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Elizabeth Scott

Alyson Noel interview and giveaway!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Alyson Noel is here (yay!!) and is going to be answering a whole bunch of great questions! The first batch are from readers:

Robby asks:

Do you have another adult book brewing?

In my head, yes! I had so much fun writing FLY ME TO THE MOON I’d love to do another adult book someday. But for now, I’m keeping pretty busy with THE IMMORTALS series and its middle grade spinoff, so it looks like it’s going to have to wait.

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

The readers! I am gobsmacked on a daily basis by the kindness and generosity of my readers. Their letters, e-mails, artwork, bulletin board posts, Facebook messages, etc—never fail to make my day!

Melissa D asks:

Why did you decide to go from writing realistic fiction to paranormal fiction? What drew you/influenced you to the paranormal side of writing?

Grief was the trigger. Ever since I was a kid I’d always loved anything and everything involving the supernatural—seriously, Casper The Friendly Ghost was my favorite cartoon! But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I lost three people I loved in five months and then nearly lost my husband to leukemia, that I really started to explore the big questions of life and death, mortality and immortality, and Ever and Damen’s story was just sort of born from there.

Do you have a particular place that you have to write, or a particular way ( in silence, to music, etc)?

While I can write on the road if I have to, I really prefer to write at home. I have a little home office/work out room where I pretty much spend all of my time. And I definitely like to listen to music—it really inspires me. So I make playlists for all of my books, clamp on my headphones, and go!

Tiffany Cunha asks:

Have your personal experiences affected your writing?

Definitely. Though the characters are rarely based on me, their experiences often echo my own. In high school, I was a lot like the main character, Alex, in FAKING 19, lost and directionless, blowing it in a big way. Like Rio in ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, I know what it’s like to be the new girl in school and be hated by all the other girls. Like Echo in SAVING ZOE and Ever in THE IMMORTALS series, I know what it’s like to be mired in grief so deep and dark you’re not sure if you’ll ever get to see the light again. Like Hailey in FLY ME TO THE MOON, I was a NYC based flight attendant for just over a decade. And like Colby in CRUEL SUMMER, I spent seven years living in Mykonos, Greece. So yes, I pretty much rob from my own life on a regular basis!

How do you get started writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it)?

The inspiration itself is sort of a random thing that can come from anywhere, though more often than not, it’s something in my own life that sparks it. But once it does, I take the idea and play the “What if?” game. For example, with the IMMORTALS it was the grief of losing my loved ones that sparked the initial idea of a girl struggling to overcome a tragic loss. And in my attempt to find my way out of it, to make sense of what happened, I started thinking about its opposite—immortality—and what that might be like, what it might look like, and how it might affect us as individuals and as a society. I started reading books about alchemy, metaphysics, psychics, Eastern philosophy, etc., all of which gave me the basis for my story, and then I cast the characters and took it from there.

What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?

The same advice the brilliant Robert Mckee (author of STORY) gave me.

When you get stuck in your story and don’t know where to take it next, it’s because you don’t know enough about your characters, your world, and/or the message you’re trying to convey. So, just take a step back and research your world a bit further, asking: who are these people you’re writing about? What drives them? How do they plan to get what they want versus how they will actually end up getting what they want? This method has never once failed me—knock wood!

rachelhestondavis asks:

When you first broke into publishing, did you get overwhelmed by all the marketing and networking you had to do? How did you handle it?

Nope! And you know why? Because I had no idea that I was supposed to market and network—in short, I had no idea what I was doing! Seriously. I was so green and naïve back then, I just cringe when I think about it. Sure I had a website, I knew that much, but that was pretty much the extent of my efforts. My debut novel, FAKING 19, was published in March 2005 and I didn’t even have a blog until sometime around June 2006. I also didn’t join any writing organizations until my third book, LAGUNA COVE, was already on bookstore shelves. But, in a way, that’s okay. There is only so much an author can do to connect and promote, and I really feel that the absolute best promotion we can ever do is to write the next book. Of course you should blog and Twitter if you like, you can even Face Book to your heart’s content, but don’t let it get in the way of the writing, because at the end of the day, The Next Book is all your readers (and publisher!) really want from you anyway!

Sarah Christine asks:

What was the first book you remembering reading?

HORTON HATCHES THE EGG by Dr. Seuss. My mom taught me how to read it at age four and I still have that original copy!

