Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Interview with Tina Ferraro!
What inspired you to write The ABC's of Kissing Boys?
I almost always start a book with a title, and since my books are mostly fake “self-help” titles, an A-B-C idea struck me, followed by the idea of kissing. The hard part was to somehow connect it to soccer and friends bring promoted to Varsity without her, which was an idea that had been circulating in my head for sometime...
Having a kissing technique for every letter of the alphabet much have been hard! Did you really know them all from experience?
Oh, it was all research! And since the idea struck me just before Valentine’s Day, the bookstores were filled with books on love, so it was really fun and easy to research. I also scoured websites, and talked to friends and family. For instance, my niece, who was just starting college, is the one who told me about the Starburst wrappers! Then I chatted the idea up with more friends, and soon, I was writing...
In The ABC's of Kissing Boys, Parker deals a lot with friendship troubles. She starts realizing her friends are not friendly after a while, and then there's all these problems caused by social hierarchy at her school. Did you have to deal with a lot of those same problems when you were her age?
I had a pretty tight circle of friends in high school, and I was not only any sports teams. But, like most girls, I witnessed and was the recipient of a bit of Mean Girl action. That helped me to not only feel for Parker, but made the Mean Girl “voices” easier to write. I think all writers bring a degree of personal experience to their characters, but often it’s not something they can directly point to, as much as just overall compassion or a feeling.
As an adult looking back, some of those teen problems might have seemed like silly kiddy problems, which some it is, but I felt like you really treated those situations with respect, and didn't try to downplay their importance. You know to a majority of your audience, that stuff is going seem important and even if you were trying to kind of subtly explain that these things aren't the end of the world, you still don't want to come across as preachy, or as if you think they shouldn't really care, you know? Any thoughts on that?
Thank you! Well, I am the mother of three kids in this age range, so not only do I remember those feelings and the sense of life-threatening urgency about things, but I see it with my own kids. And I respect it.
But I think the key in writing YA fiction that readers are going to relate to, is zeroing in on the issues that teens DO think are critical, and leaving the others behind. That said, my editor and I did six full revisions on Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, because I'd gone TOO far in making the
main character feel everything, and wee needed to make the story easier to follow!
What made you decide to write YA Fiction?
Believe it or not, there was never a decision. I started writing YA short stories when I was about 12...and just never stopped! I love the drama and the promise of the coming-of-age years, and have just never moved away.
What were your favorite books as a teenager/ Now? (Do you read YA fiction?)
As a teenager, I read widely, but I remember really loving Christy by Catherine Marshall and Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, which were both already classics.
As far as current books, I’ll name two I recently read that I thought “had it all”: Looking for Alaska by John Green and Blood Brothers by S. A. Hazarin.
Do you prefer classics, or modern books?
I do prefer modern books...I love to see what’s coming out each week!
Do you listen to music when you write?
Not usually. The only time I do is when I’m nervous about a big scene, and then I’ll often play heavy bass music LOUD to sort of scramble my thoughts and distract me. But once I have something on the page, I’ll turn off the music for a quiet edit.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
To remember that it’s “okay” to be bad, that sometimes the good stuff evolves out of sucky first drafts!
And on an end note, what project are you working on now?
Right now, I am waiting for my editor to give me first revisions on my summer ’10 release, When Bad Flings Happen to Good Girls, and playing with some new ideas for other books.
Thanks so much to Tina for doing the interview! My review of the ABC's of Kissing Boys will be up tomorrow, and don't forget to enter the contest for a signed copy of one of Tina's books! You can see the contest requirements on the last post.
Also today is the last day to enter to win a copy of Poseur!