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Friday, 14 September 2012

Blog Tour: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century - Rachel Harris (Author Interview)

clicky here to view full blog tour schedule hosted by Entangled Teen
About the book!
My Super Sweet Sixteenth CenturyOn the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?


1. How did you come up with the idea for the story of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century? Also, did you always plan it to be set in Italy?

I’d just sent my first novel out on submission with agents and I knew I had to keep busy, so I planned out my next book, which at the time I thought would be REARVIEW MIRROR. It turns out I’m writing that now, for release in December 2013. But I’d just finished my character interviews and getting together my story soundtrack (things I always do before writing), and I was prepared to start drafting. But then I read my first YA historical, The Season by Sarah MacLean. I loved this book!

Renaissance Florence (found in Google)
Shortly after that, I read an adult historical, and I got completely swept away in a different world. The crazy thing though is that I always view these books while I’m reading them through my modern-day lens, seeing the cool changes in society and culture, and remarking in my head about how odd things were, or how much we’ve grown. The idea came to me to write a magical realism, kinda like another book I’d read and enjoyed (Prada and Prejudice), but I noticed that all three of these books were set in the Regency period. 

Now I adore Regency books, don’t get me wrong. I read these things like they’re going out of style. But the authors do such a great job that I’ve already learned a good bit about the era, and I wanted to lose myself in research. (Yes, my name is Rachel, and I’m a dork who loves research)

So, talking to my husband, I mentioned the obsession I’ve always had with the Renaissance. While I knew just enough to always find the era magical and beautiful, I didn’t know enough to just sit down and write…. And that made me really excited. 

As for Italy, yes, it was always Italy. (insert dreamy sigh) The Renaissance wasn’t strictly in Italy of course, but it is known as the birthplace of the movement, and the artists (my favorite part about the era), were all there. So it was the perfect choice. Not to mention…. It’s Italy! =)

2. I love that this book was set in Italy, by the way! Did you have todo a lot of research for this?

Ha, I love that I led into this question so well (*grin*).
Piazza Del Duomo at Sunset with Baptistry: Florence, Italy @ Daniel Peckham --- The beautiful Piazza Del Duomo with the baptistry, as seen at sunset from Giotto's Campanile (bell tower), beside the Duomo.
Florence, Italy
So yes, I did a ton of research. I read a bazillion books from the library, encyclopedias, travel guides, got videos (my favorites were the ones for kids!), and even books on learning the language. I learned the dances and read about feasts, the customs of the time, the courting rituals. The crazy thing is that while I did refresh the research throughout the writing of the novel, I filled a huge notebook and did most of this in just two weeks. I lived and breathed it.
And for Italy itself, I’ve been there before (though not nearly enough) and most of the details about Renaissance Florence came up naturally in my research about the culture. But the modern day details came from my own trip and Google Earth—it is crazy what you can do from the comfort of your own home!

3. What did you find the most surprising about the publishing process?And what was the best part?

Surprising. Hmm, maybe that it isn’t as scary as I thought it would be? Like my editor, Stacy Abrams, is a bag of awesome. She knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to say it, but she is the sweetest, most supportive, kindest person I’ve ever met. And so is everyone at Entangled. I think that’s the best part about the publishing process, the friendships you make.
From the Critique Partners who’ve become my best friends, to the girls who are debuting at Entangled with me this year (we’ve all banded together and become a little sisterhood), to the awesome bloggers and readers who’ve read ARCs of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and are letting me know how much they liked it (totally surreal, by the way). I LOVE getting to know other people who are as passionate about books and writing as I am, whether they write it like I do, or read it obsessively as I do. The friendships definitely make all the stress of the business worth it (*grin*)

4. Which character did you have the most fun writing?

This is almost exactly how I pictured Reyna, the gypsy girl!
They were all fun in their own ways. Cat’s voice totally surprised me, Less (Alessandra) was fun to write because she was just so sweet, and Lorenzo was fun to write because, come on, he’s a swoony dude. But really, my favorite was Reyna. She is unpredictable and smart and magical. One day, I really hope to write a prequel from her POV, even if it’s just for me to read

5. How did you come up with the title? And were there other titles before that you can share with us?

My husband likes to say he did it, I say it was a collaboration. It came like thirty seconds after I decided to write the book and set it in Renaissance Italy. I think we’d just seen a commercial for MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen because he looked up and said, “How about, My Super Sweet 1600s.” I thought about it and said, “Or My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century.” I think he still prefers his version!

6. Which another YA female character from any novel would Cat be best friends with?

After I finished the book, I got to know Lisa Bergren who writes the River of Time series (a magical realism set in Italy in the Middle Ages). It was important to me not to read her books until all my edits were turned in, but the moment I sent the final version to my editor,I dove in to Waterfall and kept on reading through the rest of the books. I heart this series so much, and Cat and Gabi would definitely be BFFs.

7. Who would play your hero and heroine in the tv or film version of your book?

Alex would make the perfect Lorenzo!
I always cast my characters and, in my mind, Lorenzo has always been Alex Pettyfer, and Cat has always been Lily Collins. But I did purchase images of models to use for my trading cards and blog buttons, and I have to tell you, the guy I got for Lorenzo is pretty hot, too (*wink*)

8. I recently just found out that there would be second book! Yay! Besides A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES, can you tell us what you're working on now?

Lily Collins
How she pictured Cat!
Currently I’m working on REARVIEW MIRROR, a YA thriller/mystery with paranormal elements. It’s set in New Orleans, my hometown, and is a dual POV, and I’m having so much fun with it. It’s a little darker than My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, but there’s still humor, and I get to write a lot more ‘sexy time’ LOL.
9. As a reader, what is the most important to you, the characters or the plot? As a writer, is it different?

LOVE this question! As a reader and writer, I’m a total character girl. Plot is so important, but what makes me care about a story is the characters. Can I relate to them, do they have an arc and grow throughout the book and/or series, are the minor characters merely there for filler, or do they have a purpose and heart, too? 

There’s been a few books where I wasn’t instantly drawn in by the characters, but the plot was unique or original or just plain cool, so I stuck with it…. But that is rare.
Much more common is the reverse, where the plot isn’t that fresh or maybe I know where it’s going from page one, but the characters are so rich and intriguing…. or completely tortured…. or funny and heartwarming, that I just can’t stop reading it. I love those books.
Give me heart and depth and authentic people who live and breathe on the page, and I’m a very happy reader! (I like to think I write decent ones, too!)

10. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would it be and whatgenre would you choose?

Actually, I’ve been tossing around ideas with a reader about co-authoring another Magical Realism/Historical. She came to me with atotally unique and extremely cool setting I hadn’t heard of before, with an even more intriguing link to this gorgeous place, and I was instantly drawn in. She said she didn’t intend to write a story about it, and I wanted to very badly. I asked her if she’d like to join me, and she said yes. That’s something I’m looking forward to in 2013.

As for other co-author projects, I’m all about pushing myself with each new book, and that would be a fun challenge. The genre would be wide open (so far I’ve written straight up contemporary, magical realism/historical/fantasy, and now a thriller)—with the write co-author, plot, and characters, I’d be up for anything. It’s all about finding the right person.Got any suggestions for me?(*grin*)

Rachel  HarrisAbout the author: As a teen, I threw raging parties that shook my parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels.

As an adult, I read and write obsessively, rehash said embarrassing fodder, and dream up characters who become my imaginary friends.

When I'm not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find me homeschooling my two beautiful princesses, hanging out with my amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate.

MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY is my first novel. I did have my own fantabulous Sweet Sixteen in high school. Sadly, it wasn’t televised.


  1. This was such a fun interview! I loved the last question... now I can't wait to see that!

    and Alex qould be SO good for Lorenzo!


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