What was the first thing you’ve ever wrote?

In seventh grade I wrote a poem about my parent’s divorce. It really helped me process my feelings. Seems I’m often inspired by grief!

Paradox asks:

Do you plan on writing more supernatural books after The Immortals?

Well, I’m starting a middle grade spin off of THE IMMORTALS that’ll be released in Fall 2010, about Riley’s (Ever’s ghostly sister) adventures in the after life—and I have lots more ideas for more books after that, so hopefully, yes!

How long does it take you to write a book?

My first book, FAKING 19, took me 15 years to complete. I wish I was joking but I’m not. Since then, I’ve narrowed it down to a few months!

And now for some more questions (isn't Alyson AWESOME for answering all of these??):

How did your first novel, Faking 19, change from the first draft to the final/ready-to-go-to-press version?

It changed in big, huge, tremendous ways! Since it was the first book I ever wrote, I was facing a pretty big learning curve. And what originally began as a short story in a writing class I took long ago was ultimately expanded into a novel that I sent out to a slew of publishers (yes, on my own, unagented, I told you I was green!), only to get a slew of rejections. But, fortunately, they were the good kind of rejections—the kind that essentially said: great voice, structure needs work, would love to see again if you revise. So, I enrolled in some online writing classes where I was eventually lead to my then agent who basically echoed what those publishers said, I had a story about a girl that just meandered and never really went anywhere. But he also recommended I read STORY by Robert Mckee. So I did. I read it over the weekend, and spent the next three weeks applying everything I’d learned to my manuscript—which basically meant I gave it the structure it was poorly lacking. The agent read it again, signed me, and eventually got me a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press and I’ve been writing for them ever since.

Following up on that, how do you revise your novels?

Constantly and consistently—I’m always revising! I revise as I go, I revise each act as I finish it (I use the screenplay method and write in Acts), and then, once it’s finished, I revise it again and again and again before I hand it in to my editor.

Are you a "planner" or "pantser" when your write--or does it depend on the book? How many days a week do you usually write?

I’m a little of both. I always start with a light outline, listing all the major turning points along the way, but while the destination rarely changes, the journey has been known to take a few twists and turns along the way. I write pretty much every day, seven days a week. I have pretty tight, back-to-back deadlines, and so I try to keep to a consistent daily word count in order to meet them.

What's the easiest part of writing for you? The hardest?

The easiest part is coming up with the ideas. The hardest part is the writing. Trying to put on the page what you see in your head is no easy feat!

Any hints you want to drop about Shadowland, which is coming this November?

Straight from the back cover:
She always believed he was her destiny—but what if fate has other plans?
Ever and Damen have traveled through countless past lives—and fought off the world’s darkest enemies—so they could be together forever. But just as their long-awaited destiny is finally within reach, a powerful curse falls upon Damen…one that could destroy everything. Now a single touch of their hands or a soft brush of their lips could mean sudden death—plunging Damen into a bleak afterlife in the Shadowland, an eternal abyss for lost souls. Desperate to break the curse and save Damen, Ever immerses herself in magick—and gets help from an unexpected source…Jude Knight.
Although she and Jude have only just met, he feels startlingly familiar. Despite her fierce loyalty to Damen, Ever is drawn to Jude, a green-eyed golden boy with magical talents and a mysterious past. She’s always believed Damen to be her soul mate and one true love—and she still believes it to be true. But as Damen pulls away to save them from the darkness inhabiting his soul, Ever’s connection with Jude grows stronger—and tests her love for Damen like never before…

OOOOH! Sounds awesome! Thank you, Alyson!

But wait--there's more....

Alyson has a trivia question for YOU. Email me the correct answer at elizabeth at elizabethwrites dot com or send it to me using the contact page by this Friday, September 4th at midnight EST and you'll be entered into a drawing to win not one, not two, but FOUR Alyson Noel titles of your choice (including a pre-order for Shadowland, if you want!) Please note this contest is only open to those with a United States mailing address, and that the winner will be chosen by a random number generator.

Here's the question:

In EVERMORE, what are the names of the three horses Ever bet on when she went to the racetrack with Damen?

Remember, you've got until midnight EST on Friday, September 4th, to email me the correct answer, and then one lucky person will win FOUR of Alyson's books!

Isn't Alyson amazing? Be sure to stop by her blog, facebook, myspace or twitter page and tell her so!!