Author Interview: S. Walden & Giveaway

Author Inverview: S. Walden & Giveaway

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a "Fantasy Slut League," scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend's death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the "unsuspecting girls," and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

(Please take the content warning seriously: This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and an explicit description of sexual violence.)

Please welcome Summer Walden, New Adult author of Going Under! 

SRNA: What do you like most about being a New Adult author? 

SW: Well, right now New Adult seems to be the "it" genre. It’s fun to be part of this movement. Many people want to read NA because it provides that much-needed bridge between Mature YA and Adult fiction. Before there was a true classification of its own, high school seniors and college students in literature really had nowhere to go. Their stories were either inappropriately labeled as YA or Adult fiction. Neither really worked. The content tended to be inappropriate for a YA crowd. But then the story lines really didn't appeal to readers of Adult fiction. So this new genre has really provided a place for all those wandering stories to go. I like being able to write realistic stories about teens and young adults that don’t shy away from controversy—stories that include language and sexual situations. New Adult just defines these stories more easily for the reading community. And New Adult should never be confused with YA or even Mature YA. They are not the same, and they target a different reading group.
SRNA: Did you set out to write New Adult? 

SW:didn't set out to write "New Adult," per se, but I knew I wanted to write stories about teenagers that reflected reality in all its harshness. The topics in my novels tend towards controversy and also highlight teenage social issues. Those themes are never going to be packaged in a neat little safe story. There's language. There's sex. There's drug use. And I discovered early on that I had no idea where to put these things—into which genre they fell. So I labeled my writing "Mature YA" before I discovered New Adult. While there's still not really a clear definition for all these genres, I felt my stories mostly matched the New Adult feel. This may sound weird, but just the tag "New Adult" gives me a measure of security about my stories. It says to potential readers, "There's going to be some questionable content in this story. It’s not YA. It's New Adult. You've been warned."
SRNA: Where did you get the idea for Going Under? 

SW: A newspaper article I read last year. The administration at a high school in California discovered a Fantasy Slut League. It was run by boys from various varsity sports teams and was set up much like Fantasy Football. The boys "drafted" girls and scored them on their sexual acts. After I read the article, I was so intrigued and disgusted that I researched to see if more of these leagues existed. And whoa. That's all I can say. They're everywhere in US high schools and colleges. So I thought, Okay, there's a story here. And it's gonna piss a lot of people off, but I believe it needs to be told. So I told it. I developed Brooke’s story of guilt and revenge around the league.
SRNA: Do you have a playlist for Going Under? 

SW: Oh yeah! Be warned that some of the songs are explicit in nature. Hmm . . . much like the book!
SRNA: What future projects do you have in the works? 

Oh, all kinds! I told another interviewer that I think writing Brooke as slightly ADD has actually made me ADD! I'm juggling about three right now. No joke. I'm nearly finished with my fourth book, Good, that I plan to release in Fall 2013 unless a publisher wants it. In that case, I'm at the mercy of their schedule (and totally wouldn't mind it either!). Good is part of a two- or three-part series about a student/teacher relationship. I put up a teaser on goodreads. Go check it out. See my amazing fans? Oh, how I love them! I’m also considering a Hoodie sequel since I ripped out a bunch of hearts with the first one (Not my intention. I was just trying to keep it real). I had no idea when I started my writing career how important HEAs are. No idea. But now I do, so I'm considering a sequel. What I want my fans to understand, though, is that if I give them their HEA, it's still going to be grounded in reality, so rainbows and unicorns and driving off into the sunset will not be part of Anton and Emma's continuing story. And last but not least, I'm traveling to Ireland at the end of July this year to do research for a huge three-part series that will be a weird "doesn't quite fit" NA adventure/romance. In fact, I already know it won't be classified as NA if I don’t self-publish it even though the heroine is 20 and is in college. The story follows her as she journeys to Co. Sligo on the west coast of Ireland for family business. She meets a hot Irish hero, and that's where the adventure really begins. I'm already so in love with this story because I love all things Irish and am excited to include a lot of their history (both political and literary) in this series. So those are my working projects. Lots on the plate!
SRNA: Is Going Under your first book? 

SW: Nope. Hoodie was my debut novel. That story focuses on the development of an interracial relationship between a white girl and a black guy in high school. Then I published Honeysuckle Love which follows the story of two sisters who are abandoned by their mother and must learn to survive on their own. Both books are on Amazon and B&N.
SRNA: Do you read the reviews posted for Going Under on places like Amazon? 

