Thursday, March 12, 2015

March Madness: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

For today's March Madness, I have the wonderful Paula Stokes on the blog talking about her newest release, why she likes to dabble in different genres, and her love for St. Louis. :)

MEET THE BOOK!


Hi Paula! Welcome to The Fox’s HideawayFor everyone unfamiliar with your newest book, Liars, Inc., can you tell us a little bit about it?

LIARS, INC. is the story of Max Cantrell, a high school senior, his girlfriend Parvati, and his best friend Preston. After a random incident proves profitable, the three of them start selling forged permission slips, cover stories, etc. to their classmates. One day, Pres asks Max for his own cover story so he can go visit a girl he met online. And then Pres never comes home. Suddenly Max is the prime suspect in Preston’s murder, and the only way to prove his innocence is to find the real killer.


Liars is a mystery, Lainey is a contemporary, and your series under a pen name is a fantasy. Is it hard writing different genres? Do you enjoy dabbling in different areas?

What is this dabbling you speak of? I am fully committed to all genres ;-) Well, except historical. I discovered while writing the VENOM trilogy that historical books are not for me. There are too many tea parties and articles of clothing to describe. And not enough light! OMG if I had a dollar for every edit note that said: “She would need a lantern here…” I’d be rich. Thank you to Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison or whoever is officially credited [See, clearly I suck at history!] with making it possible for my contemporary characters to see without having to tote around a candle or lantern all the time.

Seriously though, I love to write both fluffy contemps and dark, twisty things. It’s not hard for me at all, though after writing LIARS and VICARIOUS, two dark, complicated mysteries, I finished the first draft of BAD LUCK CHARM and was like “There are no bridge jumps, explosions, or dead bodies. Is this even a story?” My crit partners assured me that it was ;-)


That being said, which one was your favorite to work on? Which one took you the longest?

Honestly, I’m one of those writers where my current WIP is always my favorite. Picking between LAINEY and LIARS would be like picking between a baby panda and a set of ninja throwing stars. Both are cool in their own ways. I would say the historical books took the longest to write because those were through a book development company so I was constantly revising to other people’s specifications. Also, there was more research involved in those.


I just finished The Art of Lainey last weekend, and I loved the setting. Can you take us on a mini tour of your favorite places in St. Louis?

YES! First, don’t believe what you read, peeps. St. Louis, Ferguson, these are not terrible places. I grew up in Hazelwood (partially the inspiration for LAINEY’s Hazelton) which is the suburb next door to Ferguson. I played Ferguson schools in tennis and soccer. There are high-crime, unsafe areas in St. Louis, but Ferguson isn’t really one of them. The news media just likes to report a good story, even if it is excessively embellished for ratings. My fave St. Louis places:

The City Museum. Just click the link. It’s so much more than a museum.
The St. Louis Zoo. It’s a nationally ranked zoo and it’s always free admission.
The St. Louis Art Museum. Again, always free. Special exhibits free on Tuesdays.
The St. Louis Science Center. Free admission. Are you sensing a pattern?
Lone Elk Park. Where deer, elk, and bison roam free.
Kayak’s Café. The inspiration behind Denali. Also where I wrote the book.
Washington University. My alma mater. Sadly, not free ;-)
The Pageant. Music club. WAY nicer than The Devil’s Doorstep
Forest Park. Super awesome city park where many of the above places are located.
Left Bank Books. Shout out to Sarah, Shane, and all the lovely bookish peeps!


I love that Micah is a walking contradiction. Is Max, the main character in Liars, Inc., a guy with many different qualities too?

I did this feature for Adventures of a Book Junkee (link to awesome post + giveaway here) that compares Max and Micah and poor Max lost out in basically every category…except he’s taller, if anyone likes that in a book-boyfriend ;) Max just doesn’t have Micah’s game—he’s not as funny, he’s not as flirty, he doesn’t have a mohawk. But to be fair, he is kind of fighting to prove his innocence and dealing with a lot of terrible crap in this book, so I hope people will cut him some slack for not being Mr. Sexy Book Boyfriend. I wrote Max for the readers who feel invisible. He is, on the surface, average in every way. Here he compares himself to his girlfriend, Parvati:

“I didn’t blame her parents for wanting her to stay away from me. She was smart and rich and pretty, and I was none of those things. We both joked that she had only started dating me to piss them off, but sometimes I wondered if it was true. I knew I was decent-looking, tall and thin, with messy brown hair that managed to look cool even right when I rolled out of bed, but I wasn’t the kind of guy that girls drew hearts around in the yearbook.” –from Liars, Inc.

