Skip to main content

Into YA with Jennifer Dugan


I don't think I've seen a more anticipated book for this spring than Hot Dog Girl. With it's super cute amusement park setting and a love triangle, it's easy to see why people are so excited for April 30th to finally come. If you haven't heard about the book or want to learn more, check out my review here, and if you haven't preordered, you can do it here*
I hope you enjoy my interview with Jennifer! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

1. The thing that struck me most about your book was how clear Elouise shines through. Her grammar, syntax, and diction are so specific and consistent throughout, and it makes it easy to connect with her optimistically scattered personality. Did you do anything to get in touch with her voice, or did it just show up on the page? 

Music is a huge part of my writing process, so the first thing I do when working on any character is to figure out their specific playlist. I think you can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to. This really helps me figure out their personality and behavior. With Elouise, once I had her playlist worked out, it was easy to get her voice settled—probably the easiest of any character I have ever written.
 I won’t go as far as to say that she came to me fully formed, but she definitely came to me quickly and LOUDLY—which is different from how it usually goes. In fact, there were a few times during the drafting process where I felt like she was the one in control and I was just along for the ride. 


 2. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the relationships in Hot Dog Girl are messy. With all the shifting between friendships and romance, did you have to do tons of planning and outlining to keep track? Did you already have these twists in mind before you started or did they come with the story?

I’m actually a total Pantser, so I don’t do much planning before I start writing. Generally, I’ll get a flash of a scene in my head, and then write backward and forward from that moment until it’s done. This means I don’t usually know where a book is going until the first draft is in front of me. I think the first version of Hot Dog Girl was around 95k words as a result! But I needed those extra scenes and conversations to make sense of the characters and plot. 
 While most of the relationships were present in that early draft, they were certainly refined as I went along. Revising is where I really shine, and I have a MUCH more organized approach to that side of things which involves calendars and various office supplies. There’s a lot of plotting and tweaking that happens at that point.
 Admittedly, I’m trying to incorporate more structure into the drafts I write now, since there is more of a time constraint. I don’t think I’ll ever be a full plotter but I’d love to find some middle ground. 


3. Prior to Hot Dog Girl you explored a lot of new adult/college stories. Going forward being a more established author, would you ever go back to the “Older YA” area? I’d love to see more books that carry YA type voices into college.

Yes and no. I think it would be a lot of fun to do an upper YA story set in the early years of college. I actually have an idea for a book that would take place in the beginning of the main character’s freshman year at a university. (Although I don’t know that it will ever see the light of day because I have a few projects ahead of it!) I find the period of transition from high school to college a fun and fascinating time to write about.
 With that being said, while I would love to see publishing embrace new adult in general and think there’s a tremendous opportunity there, I don’t personally think that I would go back to writing about older college kids or recent college graduates. I’ll never say never, but right now I feel like I have a lot of stories left to tell centered mainly on the junior/senior year of high school. 


4. Beyond being a novelist, you’re also an indie comics author. Is there a format you gravitate too? Has writing one help strengthen the other, or are they in totally separate areas of your brain?

I’ve been a huge fan of comics for a long time, so trying my hand at writing them was sort of a natural evolution for me. Some of my story ideas just seem to lend themselves better to a more visual method of story-telling. In general, I’ve also noticed my comics tend to be fantasy or have more of a horror/supernatural vibe, while my novels have so far been contemporary. 
 I think any time spent writing strengthens your skills, but comics and novels do largely operate in different areas of my brain. As I mentioned earlier, I can’t really plot a novel initially, it feels too stifling. However, comics require meticulous plotting, or they just don’t work—at least in my experience. You need to account for things like page flips, words per panel, panels per page etc. Those are things I don’t have to consider at all while drafting a novel. 


