Sunday, February 21, 2010

Writer Survey

Yes, yes, I know, the vlog the vlog. But my lovely friend Sage did this over at her blog ( and I wanted to play too.

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I wrote (and finished) is a YA about two boys getting together (the easy part) and staying together (not quite so easy) over the course of October 2002 sniper shootings in the suburbs of Washington D.C. This is my favorite book I've written, and it's basically my baby. The sniper attacks are, with good reason, I think, very close to me--like the MCs in the story, I was a teenager (though a young one) in Montgomery County, MD during the shootings.

I never really let the shootings go--sometimes I'd torture myself by researching details, if I was having a bad day--but John Allen Muhammad's execution this fall made them very raw in my head. I knew I had a book in me about them, and writing it was a pretty amazing experience to me. It was, without a doubt, the easiest book I've ever written, and I think the most honest in a lot of ways. It's called THE ANIMALS WERE GONE, after a song by Damien Rice. I'm working on revising it for my agent right now.

The first thing I ever wrote is a little harder to pin down. My first "book"--about 150 pages--I wrote when I was in 6th grade. It was about a girl named Augusta Margo Elizabeth Talia Clara (hellz to the yeah) who has to go live with her mom after her brother died in a plane crash. She JUST HAPPENS to be looking out her window one day and JUST HAPPENS to see a boy get hit by a car, and this boy JUST HAPPENS to be her half-brother. I. Know. It's called YOU JUST DON'T GET IT, it's all in a fluorescent green composition notebook, and I have no idea where that notebook is.

2. Poetry?

Hahahahaha no.

3. Angsty poetry?

Not since I was twelve...

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Young adult! Contemporary, gritty, angsty young adult. But it has to be funny.

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

Bianca in ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING makes me want to put her head through a wall. Every. Chapter.

6. Best plot you’ve ever created?

I'm pretty into the plot of my adult book, APD. It's pretty wild and twisted.

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

Haha, now it's deeeefinitely APD. Heehee. Although INVINCIBLE SUMMER's climax, too...hmmm.

8. How often do you get writer’s block?

Fuck writer's block, that stuff is bullshit. Shut up and write a book.

9. Write fan fiction?

A lady never tells. (So...yeah.)

10. Do you type or write by hand?

I type. I used to write by hand a lot more (in high school, really, so I could write in class) but not anymore.

11. Do you save everything you write?


12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you abandon it? it

Rarely. I have a few plot points I've tried to work into several different books, so far unsuccessfully. Still trying to figure out where they belong.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?


14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve ever written?

INVINCIBLE SUMMER, unless you're a muser, in which case it's THESE HUMANS ALL SUCK.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Dude, my career depends on angsty teen drama. Romance? Eh, sometimes it's in there.

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?


17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I have a YA rolling around in my head, I'm working on the first draft of an MG, I'm editing THE ANIMALS WERE GONE and waiting for my editorial letter for INVINCIBLE SUMMER (any day now!)

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

I won you guys, obv.

Oh and BREAK was an ALA Popular Paperback for Teens of 2009.

19. What are your five favorite words?

Epiphany, lucid, silhouette, maybe, cameo.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Probably Bianca. No wonder she's so goddamn annoying.

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

I don't really get ideas for characters. I think of a situation, then I just the characters up as I go along. They develop with the story. I don't go in there thinking "Jonah's going to stubborn and honest and introspective and..." he just talks.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Once. It was weird.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

Yes. Yes yes yes yes. Anyone who follows me on Twitter has heard my opinions on this. A good ending means you satisfy your reader. And satisfying your reader usually means that if you make them root for a character, or a relationship, or an anything, you make that part work out. Characters should get what they deserve. Seriously, I'm sick of authors teaching me some lesson about how life is meaningless and unsatisfying by giving me a meaningless and unsatisfying book. Yeah, I see what you're saying. I'm in on the joke. Now I'm throwing your book against a wall and crying into my pillow.

I read fiction because I want things to work out. If I wanted a disappointment to come and smack me in the face out of nowhere, I have my own life.

(And yes, I recognize the irony that I'M the one lecturing about how to end a book. Sorry about BREAK btw. Buy it anyway, I need money for food and internet.)

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Of course.

25. Does music help you write?

Yep. I always write either to music or in front of the TV. I make playlists for all my books.

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head.

I'm not sure if this is the exact wording, but...
Camus and Melinda were right: "one always finds one's burden again."--Invincible Summer


Noelle Nolan said...

This survey was fun. It's the most writing I've gotten done all day. :)

Liz Czukas said...

Very cool, I may have to steal this later.

BTW, I write in front of the TV, too! Hardly anyone I know does.

- Liz

Sage said...

My favorite book of yours is TAWG

hannah said...

:) but did you even read THAS?

robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) said...

Break found it's way in to my eager little hands while I was book-hunting yesterday. I cannot wait to read it.

hannah said...

eee! that's awesome.

Arlaina said...

I got married the week of the DC shootings and I'd be trying on veils and shit and there'd be another dead person in the home depot parking lot. It was horrifying and heartbreaking and this horrific backdrop to that whole time. The way our culture is, events like that flame up and burn out. I'm so glad you are going to use it in your work. Can't wait!

Kristi Faith said...

I agree with you about, what the hell did you do to us with BREAK? :0)

Loved getting to know you!

hannah said...

Kristi--I know, I suck. I swear everything works out. I promise.

Arlaina--that is such a beautiful, sad story. My cousin was born the same week as the shootings, which I only realized by counting years backwards, because I don't associate the two events at all in my mind. It seems strange to me that we went into the city to the hospital to see the baby without the shootings on our minds. I guess life really does progress.

Jordyn said...

So doing this survey. Will linky.

Rebecca said...

Oh, you're pretty much me (I'm also an 18-year-old YA writer), but kewler because I haven't got the published-ness. Although maybe sometime soon.

Rachele Alpine said...

Damien Rice...oh my rock because you've mentioned him. He is AMAZING! Have you seen him in concert? It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I already plan to follow him around the country when he comes back (or if he plays overseas over the summer months, I'm there). Seriously, I worship this man and his music.