1. Where did you get the idea for “Tone Deaf?”
A lot of different things came together to inspire “Tone Deaf.” I wanted to see more disabled characters represented in YA books, so writing a deaf character really appealed to me. I was also interested in doing a story about music, since the professional world surrounding the art form is so unique and crazy. Then one day, I was jokingly brainstorming terrible band names with a friend, and “Tone Deaf” was one I came up with. It led to a light-bulb moment—what if I combined a music story with the story of a deaf girl?
2. Was writing a deaf main character hard?
Making Ali’s deafness realistic required a lot of research and more work than I usually put into characters. But at her core, no, Ali wasn’t a hard character to write. I’ve always seen her as being someone who’s shaped by the things she has—a talent for art, a snarky sense of humor, a passion for geeky things. The things she doesn’t have—like normal hearing—really aren’t what define her as a person. So writing her character wasn’t necessarily “hard”—it just took a bit more research than usual.
3. So is Jace based off one of your real-life crushes?
Oh my gosh, nooo. Since I’m a young author, I get asked this a surprising amount, and it always cracks me up. I’m rather outspoken and have no patience for ungentlemanly behavior, so I think Jace and I would last approximately two minutes in the same room before verbally ripping each other to shreds. It might make for some great viral-video material, but we would definitely never be relationship material!
4. What inspired the setting for “Tone Deaf?”
“Tone Deaf” is a road trip book that takes place all across the South West. But I’ve always seen the true setting as being “the RV” instead of “the South West.” From the start of writing “Tone Deaf,” I knew having my characters living in the band’s RV was going to present some interesting situations. As a writer, it was definitely a challenge. But it also made me appreciate the crazy lifestyle sacrifices musicians make to bring their music to people across the country!
5. What was the strangest part of writing your book?
When I realized that everyone aside from me apparently thinks the title is “Tone Death.” I
honestly have no idea how this started. But I see a ton of bloggers and readers online making this typo in the title, and it’s actually kind of growing on me. “Tone Death” sounds awesomely hardcore.
6. What was your favorite part about writing “Tone Deaf”?
Even though he’s a side character, I think writing Killer was my favorite part. Killer describes himself as “the geekiest and gayest rock star in existence,” and he gave me an excuse to include a bunch of subtle nods to Doctor Who and Pokémon. Since his boyfriend is his polar opposite and utterly baffled by geekiness, their relationship was also
very fun to write.
7. Is “Tone Deaf” connected to any of your other books?
Yes! While the plots don’t directly link, if readers look carefully, they’ll find that all my
Contemporary novels intertwine a bit. Actually, the music from “Tone Deaf” plays a key role in my novel, “In the Hope of Memories.”
8. Do you plot your books before you start writing?
Nope! Plotting out events has never worked for me, so I tend to write very character-driven stories. I make sure to develop strong characters before I start writing, and then I allow the plot to unfold as the characters grow.
9. Is there a theme you hope readers will take away from “Tone Deaf”?
I hope readers will walk away realizing how empowering it is to take charge of your own future and defy expectations. Also, I hope they get the message that pit-bull snuggles are the most adorable of snuggles, and you definitely need an adopted puppy in
10. What’s your favorite part about being published?
No question about it, connecting with readers will always be my favorite part. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people through the book community, and I’m looking forward to meeting even more as “Tone Deaf” releases!
Official “Tone Deaf” Playlist
I’ve always needed music to write. Whether it’s punk rock or classical songs, I find music to be apowerful source of inspiration, and I always keep my headphones plugged in while I’m working on a story. While writing “Tone Deaf,” I pretty much lived off a steady diet of punk rock songs,alternative music, and lots of caffeine to top it off. Music has an energy that’s hard to capture in words, but I did my absolute best to fuel my muse and replicate it.
I listened to hundreds of songs while writing and editing “Tone Deaf,” but only a few of them had a lasting impression on the book. Check out the official playlist below if you want to know which songs made the cut!
1. “Broken Ones” by Jacquie Lee
2. “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” by Panic! At the Disco
3. “First Things First” Neon Trees
4. “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
5. “Feel Again” OneRepublic
6. “Bright” by Echosmith
7. “Fire” by Gavin DeGraw
8. “Chin Up Kid” by Forever the Sickest Kids
9. “Human” by The Killers
10. “Nikki” by Forever the Sickest Kids
11. “Broken Arrow” by The Script
12. “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy
13. “I Must Be Dreaming” by The Maine