The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Edge of Heaven are part of the Broken Wings Duet that had me up all night two days in a row! Author Gia Riley took me into the dark world of the slums of Carillion, a town riddles with drugs and lost tomorrows. Check out how she weaved an incredible love triangle into this gripping romance.
Jeannine Colette: This is a young adult romance with a taboo underscore and a love triangle that will give you whiplash! Where did inspiration for this novel come from?
GIA RILEY: I saw the picture of the girl on the cover of Wrong Side of Heaven while browsing on a stock site. I stopped scrolling and was captivated by her. I knew I wanted to write about her and that her story was a little dark and unlike my other books.
Winnie, is only seventeen years old, yet she is thrusted into a life no-one wants for themselves. Because of her age, she is vulnerable, yet tough and the evolution of her character is remarkable. How did your personal experiences help create this gripping heroine?
I wanted her to be strong despite her age. Sure she was young and didn’t have life figured out. Not many adults do, so I didn’t expect that of her. But I wanted her to get up every day and keep trying. She might have had it rough, but she was determined to make more of her life than the awful hand she’d be dealt. The goal was total self-discovery, a fire inside of her, and I hope I achieved that in the end.
This is a gritty and raw novel that centers around a trailer park, a strip joint and a picturesque house on the other side of the fence. How are the locations characters in and of themselves in this book?
I saw Tess so clearly in mind when I was starting the story. The beat up trailer and the club a couple blocks away. I wanted those who lived in Carillon to be tight knit, but in a non-traditional way. It wasn’t a cookie cutter community by any means. Most residents had little and would never see life beyond the park or the club. I knew the majority of the story would center around this.
The house on the other side of the fence was a representation of just how close a brand-new life could be for Winnie. If she just hung on and stuck it out, she could be in a happier place surrounded by loving people. It was always a matter of time.
Holy Love Triangle! Winnie is enamored by the mysterious neighbor with a hidden identity and Jasper, the boy who becomes her best friend and tries to win her heart. Did you know who she was going (or not going to) end up with in the end?
I thought I had it all figured out before I even started writing. I had a clear vision of the ending. That’s not at all how it went though. The more I wrote, the more my own heart was tossed around. I saw new sides to people and difference possibilities. I wanted everything and more for Winnie. But I couldn’t be selfish.
If you were Winnie, who would you have chosen?
Here’s my dilemma, haha. I’m always a sucker for the sweet guy. And a piece of me likes to think about the possibilities with the bad boy. Some pretty heartbreaking circumstances played such a huge roll in how the story played out. In the end, I selfishly wanted both. Despite the bad, I saw good in both guys…qualities any girl would be lucky to have.
From Tess to Jax and Ace, Alex and Melody… your side characters rage from angelic to evil! Who was your favorite to write?
They really do! I enjoyed writing Tess. She was so screwed up and off her rocker. Something about her bled out of me and I have no idea why. I’m obviously nothing like her, yet I connect with the troubled ones the easiest.
I need more. Are you considering a follow-up novel?
I went to the dark side for Wrong Side of Heaven and The Edge of Heaven. I did a standalone after that called Until We Are Gone that was equally dark and edgy. After those three heavy hitters, I thought I needed to lighten it up a bit and do something different. The book I’m working on is still untitled, but it’s sexy, a little funny, and full of angst. I can’t help it. I love the angst no matter what the book is about.
Never say never about revisiting characters though. I don’t have any plans for more from this duet, but I do miss them. If this is your kind of read, I’d definitely check out Until We Are Gone and Stay Awhile.
As a reader, what is your favorite troupe?
I love a good love triangle and anything taboo. Student teacher always grabs my attention, too.
When do you write?
I mostly write while my kiddo is at school. The rest of the time I’m a special needs mom.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a total pantser. I get an idea in my head, usually a scene or two, and then build off of that. Most times I don’t know what’s going to happen down the road. I just take it as it comes to me and go from there. Too much plotting screws me up because I get random ideas along the way.
What was the moment when you decide you were going to take the plunge into publishing?
It was 2013. I was immersed as a reader in the indie world, meeting all kinds of amazing authors. I wrote all the time and had so many stories to tell. In 2014, I finally took the plunge and set my first book free. Talk about the biggest rush of adrenaline ever! I was hooked and haven’t looked back since. I’ve even had the pleasure of co-writing. I’d like to do more of that in the future if the opportunity came along.