Michelle Painchaud: PRETENDING TO BE ERICA

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today, we’re talking to Michelle Painchaud, author of PRETENDING TO BE ERICA. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

*laughs hysterically* This is the part they jump out and yell “candid camera”, right?

I literally don’t know. I mean, technically I know. I know that I was picked up by a fabulous agent and then a fabulous editor. And I’m very excited and grateful! But I don’t know if I’ll ever really believe it, at least not until I have a copy in my hands, you know?

I spent about four years in the querying ring, writing seven books and faffing about. Trust me when I say I know the querying game and how ugly it is. By comparison, my submission round was relatively painless and much more fun!

I think there was a moment between those six other books and ERICA, a moment I realized; “Instead of writing books, I’ll write a story“. And that’s when it clicked for me. There was a lot of pressure from myself to write what everyone else was, to follow a sort of formula that seemed to work for my writer friends, but when those pressure hit a head I went; “I can either fit in or stand out. Either way I’ve got nothing to lose. I might as well try to stand out”.

And so I wrote ERICA.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Pretending to be Erica is the story of a teenage congirl, Violet, raised by her conman father and groomed to steal a painting worth millions from a rich family in Las Vegas. The family’s daughter, Erica, was kidnapped at the age of four. Violet’s been primed to take Erica’s place as a ‘returned daughter’ all her life, but when she falls in love with Erica’s ‘life’, she has to make a choice – Erica’s life, or Violet’s? She can’t have both.

This book is really close to my heart. Violet pretends to be someone she isn’t just so people will love her. I think everyone does that on a certain level, so it’s a book I hope will connect with a lot of people. Violet isn’t just a character – she’s everyone. Everyone who feels like no one will like them for who they are. Everyone who hides their real selves. And that’s everyone in the world, I think.

Some trivia about it!

  • I set the book in Las Vegas after watching way too many Ocean’s Eleven movies.
  • I modeled the piano-prodigy love interest, James, after Heath Ledger.
  • Violet isn’t the only conkid her conman father has raised. There are more. *insert spooky noise here*
  • Sailor Moon was an important part of the first draft.


What are you most excited about in the debut process?

Saying ‘everything’ would be cliche!

Let’s see…I’m ‘drank-five-redbulls’ excited about seeing the cover at ALL TIMES.

But I’m most excited for the first person who reads it and says; “This made me cry”. That’s all I really want. And all I could ask for. And the only thing that could possibly make me happier.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • I’m into astrology (tell me your birthday/year and I can calculate your Western/Eastern signs pretty fast!)
  • Pastries are my life
  • I watch way too many corny foreign horror movies
  • In seventh grade I stuck candy up my nose to impress a boy (spoiler: he was not impressed)
  • My last name in french means “Hot bread”
  • I’m blood type B-. Just in case you’re a vampire and have preferences.
  • I once read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in three hours.
  • This is starting to sound like a dating service
  • I love you all please date me I’ll make you food and let you lick cookie batter spoons


Michelle Painchaud is a 22-year-old baker of burnt monstrosities and a recovering anime addict. She spends too much time on Twitter (@michelleiswordy) talking about cats and food and how awesome she isn’t. Her debut novel PRETENDING TO BE ERICA, a thriller about a teenage conman, is out 2014 from Viking Children’s.

14 thoughts on “Michelle Painchaud: PRETENDING TO BE ERICA

  1. So excited for this book!!! Also, currently working on my companion novel, PRETENDING TO BE MICHELLE. *begins by researching pastries… very, very intensely*

  2. Drank-five-Redbulls-excited – heh, heh!
    Gemini here.
    I remember your story from somewhere? Web contest? Query tracker? Doesn’t matter, I will read it wrapped in its lovely one day cover. (and I love the name Violet!)

  3. Pingback: DSNY Family » My Real Age vs. the Age I Feel

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