Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

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Interview with J.M Reep, author of Leah

May 3, 2009

Here’s an interview I recently completed with J.M Reep. J.M Reep is the author of Leah, which I review here.

 1. To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I like to think of myself as a writer, but that doesn’t pay the bills, so for my day job I teach freshman composition at the college level. I’ve taught at a variety of schools, but I prefer teaching at the junior college level. I live in Texas, which is where I’ve lived most of my life. My favorite place to shop is a local chain of used book stores, and every time I shop there I wind up spending $30-$40 on books. I’m not sure how many books I have in my collection, but it must be at least 400. 

I started writing novels when I was in seventh grade, and by the time I graduated from high school, I had written nine complete novel-length manuscripts (not to mention a couple dozen short stories and a couple hundred poems). I’ve never written a play; I’d like to, but I can’t think of a good plot that would work in play form. I’ve published one other novel titled The Spring. 

   2. Do you like to read as much as Leah? If so, what do you read and which authors do you enjoy? Any YA authors?

I read a lot, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t read very much YA. I’ve read a few YA books, but most of my reading choices are drawn from “literary fiction” and classic literature. I’m a big fan of 20th century literature; I really like Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jose Saramago. My all-time favorite novel is Nabokov’s Pale Fire; I was an English major in college, and Pale Fire is a novel written with English majors in mind. 

My reading choices, and my lack of experience reading YA fiction, sometimes worries me because even though I consider myself a YA writer, I often wonder if the stories I write are “misinterpretations” of what a YA novel ought to be. I do try to pay attention to what other YA authors are doing, and I like to read synopses and book reviews of other YA novels. What I’ve noticed is that my stories don’t seem to bear much resemblance to most of the other books that are out there. I’m tempted to classify my books as “literary YA fiction,” but I also think that sounds very pretentious! 

What I try to do is write the kinds of stories that I would have liked to have read when I was a teenager.  

   3. Can you describe the road to the publication of Leah?

I started writing the first draft of Leah when I was in college (either 1994 or 1995). At the time, it was the best story I had ever written, so I decided to try to publish it. I prepared what I called a “finished manuscript,” but what I didn’t realize at the time was that the manuscript I sent out was far from finished. At that point in my life, I certainly knew how to write a novel-length first draft, but what I didn’t fully understand was how to revise and edit that draft. So what I [self-]published back in 1996 was, at best, only a “second draft” of the novel. It wasn’t until after I received my copies of the book that I realized it didn’t live up to my own expectations. In short, it was very badly written, and I promised myself that I would someday revisit the novel, rewrite it, and try to publish it again. 

After Leah, I stopped writing fiction for a few years. In the late 1990s I spent most of my creative energy writing poetry, and I even published a number of pieces in small literary magazines in the US and Europe. I also started teaching, and it was my experience as a teacher which helped me learn what I needed to learn about revising and editing writing. By teaching others to write well, I actually taught myself how to be a better writer. 

In early 2007, I acquired a mysterious illness (doctors never could figure out what was wrong with me) that I suffered from for almost a year. Reminded of my own mortality, I recommitted myself to writing. I finished a novel that I had been working on for a few years titled The Spring which I published in early 2008. Again, I self-published. You might be wondering why I’ve chosen to self-publish instead of following the more “traditional” route of going through an established publisher. There’s a number of artistic and political reasons behind this decision, but probably the most important reason is because I prefer to have complete creative control over my work. When I write my stories, they are my own. I don’t have an agent or a publisher pressuring me to be more like Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling. I’m free to follow my own muse, and my stories belong to me completely. If they are good, I can take all the credit. If they suck, then I have only myself to blame. 

When I finished The Spring in early 2008, I decided that the time was right to finally revisit Leah and fulfill that promise I made over a decade earlier. So I spent the better part of 2008 rewriting and revising Leah (a process which I chronicled in a blog titled, appropriately, Revising Leah <http://revisingleah.wordpress.com/>). I worked on it for months, reading it again and again, cutting text, adding new text, rewriting long passages, correcting typos and wrong word errors, and basically doing everything I could to make the novel the best it could be. At last, earlier this year, I finished and republished the book. I’m very proud of this new edition, and I’m very happy that Leah Nells now lives in the story that she deserves. 

   4. What inspired you to write Leah?

More than anything else, I think I was just fascinated by the character and the challenge of placing her in the role of the main character of a novel. It’s easy to imagine Leah as a supporting character, but the main character? Not so much. I created the character of Leah Nells when I was in high school (11th or 12th grade, I think). At first, she was the composite of three different individuals:  

First, there’s a lot of myself in her. Each of my main characters in my stories possesses some quality or personality trait of my own self. In Leah’s case, she shares my introversion. I’m not quite as extremely introverted as she is, but like her, I prefer to be by myself. 

Second, she’s also loosely modeled after the character of Laura Wingfield from Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie, which I first read in my 11th grade English class. When I read the play, I was drawn to Laura’s character because I had never seen a character quite like her. Like Leah, Laura is isolated from the rest of the world, not so much because of shyness but because she is physically crippled and that has given her a sort of inferiority complex. I’m pretty sure I derived the name “Leah” from the name “Laura.”  

And third, there was a girl in my high school class who was living a life similar to Leah’s. She was shy, had very few friends, and would sometimes spend her free time reading. Once she even brought a big book of trivia questions to school with her, which she read when she had some free time. I only had three or four classes with her during our entire high school career, but obviously she left an impression on me.  

So at some point late in 11th grade or early 12th grade, those three influences combined to form this new character, Leah Nells. I wrote a couple of short stories about her, and I liked her so much that I knew someday I just had to put her in a novel. But writing a novel with Leah as the main character was very difficult because she’s so different from most other main characters that writers create. The challenge for me was could I write a novel from the perspective of a character who almost never speaks and doesn’t have any friends? The result, I think, is a novel that’s a little weird, a little “off,” but I hope it’s a novel and a character that readers find as fascinating as I do. Even today, Leah remains one of my all-time favorite characters.  

   5. What is a hobby of yours, other than writing?

I think I have a very creative personality, so when I’m not writing, I have to express myself in other ways. The problem is, though, that writing is all I’m really good at. I can’t draw or paint very well, and I can’t play a musical instrument. Nevertheless, I do like to take on artistic projects when I’m not writing. For example, a few years ago, I spent time creating word collages — sort of cross between poetry, graffiti, and scrapbooking. I’d take interesting or random phrases and quotes from magazines and arrange those cut-outs on small watercolor canvases. These random phrases and quotes then combined to form something new, something like poetry or an essay, yet something very different and original, too. 

   6. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

I think the most important thing that a young writer can do is just have fun with writing. When I was young, I worried about what other people would think if they read my stories, and I worried if what I wrote would be good enough for publication. I shouldn’t have, though, because what I didn’t realize then is that there would be plenty of time to worry about that stuff later. When you’re young, you ought to just indulge in that wonderful creative spirit and boundless energy that you have and take full advantage of it. Choose stories to write that you think will be fun and exciting to write, not stories that you think the world expects from you. If you’re having fun while telling a story, then you’re doing it right. 

   7. Describe yourself in three adjectives.

Quiet, intellectual, patient. Other people who know me might use different adjectives, though. 🙂 

   8. This or that: reading or listening to music?

Wow. I don’t know. Both reading and music have been so important in me; I really can’t imagine my life without either of those things. I was at a teacher training conference a few months ago, and one of the activities we were asked to do was to decide which material things are most important to us — those things that we cannot live without. I was able to whittle my list down to two items: my collection of books and my collection of music. Everything else I can do away with.  

When I was younger, I used to listen to music while I wrote stories because listening to music would give me an emotional charge and inspire new ideas. I don’t write while listening to music now, but I do still listen to music all the time and it does still inspire my writing.  

  9. What is next for you in the book world, if anything?

Right now, I’m writing the first draft of a new novel titled Juvenilia. (I’ve also been chronicling that process in a new blog by the same name located at <http://www.jmreep.com/juvenilia>). My three novels, LeahThe Spring, and Juvenilia make up a series of books — a sort of trilogy, actually. Each novel is a separate story — you can read one without feeling required to read the others — but the three stories are linked together by their setting (they all take place in the same fictional universe — the same high school) and they all share the same general theme of struggling to figure out who you are and where you belong in the world. Because the three stories are all set in the same fictional universe, there are some moments of crossover: some of the main characters in one novel might appear as minor characters in the other novels. In fact, I’m planning to let Leah Nells make a very, very brief appearance in Juvenilia, even though she isn’t the “star” of the new book. Leah doesn’t appear in The Spring, but a couple of the main characters fromThe Spring are mentioned in Leah. The new novel is coming along well, so far, and I hope to publish it by 2010 or 2011. That will complete the trilogy, and what I’ll write after that is anyone’s guess!  
 

