Google+ YA Romantics: Interview and Giveaway with HarperTeen author Gwendolyn Heasley

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with HarperTeen author Gwendolyn Heasley

I was SO excited when I was asked if I'd be interested in hosting HarperTeen author Gwendolyn Heasley. Back in February, I featured her first book, Where I Belong, as part of a YA "Fish Out of Water" books round-up. Now she has published a companion book called A Long Way From You, which was released on June 5 by HarperTeen.


I'll be giving away BOTH books to one lucky winner. I'll tell you a little about the books and then Gwen will answer a few questions.



Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley A Long Way From You by Gwendolyn Heasley

Where I Belong is the story of snarky Manhattan teen Corrinne Corcoran, whose life is suddenly turned upside down when a financial reversal sends her to live in Broken Spoke, Texas with her grandparents. For me, this book was The Simple Life meets Friday Night Lights. I laughed out loud as Corrinne shoveled manure, learned to drive a truck, and slowly began to appreciate the charms of small town life.

One of my absolute favorite characters in Where I Belong was chatterbox cheerleader and closet art aficionado Kitsy Kidd.  In Gwendolyn Heasley's brand new book, A Long Way From You, Kitsy gets her own story. She's accepted to a prestigious summer art program in New York City and, you guessed it, in this book, a simple country girl tackles life in the big city.

While these books do have crossover characters, you don't need to have read one to understand the other. They're great for YA readers from tween to adult -- perfect summer reads!

Jen: Welcome to my blog! I loved your books and I'm so happy that that you could drop by. Did you always plan to write a companion book for Where I Belong, or was Kitsy Kidd such a larger than life character that she demanded her story be told in A Long Way From You?
GH: When my agent sent in WHERE I BELONG to publishers, she also included a one-chapter sample I wrote. It was entitled MOCKINGBIRDETTE IN MANHATTAN. That chapter later became one of the middle chapters in A LONG WAY FROM YOU. For a while after WHERE I BELONG, I worked on another project before my editor and I agreed that Kitsy's story should be next. I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to write A LONG WAY FROM YOU because Kitsy's voice and story never left my head! By the way, I love the cheerleader chatterbox description of Kitsy! Very dead-on!

Jen: Kitsy does talk a lot in Where I Belong! But in A Long Way from You, she's in New York and out of her element. I think everyone can relate to feeling completely out of place. Were any of Corrinne's or Kitsy's experiences based on things that actually happened to you?
GH: Yes, I steal tidbits of my own life and rework them into my novels. When I went to grad school in rural Missouri, I felt a bit like Corrinne: a city girl in the country. But after grad school, I moved to NYC and felt like a country girl in the big city. So I definitely relate to both fish out of water stories. WHERE I BELONG was deeply influenced by my experiences in the recession, and A LONG WAY FROM YOU was definitely inspired by my first months in the Big Apple.
Jen: While there is romance in these books, I was also happy to see that Corrinne and Kitsy are passionate about their dreams in life and aren't about to let the wrong guy get in the way. Was that a conscious choice you made when you were writing?
GH: Yes. I think having romantic relationships is an extremely important part of life, but you have your whole life to have romance. I think as a teen, you need to also learn who you are on your own. I especially wanted to encourage young women to make sure that romance doesn't get in the way of other dreams you have. I'm getting married in 2013, but I also spent many great years single! Single is not a four-letter word!
Jen: Congratulations on your engagement! Speaking of relationships, I loved the fact that your books were full of colorful secondary characters. It's so hard for me to pick a favorite, but I might have to go with Rider, the emo musician. In your imagination, what happens to him after A Long Way From You?
GH: I like happy endings, so let's go with he has a one-hit wonder and then hosts an entertainment show like Access Hollywood
Jen: Ha ha -- I can see that. Your bio says that you are an avid Ann M. Martin fan. A lot of my blog readers are also Baby-sitter's Club fans. As a kid, which Baby-sitter's Club character did you most relate and why?
GH: I wanted desperately to be Stacey McGill. I pretended to like math because she did. I even pretended to like Porky Pig because she did. If I had the letter I in my name, I'm sure I would've made the dot into a heart like she did ... But in reality, I was much more Mary-Ann crossed with Mallory. I was (and somewhat still am) shy and bookish. But I do live in NYC now, so maybe I finally got to be a little more like Stacey! (Self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps?)
Jen: Finally, tell us about your next project -- what are you working on now? 
GH: I'm working on my third novel with HarperTeen. It's about the Internet and how that affects lives. That's all I'm going to say ... but it's in a similar vein to WHERE I BELONG and A LONG WAY FROM YOU. It's going to be funny and heartfelt... I hope so at least!
Jen: Thanks so much for coming by! I really enjoyed these two books and look forward to book three. 


