Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Author Interview: Abby McDonald

I just finished the awesome Getting Over Garrett Delaney. You can check out my review here. Luckily Abby agreed to join us for an interview today!

Thanks Abby and Welcome to YA Book Nerd!

What made you choose to write YA? 
I started out in adult contemp (aka, ‘chick-lit’), but YA had always been such a huge part of my life that making the transition seemed natural. As a tween and teen, I devoured all the old-school juvenile books: Sweet Valley, BSC, Caroline B. Cooney, even those old Sweet Dreams teen romances (remember, with the stock photography on the cover and teen DJ-slash-equestrienne-slash-tennis player plot-lines? Loved them!). Ultimately, my adult books are really just coming of age stories too, albeit with older characters and more ‘adult’ moments. I feel like discovering your identity is as important and relatable a plotline at twenty-seven as it is as seventeen.

I LOVED those books too and devoured them in my teens years.

Where do you write best?
I’m a coffee-shop writer, and I’ve built up a rotating stable of hang-outs here in LA so I don’t go too stir-crazy staring at the same walls all week. Still, I’m still hunting for my platonic ideal: the perfect mix of comfy couches, light, great baked goods, decent music and welcoming baristas. It eludes me!

How do you get your ideas?  Do you use real events in your novels and if so, can you describe one?
I draw a lot on personal experience for my writing, I think it’s the best way to ground characters in relatable moments and have real moments of emotional connection with readers. For GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY, I based a lot of the Sadie/Garrett dynamic on an unrequited crush I had when I was sixteen – amplified for dramatic effect, of course! It seems to have really struck a chord: I have so many people saying how they went through the exact same thing.

How did you come up with your title(s)?
I’m either terrible or brilliant with my titles – there’s nothing in between. If I don’t know the title even before I start writing, I never will, and have to delegate to my marvelous agent and editor. GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY was easy – in fact, I named Garrett because I needed a ‘G’ name to match the ‘getting over’ part!

Can you tell us a little bit about Garrett Delaney? Would you ever date a guy like him?
Oh boy, not anymore! I feel like Garrett is the boy you can only adore when you haven’t quite figured out who you are yet. His intellect and obscure taste seem impressive, exotic even, compared to all the boring boys your own age, and the fact this older, cooler boy values your opinion…? It’s catnip for crushes, I swear. But, when you get older, you start figuring out that maybe his rants about ‘trashy rom-coms’ are kind of elitist, and all those philosophical musings are… pretentious? Self-important? All of the above.
I feel like a Garrett crush is like chicken-pox: you get it once, and then you’re immune.

You used to work in the music and entertainment industry. Do you have any funny stories from that job that you can share with us?
Oh man…. I found some of my old Dictaphone tapes from my music writing years recently. Hint: never, ever, listen to yourself on tape. There’s twenty whole minutes of me giggling and stuttering away like a crazy girl during my first ever big interview – with Maroon 5, back when I was twenty. I thought I was being so cool and collected during the session, (because sure, I’d hung out backstage with major rock bands, plying me with champagne before. All the time!), but listening to it back… Oy! Aside from that, the weirdest interview I ever did was with Marilyn Manson, who had just split with Dita von Tees, and was adamant that his personal life was off the table. OK then. Except he then launched into a thirty minute monologue about why the relationship broke down, and how he just wanted a love he’d drive off a cliff for. Because True Romance is such a healthy model for relationships. Let me tell you, transcribing that interview nearly broke me!

I get that way with authors!

What did you do on your release day?
What I always do: go to B&N, take photos, sign books, and then lurk to see if anyone picks it up. In a non-creepy way, of course.
What was the last book you’ve read that you’ve been recommending to everyone?
It’s actually an adult title: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. It’s a gorgeous story of cookery, life, and loss, and she has such a wonderful voice. For YA, there are a couple of books I WANT to read that I’m trying to beg/borrow/steal the ARCs to: Struck, by Jennifer Bosworth, and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

Do you have a fictional crush?
I think it has to be Matteo Sandoval from Love Walked In/Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos.

Do you have a favorite library experience?
Since I was such a book-worm kid (or, as my library file termed me, a ‘high-frequency user’) I was in my local branch ALL THE TIME. It was pretty much the proudest moment of my life when my mom got to go in to reserve a book that I had written.

Awesome! I love that idea :)  

Are there any authors you’d love to meet?
Caroline B. Cooney, who is one of my biggest inspirations. I still have the reply she sent to my thirteen-year old self’s fan letter.

Oh, that's sweet!

Do you have a favorite literary quote?
Not an over-arching philosophy, but writing Garrett’s tedious love of all things authentic in GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a line from Emma Forrest’s wonderful Namedropper: “I don't see what's so good about being genuine. Clog dancing is genuine. Isn't being fake more of an achievement” It’s what I’d like to say to all those people banging on about authenticity – in music, art, etc. I’m all about genuine emotion, but there’s something to be said for well-crafted artifice too.

Listing of your favorites:
Candy: I don’t really eat candy. I know! 
Cake/Cupcake Flavor: coconut. 
Ice Cream: pistachio 
Pizza topping: sadly, cheese gives me migraines. 
Genre of books: YA 
Restaurant: There’s a cute little pie shop in LA called SimpleThings. 
TV show /Movie: Right now, Revenge, the Vampire Diaries, The Good Wife. And overall… Bring it On, Before Sunset, Strictly Ballroom. 
Color: Purple 
Shoe Towering red wedges I can barely wear. 
Video Game Never play!

Intrigued? Read the first chapter of Getting Over Garrett Delaney. I was hooked and I hope you will be too! Enjoy


Jessica said...

Great interview! I'm gonna have to find time to read this at some point. I love Abby's books!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Abby. And what a wonderful interview! I had no idea you took on Marilyn Manson and lived to tell the tale.