AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
Expected publication: October 27th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
YA > Romance | Contemporary
BLURB FROM GOODREADS:
Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.
But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.
And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.
Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.
Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.
1. Hi Marcy!! Thanks for stopping by on the blog!! We’re so excited! To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 🙂
Hi! So excited to be here! A little about myself: I now live in the same town I grew up in, which also happens to be the setting for UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING. I have a serious obsession with tennis, both watching and playing. I’ve done the highest bungee jump in New Zealand. And I sang a capella in college.
2. Your debut novel, Underneath Everything tackles love and friendship and fall into the YA Contemporary genre. I was wondering though if what other genres do you want to venture in?
I love to read and write YA because at that time in your life, when you’re a teenager, you are still experiencing so many things for the first time. You are still finding your place. And the experiences you have as a teenager inform the decisions you make for the rest of your life. I can point to specific days/relationships/moments from my teen years that still affect me to this day. As of right now, I can’t imagine writing anything else.
As far as genre within the YA world—I love contemporary, but I’ve also been reading some amazing magical realism, speculative fiction, and psychological thrillers. Since I’m drawn to reading those stories, I figure I may be drawn to write one or more at some point in the future.
3. How would you introduce your main character, Mattie, to us? And Jolene? Did you have a particular muse for them?
Mattie is map-collecting high school senior who thinks she wants control over her life but really wants to lose it.
Jolene’s beauty, imagination, and twisted tactics have given her control over almost everyone, except for the people who count the most.
I did have a muse for Jolene, yes. And the more people I spoke to, the more obvious it became that almost everyone had a Jolene in their lives.
4. How did the whole concept of the book materialized in your head? Is there an event or a person or something that sparked the plot? 🙂
The first draft of this book told the story of a traditional love triangle. The girl friendship was a subplot. But when I read through the story during revision, the scene between the two girls was more interesting and intense to me than anything else in the manuscript. I revised the entire book around that scene until the whole thing was about a toxic girl friendship in which one girl was nearly consumed by the other.
5. The title and the cover of the book is really eye catching, how did you decide it? And will you change anything if you could? (Is that Mattie or Jolene in the cover?)
Thank you! I came up with the title, so I can take credit for that—after I wrote the manuscript I went through and picked out some lines I liked, and a friend and I agreed this was the best and most fitting for the title. But I didn’t have very much control over the cover. My agent and I saw one cover from the publisher before this one, and we all agreed it didn’t fit the book, mood or season-wise. Then they sent us this one and we were thrilled. I wouldn’t change a thing! As for who it is on the cover, well, it’s sort of a mix of the two characters, which is so fantastically appropriate for the book, it makes me giddy
6. What is the hardest thing you ever did while writing Underneath Everything? Can you share a bit of your experience?
The most difficult part of the writing experience of UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was making myself look some really uncomfortable truths in the face. I would write a scene that was difficult—one where a character was taking some sort of abuse, for example—and just when I thought I’d gotten to the bottom of why the character allowed it to happen, I would realize there was something more honest and real beneath that, if I forced myself to see it.
That, and rewriting the entire second half of the novel and revising the entire beginning to focus on the female relationship (and that was all before I got an agent!).
7. What will readers expect from the romance aspect in this book?
It’s Mattie’s first time falling for someone, so I think readers can expect intensity. They can expect confusion and exploration and shame and ecstasy—you know, the ingredients of all first loves.
8. Did something creepy or funny or even scary thing that happened while writing Underneath Everything?
The funniest thing that happened to me while writing this book was discovering the song Jolene by Dolly Parton. I swear I did not know that this song existed when I named the character or worked on the plot, but the song is absolutely perfect. Actually, I’m going to put it on right now.
9. Are you working on something new already? Do you have a WIP that you can tell us about? 🙂
I’m working on a couple of new things right now, but it’s still too early to talk about them. They are both very personal projects for me, and I hope you’ll be reading about them soon!