Interview with Dahlia Adler, author of UNDER THE LIGHTS

Today we're helping Dahlia Adler celebrate the release of UNDER THE LIGHTS! It's the second book in her Daylight Falls series (you might remember our BEHIND THE SCENES blog hop), another contemporary YA set in Hollywood.

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.

On Goodreads, I found this tidbit from Dahlia (including links to excerpts!): 

I wrote this. I love it. Feel free to ask questions! If you're curious to see some excerpts, you can find ones herehere, and here!

To clarify a major thing: this is *not* a romance between Josh and Vanessa; as per my lovely cover, this is very much a f/f romance. Pretty graphically so, in fact. (You're welcome.) That's all I'll say about that right now, because spoilers, but I'm excited for you guys to read it!

Before we jump into the interview, meet Dahlia!

I'm an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I do a whole lot of writing at every spare moment in between. I've also been a Production Intern and Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster, a Publicity Intern at HarperCollins, and a Fashion Intern at Maxim. (I'm kind of into that whole publishing thing.)

I'm the author of the Daylight Falls duology (consisting of Behind the Scenes and Under the Lights), the upcoming Just Visiting, and the NA novel Last Will and Testament.  For information on those books and where you can buy them, check out My Books!

I live in New York City with my husband and our overstuffed bookshelves, and you can find me on Twitter at @MissDahlELama and blogging at B&N Teens, The Daily Dahlia, and YA Misfits. Come say hi!

BG: How did you get started as a writer, and what inspires you to keep writing?

DA: I started writing as a kid - basically, I was inspired by books like Sweet Valley High and the Baby-Sitters Club to create worlds in which I could live vicariously and be cool. And in a way, I think my inspiration is still the same: getting to live other lives, experience other things, do the things I'll never do. I will always love that. 

BG: Both BEHIND THE SCENES and UNDER THE LIGHTS are set in the sparkly world of movies - Hollywood, actors and actresses, paparazzi. What inspired you to write books set in Hollywood?

DA: It's so weird but I can never remember the answer to this question! I really don't remember why I decided to set BEHIND THE SCENES in Hollywood, but I do know I very specifically wanted it to be tangential, with the main character being someone who was on the fringes. So, that's how BEHIND THE SCENES became the story of a girl was the best friend and girlfriend of actors, but that's all I'd originally wanted to do, and I really didn't want to write a book with an actor as the main character; I felt like there were enough of those. But then the conversation about book 2 happened, and lo and behold, turns out I did and enjoyed that too! But that enjoyment had a lot to do with approaching it in a slightly more subversive way, I think - the contrasting experiences of being a straight white guy in Hollywood vs. being a queer Asian girl and how drastically it differentiates their opportunities.

BG: I'm always fascinated by book research, and I think it's helpful for writers to hear how authors create more authentic settings and characters. How did you research the Hollywood scene? Do you have personal experience with the movie industry (DAHLIA IS THERE SOMETHING WE SHOULD KNOW??) or is it something you had to research?

DA: Hahaha I wish I could say I had real experience with the industry, but alas, it's all research. At the time I wrote BEHIND THE SCENES, I was a massive TV watcher and actually blogged about TV a lot; I was obsessed with entertainment news, following stuff like upfronts and was a huge hobby for me. So basically, there was a lot of expanding on that - watching behind-the-scenes (heh) videos of "teen" actors on set, reading other Hollywood YAs by people who do have experience in the industry (hat tip to Jen Calonita!), and incorporating my own observations from obsessively watching teen TV and reading industry news. LA's also the only city I've written about that I've also been to several times, so that was helpful, although I definitely utilized Google Earth at points; it's a writerly godsend! 

BG: What inspired you to write f/f romance? Should we expect more books like this from you in the future? 

DA: Indeed it is! I had actually already planned to write a different f/f romance, which I'm currently drafting, but when I realized that Vanessa definitely liked "the waitress" she'd met in my early draft of UtL way more than the guy I was trying to hook her up with, it became my first instead. F/f is such a tiny, tiny subset of Romance, and I definitely wanted to contribute to expanding it. (Plus, ya know, hot. Let's not pretend I don't love writing it.) And yes, you can 100% expect more from me in the future. The third book in my NA series is f/f romance and will hopefully be out later this year, and the YA I'm drafting now is another dual POV with one of the storylines being a romance between two girls.

BG: You have such amazing book recommendations (check out Dahlia's blog posts on B&N teens for some great examples). What's your top recent read - the book you want everyone to read RIGHT NOW? 

DA: Why thank you! My most recent love is THE REVENGE PLAYBOOK by Rachael Allen. I love both of Rachael's books for their strong feminist undertones and complicated, layered friendships, and this one's such a relevant exploration of the effects of the empowerment - particularly in the south - of both athletes and, to a lesser (and very balanced) extent, the church. I love the way she brings everything together through four different perspectives, and I just think it's such a great example of a book with a lot of quiet strength that isn't in your face, per se, but seeps in slowly and powerfully, just as her 17 FIRST KISSES did. 

BG: Ooh. *Adds to TBR list*

Thank you so much, Dahlia! (for the interview *and* the book recommendation) ;) 

Get your copy of UNDER THE LIGHTS: Amazon | B & N | The Book Depository | Oblong Books (signed!)

Jump in the comments to wish Dahlia a happy pub day! We'd also love to hear what you think: Do you love books set in Hollywood? Have you read YA with a f/f romance? Are you writing a book with a f/f or m/m romance? We'd love to hear about it. :) 

Thanks for reading!