5. Your debut is hitting the shelves on April 30th, but can we look forward to other new work from you soon?

 Yes! I have a second novel coming out in 2020, although we have not quite settled on a title yet. It’s another contemporary YA, this time dual POV, that follows two teens as they try to navigate life and love within the comic industry. 
 This one also features queer protagonists, like Hot Dog Girl does, but has a very different vibe from my debut. While there is still a lot of humor and heart, there is also a much bigger focus on things like mental health, complicated family dynamics, and what it truly means to love another person. 
 I also have a few other projects I’m working on right now, including a new graphic novel, which hopefully you’ll be hearing more about soon!

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif
Bonus Question!
Is there a real life inspiration for the park or what made you think of it?
Magic Castle Playland is really an amalgamation of several amusement parks I visited as a child. Even though I’m terrified of most amusement park rides, I found myself around them A LOT growing up! There is actually an amusement park not too far away from me that has diving pirates, and that was definitely a part of the inspiration. They sadly don’t have anybody there dressed as a hot dog, but maybe they’ll read my book someday and realize what a great addition that would be. (My apologies to any future employees that may have to wear the bun as a result!)


Jennifer's Book:
Hot Dog Girl: Review Here

Other Into YA Interviews:
With Kathleen Glasgow: Here
With Erin Hahn: Here
With Lillie Vale: Here

Links of Interest:
Opposite of Always: Review Here
Recognizing The Artist: Here
Her Royal Highness: Review Here
If I'm Being Honest: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

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

My Most Anticipated of 2021/2021 ARC TBR

  A few days ago, I put out a list of my favorite books of the year that I couldn't stop talking about all year long. Now I'm here to introduce you to a brand new slate of books that I'm predicting will make my favorites list next year. These are the books I can't wait to get my hands on because they sound absolutely amazing! I've decided to separate the list into an ARC TBR so far for 2021 of ARCs I have and then to make a wishlist section below that with ARCs I hope to get or books that I'll splurge to buy. I'll include preorder links to the books that are already up for preorder so that you can easily grab a couple surprise gifts to show up throughout the year if any of these books look exciting! These will be affiliate bookshop links which means shopping the links support the blog at no cost to you. Also, if you're looking for even more 2021 books, Rachel and Vicky made the most amazing database/spreadsheet/blog to collect all the 2021 debuts togethe

More Than Maybe Review

More Than Maybe  by Erin Hahn (May 2020) Overview: Vada works at a dive bar, scraping together money for college and learning about running from a show her soon to be step-dad to get closer to her future dreams. She also runs the Loud Lizard's successful music blog Behind the Music. Vada is about to head off to LA and start working towards her music journalism dreams, but she has to make it through senior year first. Luke Greenly is the son of famous British punk rocker, Charlie Greenly. The whole family has set down roots in Michigan where his mom works at the university, but remnants of his dad's past life still follow them. Luke loves writing songs but hates performing, and, because of his dad, he's been thrust into the spotlight more than he'd like. For now, he'd rather stick to making successful podcast The Grass Is Greenly with his twin brother, Cullen, and hopelessly pining after Vada through stalking Behind the Music. Overall: 5 Characters: 5 Vada is a

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon: YA Book Review

Super Fake Love Song  by David Yoon Overview: Sunny Dae is sick of his California neighborhood where everyone pretends to be something they're not to keep up with all the other rich families. He's happy in his own world, LARPing with his friends, even if he gets made fun of for it at school. That is until Cirrus comes into the picture. She's undeniably cool and he's undeniably a loser in everyone's eyes, so he finds a new personality. He borrows a life from the coolest person he used to know, his older brother Gray, who's on his way to becoming a rockstar. Of course, lies like that always fall apart, and the music industry is unforgiving. It's a long fall from the top. Overall: 3  Characters: 3 This is the weirdest book I've ever read, which I'll get into more later. One part of that is the book is basically only told in details. You'd think this would help with characterization, but so many characters are left completely flat. Sunny is unashamed

