In this weeks edition of Ask the Author I'm bringing you the amazing Shannon Lee Alexander, author of Life After Juliet, the companion Love and Other Unknown Variables. I absolutely loved Life After Juliet (find my review here) so I'm really happy that Shannon agreed to do this interview with me.
Find her amazing book and As to my Qs below:
Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander
Published: July 5th 2016 by Entangled TEEN
Number of Pages: 304 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, companion to Love and Other Unknown Variables
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people...
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again. (goodreads.com)
Interview with Shannon Lee Alexander
1 – Describe Life After Juliet with a haiku.
I haven’t written a haiku in so long! What a fun way to start an interview.
Quiet bookworm hidesSpotlight reveals deepest griefDefies stars for new life
2 – What was the first initial thought or thing that sparked the idea of Life After Juliet?
Waaaay back in 2013, my editor asked if I’d ever considered writing another book in the Love and Other Unknown Variables universe. LAOUV is the companion novel to Life after Juliet. I laughed and said no. No way. But then, she said, “It’s just that some of us here are wondering…what happens to Becca?”
Once the question was asked, I couldn’t stop thinking about Becca and what might happen to a girl like her after the events of LAOUV. Eventually, I started writing my ideas down and Life after Juliet was born.
3 – What was the most challenging about writing Life After Juliet and which scene was the most fun to write?
There were many challenging things about Life after Juliet. One of the most difficult was to be sure Becca’s voice was authentic to her and that the grief journey she was on was her own. I didn’t want to color her life with my own experiences, so I had to be very careful and deliberate in creating her character.
I think the dumpster scene near the end is one of my favorites. Becca seems so happy and like she truly fits in again. I love that scene. And I think it’s funny. I love funny!
4 – What do you like most and least about your main character, Becca?
I like Becca’s honesty, with herself and others.
I guess what I liked least about Becca when I was writing was her ability to sit still for so long. Main characters that prefer to sit alone and read do not make very exciting stories! I really had to shove her into the spotlight!
5 - In retrospective, is there anything that you’d change about the story or are you happy with the way it turned out in the end?
Hmm…maybe not change. I’m sure there are little tweaks here and there I’d like to make if I were to go back and read it now. But as far as major structure, I like the bones of this story. It works for Becca. I’d hate to change that.
6 - How did you feel when you first realized that this story you had written would soon be read by hundreds of people and how do you feel now, years later, before your next book will be released? Did the feeling change or is it still the same?
I was absolutely terrified with the first book! Terrified!! And while I still get nervous when I think about people reading (and judging) Life after Juliet, I’ve really made my peace with my role in the creative process and where it ends, which is the moment it becomes available to readers.
Life after Juliet was mine until July 5, when it launched and became the property of readers. It’s a gift. And I can’t take it back. And it isn’t my place to interpret the gift I’ve given. It’s my job to give the gift with all my heart and then let others receive it.
7 – What do you think about the cover? Is it anything like you imagined it being?
I love the hombre blue hues in this cover!! They are so pretty. And the title font is gorgeous (I’m a big fan of fonts, which is weird, but I just love them). I honestly struggled a little with the couple on the cover at first. But Entangled Publishing worked with me on a few things, and now I can see their vision for the cover much more clearly.
I didn’t exactly have a vision for this cover (or LAOUV either), but Entangled always comes through.
8 – Seeing as you’re a YA author I’m sure you also read YA, so I wondered, what were the last three books you’ve read and what did you think of them?
I’m going to check my Goodreads to be sure:
1) Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee—LOVED this middle grade book! Gave it 5 stars. It’s the story of a girl and fox and the mysterious ways their lives are linked. I cried so many times when reading it. It was beautiful.
2) Everland by Wendy Spinale—I liked this one and gave it 3 stars. It’s a steampunk retelling of Peter Pan, which was a really cool angle! I enjoyed it, but not as much as my 13-year-old daughter. She finished it in one sitting!
3) Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler—I’m a big Sarah Ockler fan. I love her characters’ inner monologues. She makes me laugh and tugs at my heartstrings, too. I gave this book 3 stars, though, which is low for a Sarah Ockler for me. She’s usually a 5 star author. It was a cute story about a figure skater turned baker and the ways she’s trying to pull her life back together. Very fun, but I wanted something more. My favorite Sarah Ockler is Fixing Delilah.
9 – Do you have a writing routine or do you write whenever creativity strikes?
I write whenever I get the chance. That doesn’t happen every day. I have two very busy kiddos whose lives come first for me right now. They won’t be at home with me very much longer, and I just don’t want to miss out on anything. Time here on Earth is short and life is fleeting, so I spend as much time with people I love as I can.
10 – What advice could you give aspiring authors?
Find an amazing critique group. Make sure they are always honest (even brutal when necessary) with you. Your writing won’t grow from praise, but constructive criticism will do you wonders! I wouldn’t be a published writer if it weren’t for my critique group, the YA Cannibals. Our motto is We Eat Our Own. We figure it’s best to have our stories shredded by each other, so we can put them back together stronger and better.
11 – If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Telekinesis? I think I’d like that. If it means I can make the vacuum work and fold the laundry without actually having to do that, then sign me up!
About the Author
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.