Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ariella Moon whose debut YA novel Spell Check is available. She's currently working on a sequel to Spell Check called Spell Struck. She also has a Middle Grade fantasy trilogy that is as yet unpublished.
Ariella spent her childhood reading everything she could get her hands on, from Archie comic books to Nancy Drew to the Chronicles of Narnia. She loved escaping into other worlds. Her daughter was the same way and, because she was an early and voracious reader, it was difficult to find age appropriate books for her—so Ariella wrote the trilogy and Spell Check for other kids like her.
"I’m driven to provide alternatives to the dark themes out there. I react to vampires the same way I do to mosquitoes – with complete heebie jeebies!" she told me. "Also, when my daughter was a preteen, she loved reading big books, but there was very little out there that was age appropriate. Hence, my love for clean teen fiction."
She writes about the emotions she experienced as a kid and teen: falling in love for the first time, the friendship rollercoaster, math anxiety, and celebrity crushes.
"The main character in Spell Check, Evie, suffers from severe math anxiety, an affliction I have struggled with most of my life," Ariella said. "I was an A student, except in math. Fortunately, my daughter inherited her father’s brilliant math brain."
When Ariella was still married, she took her husband and daughter with her to Scotland on a research trip for her trilogy to Scotland.
"There was one castle ruin in particular I wanted to explore. We could see the tower, but no way to reach it. A local man gave us intricate directions in an indecipherable Scottish dialect. The only phrase we understood was 'Pass through the wee gate.' It became a 'Where’s Waldo?' type search. We finally located the gate and hiked up to the crumbling tower. A sign warned us to enter at our own risk because of falling stones. My daughter, who was seven at the time and an only child, was convinced she’d be orphaned. So my ex and I took turns standing on the bluff with her so if the castle collapsed, she’s still have one living parent."
That wasn't the scariest moment in her life, however. I asked her to tell us about it.
"9/ll was scary. I was still married at the time, and my husband was a few blocks from the towers when they were hit. A month or so later, he returned to Manhattan and broke his leg in an auto accident. I flew to New York to help him while he recovered enough to return to California. In the wee hours of my second night there, we were awakened by the hotel security alert system. Our first thought was that there had been another terrorist attack. A disembodied voice instructed us that there was a fire in the hotel, and that we should prepare to evacuate. Terrified of heights, I crawled to the window and peered out. Many, many stories below, fire trucks with flashing lights surrounded the hotel. Our room was well above ladder height. A fire would prevent us from using the elevator. My husband couldn’t evacuate via the stairs with his broken leg. I knew I would have to choose between abandoning him so our daughter wouldn’t be orphaned, or abandoning our daughter so he wouldn’t die alone. Fortunately, the fire crews gave the 'All Clear' and I didn’t have to choose."
If Ariella were to co-write a book with anyone, it would be her daughter.
"She is a brilliant, award-winning, as yet unpublished writer. We once tried to co-write a Middle Grade novel. The results were disastrous. We couldn’t even agree on which tense to write in," Ariella admitted. "Before she left for college, we divided up our collaborative story ideas and partial manuscripts. I got custody of the storylines I had developed. She loves naming characters and has come up with some great names, so she retained the exclusive use of certain character names. You can tell we are both Aries, and she takes after her dad, who is a lawyer. The girl is a tough negotiator. I loved those character names!"
Ariella told me that every college her daughter applied to was located some place where it snows.
"She's an only child," Ariella explained. "She wanted to make sure I wouldn’t follow her."
Ariella, along with being a writer, is a freelance editor and a shaman and Reiki Master.
"I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs because I’m already functioning in an alternate universe," she told me. "During initiations, one often receives a magical name. When I became a Reiki Master, an otherworldly voice sounded inside my head and said, 'Ariella.' That became my Reiki name. When I decided to use it for my pen name, I added Moon, because magic is often tied to the cycles of the moon. Only later did I realize that I had grown up on Moon Drive. So maybe it was preordained."
" What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?" I asked.
"When I was a teen, my mistakes and life lessons weren’t played out in social media, and bullies were on the bus not lurking in cyberspace. Smear campaigns were contained, not broadcast over the Internet. Today’s teens face sexual pressure at an earlier age. I sympathize with teens trying to maintain their innocence, individuality, privacy, and moral compass. It must be quite a challenge." Ariella would love help launching her Facebook page. Leave a comment on her wall after you "like" her and tell her you are from LASR to be entered into the drawing for a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card. Drawing will be limited to the first 20.
About the Author:
Find Ariella online at
Ever since Evie’s photojournalist dad died, paralyzing anxiety prevents her from picking up a camera. If Evie can’t pull it together soon, she’ll lose her position as Yearbook Photo Editor and risk academic failure. Even worse, Evie’s supposed best friend, Parvani, wants Evie’s help with a love spell directed at Evie’s secret crush, Jordan. Despite a falling out, Evie never forgot Jordan. Now they are lab partners and the chemistry sparks between them. But Parvani wants Jordan for herself, and she possesses a brimstone-hissing spell book. Soon the moon will be in the optimum phase for a binding love spell. To save Jordan, Evie must join forces with Salem, the school goth. The clock is ticking. Can Evie get her mojo back in time to check this spell?