2015 Debut Authors Bash: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (Interview + Giveaway)

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Hey everyone! Welcome to this stop on the 2015 Debut Authors Bash! I’m so excited to be sharing with you an interview between Michelle Falkoff, author of Playlist for the Dead (January 27, 2015, HarperTeen) and the bloggers at Her Book Thoughts! Plus, there’s an epic giveaway! First, here’s the epic cover and synopsis:

playlist for the deadPlaylist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

Published on January 27th, 2015

Published by HarperTeen

Genre: YA Contemporary

Goodreads | Amazon | Epic Reads

And now here’s the interview! Enjoy!

Hi Michelle!! Thanks for stopping by on the blog!! We’re so excited! To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? :)
I’m so excited to be here! I’m a New England native who’s moved all over the country, most recently to Chicago. I used to be a lawyer, and for my day job I teach legal writing, as well as some fiction writing on the side.

Your debut novel, Playlist for the Dead has a very interesting synopsis,, we’re really curious on how did this idea came to you. Can you share how did the whole concept of the book materialized in your head? :)
I was inspired a lot by Jay Asher’s 13 REASONS WHY and John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA. Both were books about boys who’d lost girls they were interested in to suicide; I started thinking a lot about boys losing friends, which struck me as a different kind of thing. I’ve also always been really into music–I used to make lots of mixes when I was younger, and I gave a lot of thought to what kinds of messages go into into them and how it’s both easy and hard to teach people about how we’re feeling through music.

How would you introduce your main character, Sam, to us? Did you have a particular muse for him?
No muse in particular. He’s just a character who seemed very genuine and lovable to me, but in some ways kind of clueless–he starts out the book assuming that he knows everything about the people around him, especially his best friend, and part of his journey is learning that sometimes people are struggling with much more than he realizes.

Is this the genre you originally want to write? What other genre would you like to try in the future?
When I think of genre, I think of mysteries versus fantasies versus literary fiction, that sort of thing. I’ve always written literary fiction, and I’m very into mysteries, so I’ve always written hybrids of those things. In terms of category, I started out writing for adults (or at least I thought I did), but I’m finding that I enjoy writing for teenagers more at the moment, so I’m going to stick with this for as long as the teenagers will have me.

The title and the cover of the book is really eye catching, how did you decide it? And will you change anything if you could?
I wish I could take credit, but I had help with both of those things–I’m terrible at titles, and I’m not very visual. I love both, and I’m super grateful for the help I got with them. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What is the hardest thing you ever did while writing Playlist for the Dead? Can you share a bit of your experience?
At first, the hardest thing was getting in the mindset of someone who’d experienced what Sam was experiencing. I’d never lost someone that way, and you have to go to a pretty dark place to try and imagine it. While I was writing, a good friend of mine passed away very suddenly, and then the hardest thing became actually dealing with that. The writing, in a weird way, helped.

What will readers expect from the romance aspect in this book?
Um, disappointment? ;-)

I tend to think relationships are really hard, no matter how old you are. And a relationship that starts under the kinds of circumstances the characters are dealing with here has a lot of pressure put on it that might be more than that relationship can bear. What Sam and Astrid have is complicated, and the book grapples with that in a number of different ways.

Are you working on something new already? Do you have a WIP that you can tell us about? :)
I am! It’s called PUSHING PERFECT, and it’s about a high school valedictorian who gets blackmailed into being part of a prescription drug ring. It should be out next fall, and I’m really excited about it.

Lastly, what’s your three current YA favorites?
Oh, that’s so hard! There are just so many good books out there. Three I loved recently were E. Lockhart’s WE WERE LIARS, Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, and Amanda Panitch’s DAMAGE DONE.

Thanks again, Michelle for the Q&A!

OPTIONAL: If you can share a playlist of Playlist for the Dead with us, that would be awesome!! But if not, maybe photos of your inspirations while writing?
Here’s the Spotify playlist:



Note: Interview Questions provided by Her Book Thoughts


The Giveaway:

One copy of Playlist for the Dead open to US & CAN

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michelleMichelle Falkoff’s fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law.
Visit Michelle:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

2015 Debut Authors Bash: Heather W. Petty (Interview + Giveaway)

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Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the 2015 Debut Authors Bash! I’m so excited to be hosting Heather W. Petty, author of Lock & Mori (September 15, 2015, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). Today, I’m pleased to share with you an interview with Heather, as well as an epic giveaway! First, here’s the epic cover and synopsis:

L&M In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students—one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty—meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more…

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

And now here’s the interview! Enjoy!


