Monday, April 4, 2016

Meet the Newbies (& Giveaway): Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

Welcome to Meet the Newbies! Meet the Newbies is a blog event dedicated to introducing you to the “newbie” published debut authors. In this event, expect to learn more about the authors, their books, and silly fun facts!

Today, I'm featuring Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker, authors of These Vicious Masks!

Nickname: Kel
First Day of School: February 9, 2016
Homeroom: Swoon Reads
Grade: Historical Fantasy
Extracurricular Activities: Drama Club, Vampire Slaying, Entering the Realms
Favorite Class: Teleportation: It's Hard But It Will Happen Favorite 
Favorite Quote/Motto: "Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps." ­ Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare

Nickname: Tuna 
First Day of School: February 9, 2016
Homeroom: Swoon Reads
Grade: Historical Fantasy
Extracurricular Activities: Track, Film Club, Calvinball 
Favorite Class: Telekinesis Target Practice 
Favorite Quote/Motto: “I love talking about nothing... It is the only thing I know anything about.” ­ 
An Ideal Husband, Oscar Wilde

The Interview:

Alyssa: Hi, Kelly and Tarun! Thank you so much for joining me today on my blog! And happy debuting!
Kelly: Thanks Alyssa! We are super happy to be here.
Tarun: And to be debut authors!

Alyssa: My first question (and probably a popular one for you two) - how did you two come to be co-authors?
Kelly: It’s actually kinda funny. We were in a college freshman year writing class together and became friends. Then a couple years later Tarun asked me about writing a YA novel and I was more like a beta reader or consultant at first, but we sorta fell into writing it together!
Tarun: Yep. She started editing pages for me and it was a lot better because she’s the historical romance expert. So we just traded chapters back and forth until we both loved them, and worked from there. Now we’re stuck :)

Alyssa: What about Swoon Reads/Macmillan attracted you to publish your book with them?
Kelly: We actually queried traditionally for quite a while. But Tarun heard about them on a YA forum and I had actually picked up their first book, A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall and loved it. That kinda cemented it for us.
Tarun: We weren’t sure we had enough romance, or if they would want a trilogy, actually. But we liked the platform, the involvement of the community, all the editors’ advice on their blog and their beautiful book design. So we just figured we would give it a try. We were thrilled to be picked and everyone on the Swoon team has been better than we imagined!

Alyssa: How did These Vicious Masks become the title of the book? Are the titles of the next books of a similar pattern?
Kelly: Oh the number of titles we went through at various times. I don’t even remember the first, but we definitely considered EVOLVED, THESE FRAGILE MASKS, and finally we landed at THESE VICIOUS MASKS. We like how many different ways “masks” fits our story - a nod to superhero masks, masked balls and the way people hide who they really are.
Tarun: We don’t know about the future titles, though. That is still being decided, so they may stay in that same pattern or we might do this one other weird idea we had. But that will be decided with our publisher soon.

Alyssa: Can you share anything from book two? A teaser, a line, an unofficial synopsis, a tiny spoiler? ;D
Kelly: Oh I would love to! Can we, Tarun?
Tarun: Sure! Here's a line from Chapter 1 that hopefully gives you a hint of what's to come:

The man smiled and tipped his hat. “Compliments of the Society of Aberrations. We always look out for our own people.”

Alyssa: What?! WHERE IS THE REST? ;D Thanks for joining me! I can't wait to read your book's sequel (please write faster)! :)
Kelly: RIGHT???? Yes, we are spending ALL our time on the sequels, we promise!
Tarun: We are writing like we’re running out of time. (Kelly told me to write that, I don’t understand Hamilton references.)

The Authors:

Kelly Zekas is a writer/actor and New York University graduate living in New York City. Young Adult literature is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and adores a good historical romance.

Mild­mannered assistant by day, milder­mannered writer by night, Tarun Shanker is a New York University graduate currently living in Los Angeles. His idea of paradise is a place where kung­-fu movies are projected on clouds, David Bowie’s music fills the air, and chai tea flows freely from fountains.

The Book:

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

The Giveaway:

Giveaway #1:

Win a copy of These Vicious Masks! This giveaway is hosted by the authors, and it's USA only (sorry, non-USA peeps!).

