Interview & Giveaway: Terra Elan McVoy

Sorry for the eerie silence the past couple days; I just got back from my Missouri trip at 1AM this morning, but I'll be sure to check my email later tonight and put up the last two TFFOS winners ASAP. ♥

Today I have with me TERRA ELAN MCVOY, the YA author of PURE, AFTER THE KISS, and, most recently, THE SUMMER OF FIRSTS AND LASTS. Terra's super sweet and enthusiastic about everything she does, so please give a warm welcome as she discusses writing contemporary YA and her 2012 spring release BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS (which you can get a blurb of in Terra's blog post).

Very Clickable Links: {website} · {blog} · {goodreads} · {amazon} · {book depository}


1. How would you describe your writing in one verb, one adjective, and one noun (they don't necessarily have to flow together/match)?
Verb: Delve
Noun: Tootsie Pop
Adjective: Thick

2. Out of the three -- almost four! -- books you've released so far, do you have a favorite?
The problem is, I can’t say! Each book is special to me for different reasons. Pure because it’s my first, but also because the issues in it are important to me. After the Kiss is special because it’s my first novel in poems, and I loved doing that form. The Summer of Firsts and Lasts has a significant place in my heart because it is all about sisterhood. And forthcoming Being Friends With Boys is one I love, because of all the different relationships in it!

3. All of your YA books are contemporary. What draws you to portray the lives and relationships, both romantic and sisterly, of teens?
I’m attracted to real life because I think it is full of incredible detail and drama. There is SO MUCH in real life that is fascinating, and there’s an endless number of ways to look at things. Also, I think that being a teenager is one of the hardest, and worst (and also most exciting and fantastic) periods of life, which is why I like writing about them. There is so much happening when you’re a teenager that is happening for the very first time. Love. Jobs. Driving. Physical changes. Discoveries in school and other places . . . everything feels like it is so intense, because it is! 


4. And how do you take seemingly ordinary situations and shape them into riveting stories? Any tips for writing contemp?
This is hard for me, because I am so fascinated, myself, by the every day. Single details are riveting to me, but not necessarily to everyone else. So the key is to remember that there has to be a beginning, middle, and end to your story. Details matter, but the character has to go from here and now, to there, then. There has to be an arc. And you have to create events within the plot that force your character to act and change, even if she doesn’t want to. It’s not enough to write a pretty scene about how she’s feeling. She has to get somewhere with it. There has to be growth.

5. As for all of your book covers, including the new one for BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS, they seem to share that simple, clean, and cute feel. How much input do you get in the design process, and what are your thoughts on the covers?
I definitely get a little input, but not a ton—and that’s really okay with me. I think if I was horribly against a cover, they’d take that into consideration, but my main feeling is that I’m a writer, not a graphic designer. There are people who have very good jobs that require them to know what looks good on a cover, and I am very happy to let them do their work, because everything’s been beautiful!!

6. Speaking of BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS, can you give us some hints on what to expect? How is Charlotte different from your previous main characters?
Charlotte is different from Tabitha, Camille, Becca, and each of the Winthrop sisters in that she really isn’t a high-performer. She doesn’t care much about her grades. She isn’t pert and snappy with her appearance. She is just kind of a kick-around girl, and she likes it that way. I think the other girls I’ve written about are a lot more self-confident, while Charlotte —at first anyway— is content to kind of sit back on the sidelines. She’s quietly cool; you have to look close to see it. But then, maybe, she finds ways to let that out a little more . . .

7. Over the course of your "published writer" career, do you feel like you've changed and/or improved as a writer (i.e. your style, character-building)?
I always think I’m improving, but then I find ways in which I’m not! Writing a novel is so hard—it’s hard every time, for different reasons, at least for me so far. There’s always something new you’re learning, something you’re taking on. My best friend and writing advisor says that she thinks my writing improves every book, but I feel like I am always starting from scratch. I think I’ve improved in terms of plot, a little—being able to make it more complex and challenging. But I ALWAYS include too much information, and there’s always a ton to cut out during the revision process. I’m always looking for ways to write sharper, savvier, simpler.

8. What titles would you give if you chose to write a novel in the genre of:
- horror: The Bloodred Face
- science fiction: Two Minutes Till Dark
- paranormal romance: She
- historical fiction: The Pen and the Key

9. If you could pose a question to yourself, what would it be? Answer it! :)
Gosh, I feel like I’m always questioning myself. But one that I ponder a lot is what kind of job I might have if I weren’t an author or Decatur Book Festival Program Director. I sort of always wanted to try bartending, actually, because you’d get so many good stories. And it might be interesting to be a fireman. Or, -woman, I guess! And a teacher. I could definitely have a ball doing that.

Thanks so much for this terrific interview!

Thanks, Terra! Charlotte definitely sounds like my type of girl, and those are some pro "ambiguous-and-seemingly-philosophical" titles. ;)



Three sisters. One life-changing summer.

Calla loves summer because summer means Duncan. They’ve been best friends for years, but Calla has never worked up the nerve to tell him how she really feels. This summer, the summer before college, is Calla’s last chance.

Violet isn’t much of a rule breaker in real life. But this isn’t real life, this is summer, and Violet is determined to make the most of it. Besides, a little sneaking out never hurt anyone. And sneaking out with James is 100% worth the risk…even though James is completely off-limits.

Daisy has never been the sister that boys notice, but when sparks fly with Joel at the first bonfire of summer, it seems so easy and right. So why is being his girlfriend so complicated? 



Thanks to Terra and Simon & Schuster, I have one finished copy of SUMMER OF FIRSTS AND LASTS to giveaway!

To enter, fill out the form below. Contest ends 9/6 at 11:59PM EST and is open to US only.