Harmony Book Reviews

Posts Tagged ‘interview

Book Chic is a fabulous book reviewer whose headquarters are hidden somewhere in myspace. I’d also like to point out that Book Chic is pronounced like “Book Sheek” rather than “Book Chick”, which I only recently learned. Now, without farther ado, an interview with Book Chic!

1) What made you decide to become a book reviewer?

There’s a huge story about it in one of the Ask Book Chic’s on the blog (the 1st one in February, if you wish to go find it), but I’ll keep this brief. Lauren Barnholdt wanted to promote her book Two-Way Street via blogs, and I had a livejournal, so I was going to post an interview and book review there, but after sending off the questions, I got excited about it all and how cool it was to do, and thus a book review/author interview blog was born!

2) You’re obviously pretty popular among authors now but what was it like when you were just starting out? How do you feel your blog has changed since then?

Starting out, I was actually REALLY surprised at how awesome authors were being when I’d ask them for interviews. They were always so willing to help and it was really amazing to actually hear back from Meg Cabot, one of the first authors I contacted when I was starting out. But they were so helpful with me and my site when I was starting out and so encouraging. It really helped me to continue with the site and keep it going for a year now.

In regards to how it’s changed, there’s been all the new features that I started up throughout the year, like author guest blogs, Fresh New Voice of YA, and Ask Book Chic. I also think that I’ve gotten better at writing reviews, and talking about certain aspects of a book that I like or didn’t like. Starting out, it was hard for me to write reviews in a professional(ish) manner. That was always what I had set out to do. I wanted to do more than just say “This book rocked my socks off!” or “This book sucked, and should be used in litterboxes!”. Over time, I got better at writing about what I liked about this character or that scene or this climax. But I do also let the fanboy in me show a lot because I don’t want the reviews to be boring. Haha. I don’t think my reviews are the best or anything, but I do feel like I’ve gotten better at writing them.

3) To you, what is the most important thing you’ve learned from reviewing?

To be honest, I don’t really know if I’ve really learned anything from reviewing. From doing the site, I’ve learned two things: 1) YA and chicklit authors absolutely ROCK! and 2) I love doing giveaways. I’m a very selfish person, and so I was always wary of doing giveaways because I like to keep things for myself, but I held my first one with some Meg Cabot stuff, I believe, and I absolutely loved doing it. Getting emails back from the winners and seeing their excitement over winning just makes me want to do it all the time. Although I think after the month of June (i.e. Giveaway Month on the blog), I won’t be doing giveaways for a while because this is just going to take so much out of my bank account, it’s not even funny. But it makes my heart swell with happiness to make other people happy.

4) What advice do you have for reviewers just starting out or for those who are thinking of starting a book review blog themselves?

I think my advice would be to look at other book review sites and see what they’re doing. Obviously, don’t copy exactly what they’re doing but look at how and what they post. Talk with them as well if they provide their email address; I’m friends with a lot of different reviewers and they are such fun, helpful people and I’m sure they’d be willing to help out new reviewers.

Don’t be afraid to approach authors, even ones that you’ve admired for so long, or think they’re so popular that they won’t reply back (although don’t try contacting Stephenie Meyer- I tried and it failed, as I knew it would). Just give it a shot and, while this may seem like common sense, remember to be polite. You never know what’ll happen. I didn’t think Meg Cabot would reply back to me so quickly when I first approached her last June, but I had a response back the next day. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried and that’s really all that matters. But usually, YA authors are made of awesome and will reply back fairly quickly.

Also, do what you want to do with your book review site, but also keep in mind what your readers want and like to see. Be open to suggestions.

And read outside of what you would normally read because you never know, there could be a new favorite author waiting around the corner. I had put off reading Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins because they tackled heavy subjects in their books, and I’m usually more of a fluffy, humorous guy myself, but then I gave in and read books by them. And guess what? I really enjoyed them, so go outside your comfort zone every so often if you don’t already.

All of that advice probably sucked, but hopefully there’s something in there that you can get out of it, lol.

5) What’s one book that rocked your world and changed your life? What author?

I honestly don’t think there’s only one book that rocked my world. I will tell you that I don’t necessarily think any book changed my life- I think that’s a really big statement to make, and I’ve yet to read a book that will change my life and I’m not sure I ever will.

