Hey everyone! I am so excited to have Mia on my blog today. I’m the next stop on the Jerkbait blog tour which is fun. I’ll be interviewing her. 🙂
If you haven’t heard of Jerkbait, I’ll share the summary and cover with you. I’ll also be sharing some pre-order links for those who would like to pre-order the book, which I highly recommend. Jerkbait sounds beyond amazing. Family, darkness, sports, mental health, yes please.
Published: May 3, 2016 (Jolly Fish Press)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Themes: Sports, Mental Health, Suicide, LGBT, Predators
Even though they’re identical, Tristan isn’t close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself.
Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other’s lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can’t escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie’s future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer.
As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie’s secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?
If you had to (and you do) compare your main characters to characters in musicals who would you choose and why?
Tristan would be Veronica from Heathers because of his wavering insecurity, the way he grows as a character, the guilt he carries (there’s one mistake Veronica makes that leads to someone’s suicide attempt) and love/hate relationship with Heather. Robbie would be Achilles from Paris because he’s unhappy with life, angry, looked up to, and gay.
I love the different topics dealt with in Jerkbait such as hockey, pressure from colleges, being secretly gay, mental health and online predators. How did you work on balancing each of these aspects?
I think it was more natural for me than some. I really love writing far-reaching stories, and always have. Maybe from the years of RPing from different animes like “D.Gray-man” with all of the characters and their own plot lines, I don’t know. I had to tone back the role of the online predator in the final version, which I was pretty bummed about, but it would have taken away from Tristan’s growth and Robbie’s storyline.
What is it that draws you to Young Adult fiction and specifically darker contemporary?
It feels like home. I like the aspect of coming-of-age stories and, for years like I’d mentioned in question two, RPed, cosplayed, whatever with mostly teenaged characters. For the darkness, I just love it. The grittier, the edgier, the more fearless—it catches my breath. I think that’s also because, in general, I don’t get humor in writing. Sure, if I watch a Mel Brooks’ film, I laugh hysterically, and I enjoy comedies, but in text, that doesn’t translate in my brain at all. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed when reading a book. And well, with contemporary, I can visualize it very well. With fantasy and certain bits of science fiction, I can’t suspend disbelief. I try, and it’s no fault of the authors—it’s just me.
How has writing Jerkbait impacted your life?
I’ve learned who my real friends are. I’ve also had very envious people come out of nowhere trying to tear me down for the years of hard work to get me where I am. But, mostly, I feel like now I have some amazing people to chat with since I’m usually constantly lonely—like, I mean, seriously, when I got my ARCs I was so excited to open them until I realized I had no one to be with me to experience it, so I did it on Periscope.
On that same topic, Jerkbait deals with dark topics such as attempted suicide and predators, was this really draining for you? Did it impact your daily life, mental health and/or mood when writing?
In general*, not really as I’ve openly suffered from depression for most of my life. It’s only been in the past few years where I’ve learned what it’s meant to be happy, so I think it was just something consistent and there. However, that said, the parts that were draining were in relation to the book originating as a semi-autobiographical piece as I had to relive some awful moments.
I’m a music fiend, so this is a mandatory question/command. Choose a theme song each for Robbie, Tristan and Jerkbait.
Great question! Not long ago, I actually made a playlist for Jerkbait with Chris Loke (Executive Editor at Jolly Fish Press) that was hosted on Books and Ladders. It’s hard choosing just one theme song because both characters change so much, so I’ll stick with the beginning. For the beginning, “Born Slippy” by Underworld would be Robbie’s, “Counting On Me” by KoRn would be Tristan’s, and for Jerkbait as a whole, “Ny Batteri” by Sigur Ros (which is what originally gave me the idea).
I read that Jerkbait first began as a short story which involved Tristan being a lacrosse player and Robbie being an artist. Besides the obvious changes, of course, what were some changes you made when expanding Jerkbait from a short story to the novel it is now?
The short story revolved around prom and “Jimmy” being Robbie’s best friend/crush who decided, at eighteen, to get married to this girl. So I think some pretty huge changes in terms of what the book’s about now! Although I will say this—the personalities of Tristan and Robbie never changed. Robbie was always loud and arrogant for the exterior, and Tristan was very quiet and stoic.
If you could give advice to Robbie and Tristan, what would it be?
To Robbie, to get help, see a guidance counselor at school, anything to break from their parents. And to Tristan, to be strong and realize that he’s not worth less than Robbie—that he deserves to be heard.
Do you have any other novels that are in the works currently?
Yes! I’m adding some words to one novel per my agent’s suggestion, and I have three others I’d started and are in various stages of completion. Only one is YA (the others are adult thriller and literary fiction)
If you could give your past self only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Probably to slow down and deal with bullying a different way. I think I made it harder for myself with my need to be recognized for work. Also, I would tell myself to be a better student. Until grad school, I was mediocre at best. I could have, and should have, done more.
Favorite movie: Silence of the Lambs
Favorite book: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
Coffee or tea: Tea.
Winter or Summer: Winter (Hockey!)
Guilty Pleasure: Garbage shows on Netflix.
Robbie or Tristan (Cruel, I know): Keisha. (Seriously, you expected me to choose between them? Plus, why wouldn’t people choose Keisha since she’s awesome?!)
So, I have another reason to watch Heathers and check out Paris. 😉 Toning the online predator back sounds interesting. I can see how that would impact the twins’ relationship in Jerkbait though. Still though, I’d love to read the ‘uncensored’ version. Lol. I love darker and gritty YA! Comedy does seem to work better as a visual thing than written.
I LOVED reading the tweets about the Periscope ARC experience. I love how important it is to share things with people, even people who are “online”. Technology does a great thing with connecting people. 🙂 I can imagine it’d be draining basing some experiences off your own, especially in a book so dark. I like Sigur Ros! But that song title doesn’t ring any bells, so I’ll listen to it later.
It sounds like there’s quite a bit of variety being written for future works. The literary fiction sounds really interesting. I haven’t seen Silence of The Lambs nor read Lord of Misrule. I am apparently very behind. 😉 Thanks for the fantastic answers Mia!
If you’d like to keep up with Mia, here is where you can find her on the internet: