2020 Debut Interview: Sheena Boekweg!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Sheena Boekweg and her novel GLITCH KINGDOM, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Sheena on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Sheena Boekweg

Sheena Boekweg grew up reading books with tree branches peeking over her shoulder. She studied theatre at Weber State University, married a handsome nerd who taught her about video games, and then had three kids who stole her heart and her controllers. She lives in Utah with her family and the world’s most spoiled puppy. 

Keep up with Sheena: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook / Pinterest

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Sheena: Thank you! And thank you so much for having me on your blog! Being a debut author feels so strange. I worked for nearly fifteen years and nine books to get here so there's this pressure for every moment to be DREAM COME TRUE AWESOME while also I still have to do laundry and take my kids to doctor appointments. There have definitely been amazing moments and also really hard moments, but as a whole I’m just grateful that my book is on shelves and for every single person who picks it up. I write for teenagers, and I’m so excited for my book to reach teenage hands.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Sheena: The best part of the writing process is the work itself. When I’m working and stumble upon something true, or personal, or surprising, it’s like creating magic from nothing. I love getting to know my characters, and exploring worlds, and finding plot holes. I just love the work so much. Writing stories is the absolute best. The hardest part is letting it go. The work is all about shining a light into the deepest caverns of my mind and publishing is taking that weird creature I found back there and shoving at people while asking them to please review and judge it. You have to be so tender and so tough. I think I’ve got the tender part down, but I’m getting tougher every day.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for GLITCH KINGDOM?
Sheena: It was a fantasy novel idea first. I knew all about this group of pious clerics who worshiped this sacred seer water which let them see the future. And I had this clear image of a royal chamber and a shining table where a King and Queen and their council sit while a Savak cleric in her red robes warn them that something bad was coming and that they needed to drink the seer water to see what they were facing. And also if they didn’t unite they would all die. MASSIVE STAKES.  FANTASY RELIGION. HANDSOME PRINCE. Great right? But then I got stumped. I couldn’t figure out what could possibly be big enough to unite these enemies. I thought about monsters, or a storm, or a villain, but nothing felt big enough. Then one day I thought what if the entire world was breaking down because it was actually a fantasy video game. And that thought felt SO WEIRD that the rest of the story fell into my brain and I got to work.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Sheena: There are five POV’s in the book, and I love each of them for different reasons, but my favorite to write has to be Bluebird_ofdeath. She’s so smart, and her brain works much faster than she can speak, so her internal is very almost rambling, but so clever. She’s so tough and kind and brave and clever and human and she’s also the biggest dork so I got to make all of these random references that probably no one will catch. Grigfen was a joy to write though too, because he’s so funny and slightly less smart in a cute way and has such a care giving heart. He’s pure Hufflepuff. And Dagney is an obvious favorite too. I love a girl who is allowed to be angry. She makes things happen with fists clenched tight, and Prince Ryo is just ridiculous, but with a secret pain hiding beneath his silk shirts and polished smile. McKenna was by far the most difficult to get right. She’s the villain of the game, but she’s a Player. She was really hard to find. I kept wanting to make her super evil, because the story felt like it needed her to be super evil to balance out the stakes. But she’s not. She’s a teenage girl who doesn’t know that when she kills people in the game, they die in real life. I took several drafts and different approaches to finally find her in a perfectionist theatre dork who is very very like who I was in high school.

The Book Bratz: This story involves a really intricate plot filled with lots of details, specifics, and secrets. How did you keep all of that together when planning?
Sheena: I focused on the characters. I focused on what they know, and what their goals were, and what was standing in their way. Then as they progress towards their goals through the world of the story, I tried to weave all those details together naturally. And when the plot grew too massive and convoluted to hold in my head I used note cards to keep track of plot elements, character arc progression, and the beats moving forward.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from GLITCH KINGDOM?
Sheena:That no matter their size, no matter their health, they are enough. Because of the video game elements to the story the characters get to choose their bodies, and for Dagney and Bluebird that means choosing to be plus-sized and choosing to be disabled when they could make a different choice. I think choosing to be yourself is the ultimate act of self love and rebellion. They are also both loved for who they are as well. I hope readers can feel that, and leave the book with a bit more self acceptance than they came into it. I know I did.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of GLITCH KINGDOM in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Sheena:GLITCH KINGDOM is a standalone novel, and while I love the world and these characters, I think this story is complete. My next project is a YA Alternate History about a secret society of women set in 1927. It’s a love letter to my grandmother and all the stories she couldn’t tell, and it’s my most ambitious and honest work to date. I’m so in love with it. I hope to be able to share more soon.

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Title: Glitch Kingdom
Author: Sheena Boekweg
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020

Summary: Ryo was the golden boy, the prankster prince, but with one stroke of a pen he has lost everything. Dagney and Grigfen were happy as minor members of the court, but when their father, the king's executioner, is branded a traitor, they each must deal in death in order to survive.. McKenna, queen of the enemy realm, has inherited a mission of conquest by assassination, but worries she's not up to the role. But behind the crowns and masks hides a secret... All of these teens are actually players in the newest, shiniest, most immersive virtual reality video game, competing against each other for a highly coveted internship with a prestigious game developer. But now this life-changing opportunity has suddenly become a deadly trap. A glitch in the software has locked the players inside the game, and they'll need to escape before the fantasy world corrupts around them. The only way out is to win.

Thank you so much to Sheena for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about GLITCH KINGDOM and it's out in the world right now for all of you to enjoy!

overjoyed so excited GIF by Demic

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