My first author interview

Ah, so many firsts associated with this awesome job. I snagged a copy of This Is What I Want to Tell You after I was matched up with Heather Duffy-Stone for the Debreview feature we Tenners are doing, and I really liked it. It’s the story of two siblings, twins Nadio and Noelle, whose lives change forever when Noelle’s best friend Keeley comes home after spending a summer in England with her parents. Noelle feels as though her relationship with Keeley has been ruptured and looks for something different in the arms of an older boy, and Nadio rediscovers Keeley as the girl he never knew he always loved. As Heather says on her website, This Is What I Want to Tell You is about “falling in love, and maybe getting a tattoo.” So head on over to my interview with Heather to see what more she has to say about her debut (March 1, Flux, buy here).

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My first interview

Yo yo yo check it you guys: somebody saw fit to interview me. Psych! I twisted her arm and made her do it, and by “her” of course I mean my friend Katie. We did this interview on December 11 and then it was Christmas and New Years and I forgot to post it because I am a loser. Sad pancakes. Whatever, better late than never. Hope this tells you some random information about me you never knew, as interviews should.

Oh, and I suppose I should warn you that this is rather long. Enjoy!

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Katherine: so let’s talk books and writing and all that jazz-o-la

me: let’s do it to it

Katherine: so i looked over my questions that i wrote out ages ago when you first asked me to do this and . . to be honest they’re kind of lame

but let’s see how some of them go anyway

me: okay, we’ll make them fun

Katherine: soooo, books and stuff

lame question numero uno:

when did you first realized you wanted to be a writer (this is a lame question because everyone must ask this but seriously i want to know because it feels like you’ve known you’ve wanted to be a writer forever)

me: good question

i don’t know the answer

in my head, it’s age eleven, because that’s how old Mallory from the BSC was when she was “writing her novel”

me: yeah, but probably around that time, twelve or thirteen or something

Katherine: btw you and this interview just went big screen in my browser, now its on

me: hahaha awesome

Katherine: mallory, excellent

me: IMAX interview

Katherine: i always really didn’t like mallory actually

Katherine: like less than . . kristy . . .

me: yeah i didn’t like her either, but i think i got to the point where i was like, “that bitch is writing a novel? i can do that!”

wow, that’s harsh

Katherine: haha, nice

me: less than kristy?

Katherine: yeah, hard to believe

me: it is

so yeah, probably around then

i know i was serious about it in high school already, i finished my first novel or whatever my senior year

Katherine: what’s the most important thing you did as a precocious teenage novel writer that you felt helped prepare you to get where you are Ms. Tenner and all

me: haha um i kept my crappy writing to myself

i was so secretive about it

because mostly i was writing thinly veiled plagiarism of the books i was reading at the time

Katherine: do you like the novel you wrote in HS?

me: i haven’t seen it in a really long time

i seem to have lost copies of all of my trunk novels, as we call them in the biz

they live on now only in my memory, which is a good thing, because i think if i read any of them now i’d be disgusted by how bad they were

Katherine: that’s your legacy! not something disgusting

me: no seriously dude

they are ridiculously bad

Katherine: fine fine

what’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?

me: the worst writing advice…i have to give this a think for a second

well, nonspecifically i think any writing advice that is touted as THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT is categorically incorrect

and there’s a lot of that floating around the net

i can’t think of anything specific, but also pretty much all advice i got from people in my writing classes in college was bad

Katherine: okay, next question then! onwards and upwards!

me: haha i’m a terrible interviewee!

Katherine: what are some ways you deal with creativity “doledrums”? (honestly, i wrote doledrums on this piece of paper here)

me: i listen to a lot of music and i read a lot of books

and also i write a lot of stupid things that will never see the light of day

Katherine: you read a lot of books period!

me: somebody smart (not me) once said that writing is like a muscle and you go stale if you don’t use it or something

yeah, i do, but i read more, and i try to read a variety of stuff in lots of different genres

but also, if you’re not feeling creative, sometimes it’s best to just take a break

i come at writing really organically, as in i only write when i have ideas, so if i don’t have an idea i don’t strain too hard, none of my good ideas ever came from that

Katherine: i think you’re mixing your metaphors there ma’am unless my muscles really can go stale

in which case

that might explain the smell

me: shame on me

Katherine: how do you feel about the idea of writing communities?

me: writing communities…i think there are a lot of people that get a lot out of them

but i know for pretty much a fact that i am not one of those people

i don’t have critique partners, either, which a lot of people do

i’m a really solitary writer

so i don’t want to be all, “i don’t need a writing community, i’m too cool for that!” but I also think there’s a point where writing groups can hold you back

you don’t need feedback on every page, i think that can stifle you

and most people, even other writers, don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to your work

which is not to say all feedback or critique from other people is wrong

it’s not very black and white, it’s a personal thing, and personally i eschew it

Katherine: what do you do when you’ve finished writing a book?

me: throw myself a party

Katherine: streamers and balloons?

and bud light?

me: absolutely

just kidding

i start working on something new

almost immediately

because i usually have about one or two things waiting in the queue (in my head)

and i need time before i can revise

Katherine: what part of the writing process is the most difficult for you?

me: revisions!

