Skip to main content

Into YA with Sarah Lyu


I absolutely love getting to share this interview with you as this book is absolutely fascinating! We dive into how she pieced together the perfect twists and turns in her thriller, handled an unreliable narrator, and responsibly handling a toxic friendship story. If you haven't read the book, check out my review first for more (spoiler free) context on the story, and make sure you head to the store to grab a copy of your own.

1. You’ve written a very twisty thriller. It’s timeline is broken up, and we’re given the events in fragmented flashes. Did the book come to you out of order, or did you think of the story linearly and rearrange it later to add suspense?
The story came to me linearly, and it wasn't until maybe draft 4 or 5 that I added the frame story of Remy speaking to Detective Ward. The first way I'd envisioned the story didn't work structurally because Remy needed to be examining all of the things that she'd experienced, which wasn't possible without that look-back perspective. Once I rewrote using the frame story, much of the narrative sort of clicked into place because Remy was now really examining her relationship with Elise and seeing all these things that she'd missed.

2. Your voice is so strong and suited to adding the subtle twists and turns in the very deliberate word choices. Did this take many drafts to cultivate, or is it an element that was on the page from the start?

 Thank you! Her voice is something I'm really proud of. It definitely evolved and deepened in personality through all the drafts, but I would say that it came to me fairly developed. I think all the pain she was experiencing really spoke to me. She has so many feelings! She's such an open character emotionally that it was easy to "talk" to her, if that makes sense.

3. The book is full of unreliable characters. We’re working with an unreliable, or at the very least, a deeply confused, narrator, and the way that we’re shown the other characters, it’s hard to figure out who to trust. Was it challenging to write a characters with so many questions surrounding them? How deeply did you know these characters deep turns before you started writing, and did they evolve as you drafted?

Yes, we're definitely dealing with unreliable characters in this story. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book if I'm being honest. It wasn't that I wanted to play with readers or manipulate them; I was (and still am) really fascinated by the lies we tell ourselves, and these characters really take that to the next level. One of the biggest lies they tell each other is that what doesn't kill them makes them stronger. It's this seemingly harmless thing that's a throwaway cliché we use in casual everyday speech. "No pain, no gain," that kind of thing. Elise loves this lie because she's dealing with so much pain and the idea that there's no point to this pain is unbearable to her. I wanted to explore how a lie like this, something that starts out as a positive coping mechanism, can twist inside a person and make them a warrior for good but also push them over the edge. This story is really about the stories we tell ourselves, how we frame our own realities--and how dangerous that can be. All of this definitely wasn't in the early drafts, however, and it was something that evolved through several drafts as I got to know the characters better. 

4. While the story is twisty and gripping, the book also deals with very serious subjects like abuse and emotional manipulation. You do an excellent job of showing readers the warning signs while also making it very clear how the main character fell into the toxic friendship. Was it difficult to find a responsible balance wile telling the story? Did you do research before you wrote these elements? 

It was definitely difficult to find a responsible balance. It was a concern of mine the entire time, and that's the way it should be--representing abuse in fiction is a big responsibility. In a note in the back of the ARC, I disclose that I've personally experienced physical and emotional abuse, but I found out in the process of writing this book that personal experience isn't always enough to responsibly represent an issue. I've been in therapy for years (highly recommended!) and even that wasn't necessarily enough because therapy is very client-specific. My therapist did recommend a great resource, however--a book by adultchildren.org (Adult Children of Alcoholics) called The Laundry Lists Workbook. It discussed the cycle of violence in a way that was new to me and that had a big impact on the book as I was writing.

5. Your book has left me totally speechless. Can we expect another book any time soon? Are you interested in continuing to write thriller type stories or are you looking forward to exploring another genre?

Wow, thank you again for your kind words. I'm so, so glad you enjoyed THE BEST LIES!! As for a new book, I have to admit that I'm a slow writer (my editor can attest to this, ha!). All I can say is that I'm working on something and I hope to get it out sooner rather than later. But I think it'll be a departure from the thriller genre, though who can say? THE BEST LIES wasn't a thriller when I started and wasn't one even at the time it was sold! 


Books By This Author...
The Best Lies: Review Here

Links of Interest:
Screen Queens: Review Here
Past Perfect Lives: Review Here
What's Coming Up In July: Here
A Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

All Our Worst Ideas YA Book Review

All Our Worst Ideas by Vicky SkinnerOverview: Amy has her life all laid out. She's going to be valedictorian, get the Keller Scholarship, and go to Stanford. Easy. Oliver doesn't quite know where he's headed yet. Taking his gap year has just confirmed that he doesn't want to go to college. No one in his life knows that yet. Amy and Oliver are thrust together when Amy gets a job at Spirits, the record store where Oliver works. They both live and breathe music, and that connects them even though their lives couldn't be more different. Amy and Oliver are a true example of the power of music to unite people. Overall: 4.5Characters: 5 I loved Amy and Oliver. I related to Amy so much. She loves music and uses it to get her through her intense academics and the heavy expectations from her family. She feels pressure to do well that mostly comes from herself, and her drive keeps her pushing to win valedictorian. While everyone knows how smart Amy is, her mom always talks ab…

Spotify Book Tag

Today, I'm doing a book tag. I haven't done a ton of these yet, but I came across this one on Twitter when Santana shared their version of it, and I got inspired to do the tag! Santana found the tag from the original creator, Sarah @ Book Hooked Nook. Here's the original tag and here's Santana's take on it. I borrowed Sanata's twist and added music choices along with books that fit the prompt, and at the bottom, I complied all the songs into a Spotify playlist so you can listen to that while you read! I also made a special list on my Bookshop featuring all the books if you want to get any of them! Find that here. I hope you discover more books and music to love! If you want more music content, check out my music blog, Music, Musings, and Me. Also, make sure you don't miss Friday's YouTube video that perfectly fits with this tag: Spotlighting Books With Musical Main Characters.

1. Hit Rewind: a book you go back to again and again? 
I don't tend to rere…

Badlands Book Tag (from Antari Reads)

School has been so stressful that I just wanted to have fun for today's post. I stumbled upon the Badlands Book Tag on Twitter made by Alison from Antari Reads and knew I had to do it. I get so excited every time I meet another Halsey fan/YA book lover. Halsey has been at the top of my mind lately, so this tag felt like bringing this Badlands era revival full circle. If you really want to get into the music with me, I made a reaction to Badlands for the 5th anniversary of the album. You can click the link here or watch it embedded down below. I'll also leave links to all my recent Halsey related posts so you can read about my Manic book pairings, Halsey's new role in a YA book adaption TV series, and her life Badlands album. I've also included links to Bookshop in this post. Just click Get a Copy to visit the book's affiliate page and grab one. Shopping these links means I might get a small commission, and part of the sale goes to benefit indie bookstores. It's…

Spotlight New Releases: Sunshine Is Forever

Hello, everyone! Today's is a very special post for me as I am reviewing my first ARC (more on that at the bottom). I was intrigued by the summary of Sunshine Is Forever from the second I read it, and I am now so excited to get to share my review of this amazing view into depression and the motives behind self harm and suicide. The impactful story is one I place up with many of my favorite books that tackle mental illness. It also features a male protagonist with a great voice, which we honestly don't see enough of in YA. Anyway, without further ado, to celebrate Sunshine Is Forever's publication, I am bringing you my full review of this new YA mental health fiction novel from a new author to the world of YA.



Sunshine Is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan
*Trigger warning specifically for self harm and suicide*
Overview: Hunter suffers from depression. While he's dealt with it his whole life through ineffective therapy and medication, his condition is worsened by the Incident which…

Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands From NKOTB to BTS Book Review

Larger Than Life by Maria Sherman
Get a Copy!
Overall:  5
I don't think I've ever anticipated a book longer than Larger Than Life. I'd heard Maria on a couple music criticism podcasts whenever they'd launched into the confusing world of the boy band, and she always mentioned the book would be coming soon. Well, it's finally out, and it makes me incredibly happy.
As I already knew, Maria is a boy band expert as well as a true fan. Her joy and enthusiasm really does make the book. I also love that boy bands are finally getting their full and comprehensive due. I wouldn't say that I'm particularly a boy band fan (outside of the Jonas Brothers and One Direction (though I guess those are just the boy bands of my generation so many I am)), but I find how they're looked at culturally to be fascinating. Boy bands tie back to feminism and how society constructs their views around things liked by teens/girls/women/LGBTQIA people. Maria doesn't shy away from tha…

