Authors are Rockstars Blog Tour: Interview with Simone Elkeles

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Simone Elkeles is the author of a whole host of great contemporary YA titles and we think she’s a super duper rockstar. There are many, many reasons to pick up a Simone Elkeles novel, but perhaps the reason we love her so completely is because she creates amazing characters that speak to our hearts. They’re broken, imperfect, and complex – just like real people in the real world. I challenge you to pick up the Perfect Chemistry series and not fall in love with the Fuentes brothers, as infuriating as they are. You’ll fail. I challenge you to pick up the Leaving Paradise series and not fall in love with Caleb and Maggie, as tortured and messed up as they are. You’ll fail. This is why we love her; this is why we can’t get enough. Her characters feel completely real, and their lives and stories are completely addictive. We’re proud to host her on our site during the Authors Are Rockstars tour, and we can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Q. We think authors are amazing. You are our rockstars. Do you have an author or authors that you look up to or are inspired or amazed by?

I adore David Levithan, Julia Quinn, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and so many others it’s hard to list them all. I totally go all fangirl when I meet authors I admire. I’ve always tried to be cool when I’m with David Levithan because I’m such a huge fan of his, but I think I end up acting like a complete dork and he’s always kind enough to pretend not to notice. I’m amazed by the intelligence and wit of John Green (his books and the man himself)– my fans are always telling me I should write a book with him. Oh, and I made a complete fool out of myself when I met Judy Blume – who couldn’t have been kinder or more generous with her time.

Q. What was your inspiration for becoming an author? Have you always wanted to write or is it a passion that developed later? And what was the first story you’ve ever written about?

Unlike most authors I know, I hated reading as a teen and hated English class. I got B’s and C’s in English class most of the time. I fell in love with reading as an adult – specifically romance novels. I was so in love with them, I started writing them. Once I started writing for “myself” and not a teacher or for a grade, I realized that I loved writing and never wanted to stop. Since I first fell in love with romance novels, my first book was a Native American historical romance novel. I tried to sell it, but didn’t have interest from agents or editors. It will probably live forever in a box under my bed where no one will see it! Or maybe not…you never know!

Q. You’ve written three contemporary series – Perfect Chemistry, Leaving Paradise and the How to Ruin series – which was your favorite to write? Which did you find to be the most challenging? And which characters did you make the greatest connection with?

I love all of my books even though some have been more challenging to write than others (I gained 30 pounds writing Chain Reaction, which is an indicator of how tough it was to write). You’re asking me to pick a favorite out of my children –which is close to impossible! But if I have to choose one, I would say that Perfect Chemistry was my favorite to write. I always believed that it was special and I call it the Book of My Heart!

Every book has presented different obstacles, but Leaving Paradise was probably the most challenging. I’m a person who tries to look at the brightest side of life, so it was hard for me to write Maggie’s character. Maggie eventually finds her strength, but it was hard for me to write all her weak moments.

I probably have the strongest connection with Amy from the How to Ruin series. I met my husband in Israel when I was 17 and we re-met and married when we were 26. Everywhere Amy goes in the books, I’ve been (yes, I even went kayaking down the Jordan river and shot an M16 in a “fun” summer military boot camp I signed up for to know what it was like to be an Israeli soldier!)

Plus, Amy totally has my attitude and sense of humor. I hate when people spit their olive pits on the plate right in front of me, just like Amy.

Q. Your characters are all very unique and different – definitely not mainstream. And they come from diverse backgrounds and are faced with some pretty big obstacles – your upcoming Fullriders series included. What is it about these types of characters that you enjoy writing about most? And what do you find most interesting about your characters in this new series?

The more I get to know my fans and the more stories I hear, the more I realize how many teens today are facing challenges that many adults wouldn’t be able to handle. For the sake of research, I’ve gone into gang territory with detectives from the Chicago Police Department. Some of the kids in gangs I interviewed have seen more violence, death, drug trafficking and crime than anyone should see in their lifetime. They live not knowing if they’ll survive another day, and some don’t even care. I’ve met really good kids who are stuck in bad situations. They want to get out and live a clean, gang-free life, but don’t know how or don’t think there’s another way to live. My heart goes out to those kids. That part of it is what makes me want to write the characters I write.

I love the brotherhood between guys, and the Fullriders series (which may or may not be renamed before the book comes out) will really showcase how friends can become your family. It’s also a romance, which I love to write. It wouldn’t be a Simone Elkeles book without a hot, steamy romance!

Q. The first book in the Fullriders series is slated for release in 2013. Is there anything more you can tell us about the series or characters? Were there any personal experiences you included in this new series? And what kind of research did you have to do for the story – do you have any interesting stories to tell?

I’m still in rewrites, so I can’t reveal too much because so much will change (I’m even thinking about changing the main character’s name!). I can tell you that the series will be about 4 high school football players and each book will focus about how one of them falls in love. I have always liked football and even wanted to play it when I was in high school. But don’t worry…you won’t have to know anything about football or even like football to enjoy the series. It’s going to be more about what goes on OFF the field!

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