Sophomore Spotlight: Una LaMarche

I'm very excited today to welcome Una LaMarche to the blog! She's here to talk a bit about her sophomore novel, Like No Other. 

About the book:
Like No Other by Una LaMarche.

Published July 24, 2014.
Published by: Razrobill.

Goodreads Synopsis:
**Publishers Weekly Best Book of Summer 2014**
**A Summer 2014 Indie Next List Pick**
**A 2014 Junior Library Guild Selection**
**Los Angeles Times Summer Reading Guide Selection**
**An Entertainment Weekly YA Novel to Watch Out For**
Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 
Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing. 
Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters). 
They've spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did. 
When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection. 
Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up? 
In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it. 

Now please welcome Una!

J: Thanks for joining me, Una! Describe your sophomore novel, Like No Other, in a haiku (yes, I've noticed your fun Twitter promo :)).

U: Meet cute with a twist—

Her faith forbids connection,
His love risks it all.

[Cue dramatic music]

J: Ooh, dramatic indeed. I like! Which of the characters from Like No Other are you most excited for readers to meet?

U: That is such a hard question to answer, because I’m so attached to both of them, but if I had to choose, I’d pick Devorah, because her inner voice and outside world are so at odds, and it makes her story so much more complex.

J: If you could introduce one of the characters from Like No Other to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

U: I’d introduce Devorah to Jo March from Little Women. I think they’d have a lot to talk about…

J: Do you listen to music while you write/edit? If so, can you share one song you listened to a lot while working on this novel?

U: Annoyingly for me, I can’t listen to music while I write because it’s too distracting. That said, I did write a lot of the book in coffee shops, because I don’t have an office and I have a toddler at home, so I heard a lot of slow-jam singer-songwriter stuff that probably seeped into my subconscious. I specifically remember listening to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me,” which sticks in my head because it encapsulates the kind of blissful infatuation I was trying to put on paper.

J: I usually find it very distracting too, but I do love that Come Away With Me snuck its way in there. How did the journey for Like No Other differ from that for your debut?

U: It was so different, it’s kind of insane. For those who don’t know, my first novel, Five Summers, is about four friends from summer camp who have a falling out and work through a lot of drama at a camp reunion three years later. The themes were so much lighter and more beach-read-y, and while it wasn’t easy to write (no book is!), it was easier to access, because I went to camp as a kid and I’ve had those types of close but fraught female friendships that can vacillate between devotion and animosity. So I didn’t really do any research, I just drew from my own experiences.

With Like No Other, I wanted to tackle a deeper and more dramatic story, and I wanted to write characters who weren’t just versions of me or people I knew. There are aspects of Jax and Devorah’s personalities that I share and can relate to, but I had to do a lot of research and preparation before I could develop their voices. Devorah especially required a lot of research, just to get the details of her daily life close to what they would be in reality (I humbly admit that I’m sure there are errors, since short of actually living in a Hasidic household, which obviously wasn’t going to happen, I had to fill in holes in my research with creative license).

J: Sounds like you worked a more intense process for this new one. I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out in the story in comparison! Did you change anything else about your writing process for this novel after having written your debut, Five Summers?

U: Apart from the research, which was a big change, I also learned to be more disciplined about my pacing. Both of these books were written fast—I wrote THREE drafts of Five Summers in four months, and the first draft of Like No Other was written in about two and a half. As I mentioned, I have a young son who I stay home with most of the time, so I generally only had about 20 hours a week to write, and a lot of that was after 8 pm. I usually had to hit at least 1500 words a day to get the work done on time, and I so I had to learn how to focus (I’m still working on that—I had to install an app that blocks the internet on my laptop) and make the most of my time. I also ate a lot of chocolate-frosted mini donuts while writing Like No Other. That’s probably why it felt like a smoother process.

J: Mmm, donuts. Donuts make everything smoother. Well, except maybe the exercise it later takes to work them off. What is the best part of already having a book out in the world when you're going into releasing another?

U: Breaking into publishing—or any creative field—is so tough, because you have to have made a name for yourself for people to notice you, but in order to make a name for yourself you have to get noticed. It’s the definition of a Catch-22. I was so lucky that Razorbill took a chance on me with Five Summers, but with that novel, since I was a total newbie, I didn’t have a lot going for me. One of the parts of promoting a book is getting better-known authors to “blurb” it, which means they provide a quote you can stick on the cover that recommends your book to potential readers. With Five Summers, I sent letters to half a dozen people asking them to blurb it, and only one person (bless you, Jodi Lynn Anderson!) did.

Having already written a book put me in a much better position to promote Like No Other. I got about five blurbs and a lot more press, including reviews in The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly! (A big part of the reason for this, I should mention, is that I think Like No Other is just a better book, but even that might not be the case if I hadn’t had the practice of writing Five Summers!)

J: Can you share a favourite quote from Like No Other?

U: My favorite quote is when Jaxon first gets a good look at Devorah, when they get stuck together in an elevator:

“She stands up and takes a step toward me, and as the light filters down through the hole above us, like artificial moonlight on a movie set, I can really see her eyes for the first time, big and gray flecked with shimmering hints of sky blue, like someone bottled that moment when Dorothy steps out of her black-and-white farmhouse and into Oz. That’s the moment I know I’m in trouble.”

J: Una, I love that. That is just wonderful. In keeping with our theme here, are there any other sophomore releases you've either loved recently or are looking forward to?

U: I loved Eleanor & Park so much that I was a little afraid to read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, because I thought there was no way it could live up to my expectations, but damn she’s amazing. I’m so jealous of her skills. And I think If I Stay was Gayle Forman’s second YA novel. Let’s just pretend it is, even if I’m wrong, for the sake of the theme :)

J: You know, I think you are right about that one, so you're safe ;) Can you share anything about your next project?

U: I have a book of comic essays called Unabrow coming out next March, which is a huge departure from YA fiction, but relevant in that it deals with my real teen years, as well as going to college, stumbling through the work force, getting married, getting published, and having a baby. I’m also currently writing a third, so far untitled young adult contemporary for Razorbill, which centers on a girl doing everything she can to hold it together for her siblings when both of her parents go AWOL for various dramatic and dysfunctional reasons. Since Five Summers was about friendship and Like No Other was a romance, I wanted to delve into what I think is the third and probably most important player in the love trifecta: family. We learn how to love from our parents, so when they let you down, how do you figure it out on your own? (I should mention, by the way, that my own parents were and are awesome, and that this is fiction. Hear that, mom?)

J: Sounds fantastic! I'm definitely looking forward to both. Thanks Una! 

Una was kind enough to offer up a finished hardcover copy of Like No Other to one lucky winner!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open internationally (void where prohibited).
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Una 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.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. So, so excited for this book. Orthodox Jews so rarely get our moment in the YA MC sun! (And by "so rarely" I mean never. Never ever. So this is obviously a "must have" for me!)

  2. I read an early digital copy through Penguin's First to Read program but I would love to get my hands on a physical copy. This was easily one of the best books I've read so far this year.

  3. i read the synopsis and sound good!

  4. It sounds like a really cute and interesting read!

  5. Sounds like a great unique read I would absolutely love the opportunity to read this!

  6. I've only just recently heard about this book, but when I read the description, I wanted it right away! It sounds like a dramatic yet cute read.
    P.S. Loved how you wanted Devorah to meet Jo March!


I'd love to hear what you think!