You can read more about Where I Belong and A Long Way From You on Gwendolyn Heasley's website AND you can follow @GwenHeasley on Twitter!


I'm sending finished copies of both Where I Belong and A Long Way From You to one lucky reader. Open internationally! Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

109 comments:

  1. These books sound fabulous!! Thanks for the lovely interview too. I love reading interviews. Congrats on the Engagement Gwendolyn!!

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    1. HI Amy -- this was my first one and I was SO nervous. Not about the interview, just that I'd have a typo in Gwen's name or something *rechecks for the 1,000,000,000th time*

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  2. Thanks for the giveaway! :)
    Where I Belong has a lovely cover!

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    1. The covers are beautiful, right???
      My favorite is actually the Long Way From You cover. I know that spot very well -- my husband proposed in one of those Central Park rowboats.

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  3. I've heard of these books but haven't read them yet. You liked them a lot, so I might have to read them soon. I'm a small town girl going to the city in September. I'll have to read it if there is an emo musician in the book. =) Great Interview!

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    1. They're both great and I think contemporary YA is perfect for the summer. A break from all that dystopian doom and gloom :)

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  4. The books sound great! I love the idea of a city girl in the country and then a country girl in the city. I'm a bit in between. I could never handle farm small town life but at the same time I think New York would eat me alive and drive me nuts. I like to be somewhere in the middle. I have been single for many many years lol so I definitely see the great things in it ;-) But congrats on getting engaged! Romance is important but I love that you make a point to show how important it is to follow your dreams for yourself as well. I was never a big baby sitters club fan. I don't like children even as a child so babysitting freaked me out. Never did it and never wanted to read about it! LOL I honestly barely know how to hold a baby. I have zero motherly instincts. I love stories involving the internet so I look forward to hearing more about your next book. Great interview!

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    1. I know you're trying to read more contemporaries -- I think you'd like these books!

      And now your long blog comments are going to make me think of Kitsy. Not that I am I calling you a chatterbox. Okay, you didn't babysit, but were you a cheerleader in high school by any chance?

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  5. What a fun interview! These books sound so fun! And I love your discussion about the baby sitters club. I think Stacey was my favorite, too. She was just so cool. She was the one with diabetes, right? Because she made even that seem cool.

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    1. I was the kid reader who always related to the goody-goody characters! Not anymore, but there you go..

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  6. Those books both sound awesome! Thank you for the giveaway :)

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  7. Thanks for the giveaway. Sounds like a fun read.

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  8. Great interview. This book sounds wonderful. :)

    Thank you for the giveaway.

    - Beckie

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  9. Thanks for the great giveaway! And the interview and the books sound like fun!!

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  10. They sound so interesting, I really can not wait to read these books.
    Thank you for the giveaway!

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  11. Thanks for the giveaway!
    The interview was great and fun to read. The books seem very interesting, can hardly wait to read. :) Wishing the author all the best.
    I love HarperTeen!

