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

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart Overall: 5This 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 that she d…

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern 
Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing.
On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried to stay ho…

How It All Blew Up: YA Book Review

How It All Blew Up by Arvin AhmadiOverview: Amir left before graduation. He just drove out of town and got on a plane to New York and then another on to Italy. Instead of paying the blackmail money or facing his conservative, Iranian family's reaction to him being outed as gay, he runs. In Rome, he stumbles into a found family of gay guys, many American, who take him under their wing. With these new friends in Rome, Amir feels like he can truly be himself for once in his life. With the money from editing Wikipedia pages, he wonders if he can just stay in Italy forever. But when he can't ignore his family's calls and drama starts up in the friend group, Amir realizes that you can't keep running forever. Overall: 4Characters: 4 Amir is well developed, and I enjoyed living in his brain. He's lost and constantly scared, but he also has a fearless streak that gets him to Rome in the first place. Most of all, he's confused. He feels like his identities contradict eac…

This Is All Your Fault Blog Tour Stop

Hi, everybody! Today, I'm a part of a book tour for Turn the Pages Tours letting you know about Aminah Mae Safi's book, This Is All Your Fault. If you've always dreamed about working in a bookstore, this new book will be perfect for you. It's about a group of teen booksellers who have to band together to help save the store. Check out the full description down below to get to know the book and learn more about Aminah through her author bio and the links to her social media! If you want to pick up the book right now, I'll leave a link to the book on Bookshop here which helps support the blog because it's an affiliate link, which means the blog might get a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you. It's a great way to support the blog while shopping for books! If you'd rather not shop at Bookshop, here's the general purchase linkDescription: Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi's This Is All Your Fault is a smart and…

September 2020 Wrap Up

I've honestly been stuck on what to write for this wrap up. I guess I'm surprised that September is finally over? It's been another boringly eventful month. I've been much busier trying to balance two blogs, YouTube, and college. I feel like I'm managing everything okay, but it's still a lot to process on some days when you factor in everything else going on in the world. I'm in a weird place of feeling totally lost and stagnant and also like I'm making some major strides towards getting where I want to go. It's hard to remember that it takes a long time build something up, and the process is something to enjoy too. I'm trying not to dwell on what's out of my control. Reflecting back on the month, I've accomplished a lot more than I felt like I did when I sat down to write this. A lot of what I'm most proud of myself, I'm not going to talk about in a ton of detail yet because I'm super superstitious about talking about things…

Books I'm Looking Forward To: October 2020

October means fall, Halloween, and some brand new books! This is a short list this time with a couple books I've had my eyes on for a while. As always, if you want to preorder a copy of any of these books (it helps authors a ton), I have preorder links to Bookshop through my affiliate page. That means shopping these links might give me a small commission at no cost to you! It's a great way to support the blog. Let me know in the comments which books you're looking forward to most in October. Also, I'd love YA thriller recommendations. I'm looking forward to doing another Halloween post like two years ago featuring some newer thrillers/creepy books. Let me know if you have a favorite. Also, don't forget to check out my September Favorites YouTube VideoOne Way or Another by Kara McDowellOctober 6Get a CopyI'm in the middle of reading this one now! In just a couple days, Kara will be releasing a brand new book. Paige has an impossible choice. Go with her lon…

Clap When You Land: YA Book Review

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth AcevedoTW: sex trafficking, sexual assault, grief, loss of a parentClick Here To Get a Copy! Overview: Camino and Yahaira are sisters, but they don't know it yet. Camino's dad spends most of the year in NYC making money to send back to the Dominican Republic. Yaharia's father always spent the summers away doing business in the Dominican Republic. They don't know that when their dad is gone, he's really visiting the other daughter until his plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. The aftermath and grieving process bring them together. While the grief and loss leaves a giant hole, it also opens new possibilities. Overall: 4Characters: 5 Yahaira and Camino are both super relatable. Their voices are so similar yet distinct, and you can see how growing up in two different cultures, yet still heavily influenced by each other, developed their points of view. Camino has a lot of assumptions about her American sister, assuming their rich and t…

Grown: YA Book Reviews

Grown by Tiffany D. JacksonTW: (from the title page of the book) sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping, and addiction to opioids Overview: Enchanted just wants to be a singer. Living in the suburbs, she doesn't know how this will happen until she gets noticed by Korey Fields at an audition. She doesn't make the show, but she gets taken under his wing. She just wants a career, and she wants to be loved, and she wants to be told she's beautiful. Korey does all that and more. He also has money and power- more things Enchanted lacks. She wants to be an adult and take life on, but she's fallen into the hands of an abuser and master manipulator. Coming out the other side leaves Korey dead and Enchanted trying to find her footing. Overall: 5Characters: 5 All of these characters are extremely vivid. Enchanted is such a good main character. She has confidence and is so smart. But you can see her little vulnerabilities that Korey expertly exploits. It's clear …

Into YA with Kristina Forest

I'm super excited to bring you another edition of Into YA, this time with one of my new favorite YA authors, Kristina Forest. While I'm sure you've already heard about Now That I've Found You, you can get caught up by reading my review here. Thank you to Kristina for taking the time to chat with me, and I hope you enjoy our conversation. If you want to help support the blog, please consider grabbing a copy through my Bookshop affiliate link here1. In Now That I Found You, all of your main characters are famous. Evie and her family are huge in the film industry, and love interest, Milo, is on the rise with his band. Did that require extra research to write about for either the music or film industries?
It didn’t require much research. I’ve always been interested in old Hollywood and I’m a big fan of movies and music, and I’ve watched dozens of documentaries and/or biopics so I felt pretty prepared to write the story without having to do additional research.
2. Once Ev…

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, as…