This weeks YA Feature author is SC Langgle author of March 2013 release, Alice in Everville. Check out my interview with the author and why not add Alice in Everville to your goodreads list!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but I’ve been living in Los Angeles, California off and on since 2006, when I moved here to attend the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC. I’m currently living in Hollywood, only a block from the Walk of Fame (where all the stars with celebrities’ names line the pavement), and I love it! I’ve been working as a freelance editor and writer for a while—I’ve written educational study guides, press releases for musicians, and more, and I edit a lot of romance novels!
I’ve always been a huge reader, especially of children’s and young adult books, and that’s definitely how I got into writing. I’ve actually never enjoyed the process of writing—it kind of feels like knocking my head against a brick wall over and over!—but I guess through reading so much, I developed some talent for creative writing that teachers remarked on in middle and high school. As a result, I ended up studying writing in college and then in graduate school, but I still wasn’t sure about becoming a novelist. Honestly, I don’t think I would have attempted a novel if I had a secure full-time job, but with the economy in its current state, I felt I had no choice but to try writing a novel…and now I’m on my fourth! It’s still difficult, and I still prefer reading, but reading doesn’t pay the bills! And of course finishing a book feels very satisfying once you’re done.
Your debut novel Alice in Everville releases next March. Can you tell us a little about it?
Alice in Everville is a hard story to summarize…luckily my amazing publisher helped me come up with the perfect blurb, which is below. However, since I know some people (like, um, me) tend to space out when it comes to reading blurbs, here are a few tidbits:
It’s a YA novel (although I think upper-middle-grade readers would enjoy it as well) about a fourteen-year-old girl named Alice Little.
It takes place entirely over one day.
While it’s a realistic novel, there’s a slightly surreal, quirky, larger-than-life feeling to it…one reader compared it to Dr. Suess’s Whoville, which I think is fairly apt.
The text includes poems which contain a code the main character solves to reveal a secret message.
The novel includes many plays on words and some original song lyrics.
And if that’s not enough for you, here’s the blurb:
A poem can seem like a labyrinth, a maze of words you can lose yourself in. The key is to find a thread to hold on to, to guide you in your reading, to lead you into and out of a labyrinth of words…
Alice Little thinks she’s read every word the world-famous poet Sylvie Plate published before her untimely death…until she discovers a coded message hidden in Sylvie’s final collection of poems--a message that may explain the poet’s mysterious demise.
All she has to do is decipher the code and she knows she can convince her beloved English teacher, Miss A, that Sylvie’s message is real. Unfortunately, she only has one manic day at Everville Mall to do it. And between keeping track of her fountain-splashing, havoc-wreaking sister, finding a new copy of Sylvie’s poems, and…oh yeah…dealing with the blue-eyed, guitar-playing, majorly swoon-worthy Jaden Briar, who keeps popping up everywhere she goes, Alice wonders if she will ever finish deciphering in time.
This may sound silly—and/or familiar—but I pretty much dreamed the first scene of this book exactly as it appears in the finished novel. I’m sure some of my inspiration came from a friend who’s obsessed with the poet Sylvia Plath, but in the dream, my main character wasn’t reading Sylvia Plath—she was reading “Sylvie Plate.” From that detail, I knew my book existed in a slightly altered, surreal, exaggerated world, even though it’s ultimately a realistic story at heart. That insight allowed me to create heightened situations (i.e., every single person in the town of Everville goes to the mall on Saturdays), and I had a lot of fun coming up with names. For example, the Everville Mall contains Never 22 rather than Forever 21, the Flowering Vale department store rather than Bloomingdale’s, and a very popular coffee shop called K. Cubrats (read it backwards!). As for the larger plot arc, it developed pretty naturally from the original scene I dreamed—I knew my heroine was dealing with family issues and that the secret message in Sylvie Plate’s poetry would somehow illuminate her own family relationships.
How has the process been for you from writing the book to getting a publisher?
While Alice in Everville is the shortest book I’ve written so far, it was also the most difficult to write, I think because it was my first—and because, as mentioned above, it has this slightly surreal element to it and a lot of plays on words/hidden codes/etc. Although I do have an agent now, I didn’t when I sold Alice in Everville, so I queried my publisher (Pendrell Publishing) directly and was thrilled when they offered to publish the book. The head of Pendrell Publishing is actually located near me in Los Angeles, so I’ve been able to meet with her several times and work with her closely on the book production, which is great—definitely not an opportunity you’d get with a huge publisher! Pendrell is also going to publish my second novel, which I’m thrilled about—I’ll have more info about that on my blog in the future.
How would you describe you writing style?
My style varies according to what I think my characters and current book need to tell their story in the best way. Alice in Everville has a chatty, upbeat, young-teenage style in spite of the serious subject matter, while my next two books were written in verse and have a slightly darker, more poetic style. And now I’m working on a historical fiction YA, which is completely different! Whatever I’m writing, I like to use vivid language and imagery that illuminates the characters and their emotions. I also tend to be a fairly spare writer—I think there’s power in what’s left unsaid, and I like to let readers draw their own conclusions and meanings rather than spelling everything out.
What is a typical writing day for you?
Uh…I don’t really have one! When I’m working on a project, I always want to get it done as soon as I can, so I try to write as much per day as possible before I burn out. Unfortunately, that’s not very much—1500 words would be a very, very good day for me! I also edit a lot while I’m writing, so by the time I’m finished most of the prose has been through at least three edits. And I mull over plot and character problems even when I’m not writing.
Some bookie questions to get to know the author!
Favourite 2012 YA read?
Hmm, that’s a hard one! If you mean a book that came out in 2012, I loved My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt, which actually isn’t coming out till later this year (I was lucky enough to get an early ARC). If you mean a book I’ve read this year, I adored Song of the Magdalene by Donna Jo Napoli.
Favourite YA genre?
Contemporary, fantasy, urban fantasy, magical realism, historical fiction…sorry, I can’t narrow it down any more than that!
Favoruite book as a child?
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.
A book that has taught you something?
I think pretty much every book I read teaches me something! But a recent read that had an amazing amount of historical and cultural detail was The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. I was never too interested in the history of Jerusalem and Israel, but this book makes it all FASCINATING.
A YA you would reccommend we check out?
The Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block—these definitely don’t get the attention they deserve!
Quick Fire questions:
Beach or lake?
Ice-cream or forzen yogurt?
Both, but soft-serve fro yo is the best.
Heels or converse?
Heels, but only because I have a weird aversion to tennis shoes…my actual answer would be flip-flops.
La or New York?
LA—I live here, after all! We have the beach and the great weather!
Ebook or paperback?
As long as it has the same words, I don’t care how I read it…although I do get tired of ebooks if I read too many in a row!
Check out SC Langgle on her:
Add Alice in Everville to Goodreads