I’m on the tail-end of the fabulous Spark tour which means they saved the best for last 😉
In all seriousness, I’m excited to share some more cool stuff about J.M. Hackman’s YA fantasy debut, Spark.
And I’ve got an e-book to GIVEAWAY! Woohoo!
Author J.M. Hackman sat down with me in a virtual cafe, where I got a low-down on on all the gossip about Brenna and the fantasy world of Linneah.
Jeb: Very excited to catch up with you about Spark. The first few chapters are intense. Man, you jump into the action right away. So, explain to me where Brenna’s powers come from?!?
JM: She was born with them, although Linneans don’t come into them until their teen years (a lot like puberty).
When I first started writing Spark, I tried to come up with a superpower that hadn’t been done before. Unfortunately, I think Solomon was right—nothing is new under the sun. Still, fire-starting intrigued me.
Jeb: Are you kidding? Fire-starting is cool! It’s a talent that would come in handy in more than one scenario, though I understand Brenna kinda wishes it would go away. She also mentions her frustration that Belgian waffles don’t exist in Linneah. I want to know if there’s a significant story to why she loves them so much?
JM: When they lived in Vermont, Brenna’s mother made them often on Saturday mornings. They would douse them with butter and real maple syrup because everyone in New England (and I mean everyone) uses real maple syrup.
Why does she love them? Have you ever had a Belgian waffle? Fluffy dough, fried to perfection, smothered in syrup, or confectioners’ sugar, or fruit/chocolate chips/whipped topping? What’s not to like?
Jeb: You’re right. Belgian waffles are awesome. Unfortunately, maple syrup is rarer than dragons here in Middle Earth. Speaking of dragons, in an epic battle with a dragon, who would win…Brenna or the dragon?
JM: Hmm. Brenna hasn’t learned all there is to learn about being a Firebrand. And if she didn’t have protection (i.e., a shield), I think the dragon would win. After all, before dragons became extinct in Linneah, the Firebrand’s main rule was, “Never engage a dragon in an unnecessary firefight.”
Jeb: Sounds like a wise proverb! I love the world-building in Linneah. Are any of the settings (Silvastamen, for example) based on real places?
JM: Cloverdale’s reservoir and spillway are modeled after the reservoir our small town used before the artisan wells were drilled. I haven’t been there in years, but I remember a trip there when I was young. Most of Linneah is lightly wooded, much like central Pennsylvania. Flare (book 2) will take place elsewhere in the Jasper Territory and therefore have different scenery/settings.
Jeb: Well, your memory is a good one because I can picture the Cloverdale reservoir clearly from your description in the book. What about Brenna? Does she have a favorite childhood memory?
JM: When she lived in Vermont, she loved to go ice skating—especially on the dirt road that went past their house! (If it sleets—or rains and then freezes—on top of untreated hard-pack snow, it becomes like an ice rink.) She and the two other neighbor kids would strap on their ice skates and skate in each other’s driveways and the ice-covered dirt road. Going downhill was especially terrifying because it was impossible to stop once she picked up enough speed. She’d just skate into a snowbank to stop.
Jeb: I’ve never been ice skating. I prefer my own two feet flat on the ground, lol. What does it feel like to travel through the portal to Linneah?
JM: Are you wearing a jasper?
JM: That’s what makes the difference. Without the jasper, it’s harsh. You get blasted with extreme temperature swings, your vision becomes fuzzy, and nausea hits. With the jasper? A brief cold wind, a little hot flash, some hazy vision, and you’re through.
Jeb: Eeek! Sounds a little scary. I’ll stay in my world, thank you very much. Brenna’s hair is gorgeous—did her mother object when she colored it? (Did you notice my attempts at using American English with favorite and colored? I’m biting my fingernails, it’s bothering me so much, lol.)
JM: Good job, Jeb—we’ll convert you yet! Her mother didn’t object—because both her mother and her grandmother have a similar colored hair streak, too. You’ll have to read the book to find out why!
Jeb: Oooh, like the teaser! Any of your characters based on real people?
JM: I think Brenna is a mixture of my two daughters and a much-younger me. My youngest has ADHD, my oldest is the same age and emotionally like Brenna, and when I was younger, I would say anything (like Brenna, I had no filter).
A few months ago, I realized Baldwin is like my husband: dark good looks, sexy (at least I think so), and very conscientious. He plays by the rules (while I look for ways to break them.)
Jeb: Now I’d like to find out a few things about you. I understand you’re a chocolate lover like me. What’s your favorite? If you say white…I may have to unfriend you on Facebook…
JM: White!?! Phth! That’s not chocolate—that’s candy. My favorite is dark. Deep, dark, rich chocolate…excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin.
Jeb: Yusss! Kindred spirits!!! We’ve both worked at libraries before, too. I always got in trouble for reading the books I was supposed to shelve, hehe (I mean, I worked in my university’s children and YA section…what did they expect?!?) What was the best part about working in a library?
JM: Getting a new shipment of books. I read them first, because my name was at the top of the list. (For what it’s worth, I also got in trouble for reading the books in the stacks. Some people just don’t understand the temptation. All those books, and so little time.)
Jeb: I know, right? Wait a minute. You like dark chocolate, you worked at a library, you were also a teacher. Me tooooo! Were we separated at birth? You’ve got wavy hair and glasses…your name starts with a ‘J’…hmmm…I can’t believe all of these similarities are a coincidence.
JM: As far as I know, Jeb, I was an only child and used my vivid imagination to keep myself occupied. I did get a degree in elementary education. Although I enjoyed the kids, I was surprised at how much discipline factored into the job. About 50% is teaching and the other 50% is discipline. Because I tend to throw myself into almost everything I do, I probably would’ve been one of the teachers that burned out.
Jeb: Well, you’re going to excel at writing books. I for one, have loved reading Spark and can’t wait to finish it. And then I get to look forward to Flare getting published.
JM: Thanks so much, Jeb, for chatting with me!
Jeb: Thanks so much for taking the time to share all about your new book and congratulations!
J.M. Hackman has held many positions: assistant librarian, office assistant, office manager, substitute teacher, writer, wife, and mother. She still holds the last three. And loves it. She received a degree in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University and now spends her days writing stories, consuming massive quantities of chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds. You can find her at:
You can purchase Spark from L2L2 Publishing and it’s also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, Kobo, and any other online retailer.
Did you miss any of the other blog stops? Then check them out:
5/15: Amy Brock McNew – Spark! Into the World of J.M. Hackman
5/16: J M Hackman – What I Learned While Writing Spark (And Spark Teaser!)
5/17: Emilie Hendryx – Author Chat with J.M. Hackman and The Story Sanctuary – Review
5/18: Michael Israel Harper – Five Reasons Why I Love Linneah
5/19: Kat Heckenbach – Behind-the-Scenes: A Different Kind of Magic
5/20: Writing Prompts, Thoughts, Ideas – Interview
5/21: Quills and Inkblotts – Visual Post: The Visual Feast of Spark
5/22: Laura Zimmerman – Book Review
5/23: Lands Uncharted – Behind-the-Scenes: The Evolution of Spark
5/24: Pam Halter – Guest Post
5/25: Pages and Hope – Interview
5/26: Ralene Burke – Confessions of a Small Town Mountain Girl) and 8 More Fascinating Behind-the-scenes Facts about Spark (right here!)
Do you want your very own copy of Spark? Cos I’ve got one to giveaway!
–> –> –>enter to win!<– <– <–
Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.