Talking to YA Author Stephanie Morrill

Happy New Year!  I'm so proud to report that my 2010 began with a snow day, so I think this year is going to be fabulous. It's like a big hug from Jesus and my weather man to get to skip the first work day of 2010.

Two things to tell you. First of all, we're doing a book giveaway today! And second, we're going to talk to the book's author, Stephanie Morrill.Giveaway details at the end of the post. Read on and get to know my friend Stephanie.

stephanie morrill

First of all, Stephanie, welcome to the blog. I'm so excited about your new release, Out With the In Crowd. I read book one in the Skylar Holt series, Me, Just Different and really enjoyed it.  Before we talk about your book, we need some dirt on you.

J: What was your favorite book you read in elementary?

Stephanie: We read Tuck Everlasting in fifth grade, and I loooooved it. I don't think I realized why then, but now I see what excellent conflict it had. It's the kind of book you read and think, “Oh, man. What would I choose?”

J: Okay, how about favorite book as a teen?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This answer always makes me cringe a bit because I'm afraid it sounds like I'm trying to come off like some super-brain. I actually didn't even know there were books written specifically for teenagers until I was about 20 and decided that's what I wanted to write.

J: That is a very literary answer. Let me speak for the entire blog and say we are duly impressed. But now it's time to gush about your own book. Tell me about Out With the In Crowd Twitter-style–in 140 characters or less.

Skylar knew changing her life wouldn't be easy, but she never knew it'd be this hard.

OutwiththeInCrowd(6-16).indd

I'd probably say something dumb like, “Oh, uh, well…so Skylar's still trying to figure out how to separate herself from her friends, and uh…” I much prefer being able to write it down.

J: Ugh, I am the same way. Ask me about anyone else's book but my own. I just had an embarrassing moment with this this weekend. Which I'll tell everyone about later in the week. But anyway, it's weird–nobody knows those books better than we do, but yet I can't ever come up with a decent verbal description of what the things are about. “Um…there's this girl, and she says stuff and stuff happens and then it ends happily, and yeah.”  I would like to tell you that gets easier, but much like the Bubonic plague, I don't think it does.  So now that you've had time to think, tell us what we can expect in this book.

It's the second book in the Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. Skylar's vowed to leave behind her partying ways, but finding new friends is a little harder than she anticipated. Plus she has two divorcing parents battling for her loyalty, a younger sister struggling with a crisis pregnancy, and a new boyfriend who wants more of her time. All this leaves Skylar feeling like she can't win no matter what she chooses, because she hates picking favorites among people she loves the most.

J: I don't know about you, but when I first started writing, I was often asked why I wrote YA, as if I had wandered into it by mistake. (Um…couldn't you get published by writing books for adults?) Sometimes people don't get that it was my choice and a perfect fit to write teen lit. What about you? Why do you write YA?

I think my experience was like yours, Jenny, where it was a natural fit for me and my voice. I definitely find myself receiving comments from adults that boil down to, “One day when you grow up you can write books for big people.” But I've always felt drawn to write books that centered on teenagers, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

J: Out With the In Crowd is your second book. Tell us how writing the second book was different than creating the first.

I had a much better idea of what I was doing. Me, Just Different was a project I worked on off and on for four years and kinda got patched together. (Praise God for my editors who kept it from reading that way!) But I wrote the first draft of Out With the In Crowd in just a couple months because I already knew my characters, and I understood how to structure a story.

J: Why would teens like Skylar?

I hope for the same reason that I do. Skylar has this really wonderful goal of growing into a better person and following the path God has for her. But the poor girl is getting pelted with problems from all sides. How she emerges from battles stronger than when she entered them is something I really admire about her.

J: Back to the dirt. Tell us your most embarrassing junior high or high school moment.

OH, so many to choose from. . . particularly in junior high. In sixth grade, a guy told me I was ugly. Ouch. (Note from Jen: We have found this guy and my cousins Vinny and The Gooch have “set him straight” on his lack of manners.) In eighth grade, I pulled a total Skylar and “dated” my best friend's ex. Such a bad idea. That's more embarrassing in retrospect than it was in the moment.

