I am so excited to be hosting an author interview for S. Walden's exclusive blog tour for her upcoming book, Better (Too Good #2). Keep reading for a giveaway!
Their relationship has been exposed, and now their lives are changed forever. For Cadence Miller, the fast track to adulthood proves intimidating and frustrating. She’s a little girl lost—abandoned by her parents and uncertain of her future. She doesn’t think she “fits” anywhere. She’s eighteen. She wants to be older. And the result is both comical and heartbreaking. Mark Connelly will do anything to provide Cadence a stable, loving home—to be her protector. But he’s just as broken and lost, and his heart won’t let go of his past so easily. He knows he must share his secret with Cadence. And he hopes his revelation won't tear them apart. He hopes it will draw them closer, and make their love better.
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to help celebrate the release of Better! Amazon only!
to help celebrate the release of Better! Amazon only!
1. What made you decide to write a book about a student/teacher romance?
This is gonna sound ridiculous, but I’m not sure I’m the one making decisions to write
my books. I think the characters do. They show up one day in my brain and say, “Hey,
we’ve got a story, and you’re writing it.” To which I reply meekly, “Okay.” And that
really is the case for the Too Good series. Cadence showed up, told me she wanted to get
with her math teacher, and told me she wanted to be a Christian, too. For a split second
I thought, You’ve gotta be kidding me, right? And then I just rolled with it because
I discovered that there was a special story here. Maybe not a popular one, but it was
important to tell.
2. What makes your student/teacher romance different from others in your genre?
Well, I incorporated some elements that I later realized are not “acceptable” student/
teacher NA elements: 1) major age difference between main characters; 2) high school
setting where heroine is not eighteen to start; 3) religion. Not even a double whammy.
A triple whammy. Sure, I did my market research on student/teacher romances and
realized that none were truly taboo. They toed a right, thin line: give just enough to make
it a little naughty but not obscene. Apparently I went obscene. But I honestly didn’t think
I was writing a story that was sooo out there. Sooo beyond acceptable. I just thought I
was writing “taboo.” So there you have it: What makes this story difference from other
student/teacher books? It’s “taboo.”
3. Why even go there with the religion?
Ha! I’d have lost a good amount of the purpose of this story without it. Cadence needed
to grow up with a Christian framework because I wanted the struggles she and Mark
faced to go beyond the law (which my hero didn’t break, between). There are plenty of
books that explore the repercussions of a student and teacher breaking societal rules,
school rules, etc. And I wanted my book to explore those. But I also wanted the story
to go beyond that, too. I wanted souls involved. I wanted a heroine who is raised in a
certain type of household for seventeen years to question the framework she’s always
believed, always relied upon to give her direction and purpose. That’s the whole point of
the book title. Good. What does that mean? What is goodness? Who has it? Can we lose
it? Am I still good if I choose to reject my upbringing and explore God on my own? So
yeah, not just a simple love story there, and I did that on purpose. Why? I can’t simply
write a love story. Other stuff has to be going on.
4. Did you want to frustrate your readers by making Mark so mysterious in Good? How would you know if they’d hold on for the sequel?
I don’t know that they did. I imagine the ones who didn’t like Good aren’t waiting
for the sequel. I also imagine that Mark’s mysteriousness is NOT the reason they’re
forgoing the sequel J I realized I took a risk writing Book 1 the way I did. But I wanted
Good to be from Cadence’s point of view. First person POV is limiting—probably the
most limiting of all points of view. But it needed to be her story. You needed to feel
what she was feeling on an immediate level. You needed to be her. I wanted you to.
First person POV allows for that kind of intimacy between main character and reader. It
wasn’t Mark’s story. Book 1 had to be Cadence’s, so naturally, you could only see what
Cadence saw in him. You could only make guesses and assumptions about his moods
and his feelings. I know that’s frustrating, but it was necessary to give Cadence her time
and her voice in Good. The story opens up in Better when you are finally allowed access
into Mark’s head. And yeah, I really hope that readers didn’t get so frustrated with his
mysteriousness that they won’t give the sequel a chance. Again, all questions answered
in Book 2. I’m just sorry I couldn’t fit the entire story into one.
5. This is your first series. Did you like writing a continuing story, and would you write another?
There is a TON of pressure placed on an author when she’s in the middle of a series.
Most of that pressure deals with deadlines. “When will Book 2 release?” That was
the most popular of all questions. And I’m thrilled that readers care so much, but the
pressure to write an entire novel, set up promotion, edit, format, fine tune—all the stuff
that goes into releasing a polished book—became much too overwhelming for me. I
wrote Better in one month, and that’s kind of ridiculous. Am I proud of that novel?
Hell, yeah! I love it better than Good (no pun). But I shouldn’t have to write a novel
in a month, and I won’t do that again. I can’t. I’m exhausted. So while I really enjoyed
the idea of a series, I realized that if I plan to survive The Starry Trilogy, I have to be
upfront about the time it will take me to write those novels. They’re deep and complex.
They’re long. They will take me a freaking looooooong time to write. And I know
readers don’t like to wait a year between novels in a series. I totally get that. But I can’t
write the entire story in one book. So I ask for patience.
6. Why do you think some readers had difficulty with the age difference?
I think it had to do with two reasons: 1) Cadence starts out at seventeen when the novel
begins, and 2) I wrote my characters to reflect their ages. I actually went back and
updated my book summary on Amazon two weeks after Good released. I copied and
pasted Georgia’s age of consent law. I knew it wouldn’t matter, but I wanted to show
that I wasn’t making it up: sixteen is the age of consent in Georgia. Mark breaks no laws.
I find it hilarious that if Cadence would have been eighteen at the beginning of the novel,
that there’d most likely be no issue. She could think and talk and act the exact same way,
but eighteen is the magic number, you see? It makes it all all right. OR, I could have
made her incredibly mature so the age difference wouldn’t have been a big deal. But I
write realistic fiction. She needed to act like a seventeen-year-old: Immature. Mature.
Immature. Mature. I think that’s how it goes. I’m aware of the weird, fuzzy line of
lovers/student-teacher/child-adult in the book. I wrote it that way because to me, that’s
exactly how a relationship like Mark’s and Cadence’s would be.
7. What can you tell us about the upcoming sequel?
Well, you know Mark and Cadence are together when the story opens. I can tell you
that. You’ll see their relationship in a whole new light now that they’re living together.
I can tell you that, too. There are surprises along the way—surprises you may love and
surprises you may hate. These surprises may even make or break the characters for you.
And that’s okay. I never promise my fans an easy read. And I certainly don’t think you’ll
get that with Better. Sweet, languid, soft moments? Sure. Every book should have those!
But just like Good, Better will stretch you, make you uncomfortable. Make you think.
And that’s the most important aspect of the book, in my opinion.
8. Any future plans for Avery?
I’m actually toying around with the idea of writing a novella for her that would be
part of the Too Good series. Besides Beatrice in Honeysuckle Love, Avery is the most
complex side character I’ve ever written. I really love her. Like, a lot J And I can totally
see a book for her. Full-length novel? Not so much, because Avery is a little much. But
I think her story warrants its own mini novel, and I’d be happy to pursue that idea if
enough fans are interested.
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.