Tag Archives: author

Author Interviews
March 14, 2011 posted by Christina

Interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal is the author of the incredible new novel, Other Words For Love. If you haven’t already got a copy, you must, must check it out. Lorraine was nice enough to let us steal some of her time for an interview (as well a great guest post which you can read here).


You have a B.A. in Psychology, (which is very impressive!) what made you opt to take up writing as opposed to a career in that field?

Thank you! I began writing at a young age and had initially planned to major in English in college, but instead chose to study psychology because it was also a subject that interested me. I really enjoyed studying psychology, and this knowledge assists in fiction writing. To create believable characters, you have to consider their background, experiences, and everything else that affects them emotionally. I never planned to work in the field of psychology, and I later went on to earn graduate degrees in education and English. Throughout my education I was always writing and hoped to become an author.

Other Words For Love is incredibly heartbreaking but also moving and a story a lot of people can learn from and relate to – what inspired you to write it?

I’m a character-driven writer, and the characters were what came to me first. Ari and her family were in my mind for quite a while before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it. When that story crystallized, I just wanted to tell it and to share it with readers. Ari was my inspiration all along.

Most reviews I’ve read for OWFL have been incredibly positive, many with a 5 star rating, were you surprised by the response?

I was hoping for a good response but because fiction is so subjective, I knew that not all readers would give my novel five stars. I have therefore been pleasantly surprised and very grateful for the immensely positive response.

It was so interesting reading a book set in the 80s which has barely been touched on in YA Fiction, why that decade?

There are a few reasons why I chose to set the story during the 1980s. As you mentioned, the 1980s are a neglected era in YA fiction. The only other YA novel I know of that is set during this decade is The Carrie Diaries. There is YA fiction set in the 1800s, 1920s, etc., so why not the 1980s? This decade is as valid historically as any other, and I believe that no time period should be restricted from the YA genre. There are stories to tell from the viewpoint of young people in every era.

I thought that if teens could identify with historical fiction—time periods with cultures and values so different from now—then they could easily relate to a time period that they didn’t live through but wasn’t all that long ago. The ideals of the 1980s weren’t exactly the same as today, but they weren’t completely different, either. I also thought that adults who read YA fiction and lived through the 1980s might connect with the story.

But the main reason I set Other Words for Love in the 1980s is that the story wouldn’t work in the present day. As I mentioned, culture and values weren’t radically different then, but they weren’t exactly the same as today. For example—in the novel, Ari’s sister has a baby when she is seventeen years old, and although teen pregnancy isn’t encouraged now, I think it has less of a social stigma than it had during the 80s. There was no “Teen Mom” on MTV back then! Ari is more embarrassed about her sister having been a teen mother than she might be today, and Evelyn’s choices are extremely disappointing to her parents.

Also, the issue of AIDS is prevalent throughout the novel. Although AIDS unfortunately still exists, it is better understood than it was during the 80s, when it was new and many people didn’t fully comprehend how it could be contracted. There was an undercurrent of hysteria when AIDS first appeared, and this is present in Other Words for Love.

Finally, although Ari is intelligent and mature, she’s also more innocent than most girls her age would be today—for various reasons. For example, the internet didn’t exist during the 1980s, so teens didn’t have as much access to information as they do now. The 1980s were more conservative than the present time—just take a look at how teens were represented in the media back then as opposed to now.

What’s your favorite thing about the 80s?

I would say my favorite thing about the 1980s is the music. There was a lot of great music back then, especially from English artists who had a very distinctive sound.


Thanks Lorraine!  You can follow Lorraine on twitter – @lorrainezr

Check out our review of Other Words For Love here.

Other Words For Love is available in store in the U.S. and online via Amazon or Book Depository for international readers.

Author Interviews
November 24, 2010 posted by Christina

Interview with Ally Condie

Ally Condie is the author of the fantastic new novel, Matched, which is our November Book of the Month! She was nice enough to take the time out for a Q&A in the lead up to the book’s release on Nov. 30th (Dec 2nd for Australia).

**Beware of some spoilers ahead**

Cassia’s world in the Society is so complex and fascinating – where did the idea for the story come from?

Matched was inspired by a few different events—specific ones, such as a conversation with my husband and a time we chaperoned a high school prom—and general ones, like falling in love and becoming a parent.
Matched raises a lot of questions about our own society, as well as, what it means to be happy and the value of freedom – are they issues you wanted to particularly highlight?

Yes! I think happiness and freedom are both things we all want in our own lives now. And sometimes it feels like happiness and freedom don’t go hand in hand. Freedom means tough choices, living with consequences. But is true happiness possible without also knowing hardship and despair? I don’t think so. I think you have to have both sides of the coin.

How much research did you have to do before starting this novel?

I didn’t do any research before starting the novel, but as it progressed, I did do a bit of research into optimal fertility ages (so I’d know when the Society would match people) and also into game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, etc. My husband is an economist so things like game theory and algorithms come up at the dinner table all the time. He was a great resource, but of course any mistakes in the book are mine alone. J

I guess, as the writer, you get to chose which paintings/songs/poems etc get to be included in The Hundred – did you pick your favorites or did you opt for a list of the most popular of each?

I haven’t actually made lists of all the Hundreds. The only ones I “know” for certain are the ones that I’ve used in the book. And my list of favorites would look very different from the Society’s Hundreds. The Society would be very careful not to include anything subversive or inflammatory. The Society has also eliminated a lot of diversity and culture when they made their Hundreds, which is creepy.

Though Cassia seems quite decided in this book on who her Match is, will we see Xander try to make a comeback?

I don’t want to give too much away—but I will say that Xander is not giving up.

The film rights for Matched have been picked up by Disney – has there been any progress so far?

Not yet! Disney is still looking for a screenwriter. But I will be sure to post any updates I can on the blog.

