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Sunday 28 June 2015

No More Confessions by Louise Rozett ~ Author Interview + Giveaway

This week Paperback Princess has dedicated the week to the Confessions Series by Louise Rozett. These are the posts thus far... 

Day 3 Interview with Rose Zarelli

This is the last day of Paperback Princess' The Confessions Series feature by Louise Rozett, so what a perfect time to Interview the lady that created this amazing series, Louise Rozett! 

Read till the end for your chance to win not one but TWO giveaways courtesy of myself and YA Bound Blog Tours. Please click the banner below for the complete tour schedule. 

~ This or That ~ 

I love a good game of This or That, don’t you? It always makes me think of that Black Sheep song from the early ’90s, “This or That” (actually, I think it’s called “The Choice is Yours”) and then I spend the whole day with an earworm...but that’s okay! Unfortunately, I’m sort of terrible at this game—I can’t always make a choice. So I apologize in advance, but here we go.... 

Katy or Beyoncé? 

I love Katy, but Beyoncé might just be the best performer alive. I mean, she’s superhuman, right? Katy is awesome. Beyoncé is from another planet. 

Tattoo or piercing? 

Well, let’s see. My ears are pierced, but that’s it. I also have a tattoo. It’s the Sydney Opera House because I LOVE Australia! (In fact, Australia plays an important role in a new book I’m working on....) But if I had to pick? I’d say...hmmm...I don’t think I’d get anything else pierced, but I might get another tattoo (of another piece of architecture, maybe, like the Brooklyn Bridge?) so I guess the answer

I can't wait to read your new book featuring Sydney, Australia! 

Spinach or kale? 

Really? I have to choose? I love both—in salads, smoothies, sandwiches, snacks (what else starts with “s”?). But seriously. It’s true. I can’t choose. I’m not all about greens, however—I can eat sugar and carbs and fat with the best of them. Bring on the cupcakes.

Bachelor or Bachelorette? 

Neither. I am generally not a fan of the reality TV. I am, however, totally loving UnREAL on Lifetime, which is a fictional behind-the-scenes look at how shows like The Bachelor get made. It’s kind of terrifying (and, like most “reality” shows, it’s pretty much for adults, FYI). It raises the question, how did we get here? Why are we allowing these kinds of reality shows to happen in the name of entertainment? Yikes...

Blond or brunette? 

I’ve been both, and everything in between (along with some colors that aren’t on that spectrum at all, like blue). I think my favorite is a combination of the two—base color brunette, highlights blond. (Is that a copout?) (Yeah, probably...)

Dog or cat? 

I’m an animal lover to my core, but for me, it’s all about the dogs. If you’ve seen my website, you probably already know that. 

Heels or flats? 

I love high heels, as is evidenced on my beloved Pinterest board, “I Dream of Wearing...” And being 5’3” makes me love them even more! The problem is, though, that heels don’t love me. Too many stress fractures from running...blah blah blah. It doesn’t stop me from still wearing them on occasion—I admit it!

Salty or sweet? 

No one should ever have to choose between these two things, should they?! I mean, it’s awesome to just keep ping-ponging back and forth, right?

Rain or sun? 

I am really terrible at this game. When I’m in NYC and it’s rainy, I dream of sun. When I’m in LA and it’s sunny, I crave rain. I love them both equally and for different reasons!

M&Ms or Reese’s? 

Oh, M&Ms. Hands down. I am not a peanut-butter-and-chocolate girl. I just don’t get it—why obscure the flawless flavor of chocolate?! Although I guess there are a few flavors I like with chocolate. But not peanut butter. (Yes, I know, people are equally passionate in the other direction. It’s just one of those personal things we’ll have to agree to disagree on.)

