Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Jennifer Echols

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday! The winner of last week's contest is lovelessangel93 from LJ! Ritsuka send me an email at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com with your address and whether you want to receive Zombie Queen of Newbury High, You Had Me At Halo, or a zombie survival kit from Amanada Ashby!

Today I am interviewing the lovely Jennifer Echols, my fellow MTV Books author, whose kick-ass book GOING TOO FAR came out yesterday. I posted the description of the book on my blog yesterday, but here it is again in case you missed it.


All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far… and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge—and over…

Now let's hear from Jenn!

Q: Please list five songs that would be on the soundtrack to your book and explain how they relate to your story or characters.

Jenn: You can see the whole soundtrack (along with the first chapter) at A few selections:

“Sweet Home Remix” by B.A.M.A.: This is a remake of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” but with a rap beat and lyrics about smoking pot. It’s appropriate because the book is set in Alabama, yet inappropriate because it comes on the radio in the cop car. Irony.

“Touch My Body” by Mariah Carey: Another song that keeps coming on the radio at inappropriate times.

“Look Through My Eyes” by Phil Collins: This is a sickly-sweet song from the Brother Bear Disney movie. Wait, is every song in this soundtrack ironic? I didn’t realize I was that bitter.

“Running to Stand Still” by U2: This was my editor’s title for the book, before we changed it yet again. If you listen to this beautiful song, it sums up Meg’s situation perfectly--except that the song is really about a heroin addict, and that is not Meg’s problem.

“Dig” by Incubus: The love theme, and the best song ever.

Q: Name some of your main character's favorite musicians or bands.

Jenn: This is kind of weird but I’m not sure Meg has favorites. A lot of music is mentioned in the book, but for the most part it’s background noise and definitely not what she would choose. She doesn’t make plans or entrench herself in the culture--even enough to have a favorite band--because she views herself as staying here only temporarily.

Q: Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Jenn: Incubus!!!, Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, The Fray, Alison Krauss, Kelly Clarkson. Seriously.

Q: Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Jenn: Absolutely. My critique partner and I actually have a ritual of making a soundtrack, burning the CD, and sending it to each other. That means we’ve officially started a new book. I listen to my soundtrack over and over while writing.

Q: While music is my muse, I know other writers find their muse in theater, sports, art, the great outdoors, etc. What is your main muse?

Jenn: Running. I run between 2 and 5 miles most days, and that’s when I figure out most of my plot problems and come up with some great dialogue. I’ve just started training for a 15K in April, so I should be coming up with a lot!

Q: What was the first album you bought and concert you attended?

Jenn: Steph, you are a rockin’ chick, and my heroine Meg is a rockin’ chick, so you can’t make fun of me, because you asked.

For my first album, my brother and I joined the Columbia Record Club and got 12 albums for 1 penny (before the fine print). They included E.L.O, Hall & Oates, and the Little River Band. Guess the year!

My first concert was Chicago, for their Chicago 17 album. Now, let me back up and explain. I played alto sax in the marching band, and marching band members love fusion bands like Earth Wind & Fire and Blood Sweat & Tears. By the time I went to this concert, producer David Foster had gotten his hands on Chicago and they were producing Super Hit Love Ballads. But back in the day, Chicago was a funky hot mess. The album Chicago 5 will blow your mind. I loved all their albums so much that I was willing to forgive the David Foster transgressions because hey--pop music with actual horns in it? I was there.

However, I do not remember much about the concert itself. What I remember is that it was my birthday, and the first boy I ever fell in love with invited me to the concert as my birthday present. He played trombone in the marching band and he was adorable. We were only 15 and the concert was an hour away in Montgomery, so we double-dated with a clarinet and a baritone who drove us in his mother’s Mary Kay pink Cadillac. I am not even making this up. He had a lead foot, and the only way to Montgomery from our small town was over back roads. Like it was yesterday I can picture that warm September afternoon, blowing down curvy two-lane highways between cow pastures and through thick forests in that pink car.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Jenn: is my favorite book review site. I don’t always agree with them (for instance, I heart Jennifer Crusie’s Tell Me Lies and they gave it a D), but I do always see where they’re coming from. They think about their reviews very carefully and have a real love for the romance genre. When Major Crush, my first book, came out, I was afraid it wouldn’t sell and I’d never get another publishing contract. So when the publisher sent me exactly two advance copies, I kept one and mailed one to the Smart Bitches. I thought if they didn’t enjoy the book, well, okay, but if they did, no matter what happened with book sales, I would know for sure I’d done something right. They gave it an A-.

As a writer, I totally love Jenn's rock star moment and can relate. I also dig her passion for soundtracks since that is exactly how I operate when writing too. 

Okay, you know the drill, leave a comment about Jenn's interview and you will be entered to win a copy of GOING TOO FAR. I'll announce the winner next Wednesday!


Jennifer Echols said...

Steph, thank so much for touring me!

Anonymous said...

i'm hoping to get some cash my way so i can pick up a copy of both of her books.
she seems like a really interesting author to read.

thebluerose said...

Incubus and Kelly Clarkson rock. I love their music. But right now, I don't really like Kelly's new album, it's not really her.

Diana Dang said...

Sometimes when I run and I listen to my Ipod, I like to come up with some music videos that suits perfectly with the theme of the song. But I haven't done so lately because I have increased the speed of my running that it's hard to focus on the music lol.

Nora said...

I'm going to have to check out smarthbitchestrashybooks, it sounds like fun. Thanks for the tip!

Rylie said...

Thanks for the interview! I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Adele said...

I loved this book, I devoured it in a few hours and it only deepened my J.Ech love.

She's my crack - what can I say.

PS I am a Kelly Clarkson fan too, much to my friend's dismay.

Katie said...

Yay for Hall & Oates! I love the cover as well.

Keri Mikulski said...

Great interview, Stephanie and Jennifer! :) GOING TOO FAR is on the way to my doorstep. Can't wait to read it! :)

BTW, phenomenal covers Jennifer and Stephanie!! :)