Tuesday, May 7, 2013

TBR welcomes Nora Olsen

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Nora. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Nora:  Hi, and thanks for having me! I grew up in New York City and now I live a little farther north in New York’s Hudson Valley, with my girlfriend and two cute cats. I love writing novels, which is a childhood dream come true.

TBR: Tell us about SWANS & KLONS and where it's available.
Nora:  SWANS & KLONS is a dystopian Young Adult (YA) novel that tells the story of two sixteen-year old girls in an all-female world who fall in love as they struggle to free enslaved clones.
Swans & Klons is published by Bold Strokes Books (http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Swans-%26-Klons-%252d-by-Nora-Olsen), a premier publisher of LGBTQ fiction, and is also available from Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/swans-and-clons-nora-olsen/1112580963?ean=9781602828742) and wherever you usually buy books! The official publication date of Swans & Klons is May 14, but is already available as an e-book and for pre-order in print.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
What does it take to survive in a world built on lies?
Sixteen-year-old Rubric loves her pampered life in the Academy dormitory. She’s dating Salmon Jo, a brilliant and unpredictable girl. In their all-female world, non-human slaves called Klons do all the work. But when Rubric and Salmon Jo break into the laboratory where human and Klon babies are grown in vats, they uncover a terrifying secret that tears their idyllic world apart.
Their friends won’t believe them, and their teachers won’t help them. The Doctors who rule Society want to silence Rubric and Salmon Jo. The two girls must flee for their lives. As they face the unthinkable, the only thing they have left to believe in is their love for each other.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Nora:  I am very inspired by music! In general, my favorite writing songs are “Every Day I Write The Book” by Elvis Costello and “Shadow Stabbing” by Cake. But for Swans & Klons I have two special songs. One is “The Clone” by Project Pitchfork. That one is obvious, since in Swans & Klons male humans have died out, and humanity persists thanks to cloning. The other is “The Crystal Ship” by The Doors. That’s because the main characters Rubric and Salmon Jo dream of escaping in an airship. The song is really appropriate, because it’s romantic but with a hint of menace and the threat of separation, and it’s also about freedom. Just like Swans & Klons! Thanks, Jim Morrison, for writing the perfect song for my book.

TBR: Any other published works?
Nora:  My first novel was The End: Five Queer Kids Save The World, published in 2010 by Prizm Books. That one was about five friends who must travel through time to avert a nuclear war, and also features LGBTQ characters and themes. You can find it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/End-Nora-Olsen/dp/1610401166/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1296571251&sr=1-1)

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Nora:  I am a reformed pantser! I used to make up the story as I went along, but now I carefully plan it all out on a chapter-by-chapter level before I begin writing. I think the results are about the same, but I have to do less work editing! In writing there are always surprises, though.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Nora:  “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” - Toni Morrison

There are surprisingly few YA novels that feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer characters. YA Novelist Malinda Lo has done some research on this and found the percentage to be less than 1%. Especially given the difficult circumstances that some LGBTQ teens grow up in, I want to do my part to offer these young people stories that are empowering and reflect characters like themselves. That’s how I try to put Toni Morrison’s quotation into practice.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Nora:  The most challenging part is after the thrill of writing the first draft has worn off, and it’s time to edit the manuscript and make it as perfect as I know how so that I can send it to my editor. But the most rewarding part, getting feedback from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the story, makes it all worthwhile.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Nora:  Like so many writers, I also love to read. Some of my favorite writers are John Christopher, Nicola Griffith, and Jane Fletcher. If you like speculative fiction, I bet you might like them too! I’m also a Jane Austen fan.  Right now I am just finishing up The Culling by Steven Dos Santos, and wow, that is quite a book! I think readers who enjoy Swans & Klons would like The Culling, and vice versa.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Nora:  Come visit me at http://noraolsen.com/

TBR: Readers, Nora Olsen will give away a paperback copy of Swans & Klons and a special Swans & Klons magnet to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner on Tuesday, May 14 and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so Nora can contact you.

Thanks for visiting TBR, Nora. All the best to you.


  1. Nora - I'm so excited to hear you've written a second book. Looking forward to reading it! You are an inspiration.

  2. Nora - Congratulations on the second book. Sounds very interesting. Say hi to Cornwall for me next time you look across the river. - Mary

  3. Swans and Klons sounds fascinating! I enjoyed hearing about your writing process, Nora. Looking forward to reading the book. :)
    nimbike (at) yahoo (dot) ca

  4. Thanks, ladies!
    Congratulations to Lisa. You are the giveaway winner! I'll contact you by email.
    -Nora Olsen


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