This post contains three items. First, a review of The Art of Falling in Love, which is set to release on August 13. Second, an interview with the author herself, Haleigh Wenger. And third, a special fangirl book trailer made by yours truly.
I was lucky enough to win an e-ARC of this, and let me tell you, The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger is the perfect sweet YA romance. Whether you’re lounging poolside or curled up by a fireplace, you’ll be transported to a sunny shore in Florida.
Wenger has sculpted likable yet flawed characters in Claire and Foster. Each is lost for different reasons: Claire, who mourns her mentor and recently departed Opa, and Foster, who chooses homelessness rather than live with his abusive brother. But together they share a love for art and become an unlikely team in a local sand-sculpting competition that could win them scholarship money for art school.
You’ll find yourself rooting for the starcrossed lovers as they skirt Claire’s overbearing yet well-meaning parents, decipher Claire’s younger sister’s mood swings, and stand up to Foster’s manipulative brother. As the summer progresses, their relationship ebbs and flows, volatile as the changing tides. Through ups and downs and off-the-beaten-path road trips, you’ll come to love Foster and Claire as much as they love each other.
Disclaimer: Haleigh and I are critique partners, which means I’ve been fortunate enough to have a front-row seat on the journey that resulted in The Art of Falling in Love. Our partnership began with an early draft of this novel, and while I’ve seen a few snippets of added scenes throughout the process, the final version is quite the transformation. Since I’ve had the unique opportunity to see various states of the story, I’ve focused my questions on Haleigh’s writing process and the incredible effort that goes into crafting a story for readers to enjoy.
Tell me about your writing process: where and when do you write?
I write everywhere! On the couch during my youngest’s naptime, in bed after everyone is asleep, and in the back yard while I hand out popsicles.
I write whenever I can find the time, but I find that I’m most productive early in the morning and late at night.
Do you have any writing habits?
I tend to drink a lot of water when I’m writing! My bad writing habits are procrastinating and then binge-writing when I should have paced myself.
How do you plan your stories?
I’m a pantser, despite wanting to be a plotter! Every time I try to plot out a new story, it goes off the rails and becomes something completely different. I start out with an idea or a character and run with it until it finally turns out how I’ve envisioned it.
How many drafts did you go through before the final version?
5! I wrote the first draft as a National Novel Writing Month project in November of 2017. I revised a little on my own before sending off to CPs. From there, I assumed it was good to go and starting querying, only to get less enthusiastic response than I’d hoped for. I entered and got a mentor through Write Mentor, where I rewrote large sections of the book, and then I started querying again. After that I signed with my publisher and did a few rounds of edits with their editor. Phew!
How did your drafts change along the way? At what point did you feel like you
really knew your characters?
After Write Mentor and really digging into my characters and their motivations and nuances, I felt like I finally got my story. I also felt like it was finally close to the story I’d been trying to tell, which just goes to show how great the power of revision can be!
What is the most surprising thing about being a debut author?
I think the most surprising thing is that all of my relatives think I somehow know Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling now. LOL.
What are you working on next?
I’m querying another YA contemporary romance about a girl who acts out after her dad’s health declines, which gets her sent away for the summer. While there she grapples with her own health diagnosis and her feelings of guilt.
I’m drafting a YA contemporary romance about the daughter of a deceased stunt double who falls for a semi-professional skateboarder and has to come to terms with her fear and biases.
How has your writing process changed as you’ve written subsequent stories?
When I first started pursuing writing, I didn’t have much of a process. I wrote sporadically and I did whatever I want because I didn’t know any better. Now I’m more organized, despite being a pantser. I think of an idea, write it down, and then daydream about it for a few weeks. If I’m still in love with it, I’ll start writing down character ideas and fleshing out plot, conflict, motivation, etc. From there I have a bare-bones outline and I’ll start the first chapter to see if I can find a voice that matches what’s in my head.
If The Art of Falling in Love was made into a movie, who would play your main characters?
I love this question! I think Shailene Woodley would make an excellent Claire, especially when she has short hair!
Foster would have to be someone young with blue eyes. I think Ross Lynch could do a great job!
Hope you pick up a copy of The Art of Falling in Love, for sale on August 13. Please follow Haleigh on Twitter and wish her the greatest of book birthdays.
And now for something superfluous but fun, a fangirl book trailer I put together. Now, I don’t own any of the videos, pictures, or songs, so this isn’t anything official. Just something to show how awesome this book is!