Ashlyne Huff Revelette is the author of the young adult novel Falling Stars. In addition to her writing, she is also a singer and songwriter. She lives in Nashville.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for this novel, and for your main character, Lilah?
A: In terms of the music, I probably had it in my brain and my heart for a long time—I grew up watching stars become stars. We had a studio in our house, and a lot of singers would come in regular clothes…I got a little of the behind-the-scenes from the beginning.
Lilah is a composite, as most characters are—of myself, some of the things as an artist that I’ve been through, and people I met, and my friend Meredith. She’s not a child star [although Lilah is]. She moved to Nashville from Mobile, Alabama. Her family is Lilah’s family. These are real people!
Lilah’s speech patterns are my friend Meredith’s. I’m from Nashville, but I’m not from Mobile. She says things like, “Holy mess!” I got to go to Mobile with Meredith—they showed me everything. They let me be around for arguments! I took notes or sat and observed. I got the family dynamic down from that…
Q: What did your friend think of the book?
A: She loves it! She’s been a great part of the whole thing. She ended up singing with me on some of the songs. It brought us very close.
Q: Why did you decide to write the story as a YA novel rather than an adult novel?
A: At first I had [Lilah] be 19. It was an arbitrary choice. I wasn’t close to 19 when I was writing it. I wrote the entire book this way, and it was in third person…
[With a 19-year-old character] so much had already happened. Important decisions had already been made…I’m close with my family and Meredith is with hers, but some people, when they go off to college, having parents who are so influential might not resonate.
[Making her 17] opened up less life experience, and meant that I could show it. Seventeen and 18—so much happens. It’s such a transitional year…relationships with boys, she has two years’ less experience. I wanted her to be a little less mature, so we could mature with her.
Q: You’ve said you changed Lilah’s age and the point of view from which you told the story, but did you make many changes in the plot itself as you were writing the novel?
A: I knew it was going to do certain things. I didn’t change the ending, but [changed] how I got there—more about the relationships changed. I didn’t have some people in there—Michael was just a former relationship, not a character. Vance just [appeared] at the end. That changed how I felt about some of the events.
Q: This is the first of six books. Do they all involve the same characters?
A: I didn’t originally set out to involve the same characters or write a sequel. But a friend asked me about what happened to [the character] JoBeth, and I had no idea! It got me thinking.
I had read Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed and Something Blue, and I loved both of them. I heard her speak recently—she said it was so hard to write from the [perspective of the] person you don’t like but [it improves the book]. I took my cue from that. This is a young adult version of that. [The sequel is] all JoBeth’s point of view. It was hard to write!
It takes place right alongside Falling Stars—it starts where JoBeth exits, and it tells her side of the story. You never know what someone’s dealing with, even if you’re their best friend.
Because JoBeth and Lilah couldn’t be more opposite, it’s not the same story. [The series] will be something where every story is about a different person. The third book’s main character [appears in the second book]…
Q: As a singer and songwriter, you’ve written some songs to go along with Falling Stars. Will you continue to do this with your next books?
A: I will continue to do songs—not just because I said I would [but because] it sums up big parts of the book in a different way. For a reader it enhances the experience, and for me, too! What are you trying to say? What can you take away? [The songs] will continue to happen whether the main character is in music or not.
Q: Do you write the books first or the songs first, or at the same time?
A: This book was the first for everything. I started to write about the two songs, "Falling Stars" and "Burning Blue." I thought, somebody out there is going to ask me, Is that a real song? And I would say no. So why don’t I go ahead and write it?
For the next book, it won’t be as integral because the characters are different. I’ve already written the second book, but I haven’t written the songs yet.
I took the songs to Brandon Hood, who is a real person [and appears in the novel]. He wrote the song with me, knowing what we needed to do…Clint Lagerberg [who also appears in the novel] is an actual person as well—I said, This is where [Lilah] is. Pretend I’m a 17-year-old who’s just found out this piece of news. What would you say to me?...
Q: So the scenes in the book with those characters are pretty realistic?
A: The home studio [scene] is how I felt when I walked in. We wrote "Always Never Enough" in 2011. I thought, I’m in my 20s, but what if I were 17, getting big-brother attention? I had been through the gamut of songwriters who didn’t care what I was doing.
I was a staff songwriter for a year, and went in every day, and went through that odd awkward feeling she felt when you’re writing with someone new.
When I went to Clint’s house, I felt that contentment [Lilah] felt—completely at ease. I put words in his mouth, but that is the way he talks. We’ll write a song, and he’s more person-oriented and less song-output oriented, and he did move out of the center of Nashville.
Q: Will you include other real people in your other novels as well?
A: I think so. My dad is a guitar player and producer. I asked if he would be part of one…I do have my people—I know Brandon is going to do another one. I’ll be bringing people in. I don’t know if I’ll name them in the story, but I want people to get credit.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb