ALL FOUR KIDS: AN INTERVIEW WITH MARY ELIZABETH SUMMER, AUTHOR OF TRUST ME, I’M LYING

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Today we get a peek inside the mind of OneFourKidLit author Mary Elizabeth Summer. Her debut Trust me, I’m Lying came out on October 14th. Do yourself a favor and go get a copy. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

Here’s the book’s official blurb:

Fans of Ally Carter’s Heist Society novels will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

TrustMeImLying-198x300Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

AMAZON | B&NBAM | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’SGOODREADS

ML: I LOVED Trust Me, I’m Lying like whoa! I couldn’t put it down. I mean I devoured this book in one sitting—I just had to find out how it all turned out. Julep’s voice is a new favorite of mine for sure. In fact, can I be Julep when I grow up? Seriously, she’s amazing! Where did she come from? What drew you to writing from the perspective of a teenage con artist in the first place?

MES: Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it! And believe me, I’d like to be Julep when I grow up, too. 😉 I can’t really take credit for her. I have no idea where she came from. I went to bed one night after watching back-to-back episodes of Leverage and White Collar, thinking “Man, I’d love to read a book with a teenage con artist protagonist.” And then I woke up the next morning with Julep’s voice in my head. I excavated her story, rather than wrote it. I think what made me stick with it, though, what made me race to finish the first draft, was that Julep is so different from me. I grew up the goody-two-shoes that was always correcting people’s behavior and following the rules. But I longed for freedom—the kind of freedom that Julep just expects. She’s brave and confident in a way that I still wish I was.

ML: Quite a large chunk of Trust Me, I’m Lying takes place in an elite Catholic prep school. Did you attend Catholic school yourself?

MES: Nope! But I did go to a very small liberal arts women’s college in the middle of nowhere upstate New York, so I drew a lot from that experience (and from the experience of others I know who have gone to private Catholic schools).

ML: Sing it with me: “This … Is … myyyy kind of town, Chicago is … my kind of town …” What made you set Trust Me, I’m Lying in Chicago?

MES: Whenever I think of con artists, I sort of get this prohibition-era 1920’s sort of vibe. And whenever I think of prohibition-era 1920’s, I think of Chicago. I’m not really sure why, but it probably has something to do with movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read and internalized. Anyway, that’s why I picked Chicago. I wanted a city that said “crime” but in a smart and sophisticated kind of way.

ML: There are so many great twists and turns! I gotta say, I’m usually really good at guessing, but you, my friend, have a real talent for keeping readers like me on our toes. There’s one thing in particular that I had to read about four times to make sure I read it right, that it really happened. How much planning went into all the twists? Did any happen that surprised even you?

MES: Yes! All of them! This is what I meant earlier by excavating rather than writing. That one particular twist you had to read four times (I know which one it was, because I also had to read it a bunch of times as I was writing it)–that one came as a complete shock, and it scared the pants off me, too, which is how I knew it was right. But, man, was I in denial about it for a few weeks. And then it got worse when I revised and put in a bunch of stuff that made me regret that twist even more. But what are you gonna do? Most of the twists happened that way. I’d be writing along, enjoying things, and then WHAM, a character shows up and breaks everything. Pesky characters.

ML: Your secondary Characters are so, so, so good. Who was your favorite to write?

MES: I enjoyed all of them for different reasons, but probably the one I enjoy writing the most is Dani. English isn’t her first language, and I get a kick out of mangling it when she gets upset. Plus, writing from her perspective is uniquely challenging. I say that Julep is my opposite, but we do share a lot of background things in common: American white girl with a decent education. Dani is WAY outside my experience, like from-a-different-planet outside my experience. I’m still not sure I did her justice, really, but I tried.

ML: Speaking of secondary characters, I know there’s a certain person who wears a certain coat I wouldn’t mind reading more about. Would you ever consider writing anything from any other characters’ POV?

MES: Funny you should ask that. There’s a novella that’s coming out in between Trust Me, I’m Lying and the sequel Trust Me, I’m Trouble that’s half someone else’s perspective. Not the person you’re talking about—ahem—but somebody else. Don’t worry, though! Coat-wearer is very much present in the novella and Trust Me, I’m Trouble, so you’ll get plenty more of that dynamic. 😉

ML: Trust Me, I’m Lying was one of Teen Vogue’s 15 most exciting YA books coming out this year and it was an Autumn 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List pick! How did that feel?

MES: Pretty freaking fantastic. I think I broke a window with my squeeing. (I have a very high-pitched squee.)

ML: There’s a sequel, right? Can you tell us anything about it? Will we be seeing any of our old favorites? *coughSamcough*

MES: Are you kidding? All of these characters are far too nosey and narcissistic to just walk off stage. Well, one of them walks off stage. But all the others are back in action for book two, with a few new ones sprinkled in to keep us all guessing. And if you think there are twists in book 1, well, prepare yourself for book 2. It’s a doozy. *coughSamcough*

ML: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of, and something you’re not afraid of. 

MES: If there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s letting people down. It kept me up last night, in fact. I do take on too much for that reason, and I should probably teach myself how to say ‘no’ someday, but for now, I’ll just keep pouring my 12 pounds of flour into my 2-pound sack.

One thing I’m NOT afraid of is public speaking. People are just people, and if you talk to them like you’re having a conversation with them, it’s easy, even for this giant introvert (*points at self*). Plus, if you’re lucky enough to be speaking about something you love (like me and writing), then the passion and excitement bleeds through, and the audience becomes passionate and excited, too.

Thank you SO MUCH, Fearless Fifteeners, for having me on the blog today! And welcome to the debut author club! *high fives*

ML: Thank you for joining us! Now we’ll all try our best to wait patiently for Trust Me, I’m Trouble.

MESummerMary Elizabeth Summer contributes to the delinquency of minors by writing books about unruly teenagers with criminal leanings. She has a BA in creative writing from Wells College, and her philosophy on life is “you can never go wrong with sriracha sauce.” She lives in Portland Oregon with her wife, their daughter, and their evil overlor—er, cat. Visit her at mesummer.com and be sure to follow @mesummerbooks on Twitter.

Michelle Levy squaredMichelle Levy grew up in Littleton, Colorado, but moved to Los Angeles as soon as she was legally allowed because she hates driving in the snow. When she’s not writing, she’s likely working at her other job as a casting director for film and television or skulking about (and occasionally posting—she’s working on that) on Twitter. Her debut, NOT AFTER EVERYTHING, will be released on August 4. 2015 from Dial.
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