Author Interview: Lia Riley


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn't mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.

She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

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 A NOTE FROM T&BL

Lives in Northern California, an island girl at heart, and loves apple bananas…Lia Riley is me. I am Lia Riley…Okay, okay…not really. But I could definitely give her a big hug and have one heck of a long talk over some iced tea! 
 
Last weekend, we tweeted briefly after I found out that she lived in Kauai for 5 years, my favorite Hawaiian island! The idea finally struck me: I need to interview Lia Riley. Her debut New Adult series, Off the Map, is set in Australia. And after reading her bio, you know that she’s been around the world and seen some great things. I needed to pick her brain for every little travel nugget! :) (Funny enough, we were both on trips while emailing back and forth!) For all of you readers with a serious case of wanderlust, you're going to love Lia and to want to know more about her books!

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T&BL: Of course, welcome to Teacups & Book Love, Lia! Thank you for joining the blog for a little travel talk. :) Since this whole idea began with Kauai, it’s only right that the Garden Island be our first topic! How about a few “Best of Kauai” picks to start off?

Favorite place to eat?

Lia: BarAcuda in Hanalei. The restaurant is tapas foodie heaven (menu chock full of locally sourced goodness). My favs include: North Shore honeycomb with Kunana Farms goat cheese, medjool date and celery salad, and the house made limoncello.

T&BL: Uhhh...I just peeked at their menu, and that seared Hawaiian fish with local tomato and macadamia nut pesto? *drools* That sounds like an amazing place to grab a bite! Now, how about your favorite beach?

Lia: JUST ONE???? Wow. Okay. This is really, really hard. We lived on Kauai for five years, and I have loads of favorite beaches. However, if you twist my arm, I’ll choose Hanalei Bay due to happy memories and the epic views of the waterfalls off Namolokama.

T&BL: Favorite place to go for a view?

Lia: Pihea Trail in Kokee State Park is a straightforward and mind-bogglingly beautiful hike along the back rim of Kalalau Valley.

T&BL: Best outdoor activity to do in Kauai?

Lia: Snorkeling with green sea turtles off Makua Beach, or camping at Polihale State Park.

T&BL: We share a love for farmers markets, so I have to ask…Favorite market on the
island? What’s the first fruit or vegetable that you look for?

Lia: I lived on the West Side so my usual markets were a bit off the beaten path: Kalaheo and Hanapepe. In season, I’d go cuckoo for lychee. My staple was papaya (served cold with a fresh squeezed lime).

T&BL: Yes! There's nothing like sitting out on the lanai, with the breeze, and eating fresh papaya for breakfast! It's one of my favorite things to do on any of the gorgeous islands. :) But speaking of the rest of Hawaii...In your opinion, what does Kauai have that makes it stick out?

Lia: Each Hawaiian Island has its own unique magic, but The Garden Island stole my heart with the killer combination of beauty and small town vibes.

T&BL: I couldn't agree more! So, all of you readers planning any Spring Break or Summer vacations still...NOW YOU HAVE THE INSIDE INFO ON KAUAI! ;) 

Next, let's get to know you a bit more…Do you have any interesting travel routines or habits?

Lia: Not unless you count oh-god-i-lost-my-passport-again disorganization as a routine. I do read fiction (big surprise) from wherever I’m headed to get an advanced feel of place and identity.

T&BL: Give me one of your “Travel Horror Stories”! (Once, I was stuck in a hurricane
in Mexico. Scary. I had to take the extra long layover in Guadalajara/one night in
Mexico City route to get back home.)

Lia: I was in the romantic Cook Islands with my boyfriend (now husband) when a strange rash broke out all over my upper body. We had zero idea as to the cause. At the time we were renting a grass shack (literally) on the property of a grumpy German misanthrope. He busted out a machine that looked like something from a horror flick and indicated it could vibrate the outbreak away. I declined and made my way to the local health clinic. In the waiting room hung a poster highlighting the warning signs of elephantiasis. Rash was the first symptom. I needed a brown paper bag by the time the doctor came. We’re talking hyperventilation city. Happily, the mystery rash cleared within 48 hours without any sign of a gigantic limb.

T&BL: Besides your husband, because I know that you married your very own Australian ;)…do you have any quirky/extreme souvenirs? For example, I came home with my first tribal tattoo after a family reunion on the Big Island, HI. 

Lia: You are so cool! I have a cherished “expedition” jacket from my trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.

