November 16, 2015

Interview with Dahlia Adler, Author of Just Visiting

The Author


I'm an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I do a whole lot of writing at every spare moment in between. I've also been a Production Intern and Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster, a Publicity Intern at HarperCollins, and a Fashion Intern at Maxim. (I'm kind of into that whole publishing thing.)

I'm the author of the Daylight Falls duology (consisting of Behind the Scenes and Under the Lights), the upcoming Just Visiting, and the NA novel Last Will and Testament.  For information on those books and where you can buy them, check out My Books!

I live in New York City with my husband and our overstuffed bookshelves,

The Book

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas. 

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican. 

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave. 

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

The Interview

Emma: What drew you to write about high school girls going on college visits?
Dahlia: The impetus for the book was really about wanting to write a solid friendship between girls in YA. I was in a reading rut where it seemed like every female secondary character was a frenemy, and I wanted to combat that. But high school is a very particular type of setting that does a lot of the work for you, in the sense that you don't have to make a real conscious effort to see your classmates every day, and I wanted to dip beyond that and explore the particularly tenuous time when you're making decisions about the future and aren't sure how your current experiences fit into that. 

Emma: When writing Just Visiting, did you connect more with Reagan or Victoria?
Dahlia: That's actually something I think really changed for me mid-book. Victoria and her family were really out of my wheelhouse - they're Mexican-American, her mother is Deaf, her brother's in the Peace Corps, her passion in life (fashion) involves visual artistry and crafting skill - whereas Reagan's, well, white, bookish, and bitter. I thought for sure she'd be the POV I more closely aligned with, because I was just more comfortable writing her. But the more I wrote, the more I realized I had in common with Vic, coming from a culturally strong background, with a nice home life, and a lot of anxieties about what to do with her life even though she knows what she by the end I think I flipped from Rae to her.

Emma: What do you think is most important when writing about friendships?
Dahlia: Not to associate the ones that require more work with being bad. Yes, there are some people you click with and trust in every way, and that's fantastic; some friendships are easy and fluid and magical. But not everyone is capable of connecting with people in that way, and that's okay too. There's so much to be said for wanting to, for putting in the effort, for sticking with someone even though it can be a battle. (This is why Bea and Lish from Corey Haydu's OCD Love Story is one of my favorite friendships in YA.) Reagan and Victoria aren't flawless besties, but I believe in their future because they're willing to work at it to get there together. 

Emma: If Just Visiting was being made into a movie and you had a say in it, who would you cast?
Dahlia: Thank you, Pinterest, for the fact that I already have answers for this! I'd love to see Maddie Hasson as Reagan, Naya Rivera as Victoria, and Raymond Ablack as Dev. Still looking for actors for the rest, but I feel pretty set on those three!

Emma: If you could hang out with three YA heroes/heroines for a day, who would you choose and why?
Dahlia: Ooh, good question! Audrey, from Robin Benway's Audrey, Wait! because fun things seem to happen when she's around, plus she's also a music person; Liv, from Rachael Allen's The Revenge Playbook, because she's just so full of the best energy, I had a crush on her almost instantly; and Julep, from Trust Me, I'm Lying and Trust Me, I'm Trouble, by Mary Elizabeth Summer, because even though I'd probably get myself killed after five minutes with her, she's just so much fun, it'd probably be worth it.  

Emma: You're a big presence on Twitter in the book/blogging world (I've seen you referred to as the "recing ball"). How do you balance that with your day job and writing?
Dahlia: Well I definitely don't tweet while I'm at work or while writing... *shiftiest of the shifty eyes* It's kinda something I just do without even thinking. My phone is always at my side, I'm always on a computer, and...I have a lot of things to say, apparently!  

Emma: Speaking of other has working as a copy editor affected you as a writer?
Dahlia: I'm not sure it really does. I think it probably used to more, but I make errors just like everyone else, and need my copy editors just like everyone else! The only big thing is that sometimes I have struggle with the choice to go with character voice over proper grammar, when I don't think a character would say "whom," for example; like, that was not a word I used as a teen. I feel like a traitor to My People when I do that.  

Emma: Can you recommend three YA titles that seem to have flown under the radar?
Dahlia: ALWAYS. The two debuts that have struck me the hardest this year as being the most incredibly confidently and well written, as well as bold, are definitely ones I'm not hearing people talk about nearly enough: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert (which is extra frustrating, because I think it would actually cross over into adult well) and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. I also really, really loved What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi, which has a really great and honest male POV about teen parenthood, and I wish I saw people talking about it more!  

Emma: Finally, signature question time: what's your favorite fairytale and why?

Dahlia: At the risk of being a total heretic here, I've actually never been a huge fairytale person. I've never even read or seen most of them. But now when I think of fairytales, I think of Melissa Grey's really thoughtful and articular Twitter treatise on the character of Cinderella as a really well-drawn abuse survivor, and it's given me the biggest soft spot for that story. 

Emma: Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

You can find Dahlia and Just Visiting (and her other books) at the links below:
Dahlia's website:
Just Visiting at Read Between the Lynes:

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