~ Q&A with Louise Rozett ~ 

Q. Tell us about yourself and your writing.
A. I was one of those kids who wrote lots of stories and plays. As I got older and started studying acting, I focused more on plays. I loved the collaborative nature of playwriting, but at a certain point, I really wanted to create something entirely on my own, that didn’t require a director and actors. And that’s when I went back to fiction. For me, writing is the best way to disappear into myself, to take a break from the real world. It calms me and absorbs me in a way that nothing else does.
Q. What inspired the Confessions series?
A. I have very vivid memories of being a teenager and trying to understand and cope with desire and other big, new issues. Desire is very tricky—people can really lose themselves in it and make bad decisions as a result of it—and I was interested in investigating what it’s like to be a smart girl navigating that territory. Because it doesn’t matter how smart you are—when you feel desire for the first time, it can really scramble your brain.
Q. Rose has been through so much over two books. How did you create such a realistic portrayal of grief?
A. Thanks for saying it’s a realistic portrayal! I think the thing that’s tough about portraying grief is the time frame. It takes a long, long time to process grief—it’s not the kind of thing that can be dealt with quickly and cleanly. Based on my own experience with grief and trauma, the healing process is messy, and it’s not linear—it starts and stops, and it’s two steps forward, three steps back sometimes. Once I recognized that, Rose’s journey became clear to me.
Q. In book 1, Confessions of an Angry Girl, Rose is bullied by Regina. In book 2, she sees Conrad being harassed by the swim team. What do you hope readers learn from Rose’s experience, and what would you say to someone who is being bullied or harassed?
A. I think it’s important for people experiencing bullying or harassment to speak up, in whatever form that takes, whether it’s talking to an adult, or addressing the bully directly, or getting the police involved. Everyone has to make their own decision about how to manage the situation, and choose what feels right to them, as Rose does. But personally, I feel that staying silent is not the answer.
Q. What resources are there for someone who is being bullied or harassed?
A. There are a ton of different resources online, from websites like to sections on bullying on the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network site, There’s also a fantastic documentary called Bully that I think is a must-see for everyone, with a website called that has great resources.
Q. Rose and Jamie have a rather complex relationship. How do you view their romance, and is there hope for them in the future?
A. I love Rose and Jamie together. I think they are very different people who broaden each other’s minds and give each other new experiences of all kinds. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen in their future—they haven’t told me yet, if that makes any sense. But I will say this: the hardest thing to do in a relationship is stay together through change. And teenagers change quickly, and very often. It’ll be interesting to see if Rose and Jamie can figure out how to handle that.
Q. Rose and Tracy’s friendship has its ups and downs, but in the end they seem to make it work. What do you think is important in a friendship?
A. I think Rose and Tracy keep finding their way back to each other because they understand that they are different people, yet they respect their differences. They don’t try to like the same things or the same people—they try to respect each other’s opinions and decisions, even if they don’t understand them. If you can master that in your friendships, you’ll have a lifetime of great friends.
Q. Do you have a favorite among Rose’s circle of family and friends? Who is it?
A. I love Angelo. I really do. He’s a diamond in the rough. Angelo sees potential in Rose from the moment he meets her, and as he figures out who he is, he starts to help Rose reach that potential. He’s also just fun, and funny, and kind, and uncomplicated in a way. I think Rose appreciates that in the middle of her very complicated life.
Q. Any words of advice for aspiring authors?
A. I have two pieces of advice for aspiring authors. The first one is just sit down and do it. Make a schedule for yourself, write it in your calendar like it’s a doctor’s appointment and commit to it. If you don’t know what to say, then write about that. But get some words on the page.

The second piece of advice is, be nice to yourself while you’re writing. I think this is really important. A lot of people stop writing after a few tries because they read what they wrote and decide it’s terrible. But they’re being completely unfair—they’re judging something that isn’t ready to be judged. Writing is a process of creation and revision, and more creation and more revision—it takes time. You have to be critical eventually, but if you do it while your ideas are still young and taking shape, you’ll give up before you’ve even started.

About the Author

Louise Rozett

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Louise Rozett is an author, a playwright, and a recovering performer. She made her YA debut with Confessions of an Angry Girl, followed by Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend, both published by HarlequinTEEN. The next book in the series, No More Confessions, is due out January 2015. She lives with her 120-pound Bernese Mountain dog Lester (named after Lester Freamon from THE WIRE, of course) in sunny Los Angeles, and pines for New York City.

Read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 

~ Chapter 3 ~ 

“It’s Not You,” Halestorm, Halestorm

Upstairs, I dig around in the tangled pile of clothes and sheets that is my bed. Soon my fingers graze the cool metal of my laptop. I slide it out and open it, the screen springing to life with an old photo of my parents before my brother and I were born. Peter has been scanning family photos from old albums so we have digital versions, and I’ve changed my settings so that every time I open my laptop, a different photo comes up. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but I’m not changing it. 

I look over at Angelo’s old guitar sitting in the corner of my room, untouched for the last few days. I was planning on practicing tonight so Angelo doesn’t destroy me at rehearsal tomorrow—Angelo is on my ass about getting better at guitar so he can play bass—but it’s pretty clear that’s no longer going to happen. 

