you guys, you guys, I got to interview

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Published: October 15, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong…

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.

And here it is…THE interview

♥ You talk a lot about New Adult (it’s my latest addiction and I can’t get enough!!). Did you always want to write about characters in this age group, or did you start off YA because that was the trend? I may have read that you have a YA book locked away somewhere…have you any plans to look at it again? Are you going to stick with NA for now or would like to try a different age group?

Hi Celeste! I do talk about New Adult a lot. Really, I just talk a lot in general. I did start off writing YA, and you’re right, I have a manuscript locked away, but I think it’s pretty well trunked permanently. I still do write YA, actually. In between deadlines for my NA stuff, I’ve been working a YA magical realism that my agent and I hope to send out on submission soon.

In general, I like to write coming of age stories. In the beginning, I was drawn to YA because that’s mostly what I read. But I’d say about 3/4 of the YA books I’ve planned, plotted, or even started writing were on the upper end of YA, in terms of age. I think I always wanted to write New Adult, but I’d always heard that it was a no-go for publishers. So I’d planned all my stories in a way that they were technically YA, but had the same sensibilities I loved about New Adult. I have absolutely no plans to stop writing New Adult. I love it. I think that’s largely because my college years were when I really figured out who I was. In high school, I was still trying so hard to please everyone. I made myself into whatever other people wanted me to be. But around nineteen, I started letting go of that and coming into my own. So, yes, NA is here to stay for me. I’m definitely going to write in YA (fantasy, for the most part), but New Adult will always be a comfortable place for me.

♥ You worked in theater for a while…and it sounds like you did everything from acting to marketing to set production…what was the turning point that made you want to focus on writing full time? Was it a specific storyline or just the urge to get all your ideas written down?

I did, yes. Theatre was my first great love. And I wanted so badly to be doing it, that I would have worked any job in a theatre (and did). But at that point, I was already writing, too. I started writing my Junior year in college. The plan was always to do both. I loved telling stories… period. In any form. But after a year of working 60-70 hours a week in theatre, I realized that I wasn’t getting the time to write like I wanted to. So, I took a job teaching theatre instead. I got to write more, but still not enough. So in May of last year, I resigned from my teaching position. My paychecks continued through the summer, so I knew I’d have some time to figure things out. My plan had been to just get a normal 9 to 5 job where I didn’t take my work home with me. While I looked for a job, I used my free time to start writing a new project, which became Losing It. I wrote it in three weeks, and well, everything started changing fairly quickly after that.

♥ Do you have a favorite book in the Losing It series? Is it because of the character(s) or the storyline? On that note, do you have a favorite character or couple? (Hands down Jackson was my favorite to read about.)

I will always be partial to Losing It because it set this entire journey in motion. And I love Bliss. She’s a combination of myself and a good friend of mine, and writing her is like hanging out with that old friend. I never fail to have a good time. So, I think Losing It snags my favorite book spot.

Max and Cade, though, are my favorite couple. They gave me a lot of issues in the beginning, and I struggled writing FAKING IT. But somewhere along the way, things just clicked, and then I adored them. If I were ever to go back and write more in the world of this series behind Finding It (and the follow-up novella Seeking Her), it would be to write about Max and Cade again. They don’t make any sense on paper because they’re so different, but they just fit. They bring out the best in each other, and I just freaking adore them.

I think Jackson Hunt from Finding It is my favorite hero, though. From the first time, I wrote about him, he just stole my heart. He falls somewhere in between Garrick and Cade. He has a similar charm and sexiness to Garrick, but with the sweetness of Cade. Wrap that up in a mysterious package, and he’s pretty much the definition of swoon-worthy.

♥ I read in another interview that the character Bliss came into your head almost fully formed.  Was it the same for the other books in the series, or did those characters develop as you wrote Losing It?

Yes, she did. Like I said, she’s a mix between myself and a friend, so she came really naturally to me. Max was also pretty easy. My own personality is actually probably closest to that of Max. Throw in a bit of Bliss’s awkward humor with Max, and you’ve got me. Everyone else got developed along the way. Cade actually was never even in my original plan. I threw him in on a whim because I thought Bliss needed a close guy friend. Then he just kind of squeezed his way in and told me he had his own story. Same for Kelsey.

♥ Your books in the Losing It series go together yet can be read as standalones. What was the process like for each book? What was the same/different?

