I met Stacey Lee at a recent conference because I was unable to make the release of THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE, which I was bummed about because I love her books. Her stories are authentic and gorgeous; they grab readers and don’t let go.

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

In addition to writing, you also play classical piano. What do you love most about each activity and why?

My favorite thing about writing is that it gives me a chance to make people feel something. I love writing a scene that the reader feels so invested in, they can’t wait to move onto the next scene. And funny enough, that’s also what I love about playing the piano. Keeping the listener rapt. We all live for those moments of intense absorption and focus.

I’m completely rapt, and I’m very intrigued by the dilemma that Mimosa faces in THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE. How did this story come to you, and what do you want readers to take away when they’re finished with it?

I started with a very universal emotion—the fear of disappointing one’s parents. And I went from there, using the framework of a girl who has inherited an extraordinary nose that her ancestors have built a livelihood around, making love potions out of flowers for the general good. What would happen if she lost her special talent? I gave her a very strict mother just to keep things interesting for her. I think I would love for readers to understand that 1) we are lovable with and in spite of our flaws, and 2) we are stronger than we think.

A beautiful and necessary message, for teens and adults alike. I also love the beginning of UNDER A PAINTED SKY, especially the suspense. What do you like most about writing beginnings?

Thank you. I favor the ‘grab them by the collar and dunk them in the cider barrel’ approach to first chapters. I remember specifically wanting to give readers a one-two punch in UAPS, given that it’s a western. Those who’ve read it will know what I mean. 🙂

I definitely do, and hope to do the same in my own writing. What are some of your current projects?

I am working on my third historical. Dear Miss Sweetie focuses on a Chinese teenager in 1890s Atlanta who moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a wildly popular newspaper advice column. When a black man is accused of assaulting a white woman, “Miss Sweetie” uses the power of her pen in an attempt to change the outcome of the trial.

I have a humongous map of historic Atlanta that I’ve been using to ‘get around’ in my story. It takes up half the floor space in my office, and I’m always tripping over it. Fun times!

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound