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Interview with Simone Elkeles + Perfect Chemistry & Rules of Attraction Giveaway!

When my friend Trisha went wild over Perfect Chemistry around about a year and a half ago, it didn't take me long at all to track down a copy and immerse myself in the teen drama/love/angst fest that is that awesome book. I fell in all kinds of deep and gooey love with it and recommended it right and left to friends in need of the kind of sweet and addicting read that leaves you feeling like your craving was sated in the most satisfying of ways. When I found out Simone Elkeles was writing a sequel, I joined the rest of the PC fandom in a collective, "Squee!" Rules of Attraction was released almost a week ago (my review here) and, to celebrate the event, Simone was so good as to answer a few of my most burning questions.
First things first: Were you at all surprised by what a hit Perfect Chemistry was?

Honestly, no. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved that book from page one, and knew Alex and Brittany’s story was something special. I don’t know if this is politically correct to say, but I actually parted with my previous literary agent because she didn’t want to go out and pitch Perfect Chemistry to editors…she wanted me to work on a different book and I couldn’t let that happen. Thankfully my current agent Kristin Nelson loved the story and sold it to my wonderful editor Emily Easton at Walker Books for Young Readers who also loved it!

Did you always plan to write a sequel? How did the opportunity to write Rules of Attraction come about?

Ever since I wrote Perfect Chemistry, I thought it would be amazing to write about all three Fuentes brothers. When I sold Perfect Chemistry, though, I wasn’t sure I’d get to write a trilogy or even a sequel. When my editor Emily Easton at Walker said that fans definitely wanted a sequel to Perfect Chemistry, I was so excited. I didn’t want to have Brittany and Alex be the main characters because their story was already written – I wanted to let Carlos and Luis have their own stories. 

 I love Kiara, with her determination to master her speech impediment and her relatively “normal” family life. How did her character develop over the course of writing the book?

I think we all have insecurities and want to overcome them. I love how Kiara is not afraid to be herself. She doesn’t succumb to peer pressure – she doesn’t care to have the most expensive or stylish clothes or drink/do drugs like some of the other kids at her school. I’m also a little sick of all teens having dysfunctional families and awful parents in young adult books. What about the normal, geeky but somehow cool parents who we all know and love? I loved writing Mr. and Mrs. Westford – they’re awesome parents who I would have loved to have. Actually my parents in real life were pretty cool (but please don’t tell my mom that or her she’ll go brag about it).

I love that Kiara challenges Carlos even though she’s a little afraid of him. I’m like Kiara in that way – I love challenging people and making them think I’m one step ahead of them. I would have totally pulled the cookie magnet prank in school if I’d thought of it back in high school. I did other stupid things as a teenager, though. And no, I’m not elaborating.
How do you go about naming your characters?

I get asked that question all the time. Listen, if you were obnoxious in high school your name is somehow connected to the rude girls in my books, ha ha. My friends laugh when I say to beware of pissing me off because you just might find yourself in one of my books (although Darlene was a great friend of mine in school and she’s the mean girl in Perfect Chemistry and Madison is the daughter of my best friend and the mean girl in Rules of Attraction). I’m a girl scout leader, so I use a lot of my girls’ names in my books. I use last names of people I know most of the time or I make them up. I will also go to baby name websites and find names that I like. Sometimes I even use names off of my fan mail. My fans have some very cool names!

If you know of someone who has been rude to you, email me their name and I might use it! (I’m kidding…sort of.) I’m going to make the rude bus scheduling lady in my school district a nose-picker in one of my books at some point – not her exact name but a combination of her name. It’s rude and immature, I know.  Does any other author do this? I’m curious…

I’m particularly fond of bad boys—the kind with a certain world-weary bleakness, but with a good heart lurking underneath the edgy exterior. You’ve produced a couple of my favorites. What were your inspirations (if any) for Alex and Carlos? And do you have any favorite bad boys yourself?

I love bad boys. They’re my weakness. Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt. I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys. If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion) What were my inspirations for Alex or Carlos? They really are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that. And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart. (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

Is there a Rules of Attraction soundtrack? Do you regularly listen to music while writing and/or plotting?

I don’t listen to music while writing, but I do have a Rules of Attraction soundtrack that will be posted on www.perfectchemistrythebook.com probably this week! Go check it out. The soundtrack for Perfect Chemistry is already posted there.
I have to ask about the book trailers. They’re both so different, yet so awesome in their own ways. How did everything come together to make them both and what were the experiences like for you as the author?

