COLOR THE SHELVES: Interview with Prerna Pickett, author of If You Only Knew

Color the Shelves (12)

Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!

Today’s interview is with Prerna Pickett, the debut author one of a YA contemporary story I’m really excited to read, IF ONLY YOU KNEW, which is  a story about a boy coming out of jail, a girl plagues by guilt, teens messing up, redemption and second chances. Full of secrets, said secrets coming to light, and maybe even a cute romance thrown in the mix (and by maybe I mean definitely). I had a lot of fun asking the author questions and her answers only made me want to read the book more, and hopefully it’ll convince you to pick it up as well!

Hello Prerna, and thank you so much for joining me today for what i hope is a fun interview! First of all congratulations for the release of IF ONLY YOU KNEW! The premise is one we don’t see explored much in YA, can you tell us more about what it is about? What inspired you to write it?

Thank you so much for having me! IYOK was inspired by a dream that I had. In the dream an older man was holding down a teen boy, and there was a girl the background trying to pry them apart. When I woke up I just had to know what was going on. Even though I first set out to figure the why of the scene, I quickly learned that my two MCs, Tessa and Corey, had some really great stories that needed to be explored further. For example, Corey just got out of jail and is trying to find a way out of his gang and Tessa is trying to run from her past and carries a secret that has the potential to ruin her future. That eventually turned into a full manuscript and now the finished book.

What are the central themes you explored in your story? Did you plan on inserting them into the story or did they just happen to sneak themselves in?

The central themes of my story are of hope and redemption. Both Corey and Tessa are seeking redemption for their pasts, and find hope with each other. Whenever I first start writing a story, I only have a vague idea of what the plot will be, for me it always starts with the character’s voice. With Corey I knew he was jaded, angry, and willing to do anything to protect his family. With Tessa I knew she was trying to run away from the issues in her life, she didn’t trust easily, and was afraid to lose the people she loves. The themes, for me, happen organically. I never set out to write books with a specific theme in mind. My goal is always to be honest to my characters and have them tell their stories.

(I love this a lot, and it makes me want to meet Corey and Tessa ASAP)

I know that parents (even book parents ha!) don’t like to play favorites, but does any one of your characters have a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Oh my gosh, that’s a tough one. For me it changes. Some days I prefer Corey’s quiet, self-deprecating ways, and on others I am drawn to Tessa’s tough exterior and her fearlessness. Sometimes I find myself seeking out Alex and his eternal optimism or Paige and her overprotective nature. I think there is a small piece of myself in all of my characters, and so I can’t pick just one favorite. It just depends on the day!

What are some pieces of information that went into building your characters that didn’t necessarily make it into the book?

In the first couple of versions Corey’s dad plays a more central part in the plot, but later on he didn’t make the cut, as in I literally killed him off haha. Despite the fact that he is now dead (RIP) I still really love the scenes between Corey and his dad. They helped me understand Corey’s character and I was able to really delve into his arc. Tessa’s Mom was also a big part in the earlier versions of IYOK and is now an absentee mother. One of the things I learned from her relationship with her mother was how much Tessa wanted to please her, but refused to admit it. That still comes into play in the final copy.

And to close this interview off, is there something you’d like your reader to take away from your story? Or something you’d like to tell them?

That good kids making bad decisions doesn’t make them bad kids. We’re all born with a certain amount of privilege and we work with what we’ve got. Corey has very little and in order to provide for his family he makes some poor choices, but so many people out there are in the same circumstances. Good people who are simply trying to survive. And that hope can be found even in the bleakest of situations, and in the most unexpected ways possible.

(this is such an amazing and vital reminder that we could all use from time to time)


About the author

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Prerna Pickett was born in India. She moved to the United States at the age of six and was raised in Northern Virginia. She briefly attended BYU-Idaho before getting married and settling down in Idaho. She briefly lived in Hawaii, which ruined all other beaches for her. Prerna has created stories in her head for most of her life, but didn’t attempt to write her first novel until college. It was a disaster. It took almost three years for her to attempt to write another novel. 

Prerna wrote the first draft of her debut, If You Only Knew, in 2014. It took her four more years for her to receive her publishing contract with Swoon Reads/Macmillan. If You Only Knew released February 2020.

Prerna is the mother of five and manages to find time to write in between school pick up and drop off, after school activities, and the everyday insanity that is life. Prerna enjoys snorkeling, beach combing, hiking, and going on adventures. She, of course, also loves reading and writing. 

Prerna is represented by Veronica Park at Fuse Literary. 

You can find Prerna on the following social media sites:

Twitter: @prernapickett

Instagram: @watchprernawrite

Website: prernapickett.com 


About the book

Prerna Pickett - If you Only Know

Publication date : February 11th, 2020

Publisher : Swoon reads | Macmillan

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 304

Synopsis : A boy recently released from jail and the daughter of a prosecutor fall for each other against the odds in this YA novel.

Corey has just been released from jail, and all he wants is a new beginning. But when his former gang comes knocking, Corey agrees to vandalize the home of Kent Hopper, the prosecutor who put him away.

To erase the guilt she carries from getting away with a crime, Tessa spends most of her nights riding her motorcycle. When she catches Corey destroying her father’s car, she doesn’t see a criminal: She sees a way to finally right her own wrongs. So instead of turning Corey over to the police, she convinces her father to give Corey a second chance.

As Tessa and Corey spend more time with each other, it becomes difficult to ignore the pull between them. But they’re both keeping secrets, and when those secrets come to light, they’ll each have to face their demons in order to have a future together.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundBooks A Million.


The gorgeous banner template was created by Skye @shuurens on Twitter. Here’s her website and portfolio.

That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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3 thoughts on “COLOR THE SHELVES: Interview with Prerna Pickett, author of If You Only Knew

  1. Pingback: March 2020 Wrap-Up: The Chaos Theory! - Novels and Nebulas
  2. Pingback: To sum-up: March 2020 + April TBR | Word Wonders
  3. Pingback: March 2020 Wrap-Up: The Chaos Theory! - Novels and Nebulas

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