J: You're stranded on a desert island and can only have one CD. What is it?

Absolution by Muse. Didn't even have to think long about that one.

J: Same island. You're still stranded. One DVD. What is it?

Pride and Prejudice, the one with Kiera Knightley.

J: Still stuck there. One takeout food. (Yes, you can have takeout there. It's one of those “anything can happen a la Lost” islands. You know the ones.)

Chinese from P.F. Changs. And they better double up on that ginger plum sauce.

J: What advice would you have out there for a teen who aspires to be an author? Or even for those of us who are a little older than a teenager?

My advice is basically the same for both, and it's something I hear authors say all the time–write, write, write. It's especially beneficial to write complete manuscripts. I started getting so much better when I forced myself to write the whole thing instead of flitting form one project to another.

J: You're on death row (for overdue library fines). What is your last meal?

Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, tons of gravy, sweet potato fries, really good homemade rolls, and corn on the cob. Java chip ice cream for dessert.

J: Oh, that sounds awesome. All of it. And Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk ice cream is my absolute favorite. (Braum's. Junior cone. Eighty-seven cents. I have it memorized.)  Last question and you're off the hook. You just inherited ten million dollars from a long-lost (and now conveniently deceased) relative. What is the first thing you'd buy someone ELSE?

Oooh, I like this question. My parents have been insanely supportive of my career, which is especially cool since I'm an only child and there's no one else in the family to become a brain surgeon or something else that's lucrative. I would send them on a fabulous month long vacation and make sure they didn't have to plan anything besides what kind of expensive wine to order for dinner.

And I wouldn't want to forget my in-laws, who are also supportive and watch my daughter one day a week so I can have guaranteed writing time. They love where they live, but they'd like a new house. I'd send them on vacation too, then bulldoze their place and build them something they'd like.

J: Perfect answers. Stephanie, thanks so much for stopping by the blog and telling us about your latest release. Guys, you can find out more about Stephanie and her books at her website: www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.

And now for the giveaway. To be entered in the drawing for a signed copy of Out With the In Crowd, you must leave a comment and answer the following question: What was your favorite book (Edit: Cannot be a book by me or Stephanie just so we don't suspect suckuppage–not that you ever would) , movie, or CD (or all three) of 2009?  You have until this Thursday to respond. The winner will be announced on Friday. Woo! Good luck to you all.

Well, I must get back to my snow day. I have a lot of very, very important things to do. (Nap)  See you Wednesday!

Jen

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 27 comments
Catrina - January 4, 2010

My favorite Book for 09 would have to be So Not Happening or I’m so Sure. and I’m not just saying that because you are the author. I really LOVED them! and the movie would be Confessions of a Shopaholic. And the CD is defiantly Tenth Avenue North’s Album Over and underneath.

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Lynn Rush - January 4, 2010

Great interview. I’m a big fan of Stephanie’s writing. 🙂

I’d love to be entered in the contest. I’d say my favorite movie of 2009 was Avatar. I don’t really do CDs much, but my favorite download from iTunes onto my iPod was Sober, by P!nk followed by a close second–Adie Camp’s song, Your Way.

Happy New Year!

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Tessa - January 4, 2010

What was your favorite book, movie, or CD (or all three) of 2009?

Favorite book of ’09: Well, I would say one of your books, but I just started reading In Between (I love it, by the way!) So my favorite book of 2009 is definitely Summer Promise by Robin Jones Gunn. I started reading the Christy Miller series this past June, I’m currently on volume 4.

Favorite movie of ’09: Hmmm. August Rush has been my current favorite since it came out in ’07, I’m not so sure why…

Favorite CD of ’09: Matthew West’s album “Something To Say”, definitely! =)

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Robyn - January 4, 2010

Happy snow day!! I’m a little jealous, for sure…

Favourite book was How It Ends by Laura Wiess. I bawled through the last 20 pages, and then thought about it for days after. Favourite movie is tougher… Star Trek or Where the Wild Things Are. Favourite album, I’d probably have to admit that it’s the Glee soundtracks. I love singing in the car and pretending that I’m Lea Michele on Broadway, hee.