Giveaway #2:

1 Pre­Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Yes, I like Historical Fiction! I like many YA Historical Fiction books, so I'll just go with my most recently read one: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman. I liked it! Yes, I'm excited to read These Vicious Masks! I've had it on my TBR since forever (definitely before it had a cover, and maybe even before it had a title). :) Thanks for the chance!

  2. I am a HUGE fan of historical fiction of many kinds -- including YA titles. A great YA hist fic read that jumps to the front of my mind is Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity series #2). Thanks for introducing me to this great new release and giving away the chance to read it for free! Cheers, Kara S

  3. Yes! Waterfall (River of Time #1)

  4. I like YA historical fiction and I do want to read this book. "Jane Austen meets X-­Men" sounds great to me.

  5. I do not read a lot of historical fiction, but every time I do, I enjoy it. The last historical fiction book I read was The Passion of Dolssa, and I really liked it. I liked the writing and the characters, but I also enjoyed learning about that time period.

  6. I actually haven't read many historical YA's, but I love historical romance and I've been wanting to read more in the genre because they all sound so good.

  7. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres! I learn so much from reading them!!!

  8. I read School For Unusual Girls and loved it. It is by Kathleen Baldwin.

  9. I have been quite intrigued by this one because I do ADORE historical fiction, so I guess I really need to give These Vicious Masks a try!

    Great interview Alyssa! *high fives Kelly for the Hamilton reference*

  10. I always find it hard to understand how the heck two people can write one book at the same time..Like..HOW THE HOW does it all come together and actually make sense when it's two people writing it??

    Great post, lovely! <3

  11. I've been hearing so many great things about this book, I can't wait to read it for myself! Especially after hearing more about the wonderful authors (I love seeing collaborations though I have no idea how they work out so well ahah). Great questions!
    Enchanted by YA

  12. Yes, I love YA Historical and yes I can't wait for this book!

  13. These Vicious Masks looks so good. And great interview. I love how they ended up writing together. :D I can't wait to read this book. :)

  14. This looks like an interesting book! I haven't read much historical mysteries, but I do love a good mystery so I will need to check it out.

  15. Yes I love YA Historical Fiction and I am very excited for this book as well. I heard nothing but great and amazing things about this book! Thank you for the awesome post and giveaway Alyssa!

  16. I love YA Historical!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  17. I'm super excited to read this book! I love historical fiction :)

  18. I actually already read this and LOVED it! Really excited to see where the series goes. As for another favourite historical fiction novel... I really *loved* The Dark Days Club

  19. This sounds awesome, and I adore historical fiction, so I'm surprised that I haven't picked this one yet xD Definitely will read this one soon!

  20. I've seen a lot of buzz about this book! Can't wait to get my hands on it!

  21. Yes I love YA historical fiction but I haven't read any good ones lately.

  22. Lovely post Alyssa :D Thank you for sharing about this book. <3 I think that cover is so awesome. And I am curious about this book, though probably not for me just now :) One day, I hope. <3 Loved reading the interview, though.

  23. OMG! This is the most silly comment ever, but I thought Tarun was a girl! (Oh, the shame).
    Such a great interview, Alyssa! Thanks for sharing.

  24. I currently am reading Salt to the Sea and loving it.

  25. Historical fiction isn't one of my favorite genres, but I'll definitely read it if the book sounds good!

  26. What a fun interview! I love seeing authors who write together- it's so interesting to me.

    And yes, I do like historical fiction but I feel like I need to read more. I like books set during WWII like the stuff that Elizabeth Wein writes.


  27. Yes! Love YA fiction - historical, contemporary, fantasy..ALL

  28. I don't nearly read as much historical fiction as I would like to, but I loved The Book Thief and I'm currently reading These Shallow Graves :)

  29. I loveeeeeee YA historical fiction WHEN DONE RIGHT. Not that it has to be historically accurate, but you know, it's gotta have the authenticity both with the characters and their behavior as well as the setting. This book sounds amazing, thank you so much for the giveaway!

  30. I love how this is written by two authors!

  31. I enjoyed this fast but lovely interview! That cover I'm in love with. Dying over having one mask like this one, ahh!


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