For Perfect Chemistry I wanted to do something totally different and unique. I wanted the book trailer to stand out. Then I thought about the television show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I LOVED the rap that Will Smith did in the beginning. I thought it would be hilarious to do a parody rap video as the book trailer. I hired a director and we actually held auditions with actors to do the rap. It was super fun to help write the rap (the most inappropriate parts are mostly written by me, I’m sorry to say) and to be there for the taping. I LOVED doing it. Some fans hate the rap and some think it’s hilarious and have downloaded it to their iPods. It definitely got attention

For Rules of Attraction I wanted to do something totally different. I wanted my book trailer to look exactly like a real movie trailer – with actors acting out snippets of scenes from my book. I called Pete Jones, a friend and writer/director whose screenplay Hall Pass is currently being filmed with Owen Wilson and Bill Murray and being directed by the Farrelly Brothers. I told Pete I wanted him to direct a “movie trailer/book trailer” and he said he’d do it. Pete hooked me up with producer Pat Peach with Spotlight Films in California, who did an amazing job of auditioning actors and scouting locations (among other things – the guy seriously is amazing). Each audition was emailed to me, so I was a part of the audition process even though I live in Chicago. After hiring actor Giancarlo Vidrio to play the lead high school bad boy Carlos Fuentes (I knew my fans would LOVE him) and Catesby Bernstein to play the lead heroine Kiara Westford, I still needed to find “my Alex.” It was a cameo role for the hero to Perfect Chemistry and Carlos’s brother. I knew I couldn’t settle for anyone less than “perfect.” My fans are obsessed with my Latino hero Alejandro “Alex” Fuentes. They get tattoos with Alex’s name because they’re so obsessed. I knew I couldn’t let my fans down...I needed to give my readers an Alex Fuentes that fed the fantasy of who Alex is in the book.

As I was watching the auditions and the filming date grew closer, I told Pat Peach that nobody who’d auditioned filled the bill to play Alex. He said if I could have any actor in the world to play Alex, who would it be? That was easy – Alexander F. Rodriguez from Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold music video. Talk about perfection! Both Pete and Pat told me it was a long shot. I got Alexander’s email address and emailed him. To make a long story short, I told him I couldn’t imagine anyone else making my character Alex come alive for the book trailer.

To my complete and utter shock (yes, my jaw actually dropped) Alexander emailed me back and said it sounded like fun and he was on board for the cameo role. I flew out to California for the filming, and I felt like a teenager again seeing the heroes I created come to life. To see my characters exactly how I imagined them was surreal and wonderful and crazy and...and I got so emotional when it was over and Pete Jones called “that’s a wrap!” I started crying. Of course when Pete looked over at me and saw tears running down my cheeks, he laughed and said, “Stop it, Simone. There is no crying in Hollywood.” I couldn’t help it...it’s no accident I write romance novels!

Word is it’s going to be a trilogy! What do we have to look forward to next? And can you tell us if the next book will feature the third Fuentes brother—Luis?

The third Perfect Chemistry novel will definitely be about Luis Fuentes. He’s such a good guy who doesn’t live with the angst that his big brothers have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams. When he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he’s never known to try and save her from herself.  Just when he thinks he’s got life all figured out, Luis learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father? 

And just for fun, what’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:

Alex: smexy – a new term I learned from one of my fans!
Books: relaxing
Kiara: nature
Music: escape
Carlos: tough
Writing: my life
Brittany: patient
Work: deadlines
Sexy: Alexander F. Rodriguez (the guy who plays Alex in my book trailer for Rules of Attraction)
High School: friends
YA: library
Home: safety

Thanks so much, Simone!

***

And now for the giveaway! Walker Books for Young Readers has generously offered up a copy of each book along with several brand new Perfect Chemistry bookmarks to two lucky winners. All you have to do is leave a comment here telling us which book you'd like to be entered for--Perfect Chemistry or Rules of Attraction--and who your favorite literary bad boy is. The giveaway will be open for one week and will end at midnight on Monday, April 26th. I'll announce the winner the next day. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. As always, please be sure to leave me a way to contact you. 

Comments

  1. My favorite literary bad boy? Patch from Hush, Hush. Or Archer from Hex Hall.

    Please enter me for Perfect Chemistry!

    shutupjessicasreading @ gmaildotcom

    ReplyDelete
  2. Favorite literary bad boy? Oh dear, how far back should I go?

    Henri de Lagardère is a pretty wonderful and memorable bad boy (written in the mid 1800s). Then there's Roarke...

    I would love to be entered for the drawing of Perfect Chemistry--I think it would be a great book for my daughter to read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You and bad boys :P

    (I went to the library this weekend and WTF: Neither of the libraries closest to me have Simone Elkeles books!)

    I think I'm going to go with Jack from the Nadia Stafford series. He's a trained killer and all. :P

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perfect Chemistry.

    I think Drake from Lisa Marie Rice's Dangerous Passions. Arms dealer, ruthless to everyone but the woman he loves.

