Author Chat with Chandler Baker & Wesley King (Hello, from here), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we are chatting with Chandler Baker & Wesley King, authors of
Hello (from here)!
Read on for more about Chandler & Wesley and their book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Chandler Baker!
Chandler Baker lives in Austin, TX with her husband and toddler where she also works as a corporate attorney. Before that, she grew up in Sarasota, Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, did a stint at a D.C. firm and worked in Dallas for a major sports franchise. Now, she can usually be found listening to audiobooks at two times the normal speed, overspending at bookstores or obsessing over true crime. She is the author of five young adult books. Whisper Network is her first adult novel.
Meet Wesley King!
Wesley King is an award-winning author from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. He writes middle grade and young adult novels, usually about awesome things like superheroes, space adventures, and monsters.
Meet Hello (from here)!
A witty and thought-provoking YA love story set during the COVID-19 quarantine, written by two NYT bestselling authors, with shades of Five Feet Apart and Anna and the French Kiss .
Maxine and Jonah bump into each other in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store just as the state of California is going into lockdown, when everything changes completely. Could there be a worse time to meet? Max's part-time job at a supermarket is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah's preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max, Jonah, and their friends live together but apart through hijinks, humanity, and heartbreak, Hello (From Here) cuts across urgent matters much bigger than a teenage crush. Differences of class, privilege, mental health, and sacrifice are thrown into stark relief by the profound and personal stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) looks at the first two months of the quarantine and adds falling hopelessly in love to the mess.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Chandler: As I’ve progressed as both a reader and a writer, I’ve found that I really gravitate toward processing moments as I’m in them. I really do my thinking through writing, so in a lot of ways it felt cathartic and grounding to write a book about the start of lockdown amidst the start of lockdown. And then there was “meeting” Wes, which wouldn’t have happened but for the pandemic and we formed this friendship long distance through all the various technologies.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Chandler: Max is the character whose chapters I wrote, so of course, I harbor a soft spot for her, but I loved all the fun side characters of Wes’s invention. My favorite is probably Olivia. Wes was always surprising me with her new, weird hobbies and I was so excited when she entered one of my chapters and I got to invent my own Olivia hobby! I haven’t ever found a character quite like her.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Chandler: The spark for the novel came first, but the title came before we wrote the first word of the book. Wes and I both threw out a lot of titles to each other in a long Google doc list. Hello (From Here) was one of Wes’s suggestions and I instantly loved it. No spoilers, but the title really informed a lot of the book, especially the ending.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The scene on the playground that’s pictured on the cover! Wes and I imagined that scene playing out from the book’s inception. There’s flirting! Deep conversations! Awkward silences! Near misses! All my favorite things in a romance. Originally a different image for the cover had been pitched to us. It was a surprise when we were sent the cover and there were our Max and Jonah on the monkey bars. It made me feel like we’d nailed it.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
To follow the paths of thought I naturally go down. What am I thinking about constantly? What am I talking to my friends about? How do I feel about the world? That’s what it means to me to follow the age-old advice: “write the book only you can write.” I’ve become much more adept at leaning into my own worldview and distilling it on the page.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Wes: Everything…I was in love with the cover the instant I saw it. The pastel colors, the characters wearing masks, and even the nervous body posturing were captured so perfectly.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2021?
Wes: I’m going to be diving into Both Sides Now by debut author Peyton Thomas…it just came out and looking forward to it!
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2020?
Wes: My favorite YA book of 2020 was I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan…it’s a suspenseful, smart detective story and you should definitely check it out.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Wes: I’ve got a MG novel called Butt Sandwich and Tree hitting the shelves next year, which is a really personal and funny story about my relationship with my little brother who grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m also working on my first foray into illustrated fiction and remembering that I don’t know how to draw. So also learning how to draw.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Just that Hello (from here) is a lot more than a pandemic book…it’s a love story at heart and we really wanted to shine a light on the little moments that changed for teens and what that all felt like. It’s personal and funny and hopefully going to connect with a lot of readers.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Wes: Well, anything to do with a dog is always emotional. Even the mere threat of a dog being hurt can get me going. But I would say the intimate looks at Jonah’s anxiety, as they mirrored what I was feeling in those early days.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Wes: I would say Arlo, just because writing an 80+ year old character in a YA book creates a really dramatic shift in conversation style and pacing. We had to make sure to keep him engaging. On the other hand, writing Jonah’s sister, Olivia, was the best. She’s whip smart, acerbic, and hilarious.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Wes: Honestly, the whole process was so easy with Chandler. We’re both pretty low maintenance, and so the revision process went by really easily as well. In a general sense, I love revising, because I feel like it’s taking me closer to my initial vision.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Wes: Writing quickly. I don’t always write anything good, but when I sit down, things are happening. When I’m going, I can usually knock out 5k+ words a day and finish books pretty fast. Of course, 90% of it is rubbish, so I should probably slow down.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Wes: For me it’s always mental health and animal welfare causes, and one I am following a lot if the Marine Animal Response Society based out of Nova Scotia (www.marineanimals.ca). I was lucky enough to assist in a whale rescue with them once, and I can attest firsthand to their compassion and values.
Hello (from here)
By: Chandler Baker / Wesley King
Publisher: Dial Books
Publish Date: September 7th, 2021
Three winners will receive a copy of Hello (from Here) by Chandler King & Wesley King ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*