We All Wanna Be #FAMOUS - Interview with Jilly Gagnon (+GIVEAWAY)

AHHHH We are so excited to be here today with Jilly Gagnon and her debut YA, #famous. Check out below to find out why we can't wait for #famous to be out in the world and enter to win your own copy at the bottom of the post! 

#Famous has a real life doppelganger. What kind of research did you do to create the story?

You're probably referring to the #AlexFromTarget phenomenon, which absolutely inspired the story. I did look into the articles that came out around that time--there was an in-depth piece by the New York Times that was really helpful, and gossipy fun pieces by places like Gawker that gave an idea of how fast and far it spread--and I also watched his appearance on Ellen a few times. Beyond that, though, I actually tried not to dive too deep into Alex's experience. I wanted to create characters that were full, unique, and realistic, with distinct voices. The events in the story broadly followed those that Alex experienced, but I'm a writer who is all about character, so the motivations, reactions, and internal struggles had to come from the characters on the page.

Ironically, the comments sections--i.e., the scariest place on the internet--were finally a good place for me to muck around. When I was writing Rachel's experience with cyber bullying, I was worried at first about going too far with the viciousness. Turns out, you almost can't go too far.

Being a teen now is drastically different than when we were teens. What were your social media accounts like when you were a teen (or, what would they have been like)? How would teen you have handled insta-fame?

Oh man, I would have handled it SO POORLY. I was not the kind of teen that sought the limelight, and to this day I'm too sensitive to let things roll off my back. Thank goodness no one was waiting to turn my Legend of Zelda fansite into a worldwide internet phenomenon.

I hit my teenage years right around the time everyone was getting AOL, so I definitely spent many, many hours in chat rooms, or with my eyes glued on the AIM box. But there was still internet anonymity back then; most people didn't even have webcams, or connections fast enough to upload a single photo. Facebook was still five years away.

I'm honestly really grateful I didn't have to navigate the social media we're used to today at that age. Every little mistake, every silly moment, can be captured instantaneously and permanently now. You grow so much as a teenager; the idea that your screw-ups are there forever, publically, is pretty scary to me. 

You created a great set of side characters to surround Rachel and Kyle. Who were your inspirations for all of the supporting characters?

Thank you so much! I didn't have any one inspiration for any of my characters, but I'd say Mo has more than a little of me in her, especially that disciplined, "this is the right way--I said so--so let's get it DONE" attitude that makes her such a force to be reckoned with. 

Ollie reminds me of some of the friends I made in college--thoughtful and quiet, taking in more than you realize, deeply loyal but nobody's yes-man. And Emma drew on a lot of people I knew both as a teenager and since. The insecurities she wrestles with, and the mistakes she makes trying to manage them, felt very personal to me. I know people will see her as a villain, but I actually have a lot of sympathy and love for Emma. 

What 80s movie/tv stars would you cast to play Rachel and Kyle? 

Oooh, thank you for referencing an era I can actually cast from. Kyle is a bit of a golden boy--from the outside, he seems well-adjusted, popular, and happy. It's only inside that things look different. I'm torn between Matthew Broderick and Jake Ryan--known IRL as Michael Schoeffling--but with a slightly goofier grin. 

Rachel is the slightly quirky artsy girl with a sarcastic wit that she can't keep in check. I'd say she's somewhere between 80s Winona Ryder and 80s Alyssa Milano. 

#Famous is your first YA novel. What has the publication process been like for you?

It has been an incredibly exciting journey, but I've had a bit of a roller coaster--my first editor left just after signing the book, my second editor left just as we were wrapping up copy edits, and my agent left agenting this past November. All of that was a little tough to swallow, even though it's such a common part of the publishing world. I think they say most writers will experience that stuff at least a couple times over the course of their careers; I'm just hoping I worked it all out of my system already ;)

That said, I feel like I lucked out tremendously; the entire team at Katherine Tegen has been super supportive the whole way through--I feel like I somehow won the lottery three times in a row with my editors there. Claudia Gabel, my current editor, is both a hilariously awesome human and a book guru. And Taylor Haggerty, my new agent, totally slays. In some ways, I'm really grateful for the bumps on the publishing road this year--I would have never found these two awesome ladies without them!

by Jilly Gagnon
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Jilly Gagnon is currently based in Chicago, but is originally from Minnesota, a fact she'll likely inform you of within minutes of meeting you. Her humor writing, personal essays, and op-eds have appeared in Newsweek, Elle, Vanity Fair, Boston Magazine, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Toast, and The Hairpin, among others.

She writes both humor and young adult fiction. She's represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary (for humor) and Taylor Haggerty of Waxman Leavell (for young adult writing).

Find her on twitter, facebook, or instagram. She's an especially good conversation partner if you love amazing cocktails, terrible television, or talking to your cats.

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Win 1 Signed Hardback of #Famous by Jilly Gagnon
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  1. I've been eyeballing this one. It definitely sounds like a book I would enjoy! Totally entering this giveaway!

  2. This sounds like a fun read that I definitely hope to check out (it doesn't feel like a story I've already read a dozen times, like so many others). I always like the Q&A part of these posts. My high school years were well before cell phones and social media--not that I'm bragging lol, but I think I would have been okay. I was pretty good and, if I wasn't so good, I was at least pretty stealthy. Some/most of my classmates would NOT have fared so well LOL. You know, we DID still have Polaroids back then. ;) Thanks!

    1. Definitely more original! We love interviewing authors so I am glad you are enjoying :)

      (I was also in the Polaroid generation...Social media followed right after me)

  3. I want to read this one so badly! It looks super cute and I can't wait till its out tomorrow!


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