But anyway, Meg Cabot has rocked my world on many an occasion with her wonderful books. And one book that rocked my world would probably have to be Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway.

6) Name five (or more) books that you’d recommend to anyone and everyone.

I couldn’t name just 5, haha.

1) Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
2) Airhead by Meg Cabot
3) Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
4) Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
5) Take Me There by Susane Colasanti
6) Burned by Ellen Hopkins
7) Devilish and 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
8) Wake by Lisa McMann
9) Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand by Louise Hawes
10) Girlwood by Claire Dean

7) What are three books that you really want to read but don’t have yet?

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard (but I may have read it by the time this goes up)
Violet in Private by Melissa Walker
Princess Diaries 10: Forever Princess and the Abandon trilogy by Meg Cabot
And since Unbelievable may be read by the time this is posted, I’ll add a fourth: Paper Towns by John Green

8) Last but not least what’s one thing that you think everyone should know about you or your blog?

That it rocks? lol. But seriously, one thing that I think everyone should know about me is that I’m actually a guy and not a girl as my default pic would show. You have no idea how many people think I’m a girl, lol.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? If not, what made you decide to be one?
I’ve always loved writing. My mom recently gave me one of the first books I ever wrote. It was called THE YELLOW KITTEN and it was about a cat who desperately wanted to dye her blond fur black so she could ride on a witch’s broom with all the other black cats on Halloween. My mom was convinced it was allegorical, based on the fact that I was the only blond in a family of brunettes. 🙂 Um, yeah. Anyway…I think I did always want to be a writer, I was just never sure I was any good at it. But when I got to college, I was required to take five quarters of Humanities, and the papers assigned in those courses were notoriously brutal. I worked my butt off to write the best first paper I could. The rumor was that nobody ever got more than a C, but I got an A. I immediately changed my major from psychology to Literature/Writing. That was the beginning of it all, I suppose.

What was your road to publication like? Was it harder or easier than you expected?
I had a much easier time getting a book deal than most authors do—and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Basically, an editor I’d met a few times contacted me out of the blue in January 2007 and asked me if I’d like to try my hand at teen fiction. My response? Uh…YEAH! Several other writers were in the running, but somehow the spec chapter I wrote wound up impressing the right people. Within a few weeks I had a four-book fiction deal! Then the real work began—and no, it was not easy, but I didn’t really expect it to be. I worked very closely with a few different editors who helped me develop the plot and my voice and the characters and all that good stuff. Alas, after writing the entire first draft (the actual writing took about three or four months), we decided it sucked and needed to be completely rewritten. DOH! I was worried it was all my fault, but the editors actually took most of the blame and then we set about creating a stronger plot, more defined characters, and just a better concept overall. I wrote the second draft in a few months, and it was definitely better…but not quite there yet. We wound up pulling some stuff from the first draft, using about half of the second draft, and then I took a few more months to re-write what everybody now knows as FRENEMIES—the book HarperTeen is calling “the debut of a hilarious voice in teen fiction and the beginning of an exciting new series.” 🙂

What’s your writing process like? Do you outline thoroughly or just wing it?
First, I pitch some plot ideas to my editors. They tell me all my ideas are horrid and come up with what they feel is a better plot. I throw a few more ideas back at them and sometimes they humor me and say they like them. Then, we all sit down and hammer out a thorough chapter outline. This process can take a while. I think we spent at least three months working on the outline for FRENEMIES and nearly four months working on the outline for the sequel, FAKETASTIC. You’d think all that work would make the writing of the actual book easier—and it does, to a degree—but there are still a whole lot of blank pages to fill. That’s when I start to wing it.

Of all the characters in Frenemies, who’s your favorite? Who are you most like?
I love them all for different reasons, otherwise I wouldn’t want to spend time with them and neither would my readers. But if I had to pick one, I’d say Tyler Brandon—Halley’s fifteen-year-old brother. I have a real soft spot for big brothers, and especially for super-geeks. 🙂 I think I’m most like Avalon (yes, the more annoying of the two protagonists!) in the sense that she’s a type-A control freak Capricorn (like yours truly). Then again, Halley is a huge music fan (and fan of cute lead singers)—which was me to an extreme growing up, so much that I wound up working in the music industry for six years (just like Halley’s mom). Halley is also a late-bloomer, as was I. Painfully so.

