Risking It All by S.M. Koz ***Interview with the Author: Find out how the Author came up with her title -- Giveaway***
Risking It All
by S.M. Koz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 18th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
A high-achieving teen who’s determined to become a fighter jet pilot is matched up with an accused criminal at an elite military boarding school in SM Koz’s YA novel, Risking It All.
Paige knows exactly what she wants—to graduate from Wallingford Academy and become a pilot in the US Air Force. She’s inherited her father’s no-nonsense attitude and whip-smart intelligence, all of which have made her the perfect Wallingford cadet.
Wallingford Academy is the last place in the world Logan wants to be. But after his girlfriend borrows his car and commits a crime, Logan takes the fall and ends up there with hopes of striking a decent plea bargain. For him, graduation can’t come soon enough.
When Paige is asked to mentor Logan, it’s the perfect opportunity to prove her leadership skills—but she doesn’t account for the feelings that start to develop or the baggage from Logan’s past which could threaten both of their futures.
An Interview with the Author
Welcome to Character Madness and Musings
Tell us about your writing career. How long have you been writing?
I started by first book way back in 2004. After writing a whole two pages, I gave up, thinking it was too hard. Turns out, I just had a bad idea. In 2010, after a move to a new town and lots of free time on my hands, I gave it another go. While that book is horrible and will never be read by anyone, it did convince me I could write a full-length novel. After that, I wrote two Hunger Games fanfictions so I could post them anonymously and get some honest feedback. I was pleasantly surprised by the online praise, so much so that it convinced me to write an original novel for self-publication in 2013. In the end, I self-published two books before signing with Swoon Reads in 2016.
How did you choose your genre?
My favorite books to read are romance so that was an easy decision. I went back and forth between adult and young adult, but ultimately decided I liked being able to focus on issues teens deal with in hopes that my books might help or inspire someone. I also love strong heroines and while that can work in YA or adult, I felt like it would have greater impact with a younger audience and show teen girls they can fight stereotypical norms and be whatever they want. As far as writing contemporary stories, that was a decision my publisher made for me 😊 I get bored easily and like to switch things up so I’ve tried pitching sci-fi or fantasy, but they think my current niche is contemporary, though they said they’re open to changes in the future. So keep your eyes peeled for some SM Koz speculative fiction in the coming years!
What did you like most about writing Risking It All?
Risking It All was an enjoyable book to write because the characters are polar opposites. I loved considering how each would react to the same situation and then showing these differences through fun dialogue. And Paige’s uptight attitude was just too easy to make jokes about. (No offense to uptight readers; I’m one of you, so I was mostly poking fun at myself because I know my extreme Type A personality is a bit over the top sometimes!)
Tell us a little about other books you’ve published. Series, or stand-alone?
My first (Breaking Free) is about self-harm and features a girl who is sent to a wilderness therapy program to address her cutting. She and one of the guys at the program fall for each other and then a lot of drama ensues as they both deal with their pasts.
Next was a light sci-fi (Pangalax) I self-published about an alien hybrid girl who relocates to an American space station and learns there might be more to her mom’s disappearance than she’s been told, and it may or may not revolve around the guy she’s become interested in. This is the first book in a planned 3-book series, but I haven’t been able to write books 2 or 3 yet. They’re still percolating in my brain, though, and I will finish them at some point.
My first book with Swoon Reads was Love Me, Love Me Not about a girl in foster care who ends up falling for her foster brother. She knows it’s wrong to start anything with him, but as they grow closer it becomes harder and harder to remember this. Then some bad stuff happens and all the progress she made crumbles and she needs to figure out how to make the future she wants, all on her own.
So many of us are intrigued by covers and titles. How did you come up with your title?
I am so bad with titles! The only one I’ve come up with on my own is Pangalax, which I now think is a bad title because no one knows how to pronounce it. Generally speaking, my friends will help me, but with this book, my editor didn’t like anything any of us came up with. She suggested Fight or Flight, but I had concerns about that being difficult to say, so I made a desperate plea to my beta readers. One of them suggested Risking It All, which made everyone happy! I do love the title, but I have to admit I’m still partial to what my husband suggested—About Face. He’s about as bad as me with titles, so I was pleasantly surprised by his suggestion since it was a great way to bring in the military aspect but also highlight the growth of the characters throughout the story.
What inspires your work most?
I want to write something different, so I’m always looking for a setting or character that is not overly represented in the current market. When I’m out running errands or on vacation or even scrolling through social media, I always keep my eyes and ears open for something unique that speaks to me.
Who are your favorite authors, and what is it that draws you to them?
I love Janet Evanovich’s sense of humor, Robin Cook’s ability to keep you guessing until the end, Sarah Dessen’s authentic characters, Nicholas Spark’s ability to draw out the tears, Sophie Kinsella’s spunky female leads, Suzanne Collins’ imagination. Okay, I could probably go on and on so I’ll just leave it here!
Are you working on a new story now? If so, please share a little about it?
I am. It’s a YA contemporary romance (surprise, surprise!) set on a small coastal NC island. It follows lifelong resident and sea turtle protector Evie as she helps her grandfather repair his hurricane-ravaged inn and summer tourist Ethan who struggles to come to grips with his recent vision loss. After a rocky start, they hit it off, but unexpected changes might be more than their relationship can handle.
Do you have a website?
Yes! It’s kozwriting.com. Stop by and say hi!
What will we find there?
Just the basics—a brief bio, book info, some nice reviews, and event info. I’d like to include a blog, but honestly, I’m not interesting enough to have people wait with bated breath for my next post!
Thank you for joining us today.
Thank you for the opportunity and for the interest in my book!
SM Koz was born in Michigan, but moved to North Carolina for college and never left. She enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, photography, reading, spending time with foster kids who call her house home, and learning new things. When she’s not creating online training for pharmaceutical companies (her day job) or writing, Koz can be found at the local community college taking courses on various topics ranging from digital art to HTML to desktop publishing. SM Koz has written six novels. Although her stories differ by genre, ranging from contemporary realism to sci-fi to fanfiction, two things they all have in common are a young or new adult focus and romance. If you’d like to learn more about SM Koz, check her out on social media.
GIVEAWAY!a Rafflecopter giveaway