Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Knock knock. Who's there? Me!

Almost six months into my Twitter adventure and I'm increasingly obsessed. I quickly discovered Twitter gives me more than just insight into the world of agenting. There are scads of warm, wonderful writers out there who are genuine and supportive and willing to share their experiences with others. It's a fabulous business to be in and I'm loving every tweet.

Getting to know so many different types of authors has helped narrow down my own personal style; something I never paid much attention to until recently. Without further ado, please enjoy my interview with debut author, ME.

Me: Welcome to my blog! It's great to finally meet you!
Me: Thanks! I'm thrilled you finally asked!

Me: So, tell me about what inspired you to write.
Me: My parents were hugely into literature when I was growing up. Dad was finishing his PhD at the University of Michigan, and mom stopped pursuing an English degree to stay home with us kids. There were always books around the house and library trips in the red wagon. My folks were grammar Nazis (unfortunately, I married a southerner and his influence cancelled out half those lessons) and dad tutored us with Latin flashcards. Mom would Xerox the NYT daily crossword puzzle and we'd race to see who finished first; I actually won a few in high school.

The best parts were my dad's bedtime stories (kid detectives outsmarting an evil professor) and mom's half-asleep readings of Tolkien (by the end of the chapter she was reading words that didn't exist). We didn't watch much TV but I do remember eating popcorn in a dark living room when Star Wars was on HBO.

Me: Fascinating, now shut up for a minute. Your first book, WILL & MAGGIE, is a love story with paranormal elements and your second book, REM, is an adventure with a male protagonist and a science fiction edge. Both are brilliant, of course, but what's with you? Are you bipolar or something?
Me: While the plots are vastly different, they are both YA suspense with very similar attributes. I've always loved YA that respects teenagers and doesn't talk down to them, so I write about things that might actually be possible-- reality with a touch of surreality. The world is an incredible place on its own, without fairies, vampires, or magical powers. My readers will find real characters in real problems but always with a touch of "what if?"

Maggie's caught in precarious love triangle and learning about the dirty family secrets her mom tried to hide from her; but are the two linked by something that didn't die with her grandmother?

A group of friends take an over-the-counter drug that's become all the rage with teenagers for its hypnotic properties and Justin meets the girl of his dreams (in his dreams); but taking more and more of the drug to see her is triggering relapses and someone has found a way to follow him into his subconscious mind.

See?

Me: Wow. Just... wow. If I were an agent, I'd totally sign you right now. Did you say Maggie and Justin? How do you come up with names for your characters?
Me: One of my pet peeves is the trend of imaginary names for YA characters. I was horrified when Stephenie Meyer introduced Renesmee. Whenever I pick up a book with ridiculously made-up names I want to throw it across the room. Not that it makes a book bad, mind you. I love the Twilight series and I love The Hunger Games (Katniss? Really?), I just get distracted by weird names. Mine are simple; Maggie, Will, Justin, Angie, Carol, Kurt... Easy to spell, easy to pronounce. It works for me.

Me: Would that have anything to do with your name being mispronounced by every teacher, substitute teacher and receptionist you encountered in your youth?
Me: I thought we agreed you weren't going to ask personal questions about my emotional scars.

Me: I'm just saying. It's an interesting factoid about you; your neurosis.
Me: Look, if you don't keep it professional here, so help me God-

Me: Did I touch a nerve?
Me: You little *&#$@! I'm so done with this @#%)(#ing interview! Why don't you #&*^@ yourself? Or myself. Whatever!

Me: I'm sorry. Can I ask just one more question?
Me: Aw, you know I can't stay mad at you. Go ahead.

Me: When I read WILL & MAGGIE, (which was sheer genius, by the way) I was actually rooting for Kurt-- the bad guy. Why are your bad guys not all that bad?
Me: I've always had a thing for bad guys. I root for the sexy devil that tortures the damsel in distress. It's one of my many inner demons. Anyway, I find the concept of pure evil unrealistic. Comic books handle it well; many comic baddies are inadvertently created by the hero. I want my readers to not only sympathize with the enemy, but struggle with the desire to cheer for him/her. If you find yourself drooling over Kurt, I've done my job well.

Me: It was a pleasure to have you here and, if you don't mind me saying so, I just love your hair. You look smashing as a brunette.
Me: Really? Thanks! You should totally try it sometime. I'll give you my stylist's number.

So there you have it. I am a YA suspense novelist with a split-personality and a sarcasm disorder who writes reality-based fiction with characters who have simple names and likable enemies. It only took me thirty-something years to figure it out.