Today Featured Author Riley Redgate is on the blog, here to talk all about her novel, Seven Ways We Lie.
Welcome to the blog! Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m Riley. I go to school at Kenyon College, I’m an econ major, and I spend all my free time singing with various campus groups.
Seven Ways We Lie was a brilliant read – it took me right back to my school days! Was there something in particular that inspired the story or any of the characters? Aside from Dante’s Inferno 😉
My main inspiration was the internet. I started blogging in high school, on Tumblr, where everyone’s extremely honest about their feelings and lives, because there’s an illusion of privacy. I started wondering about the people in my high school classes–what secrets everyone was hiding–and the seven sins worked as a framework through which I could explore seven narrators’ inner lives.
One of my favourite characters was Valentine Simmons – mostly because he asks a lot of the same questions I used to ask at that age, and shares a few of my dislikes too (eye contact!) Did you have a favourite character?
Oh boy, that’s like choosing a favorite child … uh. Every time someone asks this I go for a different person. These days, Kat is my favorite. Her story arc is separate from the unifying plot arc of the novel–she’s also the one person whose arc really has no involvement in romance. That isolation turning into connection without needing, or even being particularly concerned with, romantic love is important to me.
I think it’s particularly skilful that you make all the characters in their own way sympathetic. Towards the end, one of the characters does something particularly awful, but as a reader, I could sympathise with, even though I couldn’t condone their actions. Was that challenging?
It was fun, mostly! I love morally gray characters and antiheroes, although “antihero” is kind of a charged term. I feel like every character, no matter where they fall on the protagonist to antagonist spectrum, feels that they’re the protagonist of their own story. Even when characters ended up making, uh, questionable decisions, I couldn’t write them as if I were judging them, otherwise the story would’ve turned into moralizing.
How did you find writing from seven(!!) different points of view?
Also fun. I have a pretty short attention span for projects, so switching POVs allowed me to get the feeling of bouncing back and forth on projects without actually doing so.
I think I have which character is which sin straight in my head. Some are pretty obvious, but there were a couple I had to think about a little bit. (I won’t spoil the game for readers) When did you have that idea and how much did it influence the planning of the story?
Well, that idea was pretty much the crux of the story–my way into the characters’ lives. I planned the sins and their respective characters long before I figured out the actual storyline.
What great books have you read recently? Any authors you particularly admire?
I just finished the luminous Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. An overwhelming and phenomenal book. (Liberty: I loved that book too – superb. Everyone should check it out!) My favorite authors are, as they pretty much always have been, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, and Patrick Ness.
What is your writing process like?
Varies from book to book! Sometimes I’ll outline chapter by chapter; sometimes I’ll fly by the seat of my pants. For the writing itself, I have no particular rituals or times of day. It just happens on its own.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Be stubborn. All you need is one ‘yes,’ even after a hundred ‘no’s. Similarly, pleasing everyone is an impossible task; not everybody has the same reading tastes, so you might as well say to hell with it and write what makes you proudest.
And finally, what’s next for Riley Redgate?
I’ve got two more YAs set to release in 2017 and 2018! I’ll be able to talk about them more publicly at a later date. 🙂
Thanks so much for having me!
It’s been my absolute pleasure!