YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for March 6, 2010

Allen Zadoff interviewed!

On Monday we had Josh Berk guest blog about finding inspiration in unusual places, Wednesday we had Kristin Walker on the miracle of modern technology, Thursday we had the fantastic Lauren Oliver and Friday we warmly welcomed Natalie Standiford. Today we have Allen Zadoff, author of Food, Girls, & Other Things I Can’t Have!

What first inspired Food, Girls, & Other Things I Can’t Have?
Food, Girls was inspired by my actual experience as a fat teenager in high school. At one point during my sophomore year, the gym teacher (who was also coach of the football team) approached me and asked if I would consider trying out for the team. I said, “No way!” It seemed like a ridiculous request to me. I wasn’t a jock; I was an actor. And honestly, I hated my body, and the thought of changing in the locker room in front of a lot of athletes everyday sounded like hell on earth. But I thought about that moment for a long time, and I wondered: What would have happened if I had said yes? That’s what Food, Girls is all about.

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?
No way! You’re crazy!

If you could go back in time and tell your 15-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell 15-year-old Allen, “Try to take it easy. You’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to experience. You don’t have to figure it all out by the end of the day today.”

Are you currently working on anything? Is it ok if you tell us in one sentence what it is about? (unless it’s super top secret!)
I’ve just finished a draft of my new novel for Egmont. It takes place in the theater, but instead of being the usual piece about actors, it’s told from the perspective of the techies. It’s a theater story, a love story, a bromance. And really funny. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the next few months.

Do you have any advice you like to give to aspiring young authors?
Write. You get better by writing. Don’t worry about publishing, success, or being famous. Worry instead about your hero and what he or she is experiencing in the story.

I wrote in my review of Food, Girls, & Other Things I Can’t Have that it is a humorous, sweet, and heartwarming story that should win the award for “Funniest YA Book of 2009”. Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
For me this novel is about the feeling that you have to change in order to be okay. Everyone in the novel is trying to be different than they are. Everyone except Nancy Yee. She’s kind of my hero because she is just her strange, quirky self and it’s beautiful. I hope readers will think about these same issues when they read, and maybe have some new perspectives on them.

Thanks for writing about Food, Girls, Kate, and happy birthday to Read This Book!


Remember, all comments on blogoversary posts will count as entries for the very huge prize pack which now includes My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters. The huge giveaway is only applicable to followers and existing followers get +4 bonus entries while regular followers only get +1! Hurry, follow me now on Google Reader before the contest starts!

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Romeo’s just a silly kid. Mr. Darcy is a Man says Natalie Standiford

Apologies for the delay in Friday’s post. Let’s welcome Natalie Standiford, author of How to Say Goodbye in Robot and The Dating Game series.

What first inspired How To Say Goodbye In Robot?
I went to a high school reunion and heard a strange story about one of my classmates–a story that made me realize how little I really knew that person. I went to a small private school like the one in the book and I thought I knew everyone well, but you can spend day after day with people–for years–and they can remain, in some crucial way, a mystery. I started wondering about the secret lives of the people I went to school with, and that led to the first ideas about Jonah and Beatrice. I thought it would be good to have the story narrated by someone who steps into this closed world from the outside and sees it with fresh eyes; as the new girl, Beatrice plays that role.

Jonah is a rather unusual character. How did you get the idea for his character? Was he based on anyone you knew in real life?
I’m not sure where Jonah came from. I don’t know anyone like him. I think he might be the cranky, bitter, antisocial misfit I keep locked up deep in my own personal dungeon. I try not to let him out in real life–I’m afraid he’d alienate all my friends–but in books he can roam around and be as angry and messed-up as he wants.

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?
Twenty years ago I was already a published author! (Let’s just say I started young.) Make it 30 years ago and I’d have said: “Really? Hurray! I can’t wait!” And then, “What a relief.” And I probably would have written even more than I was already writing because I’d finally know what I longed to know then: that it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell my 16-year-old self to stop worrying so much–everything is going to be okay. Also: Read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE! (I didn’t read it until I was 20. It was on my school reading list every year but I kept putting it off because I didn’t like the title. I thought it was about a farm accident.)

Do you have any advice you like to give to aspiring young authors?
Read lots of books. Keep a journal. Always carry a notebook to jot down your ideas when they come–it’s easy to forget them. Write your ideas–everything from story ideas to titles to snatches of dialogue–on index cards and keep them in one of those little index card file boxes for easy access. And don’t worry if you don’t find immediate success: if you keep writing, it will come.

Libba Bray described How to Say Goodbye in Robot as a beautifully honest book made her laugh in surprise, nod in understanding, and wish that she was part robot so that her heart would stop breaking. Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
It’s pretty hard to top Libba’s reaction–that’s more than I could have hoped for. Mostly I want to convey a certain complex feeling: life is sad and funny and melancholy and strange, and isn’t it all beautiful?

Are you currently working on anything (AKA, will there be a sequel)? Is it ok if you tell us in one sentence what it is about? (unless it’s super top secret!)
I have no plans for a sequel to ROBOT right now. My next book is called CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS and it’s coming out in October. Like ROBOT it’s set in Baltimore, but otherwise there’s no connection. It’s about three sisters in a large, rich family. One of them has upset their grandmother so deeply that she (the grandmother) threatens to cut the whole family out of her will unless the culprit confesses. Each of the three sisters has rebelled in her own way, so each girl writes her confession in hopes that their grandmother will restore their family’s fortune.

Chose one:
Lady Gaga or Britney Spears?
Lady Gaga all the way.
Romeo or Mr Darcy?
Mr. Darcy. Romeo’s just a silly kid. Mr. Darcy is a Man.
Hardcover or paperback?
Tough one. I love them both, but if forced I’ll say paperback. Easier to carry around.
Fairytales or zombie apocalypse?
Fairytale Apocalypse

Thanks, Kate! Readers can find out more about my books on my web site: www.nataliestandiford.com. Happy Anniversary!


Don’t forget to come back at the end of this two week celebration for a chance to win Natalie Standiford’s first novel, The Dating Game!