When We Were Blog Tour – With Alexandra Diaz

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I am so thrilled to be doing this – the blog tour for Alexandra Diaz’s amazing book When We Were! This is my first book blog tour, so I’m epicly psyched to get this going.

First of all, thank you SO much to the nice people at Paper Lantern Lit publishing for putting me on this blog tour – it’s an amazing opportunity, and I love it.

In case you’ve been totally living under a rock, here’s some info on both the book, and the fabulous author herself:

The Author:

Alexandra Diaz grew up bilingual in Puerto Rico and various U.S states. Thanks to an overactive imagination, she’s always loved creating stories and ‘what-if’ scenarios. She got her MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University in Bath, England, and is the author of five young adult and middle grade novels. When she’s not writing, she gets paid to walk dogs, teach creative writing, web edit, and parade in costume on stilts; sadly, other things she enjoys – travelling, eating ice cream, and circus aerials – don’t pay. Visit her on Twitter, on Facebook, or at http://www.alexandra-diaz.com.

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The Book Itself:

No one messes with Whitney Blaire or her friends, which is why she can’t help but let it slip that someone spotted Tara’s boyfriend making out with one of the guy cheerleaders.

Even after spending hours training for her marathon, down-to-earth Tara can’t outrun the rumors about the boyfriend she thought was perfect.

Pinkie, the rock and “Big Sister” of their inseparable group, just wants things to stay exactly the way they are…

…but that’s not possible when new-girl Riley arrives in school and changes everything.

Suddenly Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt before—for anyone—while Whitney Blaire tries to convince her that this new girl is Trouble. Meanwhile, Pinkie’s world begins to crumble as she begins to suspect that the friends she depends on are not the girls she thought she knew. Can friendship survive when all the rules are broken?

I actually read this for ARC August, so go check out my review here, before you read the interview I did with the author herself (as well as a fun fictional dinner party game).

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1) Which writers influence your work?
For this novel, I was influenced by Jaclyn Moriarty, Ann Brashares, and though you’d never guess, J.K. Rowling.

2) Where did the inspiration for When We Were come from? Did you draw on any personal experiences for this book?
It started off with the idea that Brent Staple had done something bad and then snowballed from there. I wanted three characters and the challenge of writing from three POVs. Most of the novel is not taken from personal experience, but there are some indirect issues that are drawn from real life, particularly the question/obsession of why someone hasn’t returned my phone call

3) I absolutely love the cover for the book, by the way. Was there any other cover concepts you considered?

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There were a few other options. I considered one with three girls with their backs to the camera and arms around each other, but even from the back view, I couldn’t get over the fact that they didn’t “look” like my girls (Tara in a sundress? Never!). My agent and editor really liked this one with the rose, and I do like the more
“serious” tone it gives.

4)A lot of authors write themselves into their novels as characters –  Which character would you consider to be the most like you?
There is a little of me in everyone, but Pinkie is the one who is probably closest internally though most people wouldn’t guess; my mind is always replaying events and obsessing about what I said and how they other person is interpreting it. Physically, I’m more like Tara in terms of being active and fit, though the idea of going running is a bit laughable. And Whitney Blaire has a lot of emotional issues I can relate to, especially her need to get away. So yes, if you were to put all three girls together, you’d have someone a lot like me. Scary thought!

5) There’s a lot of different issues addressed in the novel – What was the hardest part of When We Were to write?
There are a lot of issues and that was something that appealed to me–that each girl had things to go through. The hardest part was understanding the Brent and Tara relationship and her feelings about what he did, especially when she later becomes attracted to a girl. I talked it over with my Bath writers’ group (who helped me all through the writing process), explaining that I didn’t understand the psychology and they helped me see that it came down to betrayal. The who of Brent’s fling was irrelevant, it was the fact that he had done that made it so hard for Tara and for me to convey.

6) If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. What at one point might have been desperately important, turns out to be irrelevant. And, you can’t change the past, but you can take what you learned in the past to better effect the future.

7) Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
This changes on a regular bases, but today I’m going with the director Gurinder Chadha. She’s the person I’d like to direct my “movies” because we have a similar sense of humor and I love how I can relate to her characters. I see myself in her characters, I want to be like them, and live their lives, something about them just resonates inside. That, in turn, is what I try to recreate in my characters and hope readers feel a similar compassion with them as I do.

8) If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There are a lot of things that weren’t wrapped up the way I would have liked and things that I was left, even at the end of the book, not understanding. What happened to Umbridge? Were Ron and Hermione never once concerned about Pigwidgeon and Crookshanks? What didn’t Harry just snap the Elder Wand and be done with it? And don’t get me started on how I would remake the movies!

9) What advice would you give to aspiring writers in this day and age?
Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. If writing is your passion, go for it. Accept criticism, don’t be afraid to revise, attend writers workshops/classes, and be the best writer you can be!

10) What songs did you listen to while writing this book? Any particular artists who inspired you to write?
This novel was written several years ago and I honestly can’t think of any songs that inspired me. I like to write in silence. I also was living in Bath and I didn’t have a car (which means I didn’t listen to the radio). If I played music, it would have been on the iTunes shuffle and nothing stands out to my recollection. However, I promise to have answers to this question with future books!

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Now i figured, we could do something called the Literary Dinner Party tag. In this tag, you’re hosting  a dinner party. You can invite any character you want, but there are 10 different categories you need to fill, and there are only room for 11 people:

1. One character who can cook/likes to cook: Big Ma (Caroline Logan)
2. One character who has money to fund the party: Mr. Carrisford aka The Indian Gentleman
3. One character who might cause a scene: Max, especially if it’s a night where he wears his wolf costume and lets the wild rumpus start
4. One character who is funny/amusing: The BFG
5. One character who is super social/popular: Todd Wilkins
6. One villain: Darth Vader
7. One couple – doesn’t have to be romantic: Anna and St Clair
8. One hero/heroine: Charlotte Doyle
9. One underappreciated character: Luna Lovegood
10. One character of your own choosing:  Martha Speaks

Again, thank you very very much to all involved for letting me be a part of this blog tour, and I hope to do it again in future.

Happy reading!

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