Joy Preble and I have been friends since our debut releases in 2009. She makes me laugh, gives great writing advice, has an obsession with 70s television shows and inspires me to keep writing. Joy is the author of the Dreaming Anastasia Trilogy (Sourcebooks) and The Sweet Dead Life (Soho Press). We had a chance to chat about Joy’s newest YA contemporary release, Finding Paris.
Debby: Finding Paris is your sixth YA. What can Joy Preble fans expect from your signature style of writing? And what will surprise fans?
Joy: I know! I can’t believe it’s book number six! Readers can expect me to explore some similar themes, such as siblings and redemption, but they will also find that this is a spare, leaner book, almost all showing, very little telling. The setting of Las Vegas is like a character, in fact. I’m very proud of the different –dare I say, more sophisticated, work I’ve done here.
Debby: I agree that it’s different in style and tone, but I can see threads of the signature Joy Preble style in the quick pacing and the build of the romance for sure. I love the way that the sisters are so tightly bonded, yet have such distinct personalities. Who are you more like—Leo or Paris?
Joy: Well, that’s a fascinating question that no one has asked me yet. The broader answer is that there’s always some piece of me in each of my characters. But if you’re pushing me to say, I’m probably more like Leo–dreaming big, not sure if I’m going to get the life I want, a bit more methodical and driven.
Debby: I think we all have a little Leo in us! Okay, this is a two part question. The setting of Las Vegas is almost like a third character in the book because it is so important to the story. What made you choose Las Vegas? Have you spent a lot of time there?
Joy: I’m so glad you noticed this! I have indeed spent a fair amount of time in Vegas, even though I am seriously the world’s worst gambler. I mean like truly awful. And because of that, when we go, husband will gamble and I will go find odd spots like the Atomic Energy Museum, which is an absolutely real place just off the Strip. Beyond that, I think both Vegas and LA are these fascinating settings. Everyone flocks to them to have their dreams come true, but I wanted to look at the darker parts under the glitter. Those are always the most interesting, you know? And this is definitely a story about dreams deferred and dreams desired, and hopes for a life beyond what you have. But as Leo says, we’re not always guaranteed a life different from the one we have. So what better place to explore that than Vegas!
Debby: It is a perfect setting for a hunt! While we’re on the subject of the hunt, you wrote the clues in a way that reveals information about the sisters but also leads Leo to each next spot. Which clue is your favorite and why?
Joy: I’m going to wimp out on this question and say I love them all… but okay… if you are pressing me– I will say that the clue Leo finds on the Big Shot is true game changer…
Debby: That was my favorite clue, too. Probably my favorite part of the book because it takes such a dramatic turn from that point forward. I know many girls will be able to relate to Leo and Paris and their family secret. What message do you hope to share with them?
Joy: I taught high school English for a number of years, and I still sub and indeed may go back to the classroom full time at some point because I really miss it. I have known so many girls (and boys for that matter) who were in terrible family situations, who did not have a voice or an ability to get out of their situation, who were not– for whatever reason–able to tell the truth of what was going on with them. Not just situations like Leo’s (without giving too much away) but any number of situations that were untenable. The pervasiveness of social media makes us think falsely that we are all telling everything. But I think the truth is that we are absolutely not. In fact, we are keeping more things secret sometimes because everyone else’s on line lives look so pretty and perfect. And so I’d like to say to my readers: I know it’s hard. I know it’s awful I know that life can deal us all some very brutal hands. But find someone to tell. If you’re in trouble, seek help. Even if it’s the hardest thing to do. I say this as someone who hates asking for help. But I have learned that sometimes I need to. And I will also say this: We can change our course. We can be things other than what we are at the moment. Truly. We can.
Debby: Joy, that is such a powerful message, and so important for teens to hear when they are bombarded with images of seemingly perfect people on social media. I agree with you that even though it seems more open, it actually causes people to hide more. I hope you will have a chance to speak to teens during your book promotion. Speaking of which, besides promoting this book, what is next for Joy Preble?
Joy: Ah! I am so excited that in May ’16, IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS is coming from Soho Press. It’s Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars. A girl. A boy. A Fountain of Youth. And what happens when you’re stuck at seventeen. Plus a crazy cult, a series of murder mysteries, and a story that ranges from 1913 to the present! Yeah! I’m totally stoked for this book!! Oh my God, I love this book!
Debby: I can’t wait to read it! I also have to tell you that I would like to own some of Paris’ jewelry designs. So if you ever decide to forego writing for jewelry design, I will be your first customer:)
Joy, thank you so much for visiting with me today, and congratulations on the release of Finding Paris.
To find out more about Joy, visit her website, www.joypreble.com.