Monday, June 09, 2008

What's Fresh with Rachel Vail's Lucky (& a Giveaway!)

It's all good . . . and lucky Phoebe Avery plans to celebrate by throwing an end-of-the-year bash with her four closest friends. Everything will be perfect—from the guest list to the fashion photographer to the engraved invitations. The only thing left to do is find the perfect dress . . . until Phoebe goes from having it all to hiding all she's lost.

Phoebe's older sisters warn her to keep the family's crisis totally secret. Unfortunately, her alpha-girl best friend looks increasingly suspicious, and Phoebe's crush starts sending seriously mixed signals. Phoebe tries hard to keep smiling, but when her mother is humiliated in Neiman Marcus while buying Phoebe that perfect dress and her father decides to cancel her party, she panics. How far will she go to keep up her image as a lucky girl?

With lucky, Rachel Vail begins a powerful sisterhood trilogy, comprised of one book for each of the three fascinating Avery sisters, with all their secrets laid bare during the year that completely changes their lives. Phoebe is the youngest; her story combines first love and flip-flops, friendship and sisterhood, humor and tears. Breezy, witty, and poignant, lucky is Rachel Vail at her breathtaking best.

Hello, Rachel, thanks so much for joining us! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background
and how you made your first sale?

Rachel: I never wanted to be a writer, growing up. Though my nickname in camp was bookworm and reading was my favorite activity, though I craved stories more even than food and wrote poems and books all the time, I thought that to be a writer you had to be good at spelling (ugh) and handwriting (couldn't master cursive) and then, when I got older and wiser, that to be a writer you had to be very old if not dead.

I just liked stories. Also, sentences.

In college, my dreams of becoming a spy were dashed when I found all my classes unbearably boring. I took a playwrighting class for fun and it changed everything. Writing in that class wasn't fussy. It was work, and it was fun. I decided to become a playwright, director, and actor.

That didn't work out either, because I got an idea for a character who had to blurt out her inner life... she needed a novel to tell her story. So I quit my theater job and moved home with my parents to write it. That became my first book, WONDER. After it was written, I sent out letters to every agent listed in every reference book in my library, and got a big pile of rejections along with a very small pile of acceptances. Then I waited for something to happen, and meanwhile started my second book. Bored, I moved for the summer to Martha's Vineyard, where I worked as a nanny and in a bookstore. While there I met Judy Blume, who was the most generous and kind and funny person, exactly as amazing as I had always wished and imagined she would be -- and she loved my book! She introduced me to her agent and her editor (at Orchard books) and launched my career. I am so lucky to have met her -- and to have her still in my life as a role model and colleague, plus as a friend and confidant.

Wow, how wonderful, Rachel! Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Rachel: My typical day:

Make a pot of tea.
Get the kids up and out to school.
Drink tea and read the newspaper.
Approach the computer warily, sneaking at it sideways.
Reread the stuff I wrote yesterday.
Drink more tea.
Write in my notes file about how little I know about where the book is going or what to do next.
Realize I need to check something in the newspaper or on the blogs or email.
Realize I spent much too long on that.
Alphebetize the refrigerator.
Dash back to the computer, ambushing it.
Write more in my notes file, mainly question about my characters and what they want.
Figure out a small something; resist the fear that probably it won't work.
Smile a little.
Remember I didn't hit save recently and burst into a sweat.
Hit save.
Reread, edit.
Yoga or run.
Think of a good thing mid-workout that makes what I wrote earlier not quite work anymore.
Rewrite it in a mad dash because otherwise I'll be late for pickup.
Run to school.
Did I save that last version?
Dash home.
Make fresh pot of tea.

haha! Great, Rachel! Please tell us about your latest novel, LUCKY and what we can expect from your characters.

