Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Interview: Jaye Robin Brown author of NO PLACE TO FALL and $10 iTunes giveaway

I’m so excited to have Jaye Robin Brown on the blog today. Her debut novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, is coming out next week!! I had the pleasure of reading early drafts of this book and it’s just amazing. I want to get right to the interview, but first here’s an official blurb for this highly anticipated novel:

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

Pat: I understand you’ve been to a lot of live music events. Can you tell us about the most exciting or frightening moment you had at a one of these events? Bonus points if you were a teen or if the event influenced a scene in NO PLACE TO FALL.

Jaye: Ha! I have both of these stories actually.

First is scary. I went to go see Dwight Yoakam and Clint Black (mainly Dwight) at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. It’s a gorgeous venue, old elegant architecture, stars on the ceiling, not a typical country music venue. We had seats upstairs in the balcony and the crowd was fairly sedate. Though I would have loved to be up on my feet dancing, no one else was, so I sat. But…this group of four people, four well-fed people, stood to whoop and holler about five rows in front of us. Did I also mention they were wasted? People around us started yelling at them to sit down. Well, right when one of those glazed-eyed women turned around to see who was dissing them, I happened to be making a hand motion of “sit down.” She freaking chucked her beer at me! And made contact!

I was so pissed I didn’t think about what I was doing and I’m pretty sure I jet packed down to their row to yell about how I hadn’t yelled at them and who did she think she was chucking her beer at me (plastic cup draft, thank god not a bottle!). Then suddenly, I looked at them, I mean really looked at them. And they all had drunk zombie eyes and they were all (2 girls and 2 guys) way bigger than me, and I had this epiphany of “Oh my god. I’m the yipping Chihuahua and they’re a pack of Rottweilers!” My mouth stopped mid-sentence and I high tailed it back to my seat. Fortunately, the bouncers arrived about then to tell them to sit or leave. If they hadn’t I might not be here to tell the tale.

Okay next is the inspiration story. When I was in college, there was this dive bar in Mobile, Alabama called Poor Richard’s. Tons of local indie bands passed through to play. I was on staff of this alternate newspaper called The Harbinger and I would often write articles about music and the various bands. I forget the band’s name, but they invited me back to their van for libations during a set break. So I’m sitting in this van being naughty when I hear my good friend, Caroline, yelling for me in the parking lot. One of the guys cracked the door and waved her over. She looked in and asked what was going on and I can’t remember who said it, her or me, but the response was “Your mother’s worst nightmare.” That line is in the scene where Will takes Amber over the mountain to see his band friends. Caroline and I still think it’s one of the most classic of our many, many stories and it definitely deserved to be in a book.

Pat: That line is amazing and I love how it ended up in the novel. Now, to get a bit more serious, what scene or emotion in the NO PLACE TO FALL was the most difficult for you to write?

Jaye: There’s a scene near the beginning when Amber’s been given a ride home after a football game. Her brother-in-law, Sammy, who she once worshipped but now despises, greets her and it’s obvious he’s been drinking. They have a confrontation on the lawn and when she finally escapes him to get to the door, she steps inside to find her parents are fighting about money and the phone’s been cut off. What she’d hoped was her father to send him away with a shotgun warning and get him out of their lives. But instead, her sister, Whitney, sees Sammy and rushes out the front door, oblivious to the fact he just manhandled Amber and threatened her. With her parents screaming at each other in the kitchen, and her sister falling back into the arms of a drug dealer, it’s a real low point for Amber. She takes her nephew and escapes to her room where she wonders how she’ll ever get out from the weight of her family.

For some reason anytime I worked on this scene, I could feel her heaviness and the press of the mountains rising up around her. It got me emotionally every time.

Pat: I can see how that would be a tough scene to write. But it’s the emotional power of your writing that hooked me. Speaking of hooked, Will is my favorite character in NO PLACE TO FALL. Can you give me a quick look inside his head and tell me how he feels about his younger brother—like deep inside, the stuff he’d never say out loud.

Jaye: Though not official just yet, there will be a whole lot more of inside Will’s head in the months ahead and a lot dealing with that brother to brother relationship. In short, Will would fight dragons to defend Devon. Though he doesn’t really understand (or want to understand) the mechanics of Devon’s same sex relationships, he decided from the minute Devon came out that he was going to be his right hand man. And for as much as Will is there to defend Devon in the case of bullies, Devon is kind of Will’s solid rock. Without his brother, Will’s not sure how he could have ever dealt with their family’s move to Sevenmile. They’re tight.

Pat: Will’s point of view—okay, I’m really looking forward to that.  I know you read a lot of YA books. In general, what do you feel there is a lack of?

Jaye: I think there’s so much awesome going in YA right now. Strong girls, the rise and clamor for diverse characters, LGBT books that aren’t just about coming out or pain. It’s a great time for young adult literature and I’d have a hard time pointing out what’s not there. That said, I always love strong character driven voicey stories set in the South.

Pat: NO PLACE TO FALL’s release party is going to be on December 9th at Malaprop's Bookstore Asheville, NC. Did the town of Asheville appear, influence or does it play a role in your novel?  

Jaye: You know, I don’t think there are any Asheville scenes in No Place To Fall. Of course, Amber’s been there a time or two, but her family is far more likely to head over the mountain to shop in Johnson City, TN than they are to head down to Asheville. It’s just a little too on the edge of funk to make Mama and Daddy Vaughn comfortable. But me, the author? I like it just fine. J Bring on the funk!

Pat: Okay, one more Asheville question just for fun. If Amber Vaughn could go into any store in Asheville and get one item for free—what would she choose?

Jaye: Amber is a selfless girl so I’m pretty certain she’d pick something for her nephew Coby, or maybe one of those professional grade KitchenAid mixers for her mama to use in the kitchen. But if I could pull strings, I’d send her to this awesome little clothing boutique on Lexington Ave, Hip Replacements, to pick out an on-stage dress. Something with a pin-up girl flare to accentuate her curves!

Thank you so much, Jaye! And since we can’t all be in Asheville for your release party, here’s a link for anyone who wants to order a signed copy of NO PLACE TO FALL. Malaprops Bookstore

 To learn more about Jaye and NO PLACE TO FALL check out her website.

For a chance to win a $10 iTune Card leave a comment or question for Jaye below this post. Drawing will end at midnight on December 9th.


  1. Great interview! <3 I am so excited for JRo!!!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Larissa. I'm dancing with joy about this one too!

  3. Love the "your mother's worst nightmare" story!! Can't wait for release day!!

    1. I wish I could take a trip to NC and surprise Jaye, but :(

    2. Well if you said it here it wouldn't be a surprise (besides, I'll be busy before and school the next day and I'd need a real visit!! And thanks, Robin - that was the funnest night.

  4. Terrific interview! I love hearing "stories behind the story". :) Can't wait for this book--so soon now! Yay, Jro!

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I'm with you, it's fun to see how real life sometimes works its way into stories.

  5. That's a great interview! Love the cover!!!
    Congratulations, Jaye.

  6. Congrats to Jaye on her new book! The story about the 4 drunk idiots at the concert was scary. I've only been to two concerts in my life. Two was enough. Good luck, Jaye! ;)

  7. That night was really frightening, Lexa. I've managed to remain "brawl" free since then.

  8. I love the cover and the book was so good! I actually got an ARC of it and was exceptionally pleased. Can't wait to read more by Jaye Robin Brown!

    1. I'm looking forward to her next book as well--and there definitely will be more :)

  9. Congrats on your release, Jaye! Thanks for hosting, Pat.