Tag Archives: Author Interviews

Interview with Aimee Agresti
Author Interviews
April 18, 2012 posted by Nichole

Interview with Aimee Agresti

Aimee Agresti is the author of Illuminate. She was kind enough to do an interview with me for yareads.com. For more information, visit her website or check out her blog.

Let’s start with some ice breakers:

Is it safe to assume that your favorite cereal is Lucky Charms?

Haha! I do happen to love Lucky Charms! But here’s a fun secret: the scene where Haven and Lance talk about not being allowed to have Lucky Charms at home because it’s too sugary is actually autobiographical. Sadly, I grew up eating totally healthy cereals. Boo!

Favorite drink?

I love Starbucks mocha frappuccinos—yum! They fueled me while writing ILLUMINATE!

What was the last movie you watched?

Midnight in Paris–I LOVE that movie, I just watch it over and over! I think it’s because I’ve always wished I could go back and hang out with Hemingway. I would’ve had such a crush on him!

Now let’s get down to business:

Illuminate was filled with so much information and action. How long did it take you to finish the novel?

It took about a year from that very first spark of an idea to finishing the first draft. But then, of course, there’s always revising to be done. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the words just came out perfectly in the first draft?

What inspired you while creating the characters?

I wanted all of the characters to have depth and to be full of surprises. And I really put a lot into Haven’s evolution. I wanted her to start off plenty smart and ambitious and studious but lacking in confidence and then show her becoming this force to be reckoned with!

Would you say that you relate to Haven?

Definitely! She works hard and has big dreams but she doesn’t always believe in herself enough. Growing up, I didn’t always have as much confidence as I would’ve liked—even now I could sometimes stand to have more!—so anytime you see Haven feeling awkward or unsure of herself, that’s probably a little bit of me remembering those high school days!

Do you have a name for the second Gilded Wings novel?

I do!….But I’m not telling yet! I’m still polishing up the book so you never know, the title could still change. I’ll announce it soon at aimeeagresti.com, stay tuned!

What can readers expect from the second novel?

Oooh, how much should I tell you? Well, in Book Two, the gang heads to New Orleans—I absolutely love it there–and they encounter a new enclave of devils. But you haven’t seen the last of Lucian!

You must be busy with The Gilded Wings trilogy. Have you had any thought about what you’re going to write after the series is finished?

I have actually! I’ve got so many ideas rattling around in my head. But there’s one in particular that I’m just dying to write about a group of gal pals. But first, I’d better finish polishing up Book Two and get cracking on Book Three of Gilded Wings!

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

What ISN’T in my To-Be-Read pile?! Mine is overflowing. I wish I could just lock myself up and read  for months and months at a time. There are so many new books by fellow YA authors that I’m dying to read: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. The list goes on and on. And then there are all the books that haven’t even come out yet but I already can’t wait to read like Dreamless by Josephine Angelini and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. There’s just so much! Aaaaah! But I had a professor once who said a true reader is someone who always has a ton of books waiting in the wings to be read and yet still continues to buy more. So that’s pretty much me!

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles
Author Interviews
August 15, 2010 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles

As you all know, to celebrate the release of her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re celebrating all things Simone Elkeles this month. Everyone here at yaReads has Elkeles Fever and were stoked when she sat down for an interview with us. If you’ve been following any of Simone’s stories, chances are you’re going to love this interview! Strap yourselves in, folks. This one is too awesome for words.

Return to Paradise gives readers a bit of closure. Is this it for Maggie and Caleb, or will we be treated to another novel?

The story is finished after Return to Paradise.  However, I want to tell my fans that they will feel much better about the ending I have in store for Maggie and Caleb this time!

I know what my favorite moment is, but I’m dying to know what your fave Caleb and Maggie moment in Return to Paradise is…

I would have to say when Maggie and Caleb are kissing in the lake.  Things really heat up and I think my fans are going to be surprised by what Maggie does next.  I’m just so proud of her!  She’s so much stronger than she was in Leaving Paradise.

Will we ever learn what Maggie and Caleb got up to during the year they spent apart?

I think the most important thing that happened while they were apart is that they learned what’s most important in life:  being with the ones you love.  I know many of my fans were upset with the ending of Leaving Paradise, but I didn’t think Maggie and Caleb were ready to be with each other yet.  However, after a year apart. . .

I’m curious to learn what happens to Leah next – will we ever find out?

Everyone has a lot of healing to do, but Leah more than anyone.  I think Leah has a rough road ahead of her, but I have no doubt that she will prevail.

Of all the characters you’ve created, Caleb is definitely my fave. Who is your fave?