Here’s the thing though. NO ONE is average in every way, even if we feel it sometimes. Beneath the surface, Max is trusting and protective, loyal and forgiving, he calls on inner strength to get him through some tough times, and he puts what’s right before his personal feelings when the situation gets dire. Max is a good guy. I hope you think so too.


I have to say that I’m really glad The Art of Lainey doesn’t shy away from the subject of sex. In my opinion, it feels like most YA books do that, as well as with other sensitive subjects. Do you think it’s important to tackle those topics head-on instead of shying away from them?

I feel like ten years ago YA books either didn’t have sex or sex was the plot. I try to incorporate it in a realistic and positive manner as I see fit. Lainey being a virgin would have felt disingenuous—so much of the reason she clings to Jason is because he’s the only person she’s shared herself with in that way and she desperately wants to believe he’s a good guy. I was having sex in high school (forever ago), and I was by no means “advanced,” therefore I know some teens today are having sex. So no, I don’t feel a responsibility to “protect the children.” I do try to point out where my characters are being responsible and using protection. Of course, some teens aren’t having sex in high school, but if they don’t want to read about it there are plenty of books out there for them to choose from. I try to be upfront about “hey, this book has sex; it has swearing” because I don’t want to offend readers who don’t want to read a particular story. I think each author should make the choices regarding sex and other sensitive subjects that feel right to them, though. I have friends who simply will not ever go there and I respect that. Writing is hard. It’s best to put out books you feel comfortable promoting widely.


What does YA mean to you?

To me YA is transition, it’s about letting go of the safety of youth and beginning to make the hard choices for yourself. It’s about when you realize, for better or worse, that you’re the boss of your life. It’s about being bold and following your heart or your gut or your brain into new places, feelings, and relationships. YA is scary and strange, beautiful and brave.


Thank you so much for stopping by and answering my questions, Paula! 

Thanks for helping get the word out about my latest release! And happy birth-month, because for realz, a day is just not enough ;-)


So very true! :)
*****

Thanks to Paula's generosity, I have an international giveaway for you guys! I'm giving away TWO mini Liars, Inc. swag packs! :) Again, this is open internationally and you can find my policy here.

31 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the great post and swag giveaways. I would definitely want to go to The City Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum, and Kayak's cafe. Art and coffee, my two favorite things besides my love of reading. I'm reading The Art of Lainey right now and I absolutely love this book. I can't wait until Liars, Inc is released. Everyone needs to read Paula's books. They are wonderful !!!

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    1. You're welcome!! I'm not a huuuuge fann of Art Museums, but I'd probably check out one of them. And yay, so glad you're loving The Art of Lainey! Isn't it just adorable? :)

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  2. YES! I WAS RIGHT. HA. For one of them anyway...

    I am so excited for this plot! I love shady…jobs(?) done at school! It's so hardcore. xD

    Ha! "There are too many tea parties and articles of clothing to describe. And not enough light! OMG If I had a dollar for every note that said: "She would need a lantern here…" I'd be rich."

    Oh gosh.

    Ah, she should do a Roman historical! I'm not sure what they used for lights though back then….I guess maybe lanterns? On ward.

    Oooh, ooh, I want a mystery like Veronica Mars! (Yes, you should have seen this coming Holly).

    I love the comparison between a baby panda and ninja throwing stars, haha.

    Ooh! I went to St. Louis once! And we went to the zoo. But it was in winter. Well February. And there weren't any animals out. :(

    Ah, I read the rest of the interview, it was so lovely!

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    1. haha, it doesn't sound like Paula would EVER write another historical book! (omg stop it, Mars). And ooh, I would definitely go to the zoo! :) Thanks Amber!

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  3. I swore I commented on this and then remembered I hadn't, that I'd just tweeted about it and such. Oopsie? Anyway, I was right, as usual. You are probably too young to remember Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL, but I am being Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery right now saying "HAHAH THE DAY IS MINE!"

