Blog Tour: #scandal by Sarah Ockler

Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh! I am SO excited to be a part of Sarah Ockler's #scandal tour and especially to have the opportunity to interview her! I have loved Sarah's writing since I first read Twenty Boy Summer two years ago. I read Fixing Delilah and Bittersweet immediately, and then had to wait an entire year before The Book of Broken Hearts came out, which was a horrible wait for me. Sarah remains one author on my must-meet-before-I-die author list, and her books are 100% must reads. I really enjoyed #scandal (it's one of my favorites of 2014 so far!), and I hope you do to! Enjoy my interview with Sarah and enter to win signed copies of four of her books in the tour-wide giveaway! 

Rating: 5 stars (review coming soon!)
Pub Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: DRC, from the publisher
Status: standalone
Links: Check out my review of The Book of Broken Hearts HERE for more reasons why I love Sarah

Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...


If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture tagged on Miss Demeanor’s Scandal of the Month page is worth about a million. Especially when the story all those words tell is an absolute lie.

Well, mostly a lie.

The part about falling asleep in his arms is sort of true. I don’t remember the details about the horse, or how it got into the living room exactly, but judging from the smell that morning, that part’s true too. And yes, the Harvard-bound debate team captain definitely cannonballed into the pond wearing only tuxedo socks and silver fairy wings. Everyone got shots of that.

But there’s no way the other stuff happened.

Not like the pictures are saying it did.

Sarah, I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I really enjoyed reading #scandal, and I'm so grateful for the chance to be on the blog tour!
Sarah: Thank you so much, Mary! It means a lot to me that you enjoyed #scandal, and I’m so happy to visit Mary Had a Little Book Blog!
[*is fangirling*]

Was #scandal inspired by a specific event?

Sarah: #scandal wasn’t inspired by a particular event, but it was inspired by an overall movement—social media. The more I saw my friends and family moving their relationships online—meaning, things that were once private or shared between just a few close people were now being broadcast to the world, and not always in a positive way—the more I started paying attention to the ways social media changes how we interact, how we make and keep friends, and how we conduct our lives overall. I tried to imagine what it would’ve been like if sites like Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, and Twitter existed when I was in high school, and whether my own “scandals” and mistakes and embarrassing moments would’ve been broadcast to the world and exacerbated, and how I would’ve dealt with those kinds of issues and possibly made them worse. So the more I thought about it, the more these characters came to life in my head, and the more I wanted to tell this story.

What was your research process like for #scandal?

Sarah: Since this is a contemporary realistic story that deals with longstanding emotional issues like friendship dynamics, first love, family secrets, and popularity, I didn’t have to do a lot of nitty-gritty research. I did, however, learn about school cyberbullying policies. Social media didn’t exist when I was in high school, and I don’t have children, so I’ve had zero experience in this arena. I had to research how high school officials might respond to rumors or accusations of student-on-student cyberbullying or sexting, and whether they’d have protocols in place to deal with such things.

Miss Demeanor [who is like Gossip Girl/Perez Hilton for Lucy's high school] and the person who posted the photos on Lucy's Facebook remain a mystery throughout the novel. Did you know their true identities from the beginning or was it a surprise?

Sarah: As the author, I always knew the identities of the mystery characters. Since their motivations are so closely tied to the plot, and to the things that Lucy must discover about her own judgments and indiscretions, I wouldn’t have been able to craft the story without knowing. What was surprising, though, was how Lucy decided to deal with each of those characters. I knew roughly where I wanted to take the story, but the exact actions and responses came to me through the writing. That was part of the fun of discovery for me – putting them all together, throwing rocks, letting sparks fly.

Although Lucy and Jayla are very different, their scandals parallel each other. Why did you choose to have them experience these situations simultaneously?

