Tuesday, August 19, 2014


5 Questions with Author Lyla Payne

Q1. Before we discuss the Whitman University books, let me ask about your newest projects. You have two new mystery/suspense ghost stories that came out this year. How does that genre compare to the new adult genre? What are the differences and challenges in writing for both?

A. The new books, Not Quite Dead and NotQuite Cold, are similar to the new adult books in that they're centered around a 25 year old woman who has a long way to go in figuring out who she is and what she wants out of her life. They're different from the Whitman books in that the main plot centers around a mystery (brought on by a haunting) and the romance, while part of the story, is not the entire story.

They both have challenges and payoffs! I love writing both kinds of stories, but helping new adult branch out into other genres is something I love being a part of.

Q2. Tell us a little bit about the fictional Whitman University as the setting for the series?  Was it based on the university you attended? How does it compare?

A. I did attend a private school in Texas so there are definitely similarities! The kids at Whitman University are a little more well off and high profile than most of the kids I attended school with, but I think the general atmosphere of fun loving and excess are applicable. I wanted Whitman University to be a safe place for the kinds of characters I wanted to have to be themselves, to not be judged for having so much money, and be able to accept that even with money and notoriety, it's still possible to have problems. Even if they're, you know, rich kid problems. ;)

Q3. Let’s talk about the characters in the first two books of the series, Broken at Love and By Referral Only. Between the girls, Emilie and Ruby who are both strong female characters, which one would you say you are more like? Do they have traits that you see in yourself? And for the boys, Quinn and Cole, who would you have been more attracted to in college?

A. That's an interesting question! I think that in a lot of ways, Emilie is an ideal. She's the girl we all wish we could be--confident enough in what we want and what's right that we don't let anyone else's behavior or opinions sway our minds. People call her weak sometimes, but in my head she's one of the strongest characters I've ever written--maybe even unnaturally so. Ruby, on the other hand, is a very real girl with very real insecurities and very real ways of coping with them. I have things in common with them both, but I would say I'm more like Ruby, and strive to be more like Emilie.

Oh, the boys. I'd love to tell you I was mature enough in college to see the beauty of a loyal, steady boy like Cole (and I mean, I obviously never met one with an accent and a kilt, boo), but I definitely would have been more attracted to a Quinn.

Q4. So I thought Ruby’s rating system was actually pretty creative (brilliant) and…um informative for girls on the dating scene (although perhaps not accurate in Cole’s case). What was your inspiration for that idea/plot? Have you heard from any college readers that have tried to put a system in place at their own university?

A. I came up with the idea for a rating system with one of my critique partners who works at a university! We were just kind of joking around, tossing ludicrous ideas back and forth at one another, and thought this one was hilarious. Then we fought over who got to keep it, but ended up agreeing that Ruby might be the only one who could pull it off. I haven't heard from any of my readers who mentioned putting it into place at their college, but I did read an article shortly after the book came out about a similar rating system that was uncovered at a University - I wish I could remember which one!

Q5. Be My Downfall and Staying on Top are the next two titles in the Whitman University series. Can you tell us a little about them? And any plans for additional Whitman U books?

A. I'd love to! Be My Downfall is my favorite book in the series (don't tell the others!) and follows Toby Wright, the Senator's son that we met in Broken at Love, and Whitman's resident party girl, Kennedy Gilbert. Kennedy has a past full of dark secrets, and even though she keeps a lock on that door, Toby somehow manages to blunder through anyway. His own issues flare up in her presence, but the chemistry between them is insistent. He wants to save her but if there's one thing anyone who has ever loved an addict knows for sure, it's that people can only save themselves. It's the darkest, grittiest book in the series but it also has, in my opinion, the biggest reward.

Staying On Top is a lighter installment, and follows Blair Paddington and tennis star Sam Bradford on an impromptu trip across the world. Her father is a con man and swindled Sam out of millions of dollars--Sam thinks Blair wants to help him get it back, but in reality her father has tasked her with getting access to the rest of the star's accounts. They learn to trust each other, even when they shouldn't, and in the end Blair has to decide if she cares enough to stand up to the one man who has always kept her in line.

There IS going to be a fifth installment! It's called Living the Dream, and will be dually narrated by Sebastian Blair and...Audra Stuart! I don't want to give away too much of the story at the moment, but I can say that some Save the Date cards have gone out in the mail... #WhitmanUWedding Also, you can preorder it on iBooks!

Thank you so much Lyla!  We'll definitely be reading the rest of the series and looking out for #5!

Lyla Payne has been publishing New Adult romance novels for a little over a year, starting with Broken at Love and continuing with the rest of the Whitman University series. She loves telling stories, discovering the little reasons people fall in love, and uncovering hidden truths in the world around us - past and present. In her spare time she cuddles her two dogs, pretends to enjoy exercising so that she can eat as much Chipotle as she wants, and harbors a deep and abiding hope that Zac Efron likes older women. She loves reading, of course, along with movies, traveling, and Irish whiskey. Lyla's hard at work, ALWAYS, and hopes to bring you more Whitman University antics and at least one more Lowcountry ghost tale before the end of the year.

Lyla Payne is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

If you want to know more, please visit her at http://lylapayne.com

If you're a fan of Young Adult fiction--science fiction or otherwise--please check out her work that's published under the name Trisha Leigh. http://trishaleigh.com

Follow Lyla Payne at the following:

Buy Links for Not Quite Dead:

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