Jun 30, 2010

Author Interview: Simone Elkeles

Q: What inspired you to be a writer?

I didn’t like to read as a teen. I didn’t like English class, either. I fell in love with reading as an adult, when it wasn’t “assigned reading” from a class or teacher. I fell in love with reading so much, ideas for books started running through my head so I decided to start writing a book. (I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Psychology and a master’s degree in Industrial Relations – both of which don’t have anything to do with writing a book.) Seriously one day I sat down and just started writing.

Q: What is your writing process like? What was your publishing process like?
Q: How often do you write? Do you have a writing schedule?

I need peace and quiet, which is hard to get with two kids and two dogs (and one husband) so I rent an office space to get away. I write when my kids are in school and when they’re asleep. I really have no habits or routines, but my goal is to one day be organized.

It took me five years to get published. I started writing in 2000 and sold my first book in 2005 (it wasn’t released until 2006, but I signed the contract in 2005). It took me five years to get an agent, but she sold my book within two months.

Q: What inspired Perfect Chemistry and its main characters?

I base Perfect Chemistry off of Highland Park High School, which is near my house. It’s a high school that mirrors Fairfield. I wanted to explore what might happen when a boy and girl from different sides of town and a different socioeconomic status fall hard for each other.

Q: Which one of your characters are you most like?

All of my characters are completely fictional, but I would say I share the most experiences with Amy. My father is Israeli and I went to Israel when I was a teen. I even participated in a boot camp, just like Amy does in How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation! I also met my future husband while I was there. . .

Q: What are your thoughts on sex and language in young adult books?

I try to write the way my characters would really talk and act. I don't clean it up (or dirty it up for that matter). If Alex from Perfect Chemistry smashed his finger, he wouldn't say, "Oh golly gee." So, that's not what I write. I think the reason my books are so popular with teens is because they don't feel like they're reading an adults opinion of how they should speak and behave.

Q: What's your secret for getting into boys' heads writing from a woman's point of view?

I love bad boys. They’re my weakness. Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt. I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys. If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion) What were my inspirations for Alex or Carlos? They really are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that. And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart. (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

Q: What's your best piece of writing advice?

Finish the book! The reason more people are not published authors is because they never finish the book they started. Persevere through your writer's block and FINISH THE BOOK!

Q: If you were still a teen, which one of your male characters/love interests in any of your novels would you date?

I have to say that I have a crush on Alex Fuentes. I wouldn’t be able to write a young adult romance without also falling in love with my hero…hopefully if I fall in love with them, my readers will also fall in love with them. When we were casting for my book trailer for Rules of Attraction, I wanted to really find “my Alex.” When Alexander F. Rodriguez agreed to be Alex Fuentes and he walked on set the day of the shoot, I melted. I took tons of pictures of him and Giancarlo (the gorgeous actor who played Carlos Fuentes) that day. They were my heroes come to life…who wouldn’t have a crush on the heroes they created? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhEx0kaUlrU