and i’m not even just saying that because that’s what i’m doing right now

i really hate it

Katherine: haha

me: it’s hard and it forces you to look at all the flaws and the truth is that those flaws are YOUR fault and YOUR responsibility to fix

it’s all very discouraging to me

Katherine: sounds scary.

me: yeah it is i’m not going to lie

i’m grateful to people for pointing these things out to me, but grudgingly so

and this is not me smack talking my agent or editor, they’re brilliant and just doing their jobs

me: it’s the drama queen in my head wailing and flailing about

Katherine: how do you feel about your first go on the publishing merry-go-round?

me: publishing merry-go-round…

well, nothing too crazy as of yet

i’m actually really happy with my experience so far

i’m sure there will be parts i don’t like in the future, parts that are scary and hectic, but to me, right now, everything seems to be working as well as i expected and even a little bit better

Katherine: as you’re working on a book and you’re getting your ideas out there, what is a thing that you think enables to do it? like actually write a book?

me: hm, what do you mean?

like what makes it possible to get from concept to “the end”, as it were?

Katherine: basically

actually that is really what my questions was almost verbatim

but then i changed it

me: haha we’re psychically connected, i have proof

Katherine: creepsauce!

me: well at first i think it’s a lot of fumbling around, when you first start writing, your first novel

at least it was for me

i just kept writing and writing until i had two hundred and fifty pages or so

they were absolute crap, but they were there

now it’s different

now i prepare

i come up with a concept and i do a lot of pre-writing–character manifestos, synopses, maps, etc.

i need that synopsis, it’s like that string theseus uses to get through the labyrinth [Loser! -ed.]

having a reference point whenever i’m stumped usually saves me at more than one point

but more abstractly i think you really have to believe in your story

i come up with a lot of ideas that don’t flesh out into novels, because they don’t take root in me

so you have to be incredibly persistent and be emotionally invested in the work, which then you have to shake off as well as you can when you’re querying and getting all these rejections

Katherine: i’m guessing you learned a lot during those first “crappy” 250 pgs?

me: oh yeah, and i mean i wrote three crappy novels of varying lengths before i wrote one decent novel that i sold

you do learn, that’s the only way you can learn

through doing

Katherine: who’s your favorite character you’ve ever written? why?

me: neily

i can’t really say why, but i suspect it’s because he’s kind of like me and i’m a narcissist?

but let’s give me the benefit of the doubt and say that’s not true

neily and i have been living together in my head for almost seven years at this point

i feel like he’s a friend of mine

but in terms of what everybody else can understand, i like him because he’s smart and he’s funny and he has a hard time trusting people but he really WANTS to, and sometimes he lets down his guard and he gets burned and he lets himself be wounded

he doesn’t pretend he’s not who he is and he feels things keenly and he doesn’t act like he doesn’t

he’s honest

i like that in a person

in AUT there are two narrators, and one is very emotionally honest and one is emotionally dishonest

or maybe dishonest is the wrong word

she’s more emotionally reticent

i prefer more emotionally honest people

and i like neily because, to me, he’s the ultimate emotionally honest person

me: that isn’t to say i don’t love audrey, of course i do, but for different reasons

me: any more questions?

Katherine: hmmm, how are your two unfinished projects going? are they progressing? either physically or mentally?

me: ha! no

no nothing is getting done right now on any project except AUT

i’ve been working on AUT and MB for so long, I’m interested to see what it’ll feel like to work on a project almost from scratch

that’ll happen in, like, february or something, maybe

Katherine: cool

honestly i can’t wait

me: me neither

i have no idea what they’re about!

that’s a lie, i do, but i don’t have synopses for either of them

Katherine: haha

me: and i haven’t even decided which i’m going to work on first

i guess maybe joanna will have a say in that

Katherine: do you think it will make the writing process different from beginning to end having joanna around ?

me: i’m not sure actually

i mean, technically i wrote MB while i was agented

and it didn’t really change my process

except that i had someone to immediately give me feedback

but it probably will be a little different because I knew MB was going to be my next project

Katherine: yeah

me: and I had some leeway because we hadn’t sold anything at the time, and now we have and I think Random House gets first dibs on my next project

like, they get first look before we shop it around anyplace else

so probably what will happen is when i’m done with AUT and MB, I will write up proposals for both books and then joanna and i will have a discussion about which to submit, in what order or together, etc.

so i take it back, it’ll be totally different

probably

Katherine: haha

okay well i think that’s it, really

me: coolio

thanks for doing this katie

me: it was super fun

Katherine: YEAH

super fun

i think we should do another one ages from now when AUT comes out

me: your questions weren’t lame at all

yeah we should

and then we can be all, “retrospective!”

Katherine: awesome.

LOLBookTrailer

First little bit of news: Katie and I did our “interview”, so I’ll edit that and post sometime next week. She asked me some really great questions, but of course Katie is a good friend of mine and already knows me, so if there’s something we didn’t cover in the chat that you want to ask, feel free to email me.

Second bit of news: Have y’all seen that absolutely hilarious book trailer for Simone Elkeles‘ new novel Perfect Chemistry? EL OH EL you guys. It’s amazing. It’s the best book trailer I’ve ever seen, at least the best one that was intentionally funny. Observe. (Note: this is the uncut, unrated version. There is a G-rated version on Simone’s site.)