Positions Book Tag

Today, I'm sharing a new book tag created by Cielo over at Bellerose Reads who tagged me in her new Positions book tag. I love working on book tags inspired by pop music, so I was thrilled to get the tag. If I'm being totally honest, I wasn't super into Positions, Ariana Grande's latest album. I'm much more of a Thank U Next fan because that album was far more lyrically focused. Positions reminds me a lot of Sweetener. I do like "POV", the closing track of the album. Still, I'm super excited to share the tag because these are some of the best tag questions I've ever seen. Cielo did a wonderful job coming up with really cool prompts. I had a blast thinking of books that fit them. As always, just click the book title to read my review of any of the books I mentioned. And don't forget to read the original tag here .    shut up – a book you couldn’t shut up about  There are way too many. Honestly, a ton of them are already sprinkled through this po

evermore book tag!

As you probably know, I absolutely adore Taylor Swift, and I recently did a folklore book tag, so I figured I should make a version of evermore as well! If you want to read that post, you can find it here . And if you want all my thoughts on folklore, you can watch my original folklore reaction on my YouTube channel here.   I'm so happy to have found an evermore book tag I loved created by  Star Is All Booked Up ! That post is linked (I really enjoyed it!), and those are the prompts I'm using here.  In this tag, I just talked about books for the prompts and didn't get into the songs. If you want more of my evermore thoughts specifically, check out my blog post of favorite lyrics here and my new reaction to evermore here . You can also scroll to the bottom of the post to watch the video as well. If you want to know more about any of the books I mention, all of their titles are linked to my review.  I hope you love the post, and let me know your favorite evermore songs in the

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant: YA Book Review

  Happily Ever Afters  by Elise Bryant  Overview: Tessa gets the writing opportunity of her dreams, but her words run out at the same time. While she can't wait to take a novel writing class at her new school, the idea of sharing her work with anyone but her best friend, Caroline, makes her unable to keep writing, even for herself. Caroline devises a plan to get her to fall in love so that she can jumpstart her creative juices for the romances Tessa writes herself into. Real life inspiration is clearly not the answer, and Tessa is left even further from the answer to all of her problems. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 While I knew this book was going to have a kind of forced dating situation as Tessa tried to get this boy to fall for her, I didn't predict the love triangle till I started reading. I'm not going to fault Bryant for using a love triangle because everyone does it, but I do have to note that these characters fall into the unfortunate side effect of most love triangles

This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry: YA Book Review

  This Will Be Funny Someday  by Katie Henry Overview: Izzy is sick of being 16. She's sick of being the "easy kid" who never causes a problem for the family or demands attention. Her mom is always busy working at her law firm, and her dad just isn't super invested. School is awful, and her controlling boyfriend makes her question what it means to be in love. And then she stumbles into a bar on comedy night, and suddenly, she finds a world so different from her own- one that's better. Though it requires maintaining more than a few lies, this new life with her college friends is too good to give up. That is, until it all comes crashing down. About growing up, being your authentic self, and navigating intense relationships for the first time, this book is incredibly relatable and quite unique in the way it approaches common YA questions. Overall: 5 Characters: 5 I relate to Izzy on a deep, deep level. From the second I read the synopsis, I knew the book was going to

Coming Up in February 2021: Can't Miss YA

It's almost February which means it's time for tons of brand new books. I picked the five I was most excited about to spotlight in this post! There's a mix of past favorite authors (like Courtney Summers and Phil Stamper) and some new authors I can't wait to read for the first time! I'm so excited to dive into these soon. A couple are on my ARC TBR, and the rest I put in library requests for. If you have a local library, placing a request for a book purchase from your library is a great, free way to get new books. You help the author with a sale, and the library also offers them more exposure to new readers!  If you do want to add some of these books to your personal collection, I will be adding purchase links that go to Bookshop to this post. Clicking the affiliate link means that the blog might get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Shopping these Bookshop links is a great way to support the blog, authors, and independent bookstores!  The Project by Court