Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Meet Christina June in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

1- What's your favorite cupcake?

Can I pick all of them? My all-time favorite is the vanilla cupcake from Best Buns in Arlington, VA. I also love chocolate with peanut butter frosting. I’m newly gluten-free, so I’m on a mission to find the best celiac-friendly cupcakes. It’s a difficult task, but I’m up for the challenge.

2- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?

To understand me as a writer, you probably need to understand me as a reader. I read everything. Books. Magazines. News articles. Food labels. Ingredients on the shampoo bottle. Before we would go on road trips, my parents always made sure to take me to the bookstore, where I would inevitably bring them a stack of paperbacks that might hold me on the drive. I’m constantly updating my TBR list and checking the library to see what’s available. I read on my kindle, I listen to audio, and my shelves are overflowing with hard copies. A fun Saturday for my family is a trip to our favorite used bookstores. So, it feels like it was a foregone conclusion that I would write my own books once day.

3- How do you feel about Allison Janney's portrayal of Ms. Perky in "10 Things I Hate About You"?

While I can’t say my day looks anything like hers, I love Ms. Perky and she makes me laugh. I did know an English teacher years ago who was a little like her….

4- What ignited your passion for writing?

As I mentioned above, I’ve always been a big reader. I wrote short stories and poems growing up, but as an adult, I didn’t believe I could write a novel until I actually did it. In my day job, I spend roughly 200 hours a year writing recommendation letters for my students, which is a labor of love, but one that leaves me itchy to be creative when I’ve finished. In 2012, I gave NaNoWriMo a shot and won. Once I had proven to myself that I could do what I thought was impossible, I immediately wrote another book. But it was getting involved with the YA writing community, being active on social media, connecting with critique partners and readers, that really kept me going.

5- As a Cinderella story, does "It Started With Goodbye" have a special pair of shoes? Or was there, perhaps, some "shoespiration"? (shoe + inspiration)

My shoespiration for writing the book was an actual shoe. I spied an abandoned dress shoe on the side of the road the Monday morning after Homecoming and knew I needed to write a Cinderella story. In the book, the “glass slipper” is actually a keychain, but there’s also a nod to the actual glass slipper at the end.

6- Would you share a picture with us from your favorite vacation?

Here are two! About ten years ago, my husband and I did a road trip around Scotland, wandering the Highlands, castles, ruins, and so many amazing sights. He even got to compete in the oldest free Highland Games competition in Scotland, and was on the winning tug-of-war team. Another of my favorites was a trip to Costa Rica with my husband and my parents. It is such a beautiful country with warm people, delicious food, and activities for everyone. I loved ziplining and soaking in the hot springs.

7- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?

My goal is really the same for both short and long term. I want to write books. Even if they don’t get published, I’ll still do it. As long as characters tell me their stories, I’ll keep writing them down.

8- Do you play the cello or are you close with someone that does?

Sadly, no. My short strings career was with the viola in fourth grade, which I chose because my high school-aged neighbor played it and I naively assumed he would have an extra to lend me to learn on. Little did I know that nine year-old girls and sixteen year-old boys don’t use the same size instrument. I moved on to choir soon after that. I’ve always enjoyed the cello though. It reminds me of a human voice.

9- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

When my husband started reading ISWG, I was in the room. He kept laughing and saying things like “This is so you. You would totally say that.” Sometimes he’d send me screenshots of the lines he noticed where I’d stolen he recognizes. It’s been fun to experience my book, where the main character is very similar to me, through the eyes of the person who has to put up with me everyday. He’s definitely my biggest fan when it comes to support and cheerleading.

10- How have you spoken out against hate, injustice, or wrongdoing in 2017?

I do my best to listen, lead by example, and boost voices that need to be heard. My favorite thing to do is place books in the hands of people who might need to see themselves or need a character to relate to. I’ll give you my favorite example. I had a student once who had recently come out to his family and his parents were not as supportive as the student had hoped. As part of our discussions, I recommended a handful of YA novels that might help the parents understand how their child was feeling. Several months later, the family came back to me and thanked me—the author’s words had indeed helped open a dialogue at home. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this.

