Interview with Ivy Smoak, author of Empire High Untouchables
20 Oct 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Empire High Untouchables?
Empire High Untouchables is a high school bully romance between a small-town girl and Manhattan’s most elite son. Even though the characters are a little younger than my normal books, it’s still packed with angst and a rollercoaster of emotions. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything. All you really need to know – Matthew freaking Caldwell is about to be your new book boyfriend!
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always loved reading. But I never dreamed it would be possible to become an author. My husband encouraged me to follow my dreams. I don’t think I ever could have done this without his support. He believes in me so much that it was impossible not to believe in myself too. And it’s easy for me to write romance when every day it feels like I’m living in one. I’m so lucky to have him and so lucky that I get to wake up every day and do what I love!
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
This is such a hard question! A few of the books that stuck with me the most are ones that I read as a kid. And there are a few that really motivated me to start writing when I was an adult.
1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Of course! What kid doesn’t want to believe that magic actually exists? Adults too. Anything is possible. Really the first five books all made me so happy. Before it gets kind of dark and they leave school in books 6 and 7. So technically the first 5 books are all on my list. But I think that’s cheating. So I came up with some more:
2) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Really all four of those books are amazing. But I’ve read the first one so many times that the pages are worn. This series inspired me the most to start writing. And it definitely inspired my first high school series – Empire High.
3) Harlan Coben – The Woods. I love thrillers. And Harlan Coben is definitely my favorite thriller author! That’s why every now and then I like to surprise my readers and release a psychological thriller when they’re expecting a romance. Nothing like keeping readers on their toes!
4) Twilight. I think this was technically the first romance I ever read. And I was seriously obsessed. I read the first book when I first started dating my now husband. And I lump the experiences of dating him into the experience of reading about Edward and Bella. My life is basically a vampire novel now in my mind.
5) Empire High Untouchables! It’s the best book ever! Haha okay, that sounded really conceited. But I’ve never been more in love with characters than I am with these. I’ve laughed and cried with them. And I think you’ll love them just as much.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I’d 100% have to talk to EL James. She writes in the same genre as me and she’s been able to create virality around her books, which is so hard to do. I want all her secrets. There’s so much speculation on which things contributed to her success. And getting the inside scoop would be amazing. Also then we could be best friends and she could hook me up with an amazing producer for The Hunted series. Seeing The Hunted series on the big screen is a dream of mine. Or Netflix. Or Hulu. Or whoever is out there reading this. You!
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
Writing just makes me happy. Or at least, it does when I’m not crying over my keyboard at whatever scene I’m writing. But my husband can tell whether I’ve written or not yet by my mood. He swears I’m grumpy when I haven’t gotten any words in. I’m so lucky to be able to do what I truly love every day. And that I’m able to spread that joy to others too. Because all the emails and messages I get is my other favorite thing. My fans are the best and I love them. <3
What is a typical day like for you?
Working from home is super weird and amazing at the same time. Some days I work pretty much all day long. And then there are days where I’m completely burned out and have what I like to call “mush brain” – where I can barely form a sentence and if I wrote anything, none of the words would make any sense. On those days you can find me binge watching Love Island UK. But when I balance my time better, my normal day involves going on a walk with my husband, eating brunch (we weirdly only eat two meals a day at my house), writing for a few hours, hanging out in my FB group The Ivy Smoaksters, catching up on emails, working out, eating dinner, and then either writing more or again…binge watching Love Island UK. Can you tell that I’m a little obsessed with Love Island right now?
What scene in Empire High Untouchables was your favorite to write?
100% my favorite scene to write was Brooklyn and Matt’s first kiss. I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to spoil the scene. But Matthew Caldwell is a kiss thief!
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I think Taylor Swift said it best. Shake it off! This business is so subjective and if I had listened to the no’s years ago and never taken a chance and self-published my first book, I wouldn’t be one of the biggest self-published authors today. Shake it off and show everyone what you’re truly made of!
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