 Once I’m online, my fingers hesitate over the keys. I know that if I watch this, I might get answers to questions I’ve had for the last two years, like, what was Dad doing right before he died? Was he with nice, good people when it happened? Was it fast, and painless? 

Was he in one piece when it was over? 

I obsess over this one even though the answer is obvious. He was blown up by a bomb—one piece isn’t an option in that scenario. 

I grab my phone and hit speed dial. 

As it rings, I hold it to my ear with my shoulder and twist my overgrown bangs around my finger. I lean over to my nightstand and grab my pinking sheers, which I keep nearby for this very purpose. 

Sometimes, the only thing you can control in life is your hair. 

I don’t want to lose the blue ends of my bangs—Tracy helped me do them a few weeks ago and they look really cool—but they’re just too damn long. I should have cut them before we dyed the ends. But things don’t always happen in the order you want them to. 

Vicky answers by saying, “Sugar, if you watch that video, I swear to god...” 

Although I’ve never met Vicky in person, I’ve seen enough photos that I can picture her sitting at her kitchen table, fanning herself as she talks on her landline with the 30-year-old curly cord that’s probably sticky with kitchen grease. I imagine her sweating in the Texas heat, blotting her face with her “kerchief,” as she calls it. 

“Did you just take the lord’s name in vain?” I tease. 

“I’m a Texas Christian, honey—we get to take the lord’s name in vain in certain situations. And this is for sure a ‘certain’ situation.” 

I lean forward over the edge of my bed so my hair hangs in front of my face like a curtain. “Are you okay, Vic?” 

“No, sweetie. And you’re not either, I can tell.” 

“If we watch it,” I say, “at least we’ll know what it was like for them.” 

Vicky is quiet for so long, I check my phone to see if we still have a connection. Finally she says, “We can’t ever know what it was like for them, hon. And that’s how they’d want it. Don’t watch it, sweetheart.” 

I slide the scissors under my hair curtain to reach my bangs. Snip. A chunk of blue falls to the floor. 

“That video never should have seen the light of day,” Vicky continues. “If I knew where Gabe was, I would tan his hide somethin’ fierce, I tell you what.” 

I freeze, scissors poised to do more damage. “Who’s Gabe?” I ask. 

There’s a long pause before Vicky says, “Your mamma didn’t get that far, huh?” 

It’s hard to listen as she explains that the soldier who posted the video was Travis’ best friend, Gabriel Ortiz. He’d been using his camera phone in Iraq, even though soldiers aren’t supposed to do that. He and Travis were part of the convoy that was escorting my dad and a bunch of other engineers to a site. Gabriel got injured in the explosion, but he recovered, finished his tour, and signed up for another one before the army realized—or had to acknowledge—that he had PTSD and was unstable. 

“So they sent him home. And now, for reasons only the good lord knows, he’s posting all the dang videos he took while he was over there. I tell you what, Rosalita, if Travis were here, he would kick that fool’s ass. Gabe always did need help stayin’ in line.” I hear a catch in her voice, and then she changes the subject so fast I get whiplash. “How’s junior year so far?” she asks with a whole bunch of fake cheer. 

Junior year. Sometimes I feel like I was a freshman two seconds ago. Today it feels like 20 years. 

“You still there, Rose?” <


I can’t shift topics that quickly—I’m still trying to deal with the fact that Vicky actually knows the guy I’ve been referring to as “the jackass with a smartphone.” 

I flip over onto my back and hold my bangs up between two fingers. Snip. A chunk spills on my face, tickling my nose, sticking to my lips. 

“Did I just hear those scissors?” Vicky asks sternly. “You know you’re not supposed to cut your own hair. We talked about this!” 

Vicky is a hairdresser, and she does not approve of my taking matters into my own hands. “I’m just trimming my bangs,” I say. 

“There are professionals who would be happy to do that for you.” She sighs. “Don’t you go too short or your forehead will look as big as a football field on a Friday night, only nobody will be cheerin’.” <

“I won’t, Vic, I promise.” 

“All righty, listen, I’m gonna go find that boy before he gets himself court-martialed or dishonorably discharged or strung up by his ankles.” 

I sit up, the scissors gaping open in my hand. “You’re worried about him? After what he did to us? What the hell?” 

Although I’m pissed off, I cringe at my choice of words and my tone of voice—I’ve never talked to Vicky like this before. But she doesn’t miss a beat. 