I get asked that question a lot, but there’s no way to pick!  (It would be like having to choose my favorite out of my children.)  I love Caleb because he is so strong in most areas of his life, but he needs Maggie to be complete.  I love Maggie for the way she forgives Caleb and Leah even though she’ll have scars forever.  Of course, I love Alex and Carlos for pushing the envelope, but still being very caring.  I respect Brittany and Kiara for not giving up on the guys they love, even when the boys make things very challenging!  See what I mean?  I could never pick!

Of all the characters you’ve created, which did you find the most challenging to write, and why?

All of my characters were challenging in different ways.  I had to do quite a bit of research to write about Alex and Carlos and their gang affiliations as well as Hispanic culture.  I talked to kids in Juvenile Detention facilities, met with police officers who work in tough neighborhoods, and even went on a “ride-along” and got to wear a bullet-proof vest!

You seem to have quite an affiliation with bad boys being reformed by good, wholesome girls. Why is that?

I love bad boys.  They’re my weakness.  Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt.  I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys.  If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion)  Alex and Carlos and Caleb are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that.  And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart.  (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

How do you go about choosing your character’s names?

I get asked that question all the time.  Listen, if you were obnoxious in high school your name is somehow connected to the rude girls in my books, ha ha.  My friends laugh when I say to beware of pissing me off because you just might find yourself in one of my books (although Darlene was a great friend of mine in school and she’s the mean girl in Perfect Chemistry and Madison is the daughter of my best friend and the mean girl in Rules of Attraction). I’m a girl scout leader, so I use a lot of my girls’ names in my books.  I use last names of people I know most of the time or I make them up.  I will also go to baby name websites and find names that I like.  Sometimes I even use names from my fan mail.  My fans have some very cool names!

What’s in your TBR pile at the moment?

My “to read” pile is enormous because I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had enough time to read!  But, I definitely want to make time to read Mockingjay when it comes out.  I loved The Hunger Games!

For you, what are the best and worse things about being a writer?

There are so many things I love about being a writer!  I love the satisfying feeling of writing “The End” when I finish a book.  I love my RITA award I just won at the Romance Writers of America conference!  (seriously, she’s so pretty. . . I can’t stop looking at her!)  But, most of all, I LOVE MY FANS!  The wonderful comments I get on my Facebook, myspace, and twitter really keep me going when I’m feeling down or frustrated.

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I’m currently working on Chain Reaction, the third book in the Perfect Chemistry series.  This one is about Luis, the youngest Fuentes brother.  He’s such a good guy who doesn’t live with the angst that his big brothers have always lived with.  Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams.  When he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he’s never known to try and save her from herself.  Just when he thinks he’s got life all figured out, Luis learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life.  Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?

Author Interview: Maggie Stiefvater
Author Interviews
July 18, 2010 posted by Nikki

Author Interview: Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater’s stellar novel, Linger, is our Book of the Month here for July. As promised, she sat down for a quick Q&A with us (aint she just the cutest?!) Enjoy.

What made you decide to include the additional POV(s)?

Sheer insanity. No, mostly it was because I love to see characters from all sides — often an action they think is very sympathetic is actually very unsympathetic from an outside viewpoint, or vice versa. And with a limited first person POV, you can only see so much. I wanted to see more of Mercy Falls than Sam and Grace could see, and I wanted to see more about Cole in particular. I couldn’t have tackled his character arc without seeing inside his head.

Music is a reoccurring theme in your novels. For those that may be unaware of your affinity with music, please explain.

I . . . just need it. I can’t write unless I have music playing in the background, and I write better if I have dedicated playlists with the mood of the novel or scene or character playing. I also play a bunch of musical instruments so if writing ever stops working out for me, I can go back to busking on the sidewalk with my bagpipes. I’d need to get another kilt, though.

Since the release of SHIVER, your name is now considered among the best of YA authors. How has your life changed lately?

It’s really bizarre, actually, to think that just a few years ago I was reading the “greats” in YA and now I’m on lists with them. It happened so fast that I still sort of just feel as if my hair is on fire. It’s pretty amazing to go into a library, say my name, and have the teen librarian instantly begin nodding her head because she not only knows who you are, but she read your book. It’s just sort of crazy and wonderful and intimidating. I have readers! I don’t want to let these people down!

Can you tell us anything about the SHIVER movie?

Unfortunately I don’t have too much in the way of news. The film rights were optioned by Warner Brothers/ Unique Features, they hired Nick Pustay to adapt the screenplay, and the latest news is that the script is finished. I don’t know anything else other than that! Everything in film movies glacially slowly, and that’s saying a lot, since I’m used to publishing being slow.

Who is your ideal Grace and Sam?

Alex Turner for Sam (I know he’s not an actor) and Rachel Hurd Wood for Grace — or Dakota Blue Richards. She’s a little young at the moment, but movies take so long . . .