Are there any plans for a Frenemies movie? Who do you see portraying the characters if there was to be one?
Of course I’m hoping there will be a movie or a TV series based on the books, and I’m sure there are some very important people on both coasts working diligently on that as we speak. 🙂 But I have absolutely NO CLUE who would be young enough to play these characters. Dakota Fanning? Abigail Breslin? I’m assuming it would be complete unknowns who would subsequently hurtle to superstardom because of the fabulosity of being in a film or TV series based on my work. Yes, I’m just that awesome.

What can we expect there to be more of in the rest of the series? How many books do you have planned for the series?
Expect to see a lot more of the Style Snarks, plenty of deep, meaningful moments between Halley and Avalon (but are the moments real or faux? With a title like FAKETASTIC, you never know!), more fun with the Dead Romeos, including details on just how serious things are between Sofee and Wade, and more cheerleaders than you can shake a pom pom at. The plan is for there to be four books in the series.

Halley’s best friend, as well as her crush, are in a band. Were you ever in a band as a teen? What are some of your favorite bands?
Ha. No, I was never in a band. That would have been seriously tragic. I did do quite a bit of lip-syncing in my day though. And I have sung in public a few times, but completely as a joke; some of my biggest karaoke hits include “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, anything by the Cranberries, “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond (my brother and I recently performed a modified version of this at our dad’s birthday party; the crowd went wild!). I have so many favorite bands. I really love U2, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Keane, Travis (the band from Scotland—not a country artist), Lifehouse, cheesy eighties hair bands. I just heard a Toad the Wet Sprocket song on the radio for the first time in ages today and it took me back to my college days. I loved that band. And Cake. And Jellyfish. Man, somebody stop me…

What were some of your favorite books as a teen? What are some of your favorite books now?
When I was a teen, I was obsessed with Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, V.C. Andrews and all the cheesy Scholastic romance books (like Dreams Can Come True by Jane Claypool Miner). In the years since, I’ve gone through a major chick-lit phase (I love Jennifer Weiner, Helen Fielding, Melissa Bank, Rebecca Wells, Jane Green, Lisa Jewell…) and also cannot get enough of David Sedaris. Lately I’ve been reading as much YA as I have time for, including, but in no way limited to, authors like Taylor Morris, Carolyn Mackler, Melissa Walker, Tera Lynn Childs, Lisi Harrison, Sara Shepard, Sarah Dessen, Maureen Johnson, and the list goes on…

What’s one fact about you that most people don’t know?
During my freshman year of college at UCSD, I was crowned the Watermelon Queen. You’ll have to Google it to learn more. But that was the other time I sang in public: I changed the words to “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun” and sang it right out in the middle of campus—just before dropping a watermelon from the top of a building. It was quite a hit.

What advice do you have for your teen readers?
You want me to give teens advice—like, on life? I’m assuming this is a trick question. Teen readers are far wiser than most adults I know, myself included, so I’m not even going to go there. Now, if you want me to offer some WRITING advice, that’s different. I think the best thing you can do, no matter what your age, is to find a mentor and/or critique partner. Your writing can’t improve if you don’t get some honest, constructive feedback from somebody who knows how to write—and write well. You could ask a teacher or librarian, or even contact some authors (who aren’t on deadline!) or get to know some people in a writing workshop. Getting criticism and making connections are both hugely important in this business.

Mitali Perkins wrote First Daughter: White House Rules, among many other young adult books. We are very lucky to have her take some time from her busy schedule to stop by and do an interview with us.

Your newest book, White House Rules is the second book in the First Daughter series. What gave you the idea to write this series? How many books can we expect to be in the series?
  
 
Dutton Books asked my agent to find a writer who could put a new twist on a political teen novel, and my agent, Laura Rennert, called me. I wrote the plot treatment and submitted it, signed the contract they offered me, and then wrote the novels.
 
I found the characters in the book to be so believable, especially Sameera. Is she, or any of the other characters, based of yourself or someone you know?
  
 
Thanks! My goal is to create characters with whom you feel like chatting while sipping a hot cup of tea. All my main characters have a part of me in them, the best bits.
 
The First Daughter series includes a lot of information on the White House. How did you find so much out about it? Have you ever been inside it?
  
 
I’ve tried to arrange tours each time I visited DC but it never worked out, so I wandered around the outside of the White House, and read, and read, and read. I used online sites, like this one: <http://www.whitehousehistory.org/>, but basically I had to engage the imagination muscle in a big way.
 
