Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm Outta Here But Not Leaving You Empty-Handed!

At long last, I am off for vacation! Ahhh, beaches, warm breezes, two toddlers running, okay, it might not be quite as relaxing as I'm imagining, but I'm going to try my damndest to chill out for the next week or so. Which means I won't be posting on the blog, barring any breaking news. But in the meantime, I'm leaving you with a fabu interview I did with my friend, Eileen Cook, whose blog is all sorts of hilarious and whose new YA book, What Would Emma Do, is a perfect last-minute gift purchase for any and all who qualify as teen-readers (this can include their parents, who have been known to devour YA books with the best of 'em).

Here's a synopsis, and then Eileen answers some questions. I particularly love her answer to #2 because this is exactly what I've been saying here on Ask Allison!

Thou shalt not kiss thy best friend’s boyfriend…again….

There is no greater sin than kissing you best friend’s boyfriend. So when Emma breaks that golden rule, she knows she’s messed up big-time. Especially since she lives in the smallest town ever, where everyone knows everything about everyone else….and especially because she maybe kinda wants to do it again. Now her best friend isn’t speaking to her, her best guy friend is making things totally weird, and Emma is running full speed toward certain social disaster. This is so not the way senior year was supposed to go.

Time to pray for a minor miracle. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Emma to stop trying to please everyone around her, and figure out what she wants for herself.

1. Was there a difference in the writing process between YA and adult? Did you like one better than the other?
My agent was the one who suggested that I try writing a YA. She felt that my voice would work well in that genre. I was unsure. It had been a long time since I was YA, and I wasn't sure if I had a story in me. I hunkered down with a large stack of popular YA books and what I discovered is that while the setting and the age of the characters is different the conflicts are very similar to adult novels. Plus, at long last I had a place to focus all my teenage angst. While I can't say that I enjoy one more than another- I do enjoy the high stakes that are inherent in any YA. Everything seems to matter so much more at that age and anything seems possible. You love more than anyone has ever loved. You hate with a passion never felt before. It was a lot of fun to jump into that character mindset.

2. This is your second book…any big lightbulb moments of learning that made this one easier to write than Unpredictable?
The largest surprise I had after Unpredictable came out was that the world kept spinning on its axis just as it had before. I had dreamed about being published for so long I was certain that somehow things would be radically different. No parades, no trumpets, no phone call from Oprah. Imagine my dismay. The silver lining was the realization that publishing isn't magic. It's a business. Others may have already realized this, but for me this was a lightbulb moment. This took the pressure off writing the second book as I approached it like a job. I set goals and timeline and was off to the races.

3. What are you working on now?
I’m working on another YA, which is currently called Black and White. (Stay tuned the title may change.) It's a story of revenge, classic movies, friendship, and love. I’m having a lot of fun coming up with all sorts of nefarious plots for the revenge part. Turns out I have a very evil side. Who knew?

4. Is there somebody who convinced you that you have what it takes to be an author? If so, who?
Both of my parents are big readers. Weekly trips to the library were a part of our family routine and we’d come home with stacks of books. I’ve loved books and reading as long as I can remember. As soon as I understood that there people who got to make those stories up I knew that I wanted to do that. My parents saved an English homework assignment I did in second grade where the teacher wrote at the bottom “Someday I’m sure you will be an author!” When my first book came out my dad hunted down this teacher. She was over 90 years old and lived in a nursing home. We went out to visit her and my parents were hoping for a big meaningful moment- but she spent the whole time talking about her bunions.

5. What's your work environment like? Any rituals, totems, or must haves?
I love my office, but I write about half of the time there and the other half of the time wherever my laptop and I end up. When I’m stuck I tend to write better in public like a coffee shop or the library. If I am really stuck then I write by hand. I think I’ve convinced myself that if I’m touching the paper I must be closer to the story. I am aware that this is completely illogical- but it works for me so I go with it.

6. What do you do when you're not writing?
I like to knit and love the feel and color of yarn. I’ve bought enough that there could be a world wide sheep shortage and I would have enough stockpiled to last me the rest of my life. I’m a lazy knitter- I don’t like to do complicated things- thus I make a lot of socks and scarves.

7. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Read- read a lot. You can learn so much about writing this way. Read books you like and books you hate. Break them down to see what works and what doesn’t. Underline or highlight passages/dialog you really like (assuming that this isn’t a library book). It isn’t about trying to write like someone else, it is about discovering the process of what makes a story work.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! She's so funny.

Larramie said...

I'm delighted that Eileen is introducing her writing, humor and wisdom to YA readers. They'll love her!

P.S. Enjoy that beach vacation. Happy Holidays!

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Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Allison, Thanks so much to you and Eileen for this great post. I love reading about the experiences of other writers, especially newly published ones. I look forward to the day that you interview me!

Trish Ryan said...

Yay Eileen!
Great tips and (I'm sure, having read your first book) a great #2!

I've caught myself underlining library books...not optimal!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Oh, I love Eileen! In real life even! This book is on my nightstand, next up to be read!

Happy Vaca Allison!