14 March 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: MEREDITH ZEITLIN'S FRESHMAN YEAR & OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS

Today I am really excited to have author Meredith Zeitlin joining me on the blog to kindly answer a few questions about her contemporary young adult novel Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters and her writing method. (If you've read the book, you'll understand where Kelsey's easy sense of wit comes from!)

Released earlier this month, you can read my review of it here or you can watch the trailer below, head on over to Meredith's website or go to Amazon to grab yourself a copy. Be sure to check the bottom of the post for the links!


Your first book, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, came out earlier this month. Can you tell us a little bit about it?  
It's the first-person account of Kelsey Finkelstein's totally disatrous freshman year. She has huge plans to make a mark in high school, but unfortunately everything she tries to do backfires. It's a story about friends and crushes and parents and tough choices and self-esteem and figuring out who you are - or who want to be. And it's awesome. You should totally read it. 


What sparked the idea for this story?   
I decided to write the book because I was really dissatisfied by the YA books out there at the time - not that they weren't enjoyable, but I didn't understand why they were all about super rich, sophisticated girls who were drinking martinis and having sex in hotels and things like that. I loved the books about awkward girls like me when I was that age, so I decided to write one myself. 

Did your own experiences in high school help you write the characters and plot?  
Definitely! Most of Kelsey's experiences are based on things that happened to me around the same time, and many of the characters are based on attribute of people I know. 

Were you like Kelsey in high school?  
Yes and no. I certainly had lofty goals and ended up in plenty of ridiculous situations, but because it was real life and not a book there was a lot of boring stuff in between. So I wasn't quite as crazed as Kelsey is. Also, I was never a sporty girl, but I was a huge theatre geek. And I wrote for the paper and was eventually the Editor In Chief - as opposed to Kelsey, who is featured in a very different way... 

Who was your favourite character to develop and write for? 
Hm, that's a tough one. JoJo's story changed the most from the time I started writing the book (you'll know what I mean if you've read the book) to when I finished the last draft, and it was really important to me to get it exactly right. Her character was always one of my favorites though, right from the beginning - I love her easy confidence and love of being different.

If you were to 'sell' Freshman Year using a single quote or line from the book, what would you choose? 
Oh dear - that is really hard! I guess I'd want it to be something that kind of gives and idea of the book... so how about (from page 179): "I said I was going to make my mark this year, and this is what I've got to work with. No one ever said it would be easy."

What is your ideal writing environment?  
Someplace with a lot of natural light and, depending on what I'm working on, total silence or showtunes in the background. Oh, and definitely some candy within reach. That's essential. 

Do you prefer to plan out the plot line and scenes or do you just write and see where you end up? 
I am NOT a planner. Even in school I'd do the outlines for papers after I wrote them... and then only if I absolutely had to hand them in. (Don't tell my teachers, okay?) 

As a debut author, what one particular element to the writing and publishing process has been the most exciting? 
I think I'd have to pick two things: the first, the day my editor told me that the most recent draft was the FINAL draft. That was a long time in coming, and a huge relief. And the other is the day I got the first real copy of the book in the mail - it was amazing and perfect. 

Thank you so much Meredith for taking time to answer my questions! If you would like more information on Meredith or her first book Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, you can find it here:

Meredith's website
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Amazon
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