Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington – Author Interview

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About the Book

Title: Love Songs & Other Lies

Author: Jessica Pennington

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: April 24th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.

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About the Author

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Jessica Pennington is no stranger to the combination of love and drama. She’s a wedding planner, after all. A writer since the age of ten—when she sought publication for her poem about a tree—Jessica likes the challenge of finding the humor in a sad situation or highlighting the awkwardness in a romantic one. She lives in a Michigan beach town suspiciously similar to the one in her books, where she’s currently finishing her second novel, WHEN SUMMER ENDS, out April 2019.

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Interview with Jessica Pennington

1. How did you get started as a writer?

I wrote poetry in elementary school and always dabbled with it, even through high school, but I really didn’t attempt fiction until about five years ago. I’ve always loved to write, I just never felt like I had a story to tell. Until I did!

2. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I feel like romance in general can be sort of underappreciated, and that’s mainly what I like to read. I think books that are fun and let you escape have a lot of value, especially for teens, and I’d really love to see it stop being a genre targeted just to girls, when the stories are really relevant to anyone discovering love for the first time. Boys fall in love too. I maybe didn’t answer this question, but I’m sticking with it!

3. What is your favorite childhood book?

I don’t tend to have favorites of anything—or if I do, it’s just my most recent favorite—but for childhood books a few of my favorites were anything by Roald Dahl and Shel Siverstein, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Graeme Base books, and I was obsessed with non-fiction books about animals as a kid!

4. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

I can write just about anywhere if I have headphones, but I do have a writing space in my house. It’s new—I recently claimed my dining room as my office/study—so it’s lacking the ambiance I would normally like, but it has a giant picture window and the best natural light in my whole house. My dad just built me a huge barn door so I can close it off from the kitchen, and I’m excited to fill it with plants this summer. It has so much potential! But I also really love writing at one of my local libraries—there’s something awesome about being surrounded by books while writing one.

5. Tell us about your typical process for starting a new book.

I only attempted one book before Love Songs & Other Lies, so in a lot of ways I feel very unqualified to talk about processes, but for the most part I just start with a kernel of an idea. With Love Songs, it started with the breakup scene. And as much as I love to plot, and sort of obsess over having things worked out before I start writing, I almost always abandon my plotting or seriously change things along the way, as I get to know my characters. It’s all a bit haphazard, I suppose, but I like the organic way my stories tend to come together. Things build off of little details, and the story usually ends up better than I could have planned! I also have to kick things off with a writing playlist that sets the mood, because I can’t write without music on.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes I base them on something meaningful—like in Love Songs & Other Lies, Virginia is named (by her parents) after the song ‘Meet Virginia’ by Train. But in real life, Train is one of my favorite bands, and one of the first concerts I saw on my own while in high school. But very often I just look up what names were popular when the character would have been born, and go from there!

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Since I’ve become an author, I think the most difficult part is writing on deadline. It’s much different from writing something at your own pace, and there’s a lot of pressure attached to producing something creative on a fixed timeline. It’s definitely been an adjustment to get into that headspace!

8. Are you working on any new novels at this time? If so, can you share a little about them?

Speaking of deadlines! I wrote my second novel, When Summer Ends, this winter, and I just finished up copy-edits. It’s about Olivia, a cautious girl who decides to live summer by chance – dice rolls, coin flips and all – after her longtime boyfriend dumps her right before break; and Aiden, the former star pitcher who gets swept up in her plan while trying to find a new passion, after learning he’s losing his vision. It’s dual POV, which I love to write (and to read) and for anyone who thought Cam was swoony in Love Songs, just wait until you meet Aiden.

9. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

I plead the fifth! Love Songs & Other Lies and When Summer Ends feel like my babies, and it’s too hard to pick. But it would definitely be one of those two, because the novel I wrote before Love Songs was pretty horrid. It was a paranormal romance, and the first story I ever attempted, and just very out of my wheelhouse. Love Songs and When Summer Ends both have big pieces of me in them, so each is my favorite in its own way, but I think my debut will always feel really special to me.

10. Can you give us a sneak peek about your upcoming novel?

It’s set in the same town as Love Songs & Other Lies, but while Love Songs only took place partly in Riverton, When Summer Ends spends all of its time in the Michigan beach town. And it’s a bit of a love letter to how amazing Michigan is in the summer—canoe trips, dune hikes, nights under the stars—it was really fun to get to delve further into my love of beach towns! I seriously can’t wait to share more about this one—it will be out April 2019 (but you can add it to Goodreads now!)

Excerpts from the Book

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3 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to read this book this summer! Last year my favorite summer YA read was When Dimple Met Rishi.

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