T&BL: Favorite cocktail while you’re on vacation?

Lia: I prefer Old Fashions, but I love a pisco sour when in South America.

T&BL: Would you rather go with a planned tour or do as locals do?

Lia: Local style!

T&BL: What’s a song from your Travel Playlist? Maybe it’s something you listen to on
long flights or a road trip…

Lia: It varies according to place. Two years ago my family drove a VW van around the North Island of New Zealand. I forced my husband to listen to the Lord of the Rings film score on repeat. Right now we’re vacationing in Oahu and I can’t turn off the Jawaiian.

T&BL: I love everything about that answer! I would totally drive around listening to the Lord of the Rings score with you...then we could stop at a beach and listen to some Jawaiian.  *shaka*

And, finally, I can’t let you go without talking about your first novel, Upside Down! When I think of Australia, I automatically think of things like the Great Barrier Reef and tons of sunshine. Is there something about Australia that you hope to open your readers’ eyes to? Maybe something we don’t know about the country?

Lia: I have actually never visited the Great Barrier Reef. I guess I wanted to champion some of my favorite (and slightly more underdog) Australian locations like Melbourne (not as in-your-face beautiful as Sydney, but so much hipper) and Tasmania (the achingly beautiful island state I called home for four years).

T&BL: I came across an article a few days ago about the significance of a story’s location. It said, “The setting can become a character of its own.” How important is Australia to Upside Down’s story?

Lia: This is a country of extremes. When it’s hot, it’s bloody hot. When animals are poisonous, it means they can kill you with one bite. When there’s a storm rolling in from the Southern Ocean? Those waves are going to be huge. When you fall in love in such a place, buckle up--the ride’s going to be intense.

T&BL: Do you have a favorite book that has a setting as equally captivating as the characters and plot?

Lia: I am a HUGE Jane Eyre fangirl. Thornfield Hall is the home of the hero, Edward Rochester, and the gloomy, isolated English manor made the perfect broody backdrop to this epic gothic love story.

T&BL: While general travel or "on-location" books aren't new, study-abroad novels specifically seem to be very rare. Why did you choose to write a story like this one?

Lia: Study abroad is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. When you're struggling with a new place, new language, new foods, learning directions, being forced to make friends and do things that you wouldn't normally do, there’s going to be tons of story potential. Plus, I have a weakness for guys with hot accents!

T&BL: Oh, yes, I totally get the accent thing!

How did you decide to make your heroine a California girl?

Lia: I love my current home--Santa Cruz, California. One of America’s quintessential surf towns, the place has more than it’s fair share of gorgeous beaches and is a kale-eating, hippie hipster mecca. If you live here you’d be hard-pressed not to know a vegan anarchist, former Deadhead, or diehard skater. I love the quirk and as the University of California-Santa Cruz is right here, I’m surrounded by New Adult inspiration. Additionally, California, and Nor-Cal (Northern California) in particular, is socially liberal. I closely identify with the so-called “San Francisco Values” including issues like same-sex marriage and living wage, and I wanted a heroine who shared a similar progressive outlook.

T&BL: Bran Lockhart, a troubled surfer with “hypnotic” green eyes, already sounds like
an irresistible hero to me. Is there something else that’s unique about Bran that
you could share with us?

Lia: Oh, Bran. Upside Down is part of the Off the Map series, and features the same hero and heroine over three books (Sideswiped releases October 7th and Inside Out releases December 2nd). He starts out as quite the jaded cynic, and I had way too much fun challenging him. Here are five fast facts about Bran: he studies climate change, doesn’t get most movie references, is half-Brazilian, needs to spend regular time in the wild for his sanity, and hates playing Monopoly (but totally will for my heroine, Talia).

T&BL: Oooh, I can't wait to get my grabby hands on Upside Down and read all about Bran and Talia! Thank you, again, for taking the time to answer all of these questions! *daydreams about the beach*

Lia: Thanks so much for having me Jullie Anne. I haven’t gotten the chance to chat Kauai in a long time and it was so much fun :)

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UPSIDE DOWN
Off the Map, #1
Release Date: August 5, 2014
 

If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying goodbye to painful memories—and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll pretend to be a carefree exchange student. Everything is going to plan until she meets a surly surfer with hypnotic green eyes, and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he slunk back to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. A single semester abroad won’t  cover something this serious. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once-in-a-lifetime . . . or if there’s a plane to California with her name on it.