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  12. Where I Belong was absolutely amazing! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  13. These books sound great! I like the premise for both of them! I only read a few babysitter club books, but I enjoyed them. I was more of a Nancy Drew fan. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  14. Thanks for this!!! The cover looks really realistic, far from the books I've read... Good luck!!! =)

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    1. I should have known that you guys would want to talk covers. Next time I do an interview, I'll add that to the list ;)

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  15. The books sound like such amazing reads :D

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  16. Great interview! Beautiful covers! Thank you so much for the giveaway! :)

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  17. What a lovely interview!! I've only read one book by this author but I enjoyed it and would love to read more. Her third novel sounds like a really promising read too!!

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  18. Eeek! I've been wanting to read this one. I don't know why I didn't realize that was a sequel to it. haha I'm a bit slow somtimes. :P Yay for your first interview!!! It came out AMAZING!!!

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  19. Awesome interview! Both books sound amazing and I really like how the cover for Where I Belong resembles the summary with the girl wearing what looks to be fancy, expensive clothes and the boy wearing flannel and a cowboy hat!

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  20. I've seen these books and they look totally cute! Thanks for the giveaway and interview!

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  21. Great interview, Jen! I used to shy away from contemps, but I've given a few a try this year and have fallen hard for the genre. Don't know if it's the recent crop or me not giving them a fair shot before, but I'm a fan now. These books sound like a lot of fun, and it's good to hear that they're full of great secondary characters, as well. That's always a plus for me.

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    1. Ha -- we are opposites. I love contemps and have only started reading more paranormal and dystopian in the last five or six years. It's always good to mix it up, I think!

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  22. I love the cover with the cowboy. Lol I don't know what it is about cowboys...

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    1. Ha ha -- I watch the Amazing Race and a few seasons back they had a team of cowboys and I was obsessed with them. They were definitely amazing!

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  23. Lately I've been more interested in Contemporary then usual and I definitely want to give this series a try. Thanks for the giveaway :)

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  24. It's so clear that this author really loves her characters. I'd love to read these!

    Thanks so much:)

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    1. I think you're absolutely right, which is probably why they all seemed to real to me!

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  25. Shy and bookish people are the best! Thanks for the giveaway and interview ;)

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    1. Yes, because they're often book people :)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  26. I have not read these books but they look really good ! Thanks for the giveaway !

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  27. I have not read these books but they look really good ! Thanks for the giveaway !

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  28. Ahhhh these contemp novels sound soo good:)
    -JennyC

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  29. I haven't heard anything about these books but they definitely sound interesting. Contemporary YA is not one of my favorite genres but I do make exceptions and I hope I get the chance to read these. Great interview and thanks for the giveaway. (I'm a little confused though. Before the rafflecopter form you say that it's INTERNATIONAL but then in the Terms and Conditions it says that it's US/CAN only... I really hope it's international...)

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    1. YES -- International.
      So sorry about that. I made the Rafflecopter ahead of time, and then when I got the books and saw how easily they both fit into the mailing envelope, I thought, hey, I'm doing international.

      Thanks for pointing it out so I could fix it :)

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  30. I have seen Where I Belong, but not the other one. I have been wanting to read the first, but now I want to read both of them. Gonna have to remember and put them on the list

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    1. If you click on the covers, you will get to the books' Goodreads pages.

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  31. It's so awesome the fact that is international. I feel left out everytime I see US only :)) hihihi
    Thanks for this.
    Best wishes!

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    1. Aw, I hate to leave you guys out, so I include you whenever I can!

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  32. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! I read Where I Belong a few months ago and loved it. Can't wait to read her new book.
    ~Shelby
    http://gobsandgobsofbooks.blogspot.com/

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    1. So happy to hear from other people who loved the first book!

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  33. Awesome interview! Both these books sound awaesome. Fingers crossed :)

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  34. Both books sound really good! Thanks for the chance to win!!

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  35. Oh, I would love to read both of these books! They both sound great. I think I would most enjoy Kitsy's book, just because she sounds like such a fun character. Thanks for the chance to win.