“Rosalita, that boy ate at my table almost every night of his life until he enlisted. He’s a few wings short of a bird right now but Travis would want me to help him and that’s what I’m gonna do. Now stop butchering your hair and go to bed. And do not—I repeat—do not watch that video.” 

I hear her setting her old-school handset in the cradle as she hangs up. And then, dead air. I feel like I’m falling backward with nothing to stop me. 

Things were almost normal again for the first time in two years, and then...Smartphone Jackass. Who does he think he is? What gives him the right to put that video online for anyone to watch? 

But even as I curse Gabriel Ortiz’s name, I know I’m one of the people who’s going to watch the video. It’s just a question of when, and whether or not Jamie’s going to watch it with me. 

The outside of Jamie’s house is bleak, with paint peeling off the shutters and flaking onto the dead grass. I’ve never seen the inside, but I bet it’s not much better. 

It’s the middle of the night, and I’m sitting in my mom’s car. She has to take an arsenal of sleeping pills at night so the chances of her waking up, realizing I took the car again and making good on her promise to ground me for the next two years are fairly slim. It’s a selfish risk to take, given the state she’s in tonight, and possibly a pointless one since Jamie’s car is not here. But it’s a risk I’m taking anyway. I can’t shake the feeling that he can help me with this. 

I don’t know what time Dizzy’s closes, but it’s almost 2 a.m. He’ll probably be home soon. Unless he’s not coming home at all. Which is his business, not mine, I remind myself. 

I look up at the house where Jamie has lived with just his dad for the last few years since his mom died in an institution. She was schizophrenic, something that Jamie and I have talked about exactly twice for a grand total of three minutes. As I’m trying not to picture him in Cargo Pants’ dorm room, headlights sweep across the front porch. He pulls into the driveway too fast and overshoots on one side, his tires tearing up the scraggly, parched lawn. He turns the car off but doesn’t get out. 

After a minute, I go look in the open passenger-side window. Jamie’s leaning against his door, his eyes closed. “Jamie.” 

“What?” he says without opening his eyes. Either he recognizes my voice, or he doesn’t care who’s talking to him. It’s probably the latter. 

“Are you going to sleep in the driveway?” 

“Good a place as any.” His words slur. 
“Are you drunk?” I ask. He opens his eyes, and it takes them a second to focus. “I work in a bar,” he says. He shoves open the door and steps out, steadying himself on the hood before heading toward the porch. He fumbles with his keys and drops them. When he gets the door open and looks over his shoulder, he has trouble finding me, though I’m five feet away. 

I’ve never seen Jamie drunk. It’s not pretty. 

“I need to talk—” 

He cuts me off. “Yeah, the stalking sort of gave that away.” Not only is he drunk, he’s in a shit mood. But he’s right—I showed up at his work uninvited, and now at his house at 2 a.m., also uninvited. 

“I’m sorry.” 

“Can’t stay away, huh?” 

“Oh, get over yourself,” I answer. I sound tough but I feel strange—if he were sober, he’d hear uncertainty in my voice. “What are you doing driving like that?” I step closer, and the beer and whatever else comes off him in a stale wave. I didn’t think it was possible to find Jamie unattractive, but it turns out it is. There’s a life lesson in here somewhere but I’m too pissed off to parse it right now. I lean in to make sure he gets every word. “This is an emergency. Do you understand? Or do you need me to spell it out for you because you can’t understand English right now?” 

My harsh words have an impact and I glimpse the Jamie I know behind the haze, concerned. I wonder if it’s possible that Jamie and I only know how to be around each other when I need rescuing. That would suck—according to Killing Cinderella, the only thing worse than buying into the Lip-Gloss-Begets-Boyfriend Myth is the Damsel-in-Distress Myth. Have I been chasing him all night because some part of me knows I can use this to get him back? 

But I don’t want him back. Right? 

Jamie holds the door open for me, and as I step in it feels like we’re crossing a line. Access to the inner sanctum at the Forta household. There’s a first time for everything. 

The air inside is still. He leads me through a dark living room with furniture that sags to the floor, into the kitchen. He flips the light switch, revealing disaster. It’s not just that there are food-encrusted dishes piled high in the sink, it’s that everything is covered in grime, as if no one has cleaned in a long time. A seriously long time. 

“Been working a lot,” he grumbles. 

