Author Interview - Jess Vallance

The start of a hilarious new teen series for fans of Geek Girl.

Gracie Dart has always worked hard and she's got a wall covered with revision timetables and French verbs to prove it. But now GCSEs are behind her and she suddenly starts to think: what was the POINT of it all?

When Gracie thinks she's dying of a disgusting tropical illness, she starts to worry she's been wasting her best years being sensible. It's like people say: you only live once - so isn't it about time she started LIVING?
(OK, so the tropical illness turned out to be a fake-tan miscalculation. Anyone could make the same mistake.)

When Gracie decides to do something, she does it properly. Gracie Dart is about to live out her dreams. However embarrassing.

1)    How did you come up with the idea of writing this book?

It feels like messages about living for the moment are very popular. You know the kind of thing – ‘live today as if it’s your last! You might get run over by a bus tomorrow!’

The only problem is, most people probably won’t be run over by a bus tomorrow, so where does that leave you?

How do you decide how much fun to have now and how much boring stuff to do to plan for tomorrow? Nobody knows! And I find that quite interesting. I wanted to write a story about how tricky it can be to get that balance right.

2)    Who are your biggest author inspirations?

Author inspiration is a tricky thing because I find that if you read something too similar to what you’re working on, bits can start to drift in. So I like lots of people’s books – Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, I love Jon Ronson’s non-fiction stuff – but I prefer to admire it from afar, rather than be inspired by it. 

3)    Does the book have any moments related to your own life? If so, what?

I lived in Paris for a year which is the reason I chose that for Gracie’s mini-break with her nan. There were lots and lots of tales of mangled French speaking similar to Gracie’s attempts at the language.

“Should I take off my shoes” I asked a friend once when I went round her flat. Only what I actually said was, “Should I take off my hair” followed by “Should I take off my shirt” and – weirdest of all –  “Should I take off my horse”

4)    Where is your favourite place to write?

Anywhere that’s quiet and where I’m on my own. I don’t have any fancy requirements about candles or a view of a beautiful oak tree to inspire me but I can’t *stand* people looking over my shoulder. So if I do ever have to write in public, I make the font properly tiny so no one can read it. Including me sometimes. 

5)    What advice would you give to your sixteen year old self?

Find out what you actually enjoy, rather than just focusing on what you can get the best grades in.

After studying for a law degree Jess Vallance decided being a solicitor wasn’t for her, she gave herself a year to find something else and now she works as a freelance writer and lives near Brighton.

In between all of that she also lived in Paris for year. Her previous YA novels for Hot Key Books are BIRDY and THE YELLOW ROOM.

Follow Jess at or on Twitter: @JessVallance1
Follow Hot Key Books: @HotKeyBooks

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Hot Key Books (23 Aug. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781848126602

Available: Amazon & most retail book stores

- NOTE -
Thanks very much to Hot Key Books and Bonnier Zaffre for my review copy. Big thanks as well to author Jess Vallance for her lovely, honest and detailed answers! 


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