I hope that brought more insight as to how Leah came to be, and of J.M, too.

Thanks for reading!

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I’ve Been Interviewed!

March 15, 2009

Lisa Schroeder, author of Far From You, has interviewed me for her blog.

Here’s the link: http://lisa-schroeder.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-heart-book-bloggers.html

Or read the interview here:

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be doing interviews with some of the fabulous book bloggers out there.
First up, my pal Vanessa. You may remember Vanessa who helped me with a vlog to celebrate the release of FAR FROM YOU.

1. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a reviewer of YA books? My name is Vanessa. I live in south Florida. I’m almost sixteen. I’m your average girl (except for my addiction to books), I hang out with friends, listen to music, and aspire to do great in school. I started reviewing for myself. For about nine months the blog was unknown. Then I started another blog (https://whatvanessareads.wordpress.com/ ) and started making contacts with other (awesome) book reviewers which led me to exposure and the courage to contact authors like you!

Note from Lisa: I’m so glad you did!

2. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a reviewer? My favorite parts include getting my opinion out there, making friends that have the same interest in reading, and meeting super cool authors like you, for example. The free review copies don’t hurt. I dislike sitting down and typing up a review, making it flow and sound like a story, especially if I have a lot to say. I think that’s why I do VLOGs (http://youtube.com/vanessathebutterfly) or podcasts.

Note from Lisa: I’m super cool? Wow, thanks!

 

3. What’s your process of writing a review? How do you handle it if you have more things you don’t like than you like? I normally sit down on my bed and write bullet points of what I liked and didn’t like on paper. After I finish writing everything, I look over the amount of good things and bad things and decide on a grade or rating. When there’s more things I don’t like I do write about them. However, if around 70% of the review is negative I normally don’t review the book. (If you really think about it, I won’t finish a book that’s that bad, so I barely do these bashing reviews.)

4. Have you ever had an author write to you, upset about a review? Thankfully I haven’t. I think this is so because overall in my reviews I don’t say I just despised the book…. I explain my reasoning. To me every book has at least one miniscule flaw… I have yet to read a perfect book.

Note from Lisa: No perfect book? Okay everyone, hurry and try write that. Vanessa is waiting!

5. I’m curious if you finish all the books you start. Do you comment on your blog about a book that you don’t finish? Not most of the time. I don’t really like telling people they shouldn’t read a book just because I disliked it… who knows? Maybe they’ll love it. I normally tweet (http://twitter.com/vanessacaterina) about not liking a book as I’m reading it.

Note from Lisa: I’m starting to feel like I’m the only one left in the world who doesn’t tweet.

 

6. How many books would you say you read, on average, per month? Where do the majority of those books come from? Per month it’s usually around 5 (in the summer it’s more, obviously!). Sadly lately I haven’t read that much. Most of my books come from contests, review copies, and about every six months my mom takes me to the local book store to buy about 15 books (yeah, I know, she’s awesome like that), and sometimes I do pitch in my own money. That’s enough for me to survive, haha.

7. What’s one interesting thing about you that not many people know? I’ve been wanting to start a collab channel on Youtube like fiveawesomegirls or vlogbrothers to get to know other book lovers better for a really long time! This all however, came into place when Sarah from Sarah’s Random Musings contacted me about starting one. We started today (March 9th)! We talk about our lives, books, and other random things. We’d love it if you checked us out and subscribed athttp://youtube.com/user/Sevenbookbabes . There’s many book bloggers taking part in this. 🙂

Note from Lisa: How exciting!

8. If you were going to order a dozen cupcakes, what flavor would you get and who would you share them with? Vanilla. Yes, just plain old vanilla. I’m classic like that… haha. I would share them with my mom, dad, stepmom, 12-year-old brother Robert, 22-month-old brother Junior, my friends who always put up with me: Danny, Hayley, Pablo, Connor, Ryan, Paul, and Fatima. ❤

9. What books are you especially looking forward to in the coming months? Willow by Julia Hoban, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, You’ve Got Blackmail by Rachel Wright, One Lonely Degree by C.K Kelley Martin, Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott… among others.

