Sunday, October 26, 2014

YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt featuring Rachel M. Wilson

I'm really excited to be one of the authors participating in the first YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt. This is a great group of authors and I'm delighted to have an interview Rachel M. Wilson on my blog with her amazing book Don't Touch.


A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.
Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.
It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

And now the interview: 

1. Your book is a romance that also tackles a very serious issue (OCD), how did you find the balance of these two things? Was one more important than the other in terms of what you wanted your readers to walk away with?

    I might not call it a straight-up romance … I don’t want to disappoint. There’s definitely a strong romantic thread, but the friendships and family relationships often step in front of that. For me, this was always a book about fear. Any relationship Caddie wants to have is threatened by her fear, so the two are in conflict and feed off each other. In that sense, finding the balance between the two was the heart of the story and I don’t think they can be separated.
    2. What was your research process like for this book? 

    Even though I had OCD as a kid, I did a lot of reading. I also had a psychiatrist friend read the book, and he gave me some great insight. Beyond that, I spent a ton of time with Hamlet—watching different versions and reading literary criticism. And I did the sort of research I’d do for any book—I love collecting images, interviewing my characters, collecting metaphors. A lot of these character-building activities are exercises I took from acting class, not unlike the character journals Caddie and Peter talk about in Don’t Touch.

      3. I’m a huge theatre geek and love that you set this around staging Hamlet. Did you do theatre in high school as well or was that something you decided on as a good vehicle to address Caddie’s anxiety (or maybe both)?

      I did do theater in high school, and I studied it in college and still perform. For a while I was avoiding writing about theater because it’s so close to me, but even when I wasn’t using theater as a vehicle, I was using performance as a metaphor. Caddie’s always performing, pretending like everything is fine. I think we all have our BIG metaphors—those threads that help us make sense of story in our day-to-day lives, and theater is one of mine. 

        4. This is your debut: what were you most excited about with this book coming out in the world? What were you most afraid of?

        Oh, man. I was so excited for it to be an actual book—for there to be an object that people could hold in their hands and read. The idea of it being in libraries . . . One of my friends pointed out how cool it is that he’s going to be spending 12 hours or whatever it takes to read something I wrote, and yeah, that’s pretty crazy. Most afraid of? I think it’s a normal author fear, but that no one would care—that the book wouldn’t find an audience. Hearing from readers who really got it and loved it has been the best.

        Fun questions:

        5. What author would you challenge to a dance-off?
        Daniel Handler because I think that would be funny—and if I’m going to stand a chance in a dance-off, it’d better be a funny dance off.

        6. Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?

        I’ve dreamed about doing a dual pov story with my buddy Varian Johnson, author of that amazing middle grade caper novel, The Great Greene Heist. But I’m a slow writer with a billion other balls in the air, so it’s hard to imagine the timing working out.

          7. Which of your characters would you want to go to prom with?

          Mandy, for sure. I mean, were I the appropriate age, yes, a date with Peter might be nice, but we’d have to double date with Mandy. She’s super fun. 

          8. What muppet are you most like?

          Great question! I had a huge affinity for Miss Piggy as a child—Caddie’s lavender gloves are at least a little bit inspired by her. But I most identify with Kermit. Can I be Kermit and Piggy’s lovechild?

          Thank you, Rachel. And for those of you who want to check out her awesome book trailer, you can find that here. And you can buy her book here. And you can enter her giveaway below (which is good until 12am on 10/31).

          a Rafflecopter giveaway

          Tuesday, October 7, 2014

          In Gratitude on BLEED LIKE ME's release day

          About a year ago, when FAULT LINE debuted, I wrote a post about what it's like standing on the edge of possible where your book can become anything and everything. Many, many things have happened in the past year, and this morning, I wake up to the release of my second novel.

          And the message I want to get across most, a year later, is how incredibly grateful I am. This job can be difficult. Publishing is hardly the most stable of career choices and there are days when I wonder why I ever signed on for this. But then I talk to my writer friends, or I get an email from a reader, or I see cover art for my next book, or I get a good trade review, or, or, or…and I remember that I am leading a life many people dream of. People I've never met can read something I've written and it can crawl underneath their skin and make them think, and ask questions about their lives they might not have before.

          So I'm grateful. For all of it. I'm grateful to my publisher, my agent, my editor, my friends, my readers, the writing community. I'm grateful for reviews (even shitty ones) and the person who tweets me that my book kept them up all night. These things all matter to me. They make this journey better.

          Thank you, all of you, for being part of my dream. It means so much to me.

          From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

          Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

          Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

          But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

          Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

          BUY LINKS: 
          IndieBoundBarnes & NobleAmazon 

          Thursday, October 2, 2014

          Awkward, Inappropriate, and On the Fringe

          This weekend I attended a YA conference with 45 other authors. It's one of my favorite conferences because it's in Chicago and hosted by one of my favorite book stores. Conferences are some of the best parts of being a writer, particularly if you're an extrovert like I am. They are about connection and community and feeling part of a bigger thing as opposed to just typing away in my kitchen every morning.

          But conferences are sometimes difficult for me because within about seven minutes of opening my mouth, I've usually said something awkward or inappropriate. Add to this the fact that my books frequently contain "edgy" material that push boundaries and I'm left with this doomed feeling of "other". Like no matter how hard I try, I don't quite fit in. (Nowhere was this more obvious than when faced with a room full of 12 and 13yo's who I had to pitch my book to in 60 seconds. For those interested, the pitch went something like this: "You probably need to wait a few years to read this book, but it's about a hot mess of a girl and a hot mess of a guy who fall in deep, intense love and that love makes them 1000 times worse off until it all goes to hell.").

          Then I started to look around the room at the other authors and wonder if they felt the same way as me. If they felt awkward or like they didn't quite fit. If they worried that they would say something or do something that would impact their sales or make librarians/teachers stay away from their books. (The fact that who we are and what we do/say as authors is important now is a blog topic for another day. Bottom line: it does matter.)

          And then I started thinking about Heidi Cullinan's CARRY THE OCEAN which I was lucky enough to read early. It's a beautiful gay romance between an autistic guy and a guy with major depressive disorder. I can't say enough great things about this book. Emmett, the autistic guy, has this whole way of explaining how no one is really normal, but he also understands that people have relative expectations of normalcy. People who function every day within a pretty standard life without having to make several modifications are "on the mean".

          On the mean. I love this way of looking at things. Because it also makes me realize that no one is "on the mean" about everything. There will always be some part of this world where you will be on the fringe. Just like there will be part of this world where you fit in. It's not a binary insider or outsider existence for most of us. We are rich and varied and flawed and perfect.

          And if you start to really look around, you will see that everyone is like this. Good at some things, terrible at others. I include sex in my books. This frequently makes me feel like I don't have a lot in common with most other YA writers. But then I was talking to a friend at the conference, and she told me she feels awkward because her books are so "clean". See? We're always so convinced we're on the outside when it turns out it has more to do with your perspective than anything else.

          The great thing about so many books in the world is that you can find what you're looking for. So even though at first I sort of cringed when my book was pitched as "a story for non-CW teens", I now realize that there are a lot of non-CW teens out in the world and I want to write for them. And really, I don't mind being the author on the panel who says, "I wish there were more female masturbation scenes in YA books" because while it may be awkward, it's the truth. And it is something I wish that more girls would talk about in high school in the way it's been normalized for guys.

          So maybe the best thing for me is to stop worrying so much about fitting in and start seeing the bubble as big enough for all of us. Start realizing that there is no taking the me out of me. And maybe the truth of that means something to other people as well.