    Anyway.... this book is SO GOOD. Seriously, I did not see stuff coming at all! I thought I had figured out the twist, and was all proud of myself. Well, turns out I had figured out one tiny twistlet, and there was a whole slew of twists waiting for me. So, well done, Paula! I couldn't stop reading! Also, I like St. Louis too! I loved the Arch and the museum (though I just saw it was closed! Such a bummer, I am a sucker for westward expansion!).

    Also, Paula, I adore your honesty! I was one of those teens who gasped at the thought of sex (true story) but I also never minded reading about it, nor do I think I will mind my own kids reading about it. I mean, it's life! I love when books can be real and authentic, and I really felt that Liars was. Now, I must read Lainey! Great interview, Holly and Paula!!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. um, probably too young for that. HAHA.

      Yay, so glad to hear you loved this book!! I can't wait to read it!! :)

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    2. GO WATCH IT. Just google SNL Celebrity Jeopardy. Gosh, Holly.

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  4. The St. Louis Art Museum, Kayak's Cafe and Left Bank Books! Can't choose one so all three! ;)

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    1. You can definitely go to all 3! :)

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  5. Holly - you are a doll for doing all of these posts! They are all so amazing, and I've been catching up on some of the March releases I've missed.

    If I were going to St. Louis, the first place I'd want to go to The St. Louis Zoo! I just have a thing for zoos. I'd also squeeze in a visit to Left Bank Books.

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

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    1. Thank you so much, Erin! It means a lot. <3

      The zoo would be the FIRST place I'd check out, for sure! I just love them. :) And of course the bookstore too.

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  6. FIRST OFF I LOVE PAULA STOKES. Ok now that's out of the way...awkward. But anyways, I'm really excited to read Liars Inc. I've read The Art of Lainey and loved it so I'm excited to read all of your books basically. So yes.

    AWESOME INTERVIEW. Sad to see that Micah won out on everything, but then again I'm not sad because Micah is awesome :)

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  7. I have Liars, Inc., but I haven't started it yet. D: Maybe it'll be the first read of spring break!

    Max sounds amazing. Actually, I think I'll like him more than Micah. I loved the characters in The Art of Lainey, so I don't doubt that I'll love the ones in Paula's upcoming book.

    I absolutely love what Paula said about YA. That's pretty much how I feel about the category too. :)

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    1. Well, I definitely know you've read it now and I'm so happy you loved it! That makes me even more excited. Hehe, I'm pretty sure Micah will still own my heart when I read this. :P

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  8. I've actually got a review copy of Liars Inc but I have yet to start! I can't wait to get around to it though, because it sounds like such a good read.

    http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2015/03/the-boston-girl-review-giveaway.html

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    1. omg girl you need to read this book already!!

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  9. Awesome interview ladies! I'm now sort of excited to visit St Louis!!

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    1. You're going to St. Louis? Then you should definitely check these out!! :)

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  10. If I get er got the chance to vista USA I would definitely include St Louis and pop into Kayaks cafe. Thanks for the international giveaway !

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Good luck. :)

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  11. Would definitely want to visit the bookstore! Who wouldn't? Either that or The City Museum, because who doesn't love a good museum, right??

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  12. I'd definitely want to visit Lone Elk Park, I love seeing animal in their sort of natural habitat than in a zoo, not that I don't love zoos. Thanks for the giveaway. :)

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    1. It is really nice seeing animals in their natural habitats more than zoos, but oh I love zoos! :)

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  13. Hahaha, her answer about what work is her favorite and she said it would be like comparing baby pandas and ninjas...that made me laugh. The more and more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it!

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    1. I guess I should have read your question before commenting. Hm..any of the St. Louis places sound fun! I've been to St. Louis but not to these places. Maybe the zoo!

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    2. Hehe, I loved her answers! And doesn't St. Louis sound awesome? I want to visit everything!

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  14. I think my choice is too obvious which is the left bank books. What the first place I would go if I was in another country would definitely a bookstore. :) Love the interview Holly and Happy Birthday! :*

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    1. Thank youuuu! And my obvious choice would be the bookstore too. Hehe. :)

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