I'm so excited to have Rachel Harris here with me today. Rachel is my agency sister, YA Bound sister, and a great friend. Right now she's doing a blog tour for her upcoming release, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, and I'm lucky enough to be part of it. So without further ado, let's get to know her and MSSSC a little better.
It started with me choosing the era—I wanted to write a time travel historical, but wanted to challenge myself to write about a period other than Regency since I’m obsessed with reading those books. I kinda love research (I’m an odd chick) so I wanted a time that I could just lose myself in learning about. So I thought about all the different periods in history and immediately settled on the Renaissance. It was an obsession of mine in high school and I’ve always romanticized the whole era, yet never really dug in and learned all the fun cultural details, you know? Well, once I had the era—Renaissance—the setting was a no brainer. Italy, and Florence in particular, was the birthplace of the Renaissance. And the fact that I absolutely love Italy—so much so that I happen to tease my husband that I married him just so I can be Italian by marriage—may have had a small part to play, too (*grin*)
What's your favorite thing about the 16th century?
Oh, there is so much to love, but it would have to be the art. I don’t know what it is but the art of that time speaks to me like no other. And while elaborate balls and costumes weren’t limited to the 16th century, they just seem on another level then for some reason. It’s probably just the romantic in me LOL.
What kind of research did you do for the setting and time period?
A ton! Research was on going throughout the drafting and editing process (double, triple, and quadruple checking certain things), but the two weeks prior to writing “Chapter One” was non-stop. I read encyclopedias, travel journals, and novels from or about the Renaissance; I watched videos from the library (for both adults and kids!); I took virtual trips via Google Earth; I learned dances from the time; and listened to a lot of language tapes. I have a huge binder filled with facts and pictures of paintings showing the actual costumes of the time, furniture, architecture, sayings, etc.; Like I said before, I love research.
If you could journey to the past, what would you pack in your backpack?
Fun question. Like Cat, I would definitely bring a camera, but I’d have to make it one of those really tiny ones so no one would see me taking pics and think I was a witch or something. And toiletries would be essential—deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, conditioner…..and if there was a way to stuff a shower in there that would rock. Oh and as many books as I could!
What was the coolest backpack you had growing up?
He he, my backpacks themselves weren’t all that cool. I had a tacky flower one, a cheap plastic one, and then my good old green Jansport that lasted me forever. But I did have a pretty sweet Trapper Keeper in the 80s (anyone remember these??) that had bright neon pink hearts, and I stuffed it with New Kids on the Block folders. That was pretty cool.
And now I’m going to be digging through my old trunks to see if I still have that thing…… (Kelly here: Yes I remember Trapper Keepers! I'm an 80s girl! and NKOTB folders! This is why I love you, Rach.)
What was your 16th birthday like?
The actual birthday itself I don’t remember too much of….probably consisted of me having a chocolate éclair with a candle in it, eating pizza with girlfriends, and going off about my latest crush or heartbreak. BUT two months before I turned 16, I was part of a huge Sweet Sixteen party. They were very popular where I grew up, but most people got together in groups to hold it at a ballroom and go all out. I think ours had like 18 girls or something LOL.
Our theme was Moonlight and Roses, we had a beyond cheesy background for the pictures that at the time we thought was awesome, all custom made dresses in burgundy (mine had a sweetheart neckline, which was all the rage that year), and we all had our names announced and waltzed in with our dates. We then danced with our fathers to Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me. All very grand… he he.
I still have my guest book filled with people’s notes and signatures. It’s actually a really fun memento.
What's your favorite line from the book?
I love so many of Cat’s one-liners. This one is right before the ball, after she put on a corset for the first time, and I’ll give the paragraph leading up to it for some context:
Standing back up, I cup my hands around my shrunken waist. It has to be at least three inches smaller, and my boobs are pressed flat, creating mounds of cleavage where there never was any before.
At least I can look like a Kardashian while hyperventilating all over the dance floor.
Can you give a one-sentence log line for the book?
Sure! First, I have the one I usually go with: Distraught over a planned Sweet 16 she doesn’t want, a teen walks into a Gypsy’s tent on a family trip to Italy, and steps out into Renaissance Florence.
But I also have a killer one-sentence logline that unfortunately gives away a huge spoiler (grr!), but as a fun tease, I’ll share that one and just cut it off with a dot dot dot: When a teen walks into a gypsy’s tent and steps out into Renaissance Italy, she learns the only thing worse than an unwanted Sweet Sixteen is...
Just for fun: (Yay!! Love these kinds of questions!)
Past, present, or future?
After debating for several minutes (and talking to myself aloud LOL), I think I’ll go with Present. The past is amazing, rich with history and spectacular people….but I’m also kind of addicted to some of our current advancements lol. And the future definitely seems cool with the great unknown….but it’s that unknown that has me thinking I’m more built to lose myself in a book about it then dive into experiencing it =)
Jeans or dresses?
Jeans! I love dressing up like the next girl, but I’m a homeschool mama of two little girls and I like to chill. When I put on a dress, it doesn’t feel complete without the full on hair and makeup and all that….and that just doesn’t lead to that chillin’ feel. Actually, if I could, I’d stay in PJ’s all day!
Birthday cake or cupcakes?
Oh good one! Cupcakes for sure. We love watching Cupcake Wars and Unique Sweets and coming up with unique flavors and ideas. Who doesn’t love a cupcake??
As a teen, Rachel Harris threw raging parties that shook her parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels.
As an adult, she reads and writes obsessively, rehashes said embarrassing fodder, and dreams up characters who become her own grown up version of imaginary friends.
When she's not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find her homeschooling her two beautiful princesses, hanging out with her amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate.http://www.rachelharriswrites.com | @RachelHarrisYA | facebook.com/RachelHarrisYA
And Rachel has a giveaway opportunity for you. Enter below and good luck!