Good day everyone!! Oh my. It seems like it’s time for another author interview and this is one I’ve been DYING TO SHARE. Like you guys may have noticed, I did a review (and more) for No Place Like Here, which I heard about thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club and Jana! Since reading it, I’ve just been meaning to learn More and it seemed like this Summer Reading Tour was my lucky star
I do have a few more things to share in the coming days so I hope to see yall again soon, but before we jump into the questions, here is the book we’re featuring
ABOUT THE BOOK
No Place Like Here by Christina June ● Publication Date: May 21, 2019 ● Publisher: BLINK
Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
Q & A SESSION
And now! The moment you’ve all been waiting for! As you guys may know, I’ve gotten into the habit of asking some pretty strange questions but this time I decided to tone it down. I was really curious about some aspects of No Place Like Here, specifically the mental health representation so thank you, Christina, for a) indulging my curiosity and b) writing this wonderful book that did a lot of things for me
Like always, I shall be the orange in the coming text!
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.
She is the author of It Started with Goodbye, Everywhere You Want to Be, and the forthcoming No Place Like Here.
Q. Now then, before we start with this interview, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Maybe a like, a dislike, blanket or pillow, tea or coffee, your favorite color, the #1 summer dessert – really anything you’d like to share!
My favorite colors are green and purple. I like both coffee and tea, but coffee is for the morning and tea the rest of the day. I dislike all seafood, love cilantro, and could watch Downton Abbey and Veronica Mars all day long.
Q. I’m pretty sure you get this a lot but can you tell us how you came up with the idea of No Place Like Here, and why you decided to use Hansel and Gretel as a foundation?
Since Ashlyn was a character who appeared in my debut, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, and I’d already established her shaky relationship with her strict father, I knew I wanted to explore that more in this book. As parental abandonment is a focus in Hansel & Gretl, it fit Ashlyn’s situation perfectly. The wilderness retreat center setting practically wrote itself.
Q. What do you think that fairytale parallel adds to your book? I ask because I would never have guessed this was a retelling.
While it’s less retelling and more “inspired by,” I think the biggest parallel is the theme. In the original, two kids get abandoned by their father in the woods to fend for themselves, ultimately having to team up to be brave and overcome a villain. That essentially what happens in my book too. Ashlyn has spent her whole life living by her emotionally abusive father’s rules and expectations, but when he goes to jail, she has to fend for herself. She discovers the voice she’s kept hidden for years and finds she has more courage than she imagined. There are nods to the original story with the setting and with Deb, the manager, who Ash contends with, and who likes to build gingerbread houses.
Q. Who was your favorite character and why?
I loved digging deeper into who Ashlyn is and why she isn’t the perfect girl she projected. I also really liked writing her cousin, Hannah, who is Ash’s opposite, more bold and confident. They ended up making a great team when they figured out what made the other tick.
Q. Forgive my stalking, but I read your interview with Jana in June and I loved that you wrote this book in order to inspire people in similar situations to Ashlyn, but also to create empathy and perspective in those who don’t relate. Do you believe you’ve accomplished these goals?
I love this question. Yes, I do believe I’ve accomplished this goal. Of all of my books, this is the one where readers have told me they relate to my main character the most. I recently had a reader tell me she cried because her childhood was so close to Ashlyn’s, While my heart breaks for anyone who has felt that way, I am grateful to have been able to make them feel they’re not alone. I’ve also heard readers say how awful Ash’s dad is and how they felt for her, which accomplishes the empathy goal as well.
Q.What did you find hardest to write about for this book? Be it a theme, a character, finding quotes, etc.
Finding quotes was an unexpected challenge. I originally used many quotes I had collected myself over the years, but some of them were attributed incorrectly, sources couldn’t be verified, or we didn’t have permission. So, I had to replace several of them with new ones and it was quite the task to find words that fit.
Q. Can you tell us a bit more about Ashlyn’s habit of leaving quotes in her surrounds? I imagine carving words into the ground and wood is tough! Why does she do it?
As someone who has been told, through words and actions, that her voice doesn’t matter, she uses the quotes to express herself in a safe way. But, since she’s still unsure of herself, leaving quotes in secret places makes the action even safer. Eventually she learns she can speak for herself and she will be taken seriously.
Q. One of the aspects I really enjoyed about this book is that all of our main characters are struggling with some form of mental health and they all give the reader different forms of finding help. But I noticed that Ashlyn never really labels herself as mentally ill. In fact, I find she creates a distance to her mother’s situation. Can you talk more about this?
