Thursday, 29 May 2014


Listen up, thrill seekers ... have I got the book for you!

Coming from Strange Chemistry on June 3, ESSENCE by Lisa Ann O'Kane.

The cover alone is enough to make you catch your breath and feel a rush of adrenaline.

I'm absolutely jazzed to be part of the ESSENCE blog tour. I first met Lisa Ann when we were scuttling around the dregs in QueryTracker, both starry eyed and crossing our fingers and toes to get that elusive yes from an agent.

Well, here we are two years later and Lisa Ann has earned her chops and produced this fabulous story for us to all devour, huddled under blankets with our flashlights on.

Did I mention this is the perfect book to take camping?

Anywho, lets get on with the shiny.

“The story’s strength lies in its evocative setting and the vicarious thrill of wild parties and daring stunts in one of the most beautiful natural areas in the United States…quick, action-packed read”
- Owl Cat Mountain

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. 

Pre-order your copy today! It comes out June 3 (mark your calendar).

Amazon (U.S.)
Amazon (Canada):
Amazon (UK):  
Barnes & Noble:

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.

You can find her here:

Lisa Ann was nice enough to drop by for a virtual chat.
What inspired you to write ESSENCE?

The inspiration for Essence came to me randomly. I was in Vail with some friends during the winter of 2011, and we were watching a friend get inducted into the Snowboarding Hall of Fame. There were tons of early '90's snowboarding legends there, and I was struck by how poorly many of them had aged. Some had mobility issues (thanks to the beatings they put on their bodies), some had substance abuse withdrawal issues, and many others just seemed ‘different.’

I turned to my friends at one point and said, "It's weird. It's almost like these guys were given a certain allotment of life, and they've already used theirs up."

BAM. The rest of my story came to me like lightning.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Essence is all about literal and metaphorical balance: the balance between right and wrong, between safety and freedom, between too little and too much. Autumn’s dual fears of tight spaces and heights also speak to this, and she struggles to find her inner balance throughout most of the novel.

My hope for Essence is that readers will understand that they alone are responsible for finding their own balance and moderation. They cannot simply trust that the people around them are looking out for their best interests.

What was the hardest scene to write (no spoilers!)?

The first fifty pages of Essence bamboozled me. I was so excited to JUST GET TO YOSEMITE ALREADY that I blazed through them and didn’t give them the attention they deserved until well after I finished the first draft. This meant I had to go back and rewrite those pages several times, and they have changed so much from their first incarnation that I am sometimes still surprised by their final content.

Which character do you relate to the most? Why?

Essence is interesting to me, because these characters have less in common with me than any other characters I have ever written. However, I can see traces of myself in almost all of them, and I feel a particular connection to Jett. Although her mistakes, heartbreaks and failures have altered her, she has made the conscious choice to learn from them and rise above them. (Hopefully people say this about me, too!)

Outside of family, what was the greatest support while you wrote this novel?

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by an incredible group of friends and loved ones, and their support for me was unwavering during this process. In particular, I am thankful for my long-time alpha reader Allen Walker, my brainstorming partner-in-crime Keith Wood, and my Colorado writers’ group: Beth Christopher, Christina McCarthy, Eugene Scott, Joe Kovacs, Rene Zimbelman, and Sean McAfee.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

As best as you can, please don’t take criticism or rejections personally. If you decide this is what you want to do, please don’t let anyone ever talk you out of it.

I have considered myself an aspiring author for the past five years, and I am finally beginning to see the publishing industry for what it is: an industry. When I first started this journey, I pinned all my self-worth on the success of my novel. If an agent or editor liked it, that meant I was a good writer. If they didn’t, I questioned my entire identity.

Nowadays (thanks to time, experience, and many, many rejections), I understand that agents and editors can like my work—sometimes even love my work—and still reject it. Maybe it isn’t a good fit for their list, or maybe they already have a similar novel. Maybe the market is saturated, or maybe it isn’t saturated enough. Maybe they love my novel but realize it doesn’t have mass appeal, or maybe they just don’t love it enough to stake their reputation on it.

Regardless, rejections are often far less personal—and far more subjective—than I would have ever imagined. This is good news, and it’s bad news. When agents and editors say, "It’s not you, it’s me," they usually really mean it.


What did you have for supper last night?

I have the taste buds of a twelve year-old boy. I am also incredibly lazy in the kitchen, so last night’s triumph was some frozen chicken fettuccine and an ice cream sandwich for dessert. (Ah, the romantic life of an author!)

Is there an actor who you think looks like your MC?

Absolutely! I didn’t realize it until a reader pointed it out, but I think Jane Levy from Suburgatory is a dead ringer for Autumn. I have also always pictured Ryder Stone as a young version of Alex Pettyfer.




Vanilla or chocolate?

Vanilla! Call me boring, but everyone likes vanilla for a reason: it’s delicious! I am particularly fond of that fancy vanilla bean ice cream with real specks of vanilla in it. So. Darn. Good.

As a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Believe it or not, my very first career goal was to (not joke) be a garbage man. This was back in the days when the garbage men used to ride around on the back of the trucks and jump off to collect the cans, and I thought hanging onto the back of a moving vehicle looked SO FUN. (I think the characters in Essence may have inherited some of their adrenaline junkie compulsions from me. They also probably inherited some of my questionable decision-making skills. )

Last book you read.

I am right in the middle of Dare Me by Eric Devine. Eric is a good friend of mine, and I am a HUGE fan of the gritty, honest way he writes. His characters aren’t perfect, and he doesn’t shy away from highlighting their flaws. He also doesn’t shy away from tough language or uncomfortable scenes. I have SO much respect for this.

Thanks so much, Lisa Ann! Good luck with the rest of the launch and thank you for writing this book and sharing your story with us.



Mere Joyce said...

That cover is gorgeous, so happy for you, Lisa Ann! Huge congrats, =)

Sunny Smith said...

I have to echo that first comment and say how lovely that cover is! It makes me want to pick up that book and read it!

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