Swanky Seventeer Christina June recently interviewed Ami Allen-Vath about her debut YA novel, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, which was released on March 22, 2016 from Sky Pony Press.
About the Book:
Bree Hughes isn’t used to being a standout, so it’s hard to say what’s a bigger shock—the guy she likes reciprocating, or her landing a spot on the Prom Court. But the latter comes with an explanation: the spot freed up when it was declined by Maisey Morgan, who was voted in as a joke. And despite Bree’s attempt to reach out to her and make things right, there’s too much darkness in Maisey’s life to make room for an offer of light, and the girl Bree barely knew commits suicide…and leaves her a note explaining why. Haunted by Maisey’s death and the secret behind it, nothing in Bree’s life is quite the same, and she’ll have to seek the help to get through it or risk losing herself to her newfound fears and pain.
About the Author:
Ami Allen-Vath is a MN born writer, living in NJ and has lived in six other states and one country in between. Aside from books, Ami’s into The Walking Dead, yoga, warm vacations in the wintertime and ice cream in any season. Ami’s debut, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, will be released March 22, 2016. You can check out her website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and like her on Facebook but please ignore her if you see her in pj pants at the grocery store.
Christina: Your book, IMO, was one of the most realistic portrayals of teens. How do you ensure your voice is authentic?
Ami: Wow, thanks so much for the compliment! This may sound nerdy, but I use my theatre training to get into the “voice” of my character. Basically, instead of thinking “Okay, a teenager would sound like this, so let me write it that way,” my approach is more (in Bree of LALLU’s case) “I’m seventeen and here’s what I’m thinking, seeing and doing.” Like Bree, I had a lot of anxiety and tended to overthink things as a teenager as well. Yet, I don’t write from a place of, “Okay, it was tough for me and I was sad/worried, so let’s write about how when I was sad and worried.” Instead, I’ll use sense memory techniques, pull up those emotions and let them fall onto the paper as my character would use and work with them. Easy, peasy! (<<sarcasm)
(For further research on theatre technique, check out Meisner, Stanislavsky and sense-memory technique)
Christina: Are you part of a critique group? If so, how did working with your CPs benefit you?
Ami: I had three solid critique partners for LALLU. But I also used CPs for specific scenes or new things I added, just to make sure I had enough eyes on new or sensitive material. CPs and beta readers are so important. It’s tough to read your own work and think, “this sucks, let me fix it or cut it.” It’s a lot easier to do when you have someone else read it and let you know what is or isn’t working.
Christina: How did you come up with the idea for your novel? Did you know this was “the one”?
Ami: I didn’t start with an idea. I was working on something else and another writer friend said we just needed to forget about what we were working on and write something fun. So, I opened up a new word document and just started writing. Liars and Losers Like Us was my first completed novel, so I didn’t know it was the one. Of course, like any other writer, I definitely fantasized that it would be.
Christina: How did you find your agent/editor?
Ami: I did a good handful of query contests and twitter pitching but I found my agent the old fashioned way, querying.
Favorite writing snack?
Ice cream, even though I don’t really write while I’m eating it.
Oddest job you ever had?
Binocular rentals at Madison Square Garden
Big brother, little sister, in the middle, or one and only?
What were you reading when you were 16?
Sweet Valley High and Stephen King
Favorite Broadway musical?
A band you loved when you were 16 that you still listen to.
New Kids On The Block.
About the Interviewer:
Christina June’s debut IT STARTED WITH GOOD-BYE, in which a sixteen-year-old girl spending the summer on stepmother-imposed house arrest starts a secret graphic design business, and in the process not only reconnects with her family and friends but also strikes up a sweet, unexpected romance with a cute cello player, pitched as a contemporary twist on Cinderella.
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 US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives with her husband and the world’s most rambunctious five-year-old. Her debut YA novel IT STARTED WITH GOOD-BYE will release from Blink/HarperCollins in 2017.