Monday, October 3, 2016

Rockstar Book Tours Blog Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: Speed Of Life (J.M. Kelly)

Displaying SpeedofLife.jpgTitle: SPEED OF LIFE
Author: J.M. Kelly
Pub. Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by.
Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies—and gets in—new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay behind and honor the promise she made to her sister.

Find it: 

Displaying J.M..JPG

Joëlle Anthony is a writer and sometimes-actress who currently lives on a tiny island in British Columbia with her musician husband, Victor Anthony, and cat, Marley. Her debut novel, Restoring Harmony, was long listed for the American Library Association’s Best New Young Adult Fiction 2010, and chosen as the Feature Title for Cincinnati’s Teen on the Same Page Festival 2012. Her latest release, The Right & the Real also made ALA’s Best YA Fiction list (2012), both from Putnam. She enjoys teaches writing workshops to writers of all ages. Visit her on the web at Follow her on Twitter @joellewrites

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

Usually two or three separate ideas collide together in my imagination and that leads to a novel-length story. With this book, it was three things: When I lived in Portland, I used to see teen mothers on the bus all the time and they were long past that point of shock at finding out they were pregnant, and just getting on with life. And it looked so hard. I wanted to tell that story. Also, I have a longstanding interest in old cars and I like to write stories about girls and women who don't fall into the stereotypes, so a young woman who wants to restore cars interested me. Lastly, I grew up with a lot of kids who lived in poverty or close to it and I wanted to write about those kids instead of the middle or upper class kids you see so often in YA.

By the way, the automotive restoration program Crystal wants to attend is a real degree course at McPherson College in Kansas. I first heard about it from the actor/director/comedian Jay Leno. He gives a scholarship to the program every year.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

That's like picking a favourite child! I guess you could say Crystal because I chose to tell her story. I think it would've been just as easy to tell an interesting story about her twin, Amber, but I didn't, so I'll go with Crystal. 

Which came first, the title or the novel?

Definitely the novel! Up until the very last minute the book was called FAST FORWARD. I chose it because I felt like both Crystal and Amber's lives had been put on fast forward in so many ways – first poverty made them grow up quickly, then the arrival of Natalie essentially makes them parents, and also their senior year is flying by. Plus there's the whole car thing too (speed). My publisher was afraid though that FAST FORWARD sounded as if it might be time travel and we didn't want any confusion, so we looked for a new title and I came up with this one. A few weeks after I did, David Bowie died and I found out about his famous song, which I guess the whole world knew about except me!

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

I don't know about most proud of, but there's a very small scene where the baby sleeps through the night for the first time and to me, that scene is a breakthrough for me in my writing because up until a late draft it was a very ordinary scene. My editor gave me the note to "make the highs higher and the lows lower" so I looked through the manuscript for places to do that and identified that scene as an opportunity to really engage my characters more in the moment (which in turns engages the readers). It's something that has stuck with me as I write new material…I keep it in mind to help me avoid writing ordinary scenes (knock on wood!).

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

Take my time. Publishing is slow. Publishing is very slow. And then it gets slower. The speed of publishing is glacial. And what that means as a writer is there's no reason to hurry (unless you're my friend Joelle Charbonneau who always seems to be on a deadline…publishing is lightning speed for her which proves the rule!). Just relax and enjoy the writing.

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

Everything! I don't mean to brag, but it's awesome, isn't it? Actually what I'm most happy about is the car is the right make and model. I couldn't have a book where cars are important and then have that wrong so I'm very grateful to the artist for getting it right.

What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2016?

Well, since we're almost to the end of 2016, I'll tell you a few that I've read and loved. I really loved TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum. And I'm completely in love with Sophie Kinsella's FINDING AUDREY (that might be 2015). My good friend Iain Lawrence wrote an outstanding middle grade novel called THE SKELETON TREE that came out last January. If you like a good wilderness adventure, it's not to be missed (good for reluctant boy readers too). I'm excited about GEM & DIXIE by Sara Zarr, too, but I don't think that comes out until 2017.

What was your favorite book in 2015?

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. I think it came out last year, didn't it? Either way, it's my favourite recent YA. 

What’s up next for you?

I'm very excited to say I have my first middle grade novel coming out on March 7, 2017 called A MONTH OF MONDAYS. I'm using the pen name J. M. Kelly for my YA, and this MG will be out under my real name, Joëlle Anthony. I'm a dual citizen (USA/Canada) and it's set in Victoria, B.C. and has a decidedly Canadian air to it. In other words, I mention hockey a lot! 

I have another YA called I FALL TO PIECES coming up, but right now I'm not sure when it will be out. Maybe 2017? Maybe 2018. We shall see! That will be another J. M. Kelly book.

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Well, of course I want to say thank you for having me! I think book bloggers really make a difference to readers and writers and so it's great that you've taken the time to have me on your blog. Thanks!

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SPEED OF LIFE. US Only.

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/3/2017- Curling Up With A Good Book- Interview

10/4/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

10/5/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Excerpt

10/6/2017- Book Wish- Review

10/7/2017- Reviews Coming at YA- Guest Post

Week Two:

10/10/2017- The Best Books Ever- Review

10/11/2017- With Love for Books- Guest Post

10/12/2017- The Phantom Paragrapher- Review

10/13/2017- Lost in Ever After- Interview

10/14/2017- Kayl's Krazy Obession- Review

Rockstar Book Tours


  1. Thanks for the interview today. I love how you got your idea for this book and I do like the permanent title better. I love reading stories about girls who break stereotypical roles so this book is for me!

  2. Hi Danielle, Thanks for dropping by and joining me on my blog tour! I like characters who do their own thing, too.