Book Nerd Interview
After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.
A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.
On her thirtieth birthday, she mourned (okay bawled) the fact that in no way could she still be considered a “young adult,” so she rebelled by picking upTwilight and promptly fell in love with Young Adult literature.
She has a love/hate relationship with Mardi Gras –where does all that money come from?–and can sneeze 18 times in a row.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Oddly, no. I wish I could say, "I've dreamt of being a writer since I was in diapers ... " but that's not how it happened. I've always been good with words, but I mainly focused on nonfiction writing. I thought I was going to be an English professor or newspaper copyeditor, and I did both those things briefly. When I had my kids, my professional life got put on hold, and then we moved a thousand miles across the country. Culture shock made me finally attempt fiction writing.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Want is so heavy, I think people would be surprised to know that I love to make people laugh. My personality is much more like Dave's than any other character! Oh, and I've been skydiving.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Teachers are people. I was taught to respect authority, so I spent most of my school years thinking of my teachers as gods. I adored most of them. I got a rude awakening in high school when one teacher was verbally abusive, and another I caught teaching false information. When I confronted him about it (I went and did research -- I'm such a nerd) he said, "Well, it got you to investigate, didn't it?" WORST. EXCUSE. EVER.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Develop a thick skin and be mentally tough. This is much easier said than done.
Can you tell us when you started Want, how that came about?
I started Want in the spring of 2010, after an experience at a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile, Alabama. There was a really stuck-up woman who was obviously the wife of one of the mystic society members. Even though it was tank-top weather, she was wearing a fur coat, pearls, heels, the whole nine yards, and was extremely rude. She made me so mad that I took a picture of her from behind so I could remember that moment. I began wondering what it must be like to keep up that holier-than-thou attitude all the time, and the toll it would take on her family. I couldn't imagine how horrible it would be to have her as a mother, and that's where Juli came from.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Julianne?
It wasn't until I had shipped Want out to beta readers that one of them said, "You know Juli is textbook Borderline Personality Disorder, right?" I had no idea--I'd just tried to create a character that had issues because of what was happening at home. I imagined what her mindset and reactions would be like. Once she was "diagnosed" by the beta reader, I did more research and added it to the story. It totally fit.
If you could introduce Isaac to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Hah! Maybe I'd introduce him to Katniss so he could see what real suffering looks like, and how to stand up to your enemies and take responsibility. She'd kick his you-know-what!
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?
Stop worrying so much about what you aren't and what you think you should be. Embrace who you are and seek out people who like you for it.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
"How are you?" "Fine."
What’s your most missed memory?
My favorite grandmother (and last remaining grandparent) died a couple months ago. I miss going to her house and reading tabloids with her. We'd giggle over the horrible headlines, and then she'd make grilled cheese and we'd play Yahtzee. She was extremely influential in my life.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
Oh, gosh, I was a table busser at a restaurant overlooking Lake Erie. It was sweaty, stinky, back-breaking work. Worse, I had a slimy boss who used to grab my wrist to hold me in place when he wanted to talk to me. I was young so I let him do it, but these days I'd probably crack him across the face if he tried that! *shudders*
When was the last time you cried?
I cry all the time! I'm totally emo, LOL. A good friend had to put his dog down, and my family went through something similar not too long ago, so seeing him so upset made me upset. He texted me a picture when he got his dog's ashes back that said, "Welcome home, Atticus." I lost it.
Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
I have bizarre dreams almost every night, but I can never remember them more than a couple hours after I wake up. The worst involve losing my kids or something bad happening to them. That is truly horrifying and much worse than any monster.
Where can readers stalk you?
I'm totally stalkable! My website is www.StephanieLawton.com; my Facebook author page is www.facebook.com/StephanieLawtonWriter; Twitter handle is @Steph_Lawton; Tumblr ishttp://www.tumblr.com/blog/stephanielawton (although I don't use that very much); and my Pinterest (with book inspiration boards) ishttp://pinterest.com/steph_lawton/. If all that fails, my email is email@example.com. Stalk away!
Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche.
Julianne can’t understand why Isaac suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it before she inherits her mother’s madness. Isaac knows he must resist his attraction to a student ten years his junior, but loneliness and jealousy threaten his resolve.
Their indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball—the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite—forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.
Will Julianne accept the help she’s offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her?
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