Sunday, March 31, 2013

PICTURE PERFECT BLOG TOUR - Author's Interview: Alessandra Thomas


Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes - and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two. When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn't there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral - nude modeling for a nearby college's human form drawing classes. When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she's posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she's ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night together, Cat's absolutely smitten.

Nate’s pretty close to perfect – he takes Cat rock climbing when he discovers that it makes her feel strong and becomes a great chef after he learns that the perfect pesto sauce makes her swoon. Cat starts to feel like her old self again - confident and beautiful - as long as Nate's around. Even when he discourages her from entering the Real Woman Project, a design competition for plus-sized apparel, she reasons that he's just trying to prevent old body image wounds from splitting wide open again. But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing - this might destroy their relationship before it's even had a chance to get off the ground.

Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she'll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin - even if it means leaving him forever.

And guess what, guys? I’m so honored Alessandra has taken the time to answer some of my questions about PICTURE PERFECT! She’s super nice, and her book is amazing. And without further ado...

Hi Johana! Thank you so much for having me over to your blog today!  I’m so excited to be here.

- What can you tell me about the conception of Picture Perfect?

I know a lot of college-aged people, and, especially among the women, a popular topic of conversation is how they hate their bodies. There is a lot of self-hate running around this community in particular, I think largely because they’re surrounded by women their own age and there’s sort of an inherent sense of competition. 

The seed of the idea started a few years back, when Glamour magazine ran an article about learning to love your body, and included an almost-nude model with some pretty obvious belly fat and other curves – and she looked RADIANT. Letters poured in to the magazine thanking them for featuring a “real woman.” 

When I wrote Picture Perfect, I thought about how that sort of feedback, that “you look really awesome naked,” could help a lot of these girls I know. Especially coming from a gorgeous guy. *wink wink* And the story grew from there.

- Cat's pivotal conflict is centered around her body image issues. What decided you to write about such an unexplored, some people may even say taboo, topic? 

I think we’ve all been there, you know? We live in a culture where there is a clear standard of beauty that almost no one lives up to. That means that almost everyone has some hangup with their body, that affects them on the inside as well as the outside. I, like Cat, had some pretty freaky medical events that caused me to gain a lot of weight. I’m a size sixteen and I often lament my extra curves. On the other hand, I have a friend who’s always been thin, and she reports having hated her thinness for large portions of her lives.  

This story isn’t even really about “beauty is within,” which, frankly, I think is an easy out – it’s about “confront your body issues and vanquish them.” That’s a lot tougher.

- You protagonist, Cat… She's a fashion major. Did you chose this vocation for her for a particular reason? 

Yes! First, because fashion is an industry where that standard of beauty is basically EVERYWHERE. You can’t escape it. So it would make things a lot harder for Cat when she suddenly didn’t fit within that standard anymore (yes, I like to be evil to my characters!) But also because a large part of feeling beautiful in your own body is learning to dress it well. So I thought she’d also be armed for that part of the battle (so sometimes I’m nice, too.)

- About Gorgeous Nate.. I don't really have an appropiate question in mind *raises eyebrow* He plays a big part in Cat's coming into her own, in more ways than one. What can you tell me about him? 

Nate is an only child of divorce, and grew up mostly with his mom, so I think he sort of has a unique outlook and understanding about what women need to feel good about themselves. 

He also wears his heart on his sleeve. He has made mistakes, but as soon as he realized what they were he set to work harder than almost anyone else would trying to change those aspects of himself. He’s really quite extraordinary.

By the way, Nate thinks you’re hot..*blushes*

- Thank you. Em, where was I? Oh, Yeah! With so many New Adult books reaching success right now, do you see the genre evolving as much as Young Adult did a few years back?
Absolutely! I think that this age span (college-aged) is such a unique time of life that the situations in the books coming out are really inapplicable to any other group. I think that that “almost-adult-but-definitely-not-a-kid” milieu is something that will inspire a lot of stories, romance and otherwise. 
We’re only going to see it grow from here. I’m just glad that so many people had the sense to put their work out there, no matter what publishers said about New Adult never being a “thing.” It’s given voice to a lot of important narratives, reached a whole new group of readers, and empowered writers like  me, who always wanted to write it, but weren’t quite brave enough – until now.

- In your opinion, is there one NA book that started the trend? One that's for NA what Harry Potter was for YA, for example.

I think that books like EASY by Tammara Webber, FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park, SLAMMED by Colleen Hoover, and LOSING IT by Cora Carmack are the iconic four for me. When I saw all of them, and how great the stories were, and how much people were buying up the genre, it really hit it home to me – this is a Thing now. :D

- Are you working on another NA project at the moment? If so, what can you tell me about it?

Yes! Right now I’m working on a story called SUBJECT TO CHANGE, which is about Cat’s best friend, Joey. She’s always followed all the rules in life, and dreamed of being a doctor. When her father’s dying wish is that she become a doctor, and creates a trust fund for her premed tuition, that’s the only path she can take. But then, it becomes increasingly clear to her that she’s just not cut out for premed.  What’s worse is that the Professor for the business gen-ed she has to take paired her with Hawk - a tattooed, strung out loser for the huge class project. Even her easy classes won’t be easy.

When they have their first project meeting, though, Joey learns that Hawk isn’t everything he seems. He gives her a ride home in the pouring rain, and with one sexy kiss, shows her that what she always wanted may not be what she’ll always want.  It turns out that Hawk’s much more that a strung out delinquent. He’s comfortable playing by his own rules, but can he teach Joey to make even one decision for herself?

- Do you have any "writer's quirks"? If so, which ones?

I’m not sure if it’s so quirky, but I listen to one song on repeat if it inspires a scene or character. We’re talking HUNDREDS of times.

I also munch while I’m writing. I try to keep to dry cereal lately, but….yeah. The 30-day Shred I’m doing is definitely needed.

- Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions :)

Are you kidding? Thank YOU for having me! This has been so much fun!

Author Bio:
Alessandra Thomas is a New Adult writer who swears she was in her twenties yesterday. Since she's not, she spends her time looking back on her college years fondly, and writing sexy stories about guys and girls falling in love and really living life for the first time. When she's not writing, you can find her with a spoonful of ice cream in one hand and the newest New Adult release in the other.

 Also, Alessandra and Kelly at InkSlinger PR are giving away TWO signed copies and TWO e-book copies of Picture Perfect, so.. You know. Tackle this baby ASAP :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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