Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chatting with Tera Lynn Childs

Welcome Tera! Thanks for stopping by to chat with us about your newest book Goddess Boot Camp. It's fabulous and she's clearly a

So let's get started...

What made you choose to write? And why YA specifically? After I got my Masters degree (in Historic Preservation, of all things) I moved back home and basically house-sat while my parents were on the road. That left me with a lot of free time in which I did a lot of reading. The more I read the more I started thinking, “That character should have said XYZ,” or, “Wouldn't it be cool if they'd done ABC instead?” From there, I decided to try writing a book in which the character said XYZ and they did ABC. I started off writing romance, but I kind of fell (happily) into YA. I came up with a title/premise that could only be a teen story (Oh. My. Gods.) and wrote the first draft in record time (six weeks, I think). It just came so easily to me, probably because I'm still a seventeen-year-old girl at heart. I love the complete and total freedom you have in writing for teens, there are no rules, no Do/Don't lists, because teens are ready for anything you can throw at them. We adults aren't usually that open-minded.

I love that you happily fell into YA. And I can't believe it only took six weeks to write Oh. My. Gods. - that's crazy! I must say, I'm glad that you did, because that book ROCKS!

Where do you write best? In a coffee shop. At home, there are too many distractions (email, laundry, television, refrigerator). At a coffee shop, I get a steady stream of caffeinated beverages, a comfy chair (usually), and all the people-watching I could want. I just pop in my headphones, tune out the world, and get to work.

Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to write about? I have a number of ideas tickling at the back of my brain (the ones that might take a few years to settle into an actual book). The one that stands out the most is an unsolved mystery/missing persons case that's based on something that happened at my high school. It's not exactly the fun, fast-paced fantasies I'm writing right now, but it's a story that I'll tell some day.

What was the last book you’ve read that you’ve been recommending to everyone? Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. (Last year it was Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart.) I am dying to be able to talk about this book with someone who has actually read it. It took me a while to get fully sucked into the story, but by the end I was completely emotionally attached. I have never cried so hard over a book before, and in a different way than books usually make me cry.

Loved this book - and I'm pretty sure I cried too.

5. How do you get your ideas? Do you use real events in your novels and if so, can you describe one? My ideas usually come randomly. The idea for Oh. My. Gods. came from the working title, Growing Up Godly, which was a twist on the reality TV title, Growing Up Gotti. The idea from Goddess Boot Camp started with the opening line(s), I. Am. A. Goddess. I do, occasionally, use real experiences in my novels. Like in Oh. My. Gods. when Phoebe is talking about the race through the Paris airport for their connecting flight, getting misdirected twice, and barely skating back through security before the door closed... that really happened to me.

How do you come up with your titles? I don't know that I have any specific methods, especially since I often come up with the title before the premise of the book. I like to play around with sounds and twist well-known words or phrases into something unique. My editor came up with the title for Oh. My. Gods. (because we thought that Growing Up Godly my come across as inspirational fiction).

Good Call!

Are there any authors you’d love to meet? Jaclyn Moriarty! She's my hero/author crush. I adore absolutely everything she writes—including her rarely-posted blog. But she lives in Australia, so I'll have to save up for that long flight.

I LOVED The Year of Secret Assignments.

How did you become a BUZZ girl? Stephanie Hale, who had already been asked to join the initial group (that included Heather Davis, Dona Sarkar, and Simone Elkeles), suggested/nominated me.

That's so sweet!

Can you tell us a little bit about Goddess Boot Camp? The story takes place the summer after Oh. My. Gods., just a few months after (Warning: OMG Spoiler!) Phoebe learns that she's a descendant of Nike. She's got these awesome new superpowers ... but she's having a little trouble (of the palm tree in the living room variety) controlling them. Her stepdad Damian enrolls her in Goddess Boot Camp, a special summer training program for girls who haven't quite got a handle on their powers yet. In addition to that, she's left alone with stepsister Stella while her mom and Damian are on their honeymoon, she's having a bit of a rocky time with Griffin, she's trying to train for the marathon-length race in the Pythian Games, and someone's sending her anonymous messages about her dad's death. Is it any wonder she can't keep things under control?

I LOVED this book, you can read my review here

Which is why I made a book trailer for it:

How many books will there be in the series? Right now, just the two. I have ideas for more stories, but the sales need to improve before my publisher is going to want more. Anyone who wants to know what really happened to Phoebe's dad, what happens in Level 13, and (finally!) who Nicole's ancestor god is, needs to tell everyone and every library they know to buy the first two books!

We NEED more. Start spreading the news about these fabulous books!

You create collages for each of your characters, and their are super cool – when did you start making those and what inspired them? Thanks! A friend of mine did a workshop at our local writing group about making book collages. The idea of a single collage representing the whole book didn't work for me, but once I started making them for individual characters then everything clicked. I'm a very visual person, so seeing that character and his/her possessions in photo format kind of fleshes them out in me head. When I get about thirty pages into a book I usually stall for a bit. That's when I make the collages, and they get me right back on track.

I love that idea. Check them out here.

Any news about the option (for a TV series) from Ashley Tisdale camp? Sigh. No news yet. The option is up in July, so they'll have to decide at that point if they want to: a) buy the rights, b) renew the option, or c) drop it altogether. You can bet that as soon as there's news I'll post in on my blog!

I hope there's some news soon, I'd love to watch these books turn into a TV series! *fingers crossed*

What's up next for you?

I'm excited to tell you that FORGIVE MY FINS, the story of a half-mermaid princess attending high school on the mainland, will be a Summer 2010 release from Katherine Tegen Books at HarperCollins!

How fun! Looking forward to reading it.

You move around a lot – is there a place you’ve always wanted to live? Oh, everywhere! I've been in Houston for two years now and I'm starting to get antsy. I'm looking at New York or Denver (I've lived both places before) or maybe even L.A. (one of my dream locales). Or I might just pack everything into storage and travel for a while. There's a lot more of the world that I'd like to see.

And finally, a listing if your favorite things:

Candy – I'm not a huge candy person, but I'm not particularly picky when I am

Pizza topping – pepperoni (sometimes with pineapple or jalapenos)

Genre of books – YA, duh! (okay, maybe that's not specifically a genre, so I'll say fantasy/paranormal)

Singer and/or Song – at the moment, it's The Climb by Miley Cyrus (I know, I know, but it's a great message)

Restaurant – Does Starbucks count?

TV show /Movie – it's a toss-up between Psych and Leverage and Deadliest Catch

Color – turquoise

Shoe – flip-flops

Video Game – I love the Nancy Drew mystery games!
Store – Target!

Want more? Check out this fun interview our Goddess did with Linda Gerber


Kay Cassidy said...

Great interview, Jennifer and Tera! I finally read LIFE AS WE KNEW IT and finished THE DEAD AND THE GONE last night. Must chat about them. So amazing!

Me said...

Omigosh, you read Dead and the Gone, too?!? Couldn't do it.

Thanks for the fun interview, Jennifer! If our attempts to continue the series work out I might commission you to start a resurrection campaign for Ben and Jerry's White Russian. =)

vvb32 reads said...

Love the interview. The sparkly is a nice touch. I like the collages. It is a great idea for getting the creative juices flowing. Now, I'm gonna have to check out Oh.My.Gods before I can read this new one.

Lori A. May said...

Great interview! I mentioned it on twitter @loriamay as we all want to see more books!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! (although I skipped the spoily parts ;) ) I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who likes to write in coffee shops (although what I do is school papers)