Pen Friends ~ Welcome Debut YA author, Christina June as she talks about her forthcoming book, It Started With Goodbye (See below for bio and summary!) SP: Welcome Christina! Can you tell us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?
Sure! I’m a mom, a high school counselor, a wife, a daughter. And a writer! I’ve always been a writer, more when I was younger, but I began writing novels with the goal of publication about four years ago.
SP: So, the book. It’s a spin off of Cinderella. Can you share how the idea took shape from there?
I saw an abandoned shoe on the side of the road walking into work the day after the Homecoming dance and the idea took hold. I knew I wanted to make my “Cinderella” someone who questioned her stepmother’s rules and stood up for herself.
SP: What was your favorite part to write? The hardest part?
The funny parts and the swoony parts are my favorite to write, probably because those are my favorite bits in other books. There’s nothing like a good kiss or a good laugh. The hardest parts are always the ones outside my own personal experience because even though I do research and talk to a lot of people, I’m never quote certain it’s right.
SP: Which character surprised you the most?
My evil stepmother, Belèn. I knew she had to have hidden depths but the way her back story took shape was really interesting. Let’s just say there’s a reason she does what she does.
SP: How long did it take you to write, and did you ever feel like chucking it out the window?
ISWG was an oddly fast and pleasant experience. I did the bulk of my writing at my local Panera during snow days and delays, so I’m thankful for the bad weather! It took me about 2 months to draft and a month to edit before I started querying. During querying, I did 2 more revisions before I landed my agent. And since then, I’ve done probably 7 or 8 more rounds of revision. Basically it never ends. But no, this book and I have always gotten along, so I never threatened to shove it in the drawer.
SP: Two confessions: What did you do when your agent called and offered you representation? And…What did you do when you learned your book had sold?
When I was offered representation, I was eating dinner with my family and I screamed so loud, my daughter started crying. It took me a minute to get her to believe it was a happy scream. When I got word my book was going to acquisitions, I flailed with a coworker and then when it sold, I cried.
SP: Agents. Before you found yours, what you were looking for in one?
I wanted someone who was enthusiastic about my career, not just one book, and someone who was very savvy about the business. My agent is both!
SP: Can you tell us something we wouldn’t know about you just by looking? i.e., tattoos, secret obsessions, a dream, etc?
I can touch my tongue to my nose, as can my daughter and my dad—and his dad could do it too. A genetic gift!
SP: Lol! Gotta love genetics 🙂 You are an active participant of Nanowrimo – can you tell us how that has helped you?
NaNo is the reason I can draft quickly. I don’t edit as I go, so I don’t get tripped up on crafting the perfect sentence. I save that for editing.
SP: Favorite book or movie at the moment?
I had so much fun watching Ghostbusters this summer and can’t wait to share that with my daughter when she gets a little older. As for reading, I’ve been sucked down a Liane Moriarty rabbit hole. I’m on my 3rd book of hers in a month.
SP: If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring novelist, what would it be?
READ! I’ve never taken a formal writing class. Everything I’ve learned has been from studying the work of authors I admire. Also, it’s never too late to start.
SP: Thanks for joining us! Where can we learn more about you and your book?
Find me online:
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become—whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal—the east coast of the U.S. and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter.
Summary: It Started with Goodbye
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.
Expected publication: May 9th 2017 by Blink/HarperCollins
Nova, signing off.