Book Nerd Interview
Photo Credit: Stanley Studios
In addition to being a six-time nominee and one-time winner of the RITA Award, Roxanne’s novels have won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense three times, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and are routinely included as a Doubleday/Rhapsody Book Club Selection of the Month.
Roxanne lives in Florida with her family, and can be reached via her website,www.roxannestclaire.com or on her Facebook Reader page,www.facebook.com/roxannestclaire and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roxannestclaire.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
When I was about eight or nine, my sister would write what we now call “Fan Fic” for popular TV shows and when she would read them to me (with great dramatic flair) I started thinking about the fun of, well, making stuff up. So much better than real life! I picked up the pen for my friends’ amusement in eighth grade and continued writing stories longhand until my parents finally bought me a typewriter when I was twelve. Nothing could keep me from that keyboard, dreaming up a better life than the dull middle-class existence I had. (Really, it was an amazing childhood with many siblings and an incredibly fun family, but I was too young and dumb to realize that.) As I grew older, I let the writing dream die and life and career and then motherhood took over. But one day, about twelve years ago, I finished a book (always a hard core reader) and decided I’d like to try and write a novel. About a week later, I started my first book, sold it two years after that, and have written just about forty since then.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It’s how we learn about life! If we couldn’t immerse ourselves in another world – either through books, movies, TV shows, or even video games – we’d be limited to our own experience and for most of us, that isn’t enough. Stories make us feel, they build empathy, the transport us, and they validate and comfort.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Very hard to pick one book as my favorite. My earliest reads were historical romances (Gone With The Wind, Jane Eyre, all things Austen) and then I discovered trashy commercial fiction, thrillers, spy novels, and all manner of romance. If I had to take one book to a desert island and live on it, I would say Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, but that’s because I’m still mid-series and madly in love. I write in many genres, but I do read a lot of non-fiction, mostly as a palette cleanser from all the writing I do.
In your book; They All Fall Down, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
Of course! They All Fall Down is a young adult thriller that’s been described as “Pretty Little Liars” meets “Final Destination.” I don’t know how accurate that is, but I will say when I decided to write a YA thriller nearly two years ago, I couldn’t find very many on the market. That meant I had to find my way, my voice, and my story without trying to understand readers’ expectations. It’s the story of a high school junior who unexpectedly lands on her school’s “hottie list” – a tradition that dates back thirty years. She’s fifth on a list of ten most attractive girls in her school, which has surprising social benefits she hadn’t really been seeking. But then very scary things start to happen, in frightening chronological order. Girl #1 dies in a diving accident, #2 ingests poison, and it soon becomes clear there is either a curse, a killer, or a really freakish coincidence. Kenzie has to find out the truth, because she’s fifth on the list and time’s running out.
For those who are unfamiliar with Kenzie, how would you introduce her?
It’s easy to miss Kenzie because she’s never the center of attention, and doesn’t want to be. Kenzie is a Latin nerd with a bone-deep love of an ancient and dead language, who has few friends, and a wildly overprotective mother. She also grew up in the shadow of a very “big” big brother, and is still haunted by that shadow after his untimely and tragic death.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Kenzie to Ashley Armstrong, a 17 year old who lives in Barefoot Bay, a fictional island I write about in my adult novels. Ashley has a rebellious streak but a heart of gold, and she needs someone as focused as Kenzie to help her get into college.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Levi?
He has dyslexia. This isn’t a defining character trait for him, but it is a problem that has held him back and contributed to his difficult life.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Do you ever lie?
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Read, of course, everything you can possibly find. Try all kinds of books by all kinds of writers but don’t force yourself to finish a book you don’t like. (I think that fosters a dislike for reading and life is too short to read a book that doesn’t appeal to you!) Also, write something every day – a journal entry, a chapter, a poem, an essay, or even a scene from your own life that plays out better on paper than it did IRL. Read and write, that’s my advice!
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I was a cocktail wench at a “Renaissance” style restaurant, required to wear a sexy bodice and corset with a super short skirt and high heels. Let’s just say I made a fortune that summer.
Who was your first boyfriend?
First official boyfriend was Danny Paranzino, who went to another high school and gave me his high school ring and his heart and a big red teddy bear for my sixteenth birthday.
Tell me about your first kiss.
It was the summer between eighth and ninth grade, during a slow dance at a party. His name was Tom and I remember trying to figure out if we were supposed to stop dancing while we kissed or keep moving. It was incredibly awkward, but I do remember it, so points to Tom.
What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
I don’t know, but can I use that as a theme for a book? Great question! I guess since I tell lots of people I love them, it would be harder to tell them I really didn’t love them at all. But I love everyone, so no problem!
When was the last time you cried?
Really, you don’t want to know. Yesterday? This morning? I cry very easily, and often. I got a little teary reading my daughter’s college entrance essay today, so there you go. Weepy.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
Oh, the fifties! So innocent and fun and swell. And the music was perfection!
What is your greatest adventure?
Where can readers stalk you?
All over the internet! I’m on Twitter constantly (@roxannestclaire) and FB (/roxannestclaire) and Insta (@roxannestclaire1) or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love to hear from readers!
Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.
All because of the list.
Kenzie Summerall can't imagine how she's been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.
This is the power of the list. If you're on it, your life changes.
If you're on it this year? Your life ends.
The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer?
Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list...before her number’s up.