The next pick on my 2014 Most Anticipated list is a fun sounding contemporary that asks if all is fair in love and war! The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes.
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jason breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame.
Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn't someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jason isn't going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him...
Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what's really worth fighting for.
Paula was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about Lainey, and her writing in general.
1 Describe The Art of Lainey in three words
I am alternating between the standard adjective list of "fun, hopeful, sincere" and the phrase "bursting with feels"
2 You've written historical, and now contemporary. What was it about contemporary that made you want to write The Art of Lainey?
Here's the weird thing. I never planned to write this book. My favorite books to write are dark and twisty books full of action and mystery and dead bodies. [Spoiler: there are no dead bodies in The Art of Lainey] But a few years ago I got my heart broken when the rest of my life was going great, and it jarred me, you know? I got really despondent for a couple of weeks, but then I said: "Something good is going to come from all this--I insist upon it." And later a hot coffee shop boy befriended me and I got the idea for The Art of Lainey. What started out as a fluffy, fun story became a love letter to soccer and music and St. Louis and amazing alterna-boys. I never would have called this a "book of my heart" while I was writing it, but somehow that's exactly what it turned out to be.
3 Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?
People who have read the book like to ask if The Boy is based on a real person. So here's the secret: he is one part imagination, one part hot coffee shop boy (see above), one part former restaurant coworker that I crushed on for YEARS, and one part former fiance. (I wasn't ready to get married, but dude, I let the keeper of all keepers get away and some smart girl snatched him up. I wish him nothing but happiness because he gave me tons in the years we were together).
4 This is contemporary, whereas your previous books were historical. What were some of the challenges in writing a contemporary that differed from writing historical?
OMG, the challenges in writing contemporary were sheer bliss for me compared to writing historical. One decision I made was to use mostly fictional places and pop culture references. I know some readers hate that, but I don't like the idea of my book being dated when places go out of business or bands go out of fashion. Plus, what if you have your MC idolize a certain famous person and then said person gets arrested in real life for torturing kittens? Now your MC is a kitten-torturer-lover for the entire print run of your book! Not cool. Fictionalizing is lower stress, and it's fun :) Contemporary feels very natural for me, so most of my challenges during the writing process were minor--things like not overusing slang to the point where it got annoying and settling heady debates during editing about whether to use 'wack job' (probably technically correct) or 'whack job' (probably wrong, but much more widely-accepted).
5 What 2014 book are you most looking forward to?
FIRE & FLOOD by Victoria Scott. I have already read it, but I need it to come out so I can gush openly. There's action, danger, humor, romance, and adorable snuggly animals--basically it has absolutely everything I want in a book. I am also clamoring for WINGS by Elizabeth Richards, PANIC by Lauren Oliver, The 3rd I HUNT KILLERS book by Barry Lyga, and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins.
If you want to learn more, check out the author's website, or the publisher's website for more information.
The Art of Lainey will be in stores May 20, 2014. Pre-orders for this title are already up, and you can get your copy at the following retailers
Barnes and Noble
Let me know in the comments what you think of the cover, the synopsis, or if you think the cover model resembles the author like I do! Also, check back soon for a contest where you could win one of my featured titles (be sure to pay attention to these Question and Answers as they'll help).