The time it was about Ontario Teen Book Fest {4}

Posted March 18, 2017 by Stacee in Blog Tours, Interviews | 2 Comments

It that time again: Ontario Teen Book Fest is almost here! And that means it’s time to put the spotlight on one of the authors who will be in attendance.  I basically begged Sara to let me have Gretchen McNeil. You know, because Gretchen.  But, before we get to all of Gretchen’s awesomeness, let’s get the details!

Ontario Teen Book Fest is being held on March 25th from 9 am to 5 pm, is absolutely free, and tickets are not necessary. There will be 21 authors and it’s being held at Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761.  The event is being sponsored by Once Upon a Time and additional info can be found at the event website.

And now Gretchen! Before we get to her interview, let’s check out her newest book I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Title: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Pages: 352
Pub Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Find it: HarperCollins | Indiebound | B&N | Amazon | Goodreads

From acclaimed author Gretchen McNeil comes her first realistic contemporary romance—perfect for fans of Kody Keplinger’s The Duff  and Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone.

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

Sounds good, right?

1. Please give the elevator pitch for I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

It’s a feminist romcom about a math nerd who uses a customized formula to reinvent heself as a classic manic pixie dream girl in order to win back her boyfriend from the quirky new girl at school.

2. Where did the idea come from?

My husband and I watched a manic pixie dream girl movie (a French film called Betty Blue, to be exact) and I was incensed afterward about the title character’s role.  Essentially, she blows into the depressed male character’s life, teaches him how to “live,” inspires him to write a novel, then conveniently dies right before he gets published.  I hated it, and immediately wanted to turn the loathesome manic pixie dream girl trope on its head!

3. Why do you love Bea and why should we root for her?

Bea is authentic.  She loves math more than people.  She has a fierce protective instinct for the people she cares about.  And she has no idea what her heart wants.  How can you not root for that?

4. This book is obviously a bit different than your standard plot filled with murdery goodness.  Was it easier or harder for you to write?

At first, it was difficult to plot a book without a mystery to solve and a cadre of dead bodies.  Usually, I learn who my characters are while I write – characterization stemming from plot.  This book was the other way around, so the process was new and different and scary.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m in edits for my next book #MURDERTRENDING which takes place fifteen minutes in the future where a reality television “star” has been elected President of the United States (I know, crazy, right?) and has sold off our criminal justice system to a Hollywood producer.  They establish Alcatraz 2.0, a fake suburban environment where convicted criminals are sent to live and work, and try to survive government-sanctioned serial killers who hunt them down and stream their deaths live on an app for your phones and tablets.  When 17-year-old Dee Guerrera is falsely convicted of killing her stepsister and condemed to Alcatraz 2.0, she must survive long enough to find out why she was framed and by whom.  Oh, and did I mention it’s a comedy?  It’s a comedy.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes.

I was at my day job where they didn’t know I was writing or trying to get published, so I basically had to keep my excitement inside until quitting time.  Then I think I screamed in my car in the parking lot.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

My husband, a cozy tent, and a year’s worth of crossword puzzles.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

4. What book character would you want to date and who would you want to be your BFF?

I’d date Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables in a heartbeat.  As for a BFF, I’ve always been partial to Hercule Poirot.  He needs a good hag in his life.

5. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

That there’s never going to be a sense that you’ve “succeeded” or “arrived” or any degree of job security.  You always have to sell the next book, no matter who you are.

6. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently? {Huge thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me use this question}

I take the first f&*^@$ train out of Oregon and go somewhere really, really sunny.


Gretchen McNeil is the author of the standalone YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN (2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, a finalist for Washington state’s 2015 Evergreen Young Adult Book Award and Vermont’s 2014-2015 Green Mountain Book Award, and was nominated for “Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012″ by Romantic Times) and 3:59, as well as GET EVEN and GET DIRTY, part of her mystery/suspense series Don’t Get Mad, all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins. In 2016, Gretchen will publish two novels: RELIC, a YA horror novel, with HarperCollins/EpicReads Impulse on March 8, 2016, and in the fall, I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, her first YA contemporary, with Balzer + Bray. Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.


Huge thanks to Sara for putting this all together and inviting me to take part.  And of course, thanks to Gretchen for taking the time.  Make sure you’re checking out Gretchen’s website, following her on Twitter and Instagram, and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR.

If you’re going to the event, use  the hashtag #ontariotbf. Keep scrolling to check out the rest of the tour and authors who will be attending!

Blog Tour Schedule

March 15th:

Spotlight on Romina Russell – The Consummate Reader
Spotlight on E. Katherine Kottaras – Book You Very Much

March 16th:

Spotlight on Catherine Linka – What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on BT Gottfred – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 17th:

Spotlight on Elana K Arnold – Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana – Starkiller Readers

March 18th:

Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Charlotte Huang – A Traveling Book 

March 19th:

Spotlight on KM Walton – Recently Acquired Obsessions
Spotlight on Jeff Garvin – Reading Over Sleeping 

March 20th:

Spotlight on Jessica Brody – A Reader’s Antidote
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana – Read Now Sleep Later

March 21st:

Spotlight on Ann Stampler – Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi – My Fangirl Chronicles

March 22nd:

Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum – A Traveling Book
Spotlight on Cindy Pon – Book You Very Much

March 23rd:

Spotlight on Martina Boone – Movies, Shows and Books
Spotlight on Mary Weber – What A Nerd Girl Says

March 24th:

Spotlight on Jessica Love – Nite Lite Books
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera – Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Robin Reul – I Read What I Want To


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2 responses to “The time it was about Ontario Teen Book Fest {4}

  1. Looks like a very cool book festival. I wish I was in driving distance of it, because I’d SO go. I would love to meet Jessica Brody especially!! I do love Gretchen McNeil too. I met her in 2013 I think– but since then I’ve read and LOVED Get Even and would love to have her sign my copy of Ten.

    PS– That Twilight question is AWESOME!! And her answer is even better!

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