17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen #BlogTour #AuthorInterview #Giveaway

#FFBC @TUABFC 17 First Kisses
#FFBC presents 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
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17 First Kisses
by Rachael Allen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 17th 2014

No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.

What made you choose to write a contemporary YA for your debut even though you have a strong Science background?

I’ve tried to come up with YA sci-fi ideas before because I feel like it could be the perfect combo of science + writing for me, but they never get past the idea phase because I’m always like, “That could never happen!” Plus, I love love LOVE contemporary. I’m always reading Sarah Ockler, Lauren Myracle, Stephanie Perkins, Kody Keplinger, Lindsey Leavitt – I could seriously go on forever.

How did you find inspiration for your story? Are any of the characters based after anyone in particular?

I was doing some house rearranging, and I found a box of notes and magazine clippings and stuff from middle and high school, the contents of which was both hilarious and mortifying (and if you really want to see some of it, you can look here: http://rachaelallenwrites.tumblr.com/post/88957825910/i-got-the-inspiration-for-17-first-kisses-when-i). I was struck by how different my friends and I were depending on what year the notes were from, and I wanted to write a book that captured the same characters at different snapshots of their lives.

There isn’t a character that’s exactly like one person in my life, but some of the characters have traits that come from my family and friends. Also, my husband was the fat kid who joined the wrestling team and got buff in high school…only to find that girls still didn’t notice him  It wasn’t until college that he had his first girlfriend, and it was me 

How did you celebrate the news that your book would be published?

I did lots of happy dances around my living room and squealed random things to my husband. Then I told everybody I could think of, and I think he may have taken me out to dinner too.

How do you find time to write and what is your Zen space when you do?

Here is a secret: after you have a second baby, there is no such thing as Zen space. Or time. In fact, even as I write this, the baby just woke up, and now I have to go…Okay, I’m back. The snippets of quiet time are so precious now, that it’s like any quiet time becomes my Zen space no matter the location. It’s such a powerful motivator, because I’m like, “Ah! I have to write and I have to write right now! Because who knows? In 15 minutes, someone could be trying to climb me like a tree!”

Some things that really help: A) My family babysitting a lot. B) Writing with friends, whether it’s meeting up at a coffee shop or doing Word Wars or sharing snippets or doing #30mdares on Twitter (if you ever see us doing these, you should totally join in! So much fun!). I love feeling like I’m not writing alone.

Can you tell me a little bit about your process…..do you outline, post-it, random thoughts on napkins?

I usually have a rough outline, but I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. I start at the beginning, and whenever I get stuck, I go back to the beginning and rewrite the whole thing as a way of figuring out what my characters would do. So by the time I get to the end of a first draft, the beginning has been edited a lot, the middle has been edited some, and the ending is pretty much a crap fest.

For 17 FIRST KISSES, I outlined more than usual because the structure kind of demanded it. I have an excel file where I listed “Chapter 1, Kiss #1, Chapter 2, etc.” with a short description of what would happen. Being able to visually switch around plot points and see where the chunks of the past were fitting in with the present helped a lot.

I also wrote most of the “Kisses” before I wrote the present day scenes, so that helped me to feel like they had already happened. But once I was finished, man, oh man, if I changed one thing in a character’s past or present, it could create a mean butterfly effect, and then I’d have to spend hours reading over my ms again and making little tweaks.

Also, I’ve recently started using Scrivener, and I am in love with it!

If you could have any talent/job in the world besides writing. what would it be?

I wish I could cook fancy food because I really like eating it. I also think it would be amazing to be a travel writer so I could have adventures all over the world (like as a job). Or a dolphin trainer, because dolphins!

How do you read? Audiobook, Ereader, Physical Book? What are you currently reading?

I do have an E-reader, but physical books are my favorite because you can take them anywhere and I love the way they smell (Great, I just outed myself as a book sniffer. I’m like one step away from mouth breather in the nerd hierarchy.).

I’m currently reading a book I snagged at ALA – an ARC of Jandy Nelson’s new book I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, and you should all be jealous because it’s amazing, but not too jealous because I’m going to give you a chance to win the book later in the tour 

Describe your book in 5 words

Friendship, family, loss, rebuilding, kissing.

Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA where she's working furiously on her PhD in neuroscience. When she's not doing science or writing YA, you can find her chasing after her toddler and her two sled dogs. Her debut YA novel 17 FIRST KISSES, is forthcoming from Harper Teen. Rachael may or may not have had 17 first kisses...luckily she doesn't kiss and tell.


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