Belle Whittington is not only lovely but she is also hilarious, so I am delighted to be able to feature her this week on Once Upon A Time as I love her to bits! She is the author of the book Cicada, for which you can see my review here and also enter the giveaway to win a copy. Without further ado, I have you over to Belle. Enjoy!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

First of all, I’d like to thank the lovely Hannah so much for having me over to her wonderful blog for a nice cup of tea and a really fun chat! Hannah is such a terrific person to get to know, and we’ve definitely exchanged some fun emails over the past few weeks! I’m really excited to be able to get to know your readers and to share a little about my little YA novel, Cicada, and me!

I have been daydreaming stories for as long as I can remember. My first recollection of wanting to be a writer was when I was in the second grade, and my teacher, Mrs. Rambin, would have us lay our heads on our desks after lunch while she read us stories full of magic and imagination.

Most of my early writings were stories with a twist of science fiction…even my earliest poems. I remember sitting on the dam of a neighbor’s pond around the time I was eleven, writing a story about space travel. In fact, I still have that little handwritten story. It’s still bound in the same yellow notebook that I put it in way back in the sixth grade!

Growing up in Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, afforded me summers full of adventure with my friends. I call on those adventures and memories a great deal for my YA stories. Cicada has a lot of the energy of those childhood adventures spun throughout. One of them is something that actually happened to me when I was thirteen years old. I was on one of my adventures in the woods with my dog, Dusty. We made our way through the woods to a neighboring pasture and crawled through the barbed wire fence. When we got to the top of one of the rolling hills in the grassy field, I realized I was standing in the middle of a giant circle imprinted in the pasture grass. No one had ever told me about crop circles at that time in my life, so I just thought it was an odd occurrence that there was a strange circle in the tall grass. Now that circle is forever memorialized in a YA novel, Cicada!

Nowadays, I work at a day job in higher education and spin my tales during those off hours that I’m not working on assignments for my English classes at University of Houston, where I’m earning my degree in hopes of teaching English at the college level one day.

I’m currently writing the two sequels to Cicada.

Who are your biggest influences?

The authors of the old heroic Anglo-Saxon ballads. Yes. I’m a true nerd! LOL!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

So many places! Music is one important place where I find inspiration. When I get into my car and drive while listening to my favorite bands, the characters begin speaking to me and telling me what happens next. It’s really quite magical. I daydream all of the time. In fact, I practically live in a sort of surreal world, probably. Because everything to me has some sort of magical element to it.

What sparked the idea for Cicada in your head?

Actually I had a weird experience when I was 13 years old. I was on one of my adventures in the woods with my dog, Dusty. We made our way through the woods to a neighboring pasture and crawled through the barbed wire fence. When we got to the top of one of the rolling hills in the grassy field, I realized I was standing in the middle of a giant circle imprinted in the pasture grass. No one had ever told me about crop circles at that time in my life, so I just thought it was an odd occurrence that there was a strange circle in the tall grass. Now that circle is forever memorialized in a YA novel, Cicada!

Was Cicada always going to be Science Fiction and would you ever consider writing any other genre?

Cicada is sort of a mix sci-fi and paranormal. And, yes, I intended from the beginning to make it reside in those genres. However, I didn’t realize in the beginning how dark the trilogy would become before the end.

Why did you decide to go with indie publishing? What do you love about it?

To be truthful, I’m sort of a rebel. I’ve always been indie-minded in that I’ve always felt that if someone else could do something, I could, too! Then when I saw how successful Amanda Hocking became, I thought I’d just give it a try! I don’t regret it in the least bit. Cicada is sort of building up a little bit of a cult following, and being able to have control of the publication of a trilogy is really kind of fun! There are tons of resources for indie-authors out there. And anyone who is interested can go to my tumblr, which is really meant as a resource guide for self-publishers. I put everything there that I find of interest and help for indie authors.

What is your preferred writing environment?

I write in all sorts of places and times of the day. Cicada was probably written in about 15 different places. But mostly at home in my bedroom at my little desk. 🙂 Right now I’m sitting on my sofa!

What’s with the bunnies? Why are they acting so odd?

Ok, how do I answer this without giving spoilers. That’s a tough one. Let’s see… Well, those who have read Cicada will remember the bunnies and what happens to them. The bunnies congregate in that place because they innocent little fuzzies who are drawn to something that is innocent and helpless at the time. What happens to them by those that cause what happens to them proves something about those that do it to them. There. Was that vague enough? LOL!

Cicada has a gorgeous book cover, could you tell us a little about it?

Thank you! Actually, my brilliant daughter designed the entire book cover for Cicada, as well as the awesome book trailer! She’s already working on ideas for the covers of the next two books! She’s very talented, and I’m so very proud of her! 🙂

(Hannah’s note: I’ve had to put this next part under a cut to reduce general page loading times because there are a few embedded videos. Make sure you click-through, this is my favourite part!!)

Can you tell us a little about the music you associate with Cicada?

Hannah and I have been discussing all sorts of stuff regarding writing rituals and inspiration. During those discussions I shared with her some of the songs that I have in my unofficial Cicada soundtrack. These are songs from which I gained a great deal of inspiration for my characters and writing. Some of them I actually found after the characters were formed, and they just happened to fit perfectly as theme songs for some of the characters.

Cicada is the first of a planned trilogy. The second book, Firefly, and the third, yet unnamed, are still in the works are being written simultaneously. I’ve actually chosen an unofficial theme song for each of these books. Each song sort of fuels the underlying feel of either the plot or the main characters.

The unofficial theme song for Cicada is The Resistance by MUSE. I absolutely love this song! It is as if Matt Bellamy was actually singing what was in my own head! And I was nearly finished with Cicada by the time their album came out. If my little novel ever gets turned into a movie, this song is a must.

Want to read a little about Cicada while you listen to The Resistance? Here’s the official blurb:

“Summertime for Blair Reynolds and her friends had always been carefree and fun…until the summer they happened upon something that was not human. As they band together in a fight for their lives, Blair’s true love becomes something more than human. Something unnatural. And their survival depends entirely upon their ability to keep a secret.”

My characters are going through a lot in Firefly…especially the two main characters. Oh, it’s so tempting to giveaway spoilers here, but I’ll refrain! I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the readers! But I thought I’d share the unofficial theme song for Firefly with you all. Of course, it’s Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine!

And here, for the first time ever anywhere, I’ll share with everyone the UNOFFICIAL theme song for the third book.

Drum roll… brrrrrrrrrrrr…………

Electric Feel by MGMT

Okay…okay! One more! For those of you who have read Cicada, you’ll understand what I mean when I say this is Everett’s unofficial theme song:

Brielle by Sky Sailing

You can find Belle on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook and of course on Goodreads. I hope you guys check out Cicada. You can find it on Smashwords, Amazon (UK and US), CreateSpace and Barnes & Noble. Thank you Belle! It has been great to have you over!