Q&A: Cecilia Gray | SELF-e Circs: The Top Ten Most Read Titles in SELF-e Select

The top ten most read young adult titles in SELF-e Select


Lipomi, Deena. Sisters Don’t Tell. Deena Lipomi. 2014. 177p. ebk. ISBN 9780989602426.


Smith, Jacqueline E. Boy Band. Wind Trail. (Boy Band, Bk. 1). 2015. 206p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Makansi, K. The Harvest. Layla Dog. (Seeds Trilogy, Bk. 3). 2016. 252p. ebk. ISBN 9780989867191.


Cross, Katie. Antebellum Awakening. Antebellum. (Network, Bk. 2). 2014. 304p. ebk. ISBN 9780991531943.


Gray, Cecilia. Fall for You. Gray Life. (Jane Austen Academy). 2014. 214p. ebk. ISBN 9781938268007.


Walls, Shawna. Thunderstone. CreateSpace: Amazon. 2013. 252p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Makansi, K. The Reaping. Layla Dog. (Seeds Trilogy, Bk. 2). 2014. 306p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Taylor, Rebecca. Ascendant. Ophelia House. (Ascendant Trilogy, Bk. 1). 2015. 452p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Quinn, Susan. Open Minds. CreateSpace: Amazon. (Mindjack, Bk. 1). 2011. 342p. ebk. ISBN 9780988267015.


Ching, G.P. Grounded. Carpe Luna. (Grounded Trilogy, Bk. 1). 2014. 358p. ebk. ISBN 9780985236755.


In her “Jane Austen Academy” series, Cecilia Gray reimagines the author’s beloved characters and gathered them all into the same boarding school. Lizzie Egmont, counterpart to Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, stars in the series’ first novel, Fall for You, crusading against the school’s new coed policy and butting heads with the supposedly snobbish Dante Braxton. Here, Gray discusses her love of Austen, the fun of modernizing these well-known protagonists, and more.

What drew you to Jane Austen for literary inspiration? Why do you think her works continue to endure?
I love Austen adaptations and retellings—both period and modern—and wished that the BBC would release a new [one] every year. But one thing I did find myself wondering was whether Austen’s heroines would become friends—what Elizabeth would make of Emma and whether either of them would fancy Catherine. I think her work endures because her heroines are near perfectly imperfect reflections of all of us.

Was there a book that you were especially looking forward to reworking?

My sixth and final installment, Always You, is a Persuasion retelling, which I really wanted to tackle in a YA setting. Even though the source material features a couple parted by years of separation, the longing they experience is ripe for teenage angst, and for a teenager, months feel like an eternity and the stakes seem so high.

I love that your versions of Austen’s characters exist together in the same universe. Did you have any favorite character-crossover interactions?
Pretty much Emma and anyone! So many of [these characters] are practical and sensible. I knew they wouldn’t know what to make of someone like Emma, and I couldn’t wait for them to clash and eventually become the best of friends.

Did you find that it was easy to update the original novels for your contemporary series?
I didn’t have to modernize the characters so much as their circumstances. They all have such universal and timeless attributes that it was more about bringing circumstances up to date.

Fall for You is the first book in the series. What about Elizabeth Bennet and Pride and Prejudice made for a natural starting point?
There is a controversy over whether characters should be likable and what constitutes a likable character. It was important for me to write young, teen girls who were flawed. Because of that, it made sense to me to start with Elizabeth Bennet. She’s the most popular and recognizable and might convince readers otherwise turned off by an unlikable heroine that if they stick it out, my Lizzie will eventually grow into the character they already know and love.

Did you always plan on self-publishing your novels?
It was always my intention to self-publish the “Jane Austen Academy” novels. I wanted to tell the characters’ stories, interactions, and [have] the ending be my vision, which seemed easiest if I hired the editorial team [myself] rather than [be] subject to a publisher’s vision.

What’s the biggest advantage to being an indie author?
You get to make your own schedule. I work in nonprofits and also have a fairly involved personal life, so being an indie author takes the pressure off having to keep to a publisher’s schedule.

What are you working on now?
An adult mystery, of all things! Yet another advantage of being an indie author is that you can write what you like instead of what’s expected.—Kate DiGirolomo

These titles are currently the top YA novels being read through SELF-e Select, a subscription-based digital discovery platform that culls the best self-published submissions. To bring SELF-e to your library, visit ow.ly/XBU4307Gc5M.


This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Kate DiGirolomo About Kate DiGirolomo

Kate DiGirolomo is the SELF-e Community Coordinator at Library Journal. She received her Master's degree in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @KateDiGirolomo.

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