Friday, January 30, 2009

FREEBIE FRIDAY with Alexa Young!

We did it! We made it through another week! I'm particularly stoked this weekend because my friend Jen is visiting and it's always great to spend time with Jen.

To celebrate the weekend, I'm pleased to bring you a Freebie Friday interview with Alexa Young. Her new book, FAKETASTIC, was just released this month. FAKETASTIC is the second in a four-book FRENEMIES series. Check out her very cool series website! And speaking of cool, you can see the French cover and read about her cover story over on Melissa Walker's blog. (You'll need to scroll down the page beneath the inauguration post.)

Here's the official back cover blurb for FAKETASTIC:
Halley and Avalon are reunited, and it feels so good. Or does it? As they struggle to merge their new lives, they’re more eager than ever to prove their loyalty and love to each other. That’s when the I-got-your-back opportunities knock, in the form of some potentially problematic (even SCANDALOUS) situations with their new friends. Faster than you can say “Three’s Company,” Halley and Avalon make the ultimate BFF pact and vow to support each other, cover for each other, and even pretend to be people they’re not—all with the oh-so-benevolent goal of achieving their dreams while protecting and preserving their friendships, new and old alike. AH! But can the best frenemies' farces play out as planned? Will they really be able to weave a tangled web of deception without any snags? Does betrayal ever NOT backfire, even when borne with the best intentions?

The Interview:

    What inspired you to write FAKETASTIC?

    Well, if I were truly FAKETASTIC, I would tell you it’s loosely based on my days back in the college dorms, when my friends and I used to accuse each other of “lying to make friends.” It was something we’d say whenever someone was being transparently false—like telling you your butt didn’t look big in the jeans that so obviously made your butt look big…or saying they were really proud of you for acing the class in which they got a “D”…or just being really nice when you knew they’d been talking behind your back for the past week. Of course, that’s just one little snippet of my life that kind of inspired some of the general themes in the book. In truth, the concept and a lot of the plot details and ideas weren’t even mine—they came from my editors and I just ran with them/made them my own. Wow. I am so not as FAKETASTIC as I could/should be!

    Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
    I know it’s so clichéd to say, but there are little bits of myself and other people I know in most of my characters. For example, the hot lead singer/love interest (Wade Houston) is kind of an amalgam of several different guys I had crushes on throughout my teens—with a touch of celebrities like Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and even Bono thrown in for good measure.

    What excites you?
    Readers who contact me to tell me they love my books. Editors who tell me they love my work and I don’t need to change a thing. Editors who tell me my work isn’t up to par—and who then offer guidance to help me improve. Random acts of kindness. Polite drivers. People from my past contacting me out of the blue to say they were thinking about me. Paychecks that arrive on time. Shopping at Target.

    What turns you off?
    People who are destructively rather than constructively critical. Rude drivers. Random acts of hate. Intolerance of any kind (except intolerance of destructive, rude, hateful people!). Late payments. Paying bills after shopping at Target.

    What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
    Oh, man…I was a major troublemaker back in the day, so I’ve got quite a few biggies. But I think one of the most criminally significant was just before my sophomore year of college, when all my friends were getting fake IDs by ordering blank birth certificates out of the back of a magazine, filling them out, taking them to the DMV and taking the driver’s test (meaning they weren’t really fake IDs—they were real IDs created with fake identities!). I had just come back from a summer in Ireland, and was used to getting into clubs to see bands. I didn’t want to give that up just because I wasn’t 21 yet. So, I decided to go for it. I ordered the blank birth certificate. I filled it out with a fake name, birth date, and even signed the doctor’s name. I also had a whole excuse planned to explain why I was 21 and had never driven before. But when I gave the woman at the DMV my birth certificate, she didn’t question me or bat an eye. She just smiled and told me she liked my brooch, then sent me off to take the written portion of the test (which I passed with flying colors). Better still, the person who gave me the behind-the-wheel test was so impressed with my driving, she wrote “100 percent! GREAT DRIVING!” (Little did she know I’d been driving for four years already.)

    Um…anyway…for some inane reason I didn’t think my parents would mind that I was doing all this—even though my mom was a deputy district attorney at the time. So, I had the license sent to THEIR HOUSE! I figured, worst-case scenario, I’d intercept it before they got home from work…but no such luck. When I walked in the door the day the license arrived, I got a very stern lecture and my mom said she would probably be disbarred (ha…she’s Faketastic!). But instead of actually getting rid of the license? She hid it in a drawer, I found it, and proceeded to use it when I got back to college that fall. I even got a ticket on it—for littering! Several years later, my mom told me that my alternate identity had been called for jury duty. And on my wedding day, during my mom’s toast, guess what story she told? Yup. Then she took out the license! I don’t even know how it wound up back in her possession, but I’ve got it now. I’m just really lucky I never really got caught by the law—unless you count my mom, that is.

    What's the most suspenseful thing that's happened to you in real life?
    I think the most terrifying, exciting, painful and beautiful—and therefore suspenseful—experience I’ve ever been through has been childbirth (not my own—the birth of my son!). I don’t deal well with variables and unknowns, and I’m a complete control freak, so it was quite an emotional rollercoaster for me. I actually went into labor on the day my son was due—almost to the minute!—and he arrived at 11 pm. Most people say you forget the pain but, um, it’s been three years and I still remember it. Which is one of the many reasons I haven’t had another child and probably won’t.

    If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
    April Hiller. We were sort of friends in junior high and high school—but it wasn’t until college, when we decided to room together, that we became really close. She was such a magical person with this huge smile, amazing laugh, and a contagious personality that drew people to her. Every time she came back to our room, she brought a new friend with her. Over spring break of our freshman year, she was killed in a car accident. She was on my mind and in my dreams constantly for the first year or two after she died, and now—twenty years after the fact—I still have such vivid memories of her voice, her face, her quirky personality. Sometimes I’ll meet someone who reminds me of her, or I’ll do something and think, “April would have LOVED that,” or I’ll hear a song on the radio (especially songs by Violent Femmes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Primitives, the Proclaimers…she was a major music fanatic) and flash back to the times we spent together. I would love to talk with her about all the things she’s missed since she died, and crazy as this sounds (considering I don’t have much faith in an afterlife of any kind), I kind of feel like she’d have some interesting stories to tell me about where she’s been and what she’s been up to as well.

    What's one thing most people don't know about you?
    Um…I make a point of consuming the 25-35 grams of recommended dietary fiber each day! How awesome is THAT?!

    What's your favorite quote?
    My favorite SERIOUS quote: “All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.” (William Butler Yeats)

    My favorite FUNNY quote: “If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.” (SNL’s Jack Handy)

    Milk Chocolate or Dark?
    Dark. Definitely. And the bonus is that it’s actually kind of good for you.

The Freebie:
To be entered to win a signed copy of FAKETASTIC, simply leave a comment below. I'm kind of liking that amalgam of ex-crushes and celebrities to create the perfect leading man idea. If you could create your own leading man (or woman), who would (s)he be fashioned after? Or would you have to start from scratch?
This contest will remain open until Tuesday, February 3.