Wesley James Ruined My Life, published by Swoon Reads, releases July 18
Q. Your book launches in July. Can you please tell me what you are doing to celebrate the launch.
A. Now that we’re getting close to the release date – July 18 – promotion has ramped up. I’m doing a Canadian and U.S. blog tour, as well as a signing at the Chapters in Langley, B.C. Friday, July 21. I’m lucky because my publisher, Swoon Reads, is very active on social media and has been very supportive of my book. I’ve tried to be more active on social media as well, mainly Twitter and Instagram.
Q. This is your first novel. Your day job is corporate communications. Where do you work and did that position help you with writing a novel?
A. I work at the University of British Columbia, in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Working in corporate communications has definitely helped me with writing a novel, in that I’ve learned to write quickly and to meet deadlines.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Wesley James? Once you had the idea, what happened next?
A. The idea for Wesley James Ruined My Life first came to me when I was at a Renaissance Faire way back in 2012. I wanted to write a novel with a unique setting. I love a good Ren Faire, but I thought it would better serve the book I had in mind – an enemies to lovers story – if it was set at a restaurant. My imagination just kind of spun out from there.
Q. In your acknowledgments you thank the “original James”, a friend who did not ruin your life. How does Amanda James work in your book?
A. Ha! Wesley James Ruined My Life was not the original title for the book. My publisher suggested the change, along with switching Wesley’s last name from Boyle to James, which, I had to agree, sounded better. Part of the reason I loved the title change is because it’s my childhood friend, Mandy’s, last name. So it’s kind of meant as an inside joke between the two of us.
Q. I found the Quinn’s character pretty fantastic – a teenager who has a lot going on, but who is still kind and funny. Did you base the character of Quinn on any one?
A. I didn’t base Quinn on anyone in particular, but I think there are some elements of me in her, specifically her relationship with her grandmother. Although my grandmother didn’t have Alzheimer’s, I was close with her and I drew on some of my feelings about our relationship when I was writing those scenes.
Q. Who is your favourite character in your book? How do you develop your characters into the real people they seem to be?
A. Well, I do love Wesley. I love his optimism, and how everything kind of rolls off his shoulders. And he really believes that he can win Quinn over, even though her behavior indicates otherwise. I think the key to creating characters that seem real is to give them real traits – balance the good and bad. The flaws are what makes them fun to write!
Q. Is the situation with Quinn and Wesley based on a true event?
A. Nope! All my imagination. Although I will say, I do love a good enemies to lovers trope, so I drew on that.
Q. How did you hear about the Swoon Reads? What did you enjoy about it? Did you have a good response? What sorts of comments to did you receive?
A. I came across Swoon Reads in December 2015, after an agent I was following on Twitter congratulated one of her clients, Katy Upperman, on her book deal (Kissing Max Holden, coming Aug. 1). I clicked on the link and discovered that Swoon Reads accepts unagented YA manuscripts and I thought that Wesley James might be a good fit for them, so I uploaded it. Three months later, I had a book deal.
My experience on the Swoon Reads site was great. It’s a very supportive community and I received some wonderful – and very valuable – feedback. If you have a YA manuscript, I highly recommend submitting to them.
Q. Once you were chosen to have your novel published, what were the next steps. How much change did it go through?
A. The next step involved getting a long edit letter that outlined everything that needed to change in the book. The book did go through a fair amount of revision, mostly in the last third because that’s where I tend to run into the most trouble. Anyone who read the original version on the Swoon Reads site will probably catch the changes if they read the published version.
Q. Did you enjoy the process? Why or why not.
A. I mostly enjoyed the process. It wasn’t easy, not gonna lie – I may have shed a few tears of frustration along the way – but it all made the book so much better. The hardest part for me is knowing when it’s finished, because I always feel like I could go back and do more.
Q. Do you have another project in the works? Are you able to share some details?
A. I do, indeed. I’ve just finished my second novel for Swoon Reads. It’s about a teenage exorcist in training. We were having a hard time coming up with a title that fit this book, so for the first time ever, Swoon Reads decided to crowdsource it. One of the things I love most about this imprint is that they ask the community for input into covers, so I was really excited when they suggested we do the same for the title. The official announcement for that book – along with its amazing new title – will be coming within the next few months.
Q. What would your dream project be?
A. I have a historical YA that’s been kicking around in my head for probably 10 years. It feels like such a massive project and I haven’t quite worked up the courage to tackle it yet. I’m working on something else right now, but I hope to finally get to this Historical YA idea sometime in 2018.
Q. I noticed on your website that if you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, you would choice high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling and your nana. Why those people, and what would you like to know?
A. I chose JK Rowling because, like the rest of the world, I love Harry Potter and how cool would it be to get the inside scoop on how she created that world? Same goes for Walt Disney – I admire his imagination. As for my Nana…she passed away a few years ago, unfortunately. I would have loved for her to be here to see my book in print, because I know she would have been thrilled for me. We used to go for high tea all the time – she was British – hence why I’d choose to have tea with the three of them.
Update: Read my review of the book here.