What would you say to someone who hasn’t read the First Daughter series yet but is thinking of picking it up?

I think you’ll enjoy meeting Sameera, spending time with her on the campaign trail and in the White House, and getting the inside scoop on life as a celeb through her eyes.
 
What are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
  
 
I just finished a novel called Secret Keeper, a book about a sixteen-year-old girl named Asha who is a natural confidante for people she encounters. It’s set in India in 1974 and will be published by Random House in January 2009.
 
Can you share a little something about your road to publication? How long did it take for your first book to be published?
  
Mine has been a long and winding road, littered with rejection letters galore. My first book, The Sunita Experiment, was snapped up by Little Brown. My second one was rejected so many times I lost track. I revised, and revised, and somehow never gave up. ELEVEN years after book one, Monsoon Summer was published by Random House.
 
What advice would you give to your teen readers?
  
Keep exercising your imagination and healing your heart through the power of story.  
This is my dream come true, writing books, but it came true with much sweat, some tears, and a lot of ups and downs. That’s true of most dreams. Don’t give up, find out how you’re designed to serve and bless the planet, and go after it with all your heart.
 
Anything else you’d like to add?
 
If your readers have any more questions, you may visit my website,
www.mitaliperkins.com, my blog, www.mitaliblog.com, or send me an email at mitaliperk@yahoo.com. Thanks for a great interview, Harmony
.
  
Thanks so much!
  

I’m very happy to say that I have an interview with Jennifer E. Smith, who wrote The Comeback Season, which was recently released. I absolutely adored it and if you haven’t already, you should check out my review. Enjoy!

So what does it feel like to be a published Young Adult author?

It’s very exciting. I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember, so it’s a lot of fun now that it’s finally happened. I actually work in publishing, so I see people go through this process all the time, and to many authors – particularly the ones who have written a lot of books – this whole process becomes sort of routine. I can understand that, of course, but from where I’m sitting now, I can’t imagine ever not wanting to jump for joy when you see a finished copy of your own book!

When did you first know you wanted to be an author? When did you first begin writing?

I won a short story contest in fourth grade, and I feel like that’s when the idea was first put into my head. In seventh and eighth grade, I wrote my first “book” – a 200 page story about a girl and a racehorse that I’m sure I thought was brilliant at the time. In high school, I had a couple of very encouraging teachers, and I continued writing through college, but even though I always secretly hoped to be a published author, I don’t think I ever really believed it would actually happen. It seemed to me a lot like winning the lottery. (It still does, in fact!)

What was your road to publication like?

It was easy in some ways, and very difficult in others. I wrote lots of stuff before this that will probably never see the light of day, and I experienced my fair share of rejection, which I actually think is a very important part of the process. So overall, I wouldn’t say it’s been completely smooth sailing. But with this book, something just clicked. My editor bought it after reading the first sixty pages, and the whole thing only took about six months to write. It sounds corny, but I really believe that if you just keep at it, things work themselves out in the end.

How did you come up with the idea for The Comeback Season?

It really came to me in pieces. I guess I got the initial inspiration one night while watching the Cubs lose for what felt like the millionth time. I was flipping back and forth between the game and the movie “Fever Pitch”, which was on another channel, and I got to thinking about how Cubs fans have an equally interesting (albeit depressing) history, and how they deserve to have their story told too, and then the image of Ryan sitting on the train on her way down to the ballpark just sort of popped into my head. I didn’t know what would happen at the game, or that she’d meet Nick, or anything else that followed. But I somehow knew her whole history, and so I just sort of went along for the ride with her, and figured out the rest from there.

How is the published copy different from the first draft you wrote?

It actually didn’t change as much as I thought it would. There are entire scenes that are hardly different from when I first sat down to write them. The biggest difference is the ending – I won’t say too much, because I don’t want to give it away, but I flip-flopped a lot on how Nick’s story would come out in the end, and I wrote three different endings before deciding on this one.

Who is your favorite character in The Comeback Season? Which one are you most like?

I think the answer to both those questions would be Ryan. We’re not completely alike – she’s had a much more difficult time of things than I ever did – but her personality is a lot like mine was at that age. She’s a little bit shy, somewhat hesitant, and very introspective. She’s probably too impatient for her own good, especially with her family, and she’s not the least bit interested in facts, but she’s got a lot of heart and is basically a good egg. I had a lot of fun writing her.

