Saturday, 5 November 2016

Grade A Stupid by A.J. Lape Giveaway

Many years ago, I became friends with a talented author named A.J. Lape. We were both in our early footings in our careers. A.J. had not long since released her first book in The Darcy Walker series - Grade A Stupid.
I can't actually remember how we became friends, it was one of those random things where a random conversation led to us becoming friends resulting in me wanting to read her first book. At that time I was hugely into Paranormal books so The Darcy Walker series was something new and different because it is Crime/Mystery/Thriller and besides me reading books in the Thriller genre I had never really read any books that were in the Crime genre. Honestly, I questioned why afterwards. This series should also go in the comedy genre because there are so many times when I couldn't stop laughing. 
There is also romance in this series and if you like a good Alpha then you will definitely get your fair share in this series. But at the end of the day there is only one Alpha ;) 
The romance aside the main part of the series is all about Darcy who lives with her younger sister and her father. (Over time you get to understand how that came to be.)
Darcy suffers from ADHD and she tends to act before thinking. She is also a magnet for trouble, trouble mainly resulting in someones death. She is one of those characters who puts everyone elses needs before her own. Over the years she has recruited people into her brotherhood, where of course she is the boss ;) 
There are a lot of things that most people would hate to witness and probably squeal. Darcy just shrugs it off and wants to know why it happened. She wants to investigate without a care for her own life.
Now I have read a lot of books and I have to say that this series has become one my favourites and I can never understand why more people don't know about it. So when A.J. Lape asked me if I fancied re-reading her first book I jumped at the opportunity, but of course I couldn't stop at just the first book. I had to re-read the entire series. I got drawn in all over again, you may have noticed me posting pictures all over my InstagramFacebookTwitter and Fan Club. I wanted everyone to know.
Now if you haven't read this series then I strongly recommend that you do. What's more... the first book is free to download. If you don't own a kindle or e-reader, it doesn't matter, you can download free kindle apps to your phone, tablet, computer and most smart phones. You can even download it to your computer from Smashwords. 

This brings me to the topic of this blog...
Besides wanting to shout about how amazing this series is I wanted to do a giveaway. So I spoke to A.J. Lape and she offered a First Edition, signed copy of the first book - Grade A Stupid. How amazing is that? Whilst I am at it I will throw in a signed copy of one of my books. Winners choice. Just pick one of the following:

If you want to know more about The Darcy Walker series then check out A.J. Lape's social media pages (listed below) as well as my previous blog posts about the books.

No Brainer Blog Post with Review & Interview
100 Proof Stud Blog Post with Review & Interview
Defcon Darcy Blog Post with Review
Foolproof Blog Post with Review

Author Bio

AJ lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two feministic daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola. She studied English, Journalism, and Political Science at Morehead State University and left the business world when her daughters were born. Her love for suspense and a nail-biting story were born from watching Mystery Science Theater with her sister during childhood. That and any B-movie with comedic undertones they could get their hands on.
From a small town in rural Kentucky, her sister and she lived in their imaginations on a regular basis, and AJ’s love for the bizarre and paranormal still holds true to this day. She loves roller coasters, scary movies, and haunted houses and the weird sense of accomplishment it gives her when she can make it through without keeling over.
When she’s not riding that razor-thin line between creativity and insanity, she likes to read, watch too much cable TV, or cheer like a banshee at her daughters’ sporting events. She’s a huge hometown sports fan and bleeds all things Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals.


Thank you Ada for allowing me to interview you and I have to start by saying that I have known you since your first book was released so not only have I have been able to follow you on your writing career but I have been able to gain such a fantastic friend and for that I am truly thankful.

