Monday, November 4, 2013

Author Showcase and Giveaway - Vivi Barnes

It’s difficult for first-time writers to get an agent and even harder for them to get their book traditionally published, especially in the crowded young adult category. So, we’re super duper excited for RW’s first Author Showcase featuring author Vivi Barnes. *throws confetti* 

Vivi has graciously offered to donate and sign a copy of her book for one of RW’s readers, so make sure you become a follower of this blog then enter below for a chance to win.

RW:  Thank you for coming by.  We are very excited about your new book OLIVIA TWISTED available tomorrow, November 5, 2013, from Entangled Teen.  I still remember the night we chatted after critique group and you told me you were thinking of writing a modern-day version of OLIVER TWIST.  A few weeks later, you showed up with the completed manuscript. Okay, okay – so maybe that’s a bit of an over exaggeration, but you really did churn the manuscript out pretty fast. Are you a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer?

Vivi: Ha ha I remember that night! And I remember you saying “What the—it took you like two weeks to write!” Two months, missy! I am a bit of both, actually. Before I start a book, I write out a summary of the plot and characters. Very general, mind you—just so I know the story will have a beginning, middle, end and so I won’t forget my character’s names. But otherwise I let the story take me where it will—and sometimes end up in very surprising places.

RW:  What is it about writing for teenagers that appeals to you? 

Vivi: I love writing for teens because those years are full of firsts—first kiss, first love, first temptations. It is a time ripe with all the possibilities in the world ahead of you.  

RW:  I have several ‘Go To’ books that I keep near me when I’m writing.  When I just can’t get something right, I think – hey, how did so and so do this?  When it comes to voice, I often refer back to passages you’ve written because you’ve got amazing voice.  Do you have any tricks of the trade you’d be willing to share with the readers about how you’re able to get into the head of your protagonists and how your dialogue sounds so natural?

Vivi:  Aww thank you! It helps when I write in first person present tense because I can immerse myself into the character and “see” everything from his or her perspective. For example, there is a scene in OLIVIA TWISTED where someone spiked her drink in a club. So instead of saying “I start to feel funny,” which is a removed observation, I got into her head to write what she was actually feeling, and what I would feel if this happened to me. I had a lot of fun writing this scene! Here’s an excerpt:
“Are you okay?” the hot leather Z says in my ear.
“Sure.” I giggle. The leather smells so good. I wonder if it tastes good. I lean forward to lick it and accidentally drop the bottle of water on his foot.
He winces. “Whoa, take it easy. Did you drink out of this?” He takes the empty cup next to me and smells it, like maybe he thinks it’s roses or something. He frowns. “This is just Coke. Did you have something else to drink? Alcohol?”
“Nope. That’s it. Coke.” That’s a funny word, Coke.
His eyes tighten. “Did you do any drugs?”
“Drugs, schmugs. I don’t do drugs. Just like on TV.”
“Who gave this to you?” he demands, his face crinkled in anger. Or maybe it’ll be happy if I tilt my head…
“Is your frown turned upside down?”
“Who gave this to you?” He holds the cup in front of my face and shakes it to rattle the ice. I try to concentrate but my eyes keep slipping around to him. Hot guy is hot.
“Liv!” Z peers at me closer like he’s trying to see inside my eyes. “Who gave this to you?”
“Ooh, him. Tyssson. He’s sooo gross. Tries to sit on me on the bus. Or sit on the bus.” I can’t remember what I’m trying to say.

RW:  I love that excerpt!  Some writers finish their manuscripts with 100K words then start whittling it down when they edit.  Others start at 50K and add more layers with each pass, increasing word count.  Could you share with us your revision process, from critique group, to agent, to editor to copy editor? 

Vivi: I’m one whose manuscript starts out shorter and grows as I revise. OLIVIA TWISTED was 55K words. By the time I finished what felt like hundreds of revisions, it ended up around 89K words! This was probably because I added more of Z’s point of view later. But it seems like even when I remove sections, the word count increases. Critique partners and editors have helped me tighten certain parts and expand on others, so somehow it just ends up growing.

RW:  OT is dual POVs – your protagonists Liv (Oliver) and Z (Dodger).  Was one of the POVs easier than the other to write from?

Vivi: That’s a great question! I really enjoyed writing Z’s perspective (I tapped into my inner bad boy), but Liv’s was definitely easier. Maybe because I had been in her head from day one of writing the story, so I felt closer to her. In fact, early in the writing process I didn’t have Z’s POV through the entire novel, just parts. So my editor asked if I could make his POV through the entire story to balance it out. Keeping true to the characters in the original story of Oliver Twist, I had to ensure Liv’s innocence and Z’s cunning came across, which wasn’t always easy. Writing both POVs helped with that.

RW:  Do you listen to music as you write and, if so, did you have some favorite tunes that inspired OT?

Vivi: Oh YES! I have to listen to music in order to write. Music helps me get into a scene. When there were tense moments with Bill Sykes and any action scenes, I usually had Godsmack, Three Days Grace or Korn playing. For softer moments (HELLO KISSING), it’d be songs from Hinder, Staind or Coldplay.  Sad scenes might be songs from Evanescence, Civil Twilight and Josh Groban.

Thank you, again, Vivi for stopping by RW. We can’t wait to see what’s in store from you next. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. What a great excerpt! One of my favorite scenes from OT. Thank you so much for sharing that, Vivi. And thanks for the insight on your writing process. I love this book SO much. xoxo

  2. Loved this interview

  3. Great interview! Loved the excerpt! I can't wait for OT come out so I can read it. :)

  4. Such a fantastic interview! I absolutely love the little excerpt and I can't wait to grab a copy of OT!! WOOT!!!

  5. Vivi was so fun to interview. Her smile is contagious and her writing really draws readers in. My pre-order shipped last night. WOOT! :)

  6. Thank you guys so much for the interview!! I hope you all enjoy getting twisted! (That sounds wrong, doesn't it? LOL)