Embattlement (The Undergrounders #2) by Norma Hinkens {Q&A, Excerpt + Giveaway} @normahinkens @YABoundToursPR



Embattlement (The Undergrounders #2) 
by Norma Hinkens
Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci-fi
Release Date: February 21st 2016


Against all odds, Derry and a handful of survivors have escaped the malevolent Doctor Lyong’s clutches, but victory proves bittersweet. No one knows if Owen is dead or alive. The shaky plan to rescue him falls apart when the Council splits over rumors of Owen’s ties to the Craniopolis.

Forced to find new recruits Derry makes the treacherous journey to Shoshane City, home of the mysterious riders. Behind the imposing barricade the city’s leader, Jerome, is hiding secrets. Mutiny and sabotage is afoot and Derry finds herself caught up in a desperate struggle to save the city from being destroyed by The Ghost, a man who swears allegiance to no one. Time is running out to save Owen, and tensions are rising between Jakob and Sven, who may turn out to be a deadly distraction.

Will Derry emerge victorious from the showdown at the Craniopolis, or will the price of freedom mean sacrificing the man she loves? 



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I trace the trigger housing on my gun and count the remaining clones congregated around the room. We’re grossly outnumbered. And Owen is weaponless. This can’t end well if we don’t comply.
“You have thirty seconds to accept my terms,” Lyong says, a nettled edge to his voice.
I shiver, picturing his one-eyed tic appraising me in a monitor somewhere as he talks, his papery skin rippling with the effort of speech. I can’t see a way out of the situation that gives me any chance of saving Owen, other than to negotiate. Hesitantly, I raise my arms and step forward.
“My brother’s injured,” I yell. “If you give us your word you’ll help him, we’ll turn over our weapons.”
My heart strains in my chest. I’m counting on Mason and Sven to hold their fire. I wait for what seems like forever, steeling myself for Lyong’s response.
The intercom crackles to life, but Lyong’s words are drowned out in a barrage of gunfire. I pitch sideways beneath a conveyer belt and huddle in a ball, shaking. Debris pelts me from every angle; chunks of seat cushions, shredded medical tubing, shards of glass from exploding computer screens. A pungent chemical smell fills the air.
All over the room, disoriented Schutz Clones fly backward. I stare in disbelief as they writhe in death throes, ossifying before my eyes. Mason bolts across the floor and rolls under the belt beside me. His eyes gleam like cat’s eyes in the dim light. “It’s the Council,” he yells, between breaths. “They’ve penetrated the Craniopolis!”
I blink as I digest what he’s saying, my ears roaring.
Mason slams a fresh cartridge into his gun, his knuckles bleeding profusely. “They must have triggered the explosion. They’ve been planning an attack for months.”
My brain slowly wraps itself around the information. There’s still a chance of getting out of here alive. I unload my pack and roll over into sniper position. “Then let’s finish this.” I lock eyes with Mason. “For Owen.”



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Hi Norma, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in County Donegal in Ireland, land of legends and storytelling. Ireland has a long and rich literary history stretching back to the Celts, and to this day you don’t have to go far to find someone who can entertain you with a good “yarn” over a pint of Guinness.

Discuss your newest book.
The Undergrounders Series (Immurement, Embattlement and Judgement) is a sci-fi dystopian thriller trilogy set in a world in ruins after the earth’s core overheats and a ring of volcanos around the globe erupts. The main protagonist is Derry Connelly, a sixteen-year-old girl who survives, along with her brother Owen and a band of Preppers, in an underground bunker system. The scorched earth is patrolled by cutthroat gangs of escaped subversives, but that’s not the only problem. Mysterious hoverships operated by clones extract adolescents for their DNA in a bid to replenish the population. When Owen disappears, Derry strikes a deal with the murderous subversives and leads a dangerous mission to get him back. If you like a fast-paced apocalyptic tale, with a gritty complex heroine, and twists you won’t see coming, then The Undergrounders Series is for you!


What are your current projects?
I’m finishing up Judgement, the third book in The Undergrounders Series. In my head I’m already working on my next series which falls into the space opera genre.

What books have most influenced your life?
1984 by George Orwell shook my world when I first read it and I have never forgotten that Big Brother is watching. That book spawned my interest in the dystopian genre. I also read every concentration camp escape story I could get my hands on, Escape from Auschwitz to name but one.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I've always been fascinated by regimes and resistance movements, and the heroes who emerge from atrocities. As an author, I find it intriguing to place characters in dystopian, post-apocalyptic or sci-fi settings and watch what unfurls inside them as they go head to head with staggering odds. After spending several summers in Idaho, and learning more about Preppers and survivalists, the idea to plant Derry Connolly in a bunker community of homesteaders and mountain men took seed and The Undergrounders Series was born.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Derry is one of those individuals for whom life is not worth living if you can’t live free. She isn’t some “chosen” one with special powers. Instead, she overcomes her limitations and fears, and reaches deep inside herself in order to lead a rebellion against a regime’s horrific abuse of power.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Freedom is messy. Human nature is deeply flawed and we’re all contributors to the mess we live in to one degree or another.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
A young Jodie Foster - tough, enigmatic, and with a fierce drive for justice.


Why do you write?
Despite the pen-pusher lows that are an inevitable part of the journey, writing fires me up and makes me come alive. Maybe it’s a power thing. I can give my characters their hearts’ desire and take it away from them in the very next scene. What other career allows you to kidnap and kill at will without being arrested for it?

All joking aside,I write because writing is where my passion and strengths intersect, and creativity is an integral part of who I am. Art has the power to move another human being and in my opinion that is worth striving for.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Getting older and realizing it’s now or never! I don’t want to go to the grave with my song still in me as they say.


What is the hardest thing about writing?
Treating it like a real job where you have to show up at a certain time and put in your hours on a daily basis. It’s all too easy to throw in a load of laundry, start answering emails and jump on Facebook, and before you know it all your time has been swallowed up with trivial pursuits. Once you commit to the discipline of treating your writing time as sacred, you can make real progress in terms of the quality of your craft, and the quantity of writing you produce.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? 
The pressure of trying to get it out quickly.


What book are you reading now?
I’m always reading more than one book at once. Bedtime is fiction, and I read non-fiction (usually on the craft of writing) in snatches of time during the day. Currently fiction is The Singularity Heretic by David Beers which is a fascinating sci-fi thriller set in a world controlled by Artificial Intelligence, and non-fiction is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.

What is one random thing about you?
I have a scar that splits my right eyebrow in two that I got from jumping off a fourposter bed with my brother on my back and landing in the fireplace at our grandparents’ farmhouse in Ireland. Picture that!

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
Computer, and some dictation.


How important are names to you in your books?
They have to feel like the perfect fit to me. I have been known to change names even after I’ve written the entire first draft!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Selling the books is a lot more challenging.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
I would avoid most of the smaller paid promo sites as they just don’t move the needle. Concentrate efforts and dollars on the bigger ones.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?
May you have the wisdom to find a purpose and the courage to make a difference while there is yet time.

What is your favorite book and why?
Too many to name! Some books strike terror in my heart, others bring me to tears. Some change my thinking on an issue, some make me laugh out loud. I love the ability of books to play on the full range of human emotions.


What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My big passion is traveling, anywhere! Other cultures fascinate me. I also love the backcountry (Idaho and Alaska in particular.) Biking, hiking, boating, skiing, and reading of course.

From where do you gain your inspiration?
Being alone with my thoughts, reading up on scientific breakthroughs, movies, random characters I bump into during the course of my day.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
When you self-publish the workload can be overwhelming at times and it drains the creative side of your brain. It’s really important to carve out sacred writing time in the midst of the mayhem.

How do you market your books?
I’m finishing up the third book in the trilogy and after that I intend to focus more on the marketing side of things. I am considering offering the first in the series free.

Why did you choose this route?
I got the imperial thumbs down from the traditional publishing world after two years of back and forth. I was close to securing an agent on two different occasions, but it never panned out and it took forever to query and get responses.


Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Build an email list. Nurture and grow your list. Prime your list. Love on your list.


What do you do to get book reviews?
Mostly crawl on my hands and knees over broken glass to find them! It is very time consuming to research and reach out to appropriate book bloggers who are often inundated with requests. I’ve also done a couple of Blog Tours which have garnered a handful of reviews. I listed my book on NetGalley for a month, and I’ve offered a free copy of my book in exchange for an honest review in a couple of Facebook groups I belong to. Organic reviews are the icing on the cake.


Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Sadly, no. I’ve been mostly throwing spaghetti at the walls and hoping it sticks, meaning I explore every avenue knowing that only a few reviewers will come through for me.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
It’s not a black and white issue. A five-star review can hurt you if it’s obviously someone gushing who has some skin in the game (acquaintance or email subscriber,) and a one-star review can help if it’s apparent the person has either never read the book, can’t spell, or is simply mad at life in general and on a rant. Sometimes the things a hater hates about your book are the very things that make someone else want to read it. The telling reviews are the ones that reveal a common thread. Pay attention if you keep hearing the same constructive criticism over and over again.


What’s your views on social media for marketing?
The jury is out on this as I am still building a platform and have yet to determine what is a really good investment of my time. A Facebook page is a must if you want to try Facebook advertising at some point.


Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Don’t waste a lot of dollars on marketing before you have at least three books out. Make sure your book is the best it can possibly be before you make the trip down Publication Boulevard. Don’t settle for mediocre.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
The Hobbit or The Lord of The Rings. Hard to beat those jaw-dropping Baggins-like adventures!



Author Bio:

Travel junkie, former professional globetrotter, legend lover, idea wrangler. Norma Hinkens has lived, worked and visited her way across continents, soaking up stories along the way. Her writing is influenced by the resilient characters she met along the way; everyone has a story!

Norma grew up among vibrant storytelling traditions in her native Ireland. She's a legend-loving author who takes a fiendish delight in pushing reluctant characters over cliffs to find out what they’re made of. Epic odds, seemingly impossible missions, pasts that haunt, intrigue and misadventure. She’s happiest when wrangling provocative big picture ideas that are never black and white when you turn them inside out. It’s all about the tension in the journey.

She currently resides in California with her husband, three children and Chihuahua extraordinaire. She is the author of the YA post-apocalyptic Undergrounders Series: Immurement, Embattlement and Adjudgement. For news and special offers join Norma's VIP Reader List at http://eepurl.com/bDGdIX.

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