Rachel: My newest novel is called LUCKY. It was published by HarperCollins, on April 29, 2008. It is the first book in a trilogy about three sisters, and I am so excited about it. Here is a starred review it just got from Bulletin!:
Middle-school graduation is approaching, and despite some differences of opinion among the hostesses, Phoebe's excited about the huge graduation party that she's planning with her friends. When her mother
loses her lucrative job in high-powered finance, however, the comfortably moneyed world of Phoebe and her two older sisters takes an alarming turn. Already uneasy about the snobbery of her best friend, Kirstyn, and the shifting planes of insider- and outsiderdom within her clique, Phoebe stubbornly refuses to share the news with her friends and tries to figure out a way to kill the party she can no longer afford to host without denting her social status. What could be a superficial tale about a girl whose tragedy is having to pass up a $400 dress becomes, under the skilled hands of Rachel Vail, a highly readable, thoughtfully nuanced account of a fourteen-year-old just beginning to realize how lucky she has really been. The book has clear sympathy for Phoebe's position - she really is worried about her mother, and Kirstyn really does dismiss people summarily for lesser crimes - but it doesn't let her off the hook, either: not only does her dad very appropriately take her to task for her questionable priorities in a family crisis, it turns out that Phoebe has been underestimating Kirstyn, who has silently been a better friend to Kirstyn than Phoebe has been to her. We've had more dramatic sagas of
the sudden fall from wealth, but this is superior for its realism, its moderation (Phoebe isn't a snobby princess, just a young person who can't quite grasp that what she's accustomed to isn't quite the norm any more), and its understated complexity of characters and relationships. Readers will drink up the drama and impatiently await the planned follow-up titles. (STARRED)

Awesome, review! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Rachel: The next book, called GORGEOUS, is the sequel to LUCKY, and will be published by HarperCollins in Spring '09. It is told from the perspective of Allison, Phoebe's 15-year-old sister. Here is the first look at the front flap of GORGEOUS:
She's looking good...but Allison Avery can't believe it. Growing up with beautiful, blonde sisters, Allison has always been the dark-haired, "interesting looking" Avery. So when the Devil shows up and offers to make her gorgeous, Allison jumps at the chance to finally get noticed. But there's one tiny catch, and it's not her soul; the Devil wants her cell phone.

Though her deal with Devil seemed like a good idea at the time, Allison soon realizes that being gorgeous isn't as easy as it looks. Are her new friends and boyfriend for real, or do they just like her pretty face? Allison can't trust anyone anymore, and her possessed phone and her family's financial crisis aren't making things any easier. Plus, when she finds out that she might be America's next top teen model, all hell breaks loose. Allison may be loosing control, but how far is she willing to go to stay gorgeous forever?

Following the critically acclaimed LUCKY, Rachel Vail continues her poignant sisterhood trilogy with the rebellious middle Avery sister, Allison. Fiery, sarcastic, and just plain fun, GORGEOUS captures the heartbreak and hilarity in one girl's attempt to have it all.

Thank you again, Rachel! I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Rachel: My writing tips:

Read, read, read - but mostly read what you love

Write in your private journal (that's a life/coping tip at least as much as a writing tip)

Love your characters and your story much more than your words - be ruthless about throwing out words, pages, chapters in allegiance to improving the story.

Know everything about your characters, but especially this:
What do I want?
(Is what I really want the opposite of what I think I want?)
What am I willing to risk to get it?
Who is stopping me from getting it?

Tell something true.

Have fun.

Rachel Vail is the author of The Friendship Ring series, as well as Wonder, Do-Over, Ever After, and Daring to be Abigail. She has also written the picture books Over the Moon and Sometimes I'm Bombaloo, and a series of early-reader books called Mama Rex & T. Rachel lives in New York City with her husband and two sons. Visit her website,

Post a comment and you'll be entered to win a free copy of Rachel's LUCKY!! Winner will be announced Wednesday. :)

32 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

This trilogy sounds fantastic! And Lucky You, Rachel, getting Judy Blume to mentor you!

Alea said...

I really like the idea of a trilogy about 3 sisters! I think because they are related it could make for an interesting story, they can have their own stories but they will all overlap and weave into each other. I hadn't know that about this book!

Tasha said...

