Jamie McGuire’s new novel, All The Little Lights, is a sweet romance with a dark, Hitchcockian twist. The bestselling author recently stopped by the FYA lockers for some dishy girl talk about her new book, her high school self, and her fave party snacks.
THE ACTUAL BOOK-RELATED QUESTIONS
1. All The Little Lights is a sweet romance with a dark, sinister twist. Where and how did inspiration strike for this book?
Many of my ideas hit me while I'm listening to music while blow drying my ridiculously thick hair. It takes 40 minutes to get it completely dry, so I either watch Netflix or listen to music and think of book ideas. I can't say exactly how the idea originated because it will spoil the book, but I thought of it while drying my hair and listening to dark music, and then built on it over time. The original idea for All The Little Lights came to me three years ago, so I've had plenty of time to develop all the characters and exactly how to execute the plot.
2. Without getting too spoilery, did you have a favorite secondary character in the book? Who was it and why?
Mrs. Mason, the high school guidance counselor. She takes her job seriously, even though she has legal limitations, she still doesn't give up on Catherine. She goes above and beyond many times for both Catherine and Elliott. What I like most about her though is that she's going through a divorce, and finding herself, and feeling better for it. I love her little side story. She's a great counselor, and many times in books they get a bad rap, so as crazy as it sounds, I was happy when she came to me and inserted herself into the story.
3. Was there are a particular character or scene that was the most challenging to write?
So many scenes were difficult. SO many! To really "get" the reader at the end like I wanted took a constant, concentrated effort. I had to leave enough clues along the way to keep the reader from feeling frustrated, but it couldn't be too much as to give the ending away, and I craved the reader's "WHOA!" at the end. I've only read three reviews where the reader figured it out before the end. I call that a win. Nothing more satisfying!
I, friends, am not one of those three readers. As much as I pride myself on usually figuring things out before the end...I did not see this twist coming!
4. Your books, including international bestseller Beautiful Disaster, have paved the way for the New Adult genre. How does All The Little Lights differ from your previous work? Do you prefer writing New Adult or Young Adult?
As my mama says, "Yay! Hardly any swear words!" All The Little Lights is a dark YA, filled with suspense, mystery, and yes, even a sweet romance, but the characters have a lot going on that's more important than worrying about losing their virginity. I like writing both, but Young Adult frees me to make the character a little more innocent, which is refreshing.
5. What are you working now? What can we expect to see from you next?
I just finished book two of the Crash and Burn series, and book one, From Here To You releases August 21, which I'm so excited about. All The Little Lights was my first release in almost two years and even though it's so different from my usual releases, its reception was a pleasant surprise. At the moment, I'm re-editing the first three books I've written, the Providence trilogy, for a re-release with bonus content and new, absolutely gorgeous covers, and then I'll begin book three of the Crash and Burn series. After that, it's the year (or two) of the sequels. All working titles, but Red Hill 2, Apolonia 2, and sequels for all the Maddox brothers books are on the schedule. Some of those might be postponed by more books in the Crash and Burn series, but I am itching to write the sequels to Red Hill and Beautiful Oblivion, so they're definitely at the top of my list!
Phew, I'm tired just reading that! This gal is prolific!
THE YA QUESTIONS
If your real life adolescence was a YA book...
What would you, the main character, be like?
The talkative, wounded but still-smiling teen. I’m scrappy, mouthy, and hiding the fact my single mother is on food stamps by spending extra time on clothes and makeup in the mornings before school.
Who is your secret crush?
The Jake Ryan type, a popular jock who’s really sick of the pretty cheerleader types, and somehow wants the angsty, high-strung ginger.
What is your number #1 source of angst?
Boys. Always boys.
At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?
When, senior year, I finally stand up for myself and dump the bad best friend who has been using and abusing me since grade school.
And who would play you in the film adaptation?
Jennifer Lawrence. She’s almost as goofy as me as well as clumsy, and sorely lacking in the ability to hide her feelings about anything.
(Pictured here: the actual Jamie.)
THE SLUMBER PARTY QUESTIONS
What is your secret power?
The gift of gab. I can go for hours.
What is your #1 favorite food?
Hot fries, but I can’t eat them anymore which is the telltale sign that I’m old.
Tell me about your area of expertise.
The human condition and the origination of behavior, not because I have a college degree in those things but I’m freakishly observant and can figure people and their true agendas out fairly quickly. It helps in character development!
If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?
Abby Abernathy (Beautiful Disaster), Jared and Claire Ryel (Providence), Lagertha (Vikings), Angus MacGuyver (MacGuyver), Mrs. Incredible, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Baby (Baby Driver), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Shuri (Black Panther) and Wonder Woman.
What is your best karaoke song?
"If I Ain’t Got You" by Alicia Keys. I’m a karaoke queen.
Tell me something scandalous!
After I finish writing and before I go to bed in the wee hours of the morning, I clean up all the candy wrappers, the pickle jar, the crackers, the salsa jar, etc. before I go to bed at night so no one knows about my pitiful lack of late-night willpower.
What is your favorite adult beverage?
What book have you read (or movie you’ve watched) the most number of times?
Aliens and Dirty Dancing are the two movies I can quote nearly word for word.
YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?
Kami Garcia. I might have already given her one.
(Pssst...check out Kami's Between Two Lockers post here!)
Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?
Nina Grey - Providence
If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie/or anything you'd bring?
Harry & David Moose Crunch, 80s movies, the Harry Styles solo album, my entire makeup case for makeovers, my favorite Target gray jammie pants, and an eight-dock lightning charger for anyone who forgot one because I’m that friend.
AND NOW, MASH!
M A S H
# OF KIDS
Owner of a creepy bed and breakfast
Stay-at-home mom with zero kids? Seems fake but okay...
Paid in books
Toad Suck, Arkansas
Colby, North Carolina
Hazel the German Shepherd
Cletus the turkey
Drumstick the chicken
Dobby the house elf
A clown car full of clowns
All The Little Lights is available now. Be on the lookout for our review next week!