Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for No Place Like Here by Christina June! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Christina!
Interview with Christina June
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
1. Your bio says your day job is writing college recommendation letters as a school counselor. How has that job impacted your writing career?
I feel like I’ve never really left high school! Being surrounded by teens definitely gives me perspective on the things they’re facing and the emotions they’re feeling. Not much has changed since I was their age, which is both comforting and distressing!
2. Your bio also states you eat way too many cupcakes. Which ones are your favorite?
I try to limit my cupcake consumption most of the time, but I do love them. There’s a local bakery in my area, Best Buns, that makes the very best vanilla/vanilla cupcakes ever, so that’s my number one. I’ll also eat anything from Baked & Wired in Washington DC.
3. What have you learned about writing/yourself since your debut?
I’ve learned that I am more capable than I think I am. Writing and publishing are scary, but if you surround yourself with good people and put in the time, you can make progress. I’ve also learned that there is always time if you make it. Even if you write for 15 minutes a day and it ends up being 25 words, that’s 25 words you didn’t have before you started. Every little bit counts.
4. What are some books every person (teen or not) should read?
I think all readers should read books about characters that don’t look like them, worship like then, love like them, have the same abilities as them, etc. We need to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of all kinds of people. I love We Need Diverse Books and the lists they put together—great resources for readers looking for ideas. A few books that have made impressions on me recently have been DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, ANGER IS A GIFT, THE BRIDE TEST, STANLEY WILL PROBABLY BE FINE, FRONT DESK, ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST, and YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE.
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I’m usually obsessively planning something. I love reading restaurant menus and reviews, “what do to this weekend” guides, and travel sites. I’m currently working on summer vacation and a fall trip to Disney. I also love to read and binge on TV shows.
ABOUT THE BOOK
1. Describe your book in five words or less.
That’s so hard! How about “feeling powerless at summer camp?” That covers some of it…. 😊
2. The heroine, Ash, loves inspirational quotes. What are some of her favorites? What are some of your favorites?
A lot of her favorites are my favorites. My most favorite of all time is in the book. “I am not who you supposed, but far different,” which is from a Walt Whitman poem that appears in Leaves of Grass. I think it really speaks to being a teen and how there’s this desire to appear one way to the world and also the need for others to really understand who you are inside. Sometimes those two selves don’t match.
Ash also makes reference to Warsan Shire poetry, which we couldn’t put in the book, but I would encourage everyone to read on their own. Her words are incredibly powerful.
3. Did you go to summer camp? If so, tell us your favorite memory.
I did go to summer camp! It was just after 6th grade and I went for 2 weeks to a traditional sleepaway camp with my best friend. I remember sitting around the camp fire singing with the other girls, riding horses and being terrible at archery. One really cool thing we got to do was take our horses into the river and swim with them. I loved it.
4. If you were to write yourself into this book what kind of character would you be?
Ashlyn’s best friend, Tatum, who is the star of my first novel IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE is essentially a braver version of me at sixteen. I’ve often been the one to cheer friends up and would certainly send care packages like Tatum does while Ashlyn is away.
5. What message do you hope readers receive from reading No Place Like Here?
If they’ve had a rough home life like Ash does, my hope is that reader will connect with her and perhaps feel inspired to speak up for themselves in their own life. I want them to know their voice matters and they do have power. If a reader has never experienced similar obstacles, then I hope they’ll gain empathy and new perspective. There’s a reason Ashlyn is emotionally distant, makes poor romantic choices, and feels afraid to stand up for herself. Perhaps reading this book may make those readers think about the people in their lives who might need an ally.
Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
About Christina June
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.
She is the author of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, and the forthcoming NO PLACE LIKE HERE.