Can you give us any information about your next novel

It is not about werewolves. Or kraken. It’s a YA paranormal, mostly realistic with a hint of supernatural, like my other books, and it involves blood and beaches and kissing. That’s all I can say!

Author Interview with Stephanie Kuehnert
Author Interviews
November 20, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Stephanie Kuehnert

Stephanie Kuehnert’s new book, Ballads of Suburbia, is our Book of the Month here at yaReads. We think Stephanie is a pretty amazing story teller and is a breath of fresh air in the world of Young Adult fiction. She deviates from the regular YA formula and her books are confronting, edgy, and real. It’s great to see someone pushing the boundaries. She was kind enough to answer some of our questions about Ballads, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

If you had to choose a ballad that fits your own life story what would it be?

Okay, this is seriously the hardest question anyone has ever asked me! It’s hard for me to choose just one because different phases of my life had different songs. I guess, I’d have to say “The Young Crazed Peeling” by The Distillers though. There are things that don’t apply literally (I’m not from Melbourne, I didn’t have an abusive dad, though my mom does blame herself for me growing up troubled a bit), but it’s basically to me about getting through your rough teenage years where you’re bored and troubled and as Brody sings “you can wash it all down, swallow your story, get smacked up, yeah and go down in drum roll glory,  but it won’t solve it, committing self inflicted crime.” And then you’re “liberated from those sad side city streets”, find love, speak truth, and  “it hit me, I got everything I need. I got freedom and my youth.” Basically my troubled youth ended well, and gave me a gift of creativity, and I finally did find good love.

You’re obviously heavily influenced by music. What are your top three bands/artists of all time?

Nirvana, Hole, and Social Distortion, all of whom I discovered between the ages of 12 and 14.

Where does your musical influence come from?
Somewhere around age 10 or so music became as essential to me as food, water and air. I got into the Beatles first, through my parents. Then we got MTV and I started getting into alternative rock like REM, Jane’s Addiction, Depeche Mode and Faith No More as well as heavier stuff like Metallica and Megadeth. I had a couple friends who were always discovering new bands first, like one of them got Nirvana’s first album Bleach right before Nevermind came out and they got huge. One of them got stuff from a cool older cousin. That was where I heard Hole’s first album and I remember that friend brought the first Nine Inch Nails album to my 12th birthday party and we were like “The devil wants to f*** me in the back of his car?!?” BAD-ASS! But really it was Nirvana that had the hugest influence. Something about how Kurt Cobain screamed, it just soothed all that hurt inside and I wanted more music like that. So I bought bands’ albums that he mentioned in interviews. That’s how I discovered the Sex Pistols. Nirvana and The Sex Pistols were my two favorite bands in junior high and from there I went on to discover more punk. Punk gave me voice and a sense of release. It all comes from that.

Now for Ballads, how long did it take to write?

Actual writing time probably 2 years, but I wrote a really, really crappy book when I first started the creative writing program at Columbia in 2000/2001 called The Morning After. It had some of the same characters from Ballads, but it was a fictionalized version of my own life and that was not what I wanted to do. I had something to say about suburbia and I wanted to do it justice and find the write structure for it. So I shoved that manuscript in a drawer and went on to write my first published novel, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. In the middle of doing that, while I was in grad school, I took a class with Joe Meno and he did this whole lesson on ballads and that was when I realized I needed these confessional type ballads for my suburbia book. Still, I finished writing IWBYJR and then came back to Ballads in 2006. I need a lot of stewing time for my books. But the ballad structure was exactly what I needed. I wrote the book fast. I think the only scene from The Morning After that made the cut though was when Kara and Adrian meet.


Did you make a conscious decision to kill of Maya, or did the story kind of write itself that way?

I knew Maya was dead when I met her. Ballads, unlike IWBYJR, I wrote linearly. I wrote that epilogue first and when Kara had that vision of Maya, I saw her too and I knew that Maya was dead. I knew how she would kill herself too, but I had to discover the whys through the writing, let Maya slowly reveal them to me.

A lot of the characters in Ballads (Liam and Kara especially) say that love is for suckers, yet they both end up falling for the people they’re messing around with. Do you think that people can have no-strings attached relationships like they were both aiming for?

Kara’s story is not as uncommon as society would have us think. Why do you think teens (and people in general, I suppose) turn to self-mutilation, drugs and substance abuse to help solve their problems? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself and I would say no. I had a couple Adrian style relationships when I was younger and always got emotionally involved and got hurt. Now I’m a very emotional person so that is just me, but when I’ve seen other people do it, it seems like someone always gets hurt too.

Kara’s story is not as uncommon as society would have us think. Why do you think teens (and people in general, I suppose) turn to self-mutilation, drugs and substance abuse to help solve their problems?

Because as a society we don’t communicate well. That’s kind of the whole theme of Ballads, the whole tragedy of it. If parents had talked to children or children had talked to parents or other trusted adults or each other, things might not have happened the way they did. I hope this story creates a dialogue and gets people talking so fewer kids suffer in silence like the characters in Ballads and like I did as a teen too.

If Kara’s parents had stayed together, do you think she would have gone down a different road, or do you think she was destined to learn life’s lessons the way she did?

Well, it depends. If they stayed together for the right reasons and actually created a healthy environment, then maybe things would have been different. But “staying together for the kids” and creating this unhealthy silence wouldn’t haven changed things. Also Kara had other issues. She felt isolated and friendless, she might have still gone down the same path because of that. I don’t think anyone is destined for anything, there are always choices, but there are also always multiple factors that shape why we act the way we do.


Do you think Adrian will ever clean himself up?

Um, I don’t know. Part of me wants to hold out hope. Part of me is cynical because I have friends (ex-friends really) who are still in the throes of addiction and it seems like they will never come out. Adrian’s a lot like them because he just doesn’t care. If you don’t care enough to save yourself, you’re pretty much screwed. No one can save you but you.

For all those people out there who live by the motto “once a drug addict, always a drug addict” what do you have to say to that?

Depends what you mean by that. If it’s like a negative thing, like people can never turn their lives around, I think that is bullshit. There are always choices and opportunity for change. But it is a fight to overcome an addiction. I struggled with self-injury and even though I haven’t cut in eight years when a friend of mine was killed in a motorcycle accident last year, it took unbelievable willpower not to go back to old ways of running from pain. So yeah, you are always an addict in that sense where it’s not like you can just indulge again without consequences. But you can start fresh and turn your life around.

What would be your advice to teens reading Ballads that might be following a similar path as Kara?

Find someone trusted to talk to. Friends are good, but finding an adult is important too. There is no shame in therapy. My life didn’t turn around until I seriously started going to therapy. That combined with my art–my writing–helped me through my darkest times. Art is the best escape– no hangovers, no regrets, no scars. Finding some form of art–music, writing, painting, photos, film–to express yourself with is the best way to begin to heal. Along with talking. Talking is so necessary.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a few different things. It takes a while for the ideas to formulate so I do more than one thing at once until I really get going. I’m working on a book about a teenage girl and her alcoholic, still-teenage-acting mom trying to grow up and finally put down roots somewhere together. Then I’m working on a book with paranormal elements, that involves mythology and rock ‘n’ roll.

Author Interview with Alex Sanchez
Author Interviews
June 21, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Alex Sanchez

Alex Sanchez is the author of many young adult books featuring queer characters and relationships. His books have won many awards and he is regarded as one of the most popular and influential writers of fiction for gay youth. Some of his titles include The Rainbow Boys trilogy, The God Box, So Hard to Say, and Getting It. His latest novel, Bait, is in stores now. In celebration of Gay Pride Month, Alex was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions. Here’s what he had to say…

What made you decide to write books about gay teens?

I didn’t set out to write Y.A. Lit. When I wrote my first novel, Rainbow Boys, I was simply writing the book I wished I’d had available to read when I was a teen—a book that would’ve told me, “It’s okay to be who you are.” Part of who I was then was a very normal teenage boy trying to sort out love, friendship, sex, and sexuality.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Prior to becoming a full-time author, I worked as a website manager, organizational development consultant, juvenile probation officer, family counselor, scuba instructor, college recruiter, movie projectionist, agent trainee, movie production assistant, theatre usher, stock clerk, and tour guide. Who knows what else I might be doing?

We’re featuring The Rainbow Boys trilogy on our site this month for Gay Pride Month. Where did the inspiration for those books come about?

A lot of the inspiration came from seeing young people nowadays who have the courage and opportunity to come out and be themselves in high school. When I was in high school, the term “coming out” didn’t even exist. The early 70’s was a time when gay people were practically invisible. I thought I was the only one in the world with my feelings. This was back in the dark ages—before Will & Grace.

Which character – Jason, Kyle, or Nelson – came to you first?

I began writing the book in 1993, so I don’t remember which character came first. I wanted to write a love story between two teenage boys—that’s where Jason and Kyle came from. And I wanted to write about the friendship between two boys—that’s where Kyle and Nelson’s story came from. The triangle between the three boys is what makes the story hang together.

Why did you decide to write this series through three different points of view, rather than just one character’s perspective?

I wanted to allow the reader to experience how three very different gay and bisexual teenage boys experience the world differently.

Do you have a favourite out of the three boys?

Each boy captures an aspect of myself—and of universal human drives. Jason struggles to love himself. Kyle wants to find someone to love. Nelson wants to find someone to love him.

