YA favorite Author Jennifer Echols stops by today to talk about her upcoming contemporary and paranormal New Adult Novels, Dirty Little Secret and Levitating Las Vegas.
Braine: Hi Jennifer! Welcome to Talk Supe and thanks for accepting our Crazy Stupid Love invitation.
DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is a country music themed novel set in my hometown of Nashville. Did you listen to a lot of country music as research for the book? Do you have a favorite?
Jennifer Echols: I did load up the soundtrack for this book with country favorites, but I have always listened to country music. I listen to all kinds of music, mind you, but country was part of my upbringing. When he was in college, my dad played guitar with a folk group that recorded commercials for a radio station here in Birmingham. When I was a baby, he taught himself to play banjo. We watched Hee Haw every time it came on because one of the hosts, Roy Clark, was a banjo player. We listened to bluegrass in Dad's truck. He worked a lot, but if he was home, he was probably wandering around the house, playing the banjo, or blasting the Statler Brothers on the stereo and playing along. Now that he’s retired, he spends a lot of time at bluegrass gatherings here in Alabama, and every summer he goes to banjo camp in Nashville. During camp he’s even played on stage at the Station Inn, which is probably the most famous bluegrass concert hall.
As for a favorite, wow, no. There are too many! But I’m thinking of putting some soundtracks together for my web site so readers can get a sampling.
Braine: Great idea. We readers love book sountracks. Did you make a trip to Nashville?
Jennifer Echols: Yes. I knew what was going to happen in the book and where, but I wanted to go to Nashville once more and walk through it to make sure I got it right. My husband and I spent a weekend there and it was SO MUCH FUN. We toured the wonderful Country Music Hall of Fame, saw Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley and the most amazing bluegrass band at the Grand Ole Opry, and listened to countless superb bands in the bars lining Broadway. The place is sparkling with energy. I can’t wait to go back.
Braine: I hope you do a book signing here soon! The blurb os DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is about sibling rivalry. Do you have siblings? Was your rivalry as intense as Bailey's and Julie's?
Jennifer Echols: I did compete with my older brother, but it was kind of a lost cause, really, because he was perfect. (He went to medical school without graduating from college first. Just…ugh.) I do think I’m channeling some of those feelings into Bailey. But I also think you have no IDEA how intense sibling rivalry can be until you are both the same gender. I explored that with boys in Endless Summer.
Braine: Yup. I have a sister and I promise you, catty doesn't begin to describe it. From a writer's perspective, is there a big difference between writing YA and NA?
Jennifer Echols: Not for me. I just put my characters in situations that seem realistic for their age. So younger YA is different from older YA, which is different from NA, which is different from adult romance.
Braine: You have another NA coming out in May, LEVITATING LAS VEGAS & it has a sci-fi/supernatural element to it. What kind of Supes are the characters?
Jennifer Echols: The heroine can levitate objects (and herself), the hero can read minds, and other characters can control people by changing their minds about decisions. All these powers are similar in that they can be suppressed with the same drug, which is what has happened to the hero and heroine for years. When they come off the drug, watch out.
Braine: The blurb hints at some intense romance. What's the heat level of LEVITATING LAS VEGAS?
Jennifer Echols: This is a hard question for me to answer, always. I just think of the heat as going with the book, because the sexy times rise naturally from the action. I think the book is super hot and beautiful and I laugh just thinking about it, but I’m biased. ;)
Braine: I was lucky enough to have gotten an ARC. I want to read it soon so I can be in on the private joke. Holly Starr, the heroine in LEVITATING LAS VEGAS is a magician's assistant. Have you seen a lot of magic shows? Which one is the most memorable?
Jennifer Echols: I saw Penn & Teller in Vegas and it was glorious. Penn & Teller’s whole shtick is that they admit they’re not doing magic while they are doing something amazing right before your eyes. Their act is very bare-bones, and it will blow your mind.
Braine: I have to take note of that. Among your books, which one is the closest to your own personal story?
Jennifer Echols: The very first one, Major Crush. I was the first female drum major of my high school band. I was fifteen years old, in charge of 175 people, half of whom were boys and half of whom were older than me, and I struggled with a lot of the issues of leadership that Virginia struggles with in the book. Virginia’s story is better, though, because she’s cooler than I ever was, and then there’s Drew. * * sigh * *
Braine: Now I want to read Major Crush out of sheer curiosity! What are you working on now?
Jennifer Echols: I just turned in Playing Dirty (Stargazer #2), my second adult romance, which will be in stores October 29. The first one, Star Crossed (Stargazer #1), will be out February 26. Don’t read these if you don’t like extremely hot sexytimes. Just don’t go there.
Braine: I love extreme sexy times!
Jennifer Echols: Today I’m starting on an outline for the second book in my YA romantic comedy series about high school seniors who are selected as senior superlatives. The first one, which I turned in last week, was about two very unlikely people elected Biggest Flirts. This next one is about the Cutest Couple That Never Was—people their friends think should date, but never have. (And so they do, to see what that would be like.) There’s a third book, too. They're all coming out with Simon Pulse in 2014 and 2015.
Then I’m writing a proposal for another book in the vein of DIRTY LITTLE SECRET, and a proposal for a sequel to LEVITATING LAS VEGAS, and a proposal for a sequel to Star Crossed and Playing Dirty. So let me just remind everybody that this is a crowded and rapidly changing marketplace, but one thing remains the same. Publishers buy sequels to books that sell well in the first couple of weeks after they’re published. They do not buy sequels to books that don’t sell. So make sure you’re supporting the writers you love. That’s the best way—the only way—to see more books by them in the future. This goes for me and for anybody you might enjoy reading.
Braine: NOTED! What book are you currently reading?
Jennifer Echols: I’m reading an advance copy of Start-Up by Sadie Hayes, which will be out in September. Check out the beautiful covers for this series.
Braine: Aside from your own books, what was your favorite read for 2012?
Jennifer Echols: Purity by Jackson Pearce, a hilarious and really important book about who is allowed to make decisions about a young woman’s body and sexuality.
Braine: Thanks Jennifer!
The bitter taste of sibling rivalry
Pre-purchase Dirty Little Secret
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.
Fan Girls & Boys Welcome
Jennifer Echols is giving away signed print copies of
Going Too Far, Forget You, Love Story, Such a Rush
to one lucky Supie!
Contest ends March 5, 2013