Indie Superstars with Michelle MacQueen & Ann Maree Craven + Giveaway (US Only)
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This week, staff reviewer, Caitlin Haines is interviewing Michelle MacQueen & Ann Maree Craven, authors of
"The F Word"
Releasing June 13, 2019
Welcome to YABC, Michelle & Ann Maree!
Caitlin Haines: Where did the idea for the story come from?
Ann Maree Craven: Ever since I wrote my first fantasy novel I’ve wanted to write a character inspired by my own experiences as a teen struggling with a weight problem. The F Word was an unresolved idea in the back of my mind for a long time.
Michelle MacQueen: I have a disability, and for as long as I’ve been writing, I wanted to write a story for people like me. I’ve tried many times, but it’s difficult to put into words. When Ann Maree proposed an idea where we each took on certain “labels” I knew it was my chance.
Caitlin: What made you want to co-author a book together? Who proposed the idea?
Ann Maree: The initial idea for the series was mine. I knew I wanted to focus on all these different labels we put on each other and how often they are wrong. I also knew I’d likely never get around to writing the series myself. I needed a co-author for this project—someone who knew the YA Contemporary romance genres better than I did. Michelle was my first choice because we have similar writing styles and it’s kind of crazy how much our individual strengths complement each other.
Michelle:Definitely Ann Maree. She came to me with three titles. The F Word, The N Word, and the C Word. She barely had to explain her ideas before I said yes. We’ve known each other for a while, and I was looking for a way to get back into contemporary romance without giving up on fantasy. Writing with Ann Maree was my way to do that. It took me two seconds to agree.
Caitlin: The book is written in two perspectives, did you each write one? How did you determine who wrote what?
Ann Maree: Hands down, from day one, I knew I wanted to write Peyton’s story. She is me—or the me I wish I could have been at her age, so her voice was already whispering in my ear. And Michelle really ran with Cameron’s story from the very beginning. Since then, we’ve completed the series and it just seems to always work out where we are each drawn to a certain character.
Michelle:Cam is my boy. I love him so much and identify with him. It’s interesting because we’re working on our fifth book together now and when planning each book, there’s never been arguments on which POVs we each want to write. We always want what the other doesn’t. It makes for a perfect partnership because I think we each realize which kinds of characters we’re good at.
Caitlin: What was that process like? What were some of the challenges you faced? What are some benefits of writing a book with another person?
Ann Maree: We work so well together that co-authoring has just been a breeze. We’re both sticklers for having a clear plan before we start a project, but we also like to have some freedom to go off that plan when it makes sense to do so. We talk every day and are constantly running ideas past each other. Having a co-author for a project like Redefining Me has really allowed us to work faster. (Michelle is alwaysahead of me!) We trade off chapters and it’s really exciting to see what happens next when Michelle sends me a new chapter. It’s kind of feels like a game sometimes. I read her newest chapter and it’s like a writing prompt that inspires me to jump into my next chapter. I love to write more than anything, but it’s definitely a lot more fun with a co-author.
Michelle:There are fewer challenges than you’d imagine. I think the biggest one we’ve faced is timing. I had a habit of getting really far ahead of her and then having to change things as her part of the story grew. The more we write together though, the better our rhythm gets. It’s more fun having someone who is excited about a book in the same way as you, who feels ownership over it. Usually, being a writer is a bit of a lonely experience. Readers might love a book, family members are happy for you, but they don’t feel the same level of joy to see the characters take wing.
Caitlin: Do you have plans to write together more outside this series?
Ann Maree: 100% it’s happening. We have plans to expand the world of Twin Rivers into another series and we’re talking about combining our skills for a Fantasy series for next year.
Michelle:Honestly, I can see us writing together for a very long time. It allows us to remain in two genres without disappointing either fan base. And it’s just fun.
Caitlin: Cameron’s ‘thing’ was running, what is your ‘thing?’ Has that changed over time?
Ann Maree: I have always had a thing for the creative arts. I have a degree in fine art and design. My first career was as an interior designer and I was a partner in an architecture firm. While I loved the creativity aspects of my job, the hours and stress level was off the charts. I’ve found so many opportunities to use my background in design as a writer. It’s the best creative outlet for me these days. But I still love painting and sculpture. I’m much better at three-dimensional design than with two-dimensional. I’m an artist who really doesn’t enjoy drawing.
Michelle:I was someone who never felt like they had a thing. I spent a lot of my teenage years with my chronic illness that prevented me from being involved in much. So, I never got to be a participant. And I didn’t even write anything until my twenties. I was both unartistic and unathletic.
But I’ve always loved ice hockey. I analyzed play and studied stats. I obviously couldn’t play it myself with my illness, but I never thought that meant I couldn’t love it just as much. Along with reading, it was always my escape.
Caitlin: In the book, Peyton creates an app where people can anonymously talk about body image and support one another. If you could create an app, what would it be and why?
Ann Maree: I would love to create an app for authors—indie authors in particular. There are so many moving parts to keep track of that there is often very little time left for writing—and it’s so easy to fall into a disorganized mess. I’m a planner and I’ve probably used every planner/calendar/list app out there, and I hate them all lol. My author planner app would have tons of calendars for keeping track of publishing schedules, appointments with service providers and all the other things I would forget to do without a calendar and a to-do list, but I would also include room for series planning, character and chapter notes etc. to keep everything in one place. Maybe some day I’ll hire someone to do it. I’d much rather spend my time writing J
Michelle:I love Ann Maree’s idea. I’ll add that I’d love for it to include all kinds of advertising schedules as well.
Caitlin: Is there a character in the story you identify with more than the others?
Ann Maree: I identify with Peyton in so many ways. One of my favorite lines from her in the book is how she wishes she lived in a simple world where it was okay to just be herself, nomatter her size. That’s the world I want for all young women. The pressure to reach an impossible ideal of perfection is killing us. I wanted to show an example of a young woman who deals with body shaming and outright bullying but still manages to love herself. She struggles to get there, but I love her for it.
Michelle:Definitely Cam. I had to learn at a young age how to cope with not having the abilities of other people. In high school in was much harder, but even now, it’s something that is a daily struggle. Like Cam, I’ve had to choose a path in life I never saw for myself, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as right for me.
Caitlin: This is the first in a series, what can you tell us about the future books?
Ann Maree: The second book, The N Word, will release on June 27thand the third book, The C Word, will release on July 11th. You’ll see familiar characters from The F Word throughout the series as each one fills in the gaps of what happened “that night.” But there’s a lot more happening in Twin Rivers. I’ll save that for Michelle to tell you ;)
Michelle:Oooo Ann Maree is letting me tell you. I feel special. She mentioned the final two books in this series, but we have big plans for the world of Twin Rivers. In September, we’re releasing a series beginning with a story about a character named Becks who you’ll meet in the N Word. He’s my favorite. Then we’re planning a number of books that take place at the exclusive private school in town.
Caitlin: Is there a character’s story you’re looking forward to delving into more? Can we expect to see it in one of the future books?
Ann Maree: Absolutely. We’re experiencing this weird phenomenon where we fall in love with new characters in each book and they take on a life of their own. I adore Becks and his character is so much fun to write, but I have a special love for Nicky St. Germaine. I can’t wait to share his story with our readers this fall. (And Becks, pretty much stole our hearts the moment he started chattering at us.)
Michelle:Becks! But won’t know him until the N Word, so I’ll say Julian. He’s much different than you’d expect and getting into his head is a special thing. He’s probably one of the most genuine characters in this series. You’ll find out more about him in The C Word.
Meet the Authors
Ann Maree enjoys editing almost as much as she enjoys writing, which makes her an absolute weirdo among her peers. Her favorite pastime is sitting on her porch when the weather is nice with her two dogs, Fynlee and Nahla, reading from her massive TBR pile and dreaming up new stories.
Michelle MacQueen is a USA Today bestselling author of love. Yes, love. Whether it be YA romance, NA romance, or fantasy romance (Under M. Lynn), she loves to make readers swoon.
Meet the Book
Six lives changed forever.
Peyton Callahan refuses to let the F word define her
She has always remained body positive, never letting others’ perceptions color her view of herself. But after the accident that claimed her brother’s life, Peyton’s weight spirals out of control, and she succumbs to the label her peers forced on her years ago.
The fat girl.
In the aftermath of tragedy, Peyton’s world falls apart and worst of all, her best friend and almost-boyfriend, Cameron, leaves her behind, too damaged and heartbroken to ever see her the way he once had.
Cameron Tucker—the jock and all around track god—believes he lost everything the night a car accident sent him and his friends plunging over Defiance Falls.
His friend Cooper: Dead.
Cameron’s Olympic dream: Gone.
And Peyton: Will never look at him the same way again.
So, he does what he once did best, he runs, escaping Twin Rivers and everyone in it, never expecting to return, never imagining he’d have to face the girl he left behind.
Eighteen months later, he is no longer the boy any of them remember. Except Peyton. No matter how hard he tries to hide, she still sees him, still believes in him.
What will she say when she discovers just how broken he is?
*Please note: this giveaway is hosted by the authors and is not associated with YABC. YABC is not responsible for delivering these prizes
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