   1.   I know that originally you planned on being a journalist but then Darcy’s story came to you, so I wondered how the story came about and if journalism is still a dream of yours?
Right after I graduated college, I got married and moved to Cincinnati. I thought it would be easy to find a job, but the economy was all kinds of crap at that time and finding a job that would eventually turn into a career was a pipedream. Anyway, I think I had close to two hundred rejection letters at entry-level jobs because I was “over qualified” or they were “looking for someone with experience” blah, blah, blah. Talk about feeling defeated. I wound up doing all kinds of jobs. I bounced and hopped around…I did temporary agency work…I worked in malls…I answered phones…I stuffed envelopes…I took inventory at department stores. In the middle of all of that, I started to feel very strange, I found myself staring, I lost periods of time, I slurred my words, and I couldn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time. After a four-year battle of a doctor telling me I had anxiety, it was discovered I had epilepsy. Two weeks on anti-seizure medication and the fog cleared. I remember walking outside to my car and stopping to stare at the sky. It was so blue that day, so I called my husband and said, “I forgot what normal looked and felt like.” During those four years, my self-esteem was so low it could not even be categorized. It marked me. I didn’t think I was a bad person before, but let’s just say if I was, then having that happen to me made me acutely aware of the pain of other people. You feel alone in what’s happening to you. And that is the worst feeling in the world because a lot of the times people don’t want to be around others that are suffering. It makes them sad, so then they avoid you, which is just as painful as the physical suffering. By the time my girls came along, I feel like God had equipped me especially to handle some of the challenges they have had. Both girls have tic disorders, but through what happened to me personally, we’ve all learned to just count our blessings because someone else may have something even more difficult to deal with.

     2.       I love Darcy. Her insecurities make me want to hug her tight. Is there anyone who inspired the character? As an outsider we can look at Darcy’s height and hair colour and wonder if you picked these up from yourself, because you are tall and blonde. Do you relate to her?
Oh, heck, yeah, can I relate to her…LOL. I was a magnet for bad boys…or as Darcy says, “fastards.” And I did have a tendency to find trouble as my parents can attest to. I think I wrote about a character that was an overcomer and who might’ve been a little wiser than me at her age. Someone that no matter what, she kept her eyes on the prize despite the disappointment that life threw at her. As a parent, you never want your kids to be afraid. I tell my girls all the time it’s better to live with disappointment than regret. I hope I’ve inspired them to go for whatever it is that they want because sometimes a blessing is right around the corner. And biggest thing of all, I never want them to buy into the hype that they have to look or act a certain way to be accepted. There is no shame in being different, and they are beautiful just as they are. I hate it when the world doesn’t celebrate the kids with square peg minds who don’t fit into society’s round hole.  Life’s too short, you know? Be positive, kind to others, and then you can lay your head down at night and like yourself.

    3.       Of course we all love Darcy but I wondered who your favourite character is, other than Darcy? 
     I’m obviously very, very partial to Dylan Taylor, but I’ve developed quite a soft spot for the character, Jaws. That man loves to talk in my brain…LOL. It’s hard to pick just one because there are things that are beautifully flawed with all my characters. One I enjoy writing is Murphy, Darcy’s dad. He’s a man that wears many hats, might have a short fuse, but at the end of the day would jump in front of a semi for his kids.

      4.Let’s talk about Dylan. Now I am one of those readers who has always had this love/hate relationship with him. Half the time I wanted to slap him with the book I was reading. I know a lot of people love a good Alpha but there were times when he was a bit too bossy for me. I think when I looked at him I saw the friendships I had with the opposite sex and half the time I wanted to punch them too, lol.
With Dylan, I hope the reader realizes he saw Darcy, before, during, and after some major trauma. More than anyone, he’s known what all she’s gone through and what she’s confided in him she’s never given to anyone else. By nature, he’s very Alpha but his sensitivity always wins out in the end. In short, she’s his best friend, and he doesn’t want her to get hurt and will do pretty much anything to keep her from being hurt beyond repair.

