I thought I would turn the table on a reader of It’s A Wonderful Death and interview them. So the lucky victim, I mean fan is Max. SARAH: Max, thank you so much for agreeing to talk about your reaction to IAWD. MAX: No problem, glad to be your (un)willing victim. SARAH: Now, we both hail from the Hoosier State (that’s Indiana for the rest of the world), but since we’ve never met, tell me a little about yourself. MAX: Well, I’m Max. I’m an eighteen year old freshman at Indiana University Bloomington studying Journalism (for now). I have a fraternal (non-identical) twin brother (no we do not have telepathy and, no, neither one of us are Zack or Cody). I’m a huge reader, especially YA books. My main genres are horror, LGBT, and paranormal, but I love stories where the main character is literally the most sarcastic person in the world (shout out to RJ). I also have serious impulse control. I cannot walk into a bookstore or a Target without coming out with something. Another time, I was literally so bored I went online and ordained myself as a minister. I haven’t married anyone yet, but I’m still waiting on that special couple to come along. SARAH: I love that you got ordained just so you’re ready for that “special couple”! That is awesome! Okay, let’s get down to business. You mentioned in your GoodReads review, which brought me to tears, by the way, that RJ is the “love of my life”. What about RJ do you like so much and is there anything about her that’s a little cringe-worthy? My favorite thing about RJ is that she’s just so human. She’s such a strong character with all these amazing qualities about her. She’s not just a “strong character” nor is she just a “sarcastic character”. She’s a character. A well rounded, three dimensional character with as much emotion and thought as anyone else in the world. RJ isn’t just a book character, she’s a living person. But, if you’re looking for specifics, her sarcasm really resonated with me. I’m just naturally sarcastic and RJ had such a quick and dry wit from page one, I instantly connected with her. I found her brand of humor just so funny, my jaw hurt from smiling by the end. As for cringe-worthy, I can’t think of anything. Personally I see RJ as one of those rare perfect characters. I’m sure there one or two things other readers might not like, but for me, I love everything about her. SARAH: Okay, you are officially RJ’s number one fan! You might like her a little more than I do... but only by a smidge. Now, I’m not sure if you noticed but there were a lot of “duos” in IAWD. Almost everyone had either a “side kick” or a nemesis. Were there any pairs that stood out to you? If so, what was it about their relationship that you liked? MAX: My favorite “duo” is a tie between RJ and Madeline and Death Himself and Azbaugh. For RJ and Madeline, it’s because they complement each other so well. RJ is sarcastic, but vulnerable as well. Madeline is sweet, and yet strong at the same time. She helps RJ overcome so much in the story while RJ helps Madeline through her own struggles, despite the obstacles set before her.
As for Death Himself and Azbaugh, well, I won’t spoil anything, but I loved the political back and forth between the two of them. It’s awesome to see such a complex character, like RJ, with just as equally complex side characters and subplots. SARAH: Excellent choices. I would probably agree with you. Do you have a favorite scene? And (again, without spoilers) if so, what was it about the scene that you connected with. MAX: My favorite scene is actually a spoiler, so I won’t mention it. But, I will say it involves a letter and it literally broke my heart. Like, legit, I swear I heard it shattering as I read on. The raw emotion andglorious writing were just too much. SARAH: Since I wrote the book, I know exactly which scene you’re talking about and if I am being completely honest, that scene STILL makes me cry and I’ve read it about 100 times. Every story has the antagonist, and some could argue that there were several in IAWD. (And by some, that would be me). Did you have a favorite “bad guy” and if so, why? MAX: Bad guy you say? Well, in all honesty, I would say my favorite bad guy would probably be RJ herself. One of the best things about IAWD is RJ’s development. The book is very much like a mixture of Mean Girls and A Christmas Carol, and because of the Mean Girl’s aspect, RJ isn’t the nicest character. I’d argue that RJ is her own worst enemy and much of her story is not only about changing her past, but overcoming the person she once was. RJ is both the protagonist and antagonist (at least one of them). She both helps and hinders herself throughout the book, but the end result is something that brings tears to my eyes. RJ’s bad guy isn’t something easily defeated, and how she deals with her own imperfections and weaknesses throughout the book is something I wish a lot more books included. SARAH: Yea! You totally get this book. Okay, here’s the chance for you to tell me what you didn’t like. Is there anything you wish I had done differently? Don’t worry about sparing my feelings. I can take it. MAX: Hmmmm...well, I can’t think of any problems per se. No book is perfect, but most of the faults I noticed weren’t that big of an issue. Sure the book can be a little slow at times, but that by no means hinders the story in anyway. As for something you could have done differently, I would have liked to learn a bit more about Death Himself, Azbaugh, and all the other powerful figures in the Afterlife. I think it would have been pretty cool to learn about the origins of some of these characters, or at least some of their views on humanity. But, again, that really doesn’t have anything to do with the story. It’s firmly RJ’s and, for what it’s worth, I think you did a wonderful job. SARAH: Okay, and now I think I’m YOUR biggest fan! Now, for someone who hasn’t had a chance to read RJ’s story, tell them why they should? MAX: Because, at its core IAWD is about change. It’s about how one person, one action can change the entire course of someone’s life. It’s about inner strength and overcoming obstacles to become a betterperson. Change isn’t bad, and this book illustrates that perfectly.
This book has a gorgeous writing style, an equally gorgeous cover, some kick ass characters, and more sarcasm then I would know what to do with. It’s funny, heartbreaking, and emotional beyond belief. Seriously, it’s that good, SARAH: If you think the cover looked good online, wait until you see the real thing. The jackets came in the mail a couple days ago and I almost died. As a debut author from a small press, sometimes it’s hard to get buzz going about your book? How did you hear about It’s a Wonderful Death? MAX: As I’ve stated before, I’m a huge reader, so I’m always exploring GoodReads and Twitter and BookTube looking for the next book. I love discovering self-published, indie, and lesser-known authorsas well debut authors. According to GoodReads I added IAWD to my To-Read Shelf on May 10th 2014. While I can’t remember exactly what led to it, I do remember being really intrigued and adding it. I also vaguely recall the book publishing that year as a paperback, but was pushed back. SARAH: Okay, I have to interrupt you because that date would have been back with IAWD was at my first publisher that went on to close exactly one month to the day after you added it to GoodReads. Okay, please continue. MAX: Fast-forward to Summer 2015 when I do my annual pre-order binge, where I pre-order a whole bunch of books between that summer to around Thanksgiving. Since, I’m really indecisive I essentially comb through my entire To-Read Shelf looking for specific books to pre-order; taking into consideration hype, reviews, ect. IAWD was one of the books at the top of my list, but since it didn’t have a lot ofreviews on GoodReads, I looked it up on YouTube, only to find it in one BEA haul. Which I thought was strange, since the premise sounded awesome. Then I went to Edelweiss to check the specifics and it said that they had a PDF of the book. I quicklydownloaded it, made a nest of blankets, and read it in one setting. The rest is history really. SARAH: Wow! You really had to work for to get ahold of IAWD. I for one am so glad that you did. Now, finally, you mentioned that It’s A Wonderful Death was one of your 5 most anticipated books of 2015, acomment that always makes me blush. For those of us always on the lookout for the next read? What are some other 2015 books you would recommend or are looking forward to? MAX: Let’s see... Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett:Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn. Is that not awesome? Willful Machines by Time Floreen: An LGBT sci-fi story with an adorable romance and rouge AI. Ash & Brambles by Sarah PrineaSarah: A Cinderella retelling where the Fairy Godmother is a tyrant and evil. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy LukavicSarah: The Little House on the Prairie with evil ghosts and teen pregnancy. Awesome. SARAH: Great list! Kim and Amy are actually friends of mine and I can tell you that they are stellar people in addition to amazing writers! Any last thoughts? MAX: Read. This. Book. As. Soon. As. Humanly. Possible.
SARAH: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Max, thanks for agreeing to be the subject of this interview! And keep reading! MAX: My pleasure.