I’ve been thinking of how there are books that I own that deserve a little more love because they’re not as known as they should be. They’re these small treasures that stand out to me above the rest; these tiny gems that I value so much that I think twice before sharing them because they’re way too special to me. These books that I’m talking about are books that you rarely see around on bookstagram, or books that don’t have a lot of reviews out there.
Back in January I shared my love for Diana T. Scott’s Half of Me series and we did a Q&A of seven questions about her books. That was, as I look back into now, the beginning of what I want to call: Books That Need To Be Loved. I will do my best to feature here every once in a while these types of books and maybe do Q&A’s with their authors. I got lucky a few weeks ago and Nicole Campbell, author of the Gem City series sent me her three books for me to review. I read What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar and I adored it so much that I suggested to do a Q&A about her books. Specially What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar which is the first book in her Gem City series.
The title of this book is quite enough to get your attention so if you want to know more I’m going to give you a summary of what it is about before you get to read the Q&A. And here I gooooo.
What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar is about Courtney, who goes back to her old hometown (which she haven’t visited for years) to spend her summer vacation with her bff Vanessa. Once there Vanessa insists that Courtney has to meet this guy because he’s perfect for her and they’re introduced to each other in a welcoming party that Vanessa throws for Courtney. Sparks fly between Courtney and Ethan and soon enough they become inseparable. Do you want to know what I think about this book? I adored it. The cuteness was so palpable that I felt like a seventeen year old when reading it. Even though Courtney,’s and Ethan’s love happened so fast, Nicole wrote their relationship, banter and chemistry in such a way that made you believe in the possibility of falling in love in less than four weeks. I’m usually hesitant when it comes to love stories like this, you know, instalove, but everything felt so real that I would just read and fangirl by myself. You want to read a first love story with a lot of fluffy moments, a girl who blossoms into a better self and about a boy who brings you doughnuts and plays the guitar? Then this one is for you.
Now. Do you want to know more of Nicole and her Gem City books? This is our Q&A.
1. How did your characters come to you? Who came first, Ethan or Courtney?
The whole idea of Courtney came about because I wanted to re-write myself as a teenager as a more admirable person. That’s how it began anyway, but she definitely took on a life of her own as the story progressed. Some of her quirks (talking to herself, dealing with social situations) are mostly auto-biographical, but a lot of her stronger traits are just fictional. Ethan, Ethan, Ethan. I would say he’s about half fictional, half a mish-mosh of every guy I ever dated/was friends with. The majority of my friends growing up were guys, so I feel like I had a good assortment to choose from. One of my greatest friends from childhood and adolescence is quite present in Ethan as far as his guitar skills and his taste in music (he is aware of this, so I’m fairly certain I’m safe in saying that lol). Interestingly, the way this story turned out is almost nothing like what I outlined. Once I got to know the characters better, their story sort of wrote itself.
2. Courtney goes through major character development in the story; she comes out of her shell and starts to be less of an introvert, and also grows out of her anxiety. Did you plan on inspiring other girls to be influenced on love (not only from falling in love, but the love that comes from friendship and family) to become a better self?
As I mentioned above, I really wrote Courtney to be who I wished I had been in high school. If I had to answer the question about going back in time and giving yourself a piece of advice? I would have handed myself this book. I was so worried about everything all of the time, and as I’ve grown up and dealt with some really difficult, in some cases life-altering, circumstances, I just realized how much I wished I could have enjoyed being young and having fewer responsibilities. I totally hope that girls who read this realize that it’s ok to be yourself and be a nerd or a Harry Potter freak, or whatever it is, and that the right people will love you anyway, and will push you to be the best version of yourself. It always makes me really happy when I read a review and someone says that Courtney’s anxiety issues resonated with them because I hope that they can see themselves differently too.
3. Music is a key to this book. A big one. I want to know, how did you come up with the playlist for the story? More importantly, how did you come to pick the songs that are in the story, like, wonderwall, and I and love and you, and how’s it going to be?
I think I knew I wanted my novel to have a playlist before I really even knew the full storyline of the book. I went through five or six titles for this one, and it came down to either The Perfect Playlist or What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar. Yeah, they’re a bit different lol. I always err on the side of quirky and different, so that’s why I went with the insanely long title, but music was always going to be a part of the book. Two of the three songs you mentioned played a big role in my own life growing up. Wonderwall was one of the first songs my husband and I bonded over when we were dating, and How’s It Going to Be was like the break-up song of my generation I think. The Avett Brothers just happen to be a current band that I love, and when I listened to that song, I could picture Ethan playing it for Courtney once they were separated, so I just love that scene of him sitting alone and her sitting alone and having this song going on about how difficult it is to be in love. It even gives me goose bumps thinking about it right now. I have a 90’s obsession, so this playlist is the most of my own taste. I had to ask for a LOT of help from my musician friends to compile Ethan’s playlist in book two.
