I’m excited to have Wendy Mills, debut author of Positively Beautiful, on the blog today! Before we get to the Q&A, here’s what the book is about:
Jodi Picoult for teens meets Lurlene McDaniel. Beautiful written, beautifully moving, a vivid contemporary story of a girl’s unusual but terrible dilemma – and the love story that springs from it.
16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.
Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?
As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.
Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair – but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love. (via Goodreads)
Please welcome Wendy!
1. Positively Beautiful is your debut YA novel. What inspired you to pick up the pen and write?
Wendy Mills: Writing is an integral, vital part of my life. I’ve been writing books since I was twelve, and it’s as necessary to my mental health as love, or reading, or talking to my mother. I write no matter what. That being said, Positively Beautiful was my first attempt at writing a young adult book. Why, you ask? That’s a very good question. I guess I’m an instinctual writer, in that I have always written what appeals to me, what speaks to me the loudest. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s because my kids are rapidly approaching their teenage years, but for whatever reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about my high school years. A good story is a good story, but when you populate your book with characters chock-full of teenage hormones and nerves-on-the-outside-of-their-skin electricity, it makes my author fingers TWITCH.
2. What were some of the challenges in writing a young adult novel?
WM: My teen years are bright and sharp in my memories. While I often can’t remember what I did yesterday, I still remember events that happened twenty-five years ago with gut-churning detail. They say that the memories with the most emotional impact are the ones that you retain, so my teenage years must have been drenched with emotion. I don’t have any trouble remembering what it felt like be a teenager, and I don’t think that kind of basic emotion will ever change, but other things have. Hobbies, social media, current events…the world teens live in today is so much different than the one I survived, er, I mean, lived in. Thankfully, I have friends with teenagers, so I get to pick their brains!
3. What are some of your current non-bookish obsessions?
WM: I do have a life other than writing, I do. I have to keep telling myself this because right now I’m pretty focused on shoving Positively Beautiful out of the nest, and working on the edits for my new book due out next year. But, hmmm. I love anything that involves a beach and water (preferably with not another soul in sight). I love camping and thrifting, and I have a very OCD addiction to sweeping. And here I almost had you convinced I was normal.
4. What’s the most useful piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
WM: I have the best agent in the world. I suppose I should say, she’s the best agent in the world for me, but she truly is wonderful. Sarah Davies is awesome personified, a sort of Wonder Woman of agenting expertise, as well as a thoughtful, involved editor who was absolutely vital in helping shape the early drafts of Positively Beautiful. She told me early on that I shouldn’t write “down” to teens, and that I should just concentrate on writing a good book. She also told me (in the nicest possible way in her incomparable British accent) that it wasn’t my job to teach a lesson but to tell a story.
5. What are three books you’ve read recently that blew you away and why?
WM: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson- For me, this was an “author’s book,” in that I was so impressed with the author’s skill at her craft. Noah was such a wonderful character and the way that Ms. Nelson portrayed him was simply breathtaking.
Looking for Alaska by John Green- I love snappy dialogue and well-drawn characters. I also enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars. Come to think of it, I’m a big fan of all of Mr. Green’s excellent books.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Basically, I just want to be Ms. Taylor’s friend. I adore the way her mind works, and the world building in this book is just incredible.
WENDY MILLS was born in Virginia and spent several years in North Carolina, but now lives with her family on the tropical island of Bokeelia, off the south-west coast of Florida where she spends her time writing and dodging hurricanes. She has published adult mysteries with Poisoned Pen Press, and Positively Beautiful is her first young adult novel. Visit her online at http://www.wendymillsbooks.com or on Twitter @WendyMillsBooks.
But wait…there’s more! Bloomsbury is giving away 1 hardcover copy of Positively Beautiful (US Only, must be 13 years of age or older). To enter, just click on the image below!
Make sure to stop by the other tour stops!
March 2nd –> Jenuine Cupcakes
March 3rd –> YA Bibliophile
March 4th –> Book Revels
March 5th –> The Hardcover Lover
March 6th –> Bookiemoji
March 9th –> Dana Square
March 10th –> Lovin Los Libros
March 11th –> The Book Belles
March 12th –> Adventures in Reading
March 13th –> Who Ru Blog