This is a really insightful question. Often when kids grow up in an abusive, or even just stressful, household, they pick up the unhealthy habits and thought patterns of their parents and it can take a very long time to create healthier habits. And, we all know it is much easier to see those habits in others than in ourselves. I imagine it was easier for Ashlyn to ignore her own struggles than confront them, as she notes when she talks about the one time she went to therapy as a child. But, I also imagine that after the book ends, she’ll start her own journey toward healing, which would likely include a clinical diagnosis of depression or anxiety, and individual therapy in addition to the family therapy her parents commit to.
Q. Do you have any secret agendas you’d like to share? Possible projects? Events? Really, any way we can support you! This is me “subtly” asking if there will be more books that tie to this world in the near future
I would love to write more, but that’s not up to me! Readers have a lot of power here, actually—buying books, leaving reviews, and requesting them from your libraries all help convince publishers that more books are a good investment. In the meantime, I’m exploring new genres and age groups, so we’ll see what happens. As for events, I’ll be at YABBAFest in Warrenton, VA in September, Fall for the Book at George Mason University and the Collingswood Book Festival in October, and Apollycon in 2020.
Q. And a question I like to add for aspiring writers, what are some tips or tricks that you’d like to share about any part of the writing, publishing, and/or marketing process?
Be patient and finish whatever it is you’re working on. Writing “the end” is extremely powerful. Publishing is very, very slow. So make sure that your work is pretty and polished, and complete, and then write the next piece while you wait.
Q. Oh boy, I would love to keep talking about your book but I hear the clock ticking for this interview! To foreshadow what’s coming next, I have a quirky question for you. Imagine you are part of a pirate crew. Why are you there and what treasures are you hoping to find?
I’m the librarian, of course, hunting for precious first editions and rarities!
Whelp, unfortunately, this is all for this post! On the bright side, there are TONS more posts to look forward to, and about some really neat titles. Also, there’s an ongoing rafflecopter giveaway where you guys can win a copy of these books. It ends on August 9th and you bet I’m going to be SUPER JEALOUS of whoever wins this giveaway #cries
In the meantime, don’t forget to check out everyone’s posts~
Pages & Pugs – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
Mangeuse de Livres – Q&A with Annie Sullivan (French & English)
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Christina June Guest Post
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Kayla Reads and Reviews – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Meet the Sky
J.R.’s Book Reviews – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Book-Keeping – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Shelf-Rated – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
Reading Authors Network – Book Review of Swing
Read At Night – Interview with Christina June
YA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of Swing
Cinnamon Summers – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Inky Moments – Creative Post
Marshmallow Pudding – Christina June Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Creative Post for No Place Like Here
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
FictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for A Touch of Gold (Instagram)
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Will Read Anything – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Kait Plus Books – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Instagram Post
Adventures Thru Wonderland – McCall Hoyle Guest Post
Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
What She Will Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Starlight Reads – Book Playlist for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
Library of a Book Witch – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Will Read Anything – Book Review of Swing
Inky Moments – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Beauty In the Binding – Author Q&A with Annie Sullivan
Onemused – Book Review of Meet the Sky (Instagram Photo)
A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Cinnamon Summers – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
A Dream Within a Dream – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
FictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for Pretty In Punxsutawney (Instagram)
What She Will Read – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Starlight Reads – Book Review of Swing
YA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
YA Media Consumer – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Some Books and Ramblings – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Instagram Post
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – McCall Hoyle Guest Post
Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Book-Keeping – Book Review of Touch of Gold
Utopia State of Mind – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Kait Plus Books – Annie Sullivan Guest Post
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Book Review of Swing
Kait Plus Books – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest Post
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite Quotes
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Reading Authors Network – Creative Post for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with Christina June
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
The Secret Reader – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Creative Post
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Swing
A Dream Within A Dream – Annie Sullivan Guest Post
Smada’s Book Smack – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Adventures Thru Wonderland – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
The Secret Reader – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton + Creative Post
Smada’s Book Smack – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Faery Tales Are Real – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Read At Night – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Swing
I hope this interview gave you guys some insight into both Christina and her goals as a writer (and person), and possibly into her books! In the meantime, I’m going to go binge-read It Started with Goodbye, which I bought as soon as I finished No Place Like Here