Indiana Author Month '15

Shannon Lee Alexander – Love and Other Unknown Variables

Hey, Unquenchable Readers! I want to thank Anna for asking me to the summer fun here.

I’m Shannon Lee Alexander, author of LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES, the story of Charlie Hanson, who has lived his whole life with a singular plan for his future—graduate at the top of his class from The Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, go to MIT, and win a Nobel Prize (shouldn’t be too hard for him). But his future starts to unravel when he meets Charlotte Finch, an artistic girl with a mathematical tattoo and a devastating secret.

I’ve been an Indiana resident for almost four years. I’m a wife, mom (two kids and a yellow terrier named Harriet Potter), coffee addict, and avid YA reader.

At the moment, I’m reading IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini. My daughter just brought it home from the big Hachette warehouse sale this weekend. Apparently, it’s an annual event where they open up a part of the warehouse in Lebanon and sell overstock books for one dollar each. In other words Christmas in June! I’m definitely going next year.

I should probably start including in my bio about how I’m a tangential thinker and often wander off in my thoughts, taking poor unsuspecting blog readers with me!

Back to the subject at hand. Originally, when Anna and I talked about me visiting the blog, I had thought I’d be sharing a playlist with you all. The companion to LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES will be coming out this year. This time around, the main character is Becca Hanson, Charlie’s younger sister. She’s a bookish girl that does best living in the world of fictional characters rather than real live people. Now that her best (and only real friend) is gone, she’s left on her own to sort out high school life and her family’s expectation of her—namely that she stop being a hermit and do a little living.

Becca is a beautiful character. I hear from many readers that she is their favorite from LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES. But she’s a difficult girl to pin down because she’s so introverted, unusual, and a bit like a chameleon, changing herself as she tries to fit in, but never quite getting the colors just right.

Character is of the upmost importance to me when I’m reading a book, so I work diligently to make sure my characters are all as real and rich as I can possibly make them.

To help make characters come alive in my mind and then on the page, I make playlists and Pinterest boards of things they’d love or connect with. I have them play silly games like What if? or Would You Rather? to figure out little nuances about them. By the time I’m finished writing a novel, I know exactly how each one would react in any given situation. They are so clear in my mind’s eye that I’m never able to find a picture online or pick an actor to represent them, because they cannot be recreated.

Charlie Hanson’s Pinterest board started out full of science and math, but once he got to know Charlotte, more and more art started popping up in there. Becca’s board for her own story began with quotes from literature and very bookish things, but as she started hanging out with the technical crew from Romeo and Juliet and then with the actors themselves, things on her board started to grow and shift as well.

It’s amazing to see characters grow!

Both Charlie and Charlotte made playlists back when I was writing LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES. But when I tried to pick out music for Becca while working on her story, I kept getting stuck. Nothing really worked for me. I don’t normally listen to music while writing, but I use the playlists to fill in the spaces when I’m not writing, to keep me in touch with my characters and their world. It makes it easier, with my crazy schedule, to pick up my writing at any given time and squeeze in a little work whenever I can.

So I’m coming to all of you with a special request. I need help compiling a playlist for Becca. Send song suggestions, either by commenting here on the blog or tweet them (@shanlalexander) with the #Songs4Becca hashtag. Use this Rafflecopter to collect as many entries as you can!

I’ll listen to the songs and choose the ones I think work best for Becca for her playlist.

If your song makes it onto the playlist, I’ll send you a swag pack with a bookmark and temporary tattoo.

One grand-prize winner will be chosen using Rafflecopter (from all the entries even those that don’t make the playlist) to have a character named after you in Becca’s story and receive a swag pack as well as a $5 iTunes giftcard. The contest will be open until midnight, July 1. Winners will be notified by July 24.

And if you ever want to chat books, visit my web page to get contact information. I’m always happy to share my love of reading with fellow book nerds!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


4 thoughts on “Shannon Lee Alexander – Love and Other Unknown Variables

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