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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Story Secrets: THE NAUGHTY LIST by Suzanne Young + a giveaway!

Speaking of secrets, do I have the perfect guest - Suzanne Young, whose debut novel, THE NAUGHTY LIST, hits the shelves today! (If you missed previous Story Secrets, you can check them out here.) Scroll down for a chance to win a copy!!

Suzanne and I met at the 2nd annual Kidlit Blogger Conference, and we've been fast friends ever since. When I asked her all about THE NAUGHTY LIST (and the sequel, SO MANY BOYS, coming in June), she swore she's never spied on any cheating boyfriends. Or at least, not that we can prove.

Welcome to Suzanne!



Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

It was when I was in the middle of revising my first novel that the idea for THE NAUGHTY LIST came to me. Well… not exactly. I was joking with a friend about how there weren’t enough female ninjas in the world. In fact, shouldn’t there be more cheerleading ninjas? I imagined a hilarious fight scene involving high-kicks and pom-poms.

After several scenes (and more stalling on the book I was supposed to be working on) I put the idea aside. Six months later, the main character Tessa Crimson cartwheeled back into my life. She was a flipping spy! And better than that, she investigated cheating boyfriends!

From there the story poured out. I wrote the first draft in a couple of weeks, then revised it. But two months later it was back in my novel graveyard. I had other projects ahead of it, and honestly, it came close to never being subbed.

Then my agent dropped me. I was on my own, and although I had a few books to shop, I decided that maybe I’d give THE NAUGHTY LIST a shot. I sent it to a few editors, and soon, I had a lot of interest. I ended up getting a new agent (who read my blog) and from there, we received three offers.

I went from the lowest low to the highest high. But there were a few writing friends that had been with me from the beginning that wouldn’t let me give up. They believed in me even when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. Even now, I still have a group of four writers that I trust with my life. These girls see almost everything as I write it. Sometimes we bounce ideas and sometimes they’re just there to tell me to “KEEP GOING!” I’m not sure where I’d be without them. Thank you, Heather Hansen, Trish Doller, Amanda Morgan and Daisy Whitney.

I’ve written a bunch of books over the past two years and THE NAUGHTY LIST was number 6 or 7. And I think it’s important to remember that. At least for me, each book got better as I learned the craft. Each book brought out something more in me. If I could give any advice: it’s to keep writing. You never know when an idea will stick, and you never know what the next big thing will be. Don’t try to figure it out. Just write stories that you care about. Even if they start off about ninjas.


One of the best NAUGHTY LIST secrets I know is the evolution of the title - you'll have to visit Suzanne at her blog for the scoop on that... The sequel, TOO MANY BOYS, will hit the shelves June 10!

Leave a comment below telling us either a) why you're dying to read THE NAUGHTY LIST, or b) your worst (or funniest) boyfriend story. You have until 5pm PST on Monday to post, and we'll pick a winner next week! (If you don't have a blog link, be sure to leave a way to contact you.)

Thanks, Suzanne!


  1. i want to see assault with a pom pom as a weapon.

  2. Not here to win anything except worst boyfriend story, since I honorably admit that my employment with HarperCollins renders me ineligible. Let some other kid win a book! But I believe I DESERVE to win Worst Boyfriend, since I was engaged FOR SEVEN YEARS to a "man" who blogs about comic books via the personality of a sweater-wearing stuffed animal that is really a cow, but if you put a looseleaf ring through its nose is magically transformed into a bull. That wears sweaters. And likes comic books. Oh, and did I forget to say that he fainted and cried almost constantly? The fiance, not the cow. Most famously when we got separated in the crowd at the Sing-Along Sound of Music screening at the Ziegfeld theater in NYC some years back. An ambulance came. Seriously. Wow, it's like I was BORN to win a prize for Worst Boyfriend Story!! Bring it, suckas!

  3. Wow, that IS scary! I dated a guy briefly who had panic attacks over baked potatoes - that was odd, but I wouldn't say worst. That was the paranoid stalkerish guy.

  4. I love female protagonists who break pre-conceived molds. Cheerleaders are seen as superficial (okay, I've been known to have that opinion), which isn't fair. Books are a great vehicle for gaining a fuller perspective of people and this one looks like a fun way to see cheerleaders as more than decorations.

  5. I want to read The Naughty List 'cause a.) I love the cover and b.) It just sounds like a really fun book! :)

  6. I have been interested in reading this book for what seems like forever! The cover catches my eye because I love pink, and anything that has to do with boys getting caught doing bad things I'm always interested in ;-)

    I know I have like a hundred funny AND bad boyfriend stories but of course I can't think of any right now!!


  7. I thought I'd landed a boyfriend after, shall we say, an overzealous night in a dorm. Problem was, my best friend thought she had a boyfriend too- the same guy. Turns out, she had been 'cavorting' with The Player on the sly for over two weeks by the time I confided in her about my hot lovin'. We were shocked to realize that The Player had fed us both the same lines- and cheezy ones at that. Suddenly we saw the potential for some good old fashioned, unbridled revenge.

    That night we went out with a group of friends, including The Player. We stayed cool. We both knew he was a drunk, so we bided our time, refilling his cup. The minute he passed out, we grabbed some shaving cream and a razor and removed his eyebrows. Well, at least parts of his eyebrows. None of our dude friends came to his aid; in fact, they were highly amused. But three other giggling lady friends stepped up and took a turn with the razor. The Player had trouble playin' for a long time after, but we ladies never got played again.

  8. I want to read the Naughty List cause it sounds awesome!! I've heard great stuff about the book, and it sounds like a lot of fun!


  9. I want to read The Naughty List because anything that starts out as a "cheerleading ninja" book is always awesome. The plot just sounds so fun!


  10. I've always been a rather good and boring girl. I need to read The Naughty List to spice up my life!


  11. I want to read some girl power in a novel!

    jpetroroy at gmail dot com

  12. After reading about Suzanne's journey to publication, I'm dying to read her book : )


  13. This book sounds great!

    I remember a date where the guy reached down between the seats and pulled out this huge knife he kept for safety. I was fortunate as he merely showed it to me, but . . .our first and LAST date.

  14. Sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read it.

    My worst boyfriend story is from senior year in high school. I had been going out with a guy from a different school for a few months and everything seemed perfect. The only issue was that he had developed a lot of bad habits while dating his ex-girlfriend - excessive cursing, smoking, etc. I let it go for the most part, attributing it to the fact that he had changed since we knew each other freshman year. I also knew he still spoke to his ex, but I trusted him. The thing that started to raise my suspicions was the fact that he constantly talked about what she had liked, including his beard.
    One day he asked me if I would go to Victoria's Secret with him to by lingerie for her as a joke for her birthday. That was the same day I noticed that my clean shaven boyfriend had regrown his beard. I confronted him about it. He fed me some line about the fact that it was bridge day at school and he was supposed to be the principal for the day, and the principal had a beard.
    I wasn't buying, and, after applying some more pressure by reminding him that his ex had always liked his beard, the truth came out. He had been cheating on me with her since the day we started dating.