Jason loses his college scholarship when he comes out. Do you think this kind of thing is still a common occurrence in modern America?

Unfortunately, homophobia is alive and pervasive in America. I recently received the following words in an email from a boy who came out at his school:  “I ended up getting kicked off of like five activities. And I didn’t make the football, basketball, or baseball team even though I was captain in all three my junior year. And I wasn’t sure whether they’re allowed to do that. I mean, I’m not a bad athlete or anything.”

What do you have to say to teens that might be in Jason’s position?

Keep reaching out.  Never close up.  Never give up.  Hang in there.  You will get through this.  You are a wonderful human being.  Love, respect, and accept yourself for the beautiful soul you are.

While all three boys in The Rainbow Boys eventually come out, and are relatively happy with their decision to do so, not all teens are so lucky. What advice do you have for teens that might be struggling with coming out?

Coming out can be a very freeing thing. You no longer have to hide who you are, censor what your say, and watch what you do. Being honest and open enables you to feel confident about yourself and more able to form closer relationships with people. But because homophobia is so pervasive in our society, you never know how others will react. A big part of coming out is whether you’re prepared to deal with anti-gay reactions that may come from your being open. There is no rush to come out. TAKE YOUR TIME. The most important thing is that YOU love and accept yourself for who you are. Don’t do anything before you feel ready. It’s your life and your choice. Only you can decide if, how, with whom, and when to come out.

Where can questioning or gay teens find information that might help them through their self-discovery?

If you’re a teen and want to talk with someone, contact one of the organizations listed at my website, www.alexsanchez.com. And read all my books! They will help you.

Peace, Alex.

Author Interview with Melissa Marr
Author Interviews
February 25, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr is the author of the hugely popular books, Wicked Lovely and Ink Exhange. Her third novel, set in the same world as the two aforementioned books, is scheduled for release in April of 2009. In anticipation of this, Melissa was kind enough to sit down with us this week and answer some of our questions. Grab a cuppa guys, you’re in for a real treat!

Firstly, I just wanted to say congratulations on writing such an amazing series. The Wicked Lovely books are hugely popular, and rightly so!

Thank you : ) It’s very cool (and still exceptionally surreal!) that readers are enjoying spending their time with my characters.

First things first, I want to put some debate to rest and ask just exactly how you pronounce Aislinn’s name.

Aislinn or Aisling (ASH-ling or ASH linn)

Does Ash’s name signify anything about her character, or was it just a random selection on your part?

Aislinn means “dream or vision.” The first part sounds like “Ash.” Mounain Ash/Rowan is one of the trees used a lot in folk tradition. Ash is also the leftover bits after we pass away (“ashes”) and what is left after one is burnt up (by the sun, frex).

Most of the names in my texts are chosen for their etymological significance. If you want spoilers, sometimes checking out the names of characters in texts will lead you to clues.

There seems to be a definite divide between the Team Keenan and Team Seth fans. Are you impartial, or do you lean towards one team over the other?

I can argue for the strengths of both Seth & Keenan—and have love for most of my characters. That doesn’t mean that I would take up with them in the real world. They’re neither one my type. If I were able to step into the book, I wouldn’t be pursuing either of them or trying to sway Ash in her decisions . . . but I can see why she has feelings for them. They’re good guys. Flawed, but good. . .

In your mind, who came first – Seth or Keenan?

Keenan came first in terms of the writing. In 2004, I wrote a short story (“The Sleeping Girl”) about a girl – Aislinn – who had to choose between joining the Summer King and becoming the next Winter Queen. Choosing one would end her contact with the other. The Summer King tempted her with a life of endless summer – dancing and freedom and no responsibilities.

So, Keenan & Ash were in the story from the beginning. Seth and Donia and all the rest evolved as the story became a novel.

Why faeries?

Why not? : ) With folklore, there are so many interesting beings. I grew up believing in them — the beansidhe in the woods, the ghost in the music box, the vampire who likes to walk in the old cemetery on the hill. . . Add a steady diet of folklore, fairy tales, critical studies on the same, and a decade teaching literature, a few years teaching lit/gender studies . . . It all swirls together. So it’s what leaks through when I write. Right now, the faeries leaked through first.

Who is your favorite fey character in your fey world, and why?

Depends on what day it is and what I was just writing : ) I like the Scrimshaw Sisters, Beira, Irial, Bananach … I like Sorcha. Tonight, I’m in revisions on the fourth novel (which has a working title of Skin Starved), so I’m particularly fond of Ani. To write them, I need to love them. I need to want what they want, believe in their goals, and look at the machinations necessary to make their agendas reality. If I don’t hold their needs and wants and hopes as important, they could end up as flat characters or placeholder characters . . .and where’s the fun in that?

Are any of the characters in your novels based on actual people?

Grams is based, in part, on my own grandmother – Marjorie Marr. My grandmother was the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. She was brilliant, tough, clever, and never stopped learning about the world. I wouldn’t be the person I am without having had her influence on my life.

Grams also has the surname of my grandfather’s (John Marr) mother. The rest of the characters are not consciously based on anyone, but Grams is my homage to my grandparents and their histories.

Ink Exchange predominantly follows a different set of character than Wicked Lovely does, what made you want to change the focus like that?

Picture being in the middle of a group of people. One person is talking, telling a story, and another says something fascinating. Now, you can’t really stop everything to follow up bc, well, the original story is interesting you and if you walk away you’ll miss it. Afterwards, the room is emptying out and you see the person who made the remark. You can follow the first person and hope there are more things they’ll say later, or you can walk to the park with the second person whose story you haven’t heard yet. To me, the second option is more fun. Life is filled with people with stories inside of them, and I don’t want to only listen to the stories of one person (or character).

In Wicked Lovely we first met Leslie as Ash’s friend. But in Ink we see a whole new side of Leslie that we don’t really see in WL. They seem kind of different to me. How did they become friends?

I suspect it was the same way we will all do – a moment where they discovered a point of connection, a commonality. (In their case, it was over a lit assignment they first started talking.) I guess I don’t see the difference as the important factor. Difference is all the more reason to talk. One of my dearest friends is a very granola, very religious (& not my faith), kinda anti-feminist mother of a few kids. Another hates children (no, really, finds the idea of small humans repugnant). Another is texting me right now abt a particularly good date he had last night-today-still. Another is a bit of a misanthrope. Another is hardcore activist, reproductive rights, liberal. Another is . . . They’re not the same. I argue with some on issues. I adore them all.

If we are only friends with those who are all the same, we miss out.

Are we going to see Leslie again in future books?

Leslie is not in Fragile Eternity or Skin Starved (Book 4). Beyond that, I have no answer. I know what’s going on in her corner of the world, but I’m not sure when or if that needs to be brought back into the novels. The resolution of Ink Exchange was the right resolution for her at this point in her life, so I don’t anticipate her returning to the rest of the events in the world of Wicked Lovely anytime soon.

If my memory serves me correct, Ash doesn’t have any tattoos, right? Is she planning on getting any? If so, of what?

Ash isn’t so much a tattoo fan. Seth is. A few other characters are. (Tavish has a sunburst tattoo I’m quite fond of), but Ash has no immediately plans for a tattoo. Some people just don’t want to wear art – which is fine.

It’s no secret that you’re a fan of tattoos. Do you have any advice for someone thinking about getting one?

One should always research both the artist and the studio as the key part of planning to get a tattoo. You want an artist with experience, not just in traditional art but in tattooing. Just because someone can run a tattoo machine doesn’t mean they are qualified to decorate your body – and just because they can sketch doesn’t mean they can tattoo. Think of it like calligraphy and working in oil: both are art, but skill in one isn’t necessarily skill in the other.

Ask questions, meet the artist, check out the shop, & trust your instincts if you get a twitchy feeling. There are some brilliant artists out there, but there are inexperienced scratchers too. A lot of shops will have laws, advice, and other helpful things on their websites. The pros – the real tattooists – want you to have beautiful art and a put that on a worthy canvas. That means client and artist need to be sober (no drinking or drugs), clean, and well rested. On their side, they should also open new needles (in front of you!), change gloves any time the gloves contact anything (phone, trash, etc). Treat a tattoo visit with the respect you would your physician’s visits. It’s a profession and an art.

The [US] covers of your books are amazing. How much input did you have on that?

They’ve been very active in asking for my opinions. I picked both cover models (in that, matching the character’s image in my head and looking healthy were my priorities. Promoting an unhealthy body image seems anti-feminist so a number of models were off the list for that reason). They asked for a list of suggestions of “iconic images” (the flower on the cover of Wicked Lovely, the tattoo on the cover of INK, & the butterfly in FE). The vines on WL & FE (ivy & jasmine, respectively) are from the texts.

I’ve had regular contact with Alison (the Art Director), and I’ve even answered questions on what length the models fingernails should be for the WL cover. At the end though, those very same details could create a totally different image, so while the details are things I can offer thoughts on, the art is totally theirs. Mark Tucker (whose art makes me crush on him quite horribly) and Alison Donnalty are the ones who do the magic on the covers.

And, yes, I do have a favourite – the US cover of Ink Exchange is easily my top pick, closely followed by the US cover of Wicked Lovely. I’ve been fortunate to get some beautiful ones overseas too: both the books have gorgeous covers in Germany, and the art on the original UK covers is stunning. I’ve been elated by all of these.