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Emily - January 4, 2010

YIKES!!! That is a tough question….
hmmm… my favorite movie that came out in ’09 would have to be probably Hannah Montana the Movie (and yes I am not afraid to admit that) with Bandslam in a close second =)
Favorite book: As far as being released in ’09 definately “I’m So Sure” (like Catrina above it’s not just because this is your blog =) and I have to do a second one “Take Your Best Shot” by Austin Gutwein was also amazing!!
favorite cd: “Not too Young” by Mission Six with Selena Gomez and the Scene “Kiss and Tell” at a close second

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Katie P. - January 4, 2010

I know I sound like a suck-up, but I was REALLY waiting for your book, “I’m So Sure”! And, of course, I was waiting for the book by Wayne Thomas Batson,”Curse of the SpiderKing.” Please enter me for the giveaway! : )

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Jenny - January 4, 2010

Lots of schools out up here in the Missouri Ozarks as well. Hope you have a chance to do something totally frivolous today, Jenny. 🙂

I have a handful of book faves, but one that sticks out it Never the Bride by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay.

Thanks for a chance to win, ladies. Blessings!

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Emii - January 4, 2010

What a great interview — I’m writing my first novel right now, and whenever my friends ask me what’s it’s about, I’m like, “Um, it’s about this girl, and she goes to boarding school…” I’m glad I’m not alone in this!:P

So, my favourite movie of 2009 is… Sydney White. I only watched it 20 times. I don’t even know why — but it’s one of those movies that you CAN watch over and over again, without hating it. 🙂

Favourite song of 2009… “Superstar” by Taylor Swift. LOVE that song! 🙂

And, favourite book of 2009. Yes, this is the hardest of them all… hmmm. Okay, got one that keeps you reading, but is really interesting and awesome and everything good — written by Melody Carlson — is the “Samantha McGregor” series. OH, and if we can pick only one book — I choose number 4 in that series, even though I loved them all. I reccommend them to everyone:) And I’ll be reccommending Steph’s books, as soon as I get to read one!! 😀

Luv,Emii

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Cara - January 4, 2010

Favorite movie of ’09: I would have to say Star Trek. I think it came out last year, but even if it didnt, it’s still a favorite 🙂 My second is Up.

Favorite CD of ’09: this is such a hard one! I LOVE all my music, but I think my favorite CD is Kutless’s new worship album It Is Well. Awesome stuff. My runner up would be Over and Underneath by Tenth Avenue North.

Favorite book of ’09: Just Between You and Me. I really enjoyed it 🙂 I was laughing and crying right along with Maggie. Great work!!

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Whitney - January 4, 2010

Great interview!

My favorite book of 2009 is The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. My favorite movie is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. My favorite CD is Taylor Swift’s Fearless Plantinum Edition.

Happy New Year!!

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Suzanne Schaffer - January 4, 2010

Favorite movie of ’09 was Confessions of a Shopaholic. Loved it.

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Rebecca - January 4, 2010

Good Question!
Tough one too.
Favorite Book: Mercy by Jodi Picoult
Blade Silver by Melody Carlson
Album: Over and Underneath by 10th Ave North

Thank you,
Rebecca 🙂

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Jenny B. Jones - January 4, 2010

Tenth Avenue North is great. I’m a little slow on the draw and just discovered them this year.

Whitney, Percy Jackson is on my coffee table right now waiting to be read. I hope to read it before the movie.

Emily, I loved the Hannah Montana movie too. It was really cute.

And Cara, I have got to watch that Star Trek movie soon. I need it for research. At least that’s my excuse.

I didn’t just love and adore Confessions of a Shopaholic (though I did like it), but I will always be grateful to it. The idea for Just Between You and Me came to me during that flick. So did 1000 calories of popcorn.

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Liana - January 4, 2010

okay i am very original..
book is.. hmm… a proper pursuit by lynn austin
movie pride and prejudice
not sure about CD. i have a few. Albertine? Waking up? im interesting.
nice interview looks like a good author

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Kelley - January 4, 2010

That interview was great!
My favorite book was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, my favorite cd was Play on by Carrie Underwood, and my favorite movie was the Blind Side. I hope you had a great new years and thanks for writing awesome books!

