July Debut Author Spotlight: Michelle Painchaud! {Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway}

This month for our July Debut Author Spotlight, we're spotlighting debut author Michelle Painchaud and her upcoming novel, Pretending to be Erica, which will be released later this month. Michelle was also kind enough to answer some questions, share an excerpt, and give away some copies of her book!

About Michelle Painchaud

Michelle Painchaud is an expert in baking weird things, yelling weird things, writing weird Young Adult books, and being generally not-weird if at all possible (it's not possible). Videogames, peach vodka, and cats comprise 68.2% of her life.
Keep Up With Michelle On Her:

About Pretending to be Erica

Title: Pretending to be Erica
Author: Michelle Painchaud
Publisher: Viking Books
Expected Date of Publication: July 21st, 2015
Hardcover, 272 Pages
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again. Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its very specific precision. Violet shares a blood type with Erica; soon, thanks to surgery and blackmail, she has the same face, body, and DNA. She knows every detail of the Silvermans’ lives, as well as the PTSD she will have to fake around them. And then, when the time is right, she “reappears”—Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle. But she is also Violet, and she has a job: Stay long enough to steal the Silverman Painting, an Old Master legendary in the Vegas crime world. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it for, Violet is an unforgettable heroine, and Pretending to be Erica is a killer debut.
You can find Pretending to be Erica on:

Our interview with Michelle!

First of all, what is Pretending to be Erica about?
Pretending to be Erica is the story of Violet, a girl who's been raised by her con-man father to become a returned missing girl who's very rich and in actuality, very dead. 

Why do you think readers will enjoy Pretending to be Erica? What makes it special?
Violet is torn between the two facets of her new life; Violet, the con-girl, and Erica, the girl with a family and friends and a regular high school. She has to decide what she wants, and that in itself is something we all struggle to do. It's one thing to decide what you want, another thing entirely to work up the courage and energy to go after it. 

How does it feel to be a new author? What's scary about it? What's great?
As a new author, nobody knows you! You could make or break your own career! A book you wrote three to four years ago is being toted as your best piece of work, when in reality you've far exceeded that book already with your recent writing skills. It's terrifying to think people will judge you on something you wrote so long ago, in a different frame of mind, in a different time, but you have to suck it up. And I try real hard to suck it up well!

What do you think about the relationship between the blogging community and authors?
I think it's one of the most natural, and the most rewarding. You guys work so hard to bring quality reviews and content to people about the books you love, and that's the best job I can think of, ever. The sheer amount of effort that goes into maintaining a website, doing cool graphics, and writing great reviews must be exhausting, but you guys keep doing it. I'm in awe of you. 

What's been your best experience as a new author so far?
Seeing my cover for the first time was something out of a fairytale. My excitement had me running around the house and squealing in single high-pitched notes my cats didn't appreciate all that much. 

What's been your worst experience?
None so far! I've had a dream of a time. Anything that could be construed as bad, I try not to think about. How bad can it be when I have a book coming out and a wonderful team supporting me every step of the way? Not bad at all. 

What's your advice to fellow debut authors?
Oh, I don't know! They've made it, so they should relax and enjoy it. Don't overwork yourself. Let it all happen, and then worry. 

Lastly, will Pretending to be Erica have a sequel? If not, do you plan on writing anything else in the future?
I don't think it will. However, I am totally writing more YA. I've got a sweet YA/Fantasy I'm working on about a girl who turns into crystal. I really dig it, and I hope you guys will too!

An Exclusive Excerpt of Pretending to Be Erica

Three people know I’m going to a shrink—Mrs. Silverman, Marie, and the man who cleans the shrink’s office.

Mrs. Silverman makes sure I get there on time, but like school, she’s reluctant to let me go.

“You’ll call me as soon as it’s over?” She furrows her thin brows.

