For my stop on the YA contemporary scavenger hunt, I'm interviewing author Mary Elizabeth Summer, about her latest book, Trust Me, I'm Lying! You can enter to win a hardcover of the book in the giveaway at the bottom of the interview.
Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.
But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.
1) Where did the inspiration for Trust Me, I'm Lying come from?
One night, I was watching back to back episodes of Leverage and White Collar, and I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great to read a book with a teenage con artist protagonist?” Then I went to bed thinking nothing more of it, and woke up with Julep’s voice in my head, demanding I write her story. So I did. :)
2) What was the most interesting thing you Googled while doing research for Trust Me, I'm Lying?
It’s funny you should ask that…I’m pretty sure the guy who just “moved into” the house behind mine is actually an FBI agent whose job it is to determine if I’m a threat to national security, that’s how bad my browser history looks right now. I’ve also bought a lot of questionable books. (You’d be amazed what people will put in writing these days.)
For TMIL, the most interesting thing I Googled was how to blow up a boat using a kitchen timer. But I also Googled how to forge checks, and I bought an entire book on how to forge drivers’ licenses. If it’s illegal, I probably now have a passing idea of how to do it.
3) How long did it take you to write your novel?
About a year and a half, all told. I took a big break in the middle of the summer, but it was always percolating in the background. (Writers never really take a break.) I also wrote a lot of it on my phone while shuttling to and from work on public transit. My thumbs are fast, but not that fast.
4) What's one book that you wish you had written?
There are sooo many good ones out there. This is such a tough question. I’m going to have to cheat and give you three.
1. Run To You by Clara Kensie. That book. Ugh. The feels!
2. Beyond Our Stars by Marie Langager. Also with the feels! And a really unique premise. I love that book.
3. Catseye by Andre Norton. Favorite. Book. Ever. … Wow. They’re all scifi. That’s interesting for a mystery writer, isn’t it?
5) What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
It’s not about talent. It’s not about luck. It’s about tenacity. You will feel like giving up. Everyone feels like giving up. Not just once, but many times, both before and after publication. It’s the stubborn, mulish, never-surrender types that become authors. It’s the really, really stubborn, mulish types that make a living as an author. You have to ride the line between humble and teachable, and stubborn with an iron will. You have to have both to make it.
6) How did you come up with the title for your novel? Was it the first one you came up with?
Trust Me, I’m Lying is not the original title. Originally, I called it Catch My Grift. My wife came up with CMG, and I still have a great big soft spot for it. But my editor noted (and rightly so) that “grift” is a pretty unusual word and might confuse people. So I went on the hunt for a new title, and when discussing options with my mom on the phone, she came up with the “Trust Me, I’m…” lead in, to which, after some brainstorming, I landed on “Lying” to finish it off. We both liked it a lot. I pitched it to my editor, and she liked it, too.
7) What are you currently working on writing?
I’m just now in that sweet spot between finishing book 2 of Julep’s story and starting on book 3. I do have most of another, unrelated story written, as well as a tantalizing new idea that I can’t wait to get started on! Here’s to more time in 2015!
Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. TRUST ME, I'M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.