Monday, September 26, 2022

Lygia Day Peñaflor Interview - Creep

Photo Content from Lygia Day Peñaflor

Lygia Day Peñaflor is the author of Creep: A Love Story, All of This is True, and Unscripted Joss Byrd. She also teaches young Hollywood stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Spielberg's West Side Story, and others. She lives on Long Island, NY, where she rides horses and flies from a trapeze.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I can’t think of a specific moment. From a young age, I knew I wanted to be an author. I always related to TV and movie characters who were writers. I remember watching Stand by Me when I was a kid. River Phoenix played Chris Chambers, and Will Wheaton played Gordy. There’s a part where Chris says, “You’re going to be a great writer someday, Gordy.” It’s so corny to say this, but I felt that!

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
When I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, I got the feeling that I could do that – I could write a novel. I wrote a lot after that and kept at it until I finished a full manuscript. I’d say that definitely changed my life.

Can you tell us when you started CREEP, how that came about?
I thought about this book for years and years. The premise stemmed from an encounter I had when I was a senior in high school. A freshman girl came up to me and said, “You have the cutest boyfriend.” She gave me goosebumps. I thought of her often throughout the years. I imagined who she might be, and I imagined her place in our school. I committed to writing it when I realized I had basically imagined her entire story. When I typed the first line, “Laney Villanueva and Nico Fiore are here,” Rafi’s voice was crystal clear because I’d thought about her for such a long time.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
When I was drafting this book, my agent asked what kind of punishment Rafi would receive for her actions. This surprised me because I honestly never thought of Rafi as a villain. Her behavior is awful, yes. But she isn’t a bad person. Wait. Is she? Is she a terrible person? Maybe I’ve lost all perspective because I lived in her head for too long. Well, I’m sure that readers will let me know just how terrible she is!

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from CREEP
My favorite scene from Creep: A Love Story is the big, sad scene on the roof (no spoilers here!). It was one of the first scenes I wrote. It came pouring out and remained the same from the first draft to the final printing. I feel like I wrote the entire book around that scene; I probably did. That works well for me—knowing where the heart of the novel is from the start. It helps me focus on what’s important and keeps the characters true to their purpose.

  • While writing this novel, I listened to “Creep” by Radiohead more times than I can count.
  • Holy Family High School was based on my own Catholic high school.
  • Like Laney, my cousins are my best friends, and every party includes karaoke (yes, this is very Filipino).
  • I included a detail in this novel that’s a nod to the movie Fatal Attraction.
  • I love high school yearbooks. Any school. Any year. I can look through a yearbook for hours.
  • Like my two other books, Creep: A Love Story also takes place on Long Island.
  • The Holy Family choir sings “Behold the Lamb of God,” which was my favorite when I sang in high school chorus. Those high notes! *chef’s kiss *
  • Gran is addicted to Law & Order: SVU. It’s a show I’ve worked on many times as a set teacher in NYC.
  • The photo on the cover, by photographer Andi Bierlein, is a Polaroid of her friend Isabella.
  • Several editors rejected this book for being too realistic. I took it as a compliment.
Meet the Characters
Holy Family High School sophomore, yearbook photographer, maker of simple meals, ex-friend of Jenna, ex-student of beloved teacher Mr. Joshua Bryant, stalker of “Cutest Couple” Laney Villanueva and Nico Fiore
“Look at this photograph. Just look at how beautiful.” – Rafi Wickham

LANEY VILLANUEVA: Filipina American, senior, dancer, aspiring NYU student, girlfriend of Nico Fiore, long black hair, dimple, her turn leaps are perfection
“I’m a dancer.” – Laney Villanueva

NICO FIORE: Senior, soccer player, honor roll, older brother of Millie Fiore, hazel-eyed boyfriend of Laney Villanueva, drives a black Jeep, does a damn good Elvis routine
“I love you so much and forever.” – Nico Fiore

MILLIE FIORE: 8 years old, second grader, little sister of Nico Fiore, loves: eggplant parm, Legos, and her pet rabbit; wears a damn cute kangaroo costume
“Light my fiiiire!” – Millie Fiore

Your Journey to Publication
I started writing seriously around 2011. I told no one that I was writing a novel. I was afraid that if I failed, everyone would know I had an unpublished manuscript in my drawer. I only told my family and friends I’d written a book after I signed with my agent. When my debut novel, Unscripted Joss Byrd, was published in 2016, my parents accompanied me to the B&N stores in my area to see my book on the shelves and take pictures with me signing copies. That was one of the very best days.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I make a playlist for each book and replay it on shuffle. Sometimes I play a movie in the background that inspires what I’m writing. I have photos of what my characters might look like on my computer desktop. I choose houses for my characters from local real estate magazines. One of my favorite parts of the process is naming characters. “Laney'' came from Rachael Leigh Cook’s character “Laney Boggs” in the movie She’s All That. I chose her last name, Villanueva, because it’s recognizably Filipino and sounds so pretty.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
True love with heartbreak, without question. Writers thrive on heartbreak. It’s fuel. What would we write about otherwise? I don’t know, but it would be boring.

First Love?
Creep: A Love Story is about a first love. And it explores the idea that first love can last forever, even if the relationship does not. I guess I believe in that.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
When I was a teen, my entire family (parents, cousins, aunts and uncles) went to the Philippines to celebrate my grandparents’ golden anniversary. What a raucous, chaotic, hilarious time! There’s definitely a Filipino My Big Fat Greek Wedding comedy in there.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Coral. You know the one that looks like brains? Eeeeek!

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
I once witnessed a medical procedure performed on a dining room table in someone’s home. Actually, it was my home, and it was my dining room table. I’m realizing there’s a horror novel in this. I should go – I gotta write this down!

You meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before in this twisted, tragic love story that follows Holy Family High School's cutest couple--as told through the eyes of the classmate who's stalking them.

Laney Villanueva and Nico Fiore are the perfect couple: beautiful, popular, talented, and hopelessly in love. Everyone looks up to them at Holy Family High School.

But Rafi doesn't just admire them. She watches them. She's drawn to them.

Intent on becoming their closest friend, Rafi weaves her way into their lives. She starts small: taking photos of the senior class for the yearbook, joining Laney's club, and babysitting Nico's little sister. And it works--soon they invite her to parties, take her on joyrides, and ask her for favors. Rafi's actions quickly turn invasive, delving deeper and deeper until she's consumed by their most intimate secrets.

When tragedy strikes the young lovers, Rafi's obsession spirals, and she will do anything to keep the perfect couple together. Anything . . .
You can purchase Creep at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LYGIA DAY PEÑAFLOR for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Creep by Lygia Day Peñaflor.


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