Monday, February 1, 2010

Author interview with Alexandra Diaz

Today the Slushbusters welcome Alexandra Diaz, member of the debut author Class of 2k10. Alexandra's YA novel, Of All the Stupid Things was released in December. Here's a synopsis from Alexandra's website:

"When a rumor starts circulating that Tara’s boyfriend has been with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn’t just hurt Tara. It marks the beginning of the end for three lifelong friends.

Tara’s training for a marathon, but also running from her fear of abandonment from her father.

Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leave her looking for her own value in the wrong places.

And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mama she’s never stopped missing.

Then the new girl arrives in school and Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt for before for a girl. Can the girls’ friendship survive when all the rules have changed?"

I had the opportunity to ask Alexandra some questions about her book, writing, and critique.

Of All the Stupid Things is written from the points of view of three different characters. How did you decide to tell your story in that way? Was it more difficult to write in three distinct voices?
When I first got the idea to write the book, it was to do it in the different perspectives. I initially thought it would be too difficult to pull that off, but I convinced myself to try it anyway. Although I struggled at first with getting their voices right, that's the way it always is when starting any new project. Once I "knew" the characters, it was surprisingly easy for me.

You were homeschooled, yet you've chosen to write about a more traditional high school setting. How did you research that aspect of the book?
I didn't! Or at least not consciously. I'm sure I was influenced by books, films, and what teens have told me, but mostly it just came from what I imagined this particular school to be like.

What is one of your favorite parts of the book? Why do you like it and how did it come to be?
I like the scene when Tara sees Brent's car in the gym parking lot and then later when she's at home and hears his voice on the answering machine. They're both very physical scenes which really bring you into the moment and the emotions that Tara is feeling without being told. The first one was to create suspicion (and maybe a scandal) which is always fun. The second scene was originally earlier in the book and quite tame. By shifting it around and building the tension, it is much more dramatic and interesting now.

At what point in the writing process do you prefer to have other people read your work? Do you want feedback at the first draft stage, or once you've done all you can with it and don't know where to go next?
I really enjoy getting feedback from other writers. Not only do they help me by letting me know what is not working, but they point out what is so obvious I can't see it! I find it very useful to get critiqued regularly so that I can stay on track (also, it gives me deadlines to work with!). Usually when people read the whole first draft, their comments are more general than specific and I feel it's too late to change anything major.

Most of the Slusbusters prefer to get feedback as we go too. We tend to submit and rework one chapter at a time. Beyond critiquing, we've grown into good friends who support each other through successes and failures. How have other writers in your community done that for you?
I did my MA in Writing for Young People and my former classmates are ace! We are very close friends and very comfortable in our critiquing of each other's work. I seriously don't know if I would be published if it weren't for them.

Was there one thing or person that helped you the most with your writing?
Having a deadline. Knowing that I had to turn in 2,500 words for a classroom assignment made sure I did just that. For some reason self imposed deadlines don't seem to work quite as well. Although sometimes telling myself that I don't want to spend the rest of my life working minimum wage jobs gets me moving.

Of all the possible readers in the world, who would you most like to hear had read your book and loved it?
It was really great when my mom called me in England to say that she sincerely loved the book; I was expecting a patronizing pat on the back. I don't know if that could be beat. However, I wouldn't say no to getting a similar call from Judy Blume!

I bet! She was one of my favorites growing up too. One last question, which is a Slushbusters favorite: Is there any interview question you've not been asked but are always dying to answer?
If you had to choose a pen name, what would it be? Tatiana Corvison, which is part of my name, but has an exotic feel to it. Might only be suitable for trashy romance novels though!

Thanks, Alexandra for taking some time to chat with us! We wish you the best of luck with your book.

For those of you still working on your own debut (or second or third) novels, don't forget about our Polish Your Pitch contest this week. You still have time to get those three-line pitches in to us.


Sarah said...

Great interview! Thanks Alexandra and Michelle. I loved reading the Alexandra needed a deadline as well. I know I wouldn't get half as much done if I didn't have to turn it in for Slushie review.

Tess said...

How very very exciting for Alexandra to have her novel finally here :D Kudos on all the hard work!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Love author interviews. Great job everyone!