    Loved the interview. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmmm tough question... My fave literary bad boy is Roarke from In Death Series. He doesn't think twice about bending the rules but still keeps his hands clean. (Doesn't hurt that he is mind bogglingly rich. Haha)

    Now that you got me started... I was pretty sure that he would be the killer or would be neck deep in murder the 1st book.

    Please enter me for Rules of Attraction (rajeshwaribhatt[at]gmail[.] com.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wonderful interview! I read Perfect Chemistry last week and loved it so much, I reviewed it in the form of a sonnet: http://tigersallconsumingbooks.blogspot.com/2010/04/sonnet-sunday-review-8-perfect.html

    My fav literary bad boy (emphasis on 'literary') is still Achilles from the Iliad. He was a big hulking bruiser of a bad boy in an /epic/, which as everyone knows is awesomer than being a bad boy in a regular novel. :-)

    leighofthestone(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd have to say my favorite lit bad boy is Rhett Butler. Seriously - he's like the original for me. Plus, he's got a soft heart underneath :)

    I've been hearing fabulous things about this series, but haven't had a chance to read them! I better start with Perfect Chemistry.

    librariansbook(at)gmail

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great interview! My favorite bad boy.... well, you know I typically love the good guys. But I do have a bit of a soft spot for Roarke from the In Death series.

    I would love to win Perfect Chemistry. Thanks!

    gypsyrover21(at)yahoo(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh thats easy, my fave literary bad boy is Patch*lol*, he's just done some things that weren't good in the past, but i think he wants to change...

    But anyways I don't want to be entered in this awesome contest*have the books <3 them*. Just showing some love :D

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  10. I'd like to win Rules of Attraction. I've already read Perfect Chemistry and I loved it!

    My favorite bad boy is Rhevenge from J.R Ward's series. Bad has never been so good. ;)

    dawnpnr at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great interview Angie & Simone.
    I'm totally emailing Simone names of rude people I know to use in her books! LOL kidding.

    Please don't enter me in the giveaway. I already read and LOVED Perfect Chemistry last summer and just bought Rules of Attraction and Leaving Paradise last week! Yes! Can't wait to read Carlos' story and I'm so excited to know Luis will have a book too! Awesome news!

    p.s. Don't let Azteclady fool you. She says she wants Perfect Chemistry for her daughter, but you know she wants to read it for herself, too! ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  12. As I'd ever win a contest over here... but just in case, I'm going to say Rules of Attraction, because I'm hoping for Perfect Chemistry to come on hold for me at the library any day now.

    I love lots of bad boys, but the one that rises to the top is Heathcliff. Sorry. I know lots of people don't get that. But that's how it is! :)

    jenstusue AT yahoo

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've been holding out on starting this series, so I think I'd like Perfect Chemistry. Thanks to Walker Books for the books and Angie for hosting the contest. :)
    Great interview, btw!

    Oh, and a fav literary bad boy....Bran from Marillier's Son of Shadows.

    Samantha on Goodreads.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Since I haven't read any of the books, I think I'll have to go with Perfect Chemistry.

    My favorite literary bad boy is George Cooper, even though he doesn't really feel like it because when he cares about his favorite people, he cares like there's no tomorrow.

    eargoldman@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I can't join the giveaway but I just wanted to comment that my favorite bad boy is Marcus Flutie from the Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty. ♥ Can't wait to get a copy of Perfect Chemistry so I can finally read it!

    ReplyDelete
  16. My favorite literary bad boy would have to be Jack from Ellen Emerson White's "Long May She Reign." A close runner-up is Zachary Grey from L'Engle's Austin and Murray series.

    I'd like "Rules of Attraction." I've already got a copy of "Perfect Chemistry," and I want to know what happens next.

    Nan

    ReplyDelete
  17. Perfect Chemistry would be my choice of book. Would love, love, love to have my own copy! :0)

    My favorite bad boy - other than Alex - would be Ranger (Stephanie Plum series).

    Roarke's good, too. Heh.

    Thanks!
    librarygrinch at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I can't choose between Dmitri from the Vampire Academy series or Jericho from the Fever series:) I don't think they are bad boys, because they are good, really, but somehow, they have this "bad boy streak" to them.
    I loved Perfect Chemistry and I hope I win Rules of Attraction! I can't wait to read it! Thanks for this contest!

    sylvia_uy4@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I loved Patch from Hush Hush, and I really like Damon from the Vampire Diaries...:)

    I would love to win either of these books! I haven't ever read them, and have had them on my TBR list for a while.

