I’m so glad you’re joining me on the blog today 🙂 We have author Julianna Keyes visiting. She’s sharing some info about herself, her writing, and her release UNDECIDED!
Don’t forget to grab your copy after the interview and to enter her giveaway!
Let’s get started …
What’s your favorite room in your house? My bedroom! Life is busy and crawling into bed and knowing there’s nothing left to do for a few hours is the best kind of wonderful. It’s a rare opportunity to shut off my brain – not that it always gets the message.
When we walk in your front door, what’s the first thing we’d see? Art! I have a beautiful picture a friend of mine made. He used the body of a real dragonfly as a template and filled the wings with origami paper from Japan (where he lived when he got this idea) and I love it. On the other side I have two silk “paintings” I bought in China. They look like paintings but they’re actually tiny silk stitches of scenes of everyday life in China and I adore them.
I love choosing character names. How did you choose yours for Undecided? Sometimes when I’m working on something names will randomly occur to me. Rather than change the names of the characters in my WIP, I save them for later. I actually have a little list, which is where I got Nora’s name. I often find the really “unusual” names in books to be a distraction, so I chose “Nora” because it stood out for quite the opposite reason – it seemed classic and prim, the way she presents herself at the beginning of the story. I settled on “Crosbie” after thinking of Sidney Crosby. I’m actually from the same town as Sidney Crosby, but I don’t watch hockey and his name is really the only one I know. I associate the name with sports and since Crosbie’s an athlete, I went with it. The third main character is Kellan. I deliberately chose a more modern name – I don’t think there were many Kellans born in the 80s, but I imagine there are lots roaming the halls of high schools now. I wanted his name to feel more “popular” since he’s the most popular guy on campus. The last names I just totally made up.
The cover for Undecided is wonderful. What was your reaction when you first saw it? I was thrilled! It’s the first time I’ve ever had this much say in a cover and it’s everything I wanted. I made a hideous mock-up of my ideal cover (essentially legs on a couch), told the designer to imagine D.J. Tanner sitting on a couch with A.C. Slater and Zack Morris (he watched Full House & Saved by the Bell so he knew what I was talking about), gave him a picture that showed the tone I wanted, and he put it all together. It was better than anything I could have hoped for. When I saw the finished product it really felt perfect.
Describe your writing space. Super unexciting! A desk, a lamp, a laptop, and stacks and stacks of random papers I bring home from work to recycle. They’re filled with countless notes, ideas, and checklists. There are a few spiral-bound notebooks where I make editing notes (in absolutely random, unhelpful order), a cup of pens, and some lip gloss. I’m easily distracted – I couldn’t possibly have anything more interesting in my writing space or I’d never actually write!
What was the inspiration for your book Undecided? A while back I was reading a really popular New Adult Romance when I started thinking how much better it would be if the heroine fell for the cocky best friend. The hero was just too pat and perfect – falling for the friend would provide more conflict, more obstacles, and more surprises. I like characters that are flawed and real, and I’m a fan of heroes who are sort of jerks at the beginning so they go through more of a transformation to be worthy of the heroine. I like peeling back those layers to the real people underneath, and since the New Adult genre is about college-age people fumbling through the part of their lives when they really begin to establish their identity, I thought this was the perfect story for this genre.
Are you comfortable writing love scenes? Yes, surprisingly. The awkward part is really just the first time people you know learn that you write them! But since the truth is out there, I’m over it. They’re kind of like any other scene – they need to reveal and/or advance character and/or plot, and finding ways to do that while maintaining the integrity of the story is a fun balancing act. I like reading them, and I like writing them.
Care to tell us what you’re working on now? A darker psychological romance, where everybody’s lying to everybody else…or are they?
FINISH THIS SENTENCE FUN:
The last thing I cooked was… Brussels sprouts! My favourite.
Right now I’m reading… “Sugar Salt Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” by Michael Moss. I look at the cereal aisle like Death Row. I already know processed food is bad for me, but learning about the psychology, planning, and manipulation that goes into convincing us we want/need those foods is a real eye-opener. Especially for someone whose favourite food is Coke! I’ve even become that person at work who terrorizes people with these scary new facts. Stay away from Lunchables, folks!
I wish I could… sing. I’ve wished that my whole life, and I’ll keep on wishing. I am not talented.
Chocolate is… the best.
