Book of the Month: Author Interview with Gretchen McNeil


Book of the Month

get evenThe Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process. 

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.




About the Author:

gretchen mcneil

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror POSSESS about a teen exorcist debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, a finalist for the 2015 Evergreen Young Adult Book Award, and was nominated for “Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012” by Romantic Times. Gretchen’s 2013 release is 3:59, a sci-fi doppelganger horror about two girls who are the same girl in parallel dimensions who decide to switch places. Gretchen’s novels have been optioned by Hollywood production companies, and have sold internationally in Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish.

In 2014, Gretchen debuts her first series, Don’t Get Mad (pitched as “John Hughes with a body count”) about four very different girls who form a secret society where they get revenge on bullies and mean girls at their elite prep school. The Don’t Get Mad series begins September 16, 2014 with GET EVEN, followed by the sequel GET DIRTY in the summer of 2015, also with Balzer + Bray. In addition, Gretchen has contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and was a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

You can find Gretchen on Twitter, Facebook, and on her blog.


Read below for an author interview with Gretchen McNeil:

Hi, Gretchen! Welcome back to YaReads!

Can you tell us about your newest book, GET EVEN, in 30 words or less?

The Breakfast Club with a body count.

Get Even is told from several different POVs. Did you find it difficult to transition between those characters?

Once I got to know the girls, their personalities began to shine through their POVs.  But that took a few drafts.  I had to give myself leave in early versions to let them NOT be perfect, to let the voice NOT be right, because I had to keep writing in order to learn who they were.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it works for me!

I’m almost done with the book, so I haven’t quite reached the cliffhanger at the end, but I know that there IS one. Are there any hints you can give readers about book two, GET DIRTY?

Well, there’s a massive bombshell dropped at the end of chapter two of GET DIRTY that will change everything the girls think they know.  I’m actually offering a preview booklet with those first two chapters for anyone who pre-orders GET EVEN before September 15th (so you don’t have to wait til June to find out the twist!)  Details here:

This is going to be a two book series, correct?

As of right now Don’t Get Mad is only a two book series.  😉

Do you have any plans in the works for after this series is over?

So many book ideas.  SO MANY.  I’ve got two or three horror novels knocking around, plus a historical soap opera I’m dying to write.  And a contemporary or two.  I’m basically going to be preparing proposals on all of them over the next month.

If you could choose who you relate to the most out of the four main characters in GET EVEN who would it be?

Tough one!  I think each of the girls has a different piece of me in them, but if we’re talking about sixteen year old Gretchen, I was probably the most like Bree.

What I love about Get Even is that it doesn’t just focus on the group and finding the killer and what not. All of the four girls seem to have their individual problems, whether that be with their weight or their family. How important was it to you to bring up those important topics?

First, it’s important to understand why these girls formed DGM – their personal histories and situations are integral to the plot in that regard.  It also fleshes out their personalities – these girls are real people, who have made mistakes, who feel pain and regret and shame.  They’re not just heroes who make the right choices all the time.

All of your books seem to have a horror/spooky theme to them. Can readers expect the same theme in GET EVEN?

There’s definitely a lot of suspense in GET EVEN and some creepy moments.  But there’s also a lot more comedy than in my previous books.  Think more Heathers, less Scream.

Out of all of your books, which one has been your favorite to write?

I had the most fun with GET EVEN, actually.  I gave myself leave to be funny, which is something I really enjoy.  And characters like Ed the Head and Shane were just so much fun to write.  And the banter between John and Bree.  I loved writing this book.

What is the best book that you’ve read recently?

It’s not YA, but THE SECRET KEEPER by Kate Morton.  Amazing.

What is currently in your TBR pile?

More books that I could find time to read in the next ten years?  I’ll start with the ones on top: RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo, THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER by Jed Rubenfeld, BELLWEATHER RHAPSODY by Kate Racculia, and BELLMAN AND BLACK by Diane Setterfield.