some friends helped me act it out and get all the details right, so I knew exactly how the fight would work. 

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser?
"I wondered if Lord Willen would also give my mother something for my "proper burial" should I lose. Probably not."

What inspired the Hero’s Sword Series? How did this story come to be?

I was approached by the publisher. He wanted to publish digital chapterbooks (think Magic Treehouse length) for younger kids, middle-grade or below and he needed a writer. So I started thinking about what kids at that age want out of a book, what would they relate to? The search for self-identity is a big theme for the middle-grade years. And kids in that age group usually like action and humor, even the girls. And what kid hasn't fantasized about being zapped into a favorite video game, book, or movie? And so the idea for Hero's Sword was born. I didn't want a "cool kid" and I didn't want a total outsider. I wanted my main character to be a regular kid, just trying to navigate the sometimes confusing maze of middle school.

There are some memorable characters in Hero’s Sword Series, do you have a favorite? What do you love about him/her? Did any of your characters end up surprising even you with the way they turned out?

Of course I love Jaycee. But I think my favorite is Roger, the mentor/father-figure character. There's a lot of affection there, but he pushes her too because he knows what she can be. And I think everyone needs someone like that in his/her life. And my characters surprise me all the time. I think they're going to do one thing, and it turns out they do or say something completely different. Some of the lines Jaycee has that people have told me they really found funny are ones that left me thinking, "Now where did that come from?" Because I can't consciously write funny. It just has to happen.

Your character Jaycee is magically transported into the Hero’s Sword video game...what video game would YOU love to be transported into and experience first hand?

Legend of Zelda. I've been playing the games on and off since the mid-80s. I like the fact that they aren't just "kill everything in sight" games, they take a lot of thought and problem-solving too.

As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important? What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade?

Middle-grade is where it all starts to come together. You start figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and where you fit in regarding the world around you. I think the experiences of middle-grade stick with you more than any other period in time, including high school and college. I remember talking to my husband one night and described something that happened on my first day of seventh grade. I got as angry about it now as I did then, and he said, "Wow, you really never got over that, did you?" And I haven't. It was one of those "oh yeah, well I'll show you" moments. In a lot of ways, I'm still saying "oh yeah, well I'll show you." I think we all have those kinds of stories in us.

What is your all time favorite middle-grade book, middle-grade hero, and middle-grade heroine?

Oh wow. Book: I'm a huge fan of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books, the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus. I love the modern spin on Greek/Roman mythology and I think it introduces kids to that world (my son became a huge mythology fan because of those books). And it's a lot of similar themes: discovering who you are, what your values are, and finding your "group." Hero: Again, I'll go with Percy Jackson. He's not perfect. He's got flaws, he's stubborn, annoying, and sometimes a little clueless. But his heart is in the right place and he learns how to make the hard decisions. Heroine: This one's a throwback, Trixie Belden. She really was the heart and soul of a girl who went and did things, and figured stuff out. Nancy Drew was a cool, pretty high-schooler, but Trixie was my age. She made being a problem-solver cool.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at at telling stories; my husband always makes me describe events to other people because he says I make people think they were there. 

I’m really embarrassed to admit that  I'm not very good at video games. I love them, but as my 11-year old son says, "Mom, they just aren't really your thing. Stick to writing." 

The last great book I read was The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene. I felt like someone had ripped out my heart and stomped all over it - and I loved every minute of it.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by the Hero’s Sword Series, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

Oh man. Okay, it would be a plain-looking cupcake. Vanilla, with colored vanilla buttercream frosting. But on the inside, there would be a gob of swirled chocolate and caramel. I'd probably call it "the Jaycee," because just like with Jaycee, there's more on the inside than what you can see on the outside.

Thank you so much, Mary! And TFiOS made me feel exactly the same way!

Mary Sutton has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. After ten years, she decided that making things up was far more satisfying than writing software manuals, and took the jump into fiction.

She writes the HERO'S SWORD middle-grade fantasy series as M.E. Sutton and finds a lot of inspiration in the lives of her own kids. A lifelong mystery fan, she also writes crime fiction, including THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS MYSTERIES, under the pen name Liz Milliron. Her short fiction has been published at, (Fall 2013), and in LUCKY CHARMS: 12 CRIME TALES (December 2013).

Like her LAUREL HIGHLANDS characters, Mary lives in Southwestern PA (but, unfortunately, she doesn't have a dog). She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters.

Win an ebook copy of either book in the Hero's Sword Series OR a signed print copy of Storm Clouds!
Mary has generously offered the winner a choice of an ecopy or signed book.
-open INT
-ends 3/31
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
Fill out Rafflecopter form:


Brenda said...

Legend of Zelda was the best, there was so much more to it then met the eye.

Unknown said...

Ohhhhhh these look good! I love younger aged books so much more imagination happens! Love it!

Unknown said...

Thank you for offering these books to share with us other readers. I would love the signed print copy of Storm Clouds and follow Jaycee Hiller's trials in eighth grade, and the adventures in her favorite video game.

Jillyn said...

I love video games, and I think it's really cool how they feature in these books.

anne s. said...

i think my fourth grader and sixth grader would devour these books!

Orchid said...

Definitely sounds like an interesting series with some great characters.

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

This sounds like such a fun series! I love the Zelda games too! They are so much fun and so time consuming1