What is your fave novel circulating at the moment?

I don’t usually have just one answer, so here are my top 6.

In terms of newish books? The Graveyard Book (Gaiman). No one else alive can craft stories like he can. He’s brilliant.

Other newish picks I recommend to my readers are Graceling (Cashore), The Summoning (Armstrong), Bones of Faerie (Simner).

In term of what’s coming? The Forest of Hands and Teeth (C Ryan) and Immortal (Shields) are both texts that are literary and captivating – in totally different ways. I really enjoyed them both.

Do you think you’ll always write novels about fey, or are you planning non-fey stories in the future?

I’m afraid I don’t plan very well, but since I know what I’m under contract for – but not spilling in public any time soon – I can safely say that I will write both faery and non-faery stories 😉

Fragile Eternity is out in April. Don’t spose you could dish any info for us?

If it wouldn’t get my knuckles smacked, I’d spoiler all over the place. I’m one of those folks who reads ending first, so I’m all for spoilers . . . That said, I get chastened if I share too much. Hmmmm. How about this: The Persephone myth (which is very like a particular faery lore detail) is a factor. I think the actions of the characters are ones that were totally inevitable, but I know a few earlier readers (including my daughter) have gasped at some of them.

We’d just like to say a very huge thank you to Melissa for taking time out of her uber busy schedule to answer our questions. I know I speak for everyone in the yaReads family when I say that we’re all profoundly excited about the release of Fragile Eternity. In my opinion, April can’t get here fast enough!

Author Interview with Patrick Carman
Author Interviews
February 24, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Patrick Carman

Patrick Carman is the author of the fabulous interactive novel, Skeleton Creek. He took some time out of his busy tour schedule this week to talk with us about his book.

Firstly, I want to say that I love the concept – very innovative indeed. What came first, the idea of incorporating video and novel together, or Sarah and Ryan’s story?

Skeleton Creek is a case of two ideas coalescing unexpectedly. Having different ideas come together is not an uncommon event in the development of my stories. With Atherton, it was climate change and Frankenstein, two ideas I’d been exploring separately that became the story of a mad scientist creating a new planet in a dystopian future. For Skeleton Creek, the format had been on my mind for quite a while. At the same time I had long wanted to write a mystery / ghost story but couldn’t settle on a location or a thread that would hold things together. When I visited the dredge in Oregon, everything merged together pretty much overnight. Sometimes a location or a character will do that for me. When I walked into the dredge and saw the massive gears and conveyer belts, then heard about a legendary ghost story, well, that was it for me. The idea of shooting video inside this place at night was very appealing. The story of two teens, one who wrote and one who filmed, felt right for the setting. After that things started to really move.

You’ve said previously that it took three years to make. That’s an awfully long time! Why did it take so long?

I visited the dredge multiple times to do research, shoot preliminary video, and take a lot of pictures. Then I wrote the book and the screenplay, which saw many revisions. I had to get Scholastic to buy the idea, which involved sample footage and the development of a production plan. Then I had to go out and find a team of about 20 people, which was very time consuming. I needed a director, cinematographer, crew, actors, an editor. Finding the main actress took months and included casting calls in Los Angeles and all over Washington. I switched directors in mid-stream and had to start over. Needless to say, not only did Skeleton Creek take three years to develop, it also burned through quite a bit more than my advance on the book. But I was in with both feet and there was no turning back. Thankfully, the second book was faster and less expensive….I figured some things out on the first project.

Which character came first for you, Ryan or Sarah?

They were simultaneous, really. I knew for this particular story to work I would need one character who loved to write and one who loved to film. In a sense, Ryan and Sarah are trying to prove their storytelling format is the better of the two. Sarah never writes, Ryan never films (unless Sarah makes him hold the camera). And, importantly, their storytelling methods match their personalities. Ryan would rather write a ghost story than be in one. He’s perfectly happy to stay in his room and write all day, especially if it means staying out of difficult situations in the real world. Sarah couldn’t be more different. She will take her camera anywhere, film in the middle of the night, and secretly record conversations with people. For Sarah, the camera is her escape from a boring life in a dead end town.

Do you have a preference for either character?

I like them both for different reasons. Ryan is way more paranoid than I would ever be, but he’s also the voice of reason in the relationship. And I love the way he over thinks everything like the passwords and the situations Sarah might be getting into. He’s also a good storyteller, which I admire and enjoy. I like Sarah because she’s reckless, and reckless is always fun to write. She makes the story interesting. She is the eyes and ears for the reader (and for Ryan), showing us things we don’t necessarily want to see, taking us to places we’re at once curious about and afraid of. I think Ryan is secretly happy he’s got a friend that is willing to go places he won’t go and risk things he won’t risk. Sarah stretches Ryan, and he needs that.

Did you write Ryan’s journal before any footage was filmed?

I wrote everything – the journal and the screenplay – before anything was shot.

I’m interested in how much you were involved with the production of the videos. What kind of involvement did you have in casting/directing and all that jazz?

I was involved in every part of the production. Choosing the production team and the actors, selecting the locations, being there for the long nights of shooting, changing the script on the fly, editing the final nine segments. No part of this project escaped my attention, because I had a very clear vision of what I wanted. That said, the team that worked on Skeleton Creek was world class. The director and editor, the cinematographer, the actors and everyone else on the project worked extremely hard to create a solid piece of storytelling.

Was the footage filmed at the dredge a real building, or a set? It is very realistic!

(I’d just like to interrupt here and say that I’m aware that Patrick kind of, sort of, already answered this question previously but he’s also talked about some other stuff that I thought was interesting, so i’m going to leave it in.)

We spent two weeks on the actual dredge, filming primarily from dusk until dawn. Very long nights where we filmed every scene dozens of times. We also had sets for Sarah’s room, the town of Skeleton Creek, her car, alleyways, that sort of thing. The secret room was particularly difficult to film and involved a lot of set pieces. Overall we built a lot more items than readers would imagine.

What was your favourite part of the writing/creative process?

This was the first time I was able to collaborate on a story with a large group….I am officially addicted. Working with the key three or four people was particularly enjoyable. Meetings where you sit around for hours talking about how you’re going to make certain scenes work was very energizing. And I love movies, so the idea of blending a movie and a book was fascinating. Developing the second book was even more enjoyable, because I learned so much on the first go around.

Do you have any rituals when you sit down to write? Any quirky habits that you have when you write that we might be interested in?

I have a hard time getting started! Writing is difficult, solitary work. I have to will myself into the chair. The strange thing is, once I’m sitting down, I love the process of writing. I’m one of those writers who, once I finally get started, I can’t stop. Six hours later I look up and I’ve written 5000 words and I’m like….what just happened?

Have you always been into ghost stories? What is your favourite creepy book/movie?

I don’t even like ghost stories, generally speaking. I’m a chicken. Plus I generally don’t buy into the whole ghostly thing, which made the experience interesting. I do enjoy the classic gothic novels – Turn of the Screw, Frankenstein, Edgar Allen Poe – those are more the model I’m trying to work from. Those old stories are grounded in the narrator, the setting, the mood they create, great storytelling – the ghost or the monster is (in my opinion) beside the point with a lot of classic gothic writing. It’s the feeling they create – dread and fear – that interests me about doing a story like this. On the movie side of things I’m a fan of Alfred Hitchcock (note the stairway scene in Skeleton Creek!), and the Japanese filmmakers doing things like The Ring, where mood trumps monsters.

What scares you more than anything else in the world?

I’m not good at being home alone in the middle of the night. Dark + Alone + Home = Terrified. I can’t seem to shake the idea that someone is in the house with me, possibly even watching me, intent on doing me harm. This never happens when my family is at home, only when I’m alone (very rare). Read The Cask Of Amontillado for a general idea of how this might feel (also a wonderful Vincent Price reading of that short story widely available online). Other things I fear are being on the front line in a war, drowning, guns (I generally can’t stand any kind of gun), and a healthy fear of the almighty.

As a YA author, what is your fave YA novel (besides your own, of course).

Catcher in the Rye tops my list. Also A Separate Peace (for similar reasons). New YA is often too profane for my taste, but I do like the occasional Scott Westerfeld, John Greene, or David Levithan book. Middle grade is dicier, because I hardly ever read it. I mostly read adult fiction. Favorites there include Steinbeck, Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Robertson Davies, David James Duncan (fiction only – don’t like the non-fiction as much), Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James, T.H. White, Robert Frost (I’m not into poetry, but him I like), Tolkien, a few others. Top 5 favorite books (these are ever changing): The Grapes of Wrath, The Brothers K (David James Duncan), The Brothers Karamotsov, Frankenstein, and Fifth Business.

Finally, for those who are not aware, there is a sequel to Skeleton Creek coming in the American summer of 09. Will this be the last of the Skeleton Creek books?

I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. We shot two endings, one that brings the story to a close, and one that allows for a third instalment. My feeling right now is that two will do it, even if the series becomes wildly popular. I say this primarily because we’re already in development on a totally different story in this new format, and getting back to Skeleton Creek might be tough. But I never say never with things like this. If a story is there and a lot of fans want to hear it, than a third book is certainly something I’ll think seriously about.

We here at yaReads really loved Skeleton Creek and we’d just like to thank Patrick for sitting down with us. He’s a very busy man!