4. As expected of Ethan and Courtney’s summer love, long distance becomes a thing in their relationship. Do you know someone who has been in a long distance relationship? If so, do you know how they made it through the hardships of it?
Ah, the dreaded long-distance relationship. I have been in two. The first did not work out for many of the same reasons that Courtney and Ethan’s didn’t, though the stories are very different. When you’re young life is all about what’s going on in your immediate “bubble.” The longer you’re apart from someone, and the longer they’re outside of your “bubble,” the harder it becomes to maintain the same type of connection. Young love is just so intense and passionate and explosive (which is why it’s so much fun to write about), that it’s not something that I think works out well when it requires an extra amount of reason and logic and waiting. My second long distance relationship was with my (now) husband, and we were apart for a year in different cities. Obviously this one worked out, but again, I was a bit older and we had the end goal of getting married and starting a life together, so the circumstances were very different. This was a good question :).
5. I started reading How One Attempts to Chase Gravity (book two of Gem City) to see that this book is what happened in What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar but in Ethan’s perspective PLUS a sequel told in dual perspectives. This is sort of unconventional. What made you decide to write the book this way?
So many things about How One Attempts to Chase Gravity had a mind of their own. I always intended for book two to be from Ethan’s perspective, but I never really intended to write an overlap of almost the entirety of book one. I really wanted it just to be the Prologue that overlapped, but then I wrote another chapter, and then another, and I found this whole story there about Ethan and his family (his mom is one of my favorite characters) and his band, and how there was this whole side of him that you didn’t get to see from Courtney’s perspective because she was sort of blinded by her infatuation with him. Most people say they like Ethan a little less after reading his POV, but understand him better, and I’m good with that. I never wanted him to be “perfect,” so reading that about him in reviews made me want to move forward with publishing the book this way. I needed readers to see his flaws too. I also didn’t go into this book thinking about bringing Courtney back as a narrator, until it became very obvious that I needed her. Adding her into the last part of this book made all the difference, and I actually feel like some of my best writing took place here. I’m gotten mixed reviews about the format of this book- people either love it or hate it, and I have contemplated going back and making all of book one a dual POV story and evening out the page count a little bit. Time will tell if I actually do this or not!
6. Vanessa and Luke are such interesting characters in What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar. Do you want to tell us a bit of Gem City three?
I can’t even tell you how much I love these two. I was SO worried going into book three that it would feel like the forgotten stepchild of the series, but I can assure you it is NOT. Vanessa, when told from Courtney’s POV, is strong and carefree and witty and fun- and she is all of those things, but getting there came at a price, and I needed to tell her story. Book three has a totally different vibe from the first two. Vanessa and Luke are a little less intense than Courtney and Ethan, and I feel like there was a lot more room for witty banter and humor. But for them to get there, there’s a lot of very real teenage situations that Vanessa has to navigate through that she’s completely unprepared for. I think a lot of people will relate to this story in remembering mistakes they made or difficult situations they had to traverse as teenagers, or for teen readers, things they are going through now.
7. Do you have any new books on the way? Would you want to share what you’re planning?
My newest project is so exciting. It’s completely different than Gem City. A bit darker and less romantic. It will be dealing with a modern teenage witch (of the non-evil variety) dealing with several pieces of her world crumbling around her. I am three chapters in at the moment, and I am in love with this character, Rowyn Black. I really hope my readers will be willing to follow me on this journey of something new- I think this is going to be my most exciting project yet. It is tentatively titled The Girl Who Fell From the Tower.
Lastly, and you’re the first person (or people, considering this will be up on the internet 🙂 I’ve even mentioned it to, I recently outlined a novella in the Gem City series for the characters’ ten year high school reunion. I plan to release this as part of a boxed set, or just put it out there for probably 99 cents once it’s finished, but I just need to write it. I was getting ready to go to lunch last weekend, and almost instantaneously the entire plot for the novella showed up in my brain. I grabbed my phone and typed out everything I could think of in my notes so that I could come back to it later, but I can tell you that fans of the series will love it.
That’s all I’ve got on the horizon right now, but I am hoping to do big things with this new series, so stay tuned 🙂
I hope you all enjoyed this post! Until next time 😙
PS pictures belong to Nicole Campbell.