Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.
But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.
When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her. And Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.
Hi Stina. I’m so excited to have you here with us. Happy Debut!
Thank you, Natalie, for having me. *waves at everyone*
1. Tell us about yourself, how you became a writer, and how you came to write in the NA genre.
I’ve wanted to write books since I was nine year old, but it wasn’t until I left my job as a pharmaceutical sales rep to stay home with my kids that I finally went for it. Originally I read and wrote pretty much only YA. I’d heard of New Adult, but I also knew agents and editors weren’t looking for it. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to EASY by Tammara Weber that I gave the category a chance. I fell in love with the book and knew NA contemporary romance was something I could write. I was already writing edgy YA stories with romance, and my characters were always seventeen years old. It wasn’t a stretch to have an eighteen-year-old heroine. Nor was it a stretch to have a twenty-year-old hero.
2. Awesome that there wasn’t much of a leap for your from writing YA to NA. TELL ME WHEN includes some very sensitive issues, like stalking. What are some of the challenges about writing about these types of issues without being too graphic?
The biggest challenge was being authentic to what these characters would have gone through and knowing exactly how they would react to a given situation based on their pasts. Everything, including when they kissed, was impacted by what had happened to them.
The second challenge was letting the reader in on what Amber and Marcus had gone through, but without making the reader uncomfortable. I used nightmares, which were abstract, and flashbacks to give the reader the general idea.
3. Yes, it’s true that something traumatic like that would impact everything in the person’s life. And I think you did a good job weaving in what happened to Amber and Marcus throughout the story.
TELL ME WHEN is written from both Amber’s and Marcus’ points of view. Did your story
I knew when I started planning the book that I wanted it to be dual POV. It seemed to be the best way to tell the story for these two characters, and it added to the emotional impact for when you first learn about Marcus’s past. It was easier writing in his point of view, but that’s because I could relate to him. I used sex in university to deal with emotional pain, much like Marcus. Amber was trickier because I’ve never been through what she had endured when she was kidnapped. Her actions were based on how I would have responded in the same situation—had I survived.
4. I can see why you thought the dual POV would work best, especially since both of them have stories to tell. You live in Canada, but your story is set in Chicago. I found that interesting. Why did you choose Chicago as a setting?
All my stories take place in the US, though usually they’re in a made-up town in Minnesota. I can’t remember why I picked Chicago. It just seemed like the right place for the story.
5. That’s so interesting that you always pick a US setting and that they’re usually in Minnesota. What do you think is different in writing NA versus YA? What tips can you share for someone considering writing a NA novel?
The most important advice I can give is to read a lot of stories in the category. Also, don’t fall for the belief that NA is really sexed-up YA. It isn’t. There can be sex in the story, but it’s not essential for it to be considered NA. What is essential is that the story is authentic to that age range (18-25 years old).
6. I’m glad it’s not the sex that makes a story NA. And I’m also happy to see new NA books in other genres being published. Since we’re friends, I got to see a lot of your road to publication as it was happening. And I really appreciate that you shared it all with me. Tell us how Marisa Corvisiero became your agent. What advice do you have for others seeking an agent at a similar stage in their writing like you did?
I had queried another agent in the agency and updated her on the situation when I had gained publisher interest in the book. That agent was no longer agenting, but the intern passed my email to Marisa. She immediately contacted me and asked for the synopsis and full. Two hours later she emailed and told me what she had read so far was awesome. I had talked to another agent about the book, but it was Marisa’s enthusiasm that sold me on her being my agent. My advice is don’t give up, but also don’t see agents as your only way of getting published. I know a number of authors who landed a contract with a small press and used it to help them sign on with an agent. If you do this, make sure the agent is interested in representing your career and not just the one book.
7. That’s great advice to not limit yourself to finding an agent. And starting with a small press can be a good option. You had extensively edited your book before signing your contract with Carina Press. What surprised you about the editing process in working with your editor?
The very tight deadlines. Because Carina bumped my book’s release date to January, and I signed the contract in July, I had only two months to get EVERYTHING finished. I received my developmental edits while on vacation and only had two weeks to complete them. Fortunately I have a very understanding family. I only had one week for line edits and two days for copyedits.
The great thing about working with my editor was that she got my story and loved it. She wasn’t trying to change it to fit her vision of the book. We already shared the same vision. This wasn’t the case with all my beta readers. They each had their own ideas as to how things should go. Alissa challenged me to develop the story in ways that no one else had addressed (e.g. certain characters needed to be rounded out more).
8. Those tight deadlines scare me. I worry if I can meet them with everything else going on in life. How are you planning to market your book? Do you think your approach is different because your book is a NA story versus a YA story? Why?
The best marketing is word of mouth, but to get there, you need readers to know your book exists. I hired several different blog tour companies to help me, since I knew they would have a greater reach than I would. One was responsible for the cover reveal. One for the pre-release “celebration” in December. And one organized my blog tour and release day blitz. My agency also set up reviews and interviews with a number of blogs. I couldn’t have done it without all of their help.
Several authors who had read TELL ME WHEN and loved it helped by tweeting about the book and talking about it on their Facebook pages. And I can’t forget all my friends who helped by talking about it on the various social media sites. A week before my release date, I had a blog hop. The goal was to bring awareness to the issue of stalking, which is a huge problem for college and high school students. In addition to that, I tweeted and posted on my Facebook page stalking prevention tips.
I think there are still a lot of similarities when it comes to marketing NA and YA. YA is trickier because ultimately you have to reach your teen market and they don’t necessarily follow blogs and Facebook author pages. With YA, you can arrange to talk at schools. With NA, the books tend to be for audiences seventeen years and older, so while school talks are possible, you’re stepping a thin line if you go there, especially if your topics or sexual content would upset parents.
9. I do agree that most teens don’t follow blogs or author Facebook pages. And that’s a great idea to hire different blog tour companies for different milestones in a book release. What are you working on now?
In addition to the second book with Carina, I’m currently working another NA contemporary romance. This one is partially inspired from when I was an exchange student in Finland.
Thanks for all the advice, Stina. So, so excited for you!
Stina generously is offering an e-book of TELL ME WHEN for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 1st. I’ll announce the winner on February 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Monday I’m interviewing MG debut author Rachel Searles and giving away a ARC of THE LOST PLANET. I loved the plot of this one. Chase wakes up on an unknown planet not knowing who he is and goes on an action packed space adventure to discover who he really is.
Next Friday I’ll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great choices that I loved or am looking forward to. My post will be posted on Friday afternoon.
The following Monday I’m interviewing Holly Schindler and giving away a copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY. This is a contemporary middle grade story that I know you’re going to love so I jumped at the chance to be part of Holly’s blog tour.
The Monday after that I’m interviewing debut author Ryan Graudin and giving away a ARC of ALL THAT GLOWS, her fantastic YA urban fantasy set in London. I’ve been waiting for this one for ages and loved Ryan’s book.
And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!