10. If someone wants to send you a book to review, how can he/she contact you? I’d love to review your book! You can contact me through e-mail at whatvanessareads (at) gmail.com. I normally reply within a day or less.

I enjoyed thinking up answers for this interview since the questions weren’t easy and typical. Thanks so much Lisa!

 

Thank you for being here! It was fun getting to know you better!

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Interview with Susane Colasanti!

December 27, 2008

Susane Colasanti is the awesome author of When It Happens and Take Me There. I have read When It Happens and have Take Me There on my shelf. I really loved how true Susane’s characters were in When It Happens, especially the main girl character, Sara. She was nice enough to answer these interview questions for me. I hope you enjoy and remember to leave a comment at the end to let Susane and me know what you thought!

Links: 

Website:  http://www.susanecolasanti.com/
Blog:  http://windowlight.livejournal.com/
MySpace:  http://www.myspace.com/susanecolasanti
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Susane-Colasanti/678479550

 

Questions in bold, answers in normal text. Drumroll, please…

 

1.  Are you working on something now? Can you tell us anything about it?

 

I just finished polishing my third book, Waiting for You, which will be released on July 9.  It’s about a girl who’s dealing with depression and a boy who wants to help her.  Now I’m writing my fourth book, Something Like Fate.

 

2.  Were you like Sara from When It Happens while growing up?

Yes, Sara and I have a lot in common.  She is the character closest to my heart for this reason.  I’ve always been a dreamer, hoping that one day I would be living a better life than the one I had as a teen.  That hope helped me get through some hard times.  I never stopped believing that things would improve, and they did.  Sara has the same passionate hope for her future.  Also, we both have koala bears named Chez and we’re both organization freaks.

 

3.  Would you ever think of writing a sequel to When It Happens?

This is probably the most frequent question readers ask me (tied with whether When It Happens will be made into a movie).  I’d love to write a sequel and find out what happens to Sara and Tobey in college.  But it wouldn’t be for a while, since my next few books have already been planned out.  I’m also a bit hesitant because I wouldn’t want to disappoint my readers with a sequel that didn’t meet their expectations.  That’s a challenge I’m not yet ready to take on.

 

4.  What are your favorite YA books? Authors?

It’s righteous that there are so many incredible young-adult authors out there today!  When I was a teen, this was not the case.  The selection of teen books was quite lacking back in the day.  I’m so relieved that teens now have many quality choices to keep them reading.

 

My favorite YA authors are Laurie Halse Anderson and Blake Nelson.  I really admire their unique styles and ability to capture intense emotions without overcrowding the page.  They also tend to focus on dialogue, which I find to be the most interesting part of a story.  Some of my fave books by other authors are The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (dude, I reread that book and watched the movie so many times), The Late Great Me by Sandra Scoppettone, Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

 

5.  What do you like best about being an author?

Connecting with teens.  As a high school science teacher, I got to work with teens every day.  But as an author, I can reach out to more teens and hopefully improve their lives in some way.  Even if someone likes reading one of my books to escape for a while, I’ve maybe made their day a little brighter and that makes me happy.  Ideally, I want readers to feel better about their problems by relating to my characters and how they deal with common problems.  In this way, I hope my readers feel less alone.

 

6.  What inspired you to write When It Happens?

My senior year of high school sparked the idea for the story’s main plot.  Tobey was inspired by someone real.  Some of the events in the book are based on things that actually happened to me in high school.  In this way, When It Happens reflects a time in my life that none of my other books have.

 

I’ve always been obsessed with the concept of soul mates.  I know that soul mates are real because I’ve had more than one in my life.  I wanted When It Happens to capture the energy of that connection in a way that hopefully inspires readers to never give up searching for that kind of passion in their own lives.  Also, I wanted to write a sweet love story that’s fun to read.

 

7.  What kind of music do you listen to?

My main musical taste would be classified as old-school.  Musicians like the Cure, R.E.M., Paul Simon, and James Taylor have always rocked my world.  Some stuff from this century is good, too.  I adore John Mayer (he’s always incorporated in my books) and am a proud guitar-pick-carrying member of the John Mayer Fan Club.  I also love Coldplay, Death Cab and Maroon 5.  Although I tend to play my favorite CDs over and over, I’m always open to hearing new music.  When lyrics speak to me and sound like my life, I’m there.