For those of us who know nothing about the Cubs (me included), is everything included in your book about how they never won the World Series and the goat story, along with the other stuff, true?

Yes, all true! It’s hard to believe, I know. This year will be the 100th season since they last won a World Series. And though some people would argue that the curse doesn’t actually exist, the goat most certainly did, and I sort of feel like he’s been mocking us ever since!

What are some of your favorite authors?

I actually don’t read as many YA books as I’d like to, mostly because I spend a lot of time reading and editing other types of books for work. I do love John Green and Meg Rosoff, and also some of the more classic books by authors like Katherine Patterson and Wilson Rawlings. And I absolutely adore J.K. Rowling. I mean, who doesn’t?

What can your fans look forward to from you in the future?

I’m working on another YA book called You Are Here, about a boy and a girl who come from different backgrounds and seem like complete opposites, but who get thrown together on a sort of haphazard road trip, and find out they’re a lot more similar than they thought. It’ll be out in Summer 2009.

Do you have any advice for your teen fans?

Read a lot. Then write a lot. Then read some more. It might sound really obvious, but you’d be amazed how much you can learn about writing by reading books you admire. And then the only way to figure out whether you can write one yourself is by sitting down and actually attempting to do it!

Thanks so much!

I’m happy to say that I have even more questions with answers from the fantastic D. Anne Love. I know one interview usually does it but since she’s the Author of the Month and due to certain reasons, I was unable to ask questions about her latest novel, Defying the Diva, in the previous interview, I’m adding some more. So I hope you all enjoy!

What inspired you to write Defying the Diva?
I mentor a couple of teen writing groups. After Semiprecious was
published, and Picture Perfect was in production, I was looking for a
subject for a new book. A couple of my teen writers suggested writing
about school bullies, because as one of them said, “It’s a huge problem.” When my research revealed that as many as 6 million teens are involved in episodes of bullying each year, and that as many as 100,000 skip school every day to avoid being harassed, physically harmed, or worse, I knew I had to write about it.  Haley faces some serious verbal bullying from Camilla. Did you have  anything similar happen to you during High School? Because I was a southern girl living in the northeast during my last three years of high school, I  took a lot of taunting  and insults from the other kids about my accent, my clothes, and my home state.  It  didnt’ rise to the level of what Camilla did to Haley, but it made my life pretty miserable. As I was writing DIVA, I definitely remembered the feelings of hurt and isolation stemming from that situation.
 
Defying the Diva has a cast full of unique and realistic characters. (Harrison was my favorite.) Which character was the hardest to write?Which one was easiest?
Thanks. I love Harrison, too. As I was writing him, I so wished I’d had a boyfriend like him in high school. He is totally comfortable in his own skin. Wise beyond his years. I miss him. Evan was a hard character to write, because I had to show him as desirable and at the same time, careless with Haley’s emotions. Evan is the quintessential boy who’s
bad for you and at the same time, hard to resist.. It was a balancing act. Camilla was among the easiest to write, because I’d spent a long time thinking about her, reading up on the psychology of bullies in general, and figuring out her backstory before I began the actual writing. Frankie was loosely based on one of my best friends  from college, so she came to life easily, too. I loved writing the interplay between Frankie and Nora. The scene where they kidnap Haley for the trip to Beauty Emporium is one of my favorites.
 Which character is most like you?
Like Haley, I had a hard time in school for a while, and I was also a
budding journalist. I got involved in journalism my sophomore year in
high school. Writing for the paper and being named editor in chief my
senior year became my saving grace.

If Defying the Diva were to become a movie and you could choose the 
actors and actresses, who would you pick to act in the role of your 
characters?

Oh man, that’s a hard one I am so busy I hardly ever get to the movies
so I’m not that familiar with  the current roster of young actors.
Ellen Page was great in Juno. She could play Haley. I’d have to think about
who to cast as Camilla, Frankie, Nora, Evan, and Harrison. Who would
YOU cast?? Maybe your readers could weigh in. I’d love to know who they
think should be in the movie.

Readers: If you have any suggestions about who you think should be cast as the characters in Defying the Diva, be sure to leave a comment.

Thank you so much for doing this second interview!


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