Monday, May 5, 2014

Awesomesauce Authors: An Interview with NA Author Liz Barone!

Today I'm pleased to welcome New Adult indie author Elizabeth Barone whose latest title, AMPLIFIED, had me at "Boy Bands!" Here's a little about Liz and her most recent book baby!

Koty Jackson is the wildly popular lead singer of the boy band ESX. Despite all of his fame, he desperately wants to be a rock star, playing arenas and partying at hotels. His agent says pop stars can’t cross over, though, and that Koty should be grateful for what he has. But when Koty meets Jett Costa, female lead singer of the indie garage rock band Perpetual Smile, everything changes. 

After losing her lover and bandmate to cancer, Jett needs a guitarist who doubles as a vocalist. Koty is prepared to prove himself to her and Perpetual Smile’s management, even if it means pissing off ESX’s manager and label. Jett thinks boy bands are lame, though, and she refuses to have anything to do with him. 

But the clock is ticking, and as both bands near the beginning of major tours, Koty and Jett have to figure out how to get it together—or they’ll lose everything they’ve built.

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

I am all of the writerly cliches; I started writing straight out of the womb, and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t think I could be a writer, though. I come from a pretty banged up city, and you’re pretty much ingrained from birth to build a well-paying career with great benefits. So, I always sort of thought you couldn’t make a living from writing. I studied Culinary Arts, and when I discovered that I’d have to work holidays and weekends and sixteen-hour days, I decided not to pursue it. I got my A.S. in Multimedia/Web Authoring—a fancy term for web design—and led a pretty successful career in the field for about five years. I didn’t love it, though.

Around that same time, an online friend started her career as an independent author. She blogged about her process and self-publishing as a business. I thought it was all super cool, but didn’t think it was something I could do. Then I lost my well-paying job and spent an entire summer unemployed, scouring the internet for job applications and sitting on my couch playing The Sims 2. With no idea what I was going to do next, I took a part-time job at a department store. On a whim, I decided to self-publish a short story that had previously won an award. It turned out that the process wasn’t that hard. It incorporated a little of what I’d learned as a web designer, and I figured I could learn everything else. I decided to start pursuing a full-time career as an author.

Now I work holidays, weekends, and sixteen-hour days, but I don’t mind it at all. I’ve been full time since February 2014, and while I’m still figuring out the business end of it, it’s working. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

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

A rock ‘nroll romance about a pop star who wants to be a rock star, the woman who steals his heart, and the hurdles on their climb to the top.

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

The ESX series came from a question that popped into my head one day: What if a boy band singer tried to become a rock star? I thought it was hilarious. Growing up, I very briefly fell into the boy band trap. I preferred 98 Degrees to the super popular Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, though. Mostly, I listened to Dio and Alanis Morissette. Living in those two worlds was very weird growing up. You couldn’t be both a rock fan and like other music. I always felt out of place. I understand exactly how my protagonist, Koty Jackson, feels. He doesn’t get why he can’t  just switch careers. Everyone warns him that it’s a bad idea, but he’s going to try.

What's your favorite thing about writing?

I now get paid to daydream. Seriously, there’s nothing better than being able to tell a story and share it with others. I love that, as an indie author, I can interact with my readers really easily. I once wrote an entire story based on reader votes.

I also love the escape it gives me. No matter what is happening in my personal life, I always have my stories.

What's your least favorite thing?

Sometimes, writing is really just one big head game. You have to learn how to get out of your own way. Being someone who has depression and a touch of anxiety, that’s often easier said than done. I try to flavor my stories with my own personal struggles, though. I want my readers to know that, no matter what they’re going through, they’re not alone. Writing can be a very lonely and solitary affair, but sharing those things makes it a bit easier.

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

I love that it goes deeper than the budding relationship between Koty and Jett. He’s struggling with trying to build his career, and she’s trying to get over this huge loss in her life. Koty is sort of the underdog with everything working against him, while Jett is in her own way, burying her problems with alcohol. I think it’s a story that’s very relatable for people. Real life isn’t easy.

Who was your favorite character to write? Why?

That’s like choosing a favorite child! I like writing Koty because torturing him is fun. On the other hand, I like writing Jett because she’s so sassy. As a whole, writing the ESX series is relatively effortless for me. It’s just a blast to put together, even with its heavier facets.

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)?

I actually don’t have an agent. Going the independent route was not an easy decision, and I’m not always sure that I’m doing the right thing. Having an agent, I think, gives you that validation. At the same time, though, in an industry that is changing so quickly, I love that I can be much more agile. I don’t have to go through an agent or publish. I can react to changes instantly.

I think that new authors should weigh the pros and cons of getting an agent. You have to do what’s best for you. There are many successful authors on both paths. Choosing your path is purely personal, and depends on your needs and strengths.

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?

Are we talking swears or…? I was raised by a trucker, so I have a very colorful vocabulary. My mom read to my sister and I from early childhood, so I also have a solid, educated arsenal. I’ll get hooked on certain words for a while, and will find any excuse to use them. Right now, since I’ve been working on the fourth ESX book, I have a lot of musical words bouncing through my head. I’m always trying to find the right words to describe sounds. I like words that have texture. Reverberated is a good one. It sounds exactly like what it is, the repetitive sounds of the syllables giving it flavor.

What is your least favorite word?

Sometimes, I’ll come across a word that annoys me, so I’ll try to cut it from my writing completely. Usually, I come around. I tend to move in phases—in all aspects of my life.

What turns you on?

The best moments in life are those wrapped in shared laughter. If there’s coffee or tea, even better. I have an extremely wide taste in music, from Mastodon to Lana Del Rey to The Duke Spirit. Life is best lived in soft leggings or yoga pants.

What turns you off?

Pettiness and people trying to tear each other down. Women tend to do this more than men. I’m not sure why. I love that, in the writing community, we cheer each other on, no matter which paths we’ve chosen. I wish it could always be like that.

What sound or noise do you love?

Solid drumbeats that I can feel in my chest, threaded with bass to back it up and intricate guitar chords. The sound of waves lulls me to sleep and soothes my soul. The laughter of my family and friends eases my anxiety.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Abusive, interruptive sounds, like TV commercials that are louder than the show or passing cars blasting music. I live in the city; you’d think I would be used to this by now, but I’m not.

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

For a long time, I wanted to teach children. That’s still kind of my backup plan—especially preschool. Mostly, though, I want to be a mother. I would love to spend every day with tiny feet running around while I sneak in words on my keyboard.

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

“Sorry for the bad jokes.” If there’s a god, it/she/he has a very bizarre sense of humor.

Finally, what's the one question you've always wanted to answer in an interview? (And of course, you have to answer it!)

I want to make sure that my readers know where I’m coming from. I want to give them stories that are spiced with prevailing hope, even when things aren’t going well. I write what I call “New Adult fiction for people with real problems.” My characters are in their twenties and are trying to figure out where they fit into the world—just like the rest of us.

About the Author

Elizabeth Barone writes New Adult fiction for people with real problems—stories that capture how much it sucks to be a twenty-something, led by flawed, three-dimensional characters. She received a culinary arts degree at her technical high school and a web design degree at her community college, but life had other plans for her. Her debut novel, Sade on the Wall, was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the ESX series, a rock ’n’ roll romance. Her novel, Crazy Comes in Threes, is the first in the Comes in Threes series, and a love letter to those with depression and anxiety.

Elizabeth lives in Connecticut with her cat and husband. Visit her at

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