Saturday, April 18, 2015

Blog Tour & Interview: Lies I Told (Michelle Zink)

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by HarperTeen

What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you've told yourself?
Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family.

But it’s all a lie.
Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines' biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught...including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark.
Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous.

Michelle Zink lives in New York in an old converted barn on four acres. Her first book, Prophecy of the Sisters, was one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut novels, and her work as been included in the Lonestar List, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, and New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age. Michelle’s work has been published in over twenty countries. LIES I TOLD is her sixth book.

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I was watching an old 80s movie with John Cusack called GRIFTERS and was really struck by the ways deceit wreaks havoc with the psyche. A lot of people describe LIES I TOLD as a "heist book" before they read it, and then I get email saying things like, "I thought I was getting a heist book, but I got so much more." In LIES I TOLD, the con is really a framework for questions of identity, self-worth, and loyalty, and those are issues with which we can all identify. 

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I like so many of these characters! Even the antagonist is hard to dislike once you get a handle on her motive. But Grace is definitely my favorite, because her quest for love and self-worth is something with which I really identify. So much of who we believe ourselves to be is actually a reflection of the things we're told we are by others. But what if we could strip all of that away and just stand on our own, for better or worse? Would we be good enough then?

Which came first, the title or the novel?

Conceptually, the novel came first. The original title was actually GRIFT, but the publisher was concerned teenagers might not be familiar with the term. My stories always come before the title. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to know the title right off or shortly after I begin writing, but the story is always in my head first. 

 What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

Probably the final scene. It's not a traditional ending, and it really leaves the reader with that question of identity, and with the question of what happens to us when we submit to others' perception of us instead of fighting for who we know we really are. 

 Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

It sounds cliche, but it really is a marathon, not a race. Books with huge buzz that seem to guarantee an author a future in publishing don't always work out that way. Books that do extraordinarily well are sometimes forgotten a year later. Books that are released to little or no buzz sneak in under the radar and slowly build a following. Books that were published ten or more years ago can get a movie deal. It's so hard to really see that when you sell your first book, but for 99.9% of us, the only way to insure a long term career in this business is to keep producing great stories. 

 What do you like most about the cover of the book?

This is probably my favorite cover of all my books (and there are six of them published now!). The blurry figure moving toward us speaks both to Grace's loss of identity and her feeling that she's something of a ghost, not quiet real in any of the worlds she's forced to occupy. The color scheme if vibrant and beautiful. It makes me think of Santa Monica at night, which is perfect since the Third Street Promenade plays prominently in this book and the next. But the back of the jacket is just as perfect. From that bold LIES I TOLD scrawled in green on one side to the selected words in red, it really jumps out at you. It's utterly perfect in my eyes!

 What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?

So hard to pick one! I'm really looking forward to Mosquitoland by David Arnold, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, and My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. But I'm also super excited for The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith and Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, both of which are already out but which I have not yet been able to read.

 What was your favorite book in 2014?

I would have to say We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It had a very dark, literary feel to it, and I had no idea what was going on until the very end. It takes talent to keep a twist like that under wraps. Often as a reader I kind of have a sense which direction the twist is coming from, but I was totally blindsided in this book. At the same time, a twist has to make sense in hindsight. You have to be able to look back and think, "Ohhhh, right! There was X part and Y part. I should have known!" Lockhart executes this perfectly in WE WERE LIARS. 

 What’s up next for you?

Promises I Made, the final installment in Grace Fontaine's story, will be out in November. Then next summer I have a contemporary romance coming out with Harper called A WALK IN THE SUN. I'm really excited about it because it's so different for me. It was a lot of fun to write, and after years of pushing the envelope with sex in YA (which I'm totally fine with!), I think there's a place there for something more old-fashioned. I have a college age daughter, and she had become disillusioned with the "hook up culture" of her generation, and with the idea that to be a feminist, you were supposed to be into it. A WALK IN THE SUN felt like a good opportunity to put something else out there, because ultimately, feminism is about choice, about EVERY choice being valid - even if that choice is to get to know someone before you're intimate with them. 

 Is there anything that you would like to add?

Just how much I appreciate readers everywhere who read my work and talk about it and share it with their friends. Writing for a living is a privilege, and it's one I don't take for granted. I can only do it because I have the best readers in the world, and they stick with me through each and every book.

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