Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Interview: Alyson Noel
Alyson Noel is the author of many young adult novels, including Cruel Summer, Saving Zoe, Faking 19, and Evermore, which is released today!
When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
I pretty much knew the moment I finished reading Judy Blume’s ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET back in sixth grade. I’d always been an avid reader, even as a little kid, but Judy Blume’s books were the first I’d read that addressed the kind of issues I could relate to, and I knew someday I wanted to write like that too.
Where did your idea for Evermore come from? It seems so different from all the books you've written so far.
Well, a few years ago I lost a three people I loved in five horrible months, and just when the dust began to settle from that, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia and it felt like my entire world was crashing down. A year later, when he was in full remission, I wrote SAVING ZOE and CRUEL SUMMER, both of which explore the subject of grief and unavoidable change. But when it came time to write my next book, I realized I wasn’t finished exploring those themes, though I wanted to do so in a much different way by giving it a paranormal twist and pushing the boundaries between life and death, and the story of EVERMORE came pouring out of me
It’s similar to my other books in that it’s about a sixteen-year old girl named Ever who lives in Laguna Beach and is trying to navigate her way through high school—and yet, unlike my previous characters, Ever’s burdened with tremendous psychic powers that are a direct result of a near death experience she suffered in an accident that claimed the lives of her family. And just when she’s beginning to adjust to her new life, the gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy, Damen Auguste comes to town and her entire world is turned upside down . . .
What kind of music do you listen to? Do you listen to a certain playlist when you write?
I love all kinds of music, blues, classic rock, alternative, jazz, punk, you name it—my iPod is pretty eclectic! I also make playlists for all of my books, carefully choosing the songs that evoke just the right mood for the world I’m creating. You can check out the EVERMORE playlist on my website, here: http://alysonnoel.com/IMMORTALS/extras.php
All of your books that I've read so far deal with teens trying to find out who they are and what defines them. Do you find it easy writing about teens like this? Or is it difficult?
Yup, that’s definitely a recurring theme of mine! I guess it’s because the teen years are so full of self-discovery, and I really love exploring that journey—the struggle of wanting to fit in versus being loved and accepted for the unique person you are—of liking the comfort and security of home, but dreaming of the day when you’ll leave—and the eagerness to feel like a grown up and cross so many things off your list, but realizing once you do, you can never go back . . .It’s a time that really speaks to me, and believe me, I remember it well!
As for whether it’s easy or difficult, the writing part is never easy, but it’s something I love to do so I never hesitate to dive in and hope for the best!
Who has been the most inspirational person in your writing career?
My husband, hands down. We met ten and a half years ago, and he’s been cheering me on since day one, serving diligently as my best friend, legal advisor, personal gourmet chef, sounding board, and dark cloud eraser. And seeing the way he handles his life, always looking for the “yes!” and refusing to let any obstacles get in his way, is truly inspiring to me!
When you write your characters, do you incorporate your teenage experiences into their stories?
Not so much the actual experiences, though the feelings behind them—definitely! I’m constantly mining my life, remembering what I felt like back then, then I take all those memories and infuse them into my books.
Are you working on another book? If yes, can you tell us anything about it?
I just finished the second book in the IMMORTALS series, BLUE MOON, which picks up right where EVERMORE leaves off, (sorry, that’s all I can say without giving away any major spoilers!), and it will be in stores on 08.04.09. And now I’m fully immersed in the third book in the series, which I like to call UNTITLED BOOK #3 (though I doubt that’ll stick!), and since there are five books in the series, UNTITLED BOOKS #4 and 5 are up next!
Who are some of your favorite YA books and/or authors?
Oh, I have so many faves I’m hesitant to list them for fear of leaving someone out! And while I didn’t get to read much this past year that wasn’t research related, I did get an early read on Courtney Summer’s CRACKED UP TO BE and thought it was brilliant!
What is your advice to teens who aspire to be authors?
Well, first: Read as much as possible because the books you like and the books you don’t like—they all have something to teach you. And second: Get in the habit of writing as often as you can, whether it’s poetry, short stories, journaling, whatever—the more you write the better you get. Oh, and third: Keep up with all the reading and writing—it’s the only way to hone your craft!
Ask yourself a question and answer it. :)
Alyson, what would you consider to be the most glamorous part of being an author?
Hmmm, (scratches chin and squints) it’s definitely a tie between the grey Gap sweatpants and the pink suede Ugg slippers.
Thanks Hope!!! Great interview!
Thank you Alyson!