I'm extremely excited to welcome Lindsay Smith to the blog today. You may remember when she was here last year chatting a bit about her debut, SEKRET. Well, now she's coming back around as part of the blog tour for its follow-up, SKANDAL and she has come armed with some excellent answers to my questions!
First, here's a bit about the book:
Skandal by Lindsay Smith.
Published: April 7, 2015.
Published by: Roaring Brook Press.
The dramatic sequel to Sekret, this psychic Cold War espionage thriller follows Yulia to Washington, DC, where she fights to discover the truth about her family without losing control of her mind.
My mind is mine alone.
Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the US government is suspicious of Yulia's allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the US capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international Skandal.
And now for an interview with Lindsay!
Jess: Welcome, Lindsay! Thanks for joining me today. To start you off with something easy, can you give five words to describe SKANDAL?
Lindsay: That’s the easy one?! Hmm…
Psychic American grass questionably greener.
Psychic Cold War: Hotter, Louder
Beatniks, Bolsheviks, and Weaponized Telepathy
J: Haha those are good! The second one almost sounds like a parody movie title for an action sequel. I love it! And a book titled Beatniks, Bolsheviks, and Weaponized Telepathy, I would probably be all over.
You introduce a few interesting new characters in SKANDAL. Which new addition are you most excited for readers to meet and why?
L: I’m really excited for readers to meet Staff Sergeant Winnifred Davis, Yulia’s English tutor. Winnie’s a talented Air Force linguist and a no-nonsense teacher who isn’t shy about introducing Yulia to both the good and bad in her new home country. She’s one of the highest-ranking enlisted women and African Americans in the Armed Forces, and she’s also not a psychic, so she sits in that uncomfortable in-between ground of having already accomplished a great deal of things but also feeling like she’s never been able to prove herself enough to her detractors.
I also love Donna Willoughby, one of Yulia’s fellow teammates, a sunny California girl with a mean streak and tendency toward exaggeration. Donna’s not an easy girl to like, but I think she embodies a lot of authentic teen emotions, wavering between an easy confidence and a desperate need for acceptance. She definitely has some growing pains to contend with in SKANDAL.
J: I adored meeting both of these ladies, but especially Winnie. Yulia is certainly lucky to have her.
SKANDAL brings with it a lot of growth for main character Yulia. Without giving too much away, what do you think she would say is her greatest personal step forward since the end of SEKRET? What would she consider the biggest personal challenge she faces in SKANDAL?
L: I think the greatest lesson Yulia has to learn in SKANDAL is that there is no perfect solution. Leaving Russia hasn’t magically solved her every problem, and she can never go home again—her father isn’t the man she remembers, and after what happened to Valentin at the end of SEKRET, he can no longer be her rock. Yulia’s very hard-headed, so learning to be flexible proves to be a major challenge for her in SKANDAL.
J: In SKANDAL we move from the Soviet Union to Washington, DC. How did you get into the mindset of approaching 1960s American culture as a Soviet who has just arrived in the US? Was that hard for you to create or capture?
L: While I could only imagine the specifics of Yulia’s circumstances, I think we’ve all experienced the aftermath of a difficult choice that thrusts us into a new setting—like choosing to attend a different school than our childhood friends, or changing jobs, or moving to a new city. I wanted Yulia to struggle with that decision and doubt herself, as I think that’s only natural; even leaving behind as awful of circumstances as she had, there was still some bittersweetness in leaving Russia for her, and the grass wasn’t always 100% greener.
Beyond that, I tried to present her life in 1960s America as a counterpoint to what we saw in 1960s Russia in SEKRET. The cold, gray winters gave way to garish, sticky springtime; the hunched-over workers and shifty eyes yielded to loud, overly friendly people in bright-colored clothing. She traded the culture of extreme secrecy, stability, and unquestioning loyalty to the Communist Party to an oversharing, sarcastic, and restless American populace at the crossroads of a cultural shift.
J: Was the research for SKANDAL tougher than for SEKRET, or was it easier because you already had a base to draw from? Did you come across anything especially strange or interesting during your research?
L: I found it much easier, with a few notable exceptions—I’d never done much research before into the origins of the Vietnam War or the Civil Rights movement, both of which figure into the backdrop of SKANDAL but had been absent in SEKRET. Also, ever since I’d decided to write SKANDAL, I’d been super stoked to visit the Washington, D. C. Historical Society, only to find that their building was under renovations the entire time I was drafting and revising. I was still able to dig up tons of cool old photos at the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, however, and went drinking with a DC native and her dad and got him to tell me more than I ever wanted to know about the District in the 1960s!
As far as strange things turned up in researching—I don’t think anything will top the rumors of hapless CIA office workers finding LSD in their morning coffee, courtesy the Science division researchers.
J: I often hear authors say that sequels are especially tough to write. Did you find that with SKANDAL? Was there any part of the process that was particularly difficult this time around?
L: I think part of the scary part of writing a sequel is that, for many authors, it’s the first book they’ve had to write under contract, which is a whole new and terrifying experience unto itself. I also thought that the middle of my deadline would be a great time to change day jobs and buy a house, because I like doing everything on Hard Mode. SKANDAL was not without its challenges—I had to force myself to read early reviews for SEKRET, against my better instincts, so I could focus on the elements readers really loved and ditch the ones they didn’t. But a lot of the tough work of worldbuilding was already done for me, which relieved the considerable mental load that’s usually present when writing in a new universe. I knew these characters and how their world operated. I just had to make it better, different, and more. Easy, right? ;)
J: Finally, I have to ask: I know that your next release is this fall's DREAMSTRIDER (which sounds incredible), but do you see more historical fiction in your future?
L: Fantasy and historical fiction are my two favorite genres, so I suspect everything I do will have elements of one or both! I love DREAMSTRIDER—it is high fantasy, through and through—but I’m pleased that I was able to make it into a standalone, which gives me flexibility for exploring new worlds and settings in future books.
I don’t have a title or teaser blurb for you yet, but my Fall ’16 release does take place in both contemporary and Edo-period Japan (circa 1860). And I always have more ideas for Russian books, too!
J: Whoa, does that ever sound fantastic. I can't wait to hear more about that! And the fact that you think you'll always have fantasy and/or historical elements in your work... you're a writer after my own heart. Thanks so much for answering all my questions!
Make sure you check back soon for my review of SKANDAL and while you're here, check out Lindsay's links, follow the rest of the blog tour to see what else Lindsay had to say about SKANDAL, and enter the giveaway!
- Learn more about the first book in the duology, Sekret.
- Add Skandal to your to-read list on Goodreads.
- Join in on social media with #Skandal.
- Visit Lindsay’s website, follow her on Twitter, and follow her on Tumblr.
Full Blog Tour Schedule
April 7-Love Is Not a Triangle
April 8-Icey Books
April 9-Exlibris Kate
April 10-MacTeenBooks Blog
April 11-Mariah Reading Adventure
April 12-Fly Leaf Review
April 13-Read My Breath Away
April 14-Fire Fly Read It
April 15-The Bookrat
April 16-Adventures of a Book Junkie
The kind folks at Macmillan have graciously offered up a copy of SKANDAL to one lucky US/Canada resident. Just enter via the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada only (void where prohibited).
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted. The winner has 48 hours to respond, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Macmillan will be shipping the prize, thus you must be comfortable with providing me your address to pass along to the publicist at Macmillan.
~ Macmillan and I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
~ No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.
a Rafflecopter giveaway