C.J. OMOLOLU majored in English at U.C. Santa Barbara because she liked to read, not because she liked to write. She later discovered that the voices in her head often have interesting things to say. Her YA novel, Dirty Little Secrets, is about hoarding and family secrets, came out in early 2010 and her most recent novel, Transcendence, is out now. Visit her online at www.cjomololu.com.
Me: Welcome to the blog, C.J.! Tell us about your latest novel, Transcendence.
C.J.: Transcendence is a book about a group of people who remember all of their past lives and how that changes what you do in this one. It’s a love story, but also a story about fate and destiny and looks at the question of changing them. Just as my main character realizes that she’s becoming one of these people (called Akhet) she also finds that someone might be out to right a wrong that they felt she did to them in a past life. Mostly, it’s a lot of fun.
Me: I’m a character driven reader so I always ask authors about characters in their books. Where did you get the inspiration for the characters? Which character from Transcendence is your favorite?
C.J.: Me too – I always get the characters first. The first character I had was Griffon. He’s named after a friend’s son who died a few years ago, and my thoughts about his death and the point of it all were what started me on the topic of reincarnation in the first place. The rest of them just basically appeared out of thin air, although my good friends tend to pick out characteristics that either have things in common with me (I hate tomatoes – it comes up in the book) or things they do. My favorite character…I’m probably a little in love with Griffon, because I think you have to be in order to write a realistic romance. Of course, I adore my main character Cole, but she does things that irritate me sometimes. I really like her best friend Rayne because she’s fun, supportive and a little ditzy – all things that I want in my own best friends.
Me: I love that you feel this way about this way about your characters!
Me: I saw on your blog that you are working on a sequel to Transcendence. How many books are planned for the series?
C.J.: Two for sure. We’re just finishing up the second book and I have to say I really, really love it – it was my first time doing a sequel and it was so great to get back with these characters again. I end the books with a hint of what might come next, but there are no major cliffhangers. I hate those, and people seem to appreciate that. If people like the books enough, we may do a third – that possibility is always out there.
Me: Why do you write novels for children and young adults? How did you get started?
C.J.: My first published book was actually a picture book about time zones. One of my critique partners started writing young adult novels and it looked like so much fun that I gave it a try. Turns out, I have a pretty natural young adult voice, but that may mean I’m stunted in my emotional development around the age of 16. It’s such a great time of discovery and starting to figure things out – I can’t imagine writing for any other group now. Plus the other young adult authors are insanely supportive. I’m a little afraid of adult authors.
Me: Why do you think it’s important to write young adult novels featuring characters of color?
C.J.: Because that’s who’s out there. My husband is black and we have two teenage sons, so for me it was natural to write a love interest that wasn’t white because honestly, that’s what I was attracted to at that age. I like to say that Transcendence is an interracial love story that isn’t an interracial love story. Cole is white and Griffon is biracial, but the story isn’t about race at all – in fact, one aspect of being Akhet is that you are reborn crossing gender, race and economic lines all the time. I think there is a definite need for stories about racism and discrimination, but I love stories that include characters of color or characters who are gay ‘just because’ and don’t make it a thing of it in the text. My publisher got Griffon exactly right and I’m beyond thrilled they decided to put him on the cover. He’s so cute.
Me: I love the cover of Transcendence! Both Griffon and Cole look just like how they are described in the book and yes, Griffon is very cute!
Me: Do you read the same genre as you write? What are you currently reading?
C.J.: I pretty much read nothing but YA these days. I’m finishing Holly Black’s Black Heart and Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler right now. Next up is Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, although my son says it’s too scary for me. I’m a wimp.
Me: What other projects are you working on at this time?
C.J.: We’re putting the final touches on the sequel to Transcendence (we don’t have a firm title yet) and I’m also working on a super secret project that I love. Kind of a contemporary thriller, but that’s all I can say right now.
Me: Thank you, C.J.!
About the book:
Title: Transcendence by C.J. Omololu
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Walker & Company
Buy: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound
Goodreads Summary: When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.And now for the giveaway. As a part of the 2012 Muti-Cultural Book Challenge, Bloomsbury was wonderful enough to offer a finished copy of Transcendence for giveaway. If you take part in the challenge, you will have more entries in the giveaway. You can sign up for the challenge here. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!
As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet - an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.
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