I always enjoy… re-reading Robinson Crusoe. Someday I’ll find a desert island of my own.
No way will I ever… eat fish! I said this when I was seven, and I’m still saying it now. Never, mom. Knock it off.
My favorite movie is… Speed. But I tell people it’s 12 Angry Men, which is also great.
second year of college: be invisible. Last year’s all-party-no-study strategy
resulted in three failed classes and two criminal charges, and if she messes up
again she’ll lose her scholarship. But there’s one problem with her plan for
invisibility, and his name is Crosbie Lucas: infamous party king, general
hellraiser…and her new roommate’s best friend.
well-known sexcapades aren’t part of Nora’s studious new strategy, but as she’s
quickly learning, her new plan is also really boring. When Crosbie’s unexpected
gestures of friendship pull her head out of her books long enough to see past
his cocky veneer, she’s surprised to find a flawed and funny guy beneath it
all. The muscles don’t hurt, either.
Crosbie, the weight of one of last year’s bad decisions grows even heavier.
Because three failing grades and two misdemeanors are nothing compared to the
one big secret she’s hiding…
“Want to see a movie?” Crosbie asks as we drive closer.
I squint at the list of shows. It’s an enormous multiplex and the parking lot is packed. He inches past the front so we can see what’s playing.
“Kill Glory 3 is out? I thought it wasn’t coming until December.”
Crosbie laughs uncomfortably when I name the latest installment of the popular horror franchise. “What else is playing?”
I look at him. “You don’t like scary movies?”
He purses his lips. “I like them fine.”
My jaw drops. “You’re afraid.”
“Maybe Toy Story 6 is playing.”
“The Toy Story franchise is classic.”
“Okay, fine.” I crane my neck to try to see some more names. “There’s Tanker Race 2, Soda Shoppe Gals, Operation—I think that’s based on the board game—and that documentary about seals. Anything you’re dying to see?”
He finds parking at the end of a row and unbuckles his seatbelt. “Lady’s choice.”
“Kill Glory 3.”
“Never mind, you can’t choose.”
“Have you seen the first two? They’re excellent. It’s about this death angel named Glory who keeps returning to earth to try to get revenge—”
“I saw five minutes of the first one, and that was enough.”
“So…Soda Shoppe Gals?”
He tips his head to peer out the windshield at the start times. We’ve got half an hour until the next showings. “We can see Kill Glory 3,” he says reluctantly, reaching over to tug me in by the collar. “But let’s make out for a bit first.”
“Make out?” I feign offense. “You haven’t even bought me popcorn.”
“Can I just give you the ten dollars?”
We’re laughing when our lips meet, teeth bumping until we get serious. Crosbie displays none of the urgency I’m feeling, kissing me leisurely, exploring, learning. Again, it’s a surprise. He’s got one hand curled against my neck while the other rests against the back of the seat. If I’d ever given any thought to making out in a car with Crosbie Lucas, I’d have pictured him sticking his hand up my shirt—or down my pants—in the first thirty seconds. But that doesn’t appear to be the plan for tonight, and I quash the tiny part of me that’s disappointed and tell myself to just enjoy the moment. I’ve actually never done this before. I had zero boyfriends in high school, and I don’t think any of the guys I kissed last year even had a car. At least, I never bothered to learn enough about them to find out if they did.
Teenagers walk by and holler “Get a room!” breaking us apart. We’re both breathing hard, the windows only starting to steam up, advertising our activities without actually obscuring them.
“Hi,” Crosbie says.
I can’t help but smile. “Hi.”
Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts
and several places in between. She’s been skydiving, bungee jumping and white
water rafting, but nothing thrills—or terrifies—her as much as the blank page.
She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, though not
necessarily in that order, and writes sizzling stories with strong characters,
plenty of conflict, and lots of making up.
the author of four contemporary romances: Just Once, the story of a
world weary socialite and a stubborn ranch foreman; Going the Distance,
a love story set in China between a kindergarten ESL teacher and a former army
interrogator; Time Served, the tale of an ambitious young lawyer
whose perfect world is jeopardized when she reunites with her ex-con
ex-boyfriend; and In Her Defense, in which a ruthless young lawyer
realizes there’s more to life than being the best…right?
visit her online at http://juliannakeyes.com, or sign up for her free
newsletter at http://juliannakeyes.com/newsletter.html.