Interview: Danielle Ellison, author of the new YA Romance, THE SWEETHEART SHAM


What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Fiction is my heartbeat, especially YA.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I love teenagers. I’m all about them. I think they are full of this spark, sometimes it’s bright and happy, other times it’s dangerous. They’re blunt and real and they have a respect for that. It’s such an important time, full of high highs and the lowest lows. This is not to say they are always the best at decision making or right, but I really respect them. I love writing for them—sharing stories about teens for teens. I think it’s important to show them that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, and I hope that comes across in my writing.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I wish I knew. I’ve always been into stories and my own head, even as a kid. No one in my family really enjoys reading, so it’s something none of us are sure of. I watched a LOT of TV as a kid (still do) and I’ve always had a flair for escapism. Maybe it’s that. All I know is I’m grateful for it.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

Our culture is entirely made up of stories. I mean, not to get nerdy, but our entire history as humans on earth is stories that people passed down until they became facts; history, faith, culture—the definition of how we came to be, why we exist, all of it—is based in storytelling. I think we live for stories in any form, be that gossip, television, movies, video games, twitter. We like to imagine that life is something more than it is, that someone out there is going through or has gone through a similar experience to us.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

It’s my characters. Some authors are beautiful wordsmiths (like Jennifer Donnelly, Jason Reynolds, Laini Taylor) and others are brilliant minds with incredible worlds they’ve built (like Victoria Schwab, Holly Black.) I used to think I had to be one of Those Kinds of writers in order to be a real writer. But then I’ve learned and grown over the years, and my biggest lesson has been to take what you do best and make it your selling point. For me, that’s characters. I strive to write real people, as real as you and me, who are relatable and have distinct voices. That’s what I loved about my favourite shows, movies and books, and there’s real value in that – so that’s what I try to do.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

It was really important to me show the friendship between these characters and I felt (in the beginning) it was truly Will and Georgie’s story, and I had to figure out how Beau and Georgie’s romance could fit in and be the story, without taking away Will’s voice. It tripped me up a lot. As an LGBTQ+ ally, as someone who works with teens, who was writing a book with a gay character, I really wanted to do his story justice. I wanted to represent him, but at the same time, his wasn’t the central love story. I think I really accomplished what I wanted to in this book. It’s truly a story about love, both romantic and that between best friends.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

From the beginning, I loved Georgie. She had such a fantastic voice and she was really very fun. I love getting into her head and viewing her world. I also love Culler itself, which I wanted to feel like a southern Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls) and I think it turned out very colourful. I wanted a town that you wanted to come back to over and over, and I personally love spending time there.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve had so many jobs, y’all. I’ve worked at Wendy’s (my first job), movie theaters, churches, as a nanny, teaching theater to children, offices, bookstores, libraries, taught online undergraduate courses. I’ve done more than most people. I think the best way to show that they have impacted my writing is just by the exposure to experiences and people.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read YA. Current reads (well as soon as I get to) are The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson and then Children of Blood and Bone by TomiAdeyemi.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on the next book in the Southern Charmed series.

What do your plans for future projects include?

More Southern Charmed books – and a secret we’ve-been-plotting-for-years project with my best friend, who is also a writer.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

The names come with the characters, especially for my MCs, so I have no say really in what they tell me their names are. If they are minor characters, I’ll just brainstorm ideas until something feels right and then I’ll try to make sure it’s not something I’ve used in a recent book.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation! It’d save so much on travel expenses and really help me keep my wanderlust at bay.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

I’ve always thought I was a panda: cute, cuddly, but fierce and powerful. It’s pretty apt.

But I’ve got a friend who tells me I’m a cat. At first, I was resistant to this analogy but as time goes on I realize I am a cat. I like what I want when I want it, I do what I want, I love attention (but only sometimes), I could take or leave people depending on my mood, I’m a little needy, super affectionate and I have fallen asleep to having my hair petted.

What literary character is most like you?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.




About The Sweetheart Sham:

In a small town like Culler, South Carolina, you guard your secrets like you guard your cobbler recipe: with your life. Georgia Ann Monroe knows a thing or two about secrets: she’s been guarding the truth that her best friend Will is gay for years now. But what happens when a little white lie to protect him gets her into a fake relationship…and then the boy of her dreams shows up?

Enter Beau Montgomery: Georgie’s first love, hotter than ever, and much too much of a southern gentleman to ever pursue someone else’s girl. There’s no way to come clean to Beau while still protecting Will. But bless their hearts, they live in Culler—where secrets always have a way of revealing themselves.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hilarious “fakeship,” a scorching-hot impossible relationship, and a heartwarming best-friendship that will make you want to call your best friend right here, right now. 




About Danielle Ellison:

Danielle Ellison is a nomad, always on the lookout for an adventure and the next story. In addition to writing, she’s the founder and coordinator of the NoVa TEEN Book Festival. When she’s not busy with books, she’s probably watching her favorite shows, drinking coffee, or fighting her nomadic urges. She is newly settled in Oklahoma (for now) with her cat, Simon, but you can always find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.

Connect with Danielle online:

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Newsletter: http://danielleellison.us10.list-

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