TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.
Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?
When Lily Jeong—smothered by her parents and ignored by classmates—unwittingly aids her secret boyfriend in a school shooting, she struggles to hide her complicity from investigators. Forced to face the devastated survivors, she hides in plain sight as their grief turns to vengeance.
Which character did you most enjoy creating? Why? And, which character gave you the most trouble, and why?
Who wouldn’t enjoy Caitlyn Moran, the girl with a pink stripe in her hair whose dreams of becoming a fashion designer are cut short by the shooting? Her irrepressible spirit won’t be denied.
Joe Hernandez, the first police officer to enter the school his daughter also attends, gave us a little trouble trying to find the balance between his backstory and his current choices. A widower, Joe’s motivation springs not only from his love for his daughter but also from his continuing sense of insult from childhood traumas.
Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.
Four co-authors (writing under the pen name Lee Anne Post) started this project on a lark in January 2018. A month later, the Parkland school shooting occurred, and we became highly motivated to complete the novel and see it published. The story is told from multiple points of view, with each of us drafting two characters. The most challenging part of co-authoring was agreeing on edits without killing each other!
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.” --Isaac Asimov
My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?
The gun show loophole. It astonished us and our publisher that it is legal for unlicensed individuals to sell guns to unlicensed buyers without any limitations or record keeping in 33 states in the US.
On the writing side, although we didn't set out to upend any genre conventions, magical realism crept into the story.
What’s something about your book that you want readers to know?
Because we wanted to focus on the survivors, both students and adults, the shooter gets the least attention, only two short scenes toward the end of the book. The setting of the story is a typical American suburb, but we did not specify the city/state where the action takes place, because mass shootings can and do occur anywhere.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK: www.thenovelthoughtsandprayers.com
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