D.R. Graham is well known for her novels Hit That and You’re Dead and Rank, as well as a series of stand alone novels Noir et Bleu Motorcycle Club. This summer, she’s returned with a series for contemporary lovers and fans of Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls.
A year following her father’s death, Derian returns to Britannia Beach. Sixteen and struggling with the loss of her father and the ever present duality of trying to grow up while also trying hold on to youth, Derian hopes to reinvent herself. But that proves a little hard when her family’s historic inn is on the line and she’s not quite ready to let go of the past.
What can you tell us about Derian and Trevor and the rest of the cast of characters?
Derian is a sweet, intuitive, small-town, sixteen-year-old who lives and works part-time in the historic inn her family owns. When she returns to Britannia Beach a year after her dad’s death, Derian hopes to reinvent herself as someone more outgoing and bold. Trevor is her protective eighteen-year-old neighbor who volunteers for Search and Rescue and also works at the docks to save for university. Trevor’s sister Kailyn is a determined nineteen-year-old with Down syndrome who is like a sister to Derian too. Derian’s best friend Sophie Sakamoto is a strong and sassy singer in a band who encourages Derian to take risks and move out of her comfort zone. Sophie’s boyfriend Doug is an unexpected contradiction of a tatted up drummer with a Mensa membership. Trevor’s best friend is a gentle giant named Murphy who is also a Search and Rescue volunteer and paramedic in training. There are two more swoony boys who round off the cast, but you’ll have to read the books to find out more about them 😉
Some of your other novels, or at least your characters, seem a little rougher around the edges than Britannia Beach. What was it about this story that you wanted to share with readers? Was there something different about it than other stories you’ve written?
The Britannia Beach books are definitely sweeter than my other titles, but they still deal with heavier emotions and difficult life decisions, which fans of the other books will appreciate. I grew up near Britannia Beach, hiking, snowshoeing and skiing in the area, so this series was initially inspired by the adventurous, innocent and carefree time I spent there during my youth. My writing for this series was also strongly influenced by John Hughes films and television shows like Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls. I missed those types of character-driven, coming-of-age, romantic, teen angst dramas, so I decided to write one of my own.
What can you tell us about Put It Out There‘s sequels – What Are The Chances? and And Then What?
What Are The Chances? takes the reader into the next phase of Derian’s life during the summer after she has graduated from high school. She is faced with a terrifying situation and has to make some big decisions that will alter her future.
And Then What? takes place in Mexico during spring break of Derian’s first year at university. Her past catches back up with her and leads her into a dangerous, life-threatening situation in the Mexican wilderness.
Britannia Beach will be completely released in a matter of months. What’s your writing process like for releasing books so quickly? Is your process different if you have multiple projects going on at once?
I naturally write very quickly so release times in rapid succession suit my process well, and readers prefer if they don’t have to wait an entire year for the next book in the series. I always have multiple projects going on at the same time, maybe because I get bored easily or I like the challenge. I’m actually a therapist by profession, so seeing clients and running my medical clinic take first priority. Then, with my spare time, I work on whichever project has an upcoming deadline. If all of my books are with editors or on submission, and I have nothing to do but wait, that’s when I work on my new projects. The difference between editing and writing is significant and although I enjoy shifting gears from the analytical details of editing to the creative free-flow of writing, the two tasks take a different amount of concentration. I have to get in the correct frame of mind, which I usually do by spending time in nature.
You’ve written a fair amount of books in series as well as a few stand-alones. How is writing a series like Britannia Beach different from writing a stand alone like Hit That And You’re Dead?
It’s a great question because I’ve written standalone novels, a series of standalone novels, and a proper sequential series. They are all quite different. The main piece for Britannia Beach that is unique compared to my Hit That And You’re Dead or Rank standalones and my Noir et Bleu Motorcycle Club series of standalones is the character and plot arcs in Britannia Beach span for the entire series. There is a lot to think about to make sure there is continuity in a sequential series. It is also a tricky balancing act to provide the reader the right amount of payoff in each book while also leaving something intriguing to be explored in the next book. My editors at HarperImpulse/HarperCollins, Charlotte Ledger and Laura McCallen, were brilliant in helping me shape Derian’s arc as she matured over three years.
What else do you want readers to know about Put It Out There and the rest of Britannia Beach?
Besides the cast of characters I think one of the most compelling parts of the Britannia Beach series is the setting. Britannia Beach is set against the backdrop of the stunning Sea-to-Sky corridor between Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler, British Columbia. The area is known as the outdoor adventure capital of Canada. World renowned for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, and rock climbing, it’s motto is ‘Hardwired for Adventure’. The wilderness is beautiful all-year round and, like Derian, my favourite activities are hiking, snowshoeing, and kayaking. You all should come visit (watch this to see why: https://youtu.be/MJbXQQp-qCE) , but in the meantime you’ll have to read all about Derian and Trevor’s adventures in Put It Out There, What Are The Chances? and And Then What?
What YA books would you recommend to fans when they finish Put It Out There but are still waiting for the release of the second and third novels?
Well, they don’t have to wait long. What Are The Chances? releases August 16 and And Then What? releases October 6. But as they wait, I would recommend The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta, and anything from Katie McGarry or Gayle Forman. Some other great summer reads I would recommend for fans of Britannia Beach are The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols.