Skip to main content

Into YA with Deborah Maroulis


I got to chat with Deborah about her new book! She has a lot of interesting and important comments about the stories she tells in her new book! 

1. Within and Without takes place on a vineyard which is a setting that I’ve never encountered before. What made you decide to set the story there?
I decided to set Wren’s story on a vineyard for two reasons. One, Granny’s farmhouse, where she’s living since her parents’ divorce, is based on my own mom’s house. She didn’t have vineyards on her property, though. She had walnut trees. But her home is surrounded by family-owned vineyards who either make their own wine or sell their harvests to the larger wine companies in Napa, so I thought I’d combine a real house with fictionalized agriculture. 
 The second reason is more symbolic. Wren’s character arc mimics the life cycle of a grape vine, and I thought it would be fitting to have her in a place where the parallels would be easier to draw. (It’s the English teacher in me…gotta love symbolism!)

2. Panayis is such a lovely character. I also was excited that he has a Greek background that he is still very connected to. What inspired you to write Panayis’s story and background the way you did, and did you have to do research to build his character?
Thank you! I love Panayis, too! My husband is first-generation Greek, so I drew on what I’ve learned about the culture from him and his family. In fact, Bubba, Panayis’ truck, is named after my husband’s first car, which was not a farm truck, incidentally… At first, other than being a good cook, I didn’t know much about Panayis’ character. In order to better understand him, I had him clean out his closet. (This is some of the best writing advice I’ve ever been given about getting to know a character.) Turns out the closet wasn’t his. It was his mom’s, and he’d been given the task to box up her things after her death since is was too hard for his dad. Once that part of his backstory came into focus, the rest kind of just filled in. 
 Fun fact, I tried to get my mother-in-law’s pastitsio recipe for the book, but she wouldn’t tell me her secret, so I was stuck using a generic recipe I found online. I’m not giving up, though!

3. Wren is a survivor of sexual assault, and, over the course of the story, we get to see Wren heal from that. One aspect that may or may not surprise the reader is that her attacker (and ex boyfriend) Jay seems to have no idea he’s done something wrong. A lot of culture, particularly in high schools, glorifies conquest and coercion which definitely contributes to these horrible situations. Do you think that there’s a conversation or shift that will help bring the issue to the forefront or help prevent situations like Wren’s?
I’m so glad you asked this question! One of the reasons I wrote the scene the way I did is because this exact situation happens so frequently. So often, guys and girls feel pressure to explore the physical aspects of a relationship without having or practicing the vocabulary to express what they want or need. On top of that, bodies are changing rapidly and sending confusing signals. Those feelings quickly take over the rational mind and instinct is all that’s left. To prevent the devastation of such a fleeting and life-changing moment, there needs to be discussion around how to approach consent. It is my hope that more honest conversations about sex and consent happen between teens. The more it’s practiced, the easier it gets. Laurie Halse Anderson said it best in Speak: “You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.”

4. Beyond being a writer, you’re a high school English teacher and writing instructor at a junior college. Does your day job influence your writing in any way? Did you always love writing?
Yes, I think I have always loved writing. Most of the stuff I wrote in high school was suuuuuper dark, though! I was addicted to Prince songs and Anne Rice novels, so I’m pretty sure there’s a reference to the color vermillion in every poem (hangs head in shame). I never thought seriously of writing for public consumption until just a few years ago, although it had always been a dream. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who encourage and support me to do so. Having a background in studying other people’s writing has helped immensely! I have to say, however, that I didn’t learn to write fiction in a classroom. It was only by writing and implementing feedback from people better at it than me did I begin to hone the craft. 
 I don’t actually teach high school English anymore, although I do teach college-level classes on high school campuses for my local community college. But I did teach high school for ten years and it absolutely influenced my writing. My students offered fantastic fodder for Wren’s adolescent eye-rolling. Plus, they helped me make sure my slang use was on fleek, haha... (I’ll see myself back to 2014.)

5. I’m sure readers will be wondering, do you have any new projects you can talk about or any other exciting writing news?
I do! I’m currently getting ready to go on submission with a story about a teen boy trying to figure out the rest of his senior year and college plans while dealing with a huge case of survivor’s guilt over his sister’s epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. Plus, there’s lots of nerdy Star Wars and Harry Potter references. He can’t help it, he’s a self-proclaimed band geek.
 Thank you so much for having me. I loved your thoughtful questions and am so happy you enjoyed Within and Without! I’m happy to offer an eARC giveaway to one of your readers!

Her Books...
Within and Without: Review Here

Links of Interest: 
The Lying Woods: Review Here
Somewhere Only We Know: Review Here
Into YA with Arvin Ahmadi: Here
Girl Gone Viral: Review Here


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Planes, Trains, and... Books

It's almost holiday time, and that means traveling for a lot of people. Since I'm leaving this weekend to go visit family for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd make a list of books for you guys that'll be perfect reads while you're flying, waiting in the airport, or hiding from relatives. If you're taking a car trip, check out the audiobook versions. Or, I guess, if you're fortunate enough to be able to read in the car, do that. I can't even look at Instagram without getting carsick.
So, without further ado, here's my list of perfect travel books that are lighthearted, page turning, or perfect escapes. I'll link to my reviews of each of the books so that you can read my full thoughts on each of the books.
Crying Laughing  by Lance Rubin I picked a lot of funny books for this list because they're my favorites to read while traveling. Even when books cross into difficult subject matter, the tone can keep a book perfectly poised as a light read. I lov…

The Reading, Writing, and Me Book Awards 2019

I read so many amazing books this year. Tons of debuts, tons of 2019 arrivals, but also ton of backlist books. I've made a list of my favorite books every year I've had the blog at the end of the year, and I always make the list full of superlatives, giving each book a specific award. I always struggle, though, with my top of 20-whatever list with not being able to honor backlist books that I didn't discover until this year. I want to scream about books I didn't know about when they were brand new, so this year we're going to do things a little differently. This year, for my named awards, I'm going to include both new and backlist books. The only rule is that I had to read them in 2019 or after the 2018 list came out. But I do want to honor this year specifically, so I will be taking ten books from this list and in the next week unveil my Top 10 of 2019. This will allow me to celebrate more books than ever. Carrying on from last year's tradition, I'm k…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (306 pages) Buy At Your Local Bookstore*
Overview: It's just one elevator ride. Just one elevator ride to the rest of Will's life. Eight floors takes so long when you're headed to kill someone. Even in revenge. Even for justice. Even when your brother was just murdered. It's even longer when every stop brings someone who's left your life back in. There's so much to learn before Will hits the lobby. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Because of the atmosphere and the point of the story, we don't get super into the characters. They each represent a stop on a horrible cycle. It starts with Buck, Will's older brother, Shawn's, older brother figure. When Buck got killed, Shawn had to avenge his death, which got him killed. He also meets his Uncle Mark, an aspiring filmmaker who's death lead to Will's father's death because of the Rules. Each character doesn't exist to explore themselves or have their own motives- they…

Crying Laughing Review

Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin
Overview: Winnie's life exists for laughs. Her dad is a former wannabe comedian, so he's never quit making jokes around the house. They're super close as he quit his career to stay home with her. She's taken on his love for comedy and has tried stand up, but she's never going back to that again. Now she's in the school's improv troupe, trying her hand at another form of comedy. She forms a closer group of friends and meets new people form it. It's also a good distraction from her dad's increasing health issues as he drops new things and starts falling. As her dad comes to terms with his ALS diagnosis, Winnie doesn't know how to respond to a world that's both full of joy and sadness. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 Winnie is super sweet and very interesting. She wants to be funny so badly. Sometimes, she succeeds and is very funny, but sometimes she falls flat on her face. She knows that every joke doesn't work, bu…

Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb

Today, I'm bringing you another guest post from an author! Kristy Fairlamb stopped by to talk about her top tips for writing and her writing process. Her novel, Lucid, recently came out. If you're interested in learning more or picking it up, check out my Indiebound link! (Affiliate Link).

Eight tips for writing a novel: Based on my vague understanding of the process after winging it and completing three manuscripts.  My first book, Lucid, has just been published, the sequel, Luminous, is mid-edits and the third, a standalone, is at the 2nddraft stage waiting until I’ve finished with the others. 
ONE:JUST WRITE I went to a writing class once and sat beside a lady who told me it was the sixth session she had attended. I asked what she was working on, she said nothing yet, she’s learning first.
I didn’t know how to write when I first started writing. I believe the best learning came after I’d written the first draft when I learnt everything I’d done wrong.
Don’t wait to write until yo…

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…