Thursday, August 10, 2023

Joelle Wellington Interview - Their Vicious Games

Photo Content from Joelle Wellington

Joelle Wellington grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where her childhood was spent wandering the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Her love of the written word led her to a BA in creative writing and international studies. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading and when she’s not doing that, she’s attempting to bake bread with varying degrees of success or strengthening her encyclopedia-like pop culture knowledge. Their Vicious Games is her first young adult novel.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I always knew from when I was very young that I wanted to create stories. I spent so much time stapling together printer paper and drawing illustrations and writing the little things that I came up with in my head. My parents read to me a lot as a kid and I just admired the idea that someone could sit down and write my favorite thing. So, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make someone’s favorite thing.

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?
My favorite book of all-time is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I think it’s such a layered story and I love a good story that talks about familial relationships, particular sister relationships and mother-daughter relationships.

But, that’s a thriller/mystery, and you asked also out of my genre. I used to write poetry, but I don’t anymore, so I’d have to say Crush by Richard Siken.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
This was right after I signed my contract—it was my mother’s 50th birthday, and my entire family (grandparents, aunt, sister, included) went out to dinner. It was a really nice restaurant, and at the end of it, I spoke to the waitress and took care of the bill. Being able to give something to my mother after she gave so much to me for my entire life was the most rewarding thing.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I remember reading it my senior year of high school and being in absolute awe that someone could write something like this. Just a beautiful, intricate tale about a single family through multiple generations. That really changed my perspective on what storytelling could be and accomplish.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
For me, storytelling is an avenue of truth-telling. I think that when you cut through the craft and the story, there’s always a central thesis that rings like truth in the author’s life. On the part of the reader, I think storytelling is important because you should have questions after you finish something. I don’t like the idea that a book should always provide answers. I think it should raise questions that you go out to answer in the real world.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
Elation. The cover is perfect in every possible way.

  • 1. It used to be called BLOODSPORT. I have that tattooed on my arm.
  • 2. Every single book I write begins in the form of a playlist and a Pinterest board. The first song on the playlist is Royals by Lorde.
  • 3. This is the funniest I’ve ever allowed myself to be in my writing.
  • 4. Adina Walker used to want to be a filmmaker, but only because at the time, I had been obsessed with the art of filmmaking.
  • 5. I was so, so sure of the ending until I actually got there, and then I realized that there had to be a change.
  • 6. I first drafted it through a terrible ear infection that lasted like 3 weeks, because I hadn’t realized I had an ear infection, like a 4 year old.
  • 7. I deleted an entire best friend for Adina from the first draft because she didn’t serve the story as well as I wanted her to. (RIP Imani, you were great.)
  • 8. I decided to go with my current publisher while standing in the middle of a Trader Joe’s, debating over salmon.
  • 9. Besides Adina and Saint, the two characters that came to me fully formed in my head were Penthesilea Bonavich and Leighton Remington.
What is the first job you have had?
Assistant/secretary at an Early Childhood Center.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Reading under the covers after bedtime. It doesn’t have the same allure now that I set my own bedtime.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
What I’m going to wear tomorrow.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
The sound of cardboard rubbing together freaks me out.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school?
I had a class that was a mix of English and theater of about 12 kids and we would read three Shakespeare plays a semester. Every class, we were assigned roles for the reading. I got to see so much theater through that and really learned about what makes fabulous dialogue, so definitely that.

A Black teen desperate to regain her Ivy League acceptance enters an elite competition only to discover the stakes aren’t just high, they’re deadly, in this searing thriller that’s Ace of Spades meets Squid Game with a sprinkling of The Bachelor .

You must work twice as hard to get half as much.

Adina Walker has known this the entire time she’s been on scholarship at the prestigious Edgewater Academy—a school for the rich (and mostly white) upper class of New England. It’s why she works so hard to be perfect and above reproach, no matter what she must force beneath the surface. Even one slip can cost you everything.

And it does. One fight, one moment of lost control, leaves Adina blacklisted from her top choice Ivy League college and any other. Her only chance to regain the future she’s sacrificed everything for is the Finish, a high-stakes contest sponsored by Edgewater’s founding family in which twelve young, ambitious women with exceptional promise are selected to compete in three mysterious the Ride, the Raid, and the Royale. The winner will be granted entry into the fold of the Remington family, whose wealth and power can open any door.

But when she arrives at the Finish, Adina quickly gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right with both the Remingtons and her competition, and soon it becomes clear that this larger-than-life prize can only come at an even greater cost. Because the Finish’s stakes aren’t just make or break…they’re life and death.

Adina knows the deck is stacked against her—it always has been—so maybe the only way to survive their vicious games is for her to change the rules.

You can purchase Their Vicious Games at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JOELLE WELLINGTON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington.

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