Feature Spotlight with CJ Duggan
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
It was something that I fell back in love with in my mid-twenties; it began as a hobby and turned into a passion and now it’s my career.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I never thought beyond the completion of my book; it was just about telling a story, not necessarily about how it would be received. I was a part of NaNo WriMo (National Novel Writing Month) back in November 2011 where the idea is to write every day and pen a novel for that month. The Boys of Summer was born in that month, and I published it the following year and the rest is history.
Paradise City is the first in a fresh New Adult series for you and features the extremely likeable Lexie Atkinson, a home-schooled country girl who has moved to Paradise City to experience all that life has to offer. What sparked this concept for you?
I really love exploring stories about wallflowers and underdogs; I think you can take a great amount of humour from a character who hasn’t got it together just yet, and that it’s okay if you don’t, especially when you’re on the brink of discovering who you are at the end of school. I was on holiday in LA, wandering through the streets, and thought how vibrant it was, and what it would be like to experience a place from the view of a girl who was so removed from it. It was only a snippet of an idea, one that gained more traction when I holidayed on the Gold Coast a few years later. The gritty coastal tourist scene really spoke to me on both occasions and I really wanted to write a fish-out-of-water story. Even though Paradise City is set in a mythical Australian location I really drew on the inspiration I had from my holidays.
What was your biggest challenge in writing Paradise City?
My ending was originally different. It was something that I agonised over and re-wrote a hundred times until I decided on the way it is now.
What one character trait will most endear Lexie to your readers?
I love the way she sees the world, she sees it in a way unlike any other character, she has a real knack for observational humour. I like the fact she is funny, while not actively trying to be funny.
What kind of research was involved in the planning of Paradise City? Was there anything surprising that you learned during the research process?
Being set around the year 2000 I am always mindful of song choices and particular pop culture references of that era, which is actually really fun to research or just get lost in the nostalgia of it all. I also didn’t want it to be based in any set place in Australia, I wanted Paradise City to be mythical in its existence, but still lend certain aspects of what a coastal city is.
In your opinion, what makes the New Adult romance sub-genre so special?
It’s an age for self-discovery, a time that we can all identify with, it sweeps us up in the nostalgia of our youth and gives us moments to reflect on our firsts. Our first loves, jobs, education, heartbreak, success, failures: it’s a saucy cauldron to weave into any story, whether it be a New Adult Zombie Thriller or a New Adult Boy Next Door Romance. The age of the protagonists is such a fascinating part of discovery; it’s more than just sexed-up YA and I am really passionate about flying the flag for New Adult as a sub-genre, especially in Australia.
What’s next for you?
Paradise City will be released April 28th; I am currently working on Paradise Road with a September release. I will be releasing the final instalment of my Summer series, Forever Summer, in December before beginning a new series for a new year.