What inspired you to write a novel for young adults?
The story I wanted to tell was about teens, so it made sense to write it as a young adult novel. A lot of the things I like to write about have to do with childhood and adolescence, for some reason--maybe I still haven't gotten over them! High school is such a fascinating, dramatic time in everyone's life, which makes it fun to write about. And the way I write seems to work well in young adult books. I think most writers are born to write a certain type of book; they just need to find the kind that fits their voice and their interests. And for me, at least for now, it's YA novels.
Are you currently working on any other books?
I'm finishing a new teen novel called CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS, which will come out in Fall 2010. Like HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, it's set in Baltimore, but it has a whole new cast of characters and a very different story (debutantes! mansions! family rebels!).
What is your favorite young adult book?
Do I have to choose just one? I love so many! A few favorites: ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin; THE NEW RULES OF HIGH SCHOOL and DESTROY ALL CARS by Blake Nelson; THE BLONDE OF THE JOKE by Bennett Madison; KING DORK by Frank Portman; GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray . . .
What's the best part about being an author?
For me the best part is getting to spend my days doing what I love best--even when it's hard and I have to remind myself that I WANTED to do this. It's also very satisfying to take the beginnings of a book--a terrible, junky, gooey mess--and keep working at it and working at it until finally it becomes a real, polished story. It's hard work, but somehow I forget all that when the book is finished and it seems like magic.
Where did you get the unique facts from that you used in How to Say Goodbye in Robot?
I'm not sure which facts you mean exactly, but a lot of them came from listening to the radio. I heard the statistic about Icelandic hairdressers being happy on the BBC (just like Bea), which is a great source of interesting news and facts. Of course, that was several years ago, before Iceland's economy collapsed. I wonder how the hairdressers are dealing with it?
When you were writing, what did you imagine the cover would look like?
I'm not a very visual person--I can't draw to save my life--so to be honest I didn't think much about what the cover would look like. I hoped the designer would come up with something good, and I lucked out: the book designer, Phil Falco, turned out to be brilliant! I love the cover but I never would have been able to think of it myself.
Where did the characters names come from?
For Beatrice I wanted a slightly unusual name, something that sounded like it would belong to a smart, unusual girl. I thought of Beatrice in Dante's DIVINE COMEDY, because she leads Dante to redemption and serves as his guide through Paradise, and, at least when I began writing ROBOT, this was something like the role I hoped Beatrice would play for Jonah.
For Jonah, I thought of the Bible story about Jonah and the whale. In the Bible Jonah is an angry character, angry at God, and that fits my Jonah too.
What inspired you to write How to Say Goodbye in Robot?
I was reminiscing about high school and started wondering about the kids in my class that I didn't know so well. I went to a very small school where most of the students had known each other since they were little, but there was one boy who came senior year, and I realized I'd barely known him. I thought about how hard it must be to come to a small, tightly-knit school in the final year, so I put Beatrice in that situation to see what would happen. I also wanted to write about growing up in Baltimore, how the city has its own personality and how that affects the people who live there.
Authors/Publishers: I would love to review your book! I pretty much read anything in the young adult category. I'll also hold contests, interviews, etc. Please email me at email@example.com for more info! See my full policy here.
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If you want any book suggestions feel free to email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Also, any YA authors who are coming to New Jersey or New York City please let me know, I'd love to attend!