My stop in this tour is an author interview. Enjoy!
Hello AJ! I'm so happy to feature you and your book at YA Story Teller today!
Hi Vanya! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today and for being a part of IF ONLY’s launch!
How did your life as a writer begin?I’m a high school English teacher and avid reader. I didn’t really start writing until I started working at my school. We have this fabulous event each year called Writers Week where students, faculty, and professional writers get up on stage every class period of every day for a week to share their writing with an auditorium that seats 500+. And it’s always a packed house. Writers Week and my love of YA literature led me to try writing my first book. I started with just a chapter, eight pages, and I read it at Writers Week and got a great response. That gave me the boost I need to continue, and those 8 pages became my first novel that maybe, someday, will move beyond the confines of my laptop.
What makes you feel inspired to write?Drafting a new book is my absolute happy place. If I could, I would always be drafting. Sharing my work with my amazing critique partners also inspires me because when they give me the thumbs up on an idea, on shared pages, it makes me want to write more.
How did you come with the idea for your current story?Well, the truth was bound to come out sooner or later, right? Haha. IF ONLY follows Jordan on her year abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Not coincidentally, I spent my junior year of college in Scotland. And while this is absolutely Jordan, Noah, Griffin, Elaina, and Duncan’s story, bits and pieces of it were definitely inspired by my experience in Aberdeen. Like…I may have taken a Shakespearean comedy class because I saw a certain crush’s name on the roster. Jordan and I have that in common. Haha. But she ended up having a way different year than I did, and it was so much fun to experience it with her!
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat on your pants type of a writer?
I have totally evolved in my process with each book. My YA book that’s hiding on my laptop was pantsed from beginning to end. I had that first chapter, and I knew exactly what the last scene in the book was, and I just wrote from point A to point B and somehow got there. IF ONLY had a rough outline, just to make sure I had a full story, but I still had to learn about pacing with my edits. My third book that’s with my agent right now was not pantsed at all. I used Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet, and I LOVED it. The fifteen beats come from his book on screenwriting called Save the Cat, and the beat sheet is now my plotting/pacing bible. I love it. I still get to pants it as new ideas come up while I’m writing, but the beat sheet makes sure I’m hitting all the story arcs before I get to that final scene.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?Oooh, this is a toss-up between a few, so I’ll share an early one that won’t spoil the rest of the book. I love Jordan and Noah’s reboot in the beginning, the scene I like to call the YAWP scene. It’s after they go on this campus scavenger hunt for new students, and the reader knows that these two have a connection. But they can’t be together because of obligations to other people. So based on their joint love of the movie Dead Poets Society, they stand on two desks and yell YAWP to reboot their relationship, to wipe out how they feel about each other since they can’t be together. The way that chapter ends hit me in the feels to write it, and I hope it does the same for readers. I love the emotional scenes. But I also loved writing any scene that had kissing in it too. Because…hello…KISSING.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?I have to write chronologically. I have friends who get a great idea for a scene and just run with it, even if they aren’t to the place in the manuscript where the scene goes. I can’t do that! If I get a great idea for a scene, I’ll jot it down on my phone and go back to it when I’m ready for that part of the story. Like, I’m pretty sure I’d spontaneously combust if I tried to write out of order. I might have some control issues. I’m okay with that.
What is your usual writing routine?Because of the day job and the whole parenting gig, I really don’t get to sit down and write until about 9:00 p.m. I park myself on the corner of my couch, boot up the laptop, and hammer at the keys until I can’t stay awake any longer. If I’m on deadline, the routine also includes a mug of Green Mountain’s dark magic coffee. And Trader Joe’s chocolate covered espresso beans. But I only combine the two in extreme circumstances where sleep must be avoided at all costs.
What is the highest goal that you desire to meet as an author?Getting a book published is pretty huge as far as meeting my goals, and I’m extremely grateful for this step and for my first book landing with a fabulous publisher like Entangled. But I guess if I’m looking beyond this, it would be really swell to get to just keep doing it. My book is out there now, and people are reading it and even liking it. It’s incredibly surreal, and I can’t thank early readers enough for the lovely things they are saying about IF ONLY and for helping put me on the map. As scary as it is to put my words out into the wild, I’d love nothing more than the chance to do it again with the next book. And the one after that. And the one…you get the gist.
Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?I’ve been really fortunate to get to meet a lot of authors in the past few years at conferences I’ve attended. I’m super fangirly when it comes getting books signed, and forget about asking to get my photo taken with them. I’m as awkward as they come. So when I say I’d LOVE to meet Rainbow Rowell, it must come with the disclaimer that I will probably burst into tears or lose my ability to form coherent speech (or both) if it happens. Why? Because Rainbow Rowell writes the kind of books that I want to crawl inside of and live in. I want to hang with her characters, to banter like the dialogue she writes for them. And maybe if we met she could somehow make Levi (FANGIRL) materialize, and I could keep him forever. But really, if she would just sign my books and take a pic with me, I’d probably be just as happy.Nope. I want Levi too.
Well, I can't say I didn't have fun reading your responses! Thank you and come back soon! :)
Title: IF ONLY
Author: A.J. Pine
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Pub. Date: March 24, 2014
Sometimes it takes crossing an ocean to figure out where you belong.
It's been two years since twenty-year-old Jordan had a boyfriend—which means it's been forever since she, well, you know. But now she’s off to spend her junior year in Aberdeen, Scotland, the perfect place to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just enjoy Mr. Right Now.
Sexy, sweet (and possible player) Griffin may be her perfect, no-strings-attached match. He’s fun, gorgeous, and makes her laugh. So why can’t she stop thinking about Noah who, minutes after being trapped together outside the train’s loo, kisses Jordan like she’s never been kissed before? Never mind his impossible blue eyes, his weathered, annotated copy of The Great Gatsby (total English-major porn)…oh, and his girlfriend.
Jordan knows everything this year has an expiration date. Aberdeen is supposed to be about fun rather than waiting for life to happen. But E. M. Forster, Shakespeare, and mistletoe on Valentine’s Day make her reconsider what love is and how far she’s willing to go for the right guy.
AJ writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend those hearts with a happily ever after…maybe. The first book she wrote was YA, but now she’s two-timing her first love Pine4BWwith NA. She’s always in the middle of reading two to three books, adores online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes), and she still loves vampires, whether it’s Eric Northman or the Salvatore brothers. When she’s not writing, AJ is sneaking off to her day job as a high school English teacher or hanging with her husband and kids in the Chicago burbs.
AJ’s debut NA novel, IF ONLY, releases with Entangled’s Embrace line on March 24!
Representation: Courtney Miller-Callihan at SJGA.
1 If Only Swag Pack -An “I love you from here to Scotland” print, Ahava pendent, A pack each of Much Ado about Nothing and A Room With a View confetti, Much Ado about Nothing travel mug and A Room With a View Blu-ray (a $25 Amazon gift card will be substituted if winner is outside the US)
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