Skip to main content

Into YA with Lillie Vale

Today I'm chatting with Lillie Vale about her upcoming book, Small Town Hearts, which comes out in less than a week! If you haven't heard about the book, I recommend you read my review linked here and below, and if you'd like to preorder it now, you can do so here. If you'd like to connect with Lillie, you can find her on Twitter at @LillieLabyrinth and on Instagram at @labyrinthspine, and you can find me in the comments below, on Twitter at @readwriteandme, and Instagram at @readingwritingandme!

1.     Small Town Hearts is full of mouthwatering food, beautiful scenery, and summer fun. Do you have a favorite memory about writing the book or a scene you enjoyed most? 
 Hi, Lauren! Thanks for hosting me on your blog. So excited to talk about Small Town Hearts with you today! 
This was the foodie, messy friendship, bi book of my heart. I adored creating the world of Babe’s beloved Oar’s Rest (the lighthouse!! the beach cave!! the Busy Bean!!), writing all the yummies, and zeroing in on a hugely transitional time in her life. Using the passage of summertime as a metaphor for growing up, dealing with change, and charting your own journey was super enjoyable for me. The interplay of diverse, dynamic characters in a small town where everybody knows everybody and memories are around every corner made for quite the powder keg! How people relate to their environment, especially a microcosm like Oar’s Rest with its own distinct culture and personality, has always appealed to me.

2.     A major theme of the book is a fear of change, which is tough because B is facing the adult world after graduating high school. What drew you to writing an Older YA story, and do you have any advice for readers like B? 
 I think a lot of Babe’s struggles could apply to teens and young people today. Leaving high school, friends, and family for the first time can be terrifying. Home can provide stability and comfort, and the people and places that make up what “home” means to us are major cornerstones. Many teens, whether they go to college or not, may find themselves losing their support system. How do we hold on to friendships when we’re miles apart? How do we know when to let go? Babe, for whom remaining in the work force is not only a pragmatic choice, but the one that will allow her to work at the coffee shop she loves, The Busy Bean, is terrified of the new changes that will affect her friend group. She’s going to be the one left behind, and she has no idea how to deal. I hope readers can take away that change can also be an opportunity for growth, that friendship can be tested without breaking, and that sometimes, we may have to untangle ourselves from our comfort zone in order to become the person we’re meant to be.

3.     Friendships, both outgrowing old, possibly toxic ones and finding new people, are a major part of the plot. Do you have any advice for writers who struggle to write friend dynamics? 
 Look to your own friend group—note both the pretty and the ugly side of these friendships. Have a think on the friend dynamics in books and television that resonate with you, and examine what you find most inspirational and aspirational. Know whyyou’re writing a specific type of dynamic, what you’re trying to convey to the reader, and draw on the emotions that make it personal to you. 

In Small Town Hearts, I wanted to zero in on a friendship that’s always had a status quo, where the characters only knew who they were as individuals insofar as who they were relative to their friends. What would happen when those characters were in a period of transition (high school to college) and that status quo was threatened? One friend is starting to pull away, so another holds on tighter. Complicated, messy friendships are my JAM. Exploring the conflict that arises when characters have differing hopes, dreams, insecurities, and fears that put them at odds with one another was a theme I found deeply compelling. Keep the whyin your mind, because I tend to find that in all aspects of writing, knowing whywill often lead you to the how.

4.     Since this is your debut, you’re closer to your querying days than many authors. What was that journey like for you, and do is there anything you learned through the process that would help currently querying writers? 
 When it comes to writing, you hear a lot about pacing. And when it comes to querying, it’s no different. Every book, every writer, every process goes its own pace. Keep your eyes on your own journey, keep writing, and don’t get too impatient for all the milestones you haven’t reached yet. You’ll get there.

5.     Small Town Hearts hits shelves on March 19th, but for those who will want to read more of your work, can you talk about any upcoming projects you have in the works? 
 Nothing I can share just yet, but let me just say I am really excited to be drafting again! It’s the best feeling in the world to fall in love with new creative projects.

Books by This Author...
Small Town Hearts: Review Here

Links of Interest:
Long Way Down: Review Here
Waiting For Fitz: Review Here
Shout: Review Here
What's Coming Up In March: Here

The purchase link is an affiliate link which means I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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 Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC so I could share my honest thoughts with all of you! 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

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

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

My First Time Trying a Book Box: Literati Luminary Book Club Review

I am incredibly excited for today's blog posts because I'm working with Literati to share my experience with their Luminary Book Club. If you've been keeping up with my posts, I recently talked about how book clubs are an amazing way to fend off a reading slump, especially when life gets super hectic, and even with a super long TBR, I've still felt lost when I go to pick out my next read. I'm so grateful to Literati for sending me a book box and sponsoring this post!  On top of feeling stuck with choosing what to read, I've also been trying to explore more genres and the world outside of YA. YA has been my home base for so long that I always get overwhelmed trying to figure out what I want to read in other genres. Luckily, Literati had just what I needed. I got the chance to choose from 13 different book clubs all curated by Luminaries who are amazing, award winning writers, thought leaders, and artists you most definitely know like Malala and her Fearless cl

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

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Adult Literature Reviewed

  Everything I Never Told You  by Celeste Ng (Just a warning, this review will have some degree of spoilers cause I don't know how to write a full review without them) Overview: Lydia is dead. Just turned 16 and already gone. With no close friends to point to a possible explanation and no leads, her family is left confused, forced to confront a world without their favorite daughter. Instead of a murder mystery, what unfolds is a heartbreaking story of a family in 1970s Ohio forced to confront every tiny, fractured web that led up to Lydia death. Bouncing around with no bounds for time, space, or narrator, we hear stories from Nath, Lydia, and Hannah's childhoods, Marilyn's young adulthood, and Jame's struggles to rise through the ranks as a Chinese American professor in small town Ohio. What it leaves is a heartbreaking portrait of how little we might truly know about the people we sleep in the same house with every single night. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 This is a hard

What's on my YA TBR: September 2021 Edition

September is always a magical, busy time in bookland because there are always a million books releasing to get ready for the holiday rush. That's how this list wound up featuring 7 books. There are a couple like Never Saw You Coming  and As If On Cue  that I've had my eyes on for almost a year, and then there are some new discoveries that I'm super super excited about. From heartfelt contemporaries to K-Pop to a musical anthology and a summer camp of animators, there's something for everyone on this list. I haven't been this excited about a TBR of books in a while, and I'm sad that with starting school, it'll probably take me a while to get through them, but I'm hoping my local library will pick up copies soon. Speaking of which, I have tons of new libraries to explore around campus! As always, I want to make it as easy as possible to preorder these books and connect with the authors who wrote them! If you click the link in the title of each book, it wil

Fresh by Margot Wood: YA Book Review

  Fresh  by Margot Wood Get a Copy (this is an affiliate link. purchasing through this bookshop link helps support indie bookstores and this blog at no cost to you) Overview: Elliot isn't really sure why she's going to college. It's the next step that people take in life, I guess. She also isn't sure why she's at Emerson. It sounded better than Ohio State. She has no plan, no clue and how to approach college life. Quickly, Elliot gets sucked into a whirlwind of all the worst college tropes- the endless cereal bar, hooking up with everyone in the Little Building, not paying attention in any of her that classes she doesn't really want to be in anyway... the list goes on. She quickly forms a tight group of friends on her floor, but even those connections get tested as the year progresses. Eventually, Elliot is forced to realize that she needs to care about the academic side of college, and she craves closer connections than a trail of hook ups. Elliot, like most co

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