Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Class of 2k17 member
Breeana Shields and her debut novel POISON’S KISS.
Title: POISON’S KISS
Genre: YA fantasy
Age Range: 12 and up
Launch Date: January 10th, 2017
Please tell us a little bit about your book?
Poison’s Kiss is about a girl who can kill with a single kiss. Since childhood, she’s served the Raja as one of his most lethal assassins. But when she receives orders to kiss a boy she knows—a boy she’s sure doesn’t deserve to die—she starts to question who she’s really working for. And that thread, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.
What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?
I often get ideas for books when I’m learning about something totally unrelated. It’s one of the reasons I love museums, classes, and documentaries. In this case, I was listening to a lecture on espionage and the professor mentioned something in passing—a legendary figure in Indian folklore called the poison damsel—that sent my imagination on a lengthy tangent. I didn’t hear the rest of the lecture, but I did walk away with a new book idea.
Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?
I usually start a new project with a basic premise, a few major turning points, and rough idea of the ending. From there, I just dive in, start writing, and let the story unfold organically. Often it turns out very differently than the version I had in my head when I first started. Once I have a draft, I can edit to make sure that the final product is a satisfying story.
We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?
My writing teacher in high school, Mr. Beck, had a huge influence on me as both a writer and a person. He started out as my sophomore honors English teacher, but he also taught journalism and encouraged me to join the newspaper staff. Once I did, I was completely hooked. I had always loved writing, but getting to write every day, to decide on topics and layouts, and most of all, to have readers was more satisfying than anything else I’d experienced up to that point.
Some of my happiest memories of high school are being in the newspaper lab late at night with my friends, all of us rushing to get the next issue out on time. I loved printing out an article, feeding it into the wax machine and pasting it up at the light table only to immediately savage it with a blue editing pencil and decide I needed to start all over.
Mr. Beck demanded the best of his students and he didn’t tolerate anything less. Other teachers gave me a lot of praise for my writing—and they were instrumental in building my confidence—but Mr. Beck wasn’t so easily impressed. He challenged every weakly-written sentence, called out every bit of lazy writing, and always pushed me to do better. I still remember how thrilling it was to get an assignment back with the words, “solid writing” at the top of the page. From him that was high praise. I probably would have found my way into a writing career even without Mr. Beck—I think it’s in my blood—but it would have taken a lot longer to hone the skills I needed to succeed.
What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?
I think Poison’s Kiss could be used in the classroom in a number of ways—as a jumping off point for discussing mythology, as an exploration of medicine and the different ways toxins affect the body, or as a character study in what people do when placed in morally complex situations. I’m also a huge fan of literature circles, where small groups of students who all read the same novel and then gather in class to discuss together. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer to lead a few lit circles, and it was a complete joy. I love listening to students read something they chose themselves and hear their smart observations and spirited debates.
I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?
I have an adorable miniature poodle named Molly. I call her my Velcro dog because she sticks to my side, following me from room to room throughout the day. She’s also really smart—she can dance on command and walk across the entire length of a room on her hind legs (as long as there’s peanut butter waiting at the other end.). And she has an uncanny sense of my schedule. As soon as my kids leave for school, she curls up under my desk ready to start our writing day.
Breeana Shields has a BA in English from Brigham Young University and is an active member of SCBWI. When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband, her three children, and an extremely spoiled miniature poodle. Visit her online at breeanashields.com or follow her on Twitter at @BreeanaShields.
You can read my review of POISON’S KISS here, and you can buy Breeana’s book anywhere good books are sold, or online at:
Thanks so much, Breena!