~Kelley (:

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karen k - January 4, 2010

Happy New Year Jenny…a great interview w/ Stephanie. Would LOVE to read her latest book. My favourite book of 2009 was: Eve: a novel of the first woman by Elissa Elliott…I highly recommend it 🙂

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Amy N - January 4, 2010

Favorite CD: Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson’s “Break Up”
Favorite book: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Favorite Movie: Bandslam

That’s my list. It’s always hard to choose though! There are many others I could have said.

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Katherine B - January 5, 2010

Favorite CDs- James Blunt (Back to Bedlam), Stabilo (Happiness and Disaster), and the Fray (How to Save a Life)
Favorite book: such a difficult question because I read all the time… its not really fair to have to commit to one book! My favorite book was probably Charles Martin’s “Where Crickets Cry” and “Wrapped in Rain”
Favorite movie- 50 First Dates- although I’m not sure why…
I always find it so hard to pick favorites!

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Caitlin - January 5, 2010

My favorite book of 09 is “The Last Olympian” by Rick Riordan. Not sure what my favorite movie would be… My favorite CD is “Love and War” by BarlowGirl.

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hannah - January 5, 2010

favorite book? well i really liked”just between you and me” i could really see a movie screenplay from that book, but i also liked karen kingsbury’s sunrise series. she will make you cry and laugh at the same time.

dvd? um i saw star trek, which was great. i really admit that i liked the hannah montana movie; i saw “hitch” liked that too…

music. ive been listening to switchfoot’s “nothing is sound” like that CD.
😀

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Amanda - January 5, 2010

Hi! Here it goes!… (these were hard choices!)

Favorite Book: So Not Happening… not because you wrote it haha, but because it hooked me! I am in love with the Charmed Life series! I am “so” looking forward to So Over My Head! Another great book for anyone to read is The Gift by Richard Paul Evans.

Favorite Movie: Hmmmm, probably Blind Side.

Favorite CD: I liked mixed CDs! 🙂 but if I had to pick one, I would pick Ocean Eyes by Owl City.

Thanks! 🙂 Keep Writing! 🙂

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Stephanie Morrill - January 6, 2010

Have you given your answers yet, Jenny? I’d like to hear your top picks for 09.

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tori - January 6, 2010

I Loved the Mediator series by Meg Cabot. I can’t choose which I liked better so just the whole series. It inspired me so much that I started my own book. Now I just have to finish it. 🙂 My favorite movie was Swing Vote. I cried at the end, all five times! My favorite Cd? Unquestionably “My World” by Justin Bieber. I have it on replay on my laptop right now. Everyday. I know all of his songs by heart.

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Marta Araujo - January 6, 2010

Just one favorite book? Oh, this is hard… but I liked SO MUCH Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn… I just love Katie Weldon and Christy Miller series.
My favorite movie was Confessions of a Shopaholic.
CD… Love and War by Barlow Girl.

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sherry - January 7, 2010

My favorite book in 2009 Critical Care by Candace Calvert. Waiting for her next book this spring. Movie would be… Disney’s Christmas Carol in 3D. A cd… I would say Jon Troast, A People and a Heart.

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Jenny B. Jones - January 7, 2010

Blind Side was a great movie–a popular choice.
Sherry, I have got to read Critical Care. I keep hearing people talk about it. : )

Marta, Barlow Girl is awesome. Great harmonies.
Tori, I LOVE that series. Minus book 6.
And I have GOT to see Bandslam. Just picked up Star Trek today. Perfect for ANOTHER snow day!

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abby - January 7, 2010

Hmm. . .well there was a lot of good books I read but I enjoyed Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn. I liked it cause the book made you really like Eli and it was awesome at the end when they got together!! 😀

My favorite move is also really hard!! I recently watched G.I. Joe “The Rise of the Cobra.” and really liked that.

My favorite c.d. this year was also Barlowgirls “Love and War.” I really liked the sound of their songs but also the meaning behind them.

Oh, also Jenny, I just got your book So NOt Happening and I can’t wait to read it cause it is the first book I have read of yours!! 😀

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