Monday, November 18, 2013

Awesomesauce Authors: An Interview with Chanel Cleeton

I'm thrilled to welcome my fellow YA Stands Contributor Chanel Cleeton to the blog today! In addition to being co-authors with me on our group blog, Chanel and I recently discovered that we graduated from the same high school! Here's a little about Chanel and her New Adult debut I SEE LONDON, available February 2014 from Harlequin.

About Chanel

Originally a Florida girl, at seventeen Chanel moved to London to attend an international university.  In the four years that followed, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, learned how to dance, travelled through Europe, and made lifelong friendships.  Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever.  But fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, when an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves, swept her off her feet. 

Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea.  An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she is happiest curled up with a book.  She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.  Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 1, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year. 

Tell us a little about your writer's journey so far:

My journey started in 2008 when I first started thinking about writing a book.  I was in a bookstore on vacation in Dallas, TX and I saw an advice book on how to write romance.  I’ve been an avid reader my entire life so it seemed like a natural progression.  For two years I worked on a historical romance novel.  I wrote sporadically and while I enjoyed working on that book I knew very little about the industry and it was more of a hobby for me. 

When I finished my book, I sent it out to a list of literary agents.  My query letter was terrible and I racked up rejections.  Finally in 2010 I started law school and realized that it wasn’t a good fit for me and I really wanted to be a writer.  My law school loathing really motivated me to get serious about my writing. 

In 2011 I joined RWA and landed an internship with a literary agency.  I started working on a YA project and found my writing niche.  A year later, in 2012, I queried my Young Adult project and signed with a literary agent.  A few months later I learned about New Adult and started working on my first NA, I SEE LONDON.  It sold to Harlequin HQN in June 2013 and will come out on February 1, 2014.

Okay, let's hear your Twitter Pitch! (140 characters or less.)

A girl moves to London to attend an international university and is caught between a hot British guy and an irresistible Lebanese playboy.

What inspired you to write this book? How is it a book only you could write?

My NA debut, I SEE LONDON, is inspired by my experience attending an international university in London.  My university was an incredible place— for ten years I’ve been saying that someone needed to write a book about it :) The four years I spent in London changed my life and made me the person I am today.  I SEE LONDON is basically my love letter to my favorite city.

What's your favorite thing about writing?

I love watching the story unfold as I write.  My characters constantly surprise me.  I’m a pantser so I often go into a book with only a bare idea of the plot.  I love watching that idea take shape and develop in ways I never imagined.

What's your least favorite thing?

Probably all of the waiting that goes on in the industry.  Sometimes you end up feeling like you’re a kid again and it’s the night before Christmas :)

Now it's time to brag a little--What do you love most about your book?

I love my setting and how big of a role London plays in the book.  It really shapes the story and provides my heroine, Maggie, with an incredible adventure.  I SEE LONDON is a Cinderella story set at an international university with a student body comprised of the sons and daughters of world leaders and diplomats.  The book is a romance but it’s also the story of a small town girl with big dreams. 

What has surprised you most about publishing post-agent (in other words, something unpublished writers may not know about how the process goes after you get an agent)?

Probably how much waiting is involved.  Patience is a good habit to develop while you are querying because being on submission and awaiting your book release also require A LOT of waiting.

Okay, now a little about you. (And yes, I stole these questions from In the Actor's Studio with James Lipton.)

What is your favorite word? 

There’s no way I could commit to just one.  I love words :)

What is your least favorite word?

Possibly “penis.”  It’s just not a sexy word.

What turns you on?


What turns you off?

Petty drama

What sound or noise do you love?

I love the sound of the ocean.

What sound or noise do you hate?

For some crazy reason, hiccups drive me nuts.

What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

I would love to be a CIA agent.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Well done.”  


It’s Maggie Carpenter’s chance— the opportunity to escape her ordinary life in South Carolina and bounce back from her Harvard rejection.  The International School— a university attended by the sons and daughters of diplomats and world leaders... and a few American scholarship students.  Set in London, it’s the playground for the international elite, a diverse student body bound together by wealth and privilege.  Where college parties are hosted at exclusive nightclubs and beer bongs are replaced by bottles of Cristal.

When Maggie meets Hugh, a twenty something British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted.  Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes, and going to the hottest clubs.  The only problem? The boy she can’t seem to keep her hands—and lips— off of. 

Samir Khouri isn’t like anyone Maggie has ever met.  He’s Lebanese, ridiculously wealthy, and way out of her league.  He’s made it clear; he doesn’t do relationships.  He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted; and he’s everything she can’t resist.  Cracks are breaking through Samir’s player veneer, making Maggie question her judgment— and her heart. 

But between her strained relationship with her military father and her hurt over the mother who abandoned her, Maggie’s not ready to trust just anyone.  Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending.  But in a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change with the blink of an eye. 

Preorder and Bookmark links are below! Add this one to your TBR list, people! I cannot wait to read it. 

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