Today, I am so honored to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Lies I Told by Michelle Zink. For today’s stop, we have an exclusive Q&A with Michelle, plus your chance to win TWO amazing prize packs!!! Yes, that’s right, TWO prize packs. So keep reading for all the details!
I’ve never been “good” at sticking to one genre. I’m such a story junkie. I love them all! I guess this must make me hard to brand, but I’ve always taken opportunities to try something different, and I honestly feel that it’s made me a better writer. I’d written four historical fantasies and one contemporary fantasy when I got the idea for LIES I TOLD (which was originally titled GRIFT), and it just seemed like a good time to try my hand at something else.
What has been the biggest challenge writing contemporary? What has been the best part?
To be honest, I haven’t found it very difficult. At least not because it’s contemporary! There are other challenges relating to craft that I imposed on myself, because I always want to be better. One of the things I love most about writing is there’s never a time where I think I’ve “got” it. There’s always something new to learn, and I’ve spent a lot of the last two years really focused on craft. I feel like it all came together in this book, and its stellar reviews (including a star from Kirkus) seem to confirm that feeling. In a way it’s comforting, validation that we CAN keep getting better, and if we do, it will show in our work. The best part is that I didn’t have to build an entire world from scratch, although Playa Hermosa is probably more like a tropical otherworld than many real-life locations.
I really try to walk the line between being character-focused and plot-focused in my books. Many of them have what’s called a “high concept” plot, but it’s always a framework for something deeper. In LIES I TOLD, Grace is struggling to reconcile the person she might become against the idea of who she is based on the things she’s done. This is just as weighty thematically as Lia in PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS trying to reconcile the differences between her and her sister, and also trying to find the strength to be who she believes herself to be instead of who the prophecy tells her she is. Grace also has to find the strength to depart from what she knows, which is in line with Helen in A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS being thrust out into the world with very little knowledge and forced to fight for her life. Lastly, Grace has to learn to believe in something other than the con and the twisted brand of family of which she’s been apart, similar to the way Clare struggles with disbelief in THIS WICKED GAME. I think what has drawn people to my work in the past has been those deeper themes of identity and self worth and belief, something with which all human beings across all walks of life can identify, and my voice, which I think is present in all my work. I’m confident readers of my previous work will still “hear” me in this new book.
In LIES I TOLD, Grace has lived a life of crime. What were some of the challenges and pleasant surprises of writing about such a flawed character?
It’s always difficult to write a protagonist that on paper should be unlikeable. This was a huge challenge in Raum in A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS (people still write me pissed about it), and it was a challenge with Grace as well. But this is where the really fascinating work of writing is for me. I want to turn readers’s expectations and preconceptions on their heads, to illustrate how very gray we all are in a world where people want to believe things are black and white (it’s so much tidier that way). So that was hard, walking that line between making Grace real in her capacity as a con artist and also making her likable enough that you would root for her. But it was also so rewarding to see her through this journey. I confess that I get teary when I read Promises I Made and see how Grace (and all the characters) come full circle. It’s a joy to elicit that kind of reaction, and to see notes from my editor in the margin that read, “You’re killing me right now!” (that book will be out in November). 😉
Alice Milthorpe, who won the Best Villain award in the Teen Read Awards against Lord Voldemort.
Pen or pencil?
Pen. I hate that scratching sound pencils make.
Favorite piece of clothing?
This giant, ugly sweatshirt from the 80s that has seen me through four pregnancies and lots of very cold writing winters.
Song you can’t get out of your head right now?
An instrumental piece called QUIET by This Will Destroy You.
Most recent vacation?
Ha! Vacation? What’s that? Seriously, it was four years ago – two weeks in Maine with my kids.
5 things that are always in your purse
My wallet, tinted lip balm, a coupon organizer (I know, I’m a nerd, right?), a small bottle of hand cream, and hand wipes. Gah! This makes me sound like an old lady!
* * *
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.
- Harper Mystery ARC Prize Pack – Featuring assorted ARCs of upcoming Harper Teen books!
- LIES I TOLD Prize Pack – Featuring a copy of LIES I TOLD, a pocket mirror & a bookmark
Enter by telling us below about a lie you’ve told, then fill out the Rafflecopter form here. Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Monday, May 4th.