Earlier in the year, I read and loved Elizabeth Scott's novel Bloom, which has been nominated for a Cybils in the YA category. I was so happy when she agreed to do an interview! You may read my review of Bloom here. But in part, I wrote: "Ever wished for an intelligent take on VALLEY GIRL? You know, the 80s movie that presented a girl with the "perfect" boyfriend and friends...but who secretly wanted more. She wanted a different boy who wasn't so perfect. Who wasn't so stereotypically supreme. So deliciously popular. The movie was far from perfect, stress on the word "far," but it had its moments. The ending is still one of my all-time favorites. The song "I'll Melt With You" still gets to me. Why bring it up? Bloom is for me a smarter version of Valley Girl. No, it isn't set in the valley. There are no annoying accents or slang. But it's captured part of the essence in my opinion. Everything that I loved about Valley Girl is what I loved in Bloom. I am not trying to cheapen the book by comparing it to an old movie. I'm not suggesting the plot lacks originality. It IS a familiar story line. But it is done well.The plot. The characters. They work for me. Now I can only speak for myself, but BLOOM works for me. Elizabeth Scott has added depth to this familiar story." Be sure to visit her site and her blog.
What do you love about being a writer?
I love getting an idea for a story, and I love the first moment of sitting down to write it, when it's all possibility.
You write young adult books, what do you love about the genre?
Young adult novels are, in my opinion--and granted, I'm a little biased, but still!--the most vibrant genre in literature today, with authors who write intelligent, daring, and honest stories.
Can you tell us anything about your current work in progress?
I'm ridiculously superstitious about my writing, so I'm afraid my lips are sealed. I once got burned really badly when I first started writing by talking about a story I was working on so much that I never finished it--and I took that as a sign to keep quiet!
You have three books coming out in 2008! What can you tell us about the books?
I had to do five-word summaries for two of them for an interview, and I'm pretty proud of what I came up with, so...
Perfect You -- parents + former friend x boy = trouble!
Stealing Heaven -- thief meets cop: love? disaster?
Let's see if I can do the same for Living Dead Girl...
Okay. Here goes.
Living Dead Girl -- Everything you see is lies.
How long does it take you to write a novel and see it through to the finished product?
It depends. I've written a novel in less than two weeks, and I've had first drafts take me about nine months. And, of course, once a novel is purchased, it can be published anywhere from a year or so after it's purchased, to upwards of three years later! (For instance, my second novel, STEALING HEAVEN, was the first novel I sold, but is actually being published after my fifth novel, PERFECT YOU, is released, because my second, third, and fourth novels are all with HarperCollins, and they set their production schedules years (!) in advance)
Does award-season (best-of lists, awards, etc) make you nervous or excited as a writer?
I don't think about them too much. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd love to win an award or be on a best-of-list (you'd be able to hear my shriek around the world if either of those happened), but when it comes to those sorts of things, all I can do is write the best book I can, and hope that people like it.
How excited were you to find out that your book, Bloom, had been nominated for the Cybils?
I was shocked! And so, so flattered. It was an amazingly wonderful surprise.
What do you love about being a blogger?
I love running contests. LOVE! Giving away books is about my favorite thing ever--I love to read, and I love that other people enjoy it too.
Do you think it is important for authors to have a presence on the internet?
Wait, wait, let me explain! I know everyone says it is, and I do think it is slightly more important for young adult novelists than those who write in other genres, but I don't think it's necessary by any means. I think it's easy to forget that a lot of people don't have regular internet access.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Leaving young adult writers aside, some of my favorite authors are Helen Dunmore, Amy Bloom, Keith Maillard, and Maggie Helwig.
This one is for both you as a reader and an author. Do you write fan letters to authors you admire? And have you received any fan letters from readers?
I do send fan letters to authors I like. I still remember getting a response from Laurie Halse Anderson when I wrote to her about how much I loved PROM, and thinking, "Laurie Halse Anderson WROTE ME BACK!"
I have gotten some lovely emails and letters from readers and it is the best feeling ever! The fact that someone liked BLOOM enough to send me a note about it--WOW.
Do you have a book or two (or three) that you would recommend that everyone read? What handful of books are must-reads in your opinion?
With Your Crooked Heart by Helen Dunmore, Gloria by Keith Maillard, Where She Was Standing by Maggie Helwig, and Love Invents Us by Amy Bloom are all excellent novels.
As far as must-reads...I don't have any. One person's perfect novel is another person's poison, you know? For instance, to this day, I deeply (and I mean *deeply*) resent the person who decided that, in order to graduate from high school, everyone in my English class had to read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. (Yes, both!) But some people, like say the people who decided I had to read those books, would say they did me a favor.
Do you have a reading hero? Someone who inspired you? Someone you love, respect, and admire? A mentor who made a great impact on you?
I don't have a reading hero, or a mentor, or anything like that, but I do have amazingly supportive friends--I wouldn't be published if it wasn't for them encouraging me to go for it over and over (and over!) again.
If you had twenty-four hours, a time machine, and a limitless supply of money, what would you want to do?
I wouldn't need the time machine, because I'm happy where I am. I'd take the money though, and use the twenty-four hours to set up a foundation to provide health care for everyone in the United States.
On second thought, I would also take the time machine, and go forward to a time when someone's found a way to cure food allergies. Then I'd come back and eat about eighty-seven pounds of chocolate. I'd like that.