I’m thrilled to be a stop on Sarah Mlynowski’s blog tour for her latest release, Parties & Potions! Her book Bras & Broomsticks was actually the first book I reviewed on this blog, so this is particularly awesome.
You write books for both teens and adults. Why do you write both kinds of books? What’s the difference in your writing process, if any? What is the difference in publishing adult and teen books?
I always knew I wanted to write YA. But after graduating from college, I assumed I’d have to wait until I was older to be a novelist, so I got a job in publishing-at Harlequin. While I was there, I kind of fell into writing for adults-I heard through the grapevine that they were going to start a new line of books called Red Dress Ink, a chick lit line. Since at the time I was living a very chick lit life (I was twenty-three, had just moved to the big city and had just been dumped) I thought I’d give it a try. It took me eight months to write my first book, and I sold it quickly after. As soon as I decided to write full-time I started working on a YA proposal. These days I mostly write for teens. I do have a fun idea for a new adult book though, so maybe I’ll try writing it one day soon…
There isn’t much difference in my writing process. I still outline, do a first draft, do a second…Teen books are a bit shorter. The only real difference for me is that I feel that teens are more impressionable than adults and I try to be more careful about things like drinking and sex. Also, when my teen characters are 14, I tend to write them as if they’re 12, because I know readers like to read up. When I write for adults, a 25-year-old is a 25-year-old.
As for publishing differences, as far as I can tell teen books stay on the shelf longer than adult books do-a definite plus. On the other hand, adult readers have less gatekeepers. In the teen world, it’s not just about appealing to your audience, your books also have to interest librarians, parents and teachers.
You wrote How To Be Bad with E. Lockhart and Lauren Myracle. How was collaborating with two other authors different from writing by yourself?
It was much, much more fun. If only I could write all my books with Emily and Lauren! Collaborating made the writing process far less lonely. We got to share all the highs and all the lows. You’d think it would have taken less time to write but it actually took longer than writing something on my own. You know, three cooks in a kitchen…
Your Magic in Manhattan series is about witches. If you could have any sort of supernatural being for a friend (witch, ghost, vampire, werewolf–anything!), what would it be and why? Which would you want to be yourself?
A witch for both, of course. Ever since I saw The Wizard of Oz I’ve been obsessed with witches. You could have anything you want and you wouldn’t have to: be dead, drink blood, or turn into a furry animal. Witch all the way. I even like pointy hats.
Which of your teen characters is most like you in high school?
Rachel. I was a lot like her in high school. I really wanted a boyfriend. I really wanted to be popular. I really wanted my mom and dad not to be divorced. I bossed my little sister around. Sometimes I can be a tiny, tiny bit self-absorbed. Yup, we’re a lot alike. Except for the, um, whole witch part.
What are five books you think everyone should read?
Oh fun! OK, my five favorite books of all time are:
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
White Noise by Don Delilo
On Writing by Stephen King (mostly for writers)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
What job would you like to have if you couldn’t be a writer? What other jobs have you had in the past?
I’ve been a camp counselor, a bus girl, a salesgirl (I’ve sold perfume, I’ve sold candy, I’ve sold clothes and I’ve sold books), a telemarketer, and I was in the marketing department at Harlequin. I loved marketing books, so I’d probably go back to that. I’d be happy to be a movie star, of course, but sine I can’t memorize lines, I think that’s out. My other dream job is running my own bookstore, and that seems a bit more possible. Maybe one day.
In How To Be Bad, the three characters go on a road trip together. What’s your best road trip memory? If you could take a road trip with anyone (alive or dead), who would it be and where would you go?
My then boyfriend and I backpacked and drove up New Zealand when we were twenty-five. The then boyfriend proposed on the trip (he’s now my husband), so I might be remembering it with rosey glasses, but it was pretty awesome. If I could take a roadtrip with anyone, I would go back in time and drive across the US with my best friends in high school. That’s something I never did and I think we would have had a lot of fun.
On that road trip, what music would you listen to? Do you listen to music when you write, or prefer silence, or some other noise?
Eighties hits of course! I don’t listen to music when I write-I listen to Law & Order. I play the reruns all day. Something about the Da! Da! frees up the creative side of my brain. Weird, eh?
What are you writing right now? What would be your “dream book” to write and publish–maybe something crazy and/or totally unlike what you’ve already written?
Right now I’m working on a new book called Gimme a Call. It’s about a high school freshman who finds a magical cell phone and can call herself in the future as a senior. My dream book is a YA thriller. I love thrillers but I’m too afraid to write one. I’m not sure I can do scary.
Did that work?
See I told you, I’m just not scary.
What question do you wish I’d asked? What’s the answer?
Q: What’s the first chapter book you ever read?
A: Ramona and Her Father. I remember being incredibly impressed with myself when I got to page one hundred. I thought they should have printed drawings of balloons in the margin to congratulate the reader on the accomplishment-page one hundred! Wahoo!
Thanks so much Jocelyn!!!!
Thank you, Sarah!
1/15: The Well Read Child
1/16: Shopping Diary
1/20: Page Flipper
1/21: E. Lockhart
1/23: YA Books Central
1/26: Ally’s Blog
1/28-2/6: Random Buzzers