Can you tell us something about your new novel, American Honey?
In American Honey, recent high school graduate Olivia “Ollie” McKenna leaves her small town roots in Summerville, Georgia, to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer. With her best friend and older sister in tow, wholesome Ollie travels to the big city to compete in singing contest Atlanta Idol where she meets nineteen-year-old Jack Bradley, a fellow country singer who quickly becomes a close friend. The connection between them is magnetic and an opportunity to sing together could change their lives forever.
Where did you find the inspiration for American Honey?
I’m a fan of American Idol. I’ve been watching it since the first season, and I wanted to write a story involving a singing competition. I started working on American Honey after watching the season ten finale of American Idol in May 2011. I was inspired by winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina. I also found inspiration for this book from Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally and ABC’s Nashville.
Why did you decide to write a story set within the music business?
The music business has a lot of highs and lows. I wanted to explore all the emotions that come with such an unpredictable industry. Reality singing competition shows like American Idol propel a lot of average, small-town people to superstardom practically overnight, and they are usually very young. It’s a lot of pressure and a lot to deal with really quickly. These people have an incredible drive and an intense passion for singing and performing. It’s in their blood, and they have to entertain. I find that fascinating, and I wanted to portray characters who have that desire. Also, I can relate and have similar feelings as a writer.
Which character in the novel did you most enjoy writing about and why?
So far, I’ve always written in first person, so my heroines have a particularly special place in my heart. I loved writing for Ollie in American Honey. She’s innocent, but she’s growing up and maturing. She’s caught between the simple life she’s always known and her big dreams, and she struggles to figure out where she really belongs.
Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
I’m working on the sequel to American Honey. My plan is to release a series of American Honey books with at least two more.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Read a lot because that will help you become a better writer. Always keep writing, and don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of achieving your dream. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. It’s as simple as that.
What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?
I just finished reading Melissa Explains It All by Melissa Joan Hart. I’ve been a fan of hers since she starred in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, so it was really interesting to learn about her life. A very enjoyable read.
And last but not least, if you had to describe American Honey in just three words, which words would you pick?
Lighthearted. Southern. Musical.