I'm originally from NYC, but my family (mom, dad, and younger sister) moved to NJ when I was 6. I was involved with theatre - especially musicals - from an early age, and actually wanted to be a Broadway performer after college. My full-time job is actually a bit different; I'm a voiceover artist, which means I do the announcing on radio and television ads (you can find more about that at www.mzspeaks.com if you're interested). I come from a family with many writers, and it's something I've always done as well. I entered poetry competitions as a kid, wrote for the high school paper, and later became its Editor in Chief. I was in a 12-person screenwriting program in college. I wrote essays, articles and reviews for various publications and websites after I graduated, and was usually working on something creative of my own as well. "Freshman Year..." was the first big project I completed and decided to move forward with, tho - I really wanted to get the book out there.
Can you tell me a little about your debut novel, FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS?
It's the story of Kelsey Finkelstein, age fourteen, and her many misadventures as a high school freshman.
Where did you get the idea for FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS?
When I first got out of college, I used to babysit for an awesome little girl named Zoe. Sometimes when she did her homework, I'd read her books, and for the most part I found them really disappointing. They weren't at all like the YA novels I'd grown up with, which were about girls I could relate to; these were all about rich, sophisticated girls with unlimited spending accounts and wild sex lives. I decided to try my hand at writing about a REAL girl in NYC, based on my memories of high school and my observations of Zoe and her friends. And since I'm always getting into ridiculous situations that my friends find very amusing, I thought readers would enjoy a main character who had a similar affliction.
How does it feel to be releasing your debut novel?
Pretty surreal. This has been a very long process - much longer than I anticipated - so for a long time I didn't even know if I'd ever get to this point. Now that it's right around the corner, it almost feels like a strange but wonderful dream. I'm really proud of the work I've done, and I also feel incredibly lucky to have had such supportive friends, family, and coworkers to cheer me on along the way.
FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS sound like a new, young fresh YA novel, moving away from the popular vampire, werewolves, fay, etc novels. Several YA 2012 debuts are moving away from this theme. Do you think it's good to move away from these type of novels and got back to "real life" and being able to relate to the book?
I definitely enjoy reading fantasy novels myself, but I do think that genre has sort of taken over the YA bookshelves in the past few years. Reading books with characters that made me reflect on my own life - girls who were like me - was really important to me growing up, and I did write this book to get a story like that into the hands of tweens and teens. So I think having a balance is a great idea, and I'm glad to see more books like this out there.
I think FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS would make an awesome TV show. Would you like to see FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS make into a TV show and if so which actress do you think would make the perfect Kelsey Finkelstein?
Thanks! I'd love to see Kelsey's adventures come to life on TV - that would be incredible. As to choosing an actress, I think a total unknown would be the most fun. That way she wouldn't be associated with any other characters and could really make the part her own.
Why should we read FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS in one sentence?
Because you want to read about the slightly-bonkers adventures of a girl who is probably a lot like you: uncertain, excited, prone to making mistakes, but willing to learn from them... and also because you want world peace and happiness for all - this book is the key!
What do you hope to achieve in regards to your writing this year?
I wrote a children's picture book that I'm hoping will find a home soon, and a friend and I wrote a super-creepy horror feature that I'd love to see bought as well. I'm also working on another YA novel, which I hope to finish the first draft of this year. It'll require a trip to Greece though, so we'll see...
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters will be published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in March 2012.
To pre-order: http://mzwrit.es/yCTlMI OR http://mzwrit.es/wn2dfq