[Update: Scroll down for the winner!]
Today, I present to you an interview with Jaime Reed, author of the upcoming paranormal romance Living Violet, her debut young adult novel (and the first in a trilogy)! Like her novel’s main character, Samara, Jaime is smart, hilarious, and fiercely passionate — but about her books, and not about the smug, violet-eyed boy at the bookstore. No, that’s all Samara — although she at first doesn’t want to admit it.
Intrigued? Read on, dear friends, to learn more about Jaime and Living Violet, and comment below to win one of three — yes, THREE — Living Violet ARCs, which Jaime was generous enough to offer for this giveaway! I mean, really. Three ARCs! Thank you, Jaime, for this great opportunity, and for agreeing to this interview!
Now, scroll on down, sweetlings, for the interview and then instructions on how to win an ARC!
First, a bit about Living Violet (from the book’s Goodreads page):
He’s persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most — and everything she most fears. . .
Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.
But Caleb’s secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.
1. Tell us a little about Living Violet. What makes it different from other paranormal romances out there?
Living Violet is a YA paranormal romance that is self-aware in the ways Scream, The Princess bride, and Buffy poke fun of their own genre, yet manages to have its own plotline. The story follows 17-year-old Samara Marshall during the crazy summer before her senior year. She works at a bookstore with a lot of interesting characters, including a boy with unusual eyes, a fondness for sweets, and an avid female following. When one of those women suffers a heart attack and gets wheeled off by paramedics, the chaos and hilarity ensues.
It’s different because not many people have heard of the particular creature I’ve used in my story and almost none are mention in YA. It’s also a bit of a satire, addressing common teen novel tropes. The characters are smart, quick on their feet, and the main character is a person of color, which unfortunately is not very common in this particular genre.
2. How did the idea for this story come to you? What was the inspiration?
It was a whole bunch of things — I can’t really pinpoint one source. My childhood, my friends, my town, too many teen books, movies, you name it. It’s all thrown in there somewhere.
3. Your main character, Samara, is an incredibly strong, independent young woman, and her mom is equally so. I get the feeling that this is pretty true to life with you and your mom? Tell us a little about her, the other strong women in life, and how they have affected your writing.
A bit of my mom is in the story in different characters. She’s great, loving, supportive, and very opinionated. She’s had my back since day one, ready to defend my writing and my need to create to the death. I have a lot of strong women in my family, sisters and aunts, and I really think it shines through the most through Samara and Nadine.
4. As much as I adore Samara, one of the things I loved most about Living Violet was the secondary characters. They all felt so real. Besides Samara and Caleb, who is your favorite character and why?
Robbie Ford. Hands down. His role is super tiny, but he leaves an impression on me somehow. My second favorite has to be Mia and Dougie. (I know that’s two, but they’re together and you can’t really have one without the other.) I like them because everyone knows that couple. They are always fighting and breaking up, yet they’re crazy about each other.
5. Living Violet is a hilarious read. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments, which doesn’t happen often for me when reading. Which do you find easier, writing the comedic moments or the dramatic moments? What tips do you have for writers struggling with writing comedy?
I find comedy to be the best icebreaker, whether in a story or in real life. You become more open to a person/character if they make you laugh. The “getting to know you” process runs so much smoother after that. The key is to apply comedy that’s relatable, something that most people can identify with. I recommend a little comedy in any story, even horror or heavy drama. Both the dramatic and comedic moments are easy for me. It’s the fight scenes and the mushy love scenes that have me cringing, so I usually write them last.
6. Tell us a little about your writing process. Where do you get ideas? Are you a plotter or a pantser (aka, do you outline or not?). Do you use a computer or write with pen and paper?
I type and write it out freehand. Depends on my mood. I just let the pen fly for the most part. I don’t think about what I’m writing until the end. See, there are two major stages to the process: writing and editing. These are two roommates who share the same space, but due to their schedules they never bump into each other. I write until I have nothing else to say, then I sift through the gibberish later. That’s the only way it’ll ever get finished.
I hate outlines. Hate! But since I’m doing a series, and my editor demands it, it’s crucial. It’s a great organizational tool. The character list grows and the world building gets larger as the series goes on. It gets really confusing after a while and I have to keep everything straight. Did I mention I hate outlines?
7. Do you have a playlist that helped you while writing Living Violet? If so, could you share a couple of your favorite tracks with us?
Sure, but you guys are gonna think I’m weird . . .
B-line (Andy Votel remix) – Lamb
Dig – Incubus
Quicksand – Incubus
Disturbia – Rihanna
You Look So Fine – Garbage
Blame It on the Alcohol – Jamie Foxx
Mouth (remix) – Bush
In Your Room – Depeche Mode
Unthinkable – Alicia Keys
The Reason – Hoobastank
Each of these songs sets a scene and I had them on repeat while writing. If you listen to the lyrics closely, they go so well with the story. There are a bunch of club dance songs that got me in the party mindset, but there are too many to mention. (Don’t judge me.)
8. What is the hardest thing about writing for you? How do you overcome it?
The hardest part has to be ending the story. How do I get through it? Ending the story. It’s a knock down drag out fight, and failure is not an option for me.
9. Tell us about your high school experience and how that influenced Samara’s high school experience.
I was known as that really tall chick that could draw. I had good friends that I still hang with, strangely enough. I was pretty shy and kept in the back room of the theater department. I just usually observed the drama and prayed for graduation. High school is a torture I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it was totally necessary. I guess Samara’s outlook comes close to my experience, but she’s far more cynical than I am.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to write much about high school in this book because it’s the summer, but book two and three has that covered. The summer was the best time of year for any kid, so I wanted to focus more on that. Parties, friends, part-time jobs, and all that.
10. Are you reading anything right now? What are some of your favorite books, YA or otherwise? What upcoming books are you most looking forward to?
Sadly, I’m not reading anything right now. I have an entire third book to write. I won’t get to kick back and read until February. But I have a huge list of books from debut authors of 2012 *wink*
11. Favorite quote? This can be from a work of fiction, a song, or otherwise. Something that empowers you, makes you laugh, inspires you — whatever!
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon. Ain’t that the damn truth.
12. What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Finish it. Even if it’s bad, even if no one but your friends get to read it. Also understand that that one piece of work is not the end-all-be-all of your life, the same brilliant mind that created one story can create another, and another, and another. Writers get SO attached to one project and when rejection comes, it gets real tragic. Just have confidence and keep moving. There’re more ideas where that came from.
13. What about the most important piece of advice for writers who, like you, are gearing up for their first book’s release?
Don’t freak out. Don’t read ANY reviews. Keep writing. Make sure you’re at least halfway done with your follow-up book, because you will be asked for more. Be prepared.
14. The zombie apocalypse is upon us. You have time to grab only one book from your bookshelves before heading out with your gun-totin’ posse. Which would it be?
Tough one. I would have to say the Bible. With death chasing me, it might come in handy at some point. Plus, it’s got some weight to it, good for bludgeoning someone in the head. Multipurpose is always a bonus.
15. Can you—pretty, pretty please—give us any spoiler-free hints about what we can expect from Living Violet’s sequel, Burning Emerald?
Well, a specific character has a very checkered past and it comes back to hunt her/him in a really messed up way. Myths about the creatures in the story come to light. You get to meet more of Caleb’s family and Samara gets a new car! And the body count in her quiet town just keeps on climbing. Yay!
16. And, perhaps most importantly, considering Caleb’s obsession, what is your absolute favorite pastry?
Not a big pastry person. I’m all about ice cream. All day. Every day. Any flavor. It’s simple as that. Why? Do you have any?
*Interviewer’s Note: Why, yes, I do! You know those cheesy (as in corny, not as in filled with cheese) molten chocolate cakes where there is a hot molten chocolate center surrounded by chocolate cake and topped with vanilla ice cream? Yes. Oh, yes indeed.
Check out these links for more about the awesome Jaime and her novels:
And there you have it! Thank you again, Jaime, for agreeing to this interview! And don’t forget, everyone: Living Violet hits the shelves the first week of January!
NOW. About that ARC giveaway…
The rules are simple:
- To win a happy, shiny ARC of Living Violet (one of three!), comment on this post.
- For ANOTHER chance to win, tweet about this interview/giveaway and include a link to the tweet in your comment. Include the hashtag #LivingViolet when you tweet!
So, comment for one entry and tweet for an extra entry for a total of two entries.
The Living Violet ARC giveaway begins NOW and closes Thursday, December 22 at 12:00 p.m. CST! It is also open INTERNATIONALLY.
Edit: And our THREE WINNERS (as selected by random.org) are…
Congratulations, y’all! Please send me your mailing info at clairelegrandbooks[at]gmail[dot]com, and we’ll get those ARCs in the mail for you!
Thanks to everyone for participating, and if you didn’t win this time, don’t despair! I have more shiny ARCs to give away in the coming weeks!
And don’t forget: Living Violet hits shelves the first week of January! Picking up a copy would be a great Happy New Year gift for a friend — or yourself.