Saturday, May 14, 2016

Interview with Jilly Gagnon, author of #famous

Can you tell us about your books?

Happy to! #famous is my young adult debut. It’s a fast-paced contemporary romance told from two perspectives, Rachel’s (the girl who took a picture of a cute fast food employee that blew up the internet overnight) and Kyle’s (the boy in the picture). But Kyle’s immediate fame comes with a cost–mostly to Rachel, who quickly becomes the internet’s favorite punching bag. As Kyle’s star rises higher, Rachel’s left wondering whether she’ll be totally eclipsed…until The Laura Show calls and asks her to step onstage alongside Kyle. Will they be able to handle the glare of the spotlight? And is fame–and love–worth the price?

What are you currently writing?

I also write adult comedy, so I’m working on the second and third books in a series of grown-up choose your path novels called “Choose Your Own Misery.”
In the YA realm, I’m just starting on a book, tentatively titled Presumed Dead, that is TOTALLY different from #famous. It’s got a central character trying to simultaneously run from and cover up her dark past, a disappearance, all kinds of mystery surrounding what happened, and three perspectives (because I apparently just love making it hard for myself)! It’s really early days on that manuscript, but I’m SUPER excited about it!

How long have you been a published author?

I write freelance for a lot of comedy outlets and magazines–assuming those count, since maybe 2007 or 2008? As far as books, the first in my “Choose Your Own Misery” series, co-authored with Mike MacDonald, appeared in January 2016. #famous is slated to come out early next year!

If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?

Say yes to everything. Write for the small online publication, submit to that random contest you come across, send your pitch idea into the local paper, maintain your blog. Not only will those things help you build up clippings (which won’t get a book published necessarily, but will help your visibility, which is important!), they’ll make you a better writer!
It’s so easy to say “I’m too ___ to write today” — tired, uninspired, busy, you name it! And if you only have one “thing” that you focus on–say novels–it really can be hard to find the motivation some days. But if you try your hand at all kinds of stuff, not only will you be learning about your craft, you’ll always have something else to turn to on days when the “big” project just feels like too much.
Beyond that: just keep writing. I wrote four books that didn’t get published before one did. Writing them taught me how to write. Failing a couple times will definitely hurt, but it will make you better!

Who are your favorite authors?

Oh man, this list could go on forever!
All-time faves include P.G. Wodehouse, because he makes humor look effortless; Roald Dahl, because the darkness and wit he brings to kid’s lit is unbeatable; J.R.R. Tolkien, because LOTR (and the Silmarillion–yes, I’ve read it); and Nabokov, because he was a genius.
Favorites who are still living (HA!) would include Corey Ann Haydu, whose books are so touching and honest; Jesse Andrews, because Me & Earl made me laugh out loud and then cry ugly tears; Joe Hill, because Locke & Key completely blew my mind; and Hilary Mantel. If you haven’t read her series on Cromwell and Henry VIII, you should, it’s amazing.

What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?
Definitely the entire Hobbit/Lord of the Rings cycle–I love living in that fantasy world. Harry Potter is the same, that world is so amazingly realized that you feel like you can live insidethose books. I also love Middlemarch. That book is practically perfect, if you ask me. Reading it is like comfort food.

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