Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Kiss Off Blog Tour: Review of The Kiss Off & Interview w/ the author, Sarah Billington

Goodreads: 4.33
Expected publication: May 15th 2012 by Billington Media 
Source: Blog tour

When sixteen year old Poppy Douglas writes a song about her ex-boyfriend Cam and ex-friend Nikki, she has no idea that her heartbreak is about to go global.

A local band picks up her song from Youtube and soon she’s along for the ride with her own fanbase as they blow up on the local club scene and hit the international charts. Though it turns out leaving Cam behind isn’t as easy as she had hoped.

Tangled in a web of unfinished homework, ill-considered sexting and a new lead-singer boyfriend, Poppy has a choice to make between the ex that inspired it all and the rock God whose poster lines the inside of half the lockers at school. But as she struggles to keep her emotional dirty laundry private, she learns that the truth can be hard to find when your life is in the headlines.

I was completely blown away by how much I loved this book. If you follow my blog at all, you know that I don't read a lot of contemporary. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I'm a writer of paranormal, and hence I love reading paranormal. But this book was just amazing. I literally read it in one day, and while it's not that long of a book, I just couldn't stop reading. Ms. Billington, you successfully made me laugh out loud and even cry. Twice.

I think what really grabbed me with this book is that we've all imagined at some point being the girlfriend of a rock god. But it'd be even cooler if your song about a sucky ex-boyfriend was what made the band into a world-wide phenomenon. And there's so much more! I loved that Poppy herself was an artist. She wasn't just riding on the coat tails of her famous maybe love interest, but she actually wrote the song that they rocked-up (yes, that is a word...). I used to play an instrument and I even tried learning the guitar because I thought it would be awesome to be in a rock band. Let's just say the case is quite dusty now and I'm a better singer anyways. But I really loved the perspective of this normal girl who becomes the center of attention for the entire country from her own song. And that includes her budding relationship with before-mentioned rock god, Tyler.

I loved the romance in this one. That is one of the best things about contemporaries; it's almost always about the romance. It's so weird because I once had a boyfriend in my freshman year of high school who was named Cameron. I won't get into the details but what happened in this book between Poppy and Cam kind of reminded me of that. The fact that he was named Cam helped too. But I have never dated anyone name Tyler so luckily that slate was clean. Tyler is definitely on of my favorite YA boys after reading this one. He's sweet and charming and humble, but just like all people that end up being in the spotlight, his acts in public get seriously twisted by the media. I don't why, but their relationship kind of reminded me of that scene in Ocean's 11 where Clooney asks, "Does he make you laugh?" and Roberts says, "He doesn't make me cry." And, oh, was I crying. And laughing. And sobbing. And laughing again. This book is a total emotional roller coaster, but it's worth the tears and fruitless gasps for air.

I think my only issue was that her friends kind of fell flat. I realize that Poppy was grounded. A lot. But I wish they had been more present. Otherwise, this was a very worthwhile read. You can never be sure when you get books like these that are published by Indie publishers and that are only available in ebooks. But if you're looking for the next YA Indie contemporary to read, this is it. Or just next YA contemporary in general! I honestly cannot wait for the next one. I didn't even know there was going to be a sequel!

And now, for this quick interview with the author!

How did you come up with the idea for The Kiss Off?
The Kiss Off started life as the much more interesting subplot of a rather boring novel I was writing for NaNoWriMo which will never see the light of day. :)
I had this idea about a girl who was a songwriter, because that's a bit different in fiction, but there are lots f those wonderful teens out there, being creative in their own way. And I wanted to make use of modern technology, to have her broadcast her private thoughts to a global audience. Youtube does that pretty well, I think. :) 

What was the hardest part about writing The Kiss Off?
My lack of experience with fame from the FAMOUS person's perspective. I was a bit of a fan girl for a couple of my teen years, so I have experienced the famous person getting mobbed from the fan's side of things, and the girls crying oh so much crying (I'm not a crier, FYI). But I watched a lot of personal youtube videos made by some big bands, to get some insight into life from their POV and I think it really helped.

Also, my intention for the book, the whole reason I was writing it changed along the way, and it was hard to let go of what I WANTED to happen, so as to let what HAD TO Does that make sense? Hard to explain without screaming SPOILERS AHEAD!
Was there any kind of music (or even a specific song) that inspired The Kiss Off?
Not so much when it came to Poppy's acoustic version, I see her as having a rather Avril Lavigne crossed with Jenna Marbles personality in her songs (not that Youtuber, Jenna Marbles is a songwriter...that I know of) but the Academy of Lies version would have the personality and rock stylings of bands like All Time Low, Simple Plan and McFly (from their Radio:Active album).

What is your experience with getting your novels published?
I had a literary agent a couple of years ago now, and though there was much enthusiasm and near misses, that's what I had: Near misses.
And there's a lot of dejection and depression involved in that route. It also felt like I was starting to want to write books for specific editors, that a specific person in a publishing house would like, as opposed to writing the book that I would want to read and I thought teens would want to read as well. Writing to get published, as opposed to writing to tell the story that's in you was really the wrong way for me to go about it. 
The epublishing phenomenon happened and I wanted to try it out, see if I could do it on my own, if readers DO like what I write. Turns out: Yeah. They do. :)
What are you working on now?
The first in a set of 10 interconnected short stories that take place at the party at Ravi's house from the first chapter of The Kiss Off. There was a lot going on that night that Poppy was completely oblivious to.

When I finish this first one, I'll edit another story, an as yet untitled standalone and release that fairly soon, and then in June I begin work on The Kiss Off 2.

Love triangle or one true love?
One true love. God, being in a love triangle would be AWFUL, wouldn't it? Drama drama drama.
How about you?
[Blogger's note: You know, I love reading about love triangles, but the idea of actually being in one causes me physical pain. Definitely way too much drama for me.]

Favorite band?
Right now, it's All Time Low. I also really like the blues singer Marc Broussard. And the mashups from Glee are pretty great.
Thanks for the awesome interview Sarah!
What do you guys think of this novel? Are you excited to read it? How about the interview? Let me know in the comments!

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