The first first-ever event? An interview with fan-freaking-tabulous author Julie Halpern, whose books I love.
The second first-ever event? A CONTEST! Julie’s third YA novel, Don’t Stop Now, hits shelves NEXT WEEK (June 7)—luckily I have an ARC and am willing to part with it (but only because I have a hard copy pre-ordered). Be sure to check out how to enter, right after the (long but fabulous) interview.
PART ONE: THE INTERVIEW OF AWESOMENESS.
What inspired you to write Don’t Stop Now? I knew a girl who faked her own kidnapping, actually, and I was the only person she told. I lied to the police and the FBI; it was ridiculous. The girl and I never really talked about things after I eventually turned her in, but I thought it was bizarre to fake ones own kidnapping. That inspired the opening and the catalyst for the road trip in the book. In real life, I’m a huge road trip planner, so it was a nice excuse to write a road trip book with a little mystery on the side.
I’ve read all three of your YA novels—Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, Get Well Soon, and Don’t Stop Now. I LOVED these books! Do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why? Get Well Soon is probably my favorite all around, since it was my first and it is based on my actual life. However, that doesn’t mean I want to read it again. I had to reread it to write the sequel (my fourth novel, which will be out in fall of 2012), and it was hard to see all the imperfections of a first novel. So far it has reached and affected the most people, so that also makes it special.
It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into other writers’ processes. Do you prefer the first draft phase, or the editing phase? I enjoy the first draft phase, since I’m not a huge planner and writing the draft is almost like reading someone else’s book; I rarely know what is coming next. I am always terrified of the first round of revisions when they come back from my editor, but that usually ends up being pretty fun and not as painful as anticipated. I handwrite my books, so my least favorite part is typing up the pages. It takes forever, and I’m not the best typist. It’s a big revision, though, so I get that out of the way. My last novel was 400 handwritten pages. My fear is that I’ll lose the first, handwritten draft in a fire.
Aaaaaand, now for a few out-of-nowhere questions that are basically just fun to read…
Did you ever write fan letters to your favorite celebrities? I TOTALLY did this—mine were Ariana Richards (the girl from Jurassic Park) and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I am a firm believer in writing letters to people you love, and I still do it (with mortifyingly few results). My biggest letter was to the band on the Nickelodeon show “Don’t Just Sit There.” My favorite band member wrote me back twice. It was love. At least on my end. I’m facebook friends with him now. Not that we write, but I like knowing he’s still there.
Do you smuggle candy/snacks/lattes into the movie theater? (Yes, lattes. It can be done. I know this from much experience.) Always. Usually a bottle of water (or an environmentally friendly thermos) and a box of Dots. But my husband and I always buy popcorn, too.
What’s your position on karaoke? In the past, I was insanely into karaoke. There was a club in Chicago called Lounge Ax. It’s actually the club in the movie High Fidelity, where John Cusack goes to see Lisa Bonet. I was an extra in that scene, and you can totally see me, by the way. The actual club used to have karaoke the first Sunday of each month, and it was hosted by Fred Armisen, now of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia fame. He was insanely funny and would dress up as different characters each month. I became a regular, which gave me the perks of going up as often as I liked. I was rather incredible, if I do say so myself. Someone was filming a documentary, either about Lounge Ax or karaoke, I’m not sure, and I remember saying that Lounge Ax karaoke changed me as a person. It gave me an immense confidence and showed me I was a decent public performer. Then the club closed. So sad.
Don’t Stop Now features a road trip. Let’s say you can drive over oceans and, if you need to, even into outer space. What’s your dream road trip? I guess it would be an unlimitedly funded trip across and around America. I have already been to 46 states, and I never tire of the weirdness that is the U.S.A. I also lived in Australia, so I would love to take the time to road trip around there with my family. Also with unlimited funding, of course.
And now, for one last writing-related question…
When you hit rough points with your writing—whether in the drafting, editing, or waiting-to-be-published phase—what inspires you to keep moving forward? I talk to other people in the writing business to remind myself that those feelings are normal and experiences are shared. My biggest issue is feeling like I’m a loser and no one likes my books or cares about me as a writer. Hearing from other authors about the pace at which they also experience things in the biz is helpful. As far as writing roadblocks, I either stop or push through. It all depends on my mood. And what’s on TV.
PART TWO: THE CONTEST, AND HOW TO ROCK IT.
TO ENTER: simply leave a comment.
DEADLINE: Monday, June 6, at 11:59pm. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 7. [Side note: sorry if there was any confusion over the deadline date—it originally said June 5. I've updated it now to reflect the correct date!]
EXTRA AWESOMENESS: for every 12 people who enter, I’ll add another prize—a non-ARC, actual hardback copy of Don’t Stop Now.
+1 if you put a little effort into your comment and tell us about your dream road trip, given unlimited funding and the ability to drive on water/to the moon/etc. (I really just want to read where everyone would go, but didn’t want to make it an actual requirement, hehe)
+1 for re-tweeting this post (I’m @olsonkayla)(And, if you don’t have Twitter…why not? It’s awesome!) If you don’t include me in the tweet, at least include #dontstopnow so I can find it!
For more information on Don’t Stop Now, here’s the link to its Goodreads page. For Julie’s blog, see the links in my sidebar.