It is my supreme honor today to kick off launch week for Laurie Boyle Crompton’s fantastic YA debut novel, BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains). Hurrah! BLAZE will officially hit bookstore and digital shelves this Friday, February 1, and we’ll have special posts up here at EMU’s Debuts every day this week to celebrate. (And we’re also giving away a signed copy of BLAZE to one lucky commenter!)
Lucky EMU that I am, I got to read an advance copy of BLAZE, so I hope you don’t mind if I go all fangirl (hee hee) for a moment and tell you how awesome it is. The main character Blaze’s voice is both hilarious and authentic, and she kept me rooting for her and laughing even as she went through some of the toughest stuff high school can throw at a person.
Here’s a little more info, courtesy of a rave review from Publisher’s Weekly:
First-time novelist Crompton handily establishes Blaze as a diehard comics fan who’s not entirely comfortable in her own skin; her funny-crass interactions with her friends and her younger brother make for entertaining reading. What makes the story truly valuable, however, has less to do with comics than with the way Crompton takes on the practice of slut-shaming—the novel forces readers to reconsider the way they treat their peers, especially girls, over their sexual behavior, real or imagined.
Now, who better to help kick off launch week than the author herself? I asked Laurie Boyle Crompton three behind-the-scenes questions about BLAZE, and here are her answers.
Tara Dairman: We’d love to hear a bit of the story behind BLAZE. How did you dream up this butt-kicking heroine and her journey?
Laurie Boyle Crompton: Blaze came into my mind fully-formed as this comic-obsessed girl who was completely stuck in her life but was making the best of things. I immediately knew I wanted to set her free. Unfortunately, once I started writing her story I discovered things get much, much worse for her before they get better! The comic book element was definitely drawn from real life since I was a bit of a comic book nerd back in high school, but I was careful to make the novel accessible to those who don’t speak comic-geek. I also wanted to highlight that sibling bond that can only be formed by spending thousands of hours stuck driving around together, and then the minivan sort of became a sidekick character unto itself.
TD: As fellow writers, we EMUs are always interested in hearing about other writers’ processes. Did this book pour out of you, or take years to write? And did the story undergo any massive changes in the editing process?
LBC: BLAZE was a lot of fun to write and I really enjoyed spending time with these characters, so the drafting was fairly painless. I worked on it in between doing other revisions, and so it took me over a year to get it submission-ready. Then we had early interest from an editor who basically wanted me to change the second half of the book. I remember having a long talk with Joan [agent Ammi-Joan Paquette], and the next morning I drafted an e-mail listing all the reasons why I couldn’t possibly make the changes. I never sent that e-mail because in the middle of writing it I had an idea that made everything click. I gradually got more and more excited about the new direction, held my breath and dove into the full rewrite. Because I knew my characters so well, I was able to complete the rewrite within a few months and the book is much better for it. The experience taught me to never be afraid to give a revision a chance, no matter how impossible it may seem.
TD: Your author bio on Amazon says that you spray-painted your car hot pink as a teenager–kind of like how Blaze transforms her Superturd minivan in the book. 🙂 Are there any other elements of BLAZE that readers might be surprised to learn were borrowed from or inspired by real life?
I love the fact that I was able to write that pink car into one of my novels! My friends from high school still talk about that car.
Blaze’s role as the Eternal Chauffeur to the gang of Soccer Cretins came from my vast experience shuttling younger siblings about in the pink car. We’d often play the Cows game that’s described in the beginning of the book. In fact, my family just played ‘Cows’ this past summer as we drove across Spain; although I suppose we should have called the game ‘La Vaca.’ Also (bonus trivia!), the CB handles ‘Maniac’ and ‘Butterfly’ are ones my husband and I used years ago when we did a lot of traveling.
Thank you, Laurie, and congratulations on the publication of BLAZE!!
And if you’d like to enter to win a signed copy of BLAZE, please leave a comment on this post or any other post this week!