Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Author Spotlight: This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes + Author Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM

Paula Stokes is the author of several novels, most recently This is How it Happened, Vicarious and Girl Against the Universe. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Title: This is How it Happened
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: Harper
Publication: July 11th 2017
Cover Rating: 2/5

This is How it Happened is a very raw and truthful book. I thought I was just going to be reading a story about a grieving girlfriend beating herself up over her boyfriends death that happened in his car while she was driving. I was really ready to accept the story as that but it surprised me in a lot of ways.

Genevieve Grace is our main character. She is a fairly average girl with ambitions to become a doctor like her parents. She met a guy, Dallas, and he seemed to want all the same things. Then things change when his hobby gets picked up but a talent scout and both of their lives are shaken up. 

I HATED what Dallas did to Gen. And then he later made it seem like she was the problem. Honestly, if I was Gen, I would have left. She was young and Dallas was turning into a really nasty person. She might blame herself for the accident buy I started to blame Dallas. If he didn't hurt her in the first place and then make her feel paranoid and uncomfortable then maybe she wouldn't have wanted to leave the party so damn bad. I feel like Dallas dug his own grave. No, he doesn't deserve to be dead. But Gen didn't deserve the shit he put her through.

Elliott was a very nice addition to the craziness of this book. Yes, Gen did just lose her boyfriend of a few years. And yes, Gen was struggling with a lot of things. But I truly think Elliot helped her out so much. She got judge so horribly for wanting to be with him when it was none of anyone's business. Elliot was a very good person and I applaud him for how he handles the truth from Gen. She was so afraid of everyone leaving her, but he proved to be a very amazing man.

There is no such thing as 'Innocent until proven guilty' when it comes to the internet. And that kind of prosecution is the worst. The internet is ruthless and if a big enough group of people agree on one thing, there is no going back and that is extremely dangerous. We have seen the effects of slavery and concentration camps. Could you imagine how much more brutal those things could have been if they had the invention of social media to back them up? When someone is afraid to be honest because of the repercussions of social media, that is when we seriously need to rethink the things that make this world turn. 

I wasn't sure what I wanted the outcome of this book to be. I know I wanted Gen to come clean and be honest. One person was dead and another persons life was in serious danger. But how many lives have to be ruined before the social media trolls stop? Being bullied online is so different than being bullied in person. There are a lot of people on this earth who would love to watch you crash and burn for no reason other than their own sick, twisted pleasure. People you wouldn't never have to come into contact with if there was no social media. 

Social media has become Judge, Jury and Executioner. It's time to wake up and stop this trend.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



1) How did you become an author and what led you to writing Young Adult books?
I grew up in a lower-income family and at no point while I was in school/college did I believe writing books was something I could do as a career. Full disclosure: after writing and releasing eight books, I'm still not making enough money to live solely off writing income, so maybe I was right ;) But seriously, it's really common for authors to have other jobs or be married to people who have other jobs. However much money you think an author makes from a book, cut it in half and you're probably about right. 

When I was in college, my love for writing really took off and I decided I wanted to be a New York editor. But I lived in St. Louis and no publisher would even interview me. So then I got a job as an editor at a medical publisher in town. And then that job got downsized before I even started, which led to me joining Americorps and later trying out a variety of different jobs--retail, restaurant, social services, medical recruiting, teaching. But throughout it all, I was still writing--poems, bits of stories, chapters of novels I never finished. Writing was the one thing I always came back to. When I landed an unpaid gig reviewing YA books for a website, it hit me that I wanted to write one, even if it never got published, even if no one but me ever read it. So I started writing seriously in my free time. The first book wasn't very good. The second book was better--by then I knew how to write sentences but I still didn't have a strong concept of plot. I ended up writing three books for Paper Lantern Lit from 2011 to 2013, and that taught me a lot about crafting a story. The Art of Lainey put plot and prose together and scored me my agent.

As far as why YA? It's good to write the types of books you like to read, and I like the unpredictability of a YA book, the fact that almost no story is out of bounds. I like the themes of self-discovery and embracing inner strength and making life-altering decisions that are often present in YA books. But I have ideas for adult books too, and I'm releasing my first new adult book this October. The most important thing is to let the story be what it is--don't smash an "adult plot" into the YA format just because YA is where you're comfortable. Don't force your YA characters into adult roles that don't fit.

2) What are 5 really random facts about you?
I've touched a lot of animals, including some I probably shouldn't have, like a full-grown tiger in Thailand. I've also touched elephants, monkeys, gibbons, stingrays, gray whales, sea lions, sea turtles, a nurse shark, a boa constrictor, a wombat, all manners of goats and camels and petting zoo animals, and probably more I'm forgetting.

While we're on the subject of touching weird things, I've also touched a human heart, while it was still in the chest cavity. (I used to work in surgery.)

I put spiders outside instead of killing them.

My dream jobs include author (yay!), dolphin trainer, and pet detective. I get really sad when I see lost pet flyers.

If I could start any charity, it would be one that helped low-income and poor people pay for veterinary bills for their pets. Everyone deserves the unconditional love of a pet.


3) Which of your books was your favorite one to write and who is your favorite character from that book?
ALL OF THESE BOOKS WERE TORTURE TO WRITE! Okay, not really ;) The writing part was fun. The revision part was like gouging out my own eyes with a grapefruit spoon. (Those are the ones with the jagged little teeth.) I really, really hate to revise. Until I'm like 90% done and I can see that I will eventually get the book to where I want it to go. Then it's okay ;) But I don't have a favorite book--they were all fun in their own ways. Some of them functioned as self-therapy and others were more cerebral, trying to insert just the right clues to the mystery in just the right places. I love all my main characters equally, but my favorite side characters would probably be Trinity from The Art of Lainey and Jade from Girl Against the Universe. Both of those girls are really fun and uplifting and comfortable in their own skin. The world needs more people like them :)

4) If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life what would you pick and why?
Pizza, because I am like forty going on four or something. I know it's not healthy, but it's easy, it's filling, and it at least pretends to have components made out of different food groups. Also because I feel like I could go longer without getting bored of it than I could go eating only my second-favorite food, Cadbury Creme Eggs :D

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Always. Released THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED a couple weeks ago. Next month, the paperback for VICARIOUS and the hardcover for FEROCIOUS releases. I have THE KEY TO EVERYTHING out in October or November (It's a new adult self-pub.) Next year, I have a mystery for HarperTeen called HIDDEN PIECES that I am still revising. I also have a book proposal for 2019 currently under consideration at a publisher and another half of what I hope will be a second 2019 novel completed.


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