Author Spotlight: Tiana Smith
Jan. 4, 2019
We are excited to feature YA author Tiana Smith and her debut novel, MATCH ME IF YOU CAN (Swoon Reads, Jan. 8, 2019), a romcom about a girl who goes behind her matchmaker friend's back to set herself up with her dream boy for homecoming. Enter to win a copy!
|cover design © Emily Osbourne
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
I’ve always loved telling stories. I mean, I’m not saying I got into trouble a lot as a child for telling lies, but …
After college I got a lot more serious about my writing and wrote my first full-length novel. Then I wrote a few more. I’ve actually tried writing for a few other age groups, but I’ve found my writing voice is best suited to this genre. Maybe one day I’ll branch out, but for now, I’m really loving Young Adult!
Congrats on your debut novel, MATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is a light and fluffy rom-com about a girl who goes behind her matchmaker friend’s back to set herself up with her dream boy for homecoming. It was partly inspired by the movie She’s the Man, believe it or not. If you’ve seen it, we can be friends. If not, go watch it now. I’ll wait.
The beginning menu of the movie sums it up by saying something like “Duke wants Olivia, who likes Sebastian, who is really Viola, whose brother is dating Monique, so she hates Olivia, who’s with Duke to make Sebastian jealous, who is really Viola, who’s crushing on Duke...”
And it’s this convoluted mess of relationships that basically stems down to the fact that there’s a girl who likes a boy that she shouldn’t. I kept wondering, what if there’s a girl who likes a boy, and she has the ability to actually make that relationship happen? And what if fate has someone better in store for her, who wasn’t on her radar? Someone persistent, a little suave, and a whole lot swoon-worthy? It’d probably get just as convoluted. I wanted to read that story, so I had to write it!
Who would you cast in the movie of your book?
This question is a whole lot harder than it looks... but I’ll give it a try.
Mia would be Emma Watson. She’s smart, a go-getter, and has that sort of girl-next-door quality.
Logan would be Logan Lerman (from The Lightning Thief), because he has the kind of understated handsomeness that could make me believe he’s totally a catch, even if he might get overlooked at first.
Vince would be Freddie Stroma (Cormac on Harry Potter) because he’s got that golden boy, star of everything vibe going on
And Elena (because you have to have four people for a love quadrangle!) would be Zendaya, because I think she could really pull off the type of character who is used to having her way.
Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?
My journey definitely took a few twists and turns over the years. Well, MATCH ME IF YOU CAN was the fourth book I wrote. So that took a while. Then I tried querying to get an agent, which was brutal. I eventually got an offer from a small press, and at the same time I received an offer from an agent. I signed with the agent and turned down the small press. But then things didn’t work out with that agent. She left the industry, and I was back where I’d started.
Around that same time, I heard about Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan. It’s a traditional big 5 publisher that accepted non-agented submissions and I decided it couldn’t hurt to try. Things moved very quickly after that, because one month after I submitted my book, they made an offer. I now have a great publisher and a great agent, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on my next book and I’m so excited about it! First of all, I’m excited because, hello, I get to have another book published and in the world! But I’m also thrilled because the story is a mash up of You’ve Got Mail and high school speech and debate, and that just makes my geeky heart so happy. It will come out about a year after MATCH ME IF YOU CAN, and it’s actually on Goodreads now!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same that you would give to aspiring authors?
Just do your best and forget the rest! It’s something I still struggle with, honestly, but it’s so important. And it definitely holds true for aspiring authors as well. Writing is hard, and there are a lot of obstacles in your way if you want to get published. But focus on doing what you can, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I love boy bands. If I could listen to One Direction all day, I totally would.
Where can people find you online?
My website is a good hub for information, and I also put out a newsletterevery other month or so—that’s an easy way to stay in the loop. Other than that I like to hang out on Twitter and Instagram! a Rafflecopter giveaway