Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interview + Giveaway with Tony Graff, author of Juniper Crescent

Today we have with us author Tony Graff whose debut book, Juniper Crescent released in October 2011. Tony has joined us for an interview below:

Tell us a little about yourself and the book(s) you've written...

I’m Tony Graff. 25, and a college student. I collect cuff links and am a huge Doctor Who fan. (I’ve seen all the doctors except the sixth and seventh. True Story.) My first novel, Juniper Crescent, is about an operation that is changing the world. The Isis operation has the capacity to cure genetic disorders, certain forms of cancer, and make us stronger, faster, better, and hardier than humans were evolved to be.  

Why do you write? What got you going?

I write because that’s how I keep my brain organized. So many ideas and thoughts run through my head, and the world makes sense after I’ve written something about it down. It lets me express every thought I couldn’t share otherwise in a format that many people have agreed with me on.

Even more, it helps me connect with people on a totally different level. People have read Juniper Crescent and told me about their favorite character, and I’m able to connect with them when I otherwise wouldn’t.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

Here’s where brainstorming hell breaks loose. I have to sit and mull over names until something connects for me. I’ll run through census databases and random name generators all day until I have that sudden insight and there’s the name. It has to fit just like that or it bugs me until I fix it. It’s hard to describe, but it just feels right when I find the character’s name. 

Do you outline your stories before you begin writing? How do you determine where to start?

Nah, I usually start with a really powerful image connected to a powerful emotion. Juniper Crescent started with an act of bullying. I saw an image in my mind of a girl with cheetah spots on her arms and legs going to her car to find the word “cheeter” spray-painted across the windshield. From there I make a simple outline, then make sure I have the characters completely researched and designed. Once I have a complete character, I get to sit back and let him/her tell me their story. It can be demanding, but it build such a bond with my characters that it feels like they can tap me on the shoulder and let me know I didn’t write it correctly.

How do you balance storytelling with real life? Is there a line somewhere or do your realities get blurred?

It all blurs. I think that is one of the hardest, but more rewarding parts of writing. Reality is a great big blurred line for me, and for the most part, it’s a lot of fun. It gets a smidge difficult when I’m enjoying a movie cuddled up with a date, and some detail stands out and tells me it’s a part of a story I’m writing, and doesn’t stop bugging me until it’s written. Or a person wears something a character would wear, and I have to ignore the thought that I should get Oksanya or Nick that item or something like it, only to remind myself I’d be getting a gift for a fictional character.

But, if I get to immerse myself in this world, I think those who read Juniper Crescent will get to see it, too.

What will your next book be about?

The second book follows Kora, who we met in Juniper Crescent (she’s mixed with a lion). While preparing for her marriage, she unexpectedly gets pregnant. Instantly, she’s a celebrity, and a target. Then the doctors tell her that her operation has affected the pregnancy. 

What was life like for you when YOU were a teen?

I like to think I haven’t left the teen thing behind. I’m still a YA, and teens have the opportunity to have the most fun.

Who is your hero? Why?

My hero is C. S. Lewis. He wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, and many others. He’s my hero as far as writing goes because of a book he wrote called the Screwtape Letters. Once it became popular, everyone was writing up and wanting more Screwtape letters, and he refused. He told people he hated writing it. Every day he would get into the mind of Screwtape, and it was a world of darkness and sand. He had to hate everything good, and adore everything evil.

When I read that, I adored C. S. Lewis. If he could do something that, how could I do anything less? He knew how to transport us to a different world because he was already familiar with it. He would drown himself and revive himself to take us on the path he took, and it is amazing.

What is the first line of the first book in your bookcase?

Oh, golly. Which bookcase?...

“I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.”

Is there a Y.A. novel you wish YOU wrote?

I wish I had written the Alcatraz series. I just finished listening to the audiobook for Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. Wow. He’s got some serious skills about writing first-person omniscient. Wow.

What advice would you give your teen readers about life?

