Publication: June 5th 2014 by The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Sixteen-year-old Lily O’Brien has one goal in life—to sing. Her dream is to get into a topnotch college vocal program, but the summer before her junior year, her high school cuts their awarding-winning vocal ensemble. She might as well kiss her dreams goodbye.
When the snobby new neighbors move into their mansion up the hill, Lily is positive summer can’t get any worse, and she’s determined to hate and ignore them—until she meets Aiden.
He’s broken and beautiful, and they become reluctant friends. Through her newfound friendship, she finds the strength to step outside the comfort of her plan and follow her dream.
But when Lily’s family is about to lose their home, she puts her wishes aside and finds the answer to save their generations-old ranch in the last place she expected.
An Interview with René Gilley.
“Follow you dreams, follow your heart, love your family and Just Sing.”
Welcome to my stop in the Just Sing blog tour! Today I have Miss René to answer some questions about her fantastic debut YA novel, Just Sing! I got the chance to read it in advance so if you want to check out my review, click here.
1. Did you always know that you were going to be an author?
– No, I found writing later in life. In fact, my college freshman creative writing teacher basically told me I sucked at writing and to avoid it if I could. I always loved stories, books, and movies and would create stories in my head. I found writing later in life through a friend who was writing fan fiction and encouraged me to write my own stories. At the time, I had done corporate communications or business writing at my corporation and had learned the basics of writing so I was able to express my stories well. I dub myself more a storyteller who is using writing as my vehicle to share my characters and stories with the world.
2. What was the process behind writing Just Sing?
– I had written these characters, Aiden and Lily, in a story I did for fun. The genre and backdrop was nothing like Just Sing, but I loved the characters so I created a world for them to live in. I wrote the first draft and it was very rough. Three quarters of the book was in Lily’s POV and the last quarter or ending was in Aiden’s POV. My beta readers didn’t like the POV change. I then chang edit to all of Lily’s POV. Also in that draft I ended where Lily had already gotten to Marshall Academy. I took the feedback from my beta readers and the input I got from an intensive editing course and created the final version of Just Sing.
3. First thing you did after you finished writing your book.
– It was 2 am here in California and I was so excited I wanted to scream, but couldn’t since my family was asleep upstairs. Instead, I sent my friend who encouraged me to start writing in the first place, an email and then had an orange and cream popsicle to celebrate. I was on such a high I didn’t sleep at all that night.
4. Lily is an amazing character. What was it like writing her?
– Now that I’ve been writing I realize I’m a character driven writer, meaning my characters dictate their path and my stories. Lily pretty much took over and demanded her story be told. I agree, she’s amazing and I hope she’s an inspiration for anyone who has a dream and despite the obstacles or naysayers don’t give up on it.
5. What are some traits that you admire about her?
– I love that she knows she’s pretty and talented, but doesn’t let it get to her head, her humbled confidence is endearing. I love her dedication to her family and how she balances it with chasing her dreams.
6. How is Aiden doing by the way after Just Sing?
– Aiden is still a bit bitter about the situations of his life, but very humbled after meeting the force of Lily O’Brien. But what you have to realize is that there is a method to Aiden’s madness. Granted he didn’t make the best decisions, but once all is revealed in the series you’ll understand the doings of Aiden Cohen.
7. What can we expect from the sequel and can you give us any details surrounding its release?
– The sequel is book two of three of the Seven Oaks Series. My goal is for it to be out next Mar/Apr of 2015, but I’m still finalizing a release date. My entire series was mapped out before I started writing and book 2, Going Home, is my favourite and the longest book of the series. It’s still in Lily’s POV, but we’ll get a good insight into the mind of Aiden Cohen and book three is planned from his POV. I also plan to write a pre-Just Sing novella staring Philip, how he came out, why he has a BFF that’s younger than him, how he met Chase, and created his band Left Turn. And depending on the success and the demand of the series, I might consider some more novellas. But the book series is a trilogy.
8. Who is your favourite artist or band?
I have several, but lately I’ve been loving Hunter Hayes, his classy humbleness and talent remind me of Ms. Lily O’Brien. I’ve also been a fan of Maroon 5 for ages, even before they and Adam got huge.
9. If your characters were in the Hunger Games, who do you think will have a greater chance of winning?
– Hands down Lily, she is Just Sing’s Katniss.
10. Who is your fan cast for Lily and Aiden?
– For Lily, I’m going to go with Ryan Newman, she totally has the eyes for it. And for Aiden I found two, one is older and one is younger, but James Maslow of Big Time Rush or Nick Merico from Nickelodeon. Now I just need to drive to the Burbank and beg a producer to make Just Sing into a movie or preferably a TV Series 🙂 I want it to be the contemporary version of TVD, the ranch and high school–small town and private artsy school–would make an awesome series.
About the Author.
By day, René Gilley works as a portfolio manager for a Fortune 50 company, but her nights and weekends are spent writing young adult and new adult romance books. Her brain never shuts off—always dreaming up new situations her characters can get into.
Her California home is often the backdrop for her books. Her debut novel, Just Sing of the Seven Oaks series, was years in the making. Like her character, René seeing Just Sing being published is a dream come true. She’s a wife, mother to two beautiful daughters, and has four dogs. She’s proud to be a triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) survivor and believes in giving back through book profits to charities that support breast cancer.
Praise for Just Sing:
Just Sing evolves mostly around Lily’s struggle with her family, the reality of her dreams, and her first relationship issues with the neighbors’ son Aiden. Honestly Lily is a truly amazing… She is strong-willed and her loyalty and love for her family is admirable. – Between Dreams and Reality Blog
With the popularity of shows like American Idol and The Voice, Gilley’s Just Sing promises to bring high engagement to any YA reader who dreams of the stage, lives the stage, or enjoys the stage as a spectator… – Fictionally Yours Blog
Just Sing was a complete and pleasant surprise. There’s not many YA novels out there that can capture my heart and soul wholly. And this book is definitely one of them. – The Quirky Reader