By: Melissa West
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Olivia Warren used to be a normal girl with a bright future.
But on one fated night, everything changed.
Hiding the scars of her past up her sleeves, Olivia transfers her enrollment from Columbia University to The College of Charleston, determined to pursue her own dreams for the first time in her life.
She intends to allow herself a bit of alone time to heal… that is, until she meets Preston.
Preston is best friends with her roommate, completely hot, and off-limits. But the chemistry between them is instantaneous—and as the pair begins to spend more time with one another, their feelings for each other build into something undeniable, something powerful enough to heal Olivia’s deepest scars.
Olivia tries to put her own past behind her and trust Preston, but she discovers that his past might be more present than she ever bargained for…
Melissa West writes young adult and new adult novels for Entangled Teen and Embrace and Penguin/InterMix. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.
She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.
Where did the idea for Pieces of Olivia (really the Charleston Haven series) come from?
PIECES OF OLIVIA came to me while listening to We Are Young by Fun. I listened to the song and began to ask myself what would happen if teens were at a party, drinking and doing drugs, and then the house caught fire. What then?
What is the weirdest thing you googled while researching for this series?
I had to research the nature of burns, how they look, what type of burn causes what scar, and those photos were beyond scary! Thankfully, my husband is an angler, so he helped with all the fishing questions. 🙂
What has been your favorite scene to write and why?
Hm, tough question! I love the scene between Olivia and Preston outside the movie theater. It’s full of such tension! It still gives me chills when I read it.
Were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish would have stayed in?
There are tons of scenes in my first two books, GRAVITY and HOVER, that were cut that I loved, but with this series, my editor and I are so completely on the same page that so far I haven’t had to cut a single scene. I have to develop them sure, but no cutting!
Did any of your characters surprise you by doing something you didn’t expect?
Yes! I can’t say what exactly as it’s one of the reveals of the story, but originally Preston’s “secret” was not quite as complex as it is in the book. That storyline developed through edits.
This book is different from your YA series, was there anything different in your approach to writing this story?
I made myself slow down. My YA series is very fast paced and very plot driven. This series is absolutely a character driven series. It’s about the complexities of life and how we, as individuals, work through them. I intentionally started the story in a very NA way, so the reader would feel grounded, and then as the story continues, you see a very different picture (I hope!) from traditional NA. Sure this story is about romance, but it is equally about becoming okay with yourself, and not through your love interest. I wanted Olivia to heal with Preston beside her, but not because he miracously made everything okay. It had to be on her own.
These characters have some intense pasts – without giving anything away, what was the hardest part in writing/creating these characters backgrounds?
I am not a fan of “bad boys,” but I needed Preston to have a logical response to his past. So I tried to create him as more closed off, than bad boy. He’s an amazingly caring guy that’s afraid to allow anyone in.
Did you always know how the story would end or have major things changed as you’re writing?
Yes and no. I originally had a much simpler plot, at least where Preston is concerned. The darker aspect to his past came through a conversation with my editor, and of course, I was like, “Uh, no way. Readers will freak!” And she was all, “Good!” And so I thought about it for a while and realized that I had two options—I shoot for a book that many will like, but most may not remember, or I deliver something that hasn’t really been done. It may not be 100% received, but readers WILL remember it. In short, I chose to be brave, and I could not be more thrilled with how the book turned out.
What are you currently reading? What books boys make you swoon?
I am currently reading UPSIDE DOWN by Lia Riley, which releases this August, and it’s fantastic! As for book boys, I’ll admit, I fall hard for accents and tattoos—hence Colt in book 2 in my series, MILES FROM KARA. But I like a sexy good guy. I don’t want him to make it easy on my heroine, but I have two girls myself and I refuse to write a book about a guy that treats the girl like crap and then somehow she falls in love with him anyway. Nah-ah, not this mommy/author! 😉 For my favorites, I’ll stick to NA—I like Dean from HOPELESS, Reece from FOREPLAY, and Josh from FULL MEASURES. There are SO many more, though!
Do you have a dream cast, because we would love to see this on the big screen!
Ohhh, I love these! I do, in fact.
Olivia: Nina Dobrev
Preston: Jared Padalecki
Any advice for aspiring writers?
The basics are always there—read, write, repeat. But honestly, I think it’s important to remember how very subjective this business is. There has never been a book that everyone loved, and every author has received rejection letters from agents/editors. If you truly love writing, then keep at it. Working on your craft will only benefit you. My most current manuscripts are so much better than my first. We continue to grow as writers. It’s a journey—don’t give up!
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
I just finished edits on MILES FROM KARA, book 2 in the Charleston Haven series, and I’m working on edits for book 3 in my YA series, titled COLLIDE. From there, I am actually trying to push myself as a writer. I have both adult and YA contemporary projects in the works, and I have to say—I LOVE these two stories. Hopefully I can provide more details soon enough!
Favorite Book (right now): Favorite? Tricky question. I truly loved THE SCORPIO RACES. That book has stayed with me longer than most.
Favorite TV Show/Movie: I love The Walking Dead, which is so cliché, and New Girl. So totally different, I know! 🙂
Favorite Word: Richochet. It’s so totally sexy. Haha!
Favorite Snack: I’m an ice cream and chips (not together!) addict. I seriously can’t make myself be good with either.