Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 5:00 AM | By: Taffy
Hi, Suze! I'm so excited you're here. Let's jump right in!
Give us your elevator pitch.
ExtraNormal is about a teenage girl from another planet, though she does not like being called an alien. She visits Earth on an assignment from her government, and even though she should be totally excited, she's actually scared to death. She doesn't know how to do the simplest things, like use her cell phone or talk like a regular teenager, and she fears she's coming across as a dork most of the time. Things go from bad to worse when she falls in love, which is absolutely forbidden. She's not even supposed to talk to boys. Then when someone starts trying to kill her friends, she has to figure out who and why before she's forced to go back home and leave her friends--and her new love--defenseless.
What is your most memorable high school experience?
Ooh - I love this question. The word memorable (as opposed to favorite) leaves the door open for all kinds of embarrassing memories. And there are so many. I don't know what it is about high school that causes such on imprint on the brain. There was the time that as a sophomore a friend decided it would be funny to announce that I had a crush on the captain of the football team, a senior who was dating the head cheerleader. The result was that all the football players thought they had free reign to tease me and all the cheerleaders decided to hate me. Oh the drama.
Then there was the time a boy put my shoes in a tuba in the band room and I got in trouble while searching for them. Or the time I got light-headed after donating blood and a football player I barely knew took me to my classroom. And if you haven't noticed a trend, most of my memories involve boys. I dread the day I die and my kids find my journals from that time. (And yet I can't bring myself to toss them.) They read something like: "Sat next to John in first period. Bill waved to me on my way to second period. Sarah tells me Mike is going to ask me out. I think I'd die." Sigh. I'm not even exaggerating.
But to my most memorable, I'm going to have to say the time our football team won the state championship. The game was in the pouring rain at night. We sat on the freezing bleachers huddled in blankets and plastic bags--drenched and frozen. We knew every player by their number and position and every single one of us lost our voices from the screaming. And somehow when they won we thought it made us the coolest people in the entire world. Can't buy memories like that.
Is there one book or author who changed your life/viewpoint/writing?
For some reason the book Good Hope Road by Lisa Wingate really struck a chord with me. I'd been writing for years when I read it, but that was the book that made me decide to try to tackle a novel, with the hope that I could communicate strong emotions as well as she did. The other credit would have to go to Alex Haley and Roots. I was only eight when it came out, but the country was so taken with it I read it cover-to-cover. (Approximately 1 million pages.) I didn't know what half of it meant, (WHAT did that slave earner do to that slave?) but I was so amazed at this entire world that I hadn't known about that I couldn't stop reading, or stop thinking about it when I wasn't reading.
What is your favorite spring ritual?
For years I've tried planting pretty bulbs in my yard, but I live in an area infested with moles (like gophers) and they eat those little bulbs faster than I can plant them. But I do love getting out in my yard and digging in the dirt.
What is your favorite snack?
That's easy. Chocolate. Peanut M&Ms (which I realize is also chocolate.) And an occasional box of Red Vines. (Which you'll recognize if you read ExtraNormal.)
What was the first book that turned you into a reader?
That would have to be Laura Ingalls Wilder with her Little House on the Prairie books. Stop laughing. My big sister gave them to me in a boxed set (there were about seven of them) and I thought they were the most amazing thing ever.
If you could have a day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?
Lie on a tropical beach with my hubby. A couple hours would have to be spent riding the waves. (Another thing you'll find in ExtraNormal.) I grew up in Southern California and that was (and possibly still is) my favorite thing in the world.
What is one piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?
You've heard it said to read, read, read & write, write, write. I would add study, study, study to that. I've always been a competent writer, and even earned a college degree in journalism. But it wasn't until I started studying the art of story structure that I really figured out how to write a novel. There are books available on Amazon called things like: Scene & Structure; Beginnings, Middles & Ends; Plots; Characters & Viewpoint, and so on. They're often sold used for literally pennies. I bought a dozen or so of them several years back and devoured them. I marked them up, used post-it notes to mark important sections, and read them over and over until I really understood the information. I still get some of them out to review every year or so. They made all the difference for me.
If a movie was made about your book, who would play the main characters?
I tried answering this once before and really wasn't satisfied with the answer. All the characters were either too short or too old. But when that movie deal comes in I'll start thinking...
Any other books in the works?
Oh yes. There are at least two more books in the ExtraNormal series. And I might branch out and tell stories from the other character's viewpoint. I also have a story in mind about a girl whose friends keep dying. She becomes a recluse, until she meets a boy who has the same problem. Together they try to figure out what is going on, and whether they have the ability to change people's destinies. If not, they're forced to consider whether one or both of them is destined to die.
What are you goals now?
Write! Actually my biggest goal is to stay alive. As you know I just finished battling advanced-stage breast cancer. So being with my family is the biggest blessing you can imagine. Anything I do on top of that is just gravy. But I do plan to stick around long enough to get all these characters out of my head. They're driving me nuts! =)
That's it! Thanks so much for having me Taffy. The questions were awesome!
You're welcome, Suze! It was fun getting to know you better!
Here is the list of blogs you can hop to win prizes (questions? Click HERE):
April 24: Jenny's Imaginary World Review
April 25: Pidgin Peas Book Nook Character Interview
April 26: Emily's Crammed Bookshelf TBA
Books With Bite Review
April 27: With All Things Fabulous Character Interview
From the Shadows Author Interview
April 30: Book Whales Author Interview
May 1: Mom Zunas Giveaway & Review
May 2: The Haunted Rose Guest Post
May 3: Taffy's Candy Author Interview
May 4: Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile Giveaway & Review
Book Whisperer Review