I know enough about his dad not to ask why it’s solely Jamie’s job to take care of the house. “Drink?” He braces himself against the wall as he takes clean glasses out of the dishwasher. 

“Water,” I say, hoping he’ll drink some too. 

He fills both glasses, hands me one and opens the sliding doors. They lead to a patio that is way cleaner than the kitchen, with an overhang and a shiny grill next to a set of outdoor furniture that looks new. On the table sits a sketchpad. Jamie closes it, shoving it onto a chair before I can see what he was drawing. He sits, leans back and closes his eyes. 

I forge ahead. “Sorry—again—that I just showed up at your job.” 

“Your brother know about that ID?” 

“His girlfriend got it for me.” 

“It’s shit.” 

“It worked.” 

“Dizzy looks the other way for cute girls.” His words are 100-percent scolding, zero-percent compliment. 

“I shouldn’t have expected you to have time. You definitely looked...busy.” 

He doesn’t take the bait. My glass of water sweats in the late-night humidity, rivulets pooling on the table. As he sits there, eyes still closed, I look at what he’s wearing—a T-shirt and jeans like always, but they’re nicer versions, a step up from what I’m used to seeing on him. His dark green T-shirt shows off his body, which I’m sure helps the tip jar fill up faster. 

“Should we talk about last spring?” I finally ask. He just shrugs. “She asked me not to tell you.” 

He opens his eyes and tries to stare me down, which isn’t quite as effective when he’s hammered. “Parrina was hitting her. I know she did some serious shit to you, but you shoulda told me.” 

“Regina asked me not to tell you because she knew you’d go after him and get expelled. And so did I. I chose youover her.” 

“I never asked you to do me any favors.” 

“You get to protect everybody but nobody gets to protect you?” He has no comeback for this. “I told her she had to tell you herself. I would never intentionally betray you. Not after everything you’ve done for me.” 

He downs the rest of his water in one gulp. “I gotta go to bed. I’m working every night ‘til I die.” <

I’ve never heard Jamie say anything self-pitying before—ever. “Why are you working so much?” I ask. 

Embarrassment flickers across his face before anger. “My dad lost his job.” <

There is nothing about this situation that will be good for Jamie. Nothing. I try to climb down off my high horse. “When?” 

“‘Early retirement’ last month. Without a full pension. Too many strikes against him. He asked Dizzy to hire me off the books.” 

Given the stellar citizen I now know Dizzy to be, I’m sure he jumped at the chance to hire a cop’s underage son to bartend. What a great insurance policy. “Jamie, I’m sorry—” 

Jamie’s phone buzzes and he pulls it out of his back pocket. It takes him a while to read the screen. His face gives nothing away but I’d bet money Cargo Pants just sent him a text. He starts to stand. 

“I didn’t track you down at work to talk about Regina and Anthony Parrina. I found out something about my dad, and I needed...advice. You were the first person I thought of.” 

His eyes lock onto mine. Then he slowly sits back down. 

The hardness in his eyes slips away as I tell him about the video. “My mother watched it. I haven’t talked to my brother yet. I don’t know if I should watch it. How messed up is it that the three of us aren’t deciding what to do together? It’s like we’re in different families.” 

"Some families don’t get put back together.” 

At first, I dismiss what Jamie is saying because he’s talking about his own family. But is there a universe in which what he’s saying applies to my family? Why wouldn’t it? Because we’re more privileged than the Fortas? I don’t have it in me to examine that right now but the bottom line is, I still think of my mom, my brother and me as a family, even though we lost Dad. Do they, I wonder? 

“Would you watch it, if you were me?” I ask. 

He leans back in his chair, tipping the legs off the ground. I stop myself from grabbing his arm so he doesn’t fall. “Doesn’t matter what I’d do.” 

In his pocket, his phone buzzes again. His chair lands back on the ground with a thud. So much for the wisdom of Jamie Forta. 

I’m not going to sit here and watch him read another text from her. “I have to go,” I say. 

I head back through the house, Jamie following me. And just when I think it was a mistake to come here and that he no longer cares about me—just when I’m ready to write him off entirely and get on with my life—his hand lands on mine as I reach for the door. He takes a step closer. I can feel the heat from his chest on my back. I can smell him—not the alcohol, but him. <

“You call me if you’re gonna watch that thing, Rose.” 

When I turn to tell him thanks but no thanks, he’s looking down at his phone, so I say nothing. I leave him leaning against the doorway, the glow from the screen lighting his face

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