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Tuesday 5 April 2016

ℚ Queen of Likes: M!X - Hillary Homzie

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Queen of Likes (, Aladdin, 272 pages), a Middle Grade novel, and the third book penned by Hillary Homzie for the M!X series.

"Karma’s struggles to maintain her social status while living her life unplugged are both humorous and realistic. Anyone who can’t live without a smartphone can definitely relate to Karma’s problems. And readers of Homzie’s other books are sure to love this one. As always, Homzie is the master of comedy." - Laurie J. Edwards 

"I loved this book. It has an important message disguised in an entertaining story, which is the best thing a middle grade book can do!" - Stephanie Faris

Synopsis | Teaser | Trailer | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Hillary Homzie; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Queen of Likes?

"My inspiration was my kids.  I have three boys—two teens and one tween, and I’m impressed by how much they can do on their phones.  They multi-task way better than me and are much swifter on them.

Sometimes my teens compete to see how many likes they get on a post, and it struck me how different it is to grow up now.  Then I thought-- what would it be like to be a 12 year-old girl whose sense of self-worth is expressed by the number of followers she has, as well as the number of likes she gets on her posts?  What would happen to someone like that if her parents took away her smart phone and shut down her social media account?  That’s how the Queen of Likes, my new novel for tweens was born!"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Karma Cooper, the protagonist in Queen of Likes loves Snappypic (a fictional social media platform I created for the purposes of the book) and loves her followers.  I love my followers too, and I recently I’ve been putting a lot of energy into growing my Twitter account.  I take great pride in quickly responding to others and supporting other people.  Feel free to follow me @hillaryhomzie

I’m also a big fan of Facebook where I get to keep up with friends and a greater publishing community.  But I’d like to think that I have a good sense of self-hood and if I post something and get only a few likes or maybe none, I might be momentarily disappointed but I’m not devastated.

Karma is also someone who’s not a social butterfly naturally.  Through social media, she’s someone who can easily communicate.  And I’m a bit like that.  I’m an extroverted introvert.  I really value my alone time to write, but I love being able to reach out to lots of people through social media.  I’m probably more of a performer than Karma though.  I love talking in front of groups.  It’s the professor in me!"
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Queen of Likes - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I must confess that my editorial team at Simon & Schuster took care of the cover concept.  So I can’t take any credit.  The cover design was by Jessica Handelman and the cover illustrations were done by the wonderful Solène Debiès.

The idea is that the cover looks like the front of a cell phone with Karma’s name underneath and a number of likes.  The rainbow band of colors on the side is part of the branded imprint at MIX/Aladdin.  Each book gets a different slate of colors that reflects the tone/feeling of the book."
Why should we read Queen of Likes and what sets it apart from the rest?
"My book is the very first middle grade at Simon & Schuster to address tween social media addiction and the toxic aspects of it.  In fact, I think that mine might be the first tween book to do this.

While I’m a big fan of social media when children are young, sometimes they don’t have the tools to deal with some of the issues that come up—and there are a lot!  I hope that my book can become a starting place for more conversations about this—among tween girls themselves as well as tweens and their parents.  I think it would a great book for mother-daughter book clubs.

I made sure to make the book highly entertaining and truly written for Karma’s point of view.  I wanted to make sure that it didn’t feel preachy and like I’m totally against social media, because I’m not.  But I do believe in strict parameters, especially for tweens and teens!"
Can you tell us something quirky about Queen of Likes, its story and characters?
"The main character’s name is Karma, which I think is quirky and fun.  My middle son is actually friends with a girl named Karma, although she spelled it Kharma.  I just thought what a cool name.  I just wanted to include the idea that you get in life what you put out there—so it better be positive and loving!"
Who would you recommend Queen of Likes to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"This book is perfect for girls ages 9-12.  Not only is it a great book for girls who already own a phone and are just hopping on social media/texting but for girls who are anticipating what that might be like."
What is your writing process?
"I usually find the idea first and then find characters to fit the idea.

My early writing is exploratory.  I just let it play out like a movie in my mind and get to know the characters as I write.  Only later do I see how it all might work into a particular structure.

I might interview my characters to get to know them better.  For me, it’s like the process of getting to know a new friend."
Random quirky thing about you
"I’m really good with accents.  Probably because we lived in lots of different places.

I was born in Denver, moved to Virginia (so I can do Southern) and then we lived in England (Lewes, Sussex) and spent some time with my cousins in Scotland, where they taught me how to sound like I was from Glasgow.  So then when we moved back to the states, I had to learn how to sound American by swallowing my gs and making ts sound like a d.  So no longer, wa-ter, but wa-der.  I’ve also spent time in New York City, Toulouse, France and Barcelona, Spain.

All of my accents helped me when I performed sketch comedy in New York city in my early twenties."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I love my labradoodle, Kel.  He’s the largest labradoodle on the planet.  People often wonder if he’s part pony.  But he’s a very gentle animal.  His only flaw is that he loves chocolate and always eats any random pieces of chocolates in the house.  Luckily, he’s a very large pony/dog and hasn’t gotten hurt snacking on Lindt holiday chocolates.  But these days I put the chocolate on the very highest shelves in the house."
Hello Kel! Gosh, you are a gorgeous big boy!

Thank you for sharing Kel with us and for taking the time to talk to us today.  Have a great release day and tour!

Queen of Likes
Available NOW!

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Hillary said...

Thanks so much for interviewing me! I wanted to post my new book trailer which was shot on location at a middle school in Northern California. It's an authentic look at tweens and social media.

BooksChatter said...

Hi Hillary! Thank you for flagging it - I have added it to the main feature

Many thanks


Hillary said...

Thanks for adding the trailer, Flora!

Hillary said...

And your site is especially designed well. Thanks for going the extra mile and adding my Hot List book trailer as well!