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YA Author Anna Banks on Friendship, Pranks & Responsibility

Joyride by Anna Banks Interview

Greetings, book pals! I’m so excited to have YA author Anna Banks on Rather Be Reading today to chat about her new book: JOYRIDE (Feiwel & Friends, June 2, 2015). If you are looking for a book with a great “opposites attract” friendship, complex family relationships, and something I’m surprised I don’t see more in YA — pranking! — then you are going to really enjoy this one. I hope you’ll read through my chat with Anna about the core relationship of this book, her inspiration, and pranking tips. No fear, you won’t find any spoilers here. BUT if you do read to the end, you can enter for a chance to win a sparkly finished copy of JOYRIDE to add to your summer reading list.

YA Author Anna BanksAnna, I really enjoyed Joyride. It was the perfect companion for a bit of a traveling I did recently. My first question is probably an obvious one. What inspired you to write about a family torn apart because of deportation?

Gosh, there are so many answers to this. One, it’s been a big subject of debate especially in the news as of late, and I found that many people took a harsh view of the matter, instead of a human view. Complete jackasses, if you ask me. I wanted to show people what it’s like to be in that position, and force them to at least admit that immigrants, documented or not, are living breathing people with interests and goals and anxieties just like the rest of us.

Two, over the years, many of my jobs put me in contact with Mexican immigrants, documented and undocumented. The ones who were undocumented shared their stories with me on how they were able to get to the U.S. and what they left behinda, their hopes and dreams of bringing their family over. Their experiences were amazing and heart-wrenching, and the dangers they faced getting here and the everyday risk of getting deported really left an impression on me. The writer in me began to wonder what it would be like living as a teen and going through this. That’s how JOYRIDE started unfolding in my little brain.

Even though Carly and Arden didn’t start their friendship in a super conventional way, I loved that their relationship wasn’t on the fast lane to falling in love with each other either. What are some of your favorite books that feature guys and girls that start out as friends?

My favorite book with friends-first is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, with Mal and Alina. They are close to each other, and loyal, but it takes a while for the romance to kick in. Mal drove me freaking crazy at first, but it kept me turning the pages. There was a point in my reading life where I devoured books with insta-love or at least insta-attraction plot themes (I’m a complete romance junkie) but now I’d rather have that push and pull, that testing and challenging and slow realization that there are feelings deeper than friendship there. I thought it would be more realistic with Carly and Arden, since they are pretty much opposites in every way.

Joyride explores so much about obligation — obligation to your family vs. yourself and what happens when you might have to make a choice between the two. This is constantly something that pops up in life whether you’re in high school or a big kid like me. Who do you think was in the tougher spot here: Carly or Arden?

Geez, these are great questions! I think Carly has it a bit rougher than Arden. Family is an essential part of Mexican culture—doing what it takes to make sure everyone is cared for. With Carly, there was this internal struggle because she wanted to be true to that, to what was ingrained in her since childhood, and that is completely understandable and totally admirable. But I think for teens and big kids ☺ it’s important to find a balance between your happiness and your responsibilities. Carly goes from one extreme to the other before finding that balance, and that may be what we all need in order to find peace with our circumstances.

Even though Mr. Shackleford and Carly don’t know each other so well, he’s still a special adult in her life. He watches out for her without even knowing her story. Did you have someone like this in your life? A blessing in disguise?

I’ve had many. My sisters have been my saviors more times than I can count, and probably more than I even know about. My dad died when I was 14, and my mom and I were pretty poor. I know we couldn’t have made it without my sisters’ help, both financially and emotionally. Of course, Mr. Shackleford isn’t exactly based on my sisters—they’re not philosophical town drunks who have a tendency to urinate in convenience store aisles….So….

What’s the key to a successful prank?

There are so many keys. Keeping a straight face while you watch it being executed is a biggie, because if not, you’re totally caught and you’re a complete amateur. Targeting the right people is also important. If you’re scaring people, you don’t want to go after the elderly—can we say heart attack? Instead shoot for high school kids or unsuspecting middle aged Walmart shoppers. Also, go for people who won’t throat punch you. That may be the best advice..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: The above giveaway is open to U.S. & Canadian readers, 13 & up. 

Add JOYRIDE to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy at B&N | Anna Banks

Thanks to Macmillan Kids for providing an early copy of this book & the giveaway copy!

June 3, 2015 - 11:27 pm

Lindsey Frost - There are tons of summer releases that I am really looking forward to! Emmy and Oliver! Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between! Every Last Word!

June 2, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Michelle Lee - I’m most looking forward to The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski! Thank you for this amazing chance! 🙂

June 2, 2015 - 10:47 am

Alexa S. - What a great interview! I didn’t realize there was a deportation part of this story, which has me more interested than ever in reading it. For summer reads, I’m looking forward to reading The Boy Most Likely To and Never Always Sometimes!

June 1, 2015 - 7:26 am

rose - I actually don’t read summer releases. But it is unique how Anna put humor in this story.

May 30, 2015 - 10:27 pm

Joli - Hope it’s not too cheesy to say, but Joyride is one of my most anticipated reads for the summer. I featured it for my Waiting on Wednesday when I first found out about it. I can’t wait to read it!

May 29, 2015 - 10:47 pm

Willa @ Willa's Ramblings - Ahh, I loved this interview! Anna is one of my favorite people, and I’m just about to start JOYRIDE. I feel like it’ll be a great read, especially because I live in Texas and am surrounded by the issue of deportation. Thanks for the feature!
-Willa

May 28, 2015 - 1:50 pm

Summer - Joyride, of course, and PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han. Thanks for the giveaway!

May 28, 2015 - 12:09 pm

Grace - This book looks really great! There are too many to choose from, but I’m really looking forward to Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone and Paperweight by Meg Haston!

-Grace 🙂

May 28, 2015 - 11:50 am

Andrea - Aside from Joyride, I’m really looking forward to reading Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen this summer.

May 28, 2015 - 11:23 am

Frankie N - The summer resd im notnost looking forward to is Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen; I adore her books!!

May 28, 2015 - 11:12 am

Amalfi - OMG, she is so funny. I really want to read her book!

May 28, 2015 - 8:51 am

Carol - I’m really looking forward to reading Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer!!! 😉 And, of course, Joyride! 😉

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