Friday, May 14, 2010

Blog Tour: Alyssa B. Sheinmel

How did you start writing The Beautiful Between?

I began writing The Beautiful Between a long time (and about fifty different titles) ago – I just looked it up in my old notes, and apparently I wrote the first paragraph in February of 2006! When I started, I knew the basic story, and the names of the characters, but I didn’t know whether it would be a romance, whether it would be funny or sad, and I didn’t know yet that Kate and Connelly’s mother were such big parts of the story. The story began with this notion of a lonely girl who imagined high school through the prism of a fairy tale, and as I wrote I just hung on to that girl, to her friendship with Jeremy, and figured out what their story was as well as I could.

In what ways are you like Connelly? Have you had any of her experiences?

Like Connelly, I had an elaborate fantasy life when I was in high school (I still do), and so a lot of her fantasy life was inspired by my own. My parents divorced when I was very young, so just like Connelly imagined that she had a fairy godmother to help her sleep, when I was little I imagined that my father was there when I couldn’t sleep. Actually, I think that was part of what turned me into a writer – I was alone a lot as a kid, and I made up stories to keep myself entertained, and eventually, I started writing them down.

If Connelly could be friends with any female character from any YA novel, who would you choose and why?

I thought pretty hard before answering this question. First, I thought Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief; then I thought Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice (even if that technically isn’t a YA novel), but I finally landed on Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Now, maybe those books aren’t technically YA either, but I love them so much that I’ve decided that they have to count as YA so I can answer this question. I think Connelly, with her elaborate fantasy world, would love to know a girl who lives in what Connelly would think of as a real life fantasy world. And I think Connelly would love Pantalaimon, Lyra’s daemon. Connelly had a lot of imaginary friends growing up; but maybe she wouldn’t have needed them had she had a daemon of her own.

In what ways do you and your sister (also an author) inspire each other?

I think the most inspirational thing about my sister, Courtney, and the thing that makes me most proud of her, is this: she decided, a long time ago, that she wanted to be a writer. She did other things too, (like go to law school and become an attorney), but she never let go of her dream to be a writer, and she never stopped writing – And now, she is a writer, and whatever else she does, she will always be a writer.

What is your strongest high school memory?

January, sophomore year: the invention of the annual half birthday bash. My actual birthday is right in the middle of summer, and as anyone with a summer birthday knows, that means I never got to bring cupcakes into class, and if and when I did throw a party, hardly anyone ever came because they were at camp, or on vacation, etc. So when I was fifteen, I decided that I’d had enough and came up with the half birthday bash, a dinner for my girlfriends and me every January. For the first ten years, it was at California Pizza Kitchen, but a few years ago we moved it to Rosa Mexicano. The tradition continues to this day (though I no longer insist on having candles on my desserts). I almost never make a big deal about my actual birthday, but the half birthday bash is like my own private Christmas.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Do I have to pick just one place? I want to go everywhere! I want to go to Versailles, and see the doorway that Marie Antoinette escaped through (before she ended up in the guillotine). I want to go to New Zealand, and take the Lord of the Rings tour where you actually get to see the Shire. I want to go to the Grand Canyon and face my completely irrational fear that I will slip and fall in. But I guess if I had to choose just one place to go, I would probably choose to go home – I know that sounds odd, maybe even really dull; I do want to see the world, and I hope that I will get to visit and live in lots of amazing places. But if I had to pick only one place, it would probably be the place where I feel happiest and safest, where I’m surrounded by the people and the things that mean the most to me: my home.

Other than a writer, what other occupations have you had/considered?

Actually, I have another occupation – I work in the marketing department at Random House Children’s Books, and truth be told (I’m not just saying this), both jobs – writing and marketing kids’ books – are my dream job. I always knew that I wanted to work in book publishing, and I always knew I wanted to write, so I don’t think I really had much of a choice in deciding whether I was going to do both!

What is one book you think most teens should read?

Wow that’s a hard question! I think what we read, and which book ends up feeling like the one we “should” have read, is deeply personal. I will say this, though: If I were stranded on a desert island, the book that I would want, and the one that I would recommend to others, is one of those enormous short story anthologies, with something by everyone from Herman Melville to Woody Allen. And I would totally encourage everyone to keep one or several of those anthologies in his or her home – they come in handy when it feels like there is everything and nothing left to read.


Thanks so much, Alyssa!

Click here to read my review of The Beautiful Between!

Click here to visit Alyssa's website!

Also be sure to visit the next stop on Alyssa's blog tour here.


  1. I'm sure from all the good things I've heard that 'The Beautiful Between' is awesome (it's on my TBR list, not in my UK bookstore yet!)- but I know for a fact that Rosa Mexicana is pretty cool. Especially the guacamole! :)

  2. Great interview, I've already her book to my wishlist. :)

  3. I have a summer birthday too. I like that half-birthday idea.

    Great post.

  4. Oh, so this is where the blog tour went! And, lol, I should definitely propose that annual half birthday celebration to my little sister, whose birthday is in the middle of summer and therefore causes her to always complain... Anyways, I digress, great questions, Kelsey! I recieved The Beautiful Between today, and I'm psyched to read it. :D

  5. can I just say- you have some awesome interviews on here? thanks for leading me to some really great books!

  6. Thanks, Lyssy, for your sweet comments. I am SO PROUD of you! xoxo


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