Today I've got an interview for you guys as part of the blog tour, hosted by YA Reads Blog Tours, for R. Barri Flowers book Summer at Paradise Ranch. As always in my interviews, before we get to the questions, here's a little something about the author and the book.
R. Barri Flowers is the bestselling author of young adult novels, including OUT FOR BLOOD, COUNT DRACULA'S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, TEEN GHOST AT DEAD LAKE, GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY, DANGER IN TIME, and CHRISTMAS WISHES: Laura's Story. His novels can be found in print, eBook, and audio. In addition to bookstores, many of the titles can be found at public libraries across the country.
The author has also written a number of bestselling teen and young adult related nonfiction books as well, including RUNAWAY KIDS AND TEENAGE PROSTITUTION, KIDS WHO COMMIT ADULT CRIMES, and CHILDREN AND CRIMINALITY.
Four months shy of turning sixteen, Lexi Montoya was still trying to come to terms with her parents’ divorce and her mom’s remarriage to a man she met online, relocating to Maui, Hawaii.
Choosing to remain with her dad in Seattle, Lexi had planned to spend her first summer since the divorce hanging out with her boyfriend, Matt, and best friend, Robin. But her dad had other plans, insisting she spend the summer visiting her mom and stepdad at his ranch called Paradise Ranch in Wailuku, in west Maui.
Lexi went there with an attitude. Then she meets a cute Hawaiian guy named Mitsuo, is thrown into a love triangle, become friends with a teen girl living on a ranch next door, April; rides her first horse– an Arabian mare named Poppy– learns to hula dance and surf, and finds herself embroiled in a dangerous rescue mission when Poppy and another horse named Casper go missing from her stepfather’s ranch.
By the time her tropical summer adventure comes to an end, Lexi hates to leave Maui and say goodbye to Mitsuo. But can she stay when Matt is waiting for her back at home to pick up where they left off? Or will he lose her to a summer romance?
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- What made you want to be an author?
I grew up reading Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew fiction, as well as Mark Twain, and knew then that I wanted to someday lend my own voice to the world of creative writing. I wrote a lot of short stories growing up and in college, further cementing my desire to become a published author.
- How did you come up with the idea for this book?
The idea to write SUMMER AT PARADISE RANCH came into my head because of my love for Maui, Hawaii, and sense of adventure. As a part time resident of the magnificent and charming island, with its diversity, including working horse and cattle ranches, luxury and not so luxurious homes, sandy white beaches, the vast beauty of the ocean, the merging of different races, ethnicities, and cultures in a friendly, laid back environment, and of course, hula dancing--all made for the perfect setting for this young adult romance and adventure novel with a bit of mystery and suspense to spice things up that much more.
Also, similar to my protagonist, Lexi Montoya, I have lived in the Pacific Northwest, which has its own claim to beauty and charm--making for a great place for Lexi to live (Seattle), before being forced to spend the summer in Maui with her mother, who divorced her dad and remarried a Hawaiian rancher she met over the Internet.
Having Lexi resistant to going to Maui was as much about her love for Seattle and her boyfriend, Matt, as the beef she has against her mom for essentially abandoning. The irony here is that most people would jump at the chance to spend the summer in Hawaii, but Lexi’s feelings in this regard went against the grain initially--till she arrives in paradise and begins to warm up to the idea of the forced vacation.
One of the best things about Hawaii is that it offers so many activities, such as riding horses, surfing, swimming, hanging out on beach, shopping, eating, and hula dancing. I utilized all of these things in the storyline for Lexi as she gets in touch with the culture and her surroundings -- learning to ride a horse, surf, and hula dance, while also falling for a cute Hawaiian teen named Mitsuo.
As for the broken home Lexi comes from, knowing that this is all too common in America, I wanted to make her life something that many teens face today with all the angst that comes from it and dealing with.
Finally, no YA novel would be complete without the protagonist facing a bit of danger. In this case, Lexi and Mitsuo go after some stolen horses, that becomes more than either bargained for.
This was a great novel to write and I am certain that readers will love it, as I take full advantage of the Maui setting in creating a realistic and fun teen adventure.
- Did you run into any challenges while writing this book? If so, how did you overcome them?
No challenges to speak of, as it was a perfect fit for me to write this novel and got into the characters right away.
If there was a small challenge, it was going from my last YA novel, a vampire mystery titled, OUT FOR BLOOD, then having to turn off the vampire subculture in my mind and deal with normal teen lives in the real world. But I was able to make the transition pretty smoothly.
- How long did it take you to get from first draft to publication?
- Do you have set times that you use for writing?
I write seven days a week--usually from around 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a short break for lunch.
- How extensively do you plan your novels before writing?
I do a general plot outline and character sketch, but mainly allow the book to write itself, in effect, by creating scenes and dialogue as I type it without giving much forethought.
- Besides writing, what are your other interests?
I love to travel, take long walks, swim, ride horses, read fiction and nonfiction on my eReader, watch police procedurals and dramas on television or in motion pictures.
- Any advice for aspiring authors?
My advice to aspiring authors is to follow your dreams to fruition, read as many bestselling books as you can in the genre you would like to write in, to give you some perspective on what works; take criticism constructively, write with passion and determination, and lastly, don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today!