Simone Elkeles’ Rules of Attraction, the second book in the Fuentes Brothers’ series and follow up to the MUY BUENO Perfect Chemistry (reviewed by Ana HERE), is coming out in the UK and to celebrate it, we are proud to present a guest post by the author on her inspirations and influences behind the series and a giveaway of both books!
Ladies and Gents, Simone Elkeles!
First of all, thanks so much for the invitation to appear on The Book Smugglers! I’m so excited to be reaching out to all my fans in the UK!
Perfect Chemistry was the second novel I wrote, but my fourth book that got published. From the moment I finished it, I knew that it was special. By the end of the book, Alex and Brittany had become more than just characters. It’s hard to describe to others who haven’t written a book. People always tell me that being an author is “a business”…but it’s the most personal business there is. Each word, each scene, each character came from my mind. It’s almost surreal when you finish a book (and I urge everyone reading this to try). It’s a creation you can share with the world, and if it actually changes someone’s life by the words you’ve written…well, that’s the cherry on top of the cake!
Fairfield (the setting for Perfect Chemistry) is based off of a high school next to where I grew up. There is a large Latino community on one side of the tracks (yes, there are literally train tracks separating the two sides) and a very wealthy community with people living in mansions on Lake Michigan on the other side. When I heard that suburban gangs in the area were on the rise, I wanted to explore what it would be like for someone from one side of the town to fall for someone on the other side. I do love exploring love stories that have cultures clashing. Once I started researching suburban gangs (which are very different than city gangs), it was eye-opening. I didn’t know how much honor and loyalty to family and community are tied into gang affiliation, especially in the Latino gang culture. Some of the kids in gangs I interviewed have seen more violence, death, drug trafficking and crime than anyone should see in their lifetime. They live not knowing if they’ll survive another day, and some don’t even care. I’ve met really good kids who are stuck in bad situations. They want to get out and live a clean, gang-free life, but don’t know how or don’t think there’s another way to live. My heart goes out to those kids. That part of it makes me want to write about boys like Alex, Carlos, and Luis Fuentes.
I interviewed suburban gang members as well as police officers and gang detectives who work in the toughest, deadliest parts of Chicago. When I have book discussions at juvenile detention centers, the boys always share tidbits of information with me that I’ve used in my books. I went on a “ride along” with the gang detectives in Chicago and got to talk to some gang members. It was a surreal experience and I actually had to be fitted with a bulletproof vest and was instructed to act like a detective myself (without the guns that my “partners” wore). When I see the lives these kids are living, I am more motivated than ever to write a story that might inspire someone else to get out of that lifestyle. I have fans that are gang members. They’re actually surprised I didn’t grow up in the streets like them, because they say I portray the reality of their lives. They relate to Alex and Carlos on so many levels. I’ve had more than a few fans say that my books have inspired them to clean up their lives and get out of their gangs.
Originally, I just started writing for fun and to see if I could do it. Now, that I’ve heard more than once that my books have changed someone’s life or inspired them try for a better life, I am more motivated than ever to keep writing. I still write for fun, but in the back of my mind I feel like I’m accomplishing a little bit more. I get inspiration from teens who’ve emailed me their personal struggles. Sometimes I cry reading the horrible situations these kids are in, but the one thing they all have in common is a little glimmer of hope. It’s incredible, really. I write fiction, but there are so many out there living the stuff I only write about. The fact that they have hope is truly amazing. I always say never give up on your dreams!
Thanks again for the opportunity to be a part of The Book Smugglers!
Thank you Simone!
Now, for the giveaway.
We have three copies of Perfect Chemistry AND Rules of Attraction to giveaway to 3 lucky winners. Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. The contest is open to everyone and will run till Saturday January 22nd 11:59 P.M. (PST). One entry per person, please. We will randomly pick the winner and post it on our January 23rd stash. Good luck!