Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interview: Susane Colasanti!

Today is our first EVER interview on Willa's Ramblings!
Are you excited? I am!

Who is our interviewee, you may ask?

Yep, that's right, Susane Colasanti, author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, and her newest, Keep Holding On, out June 2012. 

To find Susane, check out the following:

Beautiful, right?
Keep Holding On, due out in June of 2012, will be Susane Colasanti's sixth novel, and a bit different from the rest. Here is the synopsis for all of you curious people out there:
Don’t look up.
Lunch is the worst, but there’s no safe place at school for Noelle. Keeping her mortifying home life a secret and trying to ignore the kids who make her life miserable are Noelle’s survival strategies. Her emotionally distant boyfriend, Matt, isn’t the one she really wants to be with. But she’s sure there’s no way she could ever be with Julian Porter.
When Julian starts talking to her, Noelle is terrified. It seems safer to stay with Matt than risk a broken heart. But when the bullying of a friend goes too far, Noelle realizes it’s time to stand up for herself—and for everything that makes her keep holding on.
Awesome, right? I can't wait! And look at that beautiful cover!
I know you all are waiting for the interview, so I'll just get on with it. Enjoy!

WR: How did you stay motivated before getting an agent?

SC: The Knowing. That’s what I call this feeling I sometimes have when I absolutely
know something’s going to happen. Even if it’s something illogical like having
a book published when you’ve never even taken a creative writing class. I just
knew that When It Happens was meant to be published. That clarity kept me

WR: While rewriting drafts of Keep Holding On, did you ever want to toss the whole
idea and start on something else? If not, why?
SC: No way! Although all of my books were inspired by my own experiences to some
degree, Keep Holding On is my most personal story. Junior high and high school
was the worst time of my life. Kids tormented me every day. In this book, I wrote
about some mortifying things that I would have been embarrassed to admit were
happening to me back then. But I’m not embarrassed anymore. If I survived
those experiences, then there are lots of kids out there trying to survive those
same experiences right now. Which means it’s time to speak up. Keep Holding
On is my way of reaching out to teens in need and hopefully help them feel less

WR: You have written six novels, all for young adults. Do you ever think about
writing for a different age group?
SC: I can’t imagine writing for anyone else. Most grownups say that their teenage
years were the best time of their life. Do they not remember? Did they block
the worst parts out? I will never forget the excruciating trauma, heartache,
longing, and sadness of my teen years. Everything is more intense when you’re
a teenager. It’s the time in your life when you’re discovering who you really are
and figuring out who you really want to be. Hormones make you crazy. Emotions
are running at extremes. It’s such a confusing, difficult time to get through. My
purpose in life is to help teens in whatever way I can. That’s why writing books
for them is important to me. Plus, my internal age is 16. That’s just how I write
(and pretty much how I talk – I tend to write the way I talk). When I get ideas for
new books, they’re always about teen relationships and drama. Clearly, I was
meant to write teen novels.

WR: What has been one of your favorite experiences while in the publishing and
novel industry?
SC: Going on book tours is the best. I love meeting readers! I was a high school
science teacher before I became a full-time author. Although I love my new
career, I miss my people. Doing bookstore events and school visits is my chance
to connect with teens from all over. Meeting teachers, librarians, and other
friendly neighbors in the book world is super fun times.

WR: Which tense do you prefer when writing novels? Past or present?
SC:The present tense seems to be how I naturally want to write. It’s not something I
plan. It’s just how stories unfold in my mind.

WR: Do you ever consider writing for a different genre?
SC: Not so far. Which, you know, never say never, but at this point I can’t imagine
writing anything other than realistic teen fiction. Writing about soul mates is my
thing. I also like incorporating heavier issues in my books, many of which were
inspired by my own experiences with those issues.

WR: What is your favorite thing about writing for young adults?
SC: The hope that my books might help readers in some small way makes me happy.
When I was a teen, books were my friends. They were always there for me.
They could always make me feel better after a hard day at school. My favorite
characters were people I wished I could have been friends with in real life. Those
friends on the page soothed me. They showed me a way to escape. I want my
books to do the same thing for my readers.

Another thing I love about writing for teens is being able to connect with them
so easily online. (Note: I adore vintage mail. Any form of communication is
awesome. But actual paper and fun pen colors and stickers? Is the ultimate).
Communicating with my readers is really important to me. It’s impossible to
know how I’m doing without feedback. When readers share how my books have
impacted their lives, then I know I’m making a difference.

WR: While living in New York City, the greatest city of all time, do you find
inspiration there? If so, what kind?
SC: I totally agree that New York is the greatest city in the world! The energy of New
York City is actually why I live here. Each neighborhood has its own energy.
You can even feel different energies from one block to another within the same
neighborhood. For example, I never walk up 6th Avenue. Its frenetic, tense
energy is stressful. But walking up 5th Avenue is awesome. It has a peaceful vibe
and classic New York atmosphere. Of course you can find inspiration everywhere
in this city – from the people to the specialty shops to the street activities – but I
find that the energy fuels my work.

WR: For So Much Closer, which character was your favorite?
SC: John Dalton. He just came crashing in while I was working on the outline. I don’t
know anyone like John in real life. But I wish I did!

WR: Which one of your novels do you think best identifies with your life?
SC:Keep Holding On is my story in a lot of ways. So is When It Happens. When It
Happens was inspired by my own experiences during senior year. There was
a boy. Then there was another boy. It was like nothing happened to me for 17
years, and then suddenly there was all this relationship drama. I had a feeling
people might want to read about that drama. Brooke’s story in So Much Closer is
similar to my story as well. I left everything behind to move to New York because
I knew this was my true home. It’s always scary to take such a big risk in life. But
you have to take a chance to find something better on the other side.

WR: At Austin Teen Book Festival 2010, you were on a panel with only one other
woman, Ellen Hopkins, and you were the life of the panel. How do you always
seem to have so much energy?
SC: Ha! Your question reminds me of something my students used to ask. I was the
annoying teacher with too much energy first period, inexplicably perky way too
early in the morning. My kids would be like, “Mrs. Krasinski*, how much coffee
do you drink?” And I would tell them that I don’t drink caffeine (which is true –
caffeine and alcohol make me sick). So they’d be like, “Then how do you have
so much energy?” Here’s the thing. I’ve already survived the worst time of my
life. No matter what happens now, it will never be as bad as it was in high school.
That makes me very, very happy.

*When I was a teacher, I always started the year by introducing myself
in a unique way. There was a Top Five Husband List on the board. I’d
say, “Welcome, friendly neighbors! I’m Ms. Colasanti. But feel free to call me any
of these other names.” Then I would indicate my Husband List with a sweeping
gesture. Kids found that when they called me Ms. Colasanti, I responded. But
when they called me Mrs. Krasinski (actually, I think I left teaching before my
Office obsession began, but John Krasinski is my #1 husband now) or Mrs.
Maguire (Tobey was my #1 husband for several years, especially at the height
of Spidey mania) or Mrs. Gyllenhaal (duh), I was way more excited to help them.
And to give out stickers. So yeah, the Husband List was a hit.

WR: When you were growing up did you know you wanted to be a writer? If so,
how did you find time to write?
SC: I knew I wanted to be a science teacher when I was 12. When I was around 16, I
remember thinking about writing a children’s book. But then I remembered that I
was already going to be a teacher. I didn’t get the memo that you could be more
than one thing. However, I’ve always been a writer at heart. My early love of
reading enhanced my writing. Other than writing in my journal and doing stuff for
the lit mag, I don’t remember making time for writing. Writing was just something

I did when I wanted to. If I want to do something badly enough, it’s not hard to
find time to do it.

WR: How do you stay focused while writing a novel?
SC: Staying focused during a first draft is not easy. First drafts are the most
challenging part of the writing process for me. I’m working on a first draft right
now. At the moment, it is October and snowing outside. My radiators are hissing
and clanging. It’s beyond dreary. Meanwhile, the next scene I need to write takes
place on a gorgeous summer day. Getting into the right frame of mind to write
that scene will require lots of music. And peanut butter Snickers (which don’t
have any special significance, they are just delicious and among my stash of
Halloween candy). And possibly a miracle. But the scene will get written. All the
scenes after that one will get written. Because this is just the hard part. Once
I have a first draft to work with, revising is easier. Ultimately, this first draft will
become a published novel. Keeping that goal in mind helps on days like today
when the words aren’t flowing as freely.

About Keep Holding On: 

WR: While writing Keep Holding On what challenges did you face? How did you
overcome them?
SC: Writing about some of the painful times I endured wasn’t easy. But I felt like
it was something I had to do. Bullying is far from a new issue, but it’s a topic
that’s been getting overdue attention lately. Knowing that people are in need of
resources focusing on the consequences of bullying encouraged me to move
forward with this book. If Keep Holding On motivates readers to never give up,
then all of the bad times I experienced will have been worth it.

WR: How did the title for Keep Holding On come to you?
SC: Coming up with good titles isn’t easy for me. I usually find it easier to write an entire book than to think up a winning title. When I’m working on a new book, I have a corresponding notebook that goes with it. Each notebook has a page where I brainstorm titles. Keep Holding On was one of the first titles I wrote down for this book. Then I worried that it was too obvious. But it’s actually perfect. All of my titles are three words. And they all have multiple connotations. Keep Holding On reflects the relationship between my main character and her soul mate. It also reflects the tone of the story. So I hope you like it, too!
I’m sure you know which song inspired this title. The Glee cover is a big, sparkly warm fuzzy. Kind of how I want this book to make you feel.
And the Classic Willa's Rambling Question:

WR: What do you ramble about?
SC: I ramble a lot about how amazing New York City is. I can’t imagine being happier
anywhere else. I ramble about Gelly Roll pens and 80s nostalgia and how I wish
our society regarded being smart as something cool instead of something to
make fun of. I’m constantly rambling about the lack of affordable, quality health
care for every human being on this planet. But I guess that’s more like ranting.

Lately I cannot stop rambling about my dream home. I haven’t found it yet. But
I’m hoping to soon move into a place that is peaceful, inviting, and has lots of
room for the glossy white built-in bookshelves I’ll be designing.

WR: Thank you so much for agreeing to let me interview you!
SC: The pleasure was all mine. Your blog is adorbs!

Did you make it through that whole thing? If so, congrats! Hope you enjoyed it!

1 comment:

  1. I read it all Willa! Awesome interview and happy new year :)



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