 

8.  Why do you write in alternate narrations?

As a teen reader, every young-adult book I remember reading (except for one) was only told from the girl’s perspective.  I was always dying to know what the boy character was thinking, what he talked about with his friends, and how he really felt about the main girl character.  So I promised myself that if I ever wrote a book, I would show the boy’s perspective as well so my readers could understand a more complete truth about him.  In Take Me There, I thought adding a second girl’s perspective would enrich the story.

 

However, my third and fourth books are only told in one perspective.  For those stories, revealing the main boy character’s point of view would have been giving away too much.

 

9.  What’s a typical day for you like?

Writing in the afternoon usually works best for me unless I’m on deadline, in which case I work all day.  When I’m working on a new book, I write five pages a day, five days a week.  If I’m revising, I tend to work in the afternoon until my brain is fried. 

 

In the morning, I like to take care of online stuff, like email, my blog, and checking in at Facebook and MySpace.  Some mornings I go to the gym and get busy on the elliptical.  My gym has personal monitors on the machines, so I like to go at 11:00 to watch The View.  The best part of my mornings is not having to get up at a ridiculously early hour anymore.  Yay for daylight! 

 

10. List your current Top Five Obsessions.

The Office (mostly John Krasinski), full-spectrum light bulbs, Death Cab’s Transatlanticism, Gelly Roll pens, Bliss body butter

 

—–

Yes, I know, she’s super cool. Now, what did you think? Are you excited for Susane’s new book Waiting for You

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Interview with Megan Kelley Hall

November 9, 2008

Hi guys! Remember my amazing review for Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall? Well here’s an interview with the amazing author! My questions are in bold and the answers are in normal text. I truly recommend Sisters of Misery… if you’d like to read the review click here

You can catch Megan at her website (where the link to her e-mail is), blog, and MySpace.

 

Who is your favorite character from Sisters of Misery?

My favorite character is, of course, Cordelia. She is caring, brilliant, loyal, outspoken, eccentric, free-spirited, beautiful, independent and mysterious. She’s just the coolest.

 

How did you get the idea for Sisters of Misery?

I grew up right next to Salem and I wanted to write something like a modern day witch hunt involving teen girls. I also loved the idea of someone like Cordelia coming to a stuffy New England town and how she would (or wouldn’t) fit in. The story actually grew around the image of the “faces in the wall.” There’s a local legend in one of my neighboring towns that three kids were killed in a drunk driving accident and that their faces kept showing up on this old stone wall at the crash site. I’ve been haunted by that idea of the faces in the wall, which is why I built a story around it. (I just changed the faces and made them belong to women wrongly accused of witchcraft.)

 

Why do you think Trevor did what he did?

I think Trevor is a spoiled, obnoxious, arrogant jerk.  Sad to say, I’ve met a few Trevors in my lifetime. I’ve also met a few Kates.  Though, I made the characters MUCH worse than anyone I’ve ever encountered (thankfully!). Trevor only cares about himself and think that the world revolves around him and his wants and needs. I think everyone has met a “Trevor” at one point in their life.

 

Do you think Kate is ALL evil?

Yes, Kate is pure evil. But, I don’t think that she really had a choice. Her mother and sister were terrible people and I think that if she had been born under different circumstances (not as rich, not as spoiled, not as pretty, not as privileged), she may have turned out differently. But as I said before, I’ve met many girls like Kate.  I don’t know why, but girls can be much crueler (and scarier) than boys.

 

Who do you think Cordelia is most vengeful of out of all the characters in the book?

I think that Kate is Cordelia’s main target for revenge. But I also think she feels betrayed by Maddie, Rebecca and Abigail.

 

Was publishing Sisters of Misery a difficult task?

SISTERS started off as an adult fiction—about a woman going back to her hometown to find out the mystery behind her cousin’s disappearance, but my agent thought that it would be scarier to put Maddie in the situation as it happened. I think she was right! Definitely scarier! After several rejections as an adult novel, I ended up having a series of strokes, lost partial vision and had open heart surgery at 32 (all of this is a result of my childhood cancer and radiation treatment). During my recovery period, I realized that I needed to make my dream of becoming a published author a reality. I had already written for some magazines like Glamour, American Baby and Elle, but I didn’t have a book published.  So, over the next year I rewrote my book, got an agent, reworked my book again (and again!) and finally got a two-book deal with a big publisher. All of this happened within one year.

