Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blog tour + giveaway + Interview w/ author: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Rating: 4.5 Cups of Coffee
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.

Natasha’s Experience:
Lots of feels with this one!!!

UNDER THE LIGHTS follows both Josh and Vanessa’s life on (and off) the set of Daylight Falls, a dramedy show that’s recently garnered a lot of attention. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of Josh Chester because he’s really not a great person. He’s blatantly rude, addicted to the high that comes with being rich and famous, and tends to do the wrong thing in most situations. That being said, I felt like I could gradually see Josh changing as the story progressed; his internal dialogue became less bitter and, dare I say, sweeter???

“I don’t wanna plan. I just wanna go.”

I really felt for Josh because he was just a misunderstood teenager who got stuck with the title of being “the asshole.” What’s worse is that he knew everyone thought that of him so he never really saw any reason to change their minds. I definitely became #TeamJosh, if only for the fact that I wanted him to be happy with himself and happy with his life.

 “Where you come from and who you love should never be the kinds of things that hold you back.”

Vanessa’s story was one of those stories that humbled you and made you really think about the struggles people face when exploring their sexuality. Not only is Vanessa struggling to prove to her parents that being an actress is something that is incredibly important to her, but she’s now seeing how difficult it is to stumble upon love and accept it for what it is, regardless of the person’s gender. Reading about Vanessa’s internal turmoil over her sexuality seemed so authentic and undeniably awe-inspiring. Seeing her so out of her element and living in denial broke my heart. I just wanted to cuddle her for a bit and tell her it was okay to be herself and love whoever she chose to love. 

Dahlia's words will make you fall in love with this incredible story and these lively characters. UNDER THE LIGHTS feels so real that you may end up forgetting you are reading a fictional story. Dive into Josh & Vanessa's life as budding stars in Hollywood and remember that not all stars have the brightest lives off set. Sometimes pretending comes easier to those who do it for a living.

Links: Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo

Author Q&A

Hey Dahlia! Thanks for joining BB today!
Dahlia Adler:
Thanks so much for having me! I feel underdressed, to be honest.
UtL dives into both Josh and Vanessa’s stories simultaneously with alternating POV chapters. What made you want to tell their stories this way?
UtL came about in such a weird way, because originally it was supposed to be just Josh's book, and then I chickened out because I didn't think readers would like an entire book in his voice. Hell, I wasn't sure I would. But I thought his perspective would be interesting interwoven with other ones, so then I jumped to alternating between him, Liam (his best friend/the love interest from book 1), and Vanessa, but Liam's POV really stood out as independent from the other two, whereas Josh and Vanessa kept gravitating toward each other in this really compelling but non-romantic way. And that helped me realize how much their stories were serving each other despite them being on these independent paths, which I thought was really cool.
Who/What inspired you to dive deeper into Vanessa’s story?
Actually, credit goes to my publisher for this one. When I said I wanted to increase the number of POVs beyond Josh, it was in-house readers who asked for more Vanessa. I loved the idea, but at the time, I just didn't feel like I knew her well enough to be confident I could do her story justice. But it turns out, that's because she didn't know herself either. And once that came together and it hit me that her storyline was blocked because we were both trying to force her heart to work in ways it didn't, the story just flowed from there.
How different was it writing an F/F romance from an F/M romance?
In some ways, not different at all - falling in love for the first time comes with the same feelings of excitement, anxiety, intoxication, passion, and distraction no matter who you are. For Vanessa, she has these outside factors that play in, but "How does this affect my career" is a question she'd always have to ask herself. You do have to take things into consideration in terms of how characters feel about their own sexual identities and identifications, because unfortunately the world still operates on a heteronormative default, but the way hearts and feelings and bodies work? Relatively universal. But that isn't to say it's exactly the same. There's no differing gender dynamic, and it can make the friendship/romance line blurrier and more confusing; it was a very intentional choice to have Bri come out to Van early in the book in order to cut down on that blurry period. Both Bri and Van are considerably feminine on the gender spectrum, so you don't have the effect of masculine energy on the relationship; you have two people who occupy relatively similar space in the world. That's definitely a notable difference.
What was your favorite part about writing Josh’s POV? Least favorite?
The answer is kind of the same - that he can get away with absolutely anything. It's really fun to write with absolutely no filter, but it also makes you conscious of the fact that you could never get away with writing a girl this way, especially one of color. And that's a big part of the point of UtL and the alternation with Vanessa - she's obsessively guarded, because she has to be -  so it's simultaneously really fun and really depressing.
What message do you hope readers take away from UtL?
Not to be too pathetically cliche here, but: YOLO. You only live one life, so if you're lucky enough to figure out what makes you really, really, deep-in-your-bones happy, chase the hell out of it. And if you're not? Chasing down the answer isn't a bad way to live either.  

About the Author

I'm an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I blog at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and the Barnes & Noble book blog. I also write contemporary YA (The Daylight Falls duology) and NA (The Radleigh University series). Rec-ing books is approximately my favorite thing in the universe, with macarons being a close second. Come say hi on Twitter, where I'm @MissDahlELama!

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