Interview With Author Susane ColasantiJune 10, 2009 at 1:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
Susane Colasanti is the author of YA novels When It Happens, Take Me There, and most recently, Waiting For You. TWFT sat down with her to discuss writing, Minka Kelly, the journey to publishment, and watermelon-flavored jellybeans.
1. Congrats on getting your third book, Waiting For You, published! Can you sum it up in 10 words or less?
Soul mates, overcoming anxiety, learning to live in the Now.
(TWFT Note– Here’s the back cover description: At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road—including her parents’ unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek—test Marisa’s ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school’s ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is—or does she?)
2. Interesting; I love love stories! Out of all your books, which one’s your favorite?
I think When It Happens will always be my favorite. So much of my own high school experiences went into the creation of that story. Each of my books is a big part of me, but When It Happens was my opportunity to share all of the ideas I’d been storing up for so long. Plus, Tobey is the perfect boy.
3. Moving on to the writing aspect of it, when was your big break? What tips do you give writers for persevering?
After being rejected by several publishing houses, Viking Children’s Books saw something in my first draft of When It Happens that they felt was worth exploring. I received a letter indicating that Viking wanted to work with me in 2003. That early draft of When It Happens needed a lot of work. I was a teacher at the time, so I did most of my writing during vacations and summers. It took about two years to get the manuscript ready for publication.
My best advice is to never give up. You can’t fail if you never stop trying. It’s important to understand that rejection is part of the process. Some of the best authors I know have been rejected by major publishing houses. A lot of it has to do with which desk your manuscript lands on at which time, and you really don’t have control over that. I hear that not many publishers are accepting unsolicited manuscripts these days, so a good agent should be able to submit your work to the house that best fits your style.
4. That’s very insightful advice, about the luck aspect. Now that you’re considered a novelist, what’s it like being a full-time writer? What’s the scariest part of your job?
I love being a full-time author! Before this, I was a high school science teacher for about ten years. I loved teaching and getting to work with teens all day, but when this amazing opportunity presented itself I had to take it. The transition was scary at first. I was used to getting a paycheck every two weeks, with benefits like affordable health care. Not knowing exactly how I would achieve financial stability as an author worried me. Now that I’ve been doing this for two years, I’m used to my new lifestyle. There are still times when I get stressed about the uncertainty, but I know that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
The scariest part of writing is not knowing how readers will react to my new book. I write my books pretty much alone in my apartment with no idea if anyone will want to read them. I’m so thankful that technology has advanced to the point where I can hear from my readers easily over email or on Facebook or MySpace. My readers are the ones who let me know if I’m reaching the goals I have for each book.
5. Where do you get the inspirations for your characters, both in personality and physical appearance?
I think all writers incorporate some characteristics of people they know or people they’ve seen into their characters. This is how I (hopefully) create realistic characters. Here in New York, there are lots of opportunities to spy on other people’s conversations. I admit that I’ve stolen some overheard dialogue. When something’s too funny, I can’t resist!
Sometimes I model characters after people I admire, or piece together parts of a few different personalities. As for physical appearance, I often create images of girls I’d like to resemble. The main character of my fourth book, Something Like Fate, is very Minka Kelly from Friday Night Lights. I hate being five-eight because I can’t really wear fun high heels or little summer dresses, so I’m living vicariously through my character by dressing her up in all the cute, girly things I wish I could wear.
(TWFT Note: 5’8″? Lucky you; I’m only 5’4.75″. =[ ) (I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for your Minka Kelly character!)
6. Where do you write?
I write at home. Although I live in my ideal neighborhood, I am not yet living in my dream home. So I’m seriously looking forward to working at a gorgeous desk in front of a big window. For now, I move my iBook between my table and my couch. Sometimes writing in my favorite coffeehouse is fun, but I pretty much only do that when I can’t work here for some reason, like if construction is going on next door.
7. How many rewrites do you do?
This can vary a lot from book to book. Waiting for You went through four revisions, but When It Happens had about nine. Take Me There had three or four. Something Like Fate only needed two major revisions. I’m hoping that I’ve learned enough from the revision process that I’ve reached a point where fewer revisions are necessary. I could feel from the start that Something Like Fate wouldn’t require as many revisions. I’m hoping to have that same feeling about my next book.
8. What’s your favorite flavor of jellybean?
Well, I’m not really a jelly bean person. I mean, I like jelly beans and I’ll have some if they’re there, but they are not my candy of choice. That said, I think the watermelon ones are quite delicious.
Excellent choice there, Ms. Colasanti. Thank you for taking your time to very concisely answer these questions!