You Don’t Know My Name
(The Black Angel Chronicles #1)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: January 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy.
Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan.
Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?
Find out if you are ready to join the Black Angels in the captivating and emotional page-turner, You Don’t Know My Name, from debut novelist Kristen Orlando!
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1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I think in my heart I always knew I wanted to be a writer. But I never thought I was good enough! I actually applied to college as a Biology Major and planned on becoming a doctor. One day I was sitting in a lecture and as the professor discussed photosynthesis, it all hit me. I thought to myself, “holy crap. I hate this. What am I doing there?” I knew deep down my passion was not medicine. It was creating stories and writing. I feel very lucky that I get to do this! It’s definitely a dream come true.
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
I’d say on average 6 months. First book took me 6 months to write from start to finish and then several more months to edit it. I’m following the same pattern now with the second book. If I have 6 months, I can make it happen!
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I think I get inspiration from everywhere. Random things spark my imagination. It could be from a conversation I have or movies I watch or just out of the blue. I jotted down my most recent book idea after it hit me while brushing my teeth. The idea for YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME actually came to me in the shower of all places (where I think everyone does their best thinking, right?). My husband and I had just watched the movie, Red, which is about retired CIA operatives hunted by assassins. After we had watched the movie, I was in the shower and thought, “What would it be like to be the daughter of one of those top secret spies? What an interesting and dangerous double life you’d have to lead!” And then I realized…oh, my gosh, that’s a book! I’d been wanting to write a young adult book for awhile but hadn’t come up with an idea yet and then… BAM! I think I came up with half the plot somewhere between shampooing and conditioning. I was so excited about it I literally ran down the hallway in my towel (still dripping wet) to see what my husband thought of the idea. He loved it and encouraged me to write it. It was definitely one of those very rare lightning strike moments. I started outlining and plotting right away (well…once I got some clothes on).
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I do my best writing in the afternoon and my best editing at night. So I try to stick to that.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
It can be very hard sometimes! When I was writing the first book, I was working a lot of hours at an advertising/marketing agency, so I wrote on nights and weekends. I sacrificed a lot to write: time with family and friends, weekend outings, even just relaxing in the evening with my husband. Watching TV or reading a book after dinner at night was a total foreign concept to me (and sometimes still is). But I luckily have a very supportive husband who does look at me sometimes and says, “Okay, it’s getting late. Time to binge watch Gilmore Girls.” I’m learning to balance. I try to work less at night and just take a breath and relax.
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
Well, I’m a sucker for anything emotional. When I’m really invested in the characters and what they’re going through, they stay with me even after I put the book down. When you find yourself still thinking about a book, you know you’ve got a great one!
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
I think some people think that the idea or concept is the hardest part but that’s not it at all. It’s the actual putting your butt in a seat and banging it out on a keyboard. There are so many distractions and it’s so easy to make an excuse not to write. You’re too tired, you had a rough day at work, your DVR is full, you really want to catch up on social media, etc. There are some days you will not be in the mood to write. You’re uninspired, you’re unmotivated, you cannot find your writing zone. Those are the hardest days but those are also the times you sometimes have to just force yourself to do it (especially if you’re working under a deadline). Once the words actually start coming though, it can be magical!
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Just these two!
9. Do you have a favorite character?
Well, of course I love Reagan (the main character in YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME). But my two favorite characters to write in this book were probably Harper (Reagan’s best friend) and Sam (Reagan’s surrogate aunt). Harper is effortlessly cool and fearless and I definitely designed her after a really good friend of mine. And Sam is tough and actually surprisingly funny (for a top Black Angel operative).
10. Where do you write?
I write all over my house. I have an office, so I write up there but find myself writing on the couch, in the recliner downstairs in the basement, at the kitchen island. I’m a writing gypsy. I never really write in one spot.
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I came across an article about Swoon Reads on Mashable and thought, “Wow, what a progressive and awesome idea!” I loved knowing that real readers were going to give real feedback on my manuscript and actually help it get selected. It’s like the American Idol for authors. Jean Feiwel is such an innovator and has been changing the publishing world for decades so it’s no surprised she’s doing it again with Swoon!
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
Yes! I always send my books to my parents and my sister. My mom is by far my biggest cheerleader and fan and thinks everything I do is great so she’s not the best critic in the world. My father on the other hand is a fantastic critical reader. He’s read pretty much every single word I’ve ever written; from middle school papers to high school essays and several versions of this book. He’s always the opinion I cannot wait to hear.
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love to read (of course!). I love spending time with my husband, my family and friends. Usually surrounded by food. Eating is my favorite pastime.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
My father once told me: “Never be satisfied with success and never fear failure.” It’s the never fear failure part that I really apply to my life, especially when it comes to writing. There are so many road blocks you can put up that will stop you from writing: I’ll never get an agent. Publishing is such a hard industry to break into. It will never happen to me. If you listen to that mean voice inside your head, you’ll never do it. That’s why I tell people who want to write to never fearing failure. If you fear failure, you’ll never know what you can accomplish. So if you want to write a book, go for it! Put your head down, work hard and give it your best shot. I promise you…you’ll never regret trying. And if the first book you write doesn’t get you an agent or sell, dust yourself off and try again. I can’t tell you the number of successful authors I’ve met who say it wasn’t their first or second or even tenth book that got them a book deal. If you truly love writing, just keep working at it. It takes practice, determination and bravery.
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
So, so many! I am a huge fan of YA writers. I love John Green, Sara Shepard, Jenny Han, Jay Asher, Jennifer Niven, Adam Silvera, Victoria Aveyard, Alexandra Bracken, Beth Revis, Amy Reed, Sara Zarr, Rainbow Rowell, Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, the list goes on and on. There are several dozen I’m leaving out!
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
My husband is amazing when it comes to plotting and ideas. A lot of times, I’ll turn to him in the middle of writing and say “What do you think about this?” or “What if the character did that?” I have a lot of awesome readers that I turn to as well about ideas or plot points or just to read over pages. I’m very lucky to have so many people supporting me and this book. Always grateful!
17. Are you working on anything now?
Yes! The second book in The Black Angel Chronicles series.
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
1) My husband is the funniest person I ever met so he makes me laugh and smile all the time
2) Feeling my daughter move in my stomach (I’m pregnant with our first child!)
4) Cozy PJs
5) Spending time with girlfriends I’ve known my entire life
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
1) I absolutely hate seeing people eating by themselves at a restaurant. Especially older people. It literally makes me cry and I always want to invite them to sit with me.
2) Seeing anyone I love in pain or sad just tears me up inside
3) The song “My Grownup Christmas List.” I can’t even listen to it. I have to like run out of stores if it’s playing during the holidays. I bawl like a baby.
4) Sad movies: Beaches, City of Angels, the documentary Dear Zachary. I can’t even watch them because I’ll cry so hard.
5) Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places. So good. So, so sad.
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
Oooooh…good question! I really want to set a book in London so I’d love to go back to the UK and spend some time there to properly write about it!
Thanks so much for being here with us today, Kristen! I have to agree on your choice of Jennifer Niven's book, it was fabulous!
Writing is one of the great loves of Kristen Orlando’s life and she has been lucky enough to make it her living, first as a television producer, then as a marketer and now as a novelist. Kristen graduated with a B.A. in English literature from Kenyon College. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with the other great love of her life, Michael. You Don’t Know My Name is her debut novel.
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