Today I am honored to have Liz Botts here with me for an interview. Her book In The Spolight was released by Astraea Press in June 2011. It does sound like a great story, here is a summary for you.
When sixteen year old Hannah Brewster lands the lead in the school musical she hopes it will be the perfect chance to get the attention of her family and her long time crush, Kyle. The only problem is that school super star, Josh Larson, has been cast opposite her, and he seems to like her as more than just a cast mate.
As Hannah and Josh grow closer, things between Hannah and Kyle get complicated. When Hannah realizes that Kyle is not who she thought he was, she also realizes that she just might like Josh as more than just a friend.
Will Hannah and Josh be able to overcome their obstacles and admit their feelings before the musical ends?
As a child I played with Barbies to an absurd degree. My friends and I spent hours creating elaborate stories with these dolls. I attribute this to my love of storytelling. We had a game called “Grandma Insane,” which revolved around a family whose matriarch was a crazy woman with a propensity for disappearing. In eighth grade I wrote down the story of Grandma Insane as a musical during our free writing period. It was truly horrific.
However, my teacher was impressed with the effort, so started my writing journey. In high school I spent much of math class scribbling in my journal, inventing characters, and writing snippets of stories. (Maybe that’s why my math grades were never that good.) A stint on the school newspaper proved that journalistic writing was not for me, and I enrolled in a creative writing class. Here I had the best writing teacher ever. After taking that class, my writing improved significantly.
During college my writing consisted entirely of papers for classes. Characters still filled my head, especially during summer breaks, but I did nothing with them.
After college I got married and started working with high school students. I had always been a reader, but for the first time I started reading young adult books. I started writing again. Little things. Nothing major.
Then I discovered NaNoWriMo. Writing a novel in a month? Cool. My first attempt was ugly. I still have it sitting on my hard drive, where it waits, hoping to be edited and rewritten. A few years later I made another attempt. A decent one. A year later I made another attempt. In the meantime my husband and I had two boys. I kept insisting that I wanted to be a real published writer. And doing nothing about this dream.
When I got pregnant with our third child I decided that before the baby came I was going to at least submit a story to a publisher or agent. I chose one of my old NaNoWriMo stories, edited it, and submitted it. I got rejected several times, but I listened to what the rejection letters said and made changes to the manuscript.
In the meantime my baby girl was born. Shortly after her arrival, I submitted again on a whim to a small e-publisher. The next day I got the email saying they wanted to offer me a contract. That book, In the Spotlight, is out now everywhere ebooks are sold.
Other than trying to get another manuscript finished and trying to promote my current book, I spend my days playing with my kids, reading books, and wondering what stories I will come up with next.
Why did you decide to write for young adults instead of adult fiction?
I started working with high schoolers right after I left college. My husband and I worked on a retreat team. Catholic high schools from Chicago would come to the retreat center we worked at, and we would run the retreats. After that I worked as a youth director at another church. I loved running the youth group. After spending all that time with high schoolers, I started reading YA fiction. I suppose as a result of my years listening to teenagers, stories about teenagers just seemed like a natural fit to write.
To be fair, though, I should mention that I have an adult romance coming out at the end of April.
What are some of your favorite YA books?
Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anything by Rosemary Clement-Moore (but specifically Texas Gothic)
Countdown by Deborah Wiles (more middle grade fiction, but so brilliant)
What inspired you to write In the Spotlight?
A lot of the kids in my youth group did theater, and I spent a lot of time listening to them talk. I went to their high school (way back when) and did theater there so our experiences were similar. One night Hannah and Josh popped into my head. I wrote some of the scenes down and the story was born. Hannah was a chatty character. She liked to talk to me quite a bit, so much of the story flowed pretty easily. No one in the story is based on anyone I know, but I can see bits and pieces of people in several of the characters.
What do you have in the works, another novel or short story?
I have an adult romance called Apple of my Eye coming out in April so I’ll be working on edits for that soon.
Other than that I have three manuscripts in various stages of doneness. One adult romance, and two young adult romances.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I love to read. I always have at least three books that I’m reading at any given time. I also like to sew and do crafty type projects. My three little kids keep me pretty busy too. We like to spend as much time outside as we can.
Where to get her book!
You can purchase your own copy of In the Spolight through Astraea Press for only $2.99!