Hey! Lupita here! I’m joined today by the spectacular Christina June, a school counselor by day and a YA author by night. Christina enjoy traveling and eating delicious cupcakes. Her newest book Everywhere You Want to Be is a beautifully-written retelling of The Red Riding Hood. It’s filled with second chances, love, and self-discovery. Her book is available in bookstores now, so be sure to grab a copy at your local bookstore. And be sure to stick around until the end of the interview for a chance to win a Everywhere You Want To Be swag package featuring a signed bookmark, stickers, and a signed bookplate. Now let’s get to the interview!
Lupita: Hi, Christina June! I loved reading your new book Everywhere You Want To Be. Could you give our readers a glimpse into Tilly’s adventure?
Christina: Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. Everywhere You Want To Be is the story of Tilly, a girl trying to figure out where she’s supposed to be in her life and in her family. She’s always done what she’s told, but the summer after graduation she goes to New York to dance, secretly hoping her program will lead to a job offer so she can forgo college. What she gets is competition, a little sabotage, a second chance romance, and a revelation about the power of friends and allies.
Lupita: I can relate to Tilly’s struggle of wanting to please her mother but also wanting to pursue her passion of dance. Which character do you relate to the most?
Christina: I relate to Tatum, Tilly’s stepsister, and her sarcasm. She’s the hero of my fist novel, It Started With Goodbye, and is very much me at sixteen. I also believe strongly in what Sage, the choreographer, encourages the girls to do—look out for each other, take care of themselves and their teammates, look for the lessons in everything around us. It was a challenge to write Tilly, because she and I are not very alike at all, though I do love making lists.
Lupita: Tilly went through a setback when she broke her ankle, but that didn't keep her from dancing. Have you ever experienced a setback that you overcame?
Christina: Being an author comes with all kinds of rejection, so you need to have a thick skin and be able to look at each obstacle objectively. On those days when I’ve gotten a “no” or don’t feel good about my work, I ask myself if I would continue to write if no one ever read those books, and the answer is yes. The stories are there, waiting to be told, so I’ll keep going and working to improve my craft.
Lupita: You wrote this book as a modern Red Riding Hood. Was it difficult to bring this classic fairy tale into a modern setting?
Christina: I thought it was really fun! I’d previously retold Cinderella, which has a ton of recognizable elements, regardless of which version you’re familiar with. Little Red Riding Hood has far fewer, so the challenge with this one was making sure I hit all those items—the red cape, the path, the forest, the big bad wolf, the woodsman, grandma, the bread basket—and readers would be able to see them, transformed. I knew right away, though, that when I decided to tell Tilly’s story, she needed to go to New York, and doesn’t New York make a wonderful dark forest?
Lupita: It sure does! Tilly’s grandma is someone who is wise and always knows what to say to Tilly when she is upset. Who's a real-life person who fills that role for you?
Christina: I feel lucky to have a lot of people who know what to say to me when I need a little wisdom. My husband, most of all, because he is my best friend and knows me better than anyone. My critique partners and my agent keep me grounded about writing. My coworkers offer perspective at my day job. My best friends, my parents and my in-laws all are good at making the darkness seem lighter. I think having a support system is really important—strength in numbers!
Lupita: The book is set in New York City. What's your favorite real-life place in NYC?
Christina: One of the best parts of writing Everywhere You Want To Be was being able to fill it with all my favorite places in the city. If it wasn’t obvious from the book, I love eating in NYC. The restaurant at the very end (not a spoiler!), Scarpetta, exists, and has amazing spaghetti, and the ice cream cone with a Golden Girls theme is at Big Gay Ice Cream. I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain just like Tilly and her friends did. I love strolling the Highline. In fact, I took a walking tour of the Highline while doing research for this book and loved the stories so much, I made Paolo a history fan so he could share some of them. The armor room at the Met is a favorite and I make a trek to the Strand bookstore every trip. If it’s in the book, it’s MY favorite!
Lupita: Do you have any other fairy tales you'd like to adapt in the future?
Christina: I’m glad you asked! My next book is called No Place Like Here and will be released May 21, 2019. It’s about Ashlyn, a girl who has just finished a year at boarding school as punishment from her parents and all she wants is to come back home. But when she goes to ask, she finds out her dad’s going to prison, her mom is going to rehab for depression, and her dad has made plans for her to spend her summer working with her estranged cousin at a wilderness retreat center. This one is inspired by Hansel & Gretel. It was fun to figure out the witch, the candy house, and my favorite part, the breadcrumbs. Ashlyn also appears in It Started With Goodbye and is someone I think made somewhat of a negative impression on readers because of how she treats people, so it was interesting to write from her perspective and pull out all the things that make her tick. This story is close to my heart because it’s about finding your voice, and your power, and using it to get out of difficult situation.
That’s it for today’s interview with Christina. But don’t leave just yet! We’re teaming up with Christina to give one lucky winner a swag package for Everything You Want To Be. You can enter the giveaway by clicking on the image below. Good luck!