    Great interview by the way!
    alwayssomething2read(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd love to read Perfect Chemistry. Wow, there are some great bad boys listed here. I'm going to go with Valek from Poison Study.

    mistiann75(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a hard question. I'm gonna have to say George from the Alanna series. Not exactly bad, but he does have a collection of ears. And a heart of gold, of course.

    Rhett Butler! Squee, a close second.
    [For Perfect Chemistry]

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am not a resident in north america plus it's too late for the challenge (I would love a copy of Rules of Attraction :)). My Legendary Bad Boy is Dylan from Diary of a Crush trilogy (Sarra Manning), charmingly nasty and totally addictive

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great review! Hmm...I guess my favorite bad boy is Zsadist from Ward's BDB. I'd love to be entered for Rules of Attraction.

    kris@rebloco.com

    Thanks! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wonderful interview Angie! And although I will always be in love with a certain bad-boy Bran from 'Son of the Shadows', I'm also going to give an honorable mention to Logan from Veronica Mars. I know it's TV but I think you'll cut me some slack with this one. I'm currently in the middle of season 2 and that boy keeps stealing my heart. Dang him!

    Count me in for a copy of Perfect Chemistry. Thanks!

    mmillet at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  25. My favourite bad boy is Eric from the Sookie Stackhouse series. I've already read Perfect Chemistry and loved it so would love a chance to win Rules of Attraction.

    jen4777[at]hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oops, I was supposed to say which book I was interested in. Perfect Chemistry since it's the first one.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'd like to be entered for Perfect Chemistry, thanks :)

    Hmm, I say... Draco Malfoy ;) Haha, Patch is pretty yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'd like to win rules of attraction! I can share it with my friend since we both LOVE perfect chemistry.

    ReplyDelete
  29. My fave bad boy is Connor from Unwind........

    And I'd like Perfect Chemistry as I have yet to read either of these books (hehe, guilty)

    (name_in_lights95@yahoo.com, or you can leave a note on my blog: http://saintlikeimholeygeddit.blogspot.com/)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ooh, I'd like to enter for Rules of Attraction. :D And my fave literary bad boy would have to be Damon from The Vampire Diaries -- both from the book AND the tv show....although I do like the TV version better. Still, he's my fave ;)

    justeena_25(at)yahoo(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  31. Please enter me for Rules of Attraction.

    My favorite bad boy is Eric from the Sookie Stackhouse series. I want him in MY shower!

    thebookvixen at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous4:35 PM

    I would love to win Rules of Attraction because I already have PC and I spent all the money I have on other books so now I can't buy RoA.
    My favourite bad boy is Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. It used to be Patch from Hush Hush but because there are 3 books to 1, there was more Jace for me to love than there was Patch.

    arzeennfarzadii@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. Perfect Chemistry please!
    One of my fave bad boys is Patch from Hush, Hush :)
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'd have to say Jace from the Mortal Instrument series- I definitely read that series because of Jace!

    Please enter me for "Rules of Attraction." I already have "Perfect Chemistry" and it's one of my favorite books!

    sarahdc22 (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'd like to win Rules of Attraction.

    My favorite bad boy is eric from Sokkie Stackhouse books

    chirth7@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Haha, I love this!
    I would love to be entered in the draw to win Rules of Attraction. I recently (recently as in yesterday) bought and finished Perfect Chemistry and am dying for more!

    My favorite bad boy?
    Er, hard question! From the top of my head, I can think of Dimitri and Adrian from the VA series, and Jace from the Mortal Instrument series. Love em' all.

    Thanks for this!
    Love, Hannah
    xoxosweeet at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  37. My all time favorite bad boys would have to be Eric from the Sookie Stackhouse series or Patch from Hush Hush.

    Please count me in.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  38. My favorite bad boy is Patch from Hush Hush

    :) erica
    thebookcellar@wi.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
  39. Patch is such a good bad boy (:
    Please enter me for perfect Chemistry

    bratdownstairs @yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Definitely PATCH!!!! Becca rocks ;)

    Alannah
    alannahjavier@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  41. oh.. and i'd like to be entered for Perfect Chemistry =) *alannah*

    ReplyDelete
  42. After just finishing Rules of Attraction i have to say that I love them both, but that Perfect Chemistry is my favorite to this point. I want that one. :o)

    My favorite literary bad boy? sigh. I love bad boys. I think my current favorite bad boy is Carlos from Rules of Attraction - but mostly because I just finished reading about him. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Darn I just lost my entire post! Ok I'll try again.

    I've heard alot of great things about these books on blogs lately! I would love to be entered to win the first book Perfect Chemistry. I love YA books lately and am dying to try these books.

    My favorite bad boy would be Ranger from Evanovich's series. He's not a bad boy completely but he's mysterious which adds to his mystique.

    I agree on Archer from Hex Hall also! I LOVEDDD that book!

    ReplyDelete

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