Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Noelle August.
August is a pseudonym for Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger, co-authors of Bounce (William Morrow Paperbacks, $13.99)—the final novel in the Boomerang trilogy, out today. Ms. Rossi is also the author of the New York Times bestselling YA trilogy UNDER THE NEVER SKY, which has been optioned for film by Warner Bros. and is available in more than thirty countries. Ms. Oberweger is a longtime independent editor and an award-winning author who has also ghostwritten a variety of projects. Her work has received starred reviews from Kirkus and been mentioned favorably in The New York Times. Rossi and Oberweger met at a writing workshop.
In their advance review of Bounce, RT Book Reviews praised: “August’s original and refreshing voice manages to successfully circumvent the heavily laden cliché traps found littered throughout the new adult genre. With fully developed characters, laugh-out-loud moments and smart dialogue, Bounce is a stand-out read.”
From the publisher:
Following in the bestselling tradition of Molly McAdams and J. Lynn, this final chapter in the fun and steamy New Adult trilogy by Noelle August (authors Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger) features two aspiring musicians who must choose between their careers…and their sizzling attraction for each other.
Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part.
Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real and not at all “acted. ”
After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought.
Skyler and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them.
Now, the authors known as Noelle August reflect on their serendipitous collaboration …
Hartford Books Examiner: BOUNCE marks the conclusion of the Boomerang series. Was the story arc always envisioned as a trilogy? (If not, what inspired you to bring things to a close now?) Also, what are the challenges that come with trying to balance reader surprise with satisfaction?
Veronica Rossi: The series was always designed to be a trilogy but, now that it’s completed, Lorin and I miss working together. No official plans to speak of yet, but we’ve talked about continuing the series somehow.
As for balancing reader surprise and satisfaction, I think sometimes surprise can be satisfaction! That said, with a romance novel, some expectations must be met so, you’re right: it is a balancing act. Generally, Lorin and I navigate that balance by staying true to our instincts and to our characters. And, with the two of us working together on the books, we always had each other as sounding-boards, which was great.
Lorin Oberweger: I completely agree! The only thing I’d add is that sometimes you can also earn great reader satisfaction (and authorial satisfaction, for that matter), but subverting some of the genre expectations in small but notable ways.
For example, I personally hate, hate, hate the notion of “frenemies” in fiction (not to mention in life). I know too many girls and women with incredible female support systems to perpetrate that trope. So, in BOUNCE, where there was a real potential point of conflict between three friends, it was fun to think of ways to play that out that felt authentic and true but unexpected in some way as well.
I think you can find other examples in all of our work, coming from both of us—small surprises in character and circumstance that are satisfying BECAUSE they’re played a bit against expectation. At least I hope that’s true!
HBE: In your collective opinion, what makes Skyler and Grey relatable – both individually and as a couple? How do you achieve familiarity without having your characters become cliché?
VR: I think the key to writing relatable, familiar, and authentic characters is to make them multi-faceted and complex. They have to have successes and failures, flaws and strengths. Their view of the world has to be specifically theirs. Also, real people often behave in contradictory ways. They might say or do something that actually goes against what they think, or what they want. In BOUNCE, you see both Skyler and Grey go through this as they try to work out their relationship and their own lives. So, in a nutshell, I think they’re relatable because they’re imperfect.
LO: Exactly. And it’s sometimes feels like there’s a little more breathing room for imperfect male characters in romance fiction than for female ones, though maybe that’s my perception. I’m not sure if allowing characters of both genders to be flawed and make dumb choices is universally a key to making them relatable, but for Veronica and me, I think it felt essential.
HBE: These books are considered “new adult”. How does this genre differ from YA – and what do you find to be the greatest liberties in writing something that transcends the young adult demographic?
VR: New Adult main characters are usually older than YA’s, and the stories tend to skew more heavily toward romance. There are few limitations in YA nowadays but New Adult novels, as a whole, are for readers specifically looking for more mature themes and content than YA. That said, there are always gradations within both genres!
HBE: Given that “Noelle August” is a pseudonym, can you tell us what your collaborative process is like? Also, what do you find to be a) the greatest benefit of writing with another person, and b) the greatest challenge?
VR: Prior to writing, Lorin and I usually met for a long weekend to brainstorm and plot the novel. Then, since we live on opposite coasts, we would just pass the document back and forth to draft, and then to revise it. The fun has certainly been the best part. We’ve laughed a lot writing these three books! And I’d say the challenge was syncing up both of our busy schedules.
LO: Yes, the collaborative structure—each of us taking charge of a single viewpoint—really worked great, especially for a romance. It was exciting and gratifying to fall in love with Veronica’s characters as MY characters got to know them. The element of surprise and delight was really strong.
And I agree, re: syncing up schedules. Veronica is an awesomely disciplined writer, and I tend to be a “binge writer,” which means that I let things just stir around in my head until I’m ready (or forced by deadlines) to slap them down. I had to learn to work at a consistent pace. Or try to do so!
HBE: For those readers who have read all three Boomerang novels and are looking for other recommendations, what authors/titles would you suggest and why?
VR: For New Adult, I love Cora Carmack, Sophie Jordan, and J. Lynn’s novels. I’m also a big fan of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, which is upper YA/New Adult, and for fantasy lovers. I’ll leave it at that, because if I start recommending novels for adults and young adults, this column will go on a lot longer.
LO: For other contemporary romance, with humor, you can’t go wrong with Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For NA, I agree with V’s recommendations and would add Colleen Hoover and Megan Erickson, too. And yes, general book recommendations would fill approximately six-hundred blog screens!
HBE: Leave us with a teaser: what comes next?
VR: I’ve got a YA coming up in February called RIDERS. It’s a modern fantasy about four teens who become incarnations of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Lots of action, laughs and, of course, romance. I’m also developing a few other things on the side, but nothing I’m able to discuss just yet.
LO: So, so many ideas. Right now, what’s percolating is a work of YA suspense with a bit of an unusual structure. I’m also working on a wonderful ghostwriting project that I’m not at liberty to discuss, but it’s been really gratifying, and I think it will be a helpful and important book. Vague answer, FTW!
Thanks so much for having us!
With thanks to Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger for their generosity of time and thought and to Megan Schumann, Publicist at HarperCollins Publishers, for facilitating this interview.