Today I’m welcoming Joy Preble to my blog. Joy is a good friend, a great YA author–and fellow Texan. Her latest book, Finding Paris, is out today. So be sure you pick up a copy. I invited Joy to answer a few of my questions about Finding Paris.
CC: Tell us about Finding Paris.
Joy: Finding Paris is my first YA novel with Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins, and I’m so very excited for it to arrive in the world on 4/21. Like all of my work, it’s a genre blend—a mystery wrapped around a family drama, tucked inside a road trip, with bits of tragedy and bits of romance.
Sisters Leo (Leonora) and Paris have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling love. But Leo isn’t going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.
Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where just moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared?
When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of increasingly disturbing clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for Paris—and the truth about why she’s gone missing—is not a straight line. And either is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.
CC: Finding Paris is a genre shift for you, crossing over from stories with a paranormal element to contemporary YA. Can you talk a little about this?
Joy: I’m what I suppose you’d call a literary omnivore. The stories that come to me don’t always fall neatly into one or the other category. So I’m very fortunate to have worked with a number of wonderful publishing houses, the latest being Balzer and Bray. It’s actually been a good challenge to write a straight contemporary novel. The paranormal elements in both Sweet Dead Life and Dreaming Anastasia serve as one of the main engines to the plot, but with Finding Paris, it’s a real life mystery, a real life sister’s disappearance, among other things. But I love the leaner nature of a contemporary story.
CC: What was the inspiration behind the novel?
Joy: Well, there are many inspirations. The surface one actually occurred as my husband and I were driving from Houston to Dallas. We’d stopped for lunch at this place called Sam’s—the kind of interstate diner that has a pie buffet and a quirky gift shop. And in stall in the ladies’ room there was all this Sharpied graffiti – everything from ‘Jesus saves’ to ‘I <3 Danny’ and of course some nastier stuff, as there often is. And then this one that had a phone number and said, “I need you to call me” And there was a girl’s name. I walked out and in the car I began thinking: What if two girls were on the road and one went to the bathroom or out to the car and then never came back. What if there was a message left in Sharpie? So that was the initial influence. But the deeper sources for this story come from my years of teaching, from working with students whose home lives aren’t safe or stable, who are struggling to get out of bad, untenable, suffocating situations. Who are struggling to face their truths and tell their truths. And people who have bind spots for those they love. Or who just don’t know how to fix the things that are wrong. And as I wrote from that initial premise, I knew I had found a story that could give them a voice. When Leo trusts Max to help her, when she takes that first ride with him, I knew she was doing so because the rest of her life was honestly a lot scarier than trusting a boy who knew the same silly physics jokes as she did. And who she sees as the type of person she’d like to have in her life but doesn’t. Of course, that’s just the beginning. And then there’s the missing Paris…
CC: What’s next for Joy Preble?
Joy: Right now I’m finishing up the last revisions for It Wasn’t Always Like This, which comes out from Soho Press in Spring, 2016. It’s pitched as Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars: A girl named Emma, a boy named Charlie, a fountain of youth, and what happens when you’re stuck at seventeen. It’s got this wonderfully huge scope, shifting back and forth from current day Dallas and Emma solving a series of murders to the Emma and Charlie of the past and how they came to be separated for 100 years. Oh my gosh, I love this book! I can hardly wait to tell everyone more about it.
Joy Preble is a Texas girl who was born and raised in Chicago and a former high school teacher who now writes full time, which means she gets paid for making up stuff. She earned an English degree from Northwestern University and speaks and teaches widely on writing and literacy at libraries and schools, as well as SCBWI, NCTE, AWP, and other conferences. For more information, go to http://joypreble.com/.
I’ll give away a copy of Joy’s book Finding Paris to someone who leaves a comment. So be sure to comment.
The winner of last week’s giveaway, a print copy of Unbreakable, is Cassandra from Ontario, Canada. Cassandra, email your mailing address to email@example.com. Congratulations!