Tales Q&A with Riley Redgate
I have recently read and loved this fab debut book, Seven Ways We Lie, by Riley Redgate published by Abrams.
Told from seven different perspectives with each character encompassing one of the deadly sins, Seven Ways We Lie was a really interesting contemporary read.
I am lucky enough to have had the chance to ask the lovely Riley some questions about the book, writing and her future plans.
Hi Riley! Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday! I am so excited to have you here!
Firstly a little about the wonderful Seven Ways We Lie…
In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view. The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether its the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But its Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she cant have, her charmed life starts to unravel. Then rumours of a student teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations or be ruined by them.
Can you tell us a little about Seven Ways We Lie in your own words?
Yes! Seven Ways We Lie is a YA contemporary novel told from 7 perspectives, one for each of the seven deadly sins. It examines the ripple effect from a student-teacher relationship, which—directly or indirectly—forces each of the 7 to examine their central flaw.
What made you choose to write seven different characters’ perspectives?
Well, the story came to me first from the seven deadly sins concept. For a while, it was something of an exercise in voice—the seven perspectives thing was the only real given about the story at first; the actual events of the story were what took a while to crystallize.
How important are names to you? Did you pick any of the characters’ names in Seven Ways We Lie for a reason?
In general, names are just as important as any other element of world building to me. It’s bizarre reading a contemporary story where the names feel out of date, for instance, or where absolutely all the names are quirky, or where they feel randomly generated and unconnected to e.g. race/culture/class/etc. In Seven Ways, for instance, I wanted something a little pretentious for the wealthy Juniper and a little offbeat for the ostracized Valentine. I was less particular about the others.
I loved the fact that each character represented one of the seven deadly sins (such a brilliant concept) …. what is your deadly sin?
Thank you! Mine is probably greed—I really like having stuff; it’s an issue—or envy. I feel like envy is absolutely bog-standard these days in this culture of sharing everything about our lives, mostly the positives, with people on the internet. Very easy to see somebody post on Facebook about a sweet job or internship or apartment or something and feel envious.
What was your favourite scene to write?
Matt’s epiphany scene! The context is a bit of a spoiler, but he has such inertia so deep into the novel that writing a scene of legitimate catalytic change for him was satisfying.
I’m so glad you said this as I loved Matt and especially this scene!
Who was your favourite character to write?
My favourite to write may have been Claire, the character of Envy. She’s really a thorny character, pretty morally grey. She wasn’t the easiest to write, but I had a lot of fun with her internal justifications for all her actions.
Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Seven Ways We Lie or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?
Well, none of it is so-called ‘self-insert,’ and none of the specific conflicts are specific conflicts I’ve had, but I suppose to a degree there will be parts of an author in any character they write, even if it’s just the author reaching to relate/empathize with that character. There are certain quirks of voice that I use that Olivia also uses, but I don’t know if she did it first or if I did. I sometimes write something and then start saying it in real life, which is a weird habit that I should probably suppress.
How important was it for you to explore and represent the character’s sexuality and diversity? (I thought it was so refreshing to have an on the page pansexual character and a suggested asexual character…it made me smile lots.)
Glad you felt that way! It’s extremely important to me. I don’t generally speak to ace representation in SWWL, because the ace/aro character is still figuring everything out by the end of the narrative and thereby doesn’t identify on-page as such. But the pan representation is important to me since at present it’s vanishingly rare to see sexualities beyond the LG and B in LGBTQ+. I feel that to have an all-straight cast is just frankly not realistic in today’s climate and borderline irresponsible, as is just having a minority character, whether in race, gender, or sexuality, be a collection of stereotypes.
Which of your characters from Seven Ways We Lie would you most like to spend the day with?
Olivia (Lust). We share a god-awful sense of humour.
If you could cast your characters from Seven Ways We Lie in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?
Oh my goodness, I don’t think I could. Everyone in Hollywood is inordinately, disproportionately attractive, and I picture pretty much everybody in Seven Ways being pretty damn normal-looking, except maybe Juniper, who would probably look something like Emilie de Ravin, and Lucas, whom I imagine as kind of a young James Franco but with curly hair.
A lot of people comment on the brilliant cover for the book. What did you think when you first saw it? Did it encompass everything you wanted for the book?
Yeah, I think the cover’s absolutely spot on. It imparts the theme, emphasizes the idea of the split narrators, and is just really aesthetically pleasing.
What would you like your reader to take from Seven Ways We Lie?
A general reminder that everybody goes through their own struggles, and that people’s reputation and comportment have virtually nothing to do with the reality of their everyday life.
What do you think makes a good story?
Energetic writing! Weird writing. Singular writing. Anything that sounds more like itself than it does like any other writer’s work. That’s basically my only thought on the issue, since writing and reading are both incredibly subjective and something I think is brilliant is probably trash to somebody else, and vice-versa.
We would love to know a little bit more about you! Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Riley Redgate?
1) I can’t eat vegetables, seafood, or—groans from the crowd—coffee or tea. I have this taste bud thing. It’s the worst.
2) I adore sharks beyond all reason.
3) I cry at every children’s movie.
4) When I was in fourth grade, I spoke almost exclusively in a Gollum voice, because he was my favourite Lord of the Rings character. Miraculously, I still had friends, no idea how that worked out.
5) I sing in a cappella groups at my college!
Growing up who inspired you into writing? Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?
J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness. They’re my big three. I’ve read virtually everything they’ve written, and every time I do, it reminds me why I love writing and what it can achieve. Something about those particular authors’ work makes me feel more like myself.
Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?
I never really wish I had written somebody else’s book, but my admiration list could go on for pages. Recent favourites include Emily St. John Mandel’s incandescent Station Eleven (literary post-apocalyptic) and Leigh Bardugo’s kickass Six of Crows (YA heist fantasy).
What are you currently reading?
I just yesterday finished reading Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and I think I may just never read another book again and reread White Teeth until I die, because oh my God.
I loved this book! I feel a re read coming on as it’s been so many years since I read this now!
What is your favourite book of 2016 so far?
You mean 2016 releases? Hnng, this is tough. Tossup between Heidi Heilig’s brilliant time-travel story The Girl From Everywhere (out now from Greenwillow and Hot Key in the UK!) and Caleb Roehrig’s Gone-Girl-esque Last Seen Leaving, which you all have to wait to read until it comes out in early October, I’m so sorry. But it’s an absolute stunner, I got hold of an ARC and devoured it.
Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with? Who?
I’m actually not sure! I’ve never tried it. The concept seems a little daunting to me; I get obsessive about sentence structure, comma placement, etc.—god bless the copy-editors at Abrams who had to deal with me—and I’m used to having total creative control there. I’m sure my hypothetical writing partner would eventually murder me out of sheer comma-related exhaustion.
When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?
Varies immensely. Could be a list of characters, a chapter by chapter outline, no outline at all and just the vaguest idea of concept … every project is a little different.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Only staying up far too late, which I feel is pretty much par for the course for those of us who are night owls. I do my quickest drafting between the hours of 1 and 4 AM.
I asked some lovely authors their thoughts about does music influence their books or their characters. Did music have any influence the story of Seven Ways We Lie?
Strangely, not really! Music’s a huge part of my life—I’ve played piano since I was three, and I’m involved in several singing groups on my college campus—but this particular novel doesn’t have much of a musical locus.
Are there any exciting plans for the rest 2016 or 2017?
Well, speaking of music, I have a music-themed novel that’s set to release in 2017 from Abrams! So I’ll be working on that after graduation. Graduation is also an exciting plan. I should find a job, or something, too, probably.
Thanks for having me!
About Riley Redgate
Riley Redgate is a senior economics major at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Her expected graduation date is May 21, 2016. Seven Ways We Lie is her first novel. She grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and hopes to work in a bookstore after college.
You can find out more about Riley Redgate on her website – www.rileyredgate.com.
Or why not follow her on twitter using @RileyRedgate
A huge thank you to Tina at Abrams & Chronicle Books who helped organise this Q&A and to Riley for answering all of my questions as well as writing a fab book.
You can follow Abrams & Chronicle Books on their YA twitter – @ACBYA
Have you read Seven Ways We Lie? What did you think? What would your deadly sin be? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !