The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
Taylor Simmons is screwed.
Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.
Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.
Big thanks to Jenn for allowing me to interview her! (My questions are bolded.)
Tell us about your publishing journey.
This would probably take ages so I’ll give you the short version. Eight years ago, I wrote my first book (a YA time travel fantasy) and queried it even though it wasn’t quite ready yet. I was a major newbie and didn’t do my research. But like they say, practice makes perfect so I practiced and practiced and practiced. THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME was actually the fifth book I finished and queried. Luckily, I was able to get an agent with it, but we parted ways about a year later. Two months later, I happened to read A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT and decided to submit to Swoon Reads even though I thought it would be a long shot. ☺ And here we are!
Was THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME your first choice title or were there any different possibilities? If so, what were they?
I’m not good with coming up with titles. At all. Originally THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME was called THE LOVE CONTRACT. Pretty simple and to the point. After it was chosen by Swoon Reads, the awesome editors, Holly and Lauren, asked me about changing the title to THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME. At first I wasn’t sure, but it soon grew on me. Plus, it really catches your attention so I agreed to change it. Though I’ll have to admit, it is sort of a tongue twister and I’ve actually messed up the title a lot in the beginning whenever I talked about the book.
What was your writing schedule like?
I try to write whenever I can, but most of my most productive work is usually late at night. Like from ten to two in the morning sometimes. But now that I work from home, I’ve been trying to write more during the day. Try to be the operative word. It’s been a hard transition. Especially because there are so many things that can distract you during the day. Not to mention, I get very distracted by the internet and social media. I’m still working on it though!
How did you come up with your characters? Do you see parts of yourself in any of them?
The characters usually come to me along with the plot. I just visualize what characters would fit to make the most interesting story. And while none of my characters are based particularly off of me or anyone I know, there are personality quirks that I give my characters. Like Taylor’s tuna making to elevate her stress was something I used to do. Even Evan’s car, Rudy, was named after my husband’s car.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
My advice is to make sure you’re writing what you want to write. Not what’s popular in the market. Not what other people WANT you to write, but what YOU want to write. There was a time when THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME was a much different story. It was more dramatic. More edgy. The issue with slut shaming and drugs were much more dominate because I thought that it would make my book stand out more. That was what teens wanted to read. But I was never fully happy with it. So with each edit round, it became lighter, more fluffy. More my style. And now I love the book that it’s become. Because THIS was the story I wanted to write. That I wanted to tell. This was something I was proud of.
Not to mention, you will be working on this story for ages. Revision after revisions. Edits will feel like they’re going on forever. And if you don’t love your novel, then the road will be very long and painful. I absolutely loved working on THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME, but there were days when I couldn’t even look at a single word of it anymore because I was so sick of it. But it’s all worth it in the end.
Are you planning another novel soon? Is there anything you can tell us about it?
I have a couple projects I’m working on right now. The first is one that I’m still working on revisions for. It’s about a basketball player who pretends to be gay to help his cousin hook up with the girl of his dreams. Another one I’m drafting is a fairy tale cruise ship romance between a slightly dorky lounge singer and the ship captain’s daughter. While they’re not sequels to THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME, they are in the same universe as the basketball player’s story takes place at Fort Worth where Evan is while Brian and his family are on the cruise ship. But I still haven’t decided if either of these will even be my next novel. It could end up being something entirely different!
Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of ‘research’. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is her debut novel.