Interview with author of #Famous: Jilly Gagnon!

downloadJilly Gagnon is an AMAZING writer and one of my closest writing buddies. You can see my review of her book #Famous by clicking here:



So your story is based on a true event, correct? 

It is! Specifically the #AlexFromTarget phenomenon–if you don’t remember it, Alex, a regular teenager working as a cashier at a Texas Target, had his picture snapped and suddenly, overnight, he got nearly a million followers on social media. That moment of ridiculously viral overnight fame was the inspiration for #FAMOUS, but in my story, you get to see both sides of the coin–what happens to Kyle, the insta-famous photo subject, and also to Rachel, the girl who took the photo. 
download (1)Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
I’m not the kind of writer who works deliberate morals into my stories, but I do hope it makes people think more about cyberbullying. There’s always a real person on the other side of the avatar, with real feelings. I also hope it shines a light on how much harder people can be on girls and women. I can’t really imagine a version of the story in reverse–with Rachel getting famous from a picture Kyle took–that doesn’t turn a lot darker. 
What is your favorite part of the book?
Probably my single favorite moment is when Kyle asks Rachel to homecoming (I don’t want to spoiler anything, so I’ll leave it vague). My favorite entire scene is when they go bowling together. I think it’s the first time Kyle and Rachel see how much more there is to the other person than what they initially imagined.
What is your writing style, and what tactics do you have when writing? (For example, outline or just write when you get bursts of inspiration)
I used to think I could work without any real outline, but it turns out that I’m just not any good at that–I would get a lot of words onto the page, but there wouldn’t be much of a story there. Now I’m an outliner-lite: I like to plot out all the major story points in advance and fill in some of the details between them as I’m writing and learning more about my characters.
When you write, do you have goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes?
I like to set myself daily word count goals and really hold myself to them–as in, “Jilly, you’re not allowed to leave this cafe until you hit X thousand words.” Writing can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a job–a hard one. Like any job, you sometimes have to show up even when you’re feeling sorta uninspired or when it’s too beautiful outside to imagine sitting in front of a computer screen.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
When I was researching #FAMOUS, I looked into internet bullying, because it was an important part of the story–Rachel sees the ugly side of going viral right off the bat. I knew how those things spread in a vague way, but looking into specific instances of viral anger, I was stunned by how quickly a situation could go from a single social media post to a wildfire where it seems like the entire internet is talking about this one thing. 
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely, and I feel super lucky because I ADORE my cover. I think it tells you a lot about what’s inside–something quirky, cute, romantic, and ultimately fun!
How did you get connected with so many authors for blurbs on the back of your book?
Fun fact: Jesse Andrews and I have known each other since I was a freshman/he was a junior in college (we started a VERY briefly-lived band together, and then continued to be friends forever after). I reached out to him directly for the blurb on the cover!
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I think the toughest criticism is when someone tells you honestly that a project just isn’t working. Like a lot of authors I have more than a couple story ideas that I started–or even finished–that never wound up seeing the light of day. Giving up on a project that you love is one of the hardest things you do as an author, but sometimes it truly is the right choice. 
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Honestly, I try not to pay too much attention to my reviews, because even the positive ones can make me lose my focus, and I need every scrap of that to write books!

At the end of the day, though, once you put a book out into the world, it’s not just yours anymore, it belongs to the readers, too. Some of them will love it (which always makes my day, I’m only human after all), and some of them won’t. Some of them might even hate it. Theoretically, I’d love for everyone to love every single word I write, but we’re all incredibly different people, and that’s GOOD. If everyone loved and hated the same things, the world would be so terribly dull, you know?

Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s? (* please provide a link to trailer if you have one)
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They’re pretty much imagined. Even though the story inspiration very much mirrors the experience of Alex Lee, a.k.a. #AlexFromTarget, I deliberately tried not to dig too deeply into his life, because I wanted Kyle and Rachel to feel real and 3-dimensional on their own. 
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Full-time, the coolest and also scariest job on earth! 
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
For #FAMOUS the toughest thing was getting the dual points-of-view to sound interesting and distinct while still making sure the story came together as a whole. And yet…I know I’ll write from multiple perspectives again because as an author it’s also just so much FUN.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I’d say a full draft takes me about four months. But once you send it to your editor and start really diving in together, that number can get a lot bigger 🙂 
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
So far my YA ideas have only been standalone, but I’d love to try my hand at a series–I definitely have a lot of characters I love way too much to want to leave them alone forever after. I write comedy with a writing partner, and our first books were part of a series, so I know that I like the process
Have you considered writing in another genre?
Yes indeed…specifically comedy 😉
What do you think Rachel would have to say about you? What about Kyle? How do they differ?
Oh, they’d probably both be polite but secretly think I was boring and old. 
Realistically, I think Rachel would have a lot of serious, career-oriented questions for me as a writer since she already knows that it’s her passion. Even though she’s writing plays, I bet we’d dig deep into books and really get along. I think Kyle might find me a bit cynical because he’s such a naturally optimistic person, but he’d probably laugh at my jokes, if only because he’s also deeply kind. 
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I do both–ideally, all my books would be in print, because I just love the feel of a book in my hands, but I’m running out of shelf space (not to mention funds), so lately I go about 50/50, ebooks and print books.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I finally got around to reading CROOKED KINGDOM and (no surprise here) it is PHENOMENAL. 
What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
That’s a tough one because so many books have influenced me in such different ways. If I had to pick an author that I loved in childhood who has had the most influence on my writing, I’d probably go with Roald Dahl. I’m someone who uses dark comedy and absurdity as a way to process things–even the tough stuff–and that comes out in all my books. 
Who is your favorite author and why?
Probably P.G. Wodehouse. He writes these incredible souffles of comedy, where everything is light and airy and full of fun and whimsy and it just seems so satisfying and delicious that you don’t even realize how incredibly HARD it is to pull off what he’s doing. I never pick up a Wodehouse story and DON’T laugh out loud at some point or other. That’s a pretty impressive feat, especially considering how prolific he was.
What is your favorite book and why?
All time favorite is probably the Lord of the Rings series. It was one of the first books that I just dove headlong into as a kid, and the depth of the world building is awe-inspiring. I think a lot of writers have used books as a form of escape at various times in their lives, and I found those books at a moment when I was really eager for that–and they definitely provide it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To be confident with who I was. I think when I was younger there were certain things I tried to change about myself, or hide about myself, in order to fit in, because the world really pressures you to do that. And it took me years to get to a place of being really comfortable in my own skin (not that it’s ever 100% easy, or that you ever 100% reach that point). I actually tried to give Rachel some of the self-confidence I wish I had at her age because there is nothing cooler than knowing and loving who you are.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Man, that’s a toughie. I should say someone literary, right? Maybe Mark Twain–I think he’d actually make for good company (there are a lot of favorite authors who might be a real drag to run into at a cocktail party). Or Oscar Wilde. I bet he was a riot.
Where can we find you online? (Conclusion: )
I’m @jillygagnon on twitter and Instagram, /JillyGagnonWriter on facebook, and always updating my website,!
Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
The most important thing I want to say is THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to pick up my book. I could not be more grateful that you’re spending time reading words that I wrote 🙂 
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? 
I think you covered all the bases! Thanks so much for chatting with me, Charlie 🙂

#Famous by Jilly Gagnon

17332944_1661645000799097_4403034076236218368_n(1)#Famous: Jilly Gagnon

Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Young Adult, contemporary, romance
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, February 14, 2017
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (5/5 stars)

❝I smiled a little. She had a crush on me? She seemed like the type that would be dating a twenty-year-old who smoked cigarettes end-to-end and wore skinny jeans and played bass in, like, some punk band.

Huh. Rachel: unexpected.

This was such a cute book!

This new YA contemporary by Jilly Gagnon stars Kyle, a popular guy who works at a burger joint and a girl named Rachael, who likes to stay under the radar…everywhere.
One day, when she was bored, she snaps a pic of him looking cute and sends it to her friend with the hashtag #IdlikefrieswithTHAT that accidentally goes INSTA VIRAL!

The thing I love most about this book is how real these characters are. I can relate to them all, whether they are in good or bad ways.
To be honest, I read devoured this book in one sitting and it was worth it! This book is one I’d recommend to Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell fans, because of the sticky sweet and humorous fries, I mean vibes, that come from this book! This is, too, a good in-a-slump book. (I’ve found I always have to read a contemporary to get out of a reading slump)

I’m also Jilly’s friend so that’s exciting. I actually may have her come down to a local event in February so watch out for that!

’til I read again,



Hey guys,

I’m sooooo sorry for not updating (in a month…?)

