Saturday, 12 October 2013

Saturday Spotlight: Paula Stokes

It's Saturday Spotlight! And, if you follow me on twitter, you would probably know that I'm VERY excited about my Saturday Spotlight guest! If you don't, please follow me (@missyallydums97).

So without any further delay, let me introduced to you the awesome, the amazing, and one of my favourite people in the world, Paula Stokes! 

Paula Stokes is a YA author at HarperTeen and RN, and also a total outdoors-y person! She's travelled the world, works constantly, but she took the time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about being Paula, having an alter-ego, and of course, her new book, the Art of Lainey! 
See? Isn't the cover so pretty? It's pretty hard for me to imagine that this girl is going to go all Zhou Dynasty on a guy!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jason breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame.

Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn't someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jason isn't going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him...

Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what's really worth fighting for

1) Will you tell everyone a little about yourself? Fun facts, pet peeves? Maybe a favourite cat or two?

Let's see. I'm an author and a registered nurse, though I had to quit nursing when I was trying to manage deadlines and grad school. I really miss working with leukemia/lymphoma patients because they always helped me keep my priorities in check. I'm a big traveler and  can say "thank you" in twelve languages. I have a thing for Cadbury creme eggs and firefighters, not necessarily in that order. (Who are we kidding? Totally in that order). And I have two favourite cats--Taz and Mufasa.

2) You are already a published author of two (soon to be three) amazing YA historical books under a different name. What made you want to branch out and do a contemporary novel?

There wasn't really any branching out. I wrote LAINEY concurrently with VENOM. VENOM just sold on proposal so it came out a lot earlier. I like a lot of different genres. This can be problematic when it comes to author-branding, but one thing I've learned so far is that writing can be a lot of work for little pay. In order for that to be worth it, it helps to write books that you love. That's my #1 piece of advice to writers--write what you love. The research is more fun, the writing is more fun, and when you have fun at your job, it shows in the quality of the end product.

3) Was it hard transitioning from historical to contemporary? Which genre was the most challenging to write?
Again, no transition. My very first drawer novel is contemporary so I've always had a feel for that genre. Historical was ten thousand times harder for me to write. I bet I spent two to three times as long researching and checking word derivations than I did actually writing (and still made mistakes). And I had to write like 1000 pages without using the word 'dude'. Or even 'guy!' :-) I don't know how I did it. I suspect amazing editing played a part.

4) What inspired you to write the Art of Lainey? And did you ever go all Zhou Dynasty on a guy before?
The story was inspired by this guy I was seeing that I was 100% crazy about who just kind of vanished out of my life at a time when everything else was going good. Heh, he's thanked in all of the Venom acknowledgments and I talked to him not too long ago and was like "I guess I gotta thank you in this one too since you bailing on me in spectacular fashion is what inspired it." He was like "I'm sorry, P. I'm an ass." He's not, though. Some people just aren't meant for relationships. I can definitely say I have used sneaky and manipulative tactics to win back a guy before. That story did not end well.
5) Are Lainey Mitchell, Jayson and Bianca based on anyone in your life? 

A lot of Lainey is based on me--things I've said, things I've wanted to say but never got a chance to. Hilariously, the first round of editors who read the manuscript all hated her and thought she should go die in a fire, so I guess maybe I'm not a very nice person ;-) No worries, though. Lainey has softened up a bunch in revisions. I find her totally complex and endearing. Jason (he lost his Y in revision) is based a little bit on guys I've known. Bianca is based a little bit on a friend of mine, but mostly a fabrication.

6) What do you think readers will like about this novel? And how do you think fans of your alter-ego books will react to this story?

Dude. I have so much love for this book. This story is a romantic comedy so no, it doesn't have a body count or several shocking twists. What it does have is hope and love (but not insta-love!) and amazing human interactions. A lot of the characters are flawed, but they still have these positive relationships with siblings or parents or friends. Add to that some quirky settings, funny dates, and plenty of swoons and that's pretty much LAINEY. I feel like people who like VENOM for the romance will love this book and people who want more of a mystery will love my next book, LIARS, INC. What can I say? I'm a girl who likes to cover all the bases.

7) Will you write any more books under 'Fiona Paul' and revisit the historical world? If not, what can we expect from you as Paula Stokes?

Paper Lantern Lit owns the Fiona Paul name so I have no idea if there will be more books written under that name. I personally have no desire to write more historical books. It was a fun challenge, but my heart gravitates more toward contemporary or futuristic settings. So far everything I've written as Paula has been a bit different from everything else, but you can expect some standalones, male and female MCs, first-person present narration, snappy dialogue, and stories that end on a hopeful note. Maybe not straight happily-ever-afters, but those books where the girl doesn't get the boy and the dog gets run over and the house burns down and the whole world is crushed by a meteor at the end? Yeah, I don't want to write (or read) those books :-)

Another fun thing: I am started a manuscript critiquing service with my friends Tara Kelly, Jessica Spotswood, and Elizabeth Richards. Our website goes live on October 1st and we'll have some giveaways for those of you looking for feedback on your query letters and manuscripts.

So that's it for me & Paula! If you wanna know more about her and the Art of Lainey, checkout the links bellow! And did YOU know that her second book, LIARS, INC is coming out February 2015? HOW cool is that? I'm amazed that she can write so fast O_O I can barely write my English essay.

Paula Stokes, YA Author at HarperTeen               
Twitter: @pstokesbooks
Goodreads: Paula Stokes

P.S You can win a $25 Gift Card to and, oh yeah, the COOL (totally awesome, once in a life time chance, take it while you can moment...sorry, I ramble on when I'm excited) chance to win A ROLE in the ART OF LAINEY at Ensconced in YA's blog! Enter NOW! YOU HAVE 3 DAYS! Contest here :)