SW: What writer doesn't?! I really do, and so far they haven’t been too caustic. Most of the Amazon reviews have been downright wonderful. I had to stop reading the reviews on goodreads, though, simply because I really don't have the time. And I can't keep up with them. Though I will tell you that I was a little too pleased last night to read my first rant. Wow. I made someone that angry. There's a headiness in that, and I had to check myself. Like, take it down a couple of notches, Summer. It's like I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my body as I read the review, and it made me feel too powerful. I elicited that anger. I elicited those words. I incited that madness. I could hear and feel the frustration underlining each expletive-laced sentence. Phew! Talk about feeling invincible! I'm not even joking. The whole experience was crazy weird, and I decided that I wouldn't read any more rants. They feed your ego in an unhealthy way. Seriously. You'd think they'd break you and make you cry. Nope. They do the opposite. They make you believe you have incredible power over another individual, because in a way, you absolutely do. Not good to entertain that feeling either. So no more reading rants.
SRNA: Who would have the starring roles in Going Under: The Movie?
Brooke – Katrina Bowden
Ryan – Asher Book
Cal – Zach Roerig
Gretchen – Willa Holland
Beth – Alexandra Daddario
Parker – Alex Pettyfer
SRNA: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

SW: You bet I do. Work. Hard. I don't really believe in overnight success. I mean, I know it can happen, but that's not the norm. Most people have to work their butts off to see success, and success in the literary world usually comes slowly. I published two books prior to Going Under, and it was trial and error to see what worked in marketing and promoting, and what was a waste of time (and money). If I could only list the top five most important things to do as an author, they would be the following:
1. Get a professional editor. NEVER publish your work without a professional edit. Period. You aren't your own editor. In fact, writers of their own work make the worst editors (of their own work). I landed an agent because my work was edited. So there you go.
2. Outline a promotional game plan before the publication of your book. If you just throw it up on Amazon or Smashwords without building interest first, no one will see it and no one will care. And that’s the harsh truth. I outlined my promotional plan for Going Under months before its release. I set up ARC giveaways on goodreads, worked with book tour companies to host cover reveals and release day book blitzes, and got my social media pages in order. Do these things. They work.
3. Establish good working relationships with book tour companies. These ladies are your "in" with the blogging community. You will find that as you work with blogs, they will be more willing to host you again. Be courteous, respond promptly, and give them what they want (ie. a book for a giveaway). They're there to promote you, and their blogs are invaluable. They spread the word. They pump you up. They believe in you. So work with them.
4. Recognize and celebrate the little successes. I have a very hard time with this because I’m always thinking about the next thing: What should I be doing? Who should I be contacting? How do I improve sales? Sometimes I let my anxiety overshadow the little successes. I have to remind myself that those successes are just as important. They are small threads in this great big tapestry that is a book's success. It’s important to give them their due recognition.
5. And this is the most important tip: write what is significant to you. I know the drill with NA fiction right now. I'm aware of the formulaic love stories. And I choose not to write them. Why? Because they don't interest me, and if they don't interest me, they sure as hell won't interest my readers. You see, that comes out on the page, and it's blatant. If you don't believe what you're writing, no one else will. And if you're writing a formulaic story just to make a buck, that shows, too. Be true to the stories you want to tell. Going Under is not popular with everyone. I'm sure some people threw it in the trash. (Well, hopefully not their Kindles and Nooks.) The point is, who cares? That story was important to me. I knew it needed to be told. And so I told it, and I discovered in the last six weeks that it's a story that's important to a lot of other people, too. So always be true to yourself. Sounds cheesy and clich├ęd, but it's true. Like a professor in graduate school used to say all the time: "Write real."
SRNA: Any message for your fans? 

SW: Your love and support for my work has been mind-blowing. Truly. I'm flabbergasted by the overwhelmingly positive feedback for Going Under. Thank you for sharing my work, urging your friends and book buddies to read it, and sending me encouraging messages. Each of you is really the reason for the success I've seen. <3

SRNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! Best of luck to you in everything! 

SW: You’re so welcome! Thanks for having me. 

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Lori L. Clark

She Reads New Adult Admin: Lori L. Clark


  1. Thanks for the giveaway! love the interview!

  2. Hey Lori,

    Thanks so much for featuring me today. I love doing interviews, though I confess I can be a little long-winded. Hope your readers didn't mind! So glad you're participating on the I *heart* Ryan GOING UNDER Blog Tour. Thanks for everything you're doing to help promote me. <3


  3. Thanks so much for the giveaway. I want to read it because I have seen all the amazing reviews! and it sounds amazing!

  4. Thank you for sharing the interview! I've been looking forward to reading Going Under for some time now. Thanks for the opportunity to enter!


  5. I like how S. Walden cast Going Under and definitely Zach Roerig should be there an Oh my! Alex Pettyfer!!! :)

  6. I agree Kath. :) Alex Pettyfer *swoon*

    Summer's answers are just great! What a gracious interview-ee.

  7. really wanna read Going the gaming scene in Ryan's POV and my sold...super hot