2020 Debut Author Interview: Erica Waters!

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 Erica Waters and her novel GHOST WOOD SONG, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Erica on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Erica Waters

Erica Waters writes YA contemporary fantasy with a Southern Gothic feel. She's originally from the pine woods of rural Florida but has made her home in Nashville, TN, where she's learned to love bluegrass and has even starting learning banjo. Her best friends are two scruffy little rescue dogs named Nutmeg and Luna.

Keep up with Erica: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Erica: Thank you! Being a debut author is both exhilarating and stressful. I’m so excited to have a book published, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that readers never see. And of course now that my book will be available for people to read, it’s also available for them to love, hate, comment on, and review. Finding out what people think about a piece of writing you worked on for years is a little overwhelming. 
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Erica: For me, the best part of the writing process is drafting. I love spinning a new story, meeting new characters, and creating a brand new world. It engages me totally and completely, and there’s really nothing else like it. The hardest part of the process is developmental edits. This is when you work with your agent or editor to shape and improve the book. Sometimes this can mean massive changes—pulling a book to pieces after you’ve just spent months putting it together. In the end, it’s always a better book, but the process itself can be messy and painful.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for GHOST WOOD SONG?
Erica: Inspiration for GHOST WOOD SONG came from several places--my grief after losing my dad, memories of growing up in a haunted house, and a whole lot of bluegrass music. But here's how I got the idea for the ghost-raising fiddle: One day, I was upstairs writing in my attic office when I heard someone playing a banjo. We have a few banjos in our house, but I was the only one home. When I went downstairs, the music stopped. So that got me to thinking about a connection between ghosts and bluegrass instruments, and Shady’s ghost-raising fiddle was born!

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Erica: My favorite character to write was Orlando, Shady’s friend and bandmate. He’s a budding entomologist, a peacemaker, and a joker. I always felt happy when Orlando was in a scene. The most difficult was Sarah, Shady’s bandmate and crush. She can be very closed off, critical, and impatient. It was a challenge to write a flawed character that readers might still care about and even root for.

The Book Bratz: Music is a large part of this fantasy novel. Why did you choose to incorporate it? 
Erica: Like I said above, this novel was largely inspired by bluegrass music. The main character is named after a famous Appalachian ballad called “Shady Grove” that I was listening to a lot around the time I started writing. Bluegrass is filled with a longing for home and family, which fits perfectly with the themes of GHOST WOOD SONG. Folk music plays a large role in the book too, especially murder ballads, which really amped up the eerie atmosphere of the novel. Music is its own kind of magic, and I tried hard to capture that in the book.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from GHOST WOOD SONG?
Erica: Of course, I want my readers to be entertained—on the edge of their seats, swearing, crying, cheering—all that. But I hope that readers walk away from the book with a greater sense of hope, and if they’re going through something hard and painful, I hope my book helps them find a way out of the darkness.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of GHOST WOOD SONG in the future, or do you have other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Erica: GHOST WOOD SONG is a stand-alone novel and I don’t plan to return to that world, although I’ll admit I find myself missing the characters. My next book, out from HarperTeen in summer 2021, is another contemporary fantasy. I can’t say much about it yet, but I’ll share this much: it’s about Southern witches, is set largely on a nature park in Tennessee, and has two badass girls as narrators. This is my first time writing a dual-POV novel, so it has been fun and challenging to take on. I’m also writing a spooky haunted house middle grade novel that I’m having a total blast with. 

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Title: Ghost Wood Song
Author: Erica Waters
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 21st, 2020

Summary: Sawkill Girls meets Beautiful Creatures in this lush and eerie debut, where the boundary between reality and nightmares is as thin as the veil between the living and the dead. If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept. Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness. But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets. In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing. Family secrets, a gorgeously resonant LGBTQ love triangle, and just the right amount of creepiness make this young adult debut a haunting and hopeful story about facing everything that haunts us in the dark.

Thank you so much to Erica for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about GHOST WOOD SONG and can't wait for it to be out in the world on July 21st

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