   5.       So, The Darcy Walker series, as we know it, has ended with her High school years and I have to say it has been an emotional rollercoaster. (I cried at both Defcon Darcy and Foolproof) I heard a rumour that you are planning on continuing the series but more of a spin off and instead of it being in a YA it will be more of a NA, can you confirm or deny this. Of course we want all the juicy details J
Yes!! I can’t let these people ride off into the sunset quite yet. I took the summer off and had to wrap my head around Darcy in a new setting with big people problems. I’ve done a lot of research into her chosen career and am currently working on the next book as we speak.

    6.       You plan on releasing a few novellas to accompany the original series, do you have any inside information on this to tease the readers?
Yes, I might release a few novellas before Darcy’s first book as an adult. There are a few characters I want to explore a little bit further before I just go back into Darcy’s point of view.

     7.       What is a typical day like for you? I know you are married with two beautiful daughters and I wondered what does A.J. Lape get up to. Do you work whilst everyone is out of the house? Do you burn the midnight oil? Do you run around chasing your family to appointments and work on the go?
Yes, I’m constantly doing the mom thing…taking the girls places, etcetera, so I work while everyone goes to school. That being said, I soooooooo burn the midnight oil too. Sometimes my best stuff comes at night and I grab my phone or a notepad if my computer isn’t up and jot down a scene before it leaves me.

     8.       You mentioned earlier that you suffer from Epilepsy, and I wondered how this affects you and your writing because I know there has been some tough scenes, especially in Defcon Darcy (Chapters 20 & 21) where I cried like a baby so I know it must be draining for you.
When my stress level is high, I know immediately if I need to take a step back and calm my body down. I’ve dealt with this for over twenty years so I recognize the feeling. That being said, it did not bother me in writing the tougher scenes because I find writing very “freeing.” So those chapters didn’t give me that particular feeling, but they did, however, affect me deeply. I would sit at my computer and bawl like a baby that my characters said and did certain things. In the Darcy Walker Series, I gradually revealed why Darcy lived her life as the verb that she is—and the lid came off the box, so to say, in DEFCON Darcy. I think one of the reasons I revealed everything in book four was because I didn’t want to confront those scenes myself. I always knew who she was and why she was that way, but writing it down in DEFCON Darcy was literally like having your teeth punched out. It was gut wrenching, but as usual, Darcy is a survivor above anything.

    9.       What do you see for the future of Darcy Walker? I had a dream where her and Dylan were married and she was still up to her old tricks. She was even pregnant and Dylan was extremely over-protective because of Darcy and her moments of getting into mischief, but then they had their baby and it was a little girl and they called her Gemma. I woke up with tears streaming down my face thinking how wonderful that was. (Yeah, feel free to steal that idea, lol)
Oh, that’s so sweet, and I’m sure Dylan would love that!!! In this new series, Darcy is going to have big people problems in the big people world. Everything she thought she knew about fighting crime her own way is going to get more complex as she gets older and is forced to play by the rules. It’s going to be new for her and her relationships are going to evolve too. I can’t wait for readers to be able to see what I have planned for her!

 10.   Let’s think of life after Darcy. I am hoping that day will never come but we have to be realistic in that fact you may decide to write something completely different. Are then any plans for new non-Darcy-related stories?
I’m batting around a few things in my brain, but I will let you know first once the whole things materializes J

11.   So, we know Darcy is forever getting into trouble and I wondered what the naughtiest thing is you have ever done?
The naughtiest thing was probably drag racing around the track at school with several other cars. It was a dirt track…so dumb…and when the “dirt fog” cleared, the principal was at the top of the hill, staring down with disdain. There really wasn’t a way I could lie out of that one when he saw me get out of the car. I literally just raised my hand and fessed up. I got two weeks detention for that. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it was embarrassing enough.

12.   Finally, what would the perfect day involve for you?
Being able to write with a constant flow of Coke, Netflix streaming in the background, with zero interruptions. Then maybe sitting at the beach talking to my sister about life and the mysteries of the universe. All of that would be pure heaven.

Thank you so much A.J. Lape for not only allowing me to interview you but letting me holding this amazing giveaway I look forward to reading more about Darcy.

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