Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tess Wakefield Author Interview

Cassie Salazar and Luke Morrow couldn’t be more different. Beautiful and enigmatic Cassie is a struggling artist, working nights at a bar in Austin, Texas to make ends meet while pursuing her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter. Luke is an Army trainee, about to ship out for duty, who finds comfort in the mental and physical discipline of service after a difficult time in his life. But a chance encounter at Cassie’s bar will throw them together in ways that they’d never expect.

Cassie has been barely getting by financially ever since discovering that she has diabetes. Even with her basic insurance, she is drowning in medical bills. Added to her worries are concerns for her mother, who’s getting older and has no one else to look after her. So when she runs into old friend Frankie, now enlisted in the Army, she proposes a deal: a marriage license in exchange for better insurance for Cassie, and Frankie will keep the increased paycheck he’ll get now that he has a “family” to look after. Frankie says he can’t help her because he has a girlfriend, but to Cassie’s surprise, Frankie’s annoyingly intense friend Luke volunteers to marry her instead. Unbeknownst to Cassie, he desperately needs the money to pay off his old drug dealer from before he got clean.

The two of them make a pact: they’ll get married for a few months, make the money they need, and then get divorced when Luke has returned from duty and the time is right. But when a devastating injury overseas throws Luke back into Cassie’s life, they must make their marriage seem as real as possible to army personnel or risk being sent to jail for fraud. And sometimes, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s just pretend.


"When I laughed at loud at Tess Wakefield's wit on page three of PURPLE HEARTS, I knew this was a book I would love. With complex and compassionately drawn characters facing all-too-real problems, Wakefield has created a uniquely affecting love story about two people so deeply human you'd almost swear you know them." —Bethany Chase, bestselling author of THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

You can purchase Purple Hearts at the following Retailers:

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
This is a tough one! It’s hard not to answer “everything and everyone,” since I find myself using the most random memories, or tidbits of knowledge, or techniques that I’ve absorbed over the years. I don’t intend to imitate or draw from any one style, but I know my writing is a patchwork of so many authors. Unfortunately I’m just not sure exactly who, haha.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I have a day job and it sucks, just like yours. Kidding, kidding. Maybe your day job doesn’t suck. As for mine, sometimes I fall asleep at my desk.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to think critically about the history of visual culture, from art to films to advertisements. I’ll be paying back my student loans forever, but I think about these histories every day, even as I write.

Did you learn anything from writing PURPLE HEARTS and what was it?
I learned a lot! I researched opioid addiction, music theory, military law, and veteran care. Though Cassie’s heritage is not the center of her story, I spoke to people with both white and Puerto Rican identities about the varying ways Puerto Rican culture enters their lives, and how they relate to their parents. I also spoke to people about their lives with diabetes, and did a fair amount of research on that, as well.

On a more personal level, I was going through a terrible break-up when I wrote Purple Hearts, so I had to learn how to set aside heartbreak and write a romance. Not easy. Took several drafts for Purple Hearts not to be a bitter mess.

For those who are unfamiliar with Cassie, how would you introduce her?
Cassie’s that friend or coworker who’s always got something going on, who’s always looking for the next challenge.

What part of Luke did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed exploring Luke’s memories, and his softer side. I am also trying to find a healthy relationship to substances, so it was incredibly healing to be with Luke as he gave himself permission to be honest about his problems, and to be vulnerable.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Does a play count? Considering Cassie and Luke know a thing or two about living a double life—and they are, of course, very stressed about it—I think both of them could use a relaxing weekend with the Bunburyists in The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The writers I know are more my friends than mentors. I learn a lot from my editors at Alloy Entertainment, so if I had to choose mentors, I’d choose them: Lanie Davis, Joelle Hobeika, Annie Stone, Katie McGee, Josh Bank, Sara Shandler. All are incredible people who have basically helped me grow up, both as a person and a writer.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Seek out writers and books outside of your comfort zone.

Tell me about your first kiss.
I remember it involved public land, a row of trees along a road, and it was more like a “mouth press” than a kiss.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
I wrote a letter to my grandfather in Wisconsin around Christmas time.

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
I think I visited my dad’s family in Baltimore when I was an infant, but the first airplane ride I remember was to Boston, to stay with my cousin and attend theatre camp when I was 12. I got to ride on the plane by myself, and felt very grown-up and independent.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
Now! Gender is more fluid, racism is addressed more directly, and Audible is a thing. I would have been obsessed. Just as I am now. :)

What is your greatest adventure?
Living in New York on waitressing tips. I ate one meal a day and couldn’t afford to do anything but take walks. And yet I wrote more often than I do now, because I had so much time.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would have taken piano lessons.

Where can readers find you?
On Twitter at @TessWake. Thank you for having me, Jean!

When not producing fiction for young readers, Tess Wakefield works in Golden Valley, Minnesota as a copywriter, an amateur comedian, and a caretaker for several thriving plants. PURPLE HEARTS is her first novel for adults.


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