Sarah: That was a very conscious choice on my part. Although Lucy is in part the victim of the post-prom scandal (someone stole her phone and posted incriminating photos of her and other students on Lucy’s own Facebook profile), she’s also a big part of the problem. Her past behaviors and judgments really come to light as a result of the scandal and its aftermath, and—without giving any spoilers—Jayla Heart represents one of those truths that Lucy has to face. Like so many others in her town, Lucy made some pretty harsh judgments and assumptions about celebrity Jayla’s life, and through their parallel scandals, Lucy is able to see things—at least partially—in a new light.

At the beginning, I thought (e)VIL was more of the comic relief, but then I was surprised at the pivotal role it played. Was the group initially so crucial to the story or did its role increase throughout your process?

Sarah: For those who haven’t read the book, (e)VIL (the electronic Vanities Intervention League) is the school’s fringe anti-technology club, and its small but committed members will do anything to get people off of social media. The group was always crucial to the story. They turned out to be more humorous than I’d intended, but I knew going into the story that I wanted to show a whole spectrum of attitudes toward social media: Everyone from people like Miss Demeanor and Lucy’s friend Griffin on the pro side, who basically live online and believe that if it isn’t posted on Facebook, it didn’t happen, to people like celebrity Jayla Heart, who finds both her most endearing fans as well as her harshest critics online, to people like the (e)VIL members who believe that social media is causing the downfall of the human race. They’re extreme, but they’re also very human and kind-hearted, and they genuinely grow to like and support Lucy. They were a lot of fun to write.

Each of the side characters has such a unique and strong personality. How did you rein in all those characters and prevent them from overpowering the story?
Sarah: I did a lot of pre-planning to ensure that the main story focused on Lucy, and because it’s told in her first person point of view, it naturally keeps the spotlight on her. But I also wanted to have this big, somewhat whacky cast of characters–because that’s often what you get when you’re hanging out online—so I had to ensure that everyone was at least tangentially connected to the scandal and its aftermath. Each character essentially represents a variation on the themes and questions explored in the story—like how to be authentic online, whether you truly can have meaningful online interactions, how we judge and are judged by others, and how quickly rumors spread online.

I love how you explore friendships in #scandal, whether it's the fragility of long-term friendships or the strength of new ones. After the end, do you think Lucy will be able to maintain her new relationships and repair the broken ones?

Sarah: I don’t want to give anything away, but I believe that dealing with the scandal forces Lucy to examine her previous assumptions about friendships and to treat them with more honesty and respect. It forces her to look at her own shortcomings as a friend, and to consider how she played a role in her own drama, and to think about what she needs to do going forward to nurture and maintain strong, genuine relationships, both online and offline.

Not a question, but Lucy and Cole have really great chemistry, both as friends and flirting the line with more-than-friends. The scenes with the two of them were absolutely my favorite!

Sarah: Thank you! I loved writing their scenes together. Though the romance isn’t central to the story, it’s an important part of Lucy’s character arc, and I just loved exploring it. Plus, I think Cole is beyond adorable.

THANK YOU, Sarah, for taking the time to stop by Mary Had a Little Book Blog today and answer my questions. I hope you readers enjoyed Sarah's answers as much as I did. Check out the buy links to pick up your own copy of #scandal (which I totally guarantee that you will want because it's fabulous!), as well as the rest of the tour for more #scandal extras and behind-the-scene bonus features, and enter the amazing tour giveaway!

Book Buy Links:

About the Author:
Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of novels for teens, including The Book of Broken Hearts, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah, and the critically acclaimed Twenty Boy Summer, a YALSA Teens' Top Ten nominee and IndieNext List pick. Her latest, #scandal, hits the shelves in June 2014.

Sarah is a champion cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she's not writing or reading at home in Colorado, she enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.
Author Links:

Prize pack of four signed Sarah Ockler books: Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, Bittersweet, and The Book of Broken Hearts. US only. Must be 13+ to enter. False entries are considered cheating and will lead to disqualification. Winner will be notified via email (SO BE SURE TO CHECK!) and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Personal information will not be shared.

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1 comment:

  1. Luckily social media wasn't really a thing in 2000 when I was a senior. Our scandal, though, was a big one: the choir director and a student caught in a very delicate position.