Hello Bookworms! Today I have an interview with Heidi Loney. Author of Love and Cola Wars. Make sure to keep reading for your chance to win a copy of Love and Cola Wars as well as a tote bag!
In a parallel world, the city of Toronto has privatized all aspects of public life, including schools, where the ultimate rivalry is between the two biggest cola corporations in the world.
Sixteen year old Coco Caro is a good girl from a good Coca Cola home. Just as summer is closing, she meets Vincente Moreno, an up-and-coming Olympic fencer who attends her rival high school, Pepsi Co. At first, Coco has no idea who Vincente is or where he comes from. But when she discovers his identity, Coco must choose her loyalties: avoid Vincente at all costs or see him in secret.
Enter into the picture Cody Warwick, handsome Microsoft college junior and fencing aficionado. Cody has the world eating out of his hands, but Coco knows there is more to him than meets the eye. When her father wants her to entertain Cody at his annual Coke barbeque, Coco must play the dutiful daughter against her better judgment. And when a group of student activists challenge the status-quo at Coke High, Coco questions her own core values.
Meanwhile, Vincente has troubles of his own. Coco’s cousin, fencing star Silvino Rodrigues, challenges Vincente to a fencing bout, for which Vincente forgoes because of his personal set of principles. Eventually, Vincente must use his training skills and daring to defend Coco’s honour in an ultimate fencing blow-out.
Filled with swoon-worthy romance and kick-ass sword fighting, LOVE AND COLA WARS is a satirical love story set in a parallel world of cola and corporation.
Thanks so much for granting us an interview! Let’s jump right into it.
1. How did you come up with the title?
My husband is the one who came up with the title. It’s very succinct, I think, since it is about love and it is about the cola wars.
2. How much of the book is realistic?
Some of the book is realistic, in terms of the location and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Other than that, it’s pretty much made up. But I think that’s what makes it fun.
3. If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about the book?
I don’t think so. The book has evolved quite a bit since the first draft and I think it’s at the point that I’m happy with what it is.
4. How did the idea for the cover come about?
The cover was a stock cover that I found by a cover artist I had already worked with. I knew essentially what the characters looked like and that couple fit the bill quite nicely. The artist added in the Toronto skyline.
5. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The biggest challenge was the Olympic fencing, since I have never fenced a day in my life. But I have to say that I loved that part of the book. It’s such a cool sport and not given the credit it truly deserves. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it portrayed in a Young Adult book or movie.
6. What inspired you to write your book?
It’s really a comment about my home town, but I think it’s also a universal truth that there is less money now than when I was growing up, so that it is getting to the time that corporations have to sponsor sporting, the arts and even our basic needs.
7. Were there any qualities that you shared with the main character?
I don’t think I share any qualities with the main character. She’s quite shallow in some respects and not truly aware of what is going around her, but that’s not to say that she doesn’t grow and change. Also, my parents were never domineering like that, but I had a friend growing up who was expected to follow the status-quo. Luckily, my parents were very supportive of my choices.
8. What advice do you have for other writers?
Just write. I often hear people say that they would love to be a writer, but they never actually write. It can be anything – a journal, a blog, or creative short stories. And read too.
9. What book do you wish you had written?
I’m a big Jane Austin fan, so probably anything by her. Persuasion is my favourite. It was one of her later books and shows her at her very best.
10. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read all of my reviews, good and bad, but I don’t respond to them unless the reviewer has sent me a link and then I thank them. I’ve said this before – you just have to take it with a grain of salt. I come from theatre, where reviews can be down-right nasty with personal attacks.
With book reviews, not everyone will like everything you write and you just have to try not to take it personally. Even Suzanne Collins has a bunch of one star reviews.
11. What literary character is most like you?
When I was a kid, I was definitely like Anne of Green Gables or Laura Ingalls – too precocious and chatty and always getting into scrapes. As I get older, I think I am most like Miranda from Sex in the City. A little bit cynical, but a true friend and in the end, a real family person.
12. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I think I liked the parts with Carmella, the Pepsi floozy that dumped Vince. I went to school with girls like that.
13. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I think the hardest one was when someone thought one of my books sent a bad message to young people about body image, when I was actually stating the opposite. I felt that I had failed that reader, but there is nothing I could do about that at the time. All I can do is try and develop my craft and build on what I’ve learned.
The best compliment was that my first book (Ravenous) was very original. It’s a dystopian story, and I didn’t want it to be like the Hunger Games or Insurgence type story. I wanted it to be unique.
14. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I live in Toronto (the setting for Love and Cola Wars) with my two boys and my husband Jack. I went to school for costume design and before becoming a writer, I worked in the theatre for fifteen years. That’s where I get my wacky imagination from!
15. Snow cones or popsicles?
I’ve never had a snow cone, so I’d have to say popsicles.
16. Where can we find more about you and your book?
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out this and other books by the author. Now we have a giveaway for you. It’s open to those in the U.S. and Canada only. All you have to do to enter is drop your email in the comment section and a lucky random person will be the winner.