Sunday, 21 September 2014

Debut Authors Bash 2014: Lisa O'Kane! (Interview+Giveaway)

Hi Everyone!

I am happy to say that I am part of the Debut Authors Bash 2014. 

I have for you today an interview and giveaway for Lisa O'Kane author of Essence, a young adult novel!

Goodreads Synopsis: Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall.

Hi Lisa, welcome to Keep it Fictional!

Hi Pavan, and thank you so much for hosting me. I really appreciate it, and I’m excited for your interview!

I find I prefer certain places to read, do you have a favourite place to write?

I am pretty flexible, but my very favorite place is a comfy papasan chair in my bungalow. I like to curl up cross-legged and burn candles or Nag Champa incense, and I also love listening to world music and drinking tea. It’s the perfect writing environment for me.

Autumn Grace is a unique name, how do you come up with your character names?

I’m glad you like it! I carry an arsenal of potential names around with me at all times, so the perfect name is sometimes just a few short clicks away. Other times, I have to do extensive research, and I have trolled through those online baby name generators so many times I’m surprised they haven’t started sending me coupons for diapers and baby bottles yet.

When I first started Essence, I immediately knew I wanted my main character’s name to be Autumn. I have always loved seasonal names, and I thought this one was a particularly nice nod to her very distinctive auburn/strawberry blonde hair. As for her middle name, Grace, I threw it in because I loved the way the two words sounded together. I also liked the idea that throughout the course of the novel, Autumn strives (and usually fails) to carry herself with grace.

The premise of your book is quite different, what research did you undertake to write Essence?

Thank you! I have always been intrigued by the psychology of cults, so I jumped at the chance to create a main character whose entire upbringing was shaped by one.

I chose San Francisco as the hub for my Centrist cult because I remember the public outcry that ensued in the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Some groups actually believed the earthquake was a manifestation of God’s anger, and they said San Francisco was targeted because it was a haven for perversity. I wondered what would happen if a group of San Franciscans actually took this message to heart, and the foundation for my story was born.

Before I could begin writing, however, I needed to do my research. I began studying San Francisco’s various counter-culture movements, and I also began drawing parallels between my Centrists’ beliefs and the beliefs of Theravada Buddhism and Taoism.

The Essence theory itself—and its belief that your emotions can tick down your lifespan like a gas tank—was modified from the Taoist concept of yin and yang. I have always been a fan of the idea that every dark must have a light, and every good must have an evil. Therefore, the Centrists believe positive emotions are just as dangerous as negative ones, and they try their best to repress everything.

I tried to imagine how scary it would be to grow up believing you might run out of Essence and drop dead at any moment. I also wondered how liberated you would feel when you finally broke free from that fear. That’s what my main character Autumn faces when she finally decides to forsake her Centrist upbringing and join the free spirited, commune-like Community in Yosemite.

I love listening to music whilst I read, did you listen to any music while writing Essence?

I definitely had a very specific playlist I listened to while I was writing Essence. It was carefully selected to inspire me while also not distracting me from my work, and it included lots of songs from artists like The Shins, Bob Dylan, Carla Bruni, The Lumineers, and Of Monsters and Men.

You can listen to my full Essence playlist here: “The AP Book Club” (Please link to:

Where did you inspiration for writing in general come from?

I think I just really like people—studying them, watching them interact, trying to understand why they do the things they do. I have also always been drawn to storytelling and trying to make sense of the things that happen to us.

Perhaps it’s a desire to make order out of the chaos? Or maybe it’s just a celebration of all the little things that make up the very big things in our lives? Either way, I have always known I wanted to be an author, so I am thrilled to actually be given this platform to share my stories with readers.

Are you reading anything at the moment?

I am right in the middle of Unhinged, the sequel to A.G. Howard’s delightfully creepy “Alice in Wonderland” reimagining, Splintered. A.G. is a good friend of mine, and she has acted as my mentor so many times during my crazy publishing journey. I continue to be in awe of her ability to create lush, three-dimensional worlds and characters, and I am loving Unhinged so far!

Can you share anything about what you are writing now?

Haha, I am always scheming something! Right now, I have just started a brand-new project, and while I can’t say too much about it yet, I can tell you the characters are slightly older—though no less vulnerable, flawed or wandering than the characters in Essence. The story is set in one of my favorite countries in the entire world, and—also like in Essence—I am hopeful the setting will become almost a character itself. (Very excited about this project!)

Thank you so much for being on my blog today!

Thank you for hosting me! It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to share my inspiration, and I appreciate you taking the time to ask such awesome questions. Have a great day!

Lisa has also generously offered a signed copy of Essence + two collectible pins as a giveaway! (This giveaway is US only and is sponsored by the author)

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you (email or twitter handle)

Bonus Entries: 
Tweet about this giveaway with a link back to this post and tag me (@LovesBooks96) + 2
Follow Lisa O'Kane on Twitter (@LisaAnnOkane) +2
Follow my blog +2 (Leave your Bloglovin or GFC name in the comments)
The giveaway will end October 9th 9pm AEST

Author Bio: Lisa Ann O'Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel Essence. Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.

Buy Links: 
Hope you all have enjoyed this interview!


  1. Thanks for such an interesting interview! :)

    anferguson07 (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Also tweeted:

      Followed Lisa: @anferguson89

      Followed via Bloglovin: Ashley Ferguson / aferg113

  2. I've read Essence and it is awesome! Love this interview! Lisa is such a class act. Wonderful person with a big heart. ❤️

  3. Excellent interview from an amazing author and looking forward to more intriguing "can't put this book down!" work from Lisa Ann O'Kane!

  4. Awesome interview. Lots of love to lisa o'kane!

  5. I can't wait to read this book! I've heard amazing things. :) Great interview!

  6. Absolutely LOVED this book! Great interview!!

  7. I've always been fascinated with cults, too! Can't wait to get my hands on this book! Sounds amazing!

  8. This looks like an awesome story!

  9. I love that cover!
    videoclimber (at) yahoo (dot) com

  10. Ohh, cults are SO fascinating to me! I seriously watch every cult documentary when they're on TV, they are so creepy and chilling. This book sounds so, so good! Thanks for the giveaway! Following via GFC (Shannon Miz) Email-

  11. Thank so much for this amazing giveaway! This book has been on my TBR list and I've been looking forward to reading it! I really loved the part in the interview where Lisa's perfect writing environment is a papasan chair in her bungalow, music, candles, and tea. That sounds total book wonder heaven. I would totally love to be reading a book curled up on the papasan chair with music, candles, and tea! :)

    I follow you via:
    1. GFC - Michelle Lee
    2. Bloglovin' -

    contact email/ twitter: & @Me_chelleLee

  12. Wonderful interview Pavan, the cult aspect of the book sounds really intriguing! And I like the name of the character as well, it's so cool to get a glimpse into the planning process of the author and how they come up with a name. Thanks for sharing!

    Joy @ Thoughts By J