“Life” is a library. Your life is a book in that library. There isn’t a thing that’s telling you to be one specific way or have a specific chapter in your story. Write it how you see fit. And if your book talks about cool critters, bibiophiles, and Indian food, I hope your book is next to mine.

Thank you for sharing with us, Tony. Here is some more information about Tony and Juniper Crescent:
Summary for Juniper Crescent:
Juniper Crescent tells Oksanya’s story. She developed Muscular Dystrophy at a young age, and seemed condemned to be in a wheelchair by college until the Isis operation claimed it could cure her. It replaced the defective genes in her body with those of a cheetah, giving her greater speed, sight, and hearing than any other human in the world.

            Not everyone seems to think that the Isis operation is all that it is cracked up to be. While able to cure certain forms of cancer and genetic disorders, many people are wary that this will become the new toolkit for criminals. With this fear, Oksanya becomes a target for prejudice.

Or add it to  your Goodreads and/or LibraryThing

Author Bio:

I was born in Kansas, then spent the next fourteen years moving around between the United States and Germany. Then I finally settled down in Colorado. Throughout all of that, I fell in love with science fiction and fantasy. Books had been my universal friend no matter where I loved to. I’m currently going to college for a creative writing degree. (And I’m currently working on the third book in the Juniper Crescent series. Stay tuned for more details.)


I have a signed paperback of Juniper Crescent to give away. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. Open internationally.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to everyone who enters and good luck!


  1. Your novel Juniper's Crescent sounds really interesting and very different. Sounds like a great read.

  2. I love how the cover looks!!! I will be sure to check it out!!!
    Thanks for the great giveaway!!

  3. first of all, wow, the story sounds great! On my wishlist straight away! I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, too! And...I like the pic! Tood bad I live in Italy or I would have asked you out, LOL

    1. The pic posted is of my vacation to Venice actually... coincidently

  4. Beautiful cover!i haven't read a lot of books written by male authors....but this book sounds great and I would love the chance to win and to experience your writing. Always looking for new authors to love.

  5. I really like that you have to get the names right. A name says so much about a person and if it's wrong it can ruin the story. I also love that your characters talk to you to the point of if you mess it up they tell you. Love that.


  6. Congratulations on your first novel. Looking forward to the next one.

  7. Love Dr Who, love the cover but best of all I love the genetics concept of your book. Can't wait to read it.

    Clenna at aol dot com

  8. I wish him good luck with writing of course! :D And book has amazing cover (I know, it doesn't matter...) I wish this book could come to me, even through English is not my first language, I love reading books in English :D


  9. I lovedlovedloved the Alcatraz series! Funny. Smart. Amazing. Congrats on your book, Tony!

  10. would love to win your book good luck with your book.
    rlrlaney at yahoo dot com

  11. Congratulatiosn for your first book and a big thanks you for opening tghis giveaway to international

    all the best

  12. I am from Kansas as well. I would much prefer Colorado. This is the first I have heard of your book but I will be sure to check it out.

  13. Tony, a beautiful cover - attracted my attention right away. I wish we could find a cure for md and all spinal-related problems. Get those people out of their wheelchairs!

  14. I'm jealous you wrote your first novel while still in college. Sounds like a fun book!

  15. Enjoyed the interview Tony! Wonderful advice you gave!! I'll have to check into Screwtape. Much success to your schooling and continued success to your writing career! Looking forward to reading this book ..wonder how the conflict resolves.

  16. Thank you for a great interview. I'd love to read JUNIPER CRESCENT thank you.

  17. Cover is so interesting. Really want to red this one =) Thanks

  18. This is the first time I'm seeing this book, I think the summary is very interesting. I'm never read a book that replaces defective genes with something else like an animal. Would love to win this signed copy :D

  19. I really want to read this book. hope i win it.

  20. I adore the Chronicles of Narnia. I agree with the others the cover is very beautiful. Congratulations for your first book, the story is great!
    Thank you for the giveaway.