Author: Kristen Orlando
Pub. Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads
Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy.
Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan.
Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she's always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?
Find out if you are ready to join the Black Angels in the captivating and emotional page-turner, You Don't Know My Name, from debut novelist Kristen Orlando!
Writing is one of the great loves of my life (with bacon mac and cheese, Netflix binges and PJs also in the mix). My childhood in Columbus, Ohio was spent reading every single Baby-Sitter’s Club book ever written and acting out imaginary tragedies in my room (complete with costumes and props) until a really embarrassing age. I started writing plays for my younger cousins as soon as they were all old enough to act (The Spoiled Princess may be a personal favorite) and haven’t stopped writing since. After graduating from Kenyon College with a B.A. in English Literature, I’ve been lucky enough to make writing my career; first as a television producer, then as a marketer and now as a novelist.
Brittany: What inspired you to write You Don't Know My Name?
Kristen: The idea for the book actually came to me in the shower of all places (where I think everyone does their best thinking, right?). My husband and I had just watched the movie, Red, which is about retired CIA operatives hunted by assassins. After we had watched the movie, I was in the shower and thought, “What would it be like to be the daughter of one of those top secret spies? What an interesting and dangerous double life you’d have to lead!” And then I realized…oh, my gosh, that’s a book! I’d been wanting to write a young adult book for awhile but hadn’t come up with an idea yet and then… BAM! I think I came up with half the plot somewhere between shampooing and conditioning.
Brittany: Do you have any advice for writing action scenes? (Personally, those are definitely some of the hardest for me to write. Probably because I'm not a spy or a ninja, and I've never held a gun XD)
Kristen: I’m definitely not a spy either (…or am I?!) so I had to do a ton of research for this book. I did a lot of research on the CIA, on the different types of martial arts (I’ve watched dozens and dozens of Krav Maga videos on YouTube) and weaponry as well. I also went to a shooting range and learned how to shoot a gun. I am scared of guns, but I wanted to know what it felt like to hold a gun and pull the trigger. I wanted to feel what it actually does to your body when you fire a bullet (it does knock you back). I wanted to be able to describe all of those feelings accurately in the novel. I think it makes those passages in the book feel more authentic. So my best advice is to do your research and definitely watch some action movies or scenes if you feel stuck! That always helped me.
Brittany: What's some of the weirdest stuff you had to google for research while writing this book?
Kristen: Oh gosh, so many crazy things! The color of flood, how to hot wire a car, bullet wounds to the head, different types of Glock pistols, how to escape a chokehold, different types of knives, the list goes on and on. I’d always tell my friends if something ever happens to my husband, you have to testify to at my murder trial because the cops are going to take one look at my computer and arrest me!
Brittany: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Kristen: I love to plot. I’m a plotter for sure.
Brittany: What are your favorite and least favorite types of scenes to write, and why?
Kristen: I love dialogue. It’s by far the thing that’s the easiest for me. I especially love to write dialogue between girls or women (probably the product of attending an all-girl school). The hardest scenes for me to write are honestly the romance scenes! Give me banter all day long but long looks? Kisses? So hard! To get in the right zone to write romance, I’d sometimes watch some of my favorite One True Pairings in action (I’m embarrassed to tell you how many Mulder & Scully montage videos I’ve watched). I’d also make my husband play the stand in role for Luke so I could write as accurate as possible. Like I’d call him in from the other room and say, “Come here and put your forehead against mine! I need to see how blurry it is to look into someone’s eyes like that!”
Brittany: If you could co-write a book with any author in the world, who would you pick and why?
Kristen: Oh wow…this is such a hard question! Hmmm…so many. I’d love to write with Jennifer Niven because I think her descriptive writing is gorgeous. I’d love to write with Gillian Flynn because she’s a ridiculously great plotter (and insanely good writer as well) and I’d love to learn from her.
Brittany: How much of your real life experiences do you incorporate into your writing? For example, do you base characters on real people? Do you use names of former bullies and kill them off in your books? ;D
Kristen: Well, I’m definitely not a spy but there are for sure pieces of me and my life in this book. Reagan is torn between two very different lives: the dangerous life she was born into as a Black Angel and the normal life she’s always wanted. Her parents have high expectations and want her to follow in their footsteps. She’s extremely anxious about which life to choose and is desperately afraid of disappointing her parents. I was in that exact same position at Reagan’s age. My parents are both in medicine and it was almost expected that I would follow in their footsteps and become a doctor. But deep down, I knew that my true passion was writing. While I was writing this book, I really channeled 17-year-old me and remembered the knot of anxiety that constantly sat in my stomach as I thought about my future. And finally I realized I couldn’t live my life for someone else and the thought of my future shouldn’t make me physically sick. So while I’m not a spy, there are a lot of parallels between my teen years and Reagan’s and I think a ton of teenagers have faced this exact same struggle.
Brittany: What is a pet peeve of yours that would automatically make you DNF a book?
Kristen: You know what…I don’t think I’ve ever not finished a book!! Am I just easily entertained? Hmmm…
Brittany: Who is your all-time favorite fictional book couple?
Kristen: So hard to choose just one! I love Finch and Violet from All the Bright Places. I sometimes really wish that book had turned out differently because they were perfect for each other.
Brittany: How do you feel about fanfiction? Do you write it? Read it? And would you read or avoid fanfiction that's written by fans for your own books?
Kristen: I’ve never written or read fanfiction! I would be totally honored if readers wrote fanfiction based on YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME. I think I’d have to check it out for sure.
Brittany: I hope the first time you read fanfiction will be fanfiction of your book ^_^ Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today!