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Interview

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A few months ago, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Gabriela Periera who runs a wonderful writing website called DIY MFA. I love this idea. As someone with a traditional MFA, I certainly advocate for getting into a program, but I also see the benefits of structuring your own course of study with resources like this one. It’s a really great idea and I’m very glad that someone is out there in the world doing it.

You can check out the video and write-up on the DIY MFA website, then stick around and learn more about it. Or you can watch the interview below. Gabriela has been kind enough to let me embed the video right here on the blog.

 

In other news, Cristy Zinn was kind enough to do a blog review of my book and my client Bethanie Murguia’s new release, SNIPPET THE EARLY RISER (Knopf/Random House) was reviewed by the talented Michael Ian Black in this past weekend’s New York Times. You can read about that here.

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One of my very favorite picture book writers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal (LITTLE HOOT, DUCK! RABBIT!, and many more) gave an interview in the 2012 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET book that I would love to excerpt here the day before my picture book webinar at 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, January 12th, which is still open for registration. As a reminder, you will get a 90-minute craft intensive talk on picture books, the opportunity to ask all the questions you have (every question gets answered, either live during the presentation or in an email afterward), and a critique of one picture book manuscript (up to 1,000 words in length).

During the webinar, I’ll talk about how to find the right hooks and universality to really make your picture books marketable on today’s shelves. I’ll also talk about the writer and illustrator relationship in publishing, as well as how writers need to think more like illustrators (and vice versa) in order to come up with truly successful picture book projects.

This excerpt features Rosenthal’s thoughts on finding just the right book idea, as well as working together with an illustrator and how that creative collaboration takes her work to new heights. Read on:

“When my kids were small, there were countless stories told. Often for the boys, I’d tell them stories about dinosaurs, monsters or something in a cape—all these nonsense stories they loved. Ninety-nine percent of the stories I made up for my kids were nonsensical things. But once in a while there was some kind of cool stuff. You have to tell one thousand bad ones to get to the one good one.”

Rosenthal says finding that one good one amidst all the others is a little bit like dating. “When a relationship isn’t right, even if you think I know this is going to work out, he’s really cute, it always has some convoluted glitch—this non-fluid, non-seamless barrage of obstacles. But true love is this flawless, shiny, perfectly smooth thing, at least in the beginning. When I’m writing something, I’m coming at it from a number of different angles. With the ones that end up working, everything falls into place more fluidly.”

That feeling of fluidity can also come from working well with an illustrator. For one of her most recent books, Plant a Kiss (which explores what might grow if you, quite literally, planted a kiss), Rosenthal worked closely with illustrator Peter Reynolds to develop the vision and feel of the book—a process she says has “been a dream.” Not only was it a chance for her to work with one of her favorite artists, but she was thrilled with the vision he brought to the book.

“When I started, I had mocked up the book with stick-figure illustrations. It was tidy, executed visually 100 percent. There was a moment of talk when we thought maybe the book should look like this. It was kind of cute. But thank goodness we reached out to Peter and he said yes. During the first conference call he said he’d send us some sketches. Later, I opened the document, and he had illustrated the entire book. And it was just this moment of ‘Oh my god, he nailed it.’ The characters are beautiful.”

With all of her picture books, Rosenthal has strived for this type of creative partnership. “I really value the collaboration. Oftentimes the writers are kept apart from the illustrator, but that paradigm never made sense to me. From the first ‘yes’ [for Little Pea and Cookies] I made the plea to be involved. I couldn’t imagine not doing it. The books gain so much by the writer and illustrator interacting.”

Interview excerpt of Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Meg Leder from 2012 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (c) 2011 Writer’s Digest Books. All materials used by permission of F+W Media. All rights reserved

Now that you’ve heard one picture book creator’s thoughts, you can hear even more thoughts on the craft of PBs during the webinar. To sweeten the pot just a little bit, I am going to give away one more copy of CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, but this contest is a quickie. You can enter in the comments below through 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow (Thursday, January 12th). I will announce the winner during the webinar (and on the blog next week). If you are taking the webinar, do mention that in your entry. US residents only, please.

Forward this post around and let’s give away another copy of CWIM. Those picture writers out there registered for the webinar will hear more from me tomorrow afternoon!

For those blog readers wondering when I’ll get back to the craft posts here, those are coming up next week. It’s just that 2012 has so many exciting things going on right out of the gate that I have to spread the word. I’ll resume my regular programming once the Writer’s Digest Conference excitement dies down. I seriously can’t wait for this year’s conference. You can check out more details here, and be sure to email me if you still need a special $115 discount code!

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Daniel Nayeri is a publishing renegade. There, I said it. He’s an editor at Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He’s also the author, with his sister Dina, of ANOTHER FAUST and ANOTHER PAN. His latest, out from Candlewick yesterday, is STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW, a collection of four novellas, each in a different genre.

[The] novellas riff on influences as varied as The Wizard of Oz, Mad Max, and the sardonic Death of Pratchett’s Discworld…Strong and assured, these stories seamlessly merge different styles, teasing out and playing with readers’ assumptions about how westerns, fantasy and fairy tales work…provocative and deeply satisfying. (Kirkus Reviews)

After seeing some awesome new promotional stuff that Daniel is doing for his latest release, I wanted to sit down with him and pick his brain about why he’s so hardcore. Marketing is super important. A lot of writers are just trying so hard to get an agent that they don’t realize all the work they’ll have to do once their books are finally under contract. Daniel is a great example of an author thinking hard about his marketing. First, watch his four book trailers for STRAW HOUSE…, then check out our interview, below!

MK: STRAW HOUSE is a collection of genre novellas, which you don’t see much in today’s market, so it was innovative from the start. Tell us more about the why and the how of this project.

DN: I’ve always wanted to be versatile. Someone once said to me, “Daniel, your interests are a mile wide and an inch deep,” and I might have misread that as a compliment. As someone who has worked most of his life in a library or a bookstore, and now as an editor in a publishing house, I spend a lot of time thinking about the kinds of stories people love. One thing I’ve noticed is that we get a lot of teens and early adults who just browse around aimlessly, and when you try to recommend something, they just shrug, “I don’t know what I like.” Then you get these middle-aged to elderly people, and they head straight for their section. Ladies who only read Sue Grafton or hyper-violent crime dramas. Men who are working their way through Louis L’Amour or the Aubrey-Maturin series.

That’s always been fascinating to me. I’m fascinated that at some point in their lives, they discovered a genre to become obsessed over. I had my own binges on Raymond Chandler and Cormac McCarthy, Diana Wynne Jones and Philip K. Dick. So I thought perhaps I’d try to show off a little bit of range, and in the process help a few readers step out into genres they might not otherwise discover–and fall in love with–until much later in life.

MK: For the book, you commissioned four “commercials,” rather than book trailers. What’s the distinction?

DN: I think the distinction is that a “trailer” implies that you’re getting a piece of the experience. When you watch a “Transformers” trailer, you’re getting an excerpt of the finished product. All the explosions and grimaces and oiled-up models are at the glossiest they’re going to get. But for a book, I don’t think a 30-second video is ever going to give people the experience of reading the story. More often, since I don’t have the budget of “Transformers,” what viewers would get is an inferior experience.

Obviously, I wouldn’t want to introduce people to a story I worked on for four years by shoving my own cruddy AfterEffects skills in front of them. Plenty of authors can do that. They’re amazing with Photoshop, or they have a bullet-proof concept, or whatever. I’m not in that position. I want readers, not viewers. A “commercial,” on the other hand, never implies that you’re getting a piece of the experience. No one watches the Old Spice commercials and thinks they’ve actually smelled Old Spice. They just ogle that attractive guy, and laugh at the funny jokes, and associate a certain tone with Old Spice. Later on, they go to the store and smell it. If they like the smell, the buy the product. It comes down to the smell. The only thing the commercial did was get them to pay attention. It’s the same with food commercials. As a former pastry chef, I know the presentation of a dessert is important, but it doesn’t trump the taste.

That’s the distinction I was trying to make. I wanted people to get a sense of the presentation of the book, the tone, the ideas. But I didn’t want anyone to think they got a taste of the flavor. God-willing, the commercials are good enough for them to take the time to read a little of the book.

MK: Take us behind the scenes of the commercials. How involved were you? Any anecdotes?

DN: I was pretty involved, but I wouldn’t say I get any credit for the artistry. I’ve partnered with the guys at Plywood Pictures before. They’re good friends of mine. They’re also insanely busy, so when I asked them to do these videos, it came with a few elements that I think sweetened the deal. First, I think publishers should start spending money on good videos. I think that market should grow, and production companies like Plywood are just the type to do it for them. So they had the opportunity to show their skills to publishers.

I also asked them to do “commercials” instead of “trailers,” the same distinction I parsed above. So they weren’t creatively limited to the plot of my stories. They could pitch their own ideas. We brainstormed and they had these four ideas, and I just tried to make it all happen. I became a production assistant for the shoots, running out to get meals or coffee or whatever. I know I’m not a filmmaker, so I provided manual labor. Every once in a while, someone would go, “And that guy wrote the book.”

MK: What other marketing outreach are you doing?

DN: Well, we had a gorgeous paper-engineered mailer. If you look closely at the picture, you can see where the title has been laser-cut out of the top. It looks like it’s free-floating. Unbelievable work. We also had a gallery showing last week. We had around nine artists from all different styles illustrate any scene from the book. The show went really well, good food, lots of drinks, and several of the pieces were sold, and a couple of them had their first conversations with agents. That was pretty cool to see. The buyers hadn’t even read the book yet. They just liked the work. That was gratifying for me, because sure, they’ll check out the book. But more than that, it presented the artists on their own terms, as artists. They weren’t just there to prop me up, even though I’m certainly grateful that they did me the honor. I wish I could have afforded a bunch of them myself.

MK: How has your publisher, Candlewick, responded to your marketing plans?

DN: They’re amazing. Absolutely amazing. I can’t be easy to work with. I have random ideas. I’m opinionated. I put my foot in my mouth ALL THE TIME. I barely ever shave. I’m fairly certain I smelled like onions the last time I visited them. [MK: Maybe try some Old Spice?] And still, the Candlewick team listens to my ideas and gets behind the good ones in a way that I’ve never seen before. They are giving away one of the four stories on the Kindle right now (we were number 1 for a few days!). Of course, I don’t email them with a list of demands. They have more important authors on their list, and I’m aware of that. It’s ridiculous to assume I should get the kind of front-end investment that an award-winner or a perennial bestseller should get. That’s a huge misconception.

So I do a lot of early development on my ideas to make sure that if it’s a waste of time, they’re not the ones taking the loss. I pitch them with a plan, with partners in place, etc. But none of it would be possible if they didn’t bring their expertise, their enthusiasm, and their muscle. I couldn’t be more grateful.

MK: What can authors take away from your strategies here?

DN: The biggest “strategy” that I can think of is to have a community and to think of your book as a way to help other people showcase their talents. Let other people shine. As writers, we don’t realize sometimes that artists in other media have huge production hurdles in front of them. If a director wants to make a portfolio, they have a lot of costs to cover to make good films. As writers, we get to show our talent every time we open Microsoft Word. So I think writers can come alongside other artists and say, “Hey, you’re looking for promotional pieces for your work, and so am I. If you provide your talents, I can cover costs, and together we both get to present our work.”

Obviously, I don’t think I broke even with ANY of these artists. Their talent is way more valuable than the dominoes I bought to make a Rube Goldberg machine (in the Wish Police video). But it’s the least I could do. The other part of this “strategy” is to say, “be as invested in the work of your peers as you are in your own work.” You have to curate your peers, because you can’t give time and effort to everyone, but be the guy who *does* favors more often than the guy who *gets* favors, and you’ll find that lots of people are interested in helping out.

MK: What are your plans for future books?

DN: Well, for the most part, I was inspired by Western themes and ideas for this book. Obviously, the Western and Hard-boiled Detective story are distinctly American. Sci-fi and Romantic comedy have broad roots, but I was mostly pulling from western tradition for my own. For the next book, I’m working on four Eastern themes and genres–an Arabian Nights tale, a Chinese Box story, a Ibn Battuta travelogue, and an Anime. I’m really excited about it. My family and I immigrated to the states from Iran when I was 8-years-old, so the East-West relationship has always been a subject I’ve enjoyed thinking about.

Thank you so much to Daniel for this interview and for the crazy-brainy answers. Now go buy Daniel’s book, which came out yesterday. RUN! HURRY! Look how happy-making it is!

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Stacey Jay is the author of YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME, out right now from Razorbill. In it, main character Megan is a zombie Settler who solves zombie issues and helps “the Unsettled” return to their graves. For Zombie Week, I decided to catch up with her and find out her plans for the Zombie Apocalypse, how to deal with zombies and what’s on their filthy little minds.

KidLit: Where will you be if the zombie apocalypse ever comes? What essentials will you need to take with you?

Stacey Jay: I imagine I’ll be at home since I’m a stay at home mom-writer to young children. But that’s not a bad place to start when it comes to zombie apocalypses. I’d load up on diapers, baby food, Cheerios, juice boxes, and gasoline. (I wouldn’t want to have to stop to get gas because everyone knows zombies like to lurk in places like gas stations and shopping malls.) And, of course, I’d pile in a few weapons of zombie destruction. Usually not a good idea with a baby and a four year old, but if we’ve got an apocalypse on our hands, I’ll at least need a good sturdy garden hoe for whacking heads and taking names.

KL: What are the top skills you have to possess to be a good zombie Settler?

SJ: Well, a Settler–different than a Slayer, much more supernatural therapist than butt kicker–needs patience, compassion, and organization. Hearing the regrets of the dead can also take an emotional toll so I imagine faith and a positive world outlook would be helpful.

KL: What is the easiest way to disarm a zombie if you’re in a hurry?

SJ: Decapitation. Take the head and the rest of it becomes much easier to handle.

KL: What kind of zombie research did you do while writing YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME?

SJ: I focused on voodoo practices and black magic, then added my own finishing touches. I wanted the zombies to be recognizable, but still unique.

KL: If one of your zombies had a stream of consciousness monologue, what would they be thinking?

SJ: Well it would depend. A normal Unsettled’s stream of consciousness might sound something like this:

Man, I wish I hadn’t blah blah blahed or blackety blacked. What a lousy thing to do before I died. And what was with the dieting? I should have had that piece of cake. Maybe the whole cake. It seems wrong to die without cake. Mmmm….cake. Maybe there will be cake on the other side…once I get this unfinished business off my chest, I’m goign to ask that Settler chick if there’s going to be cake.

A black magically raised zombie, however, would probably be more:

Unggghhh! Blergh! Arggghhhh! Yummmmm…yummm….yummm…blergh!!!! Unghhhh!! *burp*

Thanks for having me Mary!

You can visit Stacey at her website or pick up a copy of YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME. Here are links: Amazon, Shop Indie Bookstores.

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Carrie Ryan has taken some time to school us on zombies and how she wrote THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH (Delacorte, 2009), one of the most exciting and talked-about young adult books so far this year! If you haven’t read it, the novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the dead have Returned Unconsecrated. Main character Mary’s village appears to be the only surviving outpost of humanity. They must beat off attacks from the zombies, lest they themselves die and Return.

KidLit: You manage to make a pretty good case for turning Unconsecrated. Why did you add this emotional layer to the story of Mary and her mother? Would you ever make the decision to sacrifice yourself and Return?

Carrie Ryan: Thanks! I think when it came down to it I just really loved the idea of Mary’s parents having this incredible love for each other in a world where love isn’t something that’s necessarily important. I liked this vision of someone willing to do anything for that love (and I also liked setting up the question of exactly what are the Unconsecrated and do they retain anything of who they are?). I have no idea what decision I’d make if faced with it!

KL: In your book there’s a super fast Unconsecrated. How did that present a unique challenge to your characters?

CR: There’s actually a whole background reason to why that happens and I go into more detail about it in the second book (and hopefully laid clues for it in the first book). I came up with the idea because of the world building – the book is set generations after the Return and I needed a reason that people hadn’t re-conquered the world and killed off all the Unconsecrated.

For the characters, I liked throwing something new at them to make them realize that the didn’t have all the answer to what was going on. As a community they felt really safe and in control and I wanted to shake that up.

KL: The Unconsecrated clamoring at the fencelines were a near-constant presence throughout the book, almost like another character. What was your process for creating this rich environment?

CR: I think for me it became part of the process of writing. I’d come home after work every day and turn on the fire – it was usually dark out and so it was just me and my laptop and the fire and I’d try to put myself in Mary’s position. I was actually really surprised when people said they could visualize a lot of the book because I felt like I hadn’t described anything enough!

KL: What does a person need to have (physically, emotionally, anything) before they journey into THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH?

CR: Good question!! Mostly I think they just have to have something driving them – a reason that will keep them going. And a really sharp/pointy weapon is always helpful =)

KL: What happens after an Unconsecrated bites you?

CR: That’s it – you’re going to become Unconsecrated unless someone lops off or bashes in your head. Basically, once bitten a person is infected and the infected always turn Unconsecrated. Either the bite is severe enough to cause the death or the infection kills them. Which seems a rather depressing thought to end the interview on!

Not depressing at all, Carrie. Anyone who knows zombies knows they’re sneaky… and everywhere. It’s always best to be on high alert and, whatever you do, stay inside the fences! Visit Carrie’s website to learn more about her and watch out for my woefully belated review of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH tomorrow!

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Today, we’ve got a fantastic interview for you from our Kidlit Book Club pick of the month author, Heather Duffy Stone. Since her debut novel, THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU, deals with such intense and honest emotions, I wanted to find out more about what her process was when it came to writing these types of scenes. Enjoy!

Kidlit: All three of your main characters in the book, Noelle, Nadio and Keeley, have intense feelings about sex. From Noelle’s disappointment and Keeley’s experience to Nadio’s complicated inner struggle, how did you go about writing these scenes? What did you want to convey?

Heather Duffy Stone: This is a great question. I have to say these scenes were easy in the sense that I knew that the book was going to be about the intensely complicated nature of first sexual experiences. I felt very strongly where the characters were coming from and I pulled on experience. I mean not just my own.

In fact it was very much the experience of growing up and of hearing friends’ stories and talking friends through different experiences. I wanted to convey the truth of first relationships. I think Keeley and Nadio cared about each other deeply but they were coming from different, and very uncertain places. I think Noelle and Parker did not have a relationship based on love or trust, but it was certainly based on a mutual physical attraction. I wanted to convey that both of these things are very real and valid.

KL: The triangle of relationships between the three main characters makes for a lot of intense emotions: love, hate, jealousy. Does this “threesome” relationship come from something in your own life?

HDS: Wow. Well, yes and no. Everything I write comes from some kind of experience. And I actually have been part of a lot of friendships where two parties end up falling in love. But mostly I wanted to write about the two sides of ourselves that pull us in different directions—hence the twin thing.

KL: Without giving too much away, there is also a breakdown and cry for help in your book, including a time when the character isn’t exactly clear-headed. How did you handle writing this scene? Did you have any concerns about broaching the topic of possible suicide?

HDS: I didn’t have any concerns—this scene had to happen. I felt comfortable and confident writing it and, again, I wanted to convey only truth. I did not want to sugar coat anything. I have a graduate degree in Counseling, so maybe I have added confidence writing about these kinds of scenes—but at the same time I certainly worry. I knew there was not going to be a clear fix or a happy ending to this story. But life is often the same way.

KL: Nadio has a complicated relationship with his role as a man and other males, especially his estranged father. What was it like writing from his perspective? How did you make his experience and his relationship with manhood and with his father so truthful?

HDS: Writing as a teenage boy was so hard. In some ways, Nadio is the character I’m closest to. He is most like me I think and it was very easy to write his inner journey sometimes. But he was definitely way too feminine in the early stages. Some of my readers just kept underlining scenes. “Too girly, too girly”. He is still very sensitive, but I think he is undoubtedly a man now… thanks in huge part to my critique partners!

As far as manhood, I think I was able to convey trying to grow up—to fill expectations and be yourself and protect and take care of people without giving up too much of yourself. I hope I was able to do that. I think we can all relate to that same kind of searching.

KL: Did the book begin with either narrator or was it always going to be two POVs? Which narrator was easier to write? Did you ever find yourself writing more fluidly in one or the other?

HDS: Actually, the book began seven years ago with Lace (the mother). It was a third person adult novel about her. But my perspective and my interest changed gradually. Then it had three narrators—Keeley was actually a narrator. But the story belongs to the twins. I loved writing both of them—it really fed two sides of my story, and my needs as a writer, but I think I could also appeal to different kinds of readers too.

KL: You made the choice not to use any quotes or a lot of dialogue tags. Can you talk to us a little bit about the thought process behind this?

HDS: It’s not very exciting. It just felt completely unnatural to punctuate dialogue in this story. Noelle and Nadio are so overwhelmed, so uncertain about speaking certain truths out loud, and sometimes aren’t even making the distinction themselves between what they’re feeling and what they’re saying. I just wanted the reader, in some way, to feel this with them.

Thank you so so so much for having me, Mary. This was so fun!

THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU is Heather Duffy Stone’s first novel, it came out with Flux in March, 2009. Order it right here or pick it up in your favorite indie store. You can check out Heather’s website here and join the dedicated Kidlit Book Club page we have by clicking here.

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I’ve got a special treat for you guys today. Here we’ve got Sarah Quigley, author of TMI, which debuts today. I posted a review of it earlier and I’m so happy to feature her interview. With interviews on this site, I’ll be focusing on certain aspects of writing and publishing. For my first interview, I wanted to lighten things up. Here’s How to Write Humor, An Interview with Sarah Quigley!

Kidlit: The tone of Becca’s blog posts is so much fun and such a cool addition to her character. What came first for you as a writer, the story and the narrative or the posts?

Sarah Quigley: TMI would not exist if it weren’t for my own blog, which was discovered by an editor at Dutton Children’s Books. She contacted me to see if I was interested in writing a young adult novel, and it was her idea to have a blogging heroine.

On my own blog, I created an alter ego named Babs. Babs was living my life, but she was much cooler, wittier, and sexier than me in everything she did. I wanted the same kind of blogging outlet for Becca in TMI. On her blog, Becca becomes Bella, who verbally slays her enemies and woos the hottest guy in school.

The story/narrative and blog posts had a chicken and egg relationship. They were so intertwined from the beginning that I have no idea which came first. As I developed the story, I added and reworked blog posts many times. Some of the original posts were fairly tame, and my husband encouraged me to make them more outrageous and elaborate. I had a blast chasing after Becca’s runaway imagination.

KL: How did you hone and develop Becca’s voice? What was your inspiration?

SQ: Becca and I have lot in common. We’re both sarcastic and emotional and inappropriate. Many of the things that Becca says and thinks are things that I have said and thought, so that part was easy. However, early in the story, Becca vows to stop oversharing, and this left me with the challenge of maintaining the voice of a TMI girl who can no longer say whatever she wants.

I had to simultaneously show how conflicted Becca was about what she could say and not say while allowing her to continue to think freely. As I wrote every conversation, I had to layer the things that Becca actually said with what she wanted to say.

KL: There is a lot of verbal humor here, too, but a lot of funny situations. A lot of humor writers think that the right mix of both is the key to a consistently funny novel. What do you think has more humorous potential, witty dialogue or putting a character into funny or embarrassing situations? Which of these two was more challenging to write?

SQ: This question immediately makes me think of David Sedaris, one of my favorite writers. Sedaris often writes about weird things that happen to him, and that can be funny. Even funnier, though, is Sedaris’s knack for drawing the humor out of ordinary situations with dialogue and observation. His style inspires me.

I find plotting quite difficult, and I struggled to come up with a storyline for TMI that put Becca in funny situations. I was much more comfortable staying in her head, giving her snarky little thoughts and observations about the world.

KL: TMI is mostly funny but there are definitely serious situations in the mix. How did you handle juggling these two aspects of it?

SQ: In early drafts, I actually made some of the serious parts of the novel even more dire. My editor advised me to tone them down because they were detracting from the humorous parts and because they were unrealistic. I also made the villains a little too evil, almost cartoon-like. Looking back on the first version of TMI, I can practically see them twisting their mustaches and cackling maniacally. I thought their nastiness would be funny, but it was merely a distraction from the real story.

KL: The naked younger brother is definite comic relief. Was there anything else that you put in the book just for huge belly laughs?

SQ: Some of the blog entries don’t really move the plot along. I was just having fun being silly and thinking of ways for Becca to vent.

KL: You got a book contract with your blog but did it ever get you in trouble? Do tell!

SQ: One of the earliest posts on my blog was a story about a guy I made out with one summer in college. He had an entertaining name (it would look perfect in the opening credits of a porn film), and I couldn’t resist mentioning it.

Mistake.

Fast forward eight years. I got an email from this guy asking me to remove his name from my blog. Apparently, my mention of his name had caused some “awkward personal and professional situations.” Of course, I felt awful. I immediately removed the entire story and apologized. He was very gracious about the whole thing, but I definitely beat myself up a little for believing that people I wrote about would never see my blog. You’d think I would have learned that after writing TMI. I guess life really does imitate art sometimes.

Sarah Quigley’s TMI hits shelves today! Pick it up at your favorite independent bookstore or order it this very minute! Check out her website at www.SarahQuigley.com.

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