Author Paula Stokes reached out to me via social media when she saw I had read a review copy of LIARS, INC. Several changesÂ went into the final edits of LIARS, and she created a document so her readers could be aware of them before reviewing.Â (I’d like toÂ addÂ that reading the document only allowed me to love Paula more. There was one tidbit of information I was happy to see changed because it was a clue for me in the ARC.) Writing back and forth with Paula led to realizing she and Estelle had connected last year and I couldn’t stop thinking, “I really adore her! She’s so great and nice and I just want everyone to feel this way about Paula!”
Even after 3.5 years ofÂ working onÂ Rather Be Reading with Estelle, I still get nervous when I reach out to authors about interviews. I’m not sure why I worried because Paula is the nicest person ever, and I’m so extremely grateful she set some time aside for us. I hope you’ll adore her as much as we do after reading her interview with RBR below and I sincerely hope you’ll pick up LIARS, INC. (in stores as of 3/24/15) and THE ART OF LAINEY.
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Estelle called THE ART OF LAINEYÂ a pick-me-up-book after a rough day; I called LIARS, INC.Â trippy and suspenseful. How difficult was it for you to shift gears after writing a feel-goodÂ story to one that involved a lot of meticulous detail work to make sure everything flowed wellÂ and you werenâ€™t contradicting yourself?
It wasnâ€™t difficult to switch gears because I wrote LAINEY at the same time I was finishing upÂ VENOM and I wrote LIARS at the same time I was drafting BELLADONNA (my work-for-hireÂ books for Paper Lantern Lit) so if anything, writing LAINEY just felt like a break from keepingÂ track of clues and red herrings, more like an exercise in catharsis than work. Lainey isnâ€™t meÂ and her breakup isnâ€™t my breakup, but her pain IS my pain and as much as I wanted THE ARTÂ OF LAINEY to sell, I wrote that book to heal myself more than anything else. Along the way, IÂ realized I had a knack for writing swoony contemporaries so I sold a couple more.
As an author who has written several very different books, what do you hope toÂ produce in the future? Have you enjoyed writing one particular story more than another orÂ found that youâ€™ve really discovered your niche? (We love how diverse you are!)
I donâ€™t really prefer one type of story so my brand is just going to have to be brandlessness,Â I guess. Or maybe my brand is writing books that people donâ€™t want to put down. Those areÂ the ones I prefer to read so I try to write prose and chapters that propel readers throughÂ stories. In the future, I hope to produce both dark and light stories every year (Iâ€™m set forÂ 2016 and 2017) and then Iâ€™m also finishing up the beta draft of an NA book right now andÂ toying with an adult medical thriller idea. I would also really like to write a Parvati companionÂ novelâ€”totally different from LIARS, a spy girl story in the vein of Homeland meets Nikita. ThisÂ book is about 25% written, but Iâ€™ll have to wait and see how LIARS does before making anyÂ decisions.
I fully, fully support you completing Parvati’s story, and hope I get the chance to read it one day. Youâ€™re a woman of so many talents! Youâ€™re an RN, an author, a world-traveler (whoÂ has snuggled with snakes? *shivers*), and youâ€™re crazy talented at staying connected to yourÂ readers via social media. How do you balance it all, and whatâ€™s your best tip for creating anÂ online presence and making lasting connections?
Iâ€™m not currently working as a nurse, though that will probably change once I get caught upÂ on my deadlines, because even writing for two publishers, money is tight without a reliableÂ day job. My work-life balance is currently slanted way, way, way in favor of work and notÂ anything a healthy human should emulate Â 😉 Â I do try to take at least one cool trip a year,Â which often ends up with me having odd animal encounters.
As far as making lasting connections online, I start by treating bloggers like industryÂ professionals, like equals, and I think that goes a long way. I also donâ€™t quit talking to peopleÂ because someone doesnâ€™t like a book. I hate a bad review as much as the next person, butÂ that doesnâ€™t mean the person who wrote it doesnâ€™t have anything to offer me in the wayÂ of conversation or information. It doesnâ€™t mean they wonâ€™t like my next book. All my booksÂ are different so it would be ridiculous for me to expect anyone to like them all. Finally, IÂ remember there are real people behind the screen names. If someone is worried about a sickÂ pet or a parent in surgery or has a real world concern I can comment on meaningfully, then IÂ do. I love reading and writing books, but there are more important things, and I try never toÂ forget that.
We love a lot of different things here at Rather Be Reading; weâ€™re huge nail polish, ZacÂ Efron, make-up, and Fossil fans. For a little lightening round, name your favorites:
- Everyday make-up essential: eyeliner
- Favorite nail polish brand: It would be a complete lie to pretend like I have aÂ favorite brand. I have a fave colorâ€”blue/teal. Aside from that, anything decent thatÂ doesnâ€™t chip off immediately works. Right now itâ€™s Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy.
- If you could only shop at one store for the rest of your days it would be: Again,Â I feel like the correct answer here is something like Sephora or [insert fashionableÂ clothing store I canâ€™t even name] but the real answer is probably Kohls Â 😉
- Character most like yourself that youâ€™ve written (ha! snuck in a writing one):Â Parvati. (Apparently I need one of those Unlikeable Heroine IRL shirts.)
- Your go-to favorite food to order when you eat out: Korean
- City you hope to travel to on a book tour: Prague
- Your daily mantra is: Donâ€™t look back. The mistakes you made, the things you gave up,Â the things you shouldâ€™ve known but didnâ€™tâ€”those will swallow you whole if you letÂ them.
Weâ€™ve been working on the Dive Into Diversity challenge this year with Reading WishesÂ to highlight diverse aspects of the books weâ€™re reading. Liars, Inc. was a fantastic example ofÂ a really well-rounded set of characters and backgrounds. What are some of the best diverseÂ book examples that youâ€™ve read? What do you hope to see in the coming years in the youngÂ adult world in regards to diversity?
I would point out Antony Johnâ€™s FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB, which has a well-rendered deaf protagonistÂ and April Henryâ€™s GIRL, STOLEN, which has a very believable blind protagonist. What I like about theseÂ books is that the main characterâ€™s disability figures into the plot without being the whole story. DUMB isÂ a fun contemp about a rock band and GIRL is a kidnapping mystery.
I guess what I hope to see in the coming years is that readers, bookstores, and publishers really embraceÂ all sort of books and main characters, and that a culture is created where authors can feel comfortableÂ writing inside or outside their zones of experience. At one panel I recently attended, a white writerÂ asked how best to create authentic diverse characters without falling into the trap of relying onÂ stereotypes and was quickly told that if readers want good diverse books then they need to supportÂ diverse authorsâ€”end of story. Iâ€™m all in favor of supporting diverse authors, but the subtext thereâ€”white authors shouldnâ€™t even tryâ€”was really troubling. I felt marginalized and excluded as a humanÂ being. Isnâ€™t that the antithesis of this movement?
Can you share three of your favorite under-the-radar books that you think deserve moreÂ attention? And how about three authors you will auto-buy books from without even readingÂ the summary?
I donâ€™t really do the auto-buy concept, because a lot of my favorite authors also write books that areÂ different from one another and I donâ€™t have the money to buy books Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™ll like. I do have aÂ group of author-friends who have supported me along the way and vice versa, whose books Iâ€™ll alwaysÂ buy and read as a show of support, but there are more than three of them. Â 😉
Thanks for having me on the blog!
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Thank you so much for stopping by, Paula! Looking forward to soooo many more books from you! <3