 

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I’ve always written weird short stories (I’m a big fan of the spooky story with lots of twists and turns) for as long as I can remember. When I was in the fourth grade, I wrote about strange creatures, people being followed by ghosts, reincarnation, all sorts of strange, spooky stuff.  In high school and college, I took every course on Shakespeare that I possibly could.  I loved gothic short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson, William Faulkner and Nathanial Hawthorne. And then at Skidmore College, I studied Creative Writing with Steven Millhauser, who then went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. So, yes, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a writer.

 

What is a normal day like for you?

It’s so super glamorous. I have Johnny Depp on speed dial, I go shopping with the cast of Gossip Girls, I trade parenting stories with Brad and Angelina over coffee.  Ha! I wish!! No, seriously, it’s not glamorous AT ALL! I love what I do and I love writing, but it’s very hard work and not as “cool” as I thought it would be. For some reason, I pictured myself as one of those über cool writers in coffee shops—you know the ones hunched over their laptops who trade fascinating stories with other writers—telling insider publishing jokes and basking in their fame.

My normal day is getting my daughter to kindergarten on time (not an easy task), running errands and doing household chores – ugh!, working for the literary publicity company I run with my mom and sister, trying to squeeze some writing in (I bring a notebook with me so that I can jot down ideas while I’m watching my daughter at the playground after school), answering emails (thank God for blackberries!), and hoping to have a spare twenty minutes to squeeze in a shower. So glamorous and cool, right?

 

Can you tell us what’s in store for The Lost Sister (11 months is too long of a wait!)?

Here’s the little teaser that is on the cover of book two. 

 

THE LOST SISTER

Some Secrets Won’t Stay Buried 

Sisters are born, not chosen…

Maddie Crane is grappling with the disappearance of Cordelia LeClaire, and trying to escape the grasp of The Sisters of Misery—an insidious clique of the school’s most powerful girls, whose pranks have set off a chain of horrific events, and who have Maddie in their sights… 

Beware the sister betrayed…

Now in a prestigious boarding school far away from her mysterious hometown of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, Maddie feels free from danger. But when an unmarked envelope arrives at her dorm containing a single ominous tarot card, Maddie realizes with terror that some secrets won’t stay buried. Knowing she must return to Hawthorne—a town still scarred by the evil of the Salem witch trials–Maddie prepares to face the fears of her past…and the wrath of the sister she wronged.

 

If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live and why?

I would live in Hawaii in a heartbeat. It’s truly Heaven on earth. Amazing! Now if I could just convince my husband…

 

If you could only choose one: to read books or to write books, which would you choose?

That’s like asking someone to choose between eating and sleeping. Both are essential to my life. Reading is a lot easier than writing, that’s for sure. But, when I’m reading, I get that insatiable urge to write. They really go hand in hand.

 

Thanks for taking the time to interview me for your blog! I hope that your readers enjoy SISTERS OF MISERY! Let them know that they can feel free to drop me an email or a note any time– I LOVE hearing from readers!!  Thanks so much, Vanessa!!

 

Have you read Sisters of Misery? What did you think? Are you excited for The Lost Sister? Is Megan the coolest or what? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Interview with Lisa Schroeder

September 22, 2008

Hi all! This here is an interview with Lisa Schroeder who is the author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me (which I’m giving away! To enter the contest click here. It ends 9/30). She will also be releasing a new novel titled Far From You in January 2009. From experience I can say she’s very down-to-earth and friendly towards her readers, so check her out on her website and on her MySpace. Lisa was nice enough to answer some questions I had about her and her book. The questions are in bold and the answers are in normal font. I hope you enjoy it!

1. How did you come up with the idea for I Heart You, You Haunt Me?

I had a dream about a girl whose boyfriend died and loved her so much, he couldn’t leave her, and came back as a ghost. I got up the next morning and started writing. And so, the book was born.


2. Why did you write I Heart You, You Haunt Me in verse? Was it because that’s your style or because it fits the story?

I’ve been a big fan of verse novels for a long time, but had never tried writing one. When I sat down to write it, that’s the way it came out. A few pages in to it, I thought, is this the right thing? Do I know what I’m doing? Should I do it this way? But it seemed to create an atmosphere that worked, and I liked what I had so far, so I kept going.

I will write in verse when I think it fits the story. If it doesn’t fit the story, I will write in prose. I’m very aware not everyone likes books written in verse. And that’s okay. The way I look at it, no matter what I do, not everyone is going to like it. There are also a lot of people who love it. They love the way the format packs emotion, they love that it is usually a quick read, they love all of the white space on the page, etc. So, I have to trust that the books written this way will find their ways into the right hands. Becaue I enjoy writing in verse and my editor has liked my books so far written in that format. I also think sometimes, something different that sets you apart a little in the very competitive market of publishing can be a good thing.

 

3. Music is a very important part of the book. Why did you make it so?

 I think it came about because I needed a way for Jackson to communicate to Ava. Then, as I wrote, it just seemed natural, because music IS a very important part of teens lives. I also think of a song as a form of poetry, so music may very well be an important part of all my verse novels, we’ll see!

 

4. How do you come up with character names?

Oh, that’s a good question. And a hard one. J I will often go to baby name web sites and look around and try to find something that seems to fit the character. I’ve learned it’s important to try and have names that start with different letters so readers don’t get confused, so that’s one thing I take into consideration. I don’t know – sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. I like a combination of traditional names with very different names, for some reason. I think different stands out, but too many of them and readers are going to think that’s weird. But if you go into any class in an elementary school, you’re going to find a combination of different and traditional. So it makes sense to me to do it that way.

 

5. Was getting I Heart You, You Haunt Me published an easy or difficult task?

It’s a very different book, so it definitely wasn’t easy. First I had to get an agent, and I had some agents who wouldn’t even read it (you send a query letter first and try to peak their interest) because they didn’t know what a verse novel was or what would make a verse novel good. Finally, I had an agent who said she wanted to read it, and thankfully, she loved it and wanted to take me on as a client. When we sent it out for submissions, we received quite a few rejections from editors before we finally found one who loved the story. I think a lot of editors just didn’t know what to do with it. It isn’t quite literary, because it has the paranormal element, but it’s written in verse, which is a more literary style. But, as I’ve told other authors, all it takes is one!

 

6. Can you tell us anything about your new book, Far From You?

My editor and I just finalized what the jacket flap will say, so I’m happy to share that with you.

***

Lost and alone…down the rabbit hole

Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn’t quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can, by writing her music, losing herself in the love of her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.

 

But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half-sister, she’ll face issues she’s been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.

Perhaps she’s not so alone after all…

 

7. Do you believe in ghosts?

I’m not really sure. I think I do believe that our loved ones I the afterlife are closer than we think. And I don’t think they haunt us as much as they just want us to know they are okay, and they love us.


8. Describe yourself in three words. 

Work in progress.


9. Did you always want to be an author? 

No, not really. I’ve always liked to write but I think I was afraid to try, like I should have had some kind of training, like an MFA in writing or should have majored in English in college or something. Once I realized there was no harm in trying, and I could learn what I needed to learn on my own, I was on my way and let myself want that.

 

10. Do you have any life mottos or quotes? If so, which?

Oh, I love quotes! I’ve started doing a thing on my livejournal blog every week called Motivational Monday, where I pick a quote and talk about what it means to me.

I really love this one – “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

Writing and getting a book published is freaking hard, so I have to remember to find joy in little things along the way, and to remember why I started – because I love to write!


11. Do you have any advice for teens who want to become published authors?

 First of all, read, read, read. Reading a lot will only help your writing. Secondly, write for the love of it, not because you hope to get published. I wrote a lot of books before I finally got one published. Those books were my schooling, and helped me to learn things about writing, and also gave me confidence to know I can see a book through, beginning to end.

 

12. Would you rather: be a teenager or an adult?

Oh wow. I’m glad I was a teenager, but I don’t know if I would want to be one again. I had so much fun in high school, but I don’t miss the drama with friends and boys and parents and all that. Everything just seemed so big and important, and I’d get wrapped up and bothered by things that make me laugh now.

Being an adult is hard too, but I think you have more of a perspective about what’s really important in life. Or something.


13. Any last words?

Thank you SO much for choosing my book as one to offer as a prize for your contest. And thanks for wanting to interview me for your blog, I’m truly honored. I think you do a great job with your blog and I enjoy popping by and seeing what you’re reading and what you have to say about the books you’ve read. 

And with that I’ll just wish you and all who stop by here these words:

Happy Reading!!

 

I know, I know, you must be mesmerized by her coolness by now. Remember to enter my contest for this book… it won’t disappoint! Wait around for Far From You and a shout out to Lisa for answering my questions!

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 🙂