Series: Fine Art of Pretending #1
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on September 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Family Life, Fiction, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Romance, Social Issues, Values & Virtues, Young Adult
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According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date-Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy's biggest hottie and most notorious player. With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school's second biggest hottie, and now Aly's pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from funny friend to tempting vixen is only a matter of time. But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable break up leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can't explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.
Ali: What inspired you to write your first book?
Rachel Harris: The first book I wrote wasn’t actually the first book I published. The first book was retitled and is now The Fine Art of Pretending, and is releasing this fall. For that book, I had just read through my entire YA section at the library and wanted to try my hand at writing my own story. Something just for me, for fun. I dove through my many embarrassing memories of high school craziness and saturated myself in all the angst, emotions, and confusion of that time–and out popped the premise of a teen girl wishing she were someone else, someone more popular, and the journey to loving the skin she was born in. I think all my characters are shades of me in some way, but Aly Reed is definitely the closest 😉
Ali: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Rachel Harris: Well, in that book, it is definitely being cool with who you are and who you are meant to be, and not comparing yourself to others. BUT for all my books, I explore the theme of people wearing masks. Whether it’s a new identity, a defense mechanism, or a shade in between, I think we all wear a mask at various times to protect ourselves or to try on a new persona for a time. I love digging in to the why of that. So another message is often reflecting on who we truly are at our core and discovering what’s keeping us from living that truth.
Ali: What books have most influenced your life most?
Rachel Harris: Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Twilight, It’s Not About the Accent, How To Ruin A Summer Vacation, Two-Way Street, Fools Rush In
Ali: Do you enjoy writing girl characters or boy characters the most?
Rachel Harris: It depends on the book and the character, I think. Some characters just jump off the page and make it easy for me. Cane from Seven Day Fiance, for example, was fun and so easy… he took over. But I’d say girls have the slight edge since I completely know the crazy world that is a woman’s head 😉
Ali: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Rachel Harris: I’m always discovering new authors! I read all the time–it’s my escape–and I love digging into a new series or author. The latest would have to be Megan Erickson–she has a fabulous New Adult coming out that I absolutely LOVE
Ali: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Rachel Harris: Easy–the Flirt Squad! Technically, I guess you would call these girls my “street team,” but they are so much more than that. Good friends, a support system, a sounding board, comic relief, listening ears, encouragers…they rock my world.
Ali: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Rachel Harris: I’ve always been a writer in some form. Writing short stories in my diary as a kid, dramatic poetry as a teen, countless stories that never seemed to find an ending my entire life, even soap opera fan fiction in college. But I never considered being an author. My writing interests went the route of journalism, eventually broadcast journalism. After I graduated, I decided to become a stay at home mom, and then a homeschool mom, and my writing took the shape of articles for an online homeschool magazine and writing unit studies for an online group. It wasn’t until my husband bought me the Twilight series and I fell back in love with reading for pure pleasure that I decided to give writing a novel a whirl 😉
Ali: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Rachel Harris: Endings are always hard for me–not the plotting of them, but actually writing them. I see the word count ticking and my plot worksheet nearing the end, and I lock up. As excited as I am to reach the end, I’m also so sad to say goodbye. I’m a sappy dork.
Ali: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Rachel Harris: This is an impossible question LOL! I have so many favorites, and whenever I read a book that grips me, I declare that author my new favorite—until my next attention grabber comes along. Any author that can make me think, smile, swoon, tear up, and laugh makes my favorite list.
Ali: Where would you like to travel someday to do a book signing?
Rachel Harris: Anywhere in Europe, and I’ll be good to go 🙂 Australia is a very close second
Ali: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Rachel Harris: The hardest part for me is finding a balance with writing, homeschool, housework, and health. I wish there were like three of me and twice as many hours in a day.
Ali: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Rachel Harris: Read often and widely. Read within your genre so you know what is out there and what the expectations are, and then expand your world by pulling inspiration from way outside your genre. Writing adult contemporary? Maybe try also reading YA and historical. Writing historical? Give fantasy and suspense a shot. You never know what will inspire you…or even where your voice truly is…until you try. But don’t stop at reading, either. Pay attention. What made you smile at that passage? What had you skimming those pages? What spoke to you, what did you hate, what had you fuming at your book yet determined to find out what happens? These are all clues to helping you find your unique voice and style.
Ali: If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Rachel Harris: Mama Brain: The Ultimate Guide for the Dorkalicious Scatterbrained Chica
I would have to say that I would love to read a book about your life if you ever decide to write one. Thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me. I am glad that we had a chance to talk. Hopefully we can plan another interview sometime in the future to get more in depth about your books. I know I am a huge fan and a part of the wonderful Flirt Squad Team, so I love to see new readers enjoying the wonderful works from Rachel Harris. Rachel, I hope you have a fantastic day and thank you for hanging out during your busy schedule. Much love! ((HUGS))