All different. I think each book is a unique experience. Like I mentioned, Losing It poured out of me in three weeks. Faking It felt like pulling teeth in the beginning. Finding It started really great, but then I kept having to switch back and forth between it and other projects, so it ended up being a bit of a patchwork book, where I worked on it in spurts.

♥ How do you come up with your character’s names?  Bliss is pretty unique! Even the others that aren’t as unusual…is it hard for you to pick a name, or do they just come to you?

Bliss was just always Bliss. I don’t know why. I wish I did. I do a lot of searching baby name websites. Sometimes I consult twitter and facebook. Sometimes I just pick a completely random name as a place holder because I don’t want to stop writing to brainstorm. Sometimes those names get swapped out and sometimes they stick. In the beginning, Cade was actually named Wade. Somewhere along the way, I started writing Cade, and I didn’t even realize I’d switched until I went back to edit Losing It.

♥ When you first began writing full time, what kept you motivated to keep writing? You had originally gone the self-pub route so you didn’t have time constraints, but something must have kept you going?

I love writing. I’m always thinking about stories. I do struggle with finding a routine. My life is a bit crazy at the moment between deadlines and traveling for signings. So, sometimes it can be hard to focus. By the time I started writing full time, my books had been picked up by Harper and then I had deadlines to keep me on track.

♥ Which book in the Losing It series had the biggest changes from when you first wrote it to when you finished it? Are there any scenes you wish you had left in?

Oh, that’s tough. Faking It had some pretty big changes, but they came after I turned in the first 100 pages to my editor. Based on her notes, I made some pretty drastic changes, but since I’d only written 100 pages it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Finding It on the other hand… I think I had close to 100 pages of deleted content by the time I was through with revisions. There was one scene that I wanted to keep so badly. I loved it. But as I revised and made changes, there came a point where it didn’t fit. It was light-hearted and silly, and the book had taken a darker turn that made it feel out of place. That particular scene appears in the Target Special Edition of Finding It as a bonus scene, so you all can give it a read. Even though I love and miss that scene, I still think it was the right decision. I tried and tried to fit it in, and it just didn’t work.

♥ What was the first thing you did when publishers started calling?  (running man? Jk lol, but it’s what I would have done )

Oh, boy. I did a lot of screaming and shaking my head in awe. I remember after one particular call with my agent… I was staying with my sister, and I ran out of the guest room shouting for her and probably scared everyone in the house half to death.

Do you use beta readers in addition to professional editors? Before you were contracted did you hire freelance editors?

Not really, no. I have a friend who reads my work, but she’s not a beta reader. She’s more like emotional support. I’m really hard on myself, and typically always think every book I write is awful in the beginning. She reads and convinces me that I’m being an idiot. My mother is an English teacher, and she helped me edit Losing It. For everything else though, it typically just goes to my agent and my editor. I would love to have beta readers, but usually I’m finishing the book just a scant few hours before my deadline, so it’s not really possible.

♥ Which is more difficult to write: dialogue, action, or a love scene?

Love scene. Always the love scene. They have to be realistic, but not clinical. They need to be true to the characters, but I also have my own issues when it comes to writing certain *ahem* words. I always feel like they need to be different and stand out not just from other books, but from my own books. It takes a lot of creativity and a lot of time, and I fret A LOT over them.

♥ What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

You know… I’m kind of a masochist, and I frequently read one star reviews. For the most part though, I don’t think I’ve ever read a one star review that criticized something that I hadn’t at one point been critical of myself. Usually, I find myself saying, “I knew that I should have… yada, yada, yada.”

It always makes me sad though when someone thinks that my characters aren’t realistic. They’re so real to me that it hurts to hear that. But everyone reads with their own background and perspective, so you can’t expect everyone to feel the same about a book or a character. On the reverse, I LOVE it when someone says they identify with my characters. I like to think that my heroines are each unique and that they represent a different kind of woman. I want as many people as possible to be able to see themselves in my books.

♥ If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?

Not a thing. The good and bad all led me to where I am, and I couldn’t be happier.

 gah, I heart Cora even more now

Thank you so much to Ms. Caramack and Ink Slinger PR for having us on the tour and taking the time to do this epic interview.

now that you’ve checked out our stop, make sure you check out all the others on the tour!


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