Into YA with Laura Silverman: Part 2

Today, I'm chatting with Laura Silverman again to celebrate the upcoming release of her book, RecommendedFor You as part of the blog tour! If you haven't heard about this swoony, holiday set romance in a bookstore, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to read the book's official description and Laura's bio. Otherwise, you can check out my review here. I'm so happy to support Laura's new book, and if you want to hear about her past books, I'll link to my review below. If you're excited about Recommended For You, you're in luck because it is out in the world today! If you want to order a copy while supporting indie bookstores and the blog, you can purchase the book here with my link*. Thank you to Laura for taking the time to talk with me!

1. Recommended For You is mostly set in an indie bookstore during the holiday rush. What made you decide on that setting? I spent a year working at a bookstore and fielded many of the same strange requests Shosh…

August Wrap Up 2020- Reflecting and Getting Excited For What's To Come

I didn't think I would ever say this, but August does not seem like it's been nearly long enough! I feel like the end of summer came in the blink of an eye, and now I'm writing this on my second day as a college student. Considering I started this blog as the 8th grader, I've come a really long way. This school year is extra weird. I wasn't prepared to start school online like I had been in years past. I was anticipating moving to New York. I had an entire New York City themed visuals flip for the blog to honor the new era of my life. Alas, I'm still in the mountains and those plans are on hold. At least August is the last of the losing. I didn't have many plans beyond this month, so all the new days should get less painful. They just are instead of being a "should have been". If you're starting a major milestone this year (especially if you're starting college like I am), my heart goes out to you. We're in this together, and I think …

The Summer of Everything YA Book Review

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters Want a Copy Right Now? Use my Bookshop link to support the blog! Here.Overview: Wes doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. He has an acceptance letter to UCLA, but he's not sure what he wants to do with that. He loves working at Once Upon a Page, the indie bookstore he's worked at for a number of years. It's the perfect chill job where he's surrounded by comic books and all his friends. When it seems like Once Upon is going to close and his best friend/crush Nico is getting ready to move all the way to Stanford, Wes feels like his entire life is falling apart. He doesn't know what the next step is, but he's going to fight to keep the bookstore (and a bit of his childhood) alive for as long as possible. Overall: 4Characters: 4 Wes isn't totally lost. He loves what he's doing right now, but he's realizing that can't be forever. He's scared of making the wrong move for his future, so he fi…

War and Speech YA Book Review

War and Speech by Don Zolidis 
Overview: Sydney's life is a bit like a tornado. After her dad heading to prison wrecked her first semester of Junior year, she transfers schools with her walls up high and her tongue extra sharp. Sydney is deeply sarcastic, speaks her mind maybe too often, and is happy to join conspiracies to take down the school. She finds them in a group of outcasts tormented by the speech and debate team. She ends up joining down with an eye towards taking them all down and getting the coach fired. While she goes in with one mission, she finds a lot more than she bargained for on the team. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 I love, love, love Sydney. She's so cynical and sarcastic and completely hilarious. She says a lot of the things that I think, so it was a joy to see the world through her eyes. It's nice to see a YA character in high school who plays into it as a complete outsider in the sense that she doesn't even want to play the game or be a part of tho…

Harry Styles Book Tag (Inspired by Bookish Bits)

As you can probably tell, I've started doing a lot of tags since I've started school. Honestly, I haven't been in the most creative space lately, and school has been making me really tired, so tags have been calling my name. Since I found ones for Taylor Swift and Halsey, I thought I'd go looking for a tag for another of my favorite artist, Harry Styles. I was excited to discover that one does already exist, created by Lainy at Bookish Bits. You can read her version of the tag here. If you also like Harry Styles and books, consider yourself tagged. Also, if you're curious about any of the books mentioned below, just click the title to get to my review. 1. Kiwi: Abookwithatitlethathasnothingtodowiththebook.I feel like every title has some connection to the book. Some are just more obvious than others. I'll go with The Way You Make Me Feel here since it's one of the most abstract titles 2. Signofthetimes: Asad/emotionalbookwithahappy/hopefulending.Clap When Y…