Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lily Anderson Author Interview

Photo Credit: Chris Duffey

LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
When I was 18, I’d dropped out of college and was unemployed and crashing with friends and I decided to try finishing a novel. I’d been writing consistently my whole life, but I’d never finished a full length book. So, I sat down with my laptop in my friends’ very creepy basement and started writing a contemporary YA. That ended up being over 100,000 words. But it was a whole book. And I knew that I wanted to keep creating full stories and following them to their natural end. (And, eventually, I learned how to edit.)

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Make writing friends. As an industry, publishing can be so crushing. Your art is out of your hands and critiqued and blogged about or even just ignored. It helps so much to have a community of people who can tell you what is and is not normal and how to keep going when things get hard. Because as a career, writing can be so hard. But with friends, it can also be totally joyful.

What makes story telling great for you?
I love hitting upon moments that ring true for readers. I’ve gotten letters from fans who have told me that their school was as competitive as the Messina Academy in THE ONLY THING or that they’re the Trixie of their group. I love taking bits of what I’ve noticed in my own life and transforming them into a mirror for readers.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing NOT NOW, NOT EVER?
NOT NOW, NOT EVER had seven Chapter Ones. Seven times I sat down and wrote the intro to the story. Meeting Elliot Gabaroche, setting up a retelling of The Importance Of Being Earnest. And six of them didn’t work. At all. They had too many characters or the wrong love interest. So, writing the seventh that started with “There was no empirical evidence that the Lieutenant wasn’t a robot” and moving on from there to a solid Chapter 2 was unforgettable because it’s when the story became a book.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with?

All of them? I’m a huge of YA from way back so getting to engage with anyone whose books I’ve read is a treat.

Did you learn anything from writing NOT NOW, NOT EVER and what was it?
I learned that every book is different. I’m usually a pretty fast drafter, but I wrote NOT NOW over the span of an entire year. And every chapter was hard. So, I learned to outline more thoroughly in order to not get lost halfway into a book. And I literally blocked Goodreads from all of my devices so that I would stop reading bad reviews and getting too freaked out to write.

What part of Elliot did you enjoy writing the most?
I love Elliot’s bravery. I have an anxiety disorder and am, generally, just a homebody/scaredy cat. Elliot has grown up assuming that she was going to leave home for the military after high school and it’s made her tough in a way that I find fascinating and utterly alien. I also loved how into science fiction she was because it was a dope excuse to watch Dune and reread Octavia Butler.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I have a head canon that Trixie Watson from THE ONLY THING and Mercedes from Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s FIRSTS meet in grad school and become lifelong pals.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?

Life doesn’t stop after high school. YA is great because it captures this moment where anything is possible. But that never stops being true. Just because you aren’t picking a college or falling in love for the first time doesn’t mean that you aren’t about to unlock more of your true self. We’re growing, always.

Lily Anderson’s debut novel The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You took Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and reimagined it as a fandom filled YA novel that resonated with readers. Now, building on her nerd approved and classic rom-com based plots, Anderson’s sophomore novel, NOT NOW, NOT EVER (Wednesday Books; November 21, 2017), is a play on The Importance of Being Ernest with all the geeky fun that made her debut beloved. Anderson introduces her fierce heroine Elliot and sends her to nerd summer camp where hijinks are sure to ensue.

Elliot is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer. 1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest. No thank you. 2. She also isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA. (Ugh.) 3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mom’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/“feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her determination, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and run away to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich 

Praise for NOT NOW, NOT EVER

“This is a wonderful book that explores the desire to be loyal to family and to create a space that belongs solely to oneself. Ever’s is a fresh and welcome voice that unashamedly embraces her geekiness.” —School Library Journal

“Smart, strong, and confident, Ever is a likable protagonist...and fans of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You will joyfully greet the return of major characters. Good geeky fun.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Fans of Anderson’s debut novel, The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, will recognize some characters and delight in the steady flow of witty banter and sci-fi references.” —Booklist

“NOT NOW, NOT EVER definitely lives up to even the highest summer-camp novel expectations, and watching Elliot gain her stride and find herself at a summer camp for genius nerds is extremely entertaining…This is a strong novel with a solid cast of supporting characters surrounding Elliot, one of the most charismatic heroines in recent memory.” —Romantic Times
You can purchase Not Now, Not Ever at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ST. MARTIN PRESS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson.

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