Chris Russell is the author of the “Songs About a Girl” trilogy, and I had the chance to interview him about the first book in the series, “Songs About a Girl”. Stay tuned for more reviews and interviews of the last two books in the series.
Fun fact: I actually won a copy of “Songs About A Girl” from Chris through a giveaway, which was amazing because it has been on my TBR for fOrEvEr!
COURTNEY: What inspired you to write “Songs About A Girl,” and how long did it take you to write the first draft?
CHRIS: In one sense, my inspiration to write Songs About a Girl was a lifetime of music. I started a band called The Lightyears when I was twelve years old, and we’ve toured all over the world together since then — so I kind of spent years researching the novel without realising it! Then, a few years back, I spent some time ghostwriting for a One Direction fan-site based in Australia, and it gave me this incredible insight into boy band fandom, as well as turning me into a bona fide Directioner. During that process, I found myself thinking: there’s a novel in this. And that novel was Songs About a Girl.
COURTNEY: Which character changed the most from the first draft to the finished copy?
CHRIS: Gabriel became less douchey, and Charlie became a bit more bad-ass. 😉 The biggest shift, though, was probably in Melissa. Her actual character didn’t change enormously, but her relationship to Charlie did. In the very first draft, they weren’t strictly-speaking ‘friends’ — Melissa was more of an irritating hanger-on who Charlie couldn’t shake. But, after chatting it through with my editor, Naomi, I realised that the whole story would be far, far richer if Charlie and Melissa were inseparable besties … and we never looked back from that!
COURTNEY: Who would be your fan casts for a film adaptation?
CHRIS: The problem with fan-casting YA books is finding actors who are the right age, because by definition, we probably haven’t heard of them yet! But if I had a time machine, I think Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies, The Fault In Our Stars) would’ve made a great Charlie when she was younger.
COURTNEY: Which scene was the hardest for you to write?
CHRIS: Often the scenes I spend most time on are the super-dramatic ones — so, without being too spoilery, probably the cliff-edge and rooftop scenes. I’d had them playing in my head for months beforehand; I knew exactly how they would look and feel, and it was really important to me that I did justice to that in the book.
COURTNEY: Was there a scene that you absolutely loved that you had to end up cutting from the final draft? If so, can you tell me anything about it?
CHRIS: In all honesty, I can’t remember for sure! But the book increased significantly in length from submission to publication, so it was more a case of adding scenes than taking them away. I can tell you, though, that BKMRK published a deleted scene from Songs About Us last year, which you can read by clicking here.
COURTNEY: “Songs About A Girl” ends on a total cliffhanger. Did you always know that you wanted to make the book part of a trilogy?
CHRIS: I did — it was a trilogy from the very beginning. I’m a proper nerdy planner when it comes to writing, and I knew right from the start what most of the twists and turns would be, all the way to the eventual climax of the third book. A few things changed as I actually wrote the novels, of course, but on the whole, the essential ingredients have been there since I originally sketched out the trilogy in 2014.
COURTNEY: I absolutely love that you wrote and recorded “Dance With You,” and released it under Fire&Lights. What made you decide to do that?
CHRIS: That was something else I knew I wanted to do from the beginning. I’ve been writing songs most of my life, and I just had this hunch that actually writing some of the music in the book would be something that readers would really dig. It was quite tricky writing the song and the book at the same time — the lyrics are woven into the story, and often re-writes of the manuscript also meant rewrites of the song! — but it was a very rewarding experience, and I’ve been bowled over by the reaction to Fire&Lights on social media.
COURTNEY: Anything else you’d like to add?
CHRIS: If people would like to find out more about my writing — and be first to hear about exclusive giveaways and book news — they can click here to join my author mailing list (13yrs+ only). And thanks to everyone for reading!!
HUGE thanks to Chris for coming on the blog today! Stay tuned for my reviews and interviews about “Songs About Us” and “Songs About A Boy,” coming soon! In the meantime, check out my review of “Songs About A Girl” and my playlist for the book!