This sounds like such a great book (and trilogy). I especially love the cover!!

Liz said...

As the middle of three sisters, I'm really looking forward to this trilogy!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds like a great book! Definitely enter me for this one!

Meredith said...

I just finished reading Lucky over the weekend and I loved it! I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in the trilogy! I hate that it will take a few years though... But that's how it goes, I guess.

And, Yay! Contest!

Jessica Burkhart said...

Excellent writing tips! :)

Elainareads said...

This book sounds great I would love to read it. =D

C.R. Evers said...

Sounds awesome! I want a dress like that! :0) I'll look forward to reading it!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book, enter me.

Kayla (Midnight Twilight)

Breanna said...

I've seen this book reviewed a few times. It looks really good. I'd love to have a copy!

Great writing tips as well.


Lenore said...

Wow - I am so impressed that Judy Blume is your mentor, Rachel! And the books sound very entertaining.

Emily said...

Well, since she was mentored by my most favorite childhood author, Judy Blume, I just HAVE TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK!!!!
This was a fun interview and the novel sounds wonderful- I am really looking forward to reading it.
~Emily in AZ

Khyrinthia said...

Great interview. The book sounds pretty good.


Penguin/Melody said...

I would love to have a copy!!i

Cara King said...

What is it about tea? It's like a writer's addiction.

Whenever I'm aiming to write a large amount, it's earl grey for me. Otherwise, black tea. Always with milk, no sugar.

Maybe the little writing elves living in my brain are miniature tea addicts?


The Book Muncher said...

i really enjoyed Lucky. i'm excited for Gorgeous!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book


softindierocker said...

I have two sisters as well! (I'm the middle child) Lol, I reserved this book from my library, and it looks fantastic! =) I especially loved your writing day schedule, lol! =D Thanks for the contest!

~Lucy D =)

daniahead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anum Mustafa said...

Omg. *squeals* RACHEL'S NEW BOOK!
I must must must must read it. Did I say must? I love your writing schedule, by the way. It sounds fun; I want that!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview!!
And this souunds like a really good book, I really want to read it now!!
Enter me please!
Grace L

Anonymous said...

Great interview.
I'll have to check out the book.

Marjolein said...

Great interview! i love the green dress on the cover!

fashionable librarian said...

The book sounds great! The description of a typical day for Rachel was so funny!

Carol said...

I've been wanting to read this book for a while. Please enter me int he contest.

Lauren said...

This book sounds very good. So enter me!!

avni said...

this book looks so good! I can't wait to read it!!

mandypanda said...

omg, this sounds like such a cool book!! I used to read Rachel Vail books when I was younger (the Friendship Ring series)!! It would be so awesome to read another one of her books! I don't have any sisters, or anyone as close as a sister, so it'd be nice to read what it's like to have two! =)

Kelly Parra said...

Thank you, Everyone! The contest is now CLOSED. Winner announced shortly!

Celise said...

I like when she said this: "Read, read, read - but mostly read what you love". it reminded me of the "be true to yourself" statement. As much I love writing for teens, I don't read books in that genre. I'm addicted to adult romance books and barely graduated from high school because I read them so much. LOL.

It's funny because all the books I read about on here--not to mention the ones listed in the sidebar-- look really interesting, but that's as far as it goes for me. Maybe it's because I wasn't reading when YA when I WAS teenager that I don't feel inclined to read them now. I don't know. I'm still analyzing that. LOL

But I love coming to this blog, seeing what's coming out and reading the author interviews. I still want to be informed.

Little Willow said...

Silly question: Will GORGEOUS truly be Faustian with a touch of fantasy, as the summary makes it sound, or will it be a realistic drama like LUCKY? I am assuming the Devil to which the summary refers is a flesh-and-blood person (like a classmate or someone she really doesn't like and just calls the Devil) and that it's all being said in an overstated way, but, as a bookseller, I know some folks will assume it's fantasy/Faust/satire. (Like Maureen Johnson's tasty novel DEVILISH!)