Question: Lock & Mori is a YA Sherlock Holmes retelling! Where did the idea come from? Why Sherlock Holmes?
Answer: I was reading an article about nemeses relationships that mentioned Sherlock is the only person in the canon to ever actually meet Moriarty. We only know what Sherlock told Watson about Moriarty. So I thought, what if he lied? What if Sherlock knew Moriarty from when they were in high school? What if something happened in high school turned them into enemies? And the book ideas kind of spun out from there.

Question: Imagine you’re speaking to someone who hasn’t heard a single thing about your book. Without using the phrase or words “YA Sherlock Holmes retelling,” how would you describe your Lock & Mori to them?
Answer: It’s the origin story of a criminal mastermind, whose high school relationship with her future nemesis set her on the path to what she would become.

Question: Did you do a lot of research prior to writing Lock & Mori? If so, what was the most interesting thing you learned?
Answer: Definitely. And I think the most interesting research was learning more about the way the English legal system works and how it differs from ours. But, then, I really love to study law, so I may have just been geeking out a bit.

Question: Biggest difference (editorial, character, etc) between your first draft and the final first edition of the book?
Answer: Well it definitely got better! Nothing major got added or taken away, but my editor definitely helped me to make the book much stronger. I learned a lot for sure!

Question: According to your bio, you’ve been obsessed with mysteries since you were twelve. What’s your favorite mystery book? Favorite mystery author?
Answer: Agatha Christie was my first and will probably always be my favorite mystery author. (Even though she totally cheats.) And MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS will probably always be my favorite, although I love the Tommy & Tuppence books so much, it’s hard not to pick one of theirs. MOTOE, though, blew my little 12-year-old mind back when I read it. It was the book that made me obsess over mysteries for the rest of my life.

Question: Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Answer: I once Googled abandoned buildings in East London, how to delay-start a fire, and how alcoholism affects decomposition of a corpse in the same night. I’m pretty sure I made it onto some kind of watch list with all of that.

Question: Name one book you read within the last six months and STILL can’t stop thinking about.
Answer: My most recent would be MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold. That book completely opened, broke, and revived my heart in ways I never expected. I literally had to be consoled by a flight attendant while reading the end. He got very confused when I was smile-crying at my iPad and then hugging it. (It’s possible I should never fly Southwest again.)

Question: Favorite part of the publishing process so far?
Answer: Definitely the people. Beyond all of the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet through my literary agency and publisher, meeting other authors is so very cool. Honestly, going to some of the events/shows/festivals and hanging out with brilliant and hilarious authors for a weekend is like my utopia. It’s really hard to say goodbye.

Question: Lock & Mori is going to be a trilogy! Can you share any news? Are you editing book two? Writing book three?
Answer: I am currently editing book 2 and starting to write book 3. I’m super excited about what happens next!

Question: Aside from the Lock & Mori sequels, are you working on anything new?
Answer: I am! But I can’t tell you about it yet. (And I want to talk about it SO VERY MUCH.) Fingers crossed I’ll be able to make an announcement about it someday soon. :)


Heather Petty
Heather has been obsessed with mysteries since she was twelve, which is when she decided that stories about murders in London drawing rooms and English seaside villages were far superior to all other stories. Lock & Mori is her first novel. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, daughter, and four hopelessly devious cats.


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Finally, thanks to the lovely Heather, we have an AMAZING giveaway for you guys! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Lock & Mori, plus an awesome swag pack! One winner, US & CAN only!

So, the rules:

-Giveaway is US & CANADA Only

-Winner has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.

-You must be 13 or older to enter OR have your parents’ permission.

-I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.

-I reserve the right to change any rules as I see fit for each individual giveaway

*The above giveaway rules were borrowed and modified from Jessica @ Just a Book Lover.

With that being said, I wish you luck! May the odds be ever in your favor!

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