Without further ado, here are my updates:

I finished reading

It’s Kind of a Funny Story
The Last Message Received

In case you didn’t know, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have been since I was five years old. I started pioneering this month (and last month) and I’m so excited!
If you have any questions about me or my religion, you can message me or whatever. Thanks you guys!

Books I’m Reading in April

Okay, so I decided to do a #readallthebooksinyourgoodreadsTBR challenge!

So going with that, these are the books I am doing in April:

The Hate U give
An Ember in the Ashes
Since You’ve been Gone
Carve the Mark
Love and F1rst sight
The Careful Undressing of Love
Crown of Midnight
The Running Dream
All American Boys
A List of Cages
Everything Leads to You

If you would like to join me, leave a comment on this post.

Bye guys!

Number the Stars

At first glance, this looks like a children’s book. However, the subject matter was too intense to be one.
This sweet story about a girl named Annemarie living in 1943 with a Jewish best friend named Ellen. Annamarie’s family helps hide her and her parents move to a safe place until the war is over. The story felt rushed, but it was a sweet story. (to be honest, I’m obsessed with the 1940’s. I don’t know why…)

Below is an excerpt of the story:

“I’ll race you to the corner, Ellen!” Annemarie adjusted the thick leather pack on her back so that her school books balanced evenly. “Ready?” She looked at her best friend.

Ellen made a face. “No,” she said, laughing. “You know I can’t beat you-my legs aren’t as long. Can’t we just walk, like civilized people?” She was a stocky ten year-old, unlike lanky Annemarie.

“We have to practice for the athletic meet on Friday- I know I’m going to win the girls’ race this week. I was second last week, but I’ve been practicing every day. Come on, Ellen,” Annmarie pleaded, eyeing the distance to the next corner of the Copenhagen street. “Please?” Ellen hesitated, then nodded and shifted her own rucksack of books against her shoulders. “Oh, all right. Ready,” she said.

“Go!” shouted Annemarie, and the two girls were off, racing along the residential sidewalk. Annemarie’s silvery blond hair flew behind her, and Ellen’s dark pigtails bounced against her shoulders.

“Wait for me!” wailed little Kirsti, left behind, but the two older girls weren’t listening.

Annemarie outdistanced her friend quickly, even though one of her shoes came untied as she sped along the street called osterbrograde, past the small shops and cafés of her neighborhood here in northeast Copenhagen. Laughing, she skirted an elderly lady in black who carried a shopping bag made of string. A young woman pushing a baby in a carriage moved aside to make way. The corner was just ahead.

Annemarie looked up, panting, just as she reached the corner. Her laughter stopped. Her heart seemed to skip a beat.

Halte!” the solider ordered in a stern voice. The German word was familiar as it was frightening. Annemarie had heard it often enough before, but it had never been directed at her until now.

Setting up my Studystagram

Hey, guys, I thought I’d show you how I was setting up my Studystagram.
As a freshman in High School, I decided I really needed to buckle down and get serious about my studying. I absolutely love History and Lit (of course) but I never really enjoyed Science.
This year, my teacher decided to use Crash Course for Science and IT IS AMAZING. First, you can back it up and redo parts and IT HAS JOHN AND HANK GREEN ON IT!

All this aside, my Studystagram!

I teamed up with @therosegoldink (Go follow her bookstagram) to do a Studystagram called SnowRoseStudies dedicated to helping inspire others (and ourselves) study hard and 16584948_195863834225328_5207948876362809344_nmake good grades. As you can see below, this is my first post. The ‘site’ on my computer is called Momentum  (link posted) to help you get things accomplished. They have a nice background, a quote, and a to-do list.
It’s essential to a studyblr or studystagram account.

After I post, a photo of a cute study motivation quote is posted, and then Morgan post.

Isn’t this cute? It’s study motivation tips like this that we like to post, so if you have any, feel free to email them to me at (CharlieSmithContact (at)

What I learned to do is set timers for 10 minutes each. Study ten minutes, when the timer goes off, set it again and get on your phone. Play Candy Crush or Instagram. Then after the ten minutes, study more until you’re done! I’ve found this to be very helpful.


Here is Morgan’s first photo. It’s all her stationary (She’s moving it to a better home, but she just NEEDED to post this!)
It’s her Kikki.K stationery crate, with its pastel colors (My fave) and IT’S SO PRETTY.





That’s all I have for you guys today! I will be posting more under this category soon. Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Charlie.