The Summer of Skinny Dipping Week continues today on Novel Novice with part 2 of our 3-part interview with author Amanda Howells. (See Part 1 here.) Today, Amanda talks about why readers shouldn’t be fooled by her book’s title & cover, why reading is so great, and what she’s working on next (which we are SUPER excited about)!
Much as I know my title is right for the story, and much as I like the fresh young cover, I think many of my ideal readers pass this book by thinking it’s pure fluff, and just for teens at that—shallow, juvenile beach reading. Those are the readers I’d beg to reconsider. Because the book definitely has entertaining, summery “beach-read” elements but there are layers to the story and substance to the characters, if I do say so myself.
I also worry that many moms will see my title and raise an eyebrow, thinking it’s too racy for their daughters. It’s actually pretty chaste. It’s not in the Gossip Girl/The Clique vein, but is rather more old-school in tone because I myself love a more timeless kind of romance that can be read by women of different generations. Not convinced? Let’s get down to brass tacks. It’s only $8.99! For such a fat book! A risk surely worth taking, dear on-the-fence book buyer.
What books would you recommend to fans hankering for more after reading The Summer of Skinny Dipping?
Sarah Dessen is the reigning master of YA romance/coming-of-age stories—I particularly like The Truth About Forever and That Summer. Also in a summery vein, I like The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. Deb Caletti is really great too. And if you haven’t read the classic A Summer To Die by Lois Lowry, that’s a beautiful summer YA classic.
At Novel Novice, one of our main goals is encouraging teens to read. What would you say to reluctant teen readers to convince them to pick up a book (any book)? Why do you think reading is so important?
There’s such an explosion of YA literature happening so there is definitely something out there for you even if you think you don’t like reading, or if you don’t connect with the general literature you’ve been exposed to. I’ve been amazed by the sheer volume of YA bloggers I’ve met via my book—their enthusiasm for reading is infectious. I challenge any reluctant teen reader not to be enticed by a book or review on The Story Siren blog or one of the zillions of other blogs hosted by teens. And if seeing pure words on a page really is a chore to you, try a graphic novel (Marjane Satrapi, Neil Gaiman, manga, etc). YALSA has great suggestions in their various lists.
To me the ultimate thing you miss if you don’t read and if you are only into other media, is that sense of privacy you get when you are alone in the silence with words. Nothing can replace that quiet, private conversation a reader has with a book (be it Kindle or paperback) in her hands. I also want to say that I am continually impressed by the quality of YA-directed fiction these days. Even the genre series are well-written—those books where the covers make you think you’re getting fluff (I speak from experience with that). I just read The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. It was so tremendously well done. I loved it. And she is just one of many writers who are focusing their talents on a teen audience. So we are in an age of abundance, reluctant reader, and there’s no excuse! If you don’t like reading you just haven’t looked very hard at the shelves.
What are you working on now?
The second Summer Of … book (it’s going to be a little series of stand-alone romances). This one has a darker, more suspenseful vibe. It’s set on the Oregon coast and once I decided to set something close to my (new) home of Portland, the story just inevitably turned a bit spooky. The Oregon coast is so beautifully eerie and what passes for summer on our cold and gray beaches is, well, cold and gray! So I’m letting the chill seep into my story… FYI, for better or worse there are no vampires involved. Or werewolves.