Author Chat with Christina June, Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Christina June, author of It Started With Goodbye. Read on for more about Christina and her novel, plus a giveaway!
1.) Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love them all, even the difficult ones! An easy answer, though, is Blanche, who is Tatum’s step- abuela. Blanche is the fairy godmother character. She is spunky and witty and sly and seemingly psychic. I love her because she was fun to write and because she is totally subversive. She enjoys making little symbolic jabs at her daughter’s parenting style, while also sympathizing with her. Plus, she loves The Golden Girls, which makes her pretty much perfect.
2. Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. The original title, which came after I’d been writing for a while, was VALEDICTIONS, which is the word for how you close a letter or an email and is something my main character, Tatum, obsesses over. Blink wanted something a little more catchy and their creative team came up with IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, which hints at the original title. And, I’m so excited about this part—the dictionary definition of a valediction, plus Tatum’s personal, snarky definition, are on the back of the book.
3. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve learned to listen. When I first started this crazy ride, I distinctly remember mentally dismissing comments from readers and telling myself their thoughts didn’t matter and the manuscript was just fine without their input, thank you very much. What I didn’t realize then is that writing isn’t solitary and the opinions of others make our books stronger. Of course, not every suggestion needs to be taken, but writers should always thoughtfully consider both praise and criticism. I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses from my critique partners, my agent, my editor and beta readers, and I look forward to learning more.
4. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017?
Definitely THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON by Katherine Locke. Katherine has been one of my dearest friends and most trusted critique partners for the last four years and I am beside myself that I get to share a debut year with her. Plus, the book is just amazing. I remember exactly where I was the first time I started reading it and how it made me feel. There really is nothing else like it out there and I’m excited for everyone else to read it.
5. What’s up next for you?
I’m excited to share that I’ve just turned in revisions for my 2018 book, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, which is a companion to IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE and stars Tatum’s stepsister Tilly as she goes to New York to dance for the summer after graduation.
6. Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
As a parent, it was difficult to write all the scenes (and there are a lot) where Tatum’s stepmother is cruel and unreasonable with her punishment. I still cringe thinking about some of the things she says and tactics she uses. I will say that it was fun to write her evolution, though, which continues into the next book. In terms of emotional, there’s a bit where Tatum listens to a cello piece that brings her to tears. Not a single word changed from the original draft and I love how it makes me feel something each time I read it.
7. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Drafting 100%. I have learned during my time as a writer that I am not a perfectionist. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the first book I ever completed was during NaNoWriMo and I had to “quiet the inner editor” as they say. I tend to think a lot about my story ahead of time, marinate on it, before I start. I heard another author say one time that she writes the whole first draft in her head and what ends up on the page is the second draft. I relate to that for sure. I like building the story and discovering who the characters are. Making it shiny? Not so much. Revisions often feel like torture because I would much rather be done with something, cross it off my to-do list, and never have to think about it again. Revisions are always necessary but I don’t have to like them.
8. What would you say is your superpower?
Compartmentalizing! I’ve worked for years at making mental boxes for things and putting stuff away when I’m done with it. I’m not perfect by any means, but when you’re a parent and a wife and an author and you have a day job and you have to adult, it makes wearing all those hats just a little bit easier.
9. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I love donating to First Book, which provides books for children who might not otherwise have access to them. It’s one of my favorite holiday gifts, actually. I am also a fan of The Josh Anderson Foundation, and any organization that supports awareness of and education about mental health.
Meet Christina June!
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter. Her second novel, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE (a companion to IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE), will be published in 2018.
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she's stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF's gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client).
When Tatum discovers she's not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela/fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.
It Started With Goodbye
By: Christina June
Release Date: May 9, 2017
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I'm in love with that cover --- so pretty! The summary sounds like the perfect summer read. I added this to my wishlist.
I met a teacher at either an EF Tours trip in China in Nov. 2015 or at a NEH seminar in Philadelphia in July 2016 who works with this author and she was already talking her up -- she showed me a picture of this cover on her cell phone and was so happy for her colleague who was going to be published. I've had the picture on my phone (that I took of the cover on HER phone) ever since so that I would remember to keep an eye out for it and support a fellow teacher and aspiring author. Imagine my surprise at seeing the book on YABC! You go, girl! So happy for you