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