“Definitely.” I get out and give her a reassuring smile through the window. She takes me in, the school-rumpled uniform, the slightly frizzy hair. The way she smiles, you’d think I was dressed up in a college graduation gown, or a CEO suit. Something speaking of accomplishment that makes her proud.

She’s just proud I’m alive.

I pull open the glass door and head inside. Business offices line the halls. I take the stairs two at a time and stop in front of the shrink’s office, the plaque glinting in the sun: millicent harris, md—counseling psychologist. The door is plain, scratches marring the wood finish.

On my first visit here, I took twenty minutes to compose myself outside this door. I’m sure that meant something to Millicent. Reluctance. I’d recalled how Sal told me to deal with psychologists—don’t pretend. You let your act down, push it into the dirt, let it die—otherwise it’s too easy to spot. In front of any halfway decent psychologist, a con face falls apart. They spot your every sign, and the really good ones can do it in minutes. Sal’s been perceived only two times, and by internationally famous criminal profilers.

I’m not as good as Sal. It’ll be a miracle if I ever become as good as Sal. I can’t think that far ahead—or maybe I’ve never thought of being a con artist for that long. Sal’s poise comes from fifty years of conning. I’ve had twelve. Millicent, while stationed in a shoddy building, is one of the best shrinks in the state. She just prefers to keep that quiet.

The door’s unlocked, which means she’s not in with a client. The curtains are drawn back, pale light washing over the leather furniture and stocked bookshelves. The woman herself is making tea. The steam from the water boiler puffs around her suit—gray, with brass buttons. Her hair is auburn, like burnt scrapings of caramel. She’s a little pudgy and pear-shaped, but it only serves to deceive—she is not jolly. She might look homey and slow, but her brain is sharper and faster than any starving crocodile.

“Erica, do come in.”

She says it without turning around. She likes to do that—say things without looking at you, like the unease it creates gives her the upper hand. I sit on the leather recliner and put my backpack on the floor. She turns, two cups in hand.

“I thought we’d have some tea. Do you like peppermint?”

“I hate tea,” Violet sneers.

Millicent’s face remains smiley, cheeks trying to swallow her eyes. “Very well.”

There’s no point being Erica. She’s put on the backburner, Violet given the reins. Violet’s bluntness is a perfect disguise—to Millicent, it’s Erica expressing her true self: the angry, tortured self that was betrayed and shipped off to a whole new world. She has no reason to suspect Violet is my true self beneath Erica. To her, they’re just two aspects of one person.

She’s more right than she knows.

Millicent settles in the chair across from me with her tea and a notebook. Her pen has a stupid plastic panda on the end of it.

The first question is always the same.

“How are you feeling today?”

“Fine.” I shrug and lie back on the leather. “Tired. But that’s nothing new.”

“What’s made you so tired?”

“People. Reporters. They’re never going to give up, are they?”

“You said last session, the reporters didn’t bother you. What’s changed that?”

“I don’t know,” Violet snarls. “Maybe it’s the fact they’ve hung around for a whole month screaming at me and taking pictures of my every zit.”

“So you feel as though your privacy is being invaded.” She scribbles something.

“I never had privacy to begin with. First Mom, wanting to be with me all the time. And it’s not like I don’t like it—I like it—she’s way nicer than my last mom—” I stop. “God, listen to me. ‘Last’ mom. People aren’t supposed to have two sets of parents like this.”

She’s much harder to read than the average person. But the quirk in her eyelids tells me she’s thinking about what I said. Two sets of parents. Of course people have two sets of parents—divorce. She’s a family counselor, mostly.

“I know what you’re going to say.” I sniff.

“We’re here to talk about you, Erica. Let’s stay focused.”

“What if I hate focus? What if, for a half hour, I want to be totally unfocused?”

Her face goes still. She does that when I say something interesting she can delve into. She scribbles and leans back in her chair.

“All right. Feel free to ask me questions, if you wish.”

