Em: I really enjoyed your first novel, Bloom. How was it different writing Perfect You? Easier? Harder?
Elizabeth: First, thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked Bloom.Em: Recently you posted the cover for your upcoming book, Living Dead Girl and I see that Stealing Heaven will be released soon as well. Can you tell us anything about these books?
Perfect You was a hard book for me to write—it ended up taking me almost a year, and it's strange because I've written books that are more intense, but yet something about this one really got to me. I think a lot of it was Kate and Anna—writing about the loss of a friendship was difficult for me because I've had friendships end, and thinking about those losses made writing about Kate's situation painful at times.
Elizabeth: Stealing Heaven will be out at the end of May, and here's a five word summary—with thanks to popgurls for getting me to do this in the first place—Em: Perfect You is the title of your new book as well as the name brand of the vitamins that Kate’s dad sells. Which came first - the title or the brand name?
thief meets cop: love? disaster?
A longer version:
Stealing Heaven is about Dani, a girl who has spent her whole life on the move—and as a thief. When Dani and her mother settle on the coastal town of Heaven for their next job, Dani finds herself feeling at home for the first time in her life. She meets people she likes, including a guy, but when things get tough—her new friend lives in the house they've targeted and the guy turns out to be a cop—Dani must question where her loyalties lie: with the life she's always known...or the one she's always wanted.
Living Dead Girl will be out in September, and I can't say much about it yet other than it's about a girl whose entire life—including her name—is a lie.
Elizabeth: The title. I almost always get titles first, and as soon as I thought of this one, I knew it worked not only for the book, but would be the name of the vitamins that Kate's dad sells.Em: We have something in common in that we both had a parent as a teacher (my mom was my art teacher for a few years). You went to a small high school and ended up having both of your parents as teachers. How did that influence your high school years? Any latent desires to teach?
Elizabeth: I wish I had some great trauma-filled stories about having my parents as teachers, but I don't. In an area as rural as the one I grew up in, I knew, from a very early age, that when I got to high school, I was going to have my parents as teachers. So it wasn't like it was a surprise to me or anyone else—I guess when you've known something was going to happen since you were five, it really negates the shock value! However, regarding influence on me and wanting to teach—well, that's a totally different story! After seeing how hard my parents worked, I never EVER wanted to be a teacher. Yes, you get summers off, but before that, let me tell you—you work your butt off! (The average high school teacher teaches at least three different sections of a particular class—for example, history, AP history, and remedial history—which all require different class preparations, and then also has things like lunch/detention/bus duty, plus is in charge of one or more school-sponsored clubs and/or events. And as for the summers off, there's always summer school, taking classes you need to in order to keep your certification, and, of course, more school-related activities—if you're coaching a sports team, for example, you can pretty much kiss your summer good-bye)Em: Bloom was one of my favorite covers for 2007 and Perfect You is one of my favorites for 2008 so far. In fact, I just updated my profile with a picture of my shoes!
Elizabeth: Lisa Fyfe designed both the Bloom and Perfect You covers, and she is AMAZING! I've been really fortunate in my covers and every time I've see them, I've feel like they really capture what the story is about. (The shoes on the Perfect You cover, for example--as soon as I saw them, I immediately thought of the scene between Will and Kate at the party and thought, "YES!")Em: What’s the coolest thing about being a published author?
(btw, love your updated profile pic!!)
Elizabeth: Hearing from readers. Hands down, that is the best thing ever. EVER.Em: What are some of your favorite young adult books? Which ones influenced you while growing up?
Elizabeth: Right now, I've been reading a lot of young adult novels from the United Kingdom, and I have to say, I think they have some amazing writers. Kate Cann, Sarra Manning, Judy Waite, and Julie Hearn—all of these authors are automatic must-buys for me, even if I have to order all their latest books from amazon.co.uk! When I was growing up, there wasn't nearly as rich a range of YA as there is now—I remember a lot of books about two certain identical twins—but I adored Judy Blume. I still read Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself about once a year.Em: Why did you decide to write young adult novels? (And trust me, we’re all thankful that you did!)
Elizabeth: It actually all started when I was on the phone with a friend. We were talking about young adult novels, which I've loved since they started getting totally fabtastic in the late 1990s, and I mentioned how I'd love to see one about a girl who had the "happily ever after"—the perfect boyfriend and etc. —and who wasn't happy with it because yeah, the guy was perfect...but she wasn't. And my friend said, "So write it!"And I did.Em: I’ve heard all sorts of crazy stories about strange writing habits, such as wearing only one sock while writing or only using a lucky pen or, and this is the grossest, not showering during the last few weeks of writing a novel. Do you have any quirky writing habits that you’d be willing to share with us?
Elizabeth: I can't talk about what I'm working on while I write it.Well, okay, I could. But I don't. And it's so ingrained in me now that until I get that first draft done, I won't say anything about what's going on or what will happen—not even to the person who reads my first drafts! (Luckily, she's very understanding. Very!)Em: And last but not least, if you had just one piece of advice for young writers, what would it be?
Elizabeth: Read. Read as much as you can, in as many genres as you can—not only to learn about what you like and don't, but because reading opens the door to so many amazing worlds. And who would want to pass that up?
Thanks for letting me interview you, Elizabeth! This was tons of fun and I can't wait to read Stealing Heaven. I hope everyone else enjoys the interview too!
The first two chapters of Perfect You
More info on Elizabeth's books