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  36. Great interview and congratulations on your engagement. Single might not be a four-letter word, but I wish I wasn't single. LOL
    Thank you for the giveaway opportunity! I would love to read both books.

    Pam

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  37. For me it's anew discovery and i was really happy to discover both the author and her books

    thanks you a lot for the giveaway too

    all the best

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    1. Always happy when I can help people find great new books!

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  38. These books both sound so promising! Thank you for the giveaway :)

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  39. I loved Where I Belong! I was hoping for a possible sequel since I want to know if the romantic interest works out long-distance. :) The MC cracked me up in that book too! I especially loved her comment about why there wasn't an apple app or some such thing for driving stick. I'll definitely read her second book. Crossing my fingers that I might luckily win them. ;)

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    1. Corrinne's driving scenes were some of my favorite too!

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  40. I loved Where I Belong. The sequel sounds awesome, I really liked Kitsy :)

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    1. Yay -- so happy to hear from people who enjoyed the first book!

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  41. I enjoyed the interview :) Thank you for the international giveaway!
    Kristia Miltiadou

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  42. The book looks great!!! Thanks so much for the chance! :-)

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  43. these stories seem really cute! thank you for the opportunity. :)

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  44. new author for me, sounds like a really great read

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  45. I really enjoyed Where I Belong and I'm excited to find out about the new book!

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  46. Congrats on your engagement Jen!

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  47. Thanks for the giveaway and the great interview! I just recently added A Long Way From You to my TBR list because it sounded like such a sweet, fun summer read and now it looks like I will have to add Where I Belong! Thanks again for both the giveaway and introducing me to a new author!

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  48. I always appreciate when authors are able to take one of those wonderful secondary characters and create a story from it. I always feel it's a testament to really strong writing.

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  49. These sound like awesome books!

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  50. Both these books sound really enjoyable, funnny reads!

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  51. I read Where I Belong last year and I adored the book. I'm looking forward for A Long Way From You. Bubba was amazing in the previous book and I'm excited to get to know Kitsy even more.

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  52. I've been meaning to read "Where I Belong" for a pretty long time, now. But now, after this post, I cannot wait to read "A Long Way From You". They both sound like incredibly sweet, charming and funny reads...cannot wait to get my hands on them (if I'm ever so lucky!)

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  53. hi gwendolyn Congrats on the Engagement!!
    this is awesome interview..iam enjoy while reading..
    i love that cover,,very sweet..
    wish i win..

    thanks for the giveaway..

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  54. A great interview thank you ladies. Both books look wonderful. I love the contrast covers: country/city.

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  55. Both of these books sound adorable! You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl.

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  56. cool interview, and her books seem really interesting

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  57. Great interview & post! I have Where I Belong, its on my TBR list/challenge. Thanks so much for the giveaway :))

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  58. Malvina BeatriceJune 14, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Wonderful books! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  59. Amazing books and interview! And thanks for the giveaway

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  60. These books both look so good! Thanks for doing this lovely giveaway!

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  61. These books sound great and I loved the interview. Always fun to get to the author. I loved the Babysitter's Club when I was young. I have even bought one for my neice and have grabbed a couple at my local thrift shop in hopes my daughter will pick them up once she starts reading. Thanks so much for the giveaway and chance to win and congrats to the bride to be :)

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  62. Thanks for the giveaway! Those books sound interesting! :)

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  63. I love books that are based on author's life a little. I'm also waiting for her novel about Internet.... Yay! Thank you for opening it internationally :)

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  64. such a great description of the book and pretty, pretty cover! definitely a book to read!

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  65. Thanks for the giveaway! The books sounds intriguing :)

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  66. this is the first i've seen of both these books, but they sound really good! i definitely need to add them to my tbr list : ) thanks for the giveaway!

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  67. Both of these books sound amazing! Oh, and I wanted to be Stacey as well - who didn't?

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