I know I’m dying to find out what happens next (as I’m sure everyone else will be), what can we expect from the next book?

Let’s see…what am I allowed to tell you? 😉 Book 2 will have two narrators telling the story. And it will be the next part of Cassia’s journey, both physically and emotionally.
Any quirky writing rituals or habits? Where do you prefer to write? Cafe, at home…etc

I like to write at home in my basement “office,” and I also like to write at the public library. I drink a LOT of water while I’m writing and I like to wear a certain hoodie. And I don’t snack a lot while I’m writing, but if I need to stay awake, cinnamon bears usually do the trick.
What’s currently in your to-read pile?

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Great House by Nicole Krauss, and The Beyonders by Brandon Mull. I can’t wait to read them all!

Thank you Ally! Check out our review of Matched here and Ally’s guest blog here

Author Interview with Fiona Wood
Author Interviews
August 18, 2010 posted by Christina

Author Interview with Fiona Wood

Six Impossible Things is the debut YA novel by Fiona Wood. A sweet and heartwarming story folllowing the life of 14 year old Dan Cereill as he adjusts to a life after his parent’s separation and the family going bankrupt. We were lucky enough to  catch up with Fiona for a quick chat – quick warning though, a few small spoilers ahead.

You’ve been working as a successful script writer for many years now, what made you decide to write a novel?

It really comes down to the simple fact that I enjoying reading more than I enjoy watching TV, and finally giving myself the time to try to write a novel. And no matter how good the experience of script writing is, you always end up pouring your creative energy into someone else’s project. So it was wonderfully exciting to start with a blank page and absolutely no brief.

What was your experience in getting the book published?

Lovely Simmone Howell (Notes from the Teenage Underground, Everything Beautiful) read the manuscript and suggested to her publisher that they might like to read it. And they did. Even though they loved Dan, they didn’t think it was quite ready for publication, and I went back to the drawing board with some notes from them and some more ideas of my own, and did a rewrite. When Claire Craig, from Pan Macmillan, read that draft, she thought it was in good shape and offered me a contract. But it was a year between them first reading the manuscript and me doing the rewrite – I was still writing TV scripts, too – and then nearly two years between signing the contract and the book being published, so, as is often the case, it was a longish road. Overall I wrote five drafts in three years. Recently I have been lucky enough to be offered representation with Jill Grinberg Literary Management in New York where Cheryl Pientka is looking after ‘Six Impossible Things’, and me.

Where did the idea of Dan’s story come from?

It all started with Dan. I was working on something else, and the idea of this angsty fourteen  year old boy kept creeping into the margins. And so I started writing him down as a character, and then I wrote a story for him. I liked him so much, and I thought it would be great if this wry, wordy-nerdy boy got to transform himself and go to the ball – or year nine social, in his case. That’s where his name came from – an anagram of Cinderella. I also had the idea of two houses side-by-side, identical from the outside, but so different inside, with a shared attic space. That’s where Dan and Estelle live, though Dan has only just moved in at the beginning of the story. The misread note was something that actually happened to me.

Dan is faced with massive challenges at quite a young age that would make most kids quite bitter and angry, yet Dan is still a well behaved kid who works hard. Estelle has a more “normal” family situation but chooses to rebel against her parents, why do you think that is?

When the family business goes belly-up and his dad moves out, it’s a reality check for Dan, and a bit of a ff on growing up. After hibernating for a while, he rises to the occasion, and he understands that there are new imperatives at play. He gets a job because he really needs the money. The safety net’s gone. And because his mother isn’t coping terrifically well, he also does things like make sure she’s in touch with friends, and encourages her to take the job at Café Phrenology.  When it comes to Estelle, yes, things are more stable in her family, but she doesn’t see an awful lot of her parents. She has quite a combative relationship with her mother, and she does not like being told what to do. She rebels because she is pushing against the restrictions her parents impose. And no one likes being grounded on the night of a school dance…

I didn’t realise Hot Chip was an actual band, are you a fan?

I love Hot Chip!

If you wanted readers to take one thing from Dan’s story, what would it be?

Dan risks his friendship with Estelle because he feels he has to be honest with her. Because that’s who he is. And it comes back to something Oliver says to him, which is that the coolest thing is to be authentically yourself. So that’s what I hope readers might take with them – that it’s worth being on this road to finding out who you really are, and then feeling confident enough to be that person.

Some musicians have been known to do this, but do you think you might ever hang around a bookstore and see if you can spot someone buying your book?

Ha ha. Good idea! I could offer to do a quick reading on their way to the door. Value adding. No, I haven’t done it, but it would be interesting – you’d get an idea of whether the cover is saying ‘pick me up’, and whether the blurbs are making people open the book and dip in. I’d need an invisibility cloak though.

What is currently in your To-Be-Read pile?

There are a few piles (coughs) – in the YA pile at the moment, the top few books are ‘This is Shyness’ Leanne Hall, ‘White Cat’ Holly Black, ‘Little Paradise’ Gabrielle Wang and ‘India Dark’ Kirsty Murray.

Any quirky writing rituals or habits? Where do you prefer to write? Cafe, at home…etc

I have an office away from home, with no internet. It’s the only way to get the stretches of time I need to get lost in the work. On the way to work I pick up a coffee.  When I get to my desk, I always take off my wedding rings – for me that represents putting aside thoughts of family and home – how much laundry there is piled up, what we’re having for dinner, who’s doing what at the weekend etc. So for the time I’m there, it’s just me and the work. That’s the theory, anyway.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects/novels?

I’m about a third of the way through another YA novel called ‘Pulchritude’ – what an ugly word for beauty – about friendship and betrayal. And I’m at the early planning stage of a middle grade novel.

Six Impossible Things is available now at all good bookstores in Australia and NZ