“No, I don’t want to ask you questions. I just want to talk about something other than being kidnapped for four seconds. Is that okay?”


“And don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Agree with me all the time.”

She writes something down again. She doesn’t say a third of the things she wants to.

“It must be boring, listening to people blabber for a living,” I try.

“It’s not as boring as you might think.” She twirls the panda pen. “Eventually, it becomes more than just listening. It becomes a way for you to step into someone else’s shoes—imagine what their life must be like, and to understand their feelings truly. To say you understand is one thing. To feel understanding is another thing entirely.”

The words hit close to home. I know exactly what she means.

“You don’t ‘feel’ understanding,” I correct. “It’s something that transforms you. When you honestly understand something, you become it.”

“In that vein of logic, when you become something, you understand it?” she counters lightly, and sips her tea.

“No.” I lace my fingers and unlace them. “You can become something without understanding it.”

“I don’t think so.” Millicent smiles over the cup.

“I think so,” I assert. I know so. I’ve become something right now without really understanding it. Her. Erica. “I can become this happy girl. This pretty, popular girl, if I try really hard. If I smile a lot and try to laugh, I’m someone different, and no one knows otherwise.”

The panda pen scratches across the clipboard.


Author Michelle Painchaud was super awesome and kind and decided to help celebrate her July debut! Three (3) lucky winners will receive one (1) copy of Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud!
We'd like to extend a special thank you to author Michelle Painchaud for allowing us to have her as our July Debut Author Spotlight and also for helping us out with the interview, excerpt and giveaway!


  1. I'm excited because of the synopsis, the cover, the title & I CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT.

  2. I'm super excited to read this book because it sounds like an amazing read!

  3. I am so excited because it's seems so interesting and the kind of book that I enjoy reading! :)

  4. It's so exciting and interesting! I love reading books that make me feel so excited and thrilled!!

  5. The book description is very interesting and I'm really into YA Mystery/Thrillers. This is one of my anticipated reads for July.

  6. I'm excited because this is such a unique plot. I'm hoping it's everything I want it to be. Thank you for the chance and the lovely interview. I always love hearing from an author.

  7. Ooh this one sounds great!! :D I have an ARC of it, and I've heard nothing but great things about this thriller. Nice pick!

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

  8. I'm excited to read this because it seems very intriguing and is unlike anything I've ever read before! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  9. The story description looks interesting and I'd be exited to read it! thanks for the giveaway :)

  10. I like the cover and synopsis. I love mystery and I think I 'll totally read this. I want it on my hands already. Thanks for this! :)

  11. I'm excited about this book because of it's gorgeous cover and the synopsis! I can't wait to pick up a copy! :)

  12. This sounds amazing! And I love the cover. I've seen this book a lot lately so I can't wait to pick up a copy! :)

  13. This book sounds interesting! Can't wait for the release date so I could read this :)

  14. I'm excited to read this because it seems very intriguing and I'm always happy to discover new authors. Thanks for the chance! (Valentina B. -on the raffle)

  15. GAwd I soooo can't wait to read this:D

  16. I've heard many good things about this book lately and would really love to read it for myself to see if I agree.

  17. I am super excited to read this because I love con artist books! One of my favs is Heist Society by Ally Carter and this sounds equally awesome!

  18. because the blurb sounds interesting

  19. I want to read it because it sounds so interesting! I don't read a lot of thriller books but I do love it :)

  20. I've heard pretty great things about this one and the synopsis sounds like quite the ride :D Thank you for the giveaway!

  21. I felt the ending was very abrupt. I wish the book was longer to really understand the feelings. Throughout the entire book you go into great detail really letting us understand & then the end was like "okay yep & done". Just my thoughts. Really wish there was a sequal.

  22. I felt the ending was very abrupt. I wish the book was longer to really understand the feelings. Throughout the entire book you go into great detail really letting us understand & then the end was like "okay yep & done". Just my thoughts. Really wish there was a sequal.


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