By Alaina Leary
Today we’re pleased to welcome Whitney D. Grandison to the WNDB blog to discuss her YA novel The Right Side of Reckless, out July 13, 2021!
He’s never met a rule he didn’t break… She’s followed the rules her whole life… When they meet, one golden rule is established: stay away. Sparks fly in this edgy own voices novel, perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, S. K. Ali, and Kristina Forest.
They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…
Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.
Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.
The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…
The Right Side of Reckless is a contemporary novel, but world-building is just as important in this setting as it would be in SFF. Can you tell us how you built out Guillermo and Regan’s world?
The settings are largely based on areas around where I grew up. Arlington High would be at my old high school’s current location. The subdivision where Guillermo and Regan live would be located down the road from the supermarket I work at. I really focused on the east side of Akron, Ohio for this story. This is the most local book I’ve ever written. There are fictional places within the story, but I used real street names, and anyone who’s from Akron should spot them. I wish I could’ve added a map on the inside flap to show the Arlington High / Briar Park and Briar Pointe areas.
What have you learned since publishing A Love Hate Thing?
I think the biggest lesson I learned through publishing A Love Hate Thing is that just because people look like you doesn’t mean they’re going to get your story, and just because they don’t look like you doesn’t mean they won’t get your story. You never know which readers are going to really connect with your story or disconnect.
You’re also a Wattpad writer with a large following of engaged readers. What do you love most about writing on Wattpad? How have you translated what you’ve learned from writing on Wattpad to traditional publishing?
What I love most about my platform on Wattpad is the level of intimacy or connection with my readers. It’s more direct and personable. A lot of them have grown with me through the years and know me and my style, and I feel like they get me. I definitely take reader comments, critiques, and conversations to heart. I’ve learned a lot this way, and I try to be open-minded when I see a response to something I’ve written, and I channel that for editing or future projects.
I love that you’re a fan of both The O.C. and One Tree Hill, which are both shows with romances at the forefront. How has your writing been inspired by the things you like in on-screen romances in TV shows and movies?
I would honestly say that TV and film are my biggest influence as a writer. With my favorite teen shows growing up, I liked the writing and the journey the characters went on, and that definitely inspired me on how to develop my own characters from point A to point Z. As for romances, I look for those moments that just steal your breath and give you goosebumps. There’s one that’s always stayed with me from He’s Just Not That into You between Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck that definitely made me want to capture that defining moment when you need a couple to be end game. Scenes like that inspire me to write swoon-worthy moments that STAY with readers.
What are your personal favorite romance tropes to read? Does that differ from the tropes you prefer to write?
I think I’m a sucker for a bad boy or a troubled boy, someone with an edge, and I like them paired with either good girls, troubled girls, or just girls who challenge them. It’s not too far off from what I love to write, because the chemistry between two dueling characters is the most captivating to read and write. You really hang on to every scene they share together, just waiting for their walls to fall because you know that first kiss is going to cause explosions!
If the characters in The Right Side of Reckless showed up on your doorstep in real life, who do you think you’d get along with most? And who would honestly grate on your nerves even though you love them?
Ah, this is a good question! I think I’d get along most with Guillermo and Jenaya, they’re both really into music and offer banter, it’d be a fun dynamic for sure. As much as I love my boy Raviv, he’d probably grate on my nerves because boy, ain’t nobody trying to talk about soccer!
If you could design your dream panel promoting The Right Side of Reckless what would it be about? What other authors would you like to have on it?
My dream panel for The Right Side of Reckless would definitely be about ultimate forbidden bad boy/good girl love stories. And you can’t have that panel without Simone Elkeles, she’s just the queen of that trope. Katie McGarry is another writer who’s written those forbidden love stories as well. Nicola Yoon too, because due to circumstance in Everything, Everything Madeline and Olly couldn’t be together but you needed them together.
What other books do you think The Right Side of Reckless is in conversation with?
Due to similar themes, I’d say:
Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry
If You Only Knew by Prerna Pickett
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
Do you have any recommendations for forthcoming or published books?
These are a few books on my To Be Read list I’m excited for this year when they release:
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney sounds really good.
Where Secrets Lie by Eva V. Gibson. I loved her debut, Together We Caught Fire, which was one book where I was taking notes on how to improve my own metaphors.
I recently did a panel with Maritza Moulite who co-wrote One of the Good Ones with her sister Maika, and I really just loved when she broke down the title and how it tied into the theme. The first thing that typically happens in America when a Black person is murdered by the police is the media rushing to humanize this person by illustrating their education, their good deeds, or family as if you have to prove they deserve to live. And I believe that’s harmful, you don’t have to be this model citizen to deserve your life. There are no “good ones,” and I liked when Maritza said that!
What’s one question you wish you were asked more often (and the answer)?
What’s the best part about writing? I’d say the early stages when you’re jotting down ideas for dialogue, scenes, monologues, and especially building the perfect playlist. The beginning stage of writing each new book is always the most terrifying but the most fun for me.
Whitney D. Grandison is an American young adult fiction writer. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers. Outside of writing, she is a lover of Korean dramas, all things John Hughes, and horror films. Whitney currently lives in Akron, Ohio.
Alaina (Lavoie) is the communications manager of We Need Diverse Books. She also teaches in the graduate department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College and is a book reviewer for Booklist. She received a 2017 Bookbuilders of Boston scholarship for her work in the publishing industry. Her writing has been published in New York Times, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Allure, Healthline, Glamour, The Oprah Magazine, and more. She currently lives in Boston with her wife and their two literary cats. Follow her @AlainasKeys on Instagram and Twitter.