Skip to main content

Into YA with Erin Hahn


I know I'm not supposed to name favorites, but getting to interview Erin was such a wonderful treat! I absolutely adore her and her book, and I was so honored that she was willing to come on the blog. 
I'm so happy I get to share her wisdom with all of you. I suggest that if you haven't heard about You'd Be Mine or know much about it, check out my review before continuing with this article, but make sure you come back because you don't want to miss this one, and if you'd like to purchase the book you can do so here

1. Music plays a major role in the story considering they’re both country stars. You’ve even made a playlist of songs, which I’ll link below. Were you ever nervous about getting the sound and attitude of the music to translate to the reader, especially a reader who might be unfamiliar with the songs? 
Oh my word, YES. First of all, I am very aware not everyone loves country music and even more to the point, not everyone understands the rich history of the industry. I remember at one point my copy editor flagged my MC, Annie’s singing “Fancy” by Reba McEntire. Annie, like me, feels strongly about educating her young fans on the classics of country… which includes Loretta, Reba, and of course Johnny and June. “Fancy” is an anthem for every little girl who was raised on country… but it’s, um, also, at its core, about a girl named Fancy whose mom encourages her at 16 to find a rich sugar daddy and escape her impoverished life. (Spoiler, she does. Spoiler, spoiler, the song is incredibly empowering) But of course, I worried how that would come across to my readers. In the end, I stuck to my gut and Annie still sings Fancy and I just hope readers will listen to the song themselves and decide what they think. I could always very easily imagine Annie Mathers or Clay Coolidge on stage, singing their hearts out, but making sure what I see in my brain makes its way onto the page and into the reader’s brain is tricky. It’s a lot of appealing to the senses and giving the reader a 4-D experience of being on the stage with the stars. I hope I pulled it off. :)

2. Was writing the original song lyrics difficult? HA! Yes. Do you have any tips for someone wondering how to add music to their novel as seamlessly as you did? 

Oh my gosh, thank you for saying that! The truth is, I never planned on keeping the songs in. In fact, the first song I wrote, Coattails, was never supposed to be read AT ALL. I wrote it for me because Clay had just told off Annie and called her an “Internet sensation” and I was listening to a lot of Miranda Lambert and all in my feels. Even *I* was mad at Clay! So I wrote the song as a way for Annie to vent and I fully intended to remove it before I sent to my critique partners, but I forgot. Suddenly I had three messages that said, “OH MY GOD THIS SONG!!!”. I usually don’t like songs in books, and assumed everyone would make me take them out… but I just kept writing more and at every stage, people loved them so I kept them in. Maybe that’s the key? Write it just for you? I can tell you that I’ve got notebooks full of lyrics and poetry from the time I was a teen. Lyrics are a language I speak fluently, but I can’t carry a tune. Perhaps this is the compromise I get. :)


3. Clay has a split persona so much that he uses his middle name for his stage personality and his first, which few people use, to cultivate the person he wants to be. !!! The dynamic between the person he presents and the person he wants to be creates some delicious internal conflict. Do you think that his identity confusion came from being a teen or being in show business more? Is the “Clay” persona a product of who he thought he should be or was it who he genuinely was at one point in his life?

 Goodness, this is an excellent observation. I think “Clay” stems from multiple factors. I think once those who called him “Jefferson” were gone, he wanted to close the door on that part of his life. Preserve it, somehow, just as it was. I also think his fame came along at that same moment, and he needed a stage persona; someone cocky and confident and carefree. Jefferson wasn’t any of those things, so he became Clay. I do think “Clay” was real for that first year or so of his career. He’d reimagined himself in a way that allowed him to survive, but just as with his crutches of alcohol and girls and whatever else, he can’t sustain Clay forever.

4. This is not a high school story as it takes place on the road with characters who are all eighteen and older. I absolutely love that the story is an Older YA story with college aged protagonists. What made you decide to write these characters as eighteen year olds? What do you think about the future of older protagonists in YA? 

Well, there’s the obvious reason which is that it’s far easier to write the logistics of a summer tour if everyone is legally an adult. :) BUT, I write upper YA because I graduated high school at seventeen and so I was still “YA” aged while enduring some pretty “adult” things like moving away from home and going to college and having a serious relationship and so forth. For me, this is the reality (minus the whole country music super star thing). I think there is a gap between YA and Adult, where NA used to be and I think 16-22 yo’s are missing out on stories they can see themselves in. Those years are pivotal! I love that Wednesday Books is tackling Coming of Age stories and I’m thrilled that they are providing me a place to play. I think we’ll be seeing more and more of these stories come along in the next few years, if the positive response to "You’d Be Mine" is any indication!

5. Not only do you have a dual point of view novel, you also write from both the male and female prospective. Was their one voice that came easier? Were their voices always so distinct in your head or did you have to work to make them so different? Was writing from the male POV more difficult, and do you have tips for writers interested in doing this? 

Clay and Annie were both super loud and clear as I wrote. I’m not a very precise outliner (read: I don’t outline) but I am a very particular playlist-builder and each of my POV’s has their own playlist that I refer back to each time I switch voices. It helps me to keep them straight in my head, but also provides me with all the emotional ammo I need for the scene. I actually *loved* writing Clay and I hope I pulled it off! I feel like it’s not so much writing “male” or “female” as writing “Clay” or “Annie” or whoever I am writing. I spend a lot of time learning everything I can about my character. Their hobbies, their favorite songs, their favorite words… everyone has quirks that make them unique. Yeah, Clay is a guy, but he’s also a farm boy, a country singer, a borderline alcoholic, a ladies man, a grandson, a brother of a marine, a son of a cancer victim, a teenager who took the GED… know what I mean? All of that makes his voice more than just being male. Annie lived in Michigan, but was born Nashville royalty, she’s an athlete whose best friend is a guy, she’s got a smokey soprano. She’s sassy and uses her twang as a weapon. She’s a church girl raised by her grandparents… all of that creates her voice more than her being a female. 

6. You’d Be Mine is your first published novel. Do you have any advice for authors who are currently querying and for those who just signed their first book deal? Is there something you wish you’d known before jumping into thee process? 

Well, I don’t know how much jumping in happened. :) "You’d Be Mine" is the 6th full length novel I’ve written. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon FOR SURE. My advice would be to write what you want, because publishing trends are already gone by the time you hear about them. I spent a long time trying to write the Next Big Thing and I never caught it. When I set out to write YBM, I was fed up with rejection and decided (pardon) “Fuck it, write what you want to read Hahn.” I mean. Come on. Whoever thought someone would buy a country music book? But *I* wanted to read something sweet and swoony and sassy so I decided to write it and fell head over heels in the process. I was actually just listening to my playlist the other day and had the thought, “I want to read this” before I remembered I could because I have the ARC on my shelf. :) I truly believe that made all the difference. Write what you’re passionate about, quirky as it may be. If you like bowling? Write a book about a couple of teens in rival bowling leagues. Make your readers want to bowl. I’d read the hell out of bowling meet-cute if it was passionately written. 
Also, parental control yourself out of Good Reads and Netgalley after your ARCs go out. You’ll thank me later. 

7. I know your book isn’t even out yet, but for the readers who will inevitably fall in love with your book and be desperate for more, do you have any projects that you can talk about? 

So far, YOU’D BE MINE is still a standalone, although maybe one day… But for now, I have another YA contemporary romance coming out in 2020 from Wednesday Books. It’s called MORE THAN MAYBE and it’s the love story between the son of a former British punk rocker and a music blogger. A song that he writes about her accidentally goes viral and the two have to navigate their growing feelings on a national stage while also trying to save the dive bar they both work at. It’s the grungy alternative music story of my heart and I can’t wait for you all to meet Luke and Vada. :)


Erin's Book...
You'd Be Mine: Review Here
To Purchase (Affiliate Link)

Links Of Interest:
Meet Me In Outer Space:Review Here
Is YA For Me?: Here
Dear Ally, How Do You Write A Book: Review Here
Happy Second Birthday: Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Once Upon a Quinceañera

Once Upon a Quinceañera   by Monica Gomez-Hera Overview: Carmen hasn't graduated high school, even though it's the summer after senior year. When her senior project fell through, Carmen has to scramble to complete the project over the summer. That means no college (not that she applied) and no future plans beyond becoming a Dream (floating around in a Belle costume at children's parties) with her best friend Waverley. So maybe it's not the summer Carmen wanted, but it's fine. At least until her ex-boyfriend who ruined everything, Mauro, also shows up on the team and then they get assigned to work her nemesis and younger cousin's quinceañera, which becomes the big event of the summer. Nothing ever quite goes to plan for Carmen, does it? Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I enjoyed hanging out with Carmen for a while. She's super witty and cynical in a way that I appreciate. I also loved reading about a character who's just out of high school and doesn't have a

Olivia Rodrigo'a SOUR As YA Books: Track By Track

This list turned out to be much harder to make than I anticipated when I came up with the idea last week. I set out to match songs to SOUR because what goes better with an album written by a 17/18 year old than YA books, but it turns out that YA books are just too hopeful for this album. Unlike many of these songs, I couldn't find books where the characters ended the book totally despondent and broken up. It took a bit of brainstorming, but I think I found a book to match the essence of each SOUR track. Le me know in the comments which songs on SOUR are your favorite. Mine are "brutal", "favorite crime", "deja vu", and "jealousy, jealousy".  1. "brutal" : War and Speech   by Don Zolidis War and Speech just radiates the same badass, discontented with teenage life energy as "brutal". This was the first book that popped into my mind when I thought about making this post. Just look at the cover. Sydney's life has been fa

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: NA Book Review

  One Last Stop  by Casey McQuiston Get Your Copy! Overview: August moved to New York for yet another fresh start and hopefully to finish out college (finally). In her attempt to find a place, she stumbles into an apartment full of interesting people who will quickly become her best friends. They fold her seamlessly into their lives. And then, on the subway, August meets a girl who will change her life forever. As time goes on, August finds out that Subway Girl, or Jane, is stuck on the Q metro line by some kind of energetic force. With the Q shutting down for maintenance by the end of the summer, August and her friends have to band together to get Jane unstuck, even if that means bouncing her back to 1977 where she came from and never seeing her again. Overall: 4 Characters: 5 I genuinely loved everyone in this book, and they gave me such warm, fuzzy, and hopeful feelings. The book would be New Adult if that was a category that publishing actually used (please can we make this more of

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

End of Summer YA to Preorder: August TBR

I know I always start these posts by panicking about how it's somehow already *insert whatever month here* because I'm always genuinely surprised when a new month rolls around and I realize it's already time to make a TBR post. But this month it's extra scary because I'm going to start this month at home like normal and end the month in a a brand new city, on my own, and starting in college in person for the first time. I have a road trip and a million boxes and probably a few tears in my future. (More on that later because I think I'm going to actually write a wrap up for this month sometime this week since there are about to be a ton of big changes!)  Anyway, here are the books I'm most excited for during the month of August. This list is a bit shorter than usual, but it has a bit of everything I love: a college YA/NA, a pop star story, and a book from an author I've enjoyed before.  If you're excited about any of these books, make sure you get you

Is YA For Me?

I've seen a lot of different conversations taking place on Twitter that all come back to a central theme. The YA space is controlled by adults. For the most part, they are the ones with the purchasing power, they have jobs in the industry, they are in a better position to amplify their voices about how they feel about different books and the category as a whole. I've been thinking about these conversations as a whole, and it really does come back to the intended audience not owning the space and what that means for the category and the conversations around it. As a teen who's heavily involved in the YA community, I sometimes feel awkward reading all the different, slightly varied takes from adults. Some make blanket statements for themselves and some work with teens and try to be a conduit to add them to the conversation. Very rarely do I come across a real teen who gets an amplified voice in the conversation (definitely go check out Vicky Who Reads on Twitter because,

Writing Morally Gray Characters: A Guest Post by Laurie Devore, Author of A Better Bad Idea

Laurie Devore is stopping by the blog today to talk about her new book from Imprint, A Better Bad Idea , which is out now! This mystery/thriller/romance fusion is Laurie's third book, and it's a new twist on her usual contemporary YA stories. For this guest post, Laurie talks about crafting morally gray characters that your readers will still feel attached to and cheer on. Here's her best writing tips:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what people will do when they’re pushed to their brink. While my new novel, A BETTER BAD IDEA, may seem like a departure in some ways from my previous novels, I actually think their DNA is quite similar. The stakes are higher, but as ever, this book is about girls making unimaginable choices because of their circumstances, whether self-inflicted or not.   I’m constantly thinking about what it means to write morally gray characters, and I think the main takeaway from me is that I’m just much more interested in what people do and w