11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

For teen readers, I hope they might feel empowered to stand up to the things they feel are unfair in their lives, big or small. An important part of ISWG is Tatum realizing that her parents make mistakes and that they come with their own baggage. She tries hard to balance being an individual who has agency with being a respectful family member, which is something I see kids grapple with a lot. There’s a scene near the end where Tatum gets some important clues about her stepmother and she begins to realize maybe everything isn’t exactly as she’d imagined.

12- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?

I like craft books in theory, but I’m also a big believer in finding your own method and putting together pieces from the authors you admire. I love Susan Dennard’s posts on Publishing Crawl because they’re easy to follow and apply to whatever genre you’re writing. I also really enjoyed Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants, which focuses on outlining. Experience, time and practice, coupled with patient critique partners, are also crucial to improvement. But the most helpful thing has just been to read and study the beautiful and clever things other authors do and file them away to pull out when needed.

13- #DiversityBingo2017 Which squares does your book cover on the card?

While my main character is white, her stepfamily member are of Chilean descent, the love interest is biracial, and the performing arts school that appears on page is very diverse. Some of my recent favorite books featuring marginalized narrators have been GIRL MANS UP by M-E Girard, ALLEGEDLY by Tiffany D. Jackson, and the forthcoming THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON by my amazing critique partner, Katherine Locke.

14- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

Tatum’s stepsister Tilly is my devious rule-follower. She is generally straight-laced and sticks to what her mother has mapped out for her, but she’s also not afraid to step out of line for something she really wants. I love that I get to expand on her and this particular contradiction in my 2018 book, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, in which she is the narrator.

15- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

I’m a sucker for a great cover, but who isn’t? I will automatically pick up anything that has to do with prom, the boy next door, studying abroad, the UK, Paris, and swooning. I typically stick to contemporary novels, but there are many fantasies I’ve gotten sucked into (hello Sarah J. Maas!) and I love a good mystery or thriller every once in a while.

16- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

Laziness? I knew I didn’t have the energy or the time to put into self-publication. I’m also really looking forward to seeing my book on the shelf at my local indies and Barnes & Noble. In hindsight, I’m very glad I went this route 1) because my agent is wonderful and always steers me in the right direction and 2) I probably wouldn’t have connected with my editor and the team at Blink without my agent. I’m so grateful to have such amazing and talented people in my corner.

17- What in Amazon's review policy has caused you to stop accepting friend requests on Goodreads?

Amazon seems to be taking down reviews of people they think are connected to authors, so if a friend or family member is generous enough to write me a review, I’d like it to be able to stay put. It seems unfair, and unrealistic, that my mother can’t write a review for my book (which she loves) if Amazon realizes we’re related.

*Information on this topic:

Amazon also refused to disclose "how we determine that accounts are related" because that information is "proprietary".
Quote found HERE.
The Change the "You Know This Author" Policy Petition closed with 17,589 supporters on August 27, 2015. No reply has been noted.
Operation Awesome Tips

18- What is one discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

I would love to hear about moments when readers had to defend the things they love, or stepped out of the box someone else put them in.

19- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?



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.

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 9th 2017 by Blink/HarperCollins

About Christina:

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. Christina’s debut, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, releases May 9, 2017. A companion novel, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, will be published in 2018.

Find Christina online:

May 9, Christina is running a release day giveaway contest. Anyone who posts a selfie with their favorite valediction and hashtag #ItStartedWithGoodbye on Twitter, FB or IG is entered to win a signed copy of the book, a key chain, a nail polish and a lip balm. She'll choose 2 winners and international is okay.


Karen Baldwin said...

Great interview...great story!

Kara Reynolds said...

This one is definitely on my TBR list. Thanks for the fun interview, Christina and J